To help right to triumph by the use of force - Law, Justice and Legitimate Violence in Three Urban Fantasy Universes
Monopoly on Legitimate Violence
Famed sociologist Max Weber categorically asserted in 1919, after the end of World War One, that the nation-state holds: “the monopoly of the legitimate use of violence.” The threat and use of legitimate violence, or coercion, by the state is the source of state sovereignty and popular acceptance of this monopoly is a major part of a government’s claim to political legitimacy. When nation-states fail to maintain a monopoly on legitimate violence, or the population refuses to recognize the nation-state’s violence monopoly, nations become “failed states”, like Lebanon in the 1970s, Somalia in the 1990s and Libya in the 2010s.
This state monopoly on the use of force until recently has been maintained in two separate spheres of action. First, and perhaps most importantly, internally, within the legal and recognized territory of the nation. The second sphere is externally or outside of the national borders. Internal use of legitimate violence is broadly defined as law enforcement, or criminal justice. The external use of legitimate violence is broadly defined as just war. An unjust war would not be considered a legitimate use of governmental force. Recently, a third sphere of the use of legitimate violence has developed. This is the sphere of Fourth Generation Conflict (4th GC) which is defined by an obscuring of the previously rather neat lines between law enforcement and war, between internal and external conflicts, and between soldiers and civilians.
The purpose of law enforcement and criminal justice is, according to the 1966 President's Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice, to “enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community . . . by apprehending, prosecuting, convicting and sentencing those who violate the basic rules. The action against lawbreakers is designed to serve three purposes beyond the immediately punitive one. It removes dangerous people from the community; it deters others from criminal behavior; and gives society an opportunity to attempt to transform lawbreakers into law-abiding citizens.”
Meanwhile, the primary purposes of a conducting a just war are to defend the nation-state and the nation’s citizenry, restore international order and establish justice. The nation-state uses the means, as Robert Heinlein said in Starship Troopers, “of controlled violence, for a purpose” to prosecute a just war.
In 4th GC the nation-state finds itself in violent conflict with a variety of violent non-state actors (VNSA), such as organized criminal gangs, terrorist organizations or guerilla forces. 4th GC requires the nation-state to use a holistic methodology of law enforcement techniques and warfighting to combat the VNSA. The holistic methodology is a spectrum of legitimate violence from arrest and interrogation, to raids on VNSA safe-houses and cells, through to “no-warning” killing of enemy combatants both inside and outside the national borders.
The sole exception to the state’s monopoly of legitimate violence is the individual’s, or a small group’s, use of force against an imminent threat. That is to say, the human right of proper self-defense and proper defense of innocent others. Even then, the state will investigate and adjudicate whether or not the use of force was in fact legitimate and proper.
Also called Modern Fantasy, or Contemporary Fantasy, is a sub-genre of fantasy that generally adds common fantasy tropes to a modern-day setting. The name "Urban Fantasy" implies that all works in the genre are set in a large city, but that is not true. Instead, the name should be taken to stand for the inclusion of fantasy elements into our contemporary, highly urbanized society. However, large cities are still a common setting for many Modern Fantasy tales, such as Birmingham, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada in the Monster Hunter International books, Portland, Oregon for the Grimm TV series and Chicago for the Dresden Files. Urban Fantasies are always set in this world, or on an alternate Earth that very closely resembles this world. This setting opposes High Fantasy works, which always take place in a constructed world, such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth.
Monster Hunter International Universe
Monster Hunter International by Larry Corriea, the first book in the Monster Hunter International series was self-published in 2007 and then republished in by Baen Books in 2009. The first book was followed by Monster Hunter Vendetta (2010), Monster Hunter Alpha (2011), Monster Hunter Legion (2012), Monster Hunter Nemesis (2014), Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge (2016) and Monster Hunter Memoirs: Sinner (2016) with at least two more books planned: Monster Hunter Guardian and Monster Hunter Omega.
In the Monster Hunter International universe, monsters are generally, but not always, murderous and evil. In the very first chapter of the first book, the main character and narrator, Owen Zastava Pitt, is attacked by, and forced to kill a werewolf, by shooting it several times and then throwing the monster out of a fourteenth-story window. In the third chapter of the book, Earl Harbinger, the chief operating officer of the company, Monster Hunter International, discusses various kinds of monsters with Pitt. Zombies: “Slow ones, fast ones. Nasty bastards.” Vampires: “they ain't the nice charming debonair kind of thing you see on TV, those suckers are meaner than hell. . . pop culture makes them all intellectual and sexy, there ain't nothing sexy about getting your carotid artery ripped out.” Chupacabras: “They'll tear you up.”
There are also monsters that are not troublesome and so are left alone, for example, Bigfoot. Additionally there are some that are even helpful and beneficial. Some examples of the helpful monsters are Agent Franks, who is a fallen angel inhabiting a Frankenstein’s Monster body and working for the U.S. government. There is also the tribe of Orcs, or Urks, allied with Monster Hunter International. Further, Earl Harbinger is a werewolf that can control his bloodlust.
In the MHI world, a number of monster eradication companies have been created to protect the human world from the threat posed by malevolent monsters and other malign supernatural forces. The teams are generally organized along national lines, and receive state support for their monster killing actions. In the various books in the series there are mentions of South Africans, Chinese, Australians, Brazilians, Indian, French and South Korean hunter teams, to name just a few. Not surprisingly, the monster hunting companies are organized much like Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs), that is to say, as the United Nations Security Council reports PMSCs “are tightly organized companies with a clear corporate structure that provide military services, including combat, in exchange for payment. . .” so are Monster hunting companies. Or as one character in Monster Hunter Vendetta put it: “MHI is mercenary and proud.”
Further parallels between monster hunter companies and PMSCs are that they generally, but not always, both recruit from military veterans. Besides a corporate structure they will also have military-like hierarchical structure as well. Further monster hunting companies and PMSCs will also often employ distinct identifying badges, patches or emblems. Such as Monster Hunter International’s smiling devil and Team Haven’s banjo playing walrus patches.
Private companies are not the only way human governments deal with supernatural threats. There are also government agencies that deal with supernatural evil. In America, it is a special unit in the Justice Department, later made a part of Homeland Security, the Monster Control Bureau (MCB). For the British, and at least part of the British Commonwealth, it is the British Supernatural Service (BSS). However, the MCB’s primary job is less hunting monsters and more about covering up the existence of the supernatural by silencing witnesses and controlling information.
In the Monster Hunter International universe, there is a U.S. Congressional subcommittee on Unearthly Forces and there are several laws which both authorize and limit the monster hunters’ use of force in pursuit of evil supernatural forces. The primary legal authority is the Perpetual Unearthly Forces Fund, or PUFF. The PUFF was established by President Teddy Roosevelt and is a sliding scale of bounties on monsters, based on factors such as numbers of the monster population and if the monster has already killed. PUFF bounties are determined by the federal government and are the main source of income for monster hunter companies. PUFF also acts as a control on monster hunters. Kinds of supernatural being are added, or removed, from the list depending the threat posed by the particular kind of fiends. Further, monsters that otherwise would have bounties on them may earn a PUFF exemption, like Earl Harbinger did by fighting in Vietnam, usually through some kind of service with the nation-state.
There are at least two other laws which govern how monsters are dealt with in the MHI universe. One is the “Anti-Lycanthrope Act of ‘95” which mandates the termination of all confirmed werewolves. The other is an unnamed law that make re-animating the dead “a serious felony” and under which the Feds pay “a good reward” for the capture of “renegade witch doctors or mad scientists.”
Although they are not specifically mentioned, given the nationalistic nature of many of the monster hunting companies, other countries must have similar laws. Further, many of the monster hunters companies act internationally, as well as within their own national boundaries. For example, Monster Hunter International works in Mexico and the German hunter company, Grimm Berlin, works a contract in the continental U.S.
Monster eradication most closely resembles 4th GC in that it is neither fully law enforcement, nor fully warfighting, but rather fulfills some purposes of both. In the law enforcement realm, monsters hunters generally “enforce the standards of conduct necessary to protect individuals and the community” but they do not apprehend and prosecute the supernatural being, rather they destroy it. Apprehending and prosecuting beings on the PUFF bounty list is not practical nor even possible. How could a human possibly arrest and hold a creature such as a wight? This monsters can literally rip cars apart and can only be killed with a flamethrower, or many thousands of rounds of ammunition. The monster hunters will also “remove dangerous people (read evil non-human beings) from the community” which may or may not deter others. But they do not attempt to rehabilitate the monsters.
In the realm of warfighting, the hunters do protect the citizenry, but not necessarily the nation-state, since the people are threatened most by monsters, whereas the integrity of the nation-state is generally not so threatened. They also restore order by destroying the beings which threaten that order. However, any justice that is established is the roughest sort, at best, and is a mere side effect of restoring order.
The Grimm Universe
The TV series Grimm, created by David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf, premiered on NBC on October 28, 2011, and has currently run for five seasons. The show focuses on Portland Police Department homicide detective Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) who, in the first episode, learns that he is a Grimm (German: wrath) and is descended from a line of Grimms. Grimms are protectors mandated to defend humanity from monstrous, mythological creatures called Wesen, (German: being or creature).
Wesen are dual-natured creatures, that is to say, they have both human and animal natures residing in the same being. When in human form they are indistinguishable from average people. In fact, most of the time, Wesen function as humans in society without normal humans, or Kehrseite (German: reverse side), even being aware of their existence.
Wesen reveal their animal nature when they woge (German: powerful wave or large moving mass). Wesen may woge uncontrollably when they are under stress, or perceive a threat, or they may do it at will. Woging allows the Wesen to access various abilities not available in their human form, such as heightened senses and greater strength. A woge may or may not be perceptible to Kehrsite, depending on the woge’s depth. While woged, Wesen can recognize Grimms who otherwise appear as normal humans.
So far in the series there have been around 120 different kinds of Wesen encountered, or referenced in some manner. Wesen vary as both types and as individuals within types. Wesen, as species, go from the fierce and aggressive wolf-like Blutbaden (German: blood bath) and lion-like Lowen (German: lion) to the gentle, sheep-like Seelengut (German: kindhearted) and the deer-like Indole Gentile (Italian: kind natured). Many Wesen have special abilities, for example Hexenbiesten (German: witch beast) and Zauberbiesten (German: magic beast) can perform magic such as shapeshifting and telekinesis. Whereas a Cracher-Mortel (German: deadly spitter) can spit a tetradotoxin on a victim, turning that victim into a zombie.
Wesen have, in the past, often hunted, killed and eaten humans and other Wesen. For example Blutbaden, which gave rise to the Big Bad Wolf fairy tales, as well as Schakals (German: jackals),Wendigo, and Coyotl (Nahuatl: coyote) have all eaten humans. Further, Blutbaden eat Bauerschwein (German: farmer pig) and Seelengut. In the pilot, Nick and his partner, Hank Griffin (Russell Hornsby), hunt a blutbad that has kidnapped a little girl, and is planning on consuming her.
Also, in the past Grimms have generally killed Wesen on sight, usually by beheading the creatures, thus Grimms are also called Decapitare (Latin: one who beheads). More recently, Grimms have functioned as an unofficial “police force” to “hunt down the bad ones” and protect humans from Wesen and also Wesen from evil or criminal Wesen.
Within the Wesen community there is the Wesen Council of Wallenstadt. This council acts as a quasi-government for Wesen, in that they enforce Wesen law. The most important law the council enforces is the Gesetzbuch Ehrenkodex (German: Book of Law; Code of Honor) sometime called the Code of Swabia. The main rules of the Gesetzbuch Ehrenkodex forbid Wesen from using their animal sides to take advantage of an unknowing Kehrseite. Further, Wesen are banned from revealing the existence of Wesen to regular humans and, most importantly, are banned from murdering Kehrseite. All of these acts are considered capital crimes by the council. The council is willing to use violence, up to killing the offending parties, to enforce the code and protect the Wesen secret.
As a law enforcement officer and Grimm, Nick Burkhardt will generally first use standard American and Western law enforcement techniques, such as questioning under the protection against self-incrimination, investigations using search warrants, and legal arrests to obtain a just result for a crime committed by Wesen. Which is to say, he will arrest the Wesen in their human guise and hand over evidence of the crime to the prosecutor, who will then use the legal system to seek justice. Nick and Hank will only resort to extra-legal means when standard law enforcement methods are inadequate to obtain justice, such as when dealing with the Black Claw organization.
In the fifth season, a Wesen terrorist organization called Black Claw appeared and started a worldwide Wesen Fourth Generation Conflict with human society. In conducting this 4th GC, Black Claw used the standard terrorists and phase-one guerilla war methods, such as assassinations, blackmail and subornation of targeted people, instigation of riots and mass demonstrations designed to disrupt civil society.
To battle Black Claw, human governments secretly funded a counter-Wesen terrorists organization called Hadrian’s Wall, or HW. HW employed standard counter-terrorism methods, such as collecting intelligence through rigorous interrogations, counter-assassination, and targeted raids on Black Claw cells. HW employed Nick’s fellow Grimm, Theresa "Trubel" Rubel (Jacqueline Toboni) in all of these roles. Nick often joined in the fight against Black Claw when overt crimes are committed, such as the destruction of several Wesen owned businesses in the episode “Wesen Nacht” (a play on words regarding the anti-Jewish Kristallnacht riots in Germany November 1938) or a mayoral candidate is killed as in the episode “Into the Schwarzwald”.
However, as Black Claw continued to advance it agenda, Nick was forced to perform many warfighting versus law enforcement acts, including the no-warning killing of Black Claw members in order to protect himself, his friends and his family, even when they are not in immediate danger from the Black Claw operatives.
Prior to his fight with Black Claw, Nick, as an agent of the government, has maintained the proper control required of a law enforcement officer entitled to the use of legitimate violence. In his fight with the Wesen terrorist group and in aiding Hadrian’s Wall, Nick has moved from a law enforcement role to a warfighting role as this 4th GC has continued.
The Dresden Files Universe
The Dresden Files is a series of books by Jim Butcher starting with Storm Front released in 2000 and going through fifteen books: Fool Moon (2001), Grave Peril (2001), Summer Knight (2002), Death Masks (2003), Blood Rites (2004), Dead Beat (2005), Proven Guilty (2006), White Night (2007), Small Favor (2008), Turn Coat (2009), Changes (2010), Ghost Story (2011), Cold Days (2012) to Skin Game published in 2014, with at least one more book, Peace Talks, planned. A collection of short stories, Side Jobs, was published in 2010 and a collection of novellas, Working for Big Foot, released in 2015.
In The Dresden Files Universe, magic is real, but generally unknown to the public at large. The magical world is inhabited by wizards, such as Harry Dresden, and by such supernatural creatures as vampires, werewolves, demons, spirits, faeries, etc. Also, large parts of the world are essentially controlled by supernatural factions, such as much of Central and South America which is ruled by the Red Court of Vampires. Also, for example, the White Council, an organization of human wizards, exerts significant economic power in the human world, along with its magical power. Each set of supernatural beings have their own politics, rules and organizations. For example, there are four vampire courts: Black, Red, White and Jade. Faeries have their own kingdoms: Winter and Summer. The Unseelie Accords, a sort of combined United Nation Treaty and Geneva Convention of the supernatural world, controls relationships between the various paranormal factions.
Harry Dresden, a member of the White Council, is the world's only "consulting wizard", like Sherlock Holmes was a “consulting detective.” Dresden takes cases involving the supernatural from both human and non-human clients. He also works closely with the Chicago Police Department’s Special Investigation unit, headed by Police Lieutenant Karrin Murphy, which is charged with dealing with “weird cases” i.e. paranormal lawbreaking within the City of Chicago. Harry also works for the White Council, in its role as a magical quasi-nation-state, enforcing the Seven Laws of Magic and as a soldier in conflicts between supernatural societies.
Harry acts within the constraints of the law and legitimate violence while investigating on his own, or working with the police. He will only use force when required to defend himself or innocent others. While working with the police, Harry acts to control the paranormal miscreants while LT Murphy and her police officers deal with the human elements of the supernatural crime, such as in Fool Moon, Death Masks, and Blood Rites. In this, Harry, acting as an agent of the police helps maintain the state’s monopoly on force, even when dealing with the paranormal. When acting as Warden of the White Council, Harry will often take the role of soldier in the various conflicts roiling the supernatural world. For example, the Red Court of Vampires
declares war on the White Council in Grave Peril. A war which Harry ends in Changes, by sacrificing his lover and the mother of his child, Susan Rodriguez, unleashing a curse which kills all the Red Court Vampires.
In all cases the protagonists in the discussed universes act as agents of justice and order. Many times there is, as stated in the Grimm episode “Thanks for the Memories,” “no justice within the law” for victims of supernatural attacks. The best that such victims may hope for is retribution, or “payback”, against their specific attackers and other evil supernatural forces. The heroes and heroines provide what rough justice they may in these circumstances.
However, in the urban fantasy universes described, the state has not surrendered its monopoly on the use of legitimate violence, but rather has delegated the use of force to private corporations, or private individuals, within the specific arena of dealing with the paranormal and supernatural. The nation-state uses laws like the PUFF, or hiring wizards like Harry Dresden to act as a “consulting wizard” for the Chicago PD, or Nick Burkhardt in his role as both police officer and Grimm, as instruments of such delegation. Further, the use of violence and coercive force is both controlled by the agents of the nation-state and is purposeful in its application against evil supernatural forces. That is to say, monster hunting companies, Grimms, and consulting wizards use controlled violence as Max Weber stated that it should only be used: “to help right to triumph by the use of force.”
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