The early 20th-century sociologist Max Weber starkly observed that a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence is what defines a state. In other words, only a county’s own acknowledged government has the ultimate right to use force against its citizens. With the very limited exception of immediate self-defense, the use of force by anyone other than the government must be seen as an act of either criminality or war. A federal system such as ours may complicate things a little — but the principle still holds true. If anyone outside the legitimate government is ceded the right to use violence to achieve his own ends, the government becomes a nullity to the extent of that allowance.
Ugly and un-utopian though this principle may sound, it benefits society as a whole. It cannot be denied that there are, and have always been, people in civilized societies who are unfit to live in them. There have always been murderers, rapists, and thieves. Even under the best imaginable set of laws and social conditions, there will always be people unconstrained by human empathy or social inhibitions. Someone must police them. Humanity will never be wholly free from antisocial behavior, so someone, however imperfect, has to be there to stop it short when it occurs.
Today, unfortunately, the voice of reason has been shouted down. Many of our cities and states have begun to disintegrate under cowering politicians who surrender their dignity and our safety to the mob. When people are suffered to loot, riot, desecrate, murder, and seize territory while officials stand idly by, it is more than just the latest cultural outrage. It is a failure by public officials to meet even the table stakes of their own legitimacy. Why should anyone, rich or poor, black or white, bother listening to Mayor Durkan of Seattle? She has ceded the heart of her city to armed extremists when she had the means to stop them. Small business–owners in Seattle, Minneapolis, and New York have dutifully paid their taxes — only to have their shops first closed by the government, then set on fire by the rioters. Mayors and governors have done nothing. These officials are no more than cringing little criminals — who prey upon the weak but kneel subserviently before a bolder, scarier class of thugs. Small business–owners in these lawless places have no legitimate local or state governments. What choice do they have but to cut their losses and vote with their feet?
The federal government, likewise, is full of people who cannot be expected to lift a finger to protect our homes and businesses, nor do they care a jot for our lives. “All lives matter” is not their credo. When Hillary called much of America “deplorables,” her audience laughed approvingly. There is no point at which such people are going to develop the least concern for the American middle class. They will happily feed us to the anarchistic beast in a mass human sacrifice that would awe even the Aztecs — in the hope that they might save their own pampered hides just long enough to see to their security arrangements.
Between us and this looming dark age stands only the tall, awkward figure of Donald Trump — and the handful of determined patriots around him. Though we may love and admire our president, it is terrifying to think that our freedom, and perhaps our lives, hinges on the bulwark of this quirky, counter-punching septuagenarian. He cannot delay displaying the blunt instruments of power very long. The longer he waits, the bloodier the consequences will be. By hesitating, he risks making himself no more legitimate in people’s eyes than Governor Cuomo or Mayor Durkan. One may attempt to thread the needle only so long to solve a problem than any competent statesman would know requires the judicious application of a hammer. Anarchist mobs are rarely mollified by gentle means. We dare not shirk before an enemy ideology that has proven itself quite willing to ruin, to plunder, and to kill.