Robert Higgs (in 2005)

Governments have physical force—control over a society’s most decisive means of dispensing violence. They may try to disguise this essential attribute by cloaking it in measures ostensibly for the enhancement of the people’s ‘welfare’ and ‘security’; they may paint its hardened, harlot face with cheery ‘democratic’ cosmetics; but when push comes to shove, all governments fall back on their superior ability to beat, shackle, imprison, and kill those who challenge the exercise of their power.