Quote of the week

Glenn Reynolds takes the long view on capital punishment:

I’m skeptical of the death penalty’s administration because the criminal justice system is a disaster. But, assuming guilt, I don’t really care much about the morality of killing people. The nation-state is all about killing people. Its sole reason for existing is that it’s better at killing people in large numbers than any other form of human organization. If you don’t like the idea of the state killing people, you don’t like the idea of the state. If you don’t realize this, it’s because your thinking is confused.

If this perturbs you, ask yourself the question Reynolds hints at: “At what other function can the nation-state be legitimately deemed superior?” No matter what you come up with, it will be based on the power of coercion — at the point of a gun.


  1. Francis W. Porretto »

    26 July 2014 · 3:23 am

    The late Poul Anderson summarized the State’s Ding an Sich in a mere eight words:

    “Do as we say, or we’ll kill you.”

    Kinda takes the romance out of government, doesn’t it?

  2. McGehee »

    26 July 2014 · 8:42 am

    I kind of like self-defense, but it’s more than just defending myself. Someone seeking to murder me may reasonably be expected to seek to murder others. If I fail to stop him from murdering me, somebody else will have to stop him from his next murder.

    If it’s the state, so be it.

  3. CGHill »

    26 July 2014 · 8:58 am

    And at some levels — think “invasion of borders,” until recently anyway — the state is expected to perform at a relatively high level.

  4. Joseph Hertzlinger »

    27 July 2014 · 1:11 am

    “Nothing is ever done in this world until men are prepared to kill each other if it is not done.” George Bernard (one of the clearest socialists ever)

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