Governments provide many things, such as security, schools, intelligence gathering, and poverty assistance programs, but none of these are defining characteristics of governments. They can be provided by many nongovernment actors in society, and historically, they have been.
What makes government a unique institution in society is its widely recognized right to achieve its ends via threats of violence against non-aggressors. This is why you would go to jail for trying to “tax” someone’s income, or if you attempted to “regulate” the commercial interactions of strangers, or “declared war” on one of your foes…
…I became a Progressive when I thought that Progressivism meant being compassionate. I stopped being a Progressive when I realized that putting massive obligations on strangers through government coercion was not compassion.
– Keith Knight, Domestic Imperialism: Nine Reasons I Left Progressivism
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