The Problem of Enforcement Abuse

Randy E. Barnett

in The Structure of Liberty

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780198297291
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191598777 | DOI:
The Problem of Enforcement Abuse

Show Summary Details


The Single Power Principle specifies that there must exist, somewhere in society, a coercive monopoly of power. Adherence to this principle leads to serious risks of enforcement abuse because of problems of selection, corruption capture, and the halo effect. Various institutional features to deal with the problem of enforcement abuse by a coercive monopoly of power have been tried including elections, federalism, and free emigration. Each attempts to combat the ‘top‐down’ or hierarchical relationship between ruler and subject that is inherent to a coercive monopoly of power by establishing a more ‘bottom‐up’ or horizontal relationship. Though these three practices have largely failed in keeping a coercive monopoly of power within the constraints defined by the liberal conception of justice and the rule of law, each reflects a more fundamental principle that needs to be more robustly incorporated into institutional arrangements: reciprocity, checks and balances, and the power of secession.

Keywords: capture; checks and balances; elections; enforcement; federalism; free emigration; halo effect; reciprocity; secession; selection

Chapter.  9348 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.