Our Lexicon: The State

The State – capital T, capital S – is a coercive monopoly. The State has monopoly control over the use of coercive violence in a given geographical area.

I suggest that where you once referred to the government you should instead refer to The State. Here's why . . .

Not all governmental services are provided by The State. For instance, there are private police and courts, and countless other institutions that provide various forms of regulation, such as trade associations, insurance companies, and testing laboratories. Therefore . . .

Whenever you talk about "the government" you are fostering the myth that the coercive, monopoly form of government represented by The State, is the ONLY source of governmental services. This is untrue. Instead . . .

It's more accurate to talk about voluntary government vs. coercive government. Voluntary government is represented by countless numbers of competing organizations, while coercive government is represented by only one organization, The State.

You will benefit from talking about The State rather than "the government," for several reasons . . .

  1. Doing so provokes questions you can use to educate your fellow citizens.
  2. You can answer these questions by highlighting the difference between voluntary government and coercive government.
  3. You can point to the superior performance of voluntary government vs. the inferior performance of coercive government.
  4. You can draw attention to the monopoly nature of coercive government. For instance: you can fire your security service, but you can't fire your corrupt and incompetent local police department.

The coercive entity known as The State should be reduced to only those functions for which a coercive monopoly is absolutely necessary. All other functions should be left to voluntary government.


This message is an educational service of the Downsize DC Foundation. Please share it with others. Please tell your friends that they can receive similar material in the future by subscribing to our free email newsletter, The Downsizer-Dispatch.

Copyright (c) 2010 by Perry Willis. Permission to distribute this blog post for educational purposes is granted, if done with attribution to the author and the Downsize DC Foundation. Permission to use for commercial purposes is denied.