The Use of Force (Part I)

The Necessity to Limit Disobedience and Indecision

. . . . The use of force for the imposition of the legal order is necessary for a number of reasons. The first of these reasons is the just-discussed calculus of error. Since there is a discrepancy between true order and empirical order, enforcement is necessary in order to eliminate disobedience on the part of citizens contending that the content of the rule is not in accord with the Ought in the ontological sense.

We do not have to adduce extreme cases for illustration. We only have to imagine what would happen if taxpayers could refuse payment until the expenditures of the government stand rational scrutiny in the light of true order. The Rivers and Harbors Bill alone would provide sufficient reason to refuse the payment of taxes.

The debate about the justice of the law must remain within the forms of political criticism and political action through voting. If the existence of the society is to be preserved, the debate cannot be permitted to degenerate into individual decision and resistance.

Force is necessary, second, because the question of truth in matters of order rarely permits a certain, unequivocal answer. The structure of a society, especially of a modern industrial society, is infinitely complex; which of the various possible policies concerning a specific problem is in agreement with the common good, and therefore should be implemented by law, will be a matter of pros and cons with no clear weight on one side or the other. The decision, when finally made, will contain an element of arbitrariness. Again, if the society is to survive, the debate cannot go on forever; and once the decision is made by the representative, disobedience on the ground that the merits of the measure are still open to doubt cannot be permitted.

CW VOL 27,
Chapter VI
The Impersonal Use of Force
§4 The Use of Force ,
pp 61-62.