Front Page Titles (by Subject) (b) peoples without a state: huntsmen and grubbers - The State
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(b) peoples without a state: huntsmen and grubbers - Franz Oppenheimer, The State 
The State: Its History and Development viewed Sociologically, authorized translation by John M. Gitterman (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1922).
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(b) peoples without a state: huntsmen and grubbers
The state is an organization of the political means. No state, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery. For that reason, primitive huntsmen are without a state; and even the more highly developed huntsmen become parts of a state structure only when they find in their neighborhood an evolved economic organization which they can subjugate. But primitive huntsmen live in practical anarchy.
Grosse says concerning primitive huntsmen in general:
“There are no essential differences of fortune among them, and thus a principal source for the origin of differences in station is lacking. Generally, all grown men within the tribe enjoy equal rights. The older men, thanks to their greater experience, have a certain authority; but no one feels himself bound to render them obedience. Where in some cases chiefs are recognized—as with the Botokude, the Central Californians, the Wedda and the Mincopie—their power is extremely limited. The chieftain has no means of enforcing his wishes against the will of the rest. Most tribes of hunters, however, have no chieftain. The entire society of the males still forms a homogeneous undifferentiated mass, in which only those individuals achieve prominence who are believed to possess magical powers.”3
Here, then, there scarcely exists a spark of “statehood,” even in the sense of ordinary theories of the state, still less in the sense of the correct “sociologic idea of the state.”
The social structure of primitive peasants has hardly more resemblance to a state than has the horde of huntsmen. Where the peasant, working the ground with a grub, is living in liberty, there is as yet no “state.” The plow is always the mark of a higher economic condition which occurs only in a state; that is to say, in a system of plantation work carried on by subjugated servants.4 The grubbers live isolated from one another, scattered over the country in separated cartilages, perhaps in villages, split up because of quarrels about district or farm boundaries. In the best cases, they live in feebly organized associations, bound together by oath, attached only loosely by the tie which the consciousness of the same descent and speech and the same belief imposes upon them. They unite perhaps once a year in the common celebration of renowned ancestors or of the tribal god. There is no ruling authority over the whole mass; the various chieftains of a village, or possibly of a district, may have more or less influence in their circumscribed spheres, this depending usually upon their personal qualities, and especially upon the magical powers attributed to them. Cunow describes the Peruvian peasants before the incursion of the Incas as follows: “An unregulated living side by side of many independent, mutually warring tribes, who again were split up into more or less autonomous territorial unions, held together by ties of kinship.”5 One may say that all the primitive peasants of the old and new world were of this type.
In such a state of society, it is hardly conceivable that a warlike organization could come about for purposes of attack. It is sufficiently difficult to mobilize the clan, or still more the tribe, for common defense. The peasant is always lacking in mobility. He is as attached to the ground as the plants he cultivates. As a matter of fact, the working of his field makes him “bound to the soil” (glebæ adscriptus), even though, in the absence of law, he has freedom of movement. What purpose, moreover, would a looting expedition effect in a country, which throughout its extent is occupied only by grubbing peasants? The peasant can carry off from the peasant nothing which he does not already own. In a condition of society marked by superfluity of agricultural land, each individual contributes only a little work to its extensive cultivation. Each occupies as much territory as he needs. More would be superfluous. Its acquisition would be lost labor, even were its owner able to conserve for any length of time the grain products thus secured. Under primitive conditions, however, this spoils rapidly by reason of change of atmosphere, ants, or other agencies. According to Ratzel, the Central African peasant must convert the superfluous portion of his crops into beer as quickly as possible in order not to lose it entirely!
For all these reasons, primitive peasants are totally lacking in that warlike desire to take the offensive which is the distinguishing mark of hunters and herdsmen: war can not better their condition. And this peaceable attitude is strengthened by the fact that the occupation of the peasant does not make him an efficient warrior. It is true his muscles are strong and he has powers of endurance, but he is sluggish of movement and slow to come to a determination, while huntsmen and nomads by their methods of living develop speed of motion and swiftness of action. For this reason, the primitive peasant is usually of a more gentle disposition than they.∗
To sum up: within the economic and social conditions of the peasant districts, one finds no differentiation working for the higher forms of integration. There exists neither the impulse nor the possibility for the warlike subjection of neighbors. No “State” can therefore arise; and, as a matter of fact, none ever has arisen from such social conditions. Had there been no impulse from without, from groups of men nourished in a different manner, the primitive grubber would never have discovered the State.
[∗]This psychological contradiction, though often expressly stated, is not the absolute rule, Grosse, Forms of the Family, says (page 137): “Some historians of civilization place the peasant in opposition to the warlike nomads, claiming that the peasants are peace-loving peoples. In fact one can not state that their economic life leads them to wars, or educates them for it, as can be said of stock raisers. Nevertheless, one finds within the scope of this form of cultivation a mass of the most warlike and cruel peoples to be found anywhere. The wild cannibals of the Bismarck archipelago, the blood-lusting Vitians, the butchers of men of Dahome and Ashanti—they all cultivate the ‘peaceable’ acres; and if other peasants are not quite as bad, it seems that the kindly disposition of the vast mass appears to be, at least, questionable.”
[3.]Grosse, Formen der Familie. Freiburg and Leipzig, 1896, p. 39.
[4.]Ratzel, Völkerkunde. Second Edition. Leipzig and Wien, 1894-5, II, p. 372.
[5.]Die Sosiale Verfassung des Inkareichs. Stuttgart, 1896, p. 51.