Front Page Titles (by Subject) (a) the form of dominion - The State
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(a) the form of dominion - 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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(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.
[∗]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.