Charles Tilly – an Americans sociologist, political scientist, and historian – wrote a chapter called “War Making and State Making as Organised Crime” in “Bringing the State Back in” [Evans, P., Rueschemeyer, D., and Skocpol, T. (eds.)(1985)(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press)]
In his chapter Tilly sets the actions of organised violence and the movements of War-making and State-making side by side, which maintains that government leaders are comparable to “self-seeking entrepreneurs” [p169]. He claims that, during the formation of European states, government leaders gained power through organising protection rackets and through the use of force within given territories.
A protection racket is a situation in which a criminal group demands money from a storeowner, company, etc. in exchange for agreeing not to harm them [Cambridge dictionary].
Tilly considers the definition of a racketeer as someone who creates a threat and then charges for its reduction [p171], and argues that government leaders eliminate rivals to gain control over territories by selling ‘protection’. By asking more money for this protection than the cost of it, the government profits. Leaders work alongside criminals, until the establishment of stable governments declare their own actions ‘legitimate’ and organised violence by others as ‘illegitimate’. Throughout his work, Tilly gives numerous references to the formation of European states to support his ideas. Furthermore, he consults, disputes and builds upon findings of other scholars in the construction of his own arguments.
The formation of European states according to him took place through the interaction of four different types of violence: State-making, War-making, Extraction and Protection. State-Making eliminating rivals inside their territories, producing instruments of surveillance and control within the territory. War-Making eliminating rivals outside their territories producing mostly armies and navies. Protection eliminating the enemies from their populations creating institutions through which the population can acquire protection (For example: Courts and Assemblies). And extraction acquiring the means of carrying out the first three, creating fiscal and accounting structures.
The main argument is discussed in the sixth section, where Tilly brings together the four forms of organised violence and presents a model to demonstrate how they interacted during the formation of European states. Tilly adds credibility to his argument by demonstrating how each of the forms of organised violence creates different institutions, which, supported by the influence external factors – such as flows of resources and inter-state competition for hegemony – created variance in the characteristics of different European states.
Tilly convincingly shares his view on the formation of European states. This notion could give an insight on the formation of contemporary states and how state-formation could be a contributory factor in the causes of current conflicts. Whereas Tilly highlights the main differences between the formation of European and contemporary states, and gives sound examples in the case of the former, he fails to give any examples of the latter. Discussion of the formation of contemporary states would have enhanced this text further. Furthermore, when referring to Lane’s model, Tilly explores the relationship between different forms of violence and the development of mercantile capitalism, but fails to address this when discussing his own model. Finally, what are his thoughts on the popular resistance to the use of violence?