Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Monopolising Violence

Conn Iggulden is a great author [Hat tip Rob Grave]. He writes historic novels using well researched detail as the starting point to weave an embellished tale. I have just finished the 5 book series starting with the rise of Genghis Kahn and ending with his grandson Kublai Kahn. Kublai founded the Yuan dynasty (from where the Chinese currency gets its name).

People often talk about the past being much simpler. Most historical accounts I read make me very glad to be living today! Incredible destruction had to go into the monopolisation of violence so that people didn't have to live in constant fear. History was about putting the strongest in charge - and hoping that power would protect you from others. Kings, Kahns, Shahs, Popes and Emperors fought for world domination. Once mere geography was out the way, it became idealogical. You didn't really have the choice to opt out and live peacefully.

It is tough to read the books and know how to view the destructive leaders. You see Syria and Egypt struggle without a monopoly of violence and yet we gag at the lack of liberty of the people under the autocratic leaders. Part of the US 'right to bear arms' was a rebellion against that monopoly of violence being in the hands of Government - because the British Monarchy wouldn't let them have their liberty. Iggulden's books certainly show some 'benevolent' leaders and some tyrannical leaders.

I am a fan of violence being monopolised, but I hope that one day it is disappears altogether. The sweep of history suggests we are heading in that direction - but lots of trauma around the world shows it is not in a straight line.

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