Can We Be Both Free and Obliged to Obey the State?

Essay by KrupskayaUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, June 2003

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Can We Be Both Free and Obliged to Obey the State?

All relationships, be it political or personal, involve some degree of obedience and obligation. The main one of these is the relationship between the individual and the state. The individual is bound to obey the laws that are enforced by the state, regardless of whether they want to or not. Reasons that people do obey the state are simple. Penalties for breaking laws are in place, such as fines and imprisonment, and in some US states, death. The laws are in place to protect the people, even though the people themselves are not actually consenting to the laws. This is partly due to the power of the states, which rule coercively and always claim the right to command. Most laws that are in place have been in existence for anything from decades to centuries, and are generally accepted rather than queried.

Power is defined in different ways. It usually means that the party or person with the power has the right to exercise their will over others, regardless of the other party's content. This can often be done through domination and subordination. Power is Embodied in institutions of the state; people grow up being under power, be that power of a parent, teacher or the government. These institutions make up the state, which is basically a sovereign body that holds the monopoly of primary law making.

Whether the state has a moral right to rule is discussed frequently. Weber says that for the right to rule to be legitimate, all that is necessary is for people to comply with the rules, whereas for others power is only legitimate where there is evidence of consent on part of the general population and where the rules governing its aquisition and exercise...