Private Force and the Making of States, c . 1100–1500

Authored by: Benjamin de Carvalho

Routledge Handbook of Private Security Studies

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729352
eBook ISBN: 9781315850986
Adobe ISBN:


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Understanding the role of private force in the making of states poses quite a conundrum. The current use of the term ‘private force’ is irremediably associated with the state, and when we refer to private force, we do not mean the use of force in the private sphere – private violence, so to speak, as opposed to violence in public display. Instead the term describes force wielded by private actors as non-state actors. The concept of private force is therefore unthinkable without the concept of the state, as it is precisely the emergence of the state that is the condition of possibility of private force. To be sure, we may find examples of force used by ‘non-rulers’ before the emergence of the state. Yet, that force is not similar to private force after the emergence of states as autonomous moral universes covering the entirety of the globe. In this world, force wielded by private actors is by definition non-state, and if not condoned by it, a de facto and de jure challenge to the authority of the state.

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