Essay about A Monopoly on the Legitimate use of Physical Force: Syria

Essay about A Monopoly on the Legitimate use of Physical Force: Syria

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According to Max Weber in Essays in Sociology, a state can be defined as a “human community that successfully claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.” Using this statement and the provided articles, one would conclude that Syria cannot be considered a state. Although they do use physical force, it cannot be considered a legitimate use of physical force within their given territory. The Syrian civil war is one of the controversies that arise in the question of whether they are a state or not according to Weber's theory.
In accordance with Weber's theory, Syria cannot be considered as a state because they do not hold a monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force. In Syria, there are multiple groups fighting against the Ba'ath government, and using physical force to overthrow the government. In this sense, there is no clear monopoly on the use of physical force within the territory. Both groups are fighting for the monopoly and the power. The threat of violence exists on both sides, and so the monopoly is nonexistent, because the other side also has the capability to enact the threat of physical violence. In the conflict, the Brotherhood is fighting against the existing Ba'ath government who if there was no uprising would have the monopoly and could make Syria be considered a state according to Weber. However, as soon as the rebellion began to take root and turn violent, according to Weber's definition, Syria stopped being a state as soon as that occurred because they lost the monopoly on legitimate physical force.
I do not agree with Weber's assessment of the defined “state.” I do not agree with it because a state does not have to only rely on the legitimate use of physical forc...


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...force. They still hold a national identity and have well defined borders. They also have a functioning market, which is a pinnacle for statehood. Syria exists within its boundaries, and is unchallenged as being existent among other states. Just because there is no monopoly on violence, does not mean that their state is defunct and they cannot be considered a state.
Weber's definition is too narrow, and so it should not be considered as an accurate assessment of the statehood of a region. It doesn't include an other important criteria for statehood, and relies on the ability of a region to exercise violence. If we were to adhere to this theory, states would be popping up and disappearing very often, and maps would change just as often. A state should be defined as a region with defined borders with a working market economy, authority, and a strong national identity

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