Why is it necessary to have government?

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Throughout history, government has served several fundamental purposes in society. In order to live together peacefully, people decided that it was better to sacrifice some personal freedoms in order to allow a few people to make the decisions for the entire group, putting trust in these people to serve the needs of the people well. Of course, this has looked differently and has worked with vastly varying degrees of success in populations throughout the world's history. However, those with a centralized government do generally find themselves better protected from each other and from outside conflict than those not bound together in solidarity under a central government.

One function that people expect of their governments is a sense of protection. Thus, governments construct physical boundaries when needed. They build and a maintain military presence in their own country and sometimes in other countries. They engage in wars to defend the freedoms of their own citizens. And sometimes, governments of varied counties bane together to form alliances for even greater power. Within a country, a government serves to protect its citizens from each other. In order to live peacefully, people agree to adhere to the rules and laws established by their government. They agree that penalties should be enforced for those who break the rules. Without a central government, people would be free to do and act as they wished, with no sense of consequence. Because humans can be a rather selfish and self-serving species when left unchecked, this might create a sense of insecurity, leaving people unable to reasonably predict expected behaviors and the consequences of not adhering to the group's norms.

In order to achieve a sense of security, people enter a social contract where they knowingly exchange some of their personal freedoms for the benefit of having the protection of laws. Once citizens feel secure in their protection, they are then free to pursue other areas of contentment which would not be possible without the assurances of basic security.

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Political thinkers say that it is necessary to have government so that government can protect our rights.  Without government, we would only have whatever rights we were strong enough to protect on our own.

If there were no government, our society would presumably be “everyone for themselves.” It would be a free for all because there would be no authority to keep the peace.  Political thinkers say that this “state of nature” would have been very difficult for people because they would have had to defend their own life, liberty, and property by force.  Anyone who could exert greater force could deprive them of these things.

This is why people created governments.  Thinkers say that people entered into a “social contract.”  They gave up some of their freedom to the government.  They gave the government the right to rule and to tax them.  In return, the government promised to protect their rights.  It promised to keep others from stealing from them, from killing them, and from enslaving them.

In short, government is necessary because without government we would live in a chaotic state of nature in which we would have no rights except those that we could protect by our own power.

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