On the Origin of the State: Stationary Bandits and Taxation in Eastern Congo
126 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2013 Last revised: 8 Mar 2017
Date Written: January 20, 2017
I gather panel data on armed actors in 650 locations of Eastern Congo to explain the emergence and trajectories of Tilly (1985)’s “essential functions of the state.” I find that a demand shock for coltan, a bulky commodity, leads armed actors to organize monopolies of violence, tax output, and provide protection at coltan-producing locations. A similar shock for gold, which mine workers can conceal to evade output taxes, does not. In response, instead, armed actors form monopolies of violence in the villages in which gold miners and their families live and spend their income. In these villages, they also raise head taxes, consumption taxes, transit taxes, as well as a fiscal and a legal administration. The emergence of such functions benefits the population, only if the “stationary bandit” performing such functions arises from a popular militia, instead of an external organization.
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