Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO)
The title of this book, Leviathan Staggering, is a reference to the metaphorical figure used by Thomas Hobbes to describe the towering figure of the state. The author argues that the relationship between state coercive capacity and intrastate violence has been neglected in empirical research. Despite a plausible theoretical link between the two, their interrelationship has not yet been established. The author delivers a thorough empirical analysis of how state coercion might affect violence levels. Historical lines are drawn up, with the author examining a curve familiar to most conflict researchers: the 'long decline' in violence levels between the 13th and the 20th century. Hess relates this to an 'inverse' curve of rising state capacity, suggesting that the swift increase in mean army sizes between the 15th and the 18th century is associated with the corresponding decrease in violence. The author has compiled a country-year dataset, merging UCDP/PRIO data on battle-related deaths with a measure of non-political homicidal violence which combines multiple sources. In addition, he constructs an index for measuring state coercive capacity, combining measures of the financial, human and material military resources of each state with the size of each state's territory. The author then tests several hypotheses, including whether or not this measure of state capacity is negatively related to the different kinds of violence, with the exception of one-sided state violence, which is expected to be positively related. The conclusions drawn from this analysis are particularly salient: If collaborating with oppressive, forceful states is instrumental to reducing violence levels, hard choices must be made in terms of policy prescriptions.