Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER III.: the primitive feudal state - The State
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CHAPTER III.: the primitive feudal state - 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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the primitive feudal state
(a) the form of dominion
Its form is domination; the dominion of a small warlike minority, interrelated and closely allied, over a definitely bounded territory and its cultivators. Gradually, custom develops some form of law in accordance with which this dominion is exercised. This law regulates the rights of primacy and the claims of the lords, and the duty of obedience and of service on the part of the subjects, in such wise that the capacity of the peasants for rendering service is not impaired. This word, praestationsfæhigkeit, dates from the reforms of Frederick the Great. The “bee-keepership,” therefore, is governed by the law of custom. The duty of paying and working on the part of the peasants corresponds to the duty of protection on the part of the lords, who ward off exactions of their own companions, as well as defend the peasants from the attacks of foreign enemies.
Although this is one part of the content of the state concept, there is another, which in the beginning is of much greater magnitude; the idea of economic exploitation, the political means for the satisfaction of needs. The peasant surrenders a portion of the product of his labor, without any equivalent service in return. “In the beginning was the ground rent.”
The forms under which the ground rent is collected or consumed vary. In some cases, the lords, as a closed union or community, are settled in some fortified camp and consume as communists the tribute of their peasantry. This is the situation in the state of the Inca. In some cases, each individual warrior-noble has a definite strip of land assigned to him: but generally the produce of this is still, as in Sparta, consumed in the “syssitia,” by class associates and companions in arms. In some cases, the landed nobility scatters over the entire territory, each man housed with his following in his fortified castle, and consuming, each for himself, the produce of his dominion or lands. As yet these nobles have not become landlords, in the sense that they administer their property. Each of them receives tribute from the labor of his dependents, whom he neither guides nor supervises. This is the type of the mediæval dominion in the lands of the Germanic nobility. Finally, the knight becomes the owner and administrator of the knight’s fee.∗ His former serfs develop into the laborers on his plantation, and the tribute now appears as the profit of the entrepreneur. This is the type of the earliest capitalist enterprise of modern times, the exploitation of large territories in the lands east of the Elbe, formerly occupied by Slavs and later colonized by Germans. Numerous transitions lead from one stage to the other.
But always, in its essence, is the “State” the same. Its purpose, in every case, is found to be the political means for the satisfaction of needs. At first, its method is by exacting a ground rent, so long as there exists no trade activity the products of which can be appropriated. Its form, in every case, is that of dominion, whereby exploitation is regarded as “justice,” maintained as a “constitution,” insisted on strictly, and in case of need enforced with cruelty. And yet, in these ways, the absolute right of the conqueror becomes narrowed within the confines of law, for the sake of permitting the continuous acquisition of ground rents. The duty of furnishing supplies on the part of the subjects is limited by their right to maintain themselves in good condition. The right of taxation on the part of the lords is supplemented by their duty to afford protection within and without the state—security under the law and defense of the frontier.
At this point, the primitive state is completely developed in all its essentials. It has passed the embryonic condition; whatever follows can be only phenomena of growth.
As compared with unions of families, the state represents, doubtless, a much higher species; since the state embraces a greater mass of men, in closer articulation, more capable of conquering nature and of warding off enemies. It changes the half playful occupations of men into strict methodic labor, and thus brings untold misery to innumerable generations yet unborn. Henceforth, these must eat their bread in the sweat of their brow, since the golden age of the free community of blood relations has been followed by the iron rule of state dominion. But the state, by discovering labor in its proper sense, starts in this world that force which alone can bring about the golden age on a much higher plane of ethical relation and of happiness for all. The state, to use Schiller’s words, destroys the untutored happiness of the people while they were children, in order to bring them along a sad path of suffering to the conscious happiness of maturity.
A higher species! Paul von Lilienfeld, one of the principal advocates of the view that society is an organism of a higher kind, has pointed out that in this respect an especially striking parallel can be drawn between ordinary organisms and this super-organism. All higher beings propagate sexually; lower beings asexually, by partition, by budding and sometimes by conjugation. We have shown that simple partition corresponds exactly to the growth and the further development of the association based on blood relationship, which existed before the state. This grows until it becomes too large for cohesion; it then loses its unity, divides, and the separate hordes, if they associate at all, remain in a very loose connection, without any sort of closer articulation. The amalgamation of exogamic groups is comparable to conjugation.
The state, however, comes into being through sexual propagation. All bisexual propagation is accomplished by the following process: The male element, a small, very active, mobile, vibrating cell—the spermatozoön—searches out a large inactive cell without mobility of its own—the ovum, or female principle—enters and fuses with it. From this process, there results an immense growth; that is to say, a wonderful differentiation with simultaneous integration. The inactive peasantry, bound by nature to their fields, is the ovum, the mobile tribe of herdsmen the spermatozoön, of this sociologic act of fecundation; and its resultant is the ripening of a higher social organism more fully differentiated in its organs, and much more complete in its integrations. It is easy to find further parallels. One may compare the border feuds to the manner in which innumerable spermatozoa swarm about the ovum until finally one, the strongest or most fortunate, discovers and conquers the micropyle. One may compare the almost magical attraction which the ovum has for the spermatozoön, to the no less magical power by which the herdsmen from the steppes are drawn into the cultivated plains.
But all this is no proof for the “organism.” The problem, however, has been pointed out.
(b) the integration
We have followed the genesis of the state, from its second stage onward, in its objective growth as a political and jural form with economic content. But it is far more important to examine its subjective growth, its socio-psychological “differentiation and integration,” since all sociology is nearly always social psychology. First, then, let us discuss integration.
We saw in the second stage, as set forth above, how the net of psychical relations becomes ever tighter and closer enmeshed, as the economic amalgamation advances. The two dialects become one language; or one of the two, often of an entirely different stock from the other, becomes extinct. This, in some cases, is the language of the victors, but more frequently that of the vanquished. Both cults amalgamate to one religion, in which the tribal god of the conquerors is adored as the principal divinity, while the old gods of the vanquished become either his servants, or, as demons or devils, his adversaries. The bodily type tends to assimilate, through the influence of the same climate and similar mode of living. Where a strong difference between the types existed or is maintained,45 the bastards, to a certain extent, fill the gap—so that, in spite of the still existing ethnic contrast, everybody, more and more, begins to feel that the type of the enemies beyond the border is more strange, more “foreign” than is the new co-national type. Lords and subjects view one another as “we,” at least as concerns the enemy beyond the border; and at length the memory of the different origin completely disappears. The conquerors are held to be the sons of the old gods. This, in many cases, they literally are, since these gods are nothing but the souls of their ancestors raised to godhead by apotheosis.
Since the new “states” are much more aggressive than the former communities bound together by mere blood relationship, the feeling of being different from the foreigner beyond the borders, growing in frequent feuds and wars, becomes stronger and stronger among those within the “realm of peace.” And in the same measure there grows among them the feeling of belonging to another; so that the spirit of fraternity and of equity, which formerly existed only within the horde and which never ceased to hold sway within the association of nobles, takes root everywhere, and more and more finds its place in the relations between the lords and their subjects.
At first these relations are manifested only in infrequent cases: equity and fraternity are allowed only such play as is consistent with the right to use the political means; but that much is granted. A far stronger bond of psychical community between high and low, more potent than any success against foreign invasion, is woven by legal protection against the aggression of the mighty. “Justitia fundamentum regnorum.” When, pursuant to their own ideals of justice, the aristocrats as a social group execute one of their own class for murder or robbery, for having exceeded the bounds of permitted exploitation, the thanks and the joy of the subjects are even more heartfelt than after victory over alien foes.
These, then, are the principal lines of development of the psychical integration. Common interest in maintaining order and law and peace produce a strong feeling of solidarity, which may be called “a consciousness of belonging to the same state.”
(c) the differentiation: group theories and group psychology
On the other hand, as in all organic growth, there develops pari passu a psychic differentiation just as powerful. The interests of the group produce strong group feelings; the upper and lower strata develop a “class consciousness” corresponding to their peculiar interests.
The separate interest of the master group is served by maintaining intact the imposed law of political means; such interest makes for “conservatism.” The interest of the subject group, on the contrary, points to the removal of the prevailing rule, to the substitution for it of a new rule, the law of equality for all inhabitants of the state, and makes for “liberalism” and revolution.
Herein lies the tap root of all class and party psychology. Hence there develop, in accordance with definite psychological laws, those incomparably mighty forms of thought which, as “class theories,” through thousands of years of struggle guide and justify every social contest in the consciousness of contemporaries.
“When the will speaks reason has to be silent,” says Schopenhauer, or as Ludwig Gumplowicz states the same idea, “Man acts in accordance with laws of nature, as an after-thought he thinks humanly.” Man’s will being strictly “determined,” he must act according to the pressure which the surrounding world exerts upon him; and the same law is valid for every community of men; groups, classes, and the state itself. They “flow from the plane of higher economic and social pressure to that of lower pressure, along the line of least resistance.” But every individual and each community of men believe themselves free agents; and therefore, by an unescapable psychical law they are forced to consider the path they are traversing as a freely chosen means, and the point toward which they are driven as a freely chosen end. And since man is a rational and ethical being, that is, a social entity, he is obliged to justify before reason and morality the method and the objective point of his movement, and to take account of the social consciousness of his time.
So long as the relations of both groups were simply those of internationally opposed border enemies, the exercise of the political means called for no justification, because a man of alien blood had no rights. As soon, however, as the psychic integration develops, in any degree, the community feeling of state consciousness, as soon as the bond servant acquires “rights,” and the consciousness of essential equality percolates through the mass, the political means requires a system of justification; and there arises in the ruling class the group theory of “legitimacy.”
Everywhere, the upholders of legitimacy justify dominion and exploitation with similar anthropological and theological reasoning. The master group, since it recognizes bravery and warlike efficiency as the only virtues of a man, declares itself, the victors,—and from its standpoint quite correctly—to be the more efficient, the better “race.” This point of view is the more intensified, the lower the subject race is reduced by hard labor and low fare. And since the tribal god of the ruling group has become the supreme god in the new amalgamated state religion, this religion declares—and again from its view-point quite correctly—that the constitution of the state has been decreed by heaven, that it is “tabu,” and that interference with it is sacrilege. In consequence, therefore, of a simple logical inversion, the exploited or subject group is regarded as an essentially inferior race, as unruly, tricky, lazy, cowardly and utterly incapable of self-rule or self-defense, so that any uprising against the imposed dominion must necessarily appear as a revolt against God Himself and against His moral ordinances. For these reasons, the dominant group at all times stands in closest union with the priesthood, which, in its highest positions, at least, nearly always recruits itself from their sons, sharing their political rights and economic privileges.
This has been, and is at this day, the class theory of the ruling group; nothing has been taken from it, not an item has been added to it. Even the very modern argument by which, for example, the landed nobility of old France and of modern Prussia attempted to put out of court the claims of the peasantry to the ownership of lands, on the allegation that they had owned the land from time immemorial, while their peasants had only been granted a life tenure therein,—is reproduced among the Wahuma, of Africa,46 and probably could be shown in many other instances.
Like their class theory, their class psychology has been, and is, at all times the same. Its most important characteristic, the “aristocrat’s pride,” shows itself in contempt for the lower laboring strata. This is so inherent, that herdsmen, even after they have lost their herds and become economically dependent, still retain their pride as former lords: “Even the Galla, who have been despoiled of their wealth of herds by the Somali north of the Tana, and who thus have become watchers of other men’s herds, and even in some cases along the Sabaki become peasants, still look with contempt upon the peasant Watokomo, who are subject to them and resemble the Suaheli. But their attitude is quite different toward their tributary hunting peoples, namely, the Waboni, the Wassanai, and the Walangulo (Ariangulo) who resemble the Galla.”47
The following description of the Tibbu applies, as though it had been originally told of them, to Walter Havenaught and the rest of the poor knights who, in the crusades, looked for booty and lordly domain. It applies no less to many a noble fighting cock from Germany east of the Elbe, and to many a ragged Polish gentleman. “They are men full of self-consciousness. They may be beggars, but they are no pariahs. Many a people under these circumstances would be thoroughly miserable and depressed; the Tibbu have steel in their nature. They are splendidly fitted to be robbers, warriors, and rulers. Even their system of robbery is imposing, although it is base as a jackal’s. These ragged Tibbus, fighting against extreme poverty and constantly on the verge of starvation, raise the most impudent claims with apparent or real belief in their validity. The right of the jackal, which regards the possessions of a stranger as common property, is the protection of greedy men against want. The insecurity of an all but perpetual state of war brings it about that life becomes an insistent challenge, and at the same time the reward of extortion!”48 This phenomenon is in nowise limited to Eastern Africa, for it is said of the Abyssinian soldier: “Thus equipped he comes along. Proudly he looks down on every one: his is the land, and for him the peasant must work.”49
Deeply as the aristocrat at all times despises the economic means and the peasants who employ it, he admits frankly his reliance on the political means. Honest war and “honest thievery”∗ are his occupations as a lord, are his good right. His right—except over those who belong to the same clique—extends just as far as his power. One finds this high praise of the political means nowhere so well stated as in the well-known Doric drinking song:
“I have great treasures; the spear and the sword; Wherewith to guard my body, the bull hide shield well tried.
With these I can plough, and harvest my crop, With these I can garner the sweet grape wine,
By them I bear the name ‘Lord’ with my serfs.
“But these never dare to bear spear and sword, Still less the guard of the body, the bull hide shield well tried. They lie at my feet stretched out on the ground, My hand is licked by them as by hounds,
I am their Persian king—terrifying them by my name.”50
In these wanton lines is expressed the pride of warlike lords. The following verses, taken from an entirely different phase of civilization, show that the robber still has part in the warrior in spite of Christianity, the Peace of God, and the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. These lines also praise the political means, but in its most crude form, simple robbery:
“Would you eke out your life, my young noble squire, Follow then my teaching, upon your horse and join the gang!
Take to the greenwood, when the peasant comes up, Run him down quickly, grab him then by the collar, Rejoice in your heart, taking from him whatever he has,
Unharness his horses and get you away!”51
“Unless,” as Sombart adds, “he preferred to hunt nobler game and to relieve merchants of their valuable consignments. The nobles carried on robbery as a natural method of supplementing their earnings, extending it more and more as the income from their property no longer sufficed to pay for the increasing demands of daily consumption and luxury. The system of freebooting was considered a thoroughly honorable occupation, since it met the demand of the essence of chivalry, that every one should appropriate whatever was within reach of his spear point or of the blade of his sword. The nobles learned freebooting as the cobbler was brought up to his trade. The ballad has put this in merry wise:
“To pillage, to rob, that is no shame, The best in the land do quite the same.”
Besides this principal point of the “squirearchical” psychology, a second distinguishing mark scarcely less characteristic is found in the piety of these folk whether it be of conviction or merely strongly accentuated in public.
It seems as though the same social ideas always force identical characteristics on the ruling class. This is illustrated by the form under which God, in their view, appears as their special National God and preponderatingly as a God of War. Although they profess God as the creator of all men, even of their enemies, and since Christianity, as the God of Love, this does not counteract the force with which class interests formulate their appropriate ideology.
In order to complete the sketch of the psychology of the ruling class, we must not forget the tendency to squander, easily understood in those “ignorant of the taste of toil,” which appears sometimes in a higher form as generosity; nor must we forget, as their supreme trait, that death-despising bravery, which is called forth by the coercion imposed on a minority, their need to defend their rights at any time with arms, and which is favored by a freedom from all labor which permits the development of the body in hunting, sport and feuds. Its caricature is combativeness, and a super-sensitiveness to personal honor, which degenerates into madness.
At this point a small digression: Cæsar found the Celts just at that stage of their development, in which the nobles had obtained dominion over their fellow clansmen. Since that time, his classic narrative has stood as a norm—their class psychology appears as the race psychology of all Celts. Not even Mommsen escaped this error. The result is that now, in every book on universal history or sociology, one may read the palpable error, repeated until contradiction is of no avail, although a mere glance would have sufficed to show that all peoples of all races, in the same stage of their development, have showed the same characteristics; in Europe, Thessalians, Apulians, Campanians, Germans, Poles, etc. Meanwhile the Celts, and specifically the French, in different stages of their development, have showed quite different traits of character. The psychology belongs to the stage of development, not to the race!
Whenever, on the other hand, the religious sanctions of the “state” are weak, or become so, there develops as a group theory on the part of the subjects, the concept, either clear or blurred, of Natural Law. The lower class regards the race pride and the assumed superiority of the nobles as presumptuous, claims to be of as good race and blood as the ruling class—and from their standpoint again quite correctly, since according to their views, labor, efficiency and order are accounted the only virtues. They are skeptical also as to the religion which is the helper of their adversaries; and are as firmly convinced as are the nobles of the directly opposite opinion, namely, that the privileges of the master group violate law as well as reason. Later development is not able to add any essential point to the factors originally given.
Under the influence of these ideas, now clearly, now obscurely brought out, the two groups henceforth fight out their battles, each for its own interests. The young state would be burst apart under the strain of such centrifugal forces, were it not for the centripetal pull of common interests, of the still more powerful state-consciousness. The pressure of foreigners from without, of common enemies, overcomes the inner strain of conflicting class interests. An example may be found in the tale of the secession of the “Plebs” and the successful mission of Menenius Agrippa. And so the young state would, like a planet, swing through all eternity in its predetermined orbit, in accordance with the parallelogram of forces, were it not that it and its surrounding world is changed and developed until it produces new external and inner energies.
(d) the primitive feudal state of higher grade
Growth in itself conditions important changes; and the young state must grow. The same forces that brought it into being, urge its extension, require it to grasp more power. Even were such a young state “sated,” as many a modern state claims to be, it would still be forced to stretch and grow under penalty of extinction. Under primitive social conditions Goethe’s lines apply with absolute truth: “You must rise or fall, conquer or yield, be hammer or anvil.”
States are maintained in accordance with the same principles that called them into being. The primitive state is the creation of warlike robbery; and only by warlike robbery can it be preserved.
The economic want of the master group has no limits; no man is sufficiently rich to satisfy his desires. The political means are turned on new groups of peasants not yet subjected, or new coasts yet unpilfered are sought out. The primitive state expands, until a collision takes place on the edge of the “sphere of interests” of another primitive state, which itself originated in precisely the same way. Then we have for the first time, in place of the warlike robbery heretofore carried on, true war in its narrower sense, since henceforth equally organized and disciplined masses are hurled at one another.
The object of the contest remains always the same, the produce of the economic means of the working classes, such as loot, tribute, taxes and ground rent; but the contest no longer takes place between a group intent on exploiting and another mass to be exploited, but between two master groups for the possession of the entire booty.
The final result of the conflict, in nearly all instances, is the amalgamation of both primitive states into a greater. This in turn, naturally and by force of the same causes, reaches beyond its borders, devours its smaller neighbors, and is perhaps in its turn devoured by some greater state.
The subjected laboring group may not take much interest in the final issue of these contests for the mastery; it is a matter of indifference whether it pays tribute to one or the other set of lords. Their chief interest lies in the course of the particular fight, which is, in any case, paid for with their own hides. Therefore, except in cases of gross ill treatment and exploitation, the lower classes are rightly governed by their “state-consciousness” when, with all their might they aid their hereditary master group in times of war. For if their master group is vanquished, the subjects suffer most severely from the utter devastation of war. They fight literally for wife and children, for home and hearth, when they fight to prevent the rule of foreign masters.
The master group is involved completely in the issue of this fight for dominion. In extreme cases, it may be completely exterminated, as were the local nobility of the Germanic tribes in the Frankish Empire. Nearly as bad, if not worse, is the prospect of being thrust into the group of the serfs. Sometimes a well-timed treaty of peace preserves their social position as master groups of subordinate rank: e. g., the Saxon nobility in Norman England, or the Suppans in German territory taken from the Slavs. In other cases, where the forces are about equal, the two groups amalgamate into one master group with equal rights, which forms a nobility whose members intermarry. This, for instance, was the situation in the Slavic Territories, where isolated Wendish chieftains were treated as the equals of the Germans, or in mediæval Rome, in the case of prominent families from the Alban Hills and Tuscany.
In this new “primitive feudal state of higher grade,” as we shall call it, the ruling group may, therefore, disintegrate into a number of more or less powerful and privileged strata. The organization may show many varieties because of the well-known fact, that often the master group separates into two subordinated economic and social layers, developed as we saw them in the herdsmen stage: the owners of large herds and of many slaves, and the ordinary freemen. Possibly the less complete differentiation into social ranks in the states created by huntsmen in the new world, is to be assigned to the circumstance that in the absence of herds, the concomitants of that form of ownership, and the original separation into classes, were not introduced into the state. We shall, later, see what force was exerted on the political and economic development of states in the old world by the differences in rank and property of the two strata of rulers.
Similarly, as in the case of the ruling group, a corresponding process of differentiation divides the subject group in the “primitive feudal state of a higher grade” into various strata more or less despised and compelled to render service. It is only necessary to recall the very marked difference in the social and jural position occupied by the peasantry in the Doric States, Lacedæmon and Crete, and among the Thessalians, where the perioiki had clear rights of possession and fairly well protected political rights, while the helots, in the latter case the penestai, were almost unprotected in life and property. Among the old Saxons also we find a class, the liti, intermediate between the common freemen and the serfs.52 These examples could be multiplied; apparently they are caused by the same tendencies that brought about the differentiation among the nobility mentioned above. When two primitive feudal states amalgamate, their social layers stratify in a variety of ways, which to a certain extent are comparable to the combinations resulting from mixing together two packs of cards.
It is certain that this mechanical mixture caused by political forces, influences the development of castes, that is to say, of hereditary professions, which at the same time form a hierarchy of social classes. “Castes are usually, if not always, consequences of conquest and subjugation by foreigners.”53 Although this problem has not been completely solved, it may be said that the formation of castes has been very strongly influenced by economic and religious factors. It is probable that castes came about in some such way as this: state-forming forces penetrated into existing economic organizations, and vocations underwent adaptation, and then became petrified under the influence of religious concepts, which, however, may also have influenced their original formation. This seems to follow from the fact that even as between man and woman there exist certain separations of vocation, which, so to say, are taboo and impassable. Thus among all huntsmen, tilling the ground is woman’s work, while among many African shepherds, as soon as the oxplow is used, agriculture becomes man’s work, and then women may not, under pain of sacrilege, use the domestic cattle∗ .
It is likely that such religious concepts may have brought it about that a vocation became hereditary, and then compulsorily hereditary, especially where a tribe or a village carried on a particular craft. This happens with all tribes in a state of nature, where intercourse is easily possible, especially in the case of islanders. When some such group has been conquered by another tribe, the subjects, with their developed hereditary vocations, tend to form within the new state entity a pure “caste.” Their caste position depends partly upon the esteem they had heretofore enjoyed among their own people, and partly upon the advantage which their vocation affords their new masters. If, as was often the case, waves of conquest followed one another in series, the formation of castes might be multiplied, especially if in the meantime economic development had worked out many vocational classes.
This development is probably best seen in the group of smiths, who, in nearly all cases, have occupied a peculiar position, half feared and half despised. In Africa especially, since the beginning of time, we find tribes of expert smiths, as followers and dependents of shepherd tribes. The Hyksos brought such tribes with them into the Nile country, and perhaps owed their decisive victory to arms made by them; and until recent times the Dinka kept the iron working Djur in a sort of subject relation. The same applied also to the nomads of the Sahara; while our northern sagas are filled with the tribal contrast to the “dwarfs” and the fear of their magical powers. All the elements were at hand in a developed state for the formation of sharply differentiated castes.54
How the coöperation of religious concepts affects the beginning of these formations may be well illustrated by an example from Polynesia. Here, “although many natives have the ability to do ship-building, only one privileged class may exercise the craft, so closely is the interest of the states and the societies bound up in this art. All over the archipelago formerly, and to this day in Fiji, the carpenters, who are almost exclusively ship-builders, form a special caste, bear the high sounding title of ‘the king’s workmen,’ and enjoy the prerogative of having their own chieftains. . . . Everything is done in accordance with ancient tradition; the laying the keel, the completion of the ship, and the launching, all take place amidst religious ceremonies and feasts.”55
Where superstition has been strongly developed, a genuine system of castes may come about, based partly on economic and partly on ethnic foundations. In Polynesia, for example, the articulation of the classes, through the operation of the taboo, has brought about a state of affairs very like a most thorough-going caste system.56 Similar results may be seen in Southern Arabia.57 It is unnecessary at this place to enlarge on the important place which religion had in the origin and maintenance of separate castes in ancient Egypt and in modern India∗ .
These are the elements of the primitive feudal state of higher grade. They are more manifold and more numerous than in the lower primitive state; but in both, legal constitution and political-economic distribution are fundamentally the same. The products of the economic means are still the object of the group struggle. This remains now as ever the moving impulse of the domestic policy of the state, while the political means continues now as ever to constitute the moving impulse of its foreign policy in attack or in defense. Identical group theories continue to justify, both for the upper classes and the lower, the objects and means of external and domestic struggles.
But the development can not remain stationary. Growth differs from mere increase in bulk; growth means a constantly heightening differentiation and integration.
The farther the primitive feudal state extends its dominion, the more numerous its subjects, and the denser its population, the more there develops a political-economic division of labor, which calls forth new needs and new means of supplying them; and the more there come into sharp contrasts the distinctions of economic, and consequently of social, class strata, in accordance with what I have called the “law of the agglomeration about existing nuclei of wealth.” This growing differentiation becomes decisive for the further development of the primitive feudal state, and still more for its conclusion.
This conclusion is not meant to be, in any sense, the physical end of such a state. We do not mean the death of a state, whereby such a feudal state of the higher type disappears, in consequence of conflict with a more powerful state, either on the same or on a higher plane of development, as was the case of the Mogul states of India or of Uganda in their conflicts with Great Britain. Neither does it mean such a stagnation as that into which Persia and Turkey have fallen, which represents for a time only a pause in development, since these countries, either of their own force or by foreign conquest, must soon be pushed on the way of their destiny. Neither have we meant the rigidity of the gigantic Chinese Empire, which can last only so long as foreign powers refrain from forcing its mysterious gates∗ .
The outcome here spoken of means the further development of the primitive feudal state, a matter of importance to our understanding of universal history as a process. The principal lines of development into which this issue branches off are twofold and of fundamentally different character. But this polar opposition is conditioned by a like contrast between two sorts of economic wealth each of which increases in accordance with the “law of agglomeration about existing nuclei.” In the one case, it is movable property; in the other, landed property. Here it is the capital of commerce, there property in land, accumulating in the hands of a smaller and smaller number, and thereby overturning radically the articulation of classes, and with it the whole State.
The maritime State is the scene of the development of movable wealth; the territorial State is the embodiment of the development of landed property. The final issue of the first is capitalistic exploitation by slavery, the outcome of the latter is, first of all, the developed feudal State.
Capitalistic exploitation by slavery, the typical result of the development of the so-called “antique States” on the Mediterranean, does not end in the death of states, which is of no importance, but in the death of peoples, because of the consumption of population. In the pedigree of the historical development of the State, it forms a side branch, from which no further immediate growth can take place.
The developed feudal State, however, represents the principal branch, the continuation of the trunk; and is therefore the origin for the further growth of the State. Thence it has developed into the State governed by feudal systems; into absolutism; into the modern constitutional State; and if we are right in our prognosis, it will become a “free citizenship.”
So long as the trunk grew only in one direction, i.e., to include the primitive feudal State of higher grade, our sketch of its growth and development could and did comprise both forms. Henceforth, after the bifurcation, our story branches and follows each branch to its last twig.
We begin, then, with the maritime states, although they are not the older form. On the contrary, as far back as the dawn of history clears the fog of prehistoric existence, the first strong states were formed as territorial states, which then, by their own powers, attained the scale of developed feudal States. But beyond this stage, at least as regards those States most interesting to our culture, most of them either remained stationary or fell into the power of maritime states; and then, infected with the deadly poison of capitalistic exploitation through slavery, were destroyed by the same plague.
The further progress of the expanded feudal states of higher grade could take place only after the maritime states had run their course: mighty forms of domination and statescraft these became, and they subsequently influenced and furthered the conformation of the territorial states that grew from their ruins.
For that reason the story of the fate of maritime states must be first traced, as these are the introduction to the higher forms of state life. After first tracing the lateral branch, we shall then return to the starting point, the primitive feudal State, follow the main trunk to the development of the modern constitutional State, and anticipating actual history, sketch the “free citizenship” of the future.
[∗]Rittergutsbesitz is the ultimate molecule of the German feudal system, a non-urban territory, approximating the concept of knight’s fee in the Angevin fiscal legislation; in modern Germanic law, the possession of an acreage, alienable only as an entity, and by recent legislation, alienable to non-nobles, but subject to and capable of certain exceptions in law not inhering in other forms of real estate.—Translator.
[∗]Compare this with the prevalent justification of “honest graft” in municipal or political contracts.—Translator.
[∗]Similarly there are North Asiatic tribes of huntsmen, where women are definitely forbidden to touch the hunting gear or to cross a hunting trail.—Ratzel I, page 650.
[∗]Besides, it seems that the rigidity of the Indian caste-system is not so harsh in practise. The guild seems as often to break through the barriers of caste as the converse.—Ratzel II, page 596.
[∗]Had we the space, a detailed exposition of this exceptional development of a feudal state would be tempting. China would be well worth a more detailed discussion, since, in many aspects it has approached the condition of “free citizenship” more closely than any people of Western Europe. China has overcome the consequences of the feudal system more thoroughly than we Europeans have; and has made, early in its development, the great property interests in the land harmless, so that their bastard offspring, capitalism, hardly came into being; while in addition, it has worked out to a considerable degree the problems of cooperative production and of coöperative disturibution.
[45.]“Among the Wahuma women occupy a higher position than among the negroes, and are watched carefully by their men. This makes mixed marriages difficult. The mass of the Waganda even to-day would not have remained a genuine negro tribe ‘of dark chocolate colored skin and short wool hair’ were it not that the two peoples are strictly opposed to one another as peasants and herdsmen, rulers and subjects, as despised and honored, in spite of the relations entered into among the upper classes. In this peculiar position, they represent a typical phenomenon, which is found repeated at many other points.”—Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 177.
[46.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 178.
[47.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 198.
[48.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 476.
[49.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 453.
[50.]Kopp, Griechische Staatsaltertümer, 2, Aufl. Berlin, 1893, p. 23.
[51.]Uhland, Alte hoch und niederdeutsche Volkslieder I (1844), p. 339 cited by Sombart: Der moderne Kapitalismus, Leipzig, 1902, I, pp. 384-5.
[52.]Inama-Sternegg, Deutsche Wirtsch.-Gesch. I, Leipzig, 1879, p. 59.
[53.]Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, London, 1891, p. 368.
[54.]Cf. Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 81.
[55.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 156.
[56.]Ratzel, l. c. I, pp. 259-60.
[57.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 434.