Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER IV: the maritime state - The State
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CHAPTER IV: the maritime 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 maritime state
The course of life and the path of suffering of the State founded by sea nomads, as has been stated above, is determined by commercial capital; just as that of the territorial State is determined by capital vested in realty; and, we may add, that of the modern constitutional State by productive capital. The seanomad, however, did not invent trade or merchandising, fairs or markets or cities; these preëxisted, and since they served his purpose, were now developed to suit his interests. All these institutions, serving the economic means, the barter for equivalents, had long since been discovered.
Here for the first time in our survey we find the economic means not the object of exploitation by the political means, but as a coöperating agent in originating the State, one might call it the “chain” passing into the “lift” created by the feudal state to bring forth a more elaborate structure. The genesis of the maritime State would not be thoroughly intelligible, were we not to premise a statement concerning traffic and interchange of wares in prehistoric times. Furthermore, no prognosis of the modern state is complete, which does not take into account the independently formed economic means of aboriginal barter.
(a) traffic in prehistoric times
The psychological explanation of barter has brought for the theory of the marginal utility, its greatest merit. According to this theory, the subjective valuation of any economic good decreases in proportion to the number of objects of the same kind possessed by the same owner. When even two proprietors meet, each having a number of similar articles, they will gladly barter, provided political means are barred, i. e., if both parts are apparently equally strong and well-armed, or in the very early stage, are within the sacred circle of relationship. By barter, each one receives property of very high subjective value, in place of property of very low subjective value, so that both parties are gainers in the transaction. The desire of primitive people for bartering must be stronger than that of cultured ones. For at this stage man does not value his own goods, but covets the things belonging to strangers, and is hardly affected by calculated economic considerations.
On the other hand, we must not forget that there are primitive peoples for whom barter has no attraction whatever. “Cook tells of tribes in Polynesia, with whom no intercourse was possible, since presents made absolutely no impression on them, and were afterward thrown away; everything shown them they regarded with indifference, and with no desire to own it, while with their own things they would not part; in fact, they had no conception of either trade or barter.”58 So Westermarck is of the opinion that “barter and traffic are comparatively late inventions.” In this he stands in opposition to Peschel, who would have it that man in the earliest known stage of development engaged in barter. Westermarck states that there is no proof “that the cave-dwellers of Périgord from the reindeer period obtained their rock-crystals, their shells from the Atlantic, and the horns of the Saiga antelope from (modern) Poland by way of barter.”59
In spite of these exceptions, which admit other explanations—perhaps the natives feared sorcery—the history of primitive peoples shows that the desire to trade and barter is a universal human characteristic. It can, however, take effect only when these primitive men on meeting with strangers are offered new enticing objects, since in the immediate circle of their own blood kinsmen every one has the same kinds of property, and in their natural communism, on the average about the same amount.
Yet even then, barter, the beginning of all regular trading, can take place only when the meeting with foreigners is a peaceable one. But is there any possibility for peaceable meeting with foreigners? Is not primitive man, through his entire life, and especially at the period when barter begins, still under the apprehension that every one of a different horde is an enemy to be feared as the wolf?
After trade is developed, it is, as a rule, strongly influenced by the “political means,” “trade generally follows robbery.”60 But its first beginnings are chiefly the result of the economic means, the outcome of pacific, not warlike, intercourse.
The international relations of primitive huntsmen with one another must not be confused with those existing either between the huntsmen of herdsmen and their peasants, or amongst the herdsmen themselves. There are, undoubtedly, blood-feuds, or feuds because of looted women, or possibly because of violation of the districts set aside for hunting grounds; but these lack that strong incentive, which is the consequence of avarice alone, of the desire to despoil other men of the products of their labor. Therefore, the “wars” of primitive huntsmen are scarcely real wars, but rather scuffles and single combats, carried on frequently—as are the German student duels—according to an established ceremonial, and prolonged only up to the point of incapacity to fight, as one might say, “until claret has been drawn.”61 These tribes, numerically very weak, wisely limit bloodshed to the indispensable amount—e.g., in case of a blood vendetta feud—and thus avoid starting new vendetta blood feuds.
For this reason, pacific relations with their neighbors on an equal economic scale are much stronger, and also freer from the incentive to use political means, both among huntsmen and among primitive peasants, than among herdsmen. There are numerous examples where the former meet peaceably to exploit natural resources in common. “While yet in primitive stages of civilization, great masses of people gather together, from time to time, at places where useful objects may be found. The Indians of a large part of America made regular pilgrimages to the flint grounds; others assembled annually at harvest time at the Zizania swamps of the lakes of the Northwest. The Australians, living scattered in the Barku district, assemble from all directions for the harvest festivals at the swamp beds of the corn bearing Marsiliacae. When the bonga-bonga trees in Queensland produce a superabundant crop, and a greater store is on hand than the tribe can consume, foreign tribes are permitted to share therein.”63 “Various tribes agree on the common ownership of definite strips of territory, and likewise of the quarries of phonolite for hatchets.”64 Numerous Australian tribes have common consultations and sessions of the elders for judgment. In these,the remainder of the population form the bystanders, a custom similar to the Germanic “Umstand“ in the primitive folkmoot.65
It is but natural that such meetings should bring about barter. Perhaps this explains the origin of those “weekly fairs held by the Negroes of Central Africa in the midst of the primæval forest under special arrangements for the peace,”66 and likewise the great fairs, said to be very ancient, of the fur hunters of the extreme north of the Tschuktsche.
Westermarck, in his recent monumental work (1907), Origin and Development of Moral Concepts,68 states that the custom of hospitality results from two causes, curiosity for news from the stranger from afar, and still more from the fear that the stranger may be endowed with powers of sorcery, imputed to him just because he is a stranger.∗ In the Bible, hospitality is recommended for the reason that one can not know that the stranger may not be an angel. The superstitious race fears his curse (the Erinys of the Greeks) and hastens to propitiate the stranger. Having been accepted as a guest he is inviolable and enjoys the sacred right of the blood-related group, and is regarded as belonging to it during his stay. Therefore he partakes of the benefits of the aboriginal communism reigning in the group, and shares its property. The host demands and receives whatever he claims, the stranger obtains in turn what he asks for. When the peaceable intercourse becomes more frequent, the mutual giving of guest-presents may develop into a trading arrangement, because the trader gladly returns to the spot where he found good entertainment and a profitable exchange and where he is protected by the laws of hospitality, instead of seeking new places, where, often with danger to his life, he would first have to acquire the right to hospitality.
The existence of an “international” division of labor is, of course, presupposed before the development of a regular trade relation can begin. Such a division of labor exists much earlier and to a greater extent than is generally believed. “It is quite erroneous to suppose that the division of labor takes place only on a high scale of economic development. There are in the interior of Africa villages of iron-smiths, nay, of such as only turn out dartknives; New Guinea has its villages of potters, North America its arrow-head makers.”69 From such specialties there develops trade, whether through roving merchants, or by gifts to one’s hosts, or by peace-gifts from tribe to tribe. In North America, the Kaddu trade in bows. “Obsidian was universally employed for arrow heads and knives; on the Yellow-stone, on the Snake River, in New Mexico, but especially in Mexico. Thence the precious article was distributed all over the entire country as far as Ohio and Tennessee, a distance of nearly two thousand miles.”70
According to Vierkandt: “From the purely home-made products of primitive peoples, there results a system of trade totally distinct from that prevailing under modern conditions. . . . Each separate tribe has developed special aptitudes, leading to interexchange. Even among the comparatively uncivilized Indian tribes of South America, we find such differentiations. . . . By such a trade, products may be distributed over extraordinary distances, not in any direct way, through professional traders, but through a gradual passing along from tribe to tribe. The origin of such a trade, as Buecher has shown, is to be traced back to the exchange of guest-gifts.”71
Besides this exchange of guest-gifts, a trade may grow from the peace offerings which adversaries after a fight exchange as a sign of reconciliation. Sartorius reports on Polynesia: “After a war between different islands, the peace offerings for each group were something novel; and if the present and return present pleased both parties, a repetition took place, and thus again the way for exchange of products was opened. But, these, in contrast to guest-gifts, were the bases of continuing intercourse. Here, in place of the contact of individuals, tribes and peoples met. Women are the first object of barter; they form the connecting link between strange tribes, and according to evidence from many sources, women are exchanged for cattle.”72
We meet here an object of trade, exchangeable even without “international division of labor.” And it appears as though the exchange of women had, in many ways, smoothed the way for the traffic in merchandise, as though it had been the first step toward the peaceable integration of tribes, which accompanied the warlike integration of the formation of the State. Lippert, however, believes that the peaceful exchange of fire antedates this barter.73 Conceding that this custom is very ancient, he can nevertheless trace it only from rudiments of observances and of law; and since proof is no longer accessible, we shall not pursue the question further in this place.
On the other hand, the exchange of women is observed universally, and doubtless exerts an extraordinarily strong influence in the development of peaceable intercourse between neighboring tribes, and in the preparation for barter of merchandise. The story of the Sabine women, who threw themselves between their brothers and their husbands, as these were about to engage in battle, must have been an actuality in a thousand instances in the course of the development of the human race. All over the world, the marriage of near relatives is considered an outrage, as “incest,” for reasons not within the scope of this book.74 This directs the sexual longing toward the women of neighboring tribes, and thus makes the loot of women a part of the primary intertribal relations; and in nearly all cases, unless strong feelings of race counteract it, the violent carrying off of women is gradually commuted to barter and purchase, the custom resulting from the relative undesirability of the women of one’s own blood in comparison to the wives to be had from other tribes.
Where division of labor made at all possible the exchange of goods, the relations among the various tribes would thereafter be made serviceable to it; the exogamic groups gradually become accustomed regularly to meet on a peaceful basis. The peace, originally protecting the horde of blood relations, thereafter comes to be extended over a wider circle. One example from numberless instances: “Each of the two Camerun tribes has its own ‘bush countries,’ places where its own tribesmen trade, and where, by intermarriage, they have relatives. Here also exogamy shows its tribelinking power.”
These are the principal lines of growth of peaceful barter and traffic; from the right to hospitality and the exchange of women, perhaps also from the exchange of fire, to the trade in commodities. In addition to this, markets and fairs, and perhaps also traders, were almost uniformly regarded as being under the protection of a god who preserved peace and avenged its violation. Thus we have brought the fundamentals of this most important sociological factor to the point where the political means enters as a cause to disturb, rearrange, and then to develop and affect the creations of the economic means.
(b) trade and the primitive state
There are two very important reasons why the robber-warrior should not unduly interfere with such markets and fairs as he may find within his conquered domain.
The first, which is extra-economic, is the superstitious fear that the godhead will avenge a breach of the peace. The second, which is economic, and probably is the more important—and I think I am the first to point out this connection—is that the conquerors can not well do without the markets.
The booty of the primitive victors consists of much property which is unavailable for their immediate use and consumption. Since valuable articles at that period exist in but few forms, while these few occur in large quantity, the “marginal utility” of any one kind is held very low. This applies especially to the most important product of the political means, slaves. Let us first take up the case of the herdsman: his need of slaves is limited by the size of his herds; he is very likely to exchange his surplus for other objects of greater value to him: for salt, ornaments, arms, metals, woven materials, utensils, etc. For that reason, the herdsman is not only at all times a robber, always in addition he is a merchant and trader and he protects trade.
He protects trade coming his way in order to exchange his loot against the products of another civilization—from the earliest times, nomads have convoyed the caravans passing through their steppes or deserts in consideration of protection money—but he also protects trade even in places conquered by him in prehistoric times. Quite the same sort of consideration which influenced the herdsmen to change from bear stage to bee-keeper stage, must have influenced them to maintain and protect ancient markets and fairs. One single looting, in this case, would mean killing the hen that lays the golden eggs. It is more profitable to preserve the market and rather to extend the prevailing peace over it, since there is not only the profit to be had from an exchange of foreign wares against loot, but also the protection money, the lords’ toll, to be collected. For that reason princes of feudal states of every stage of development extended over markets, highways and merchants, their especial protection, the “king’s peace,” often indeed reserving to themselves the monopoly of foreign trade. Everywhere we see them busily engaged in calling into being new fairs and cities by the grant of protection and immunity.
This interest in the system of fairs and markets makes it thoroughly credible that tribes of herdsmen respected existing market places in their sphere of influence to such an extent that they suspended the exertion of the political means so completely as not even to exercise “dominion” over them. The story told by Herodotus is inherently probable, though he was astonished that the Argippæans had a sacred market amidst the lawless Scythian herdsmen, and that their unarmed inhabitants were effectively protected through the hallowed peace of their market place. Many similar phenomena make this the more easily believable.
“No one dare harm them, since they are considered holy; and yet they have no arms; but it is they who allay the quarrels of their neighbors, and whoever has escaped to them as a runaway may not be touched by any other man.”76 Similar instances are found frequently: “It is always the same story of the Argippæans, the story of the ‘holy,’ ‘unarmed,’ ‘just,’ bartering, and strife-settling tribelet in the midst of a Bedouin-like, nomadic population.”77 Cære may be taken as an example of a higher type. Strabo says of its inhabitants: “The Greeks thought highly of their bravery and justice, because although powerful in a great degree, they abstained from robbery.” Mommsen, who quotes this passage, adds: “This does not exclude piracy, which was engaged in by the merchants of Cære as well as by all other merchants, but rather that cære was a sort of free harbor for the Phœnicians as for the Greeks.”78
Cære is not like the fair of the Argippæans, a market place in the interior of a district of land nomads, but is in the midst of a domain of sea nomads, a port endowed with its own peace. This is one of those typical formations whose importance, in my estimation, has not been appreciated at its real value. They have, it seems to me, exercised a mighty influence on the genesis of maritime states.
Those reasons by which we saw the land nomads forced to preserve, if not to create, market places, must with even more intensity, have coerced the sea nomads to similar demeanor. For the transportation of loot, especially of herds and of slaves, is difficult and dangerous on the trails across the desert or the steppes: the slow progress invites pursuit. But with war-canoe and “dragon-ship” this transportation is easy and safe. For that reason, the Viking is even much more a trader and merchant than is the herdsman. As is said in Faust, “War, Commerce, and Piracy are inseparable.”
(c) the genesis of the maritime state
In many cases, I believe, trade in the loot of piracy is the origin of those cities around which, as political centers, the city-states of the antique or Mediterranean civilization grew up; while in very many other cases, the same trade coöperated to bring them to the same point of political development.
These harbor markets developed from probably two general types: they grew up either as piratical fortresses directly and intentionally placed in hostile territory, or else as “merchant colonies” based on treaty rights in the harbors of foreign primitive or developed feudal states.
Of the first type, we have a number of important examples from ancient history which correspond exactly to the fourth stage of our scheme, where an armed colony of pirates plants itself down at a commercially and strategically defendable point on the seacoast of a foreign state. The most notable instance is Carthage; and in like manner, the Greek sea nomads, Ionians, Dorians and Achæans, settled in their sea castles on the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian coasts of Southern Italy, on the islands of these seas, and on the gulfs of Southern Gaul. Phœnicians, Etruscans,∗ Greeks, and according to modern investigation, Carians, all about the Mediterranean, founded their “States” after the same type, with identical class division into masters and servile peasantry of the neighboring territory.79
Some of these states on the coast developed into feudal states of the type of the territorial states; and the master class then became a landed aristocracy. The factors in this change were: first, geographical conditions, lack of good harbors, and a wide stretch of hinterland cultivated by peaceful peasants; and secondly, very probably, the acquired organization into classes taken with them from their originial homes. In many cases, they were fugitive nobles, the vanquished of domestic feuds, or younger sons, sometimes an entire generation of youth of both sexes, who thus started “on the viking,” and having at home had lands and serfs, as petty lords, they again sought in foreign lands what they regarded as their due. The occupation of England by the Anglo-Saxons, and of Southern Italy by the Normans, are examples of this method; so too are the Spanish and Portuguese colonizations of Mexico and of South America. The Achæan colonies of Greater Greece in Southern Italy furnish additional and very important instances of this development of territorial feudal states by sea nomads: “This Achæan League of cities was a true colonization. The cities were without harbors—Croton only had a fair roadstead—and were without any trade of their own; the Sybarite could boast of his growing gray in his water town between his home bridges, while buying and selling were carried on by Milesians and Etruscans. On the other hand, the Greeks in this region not only controlled the fringe of the shore, but ruled from sea to sea; . . . the native agricultural inhabitants were forced into a relation of clientage or serfdom, and were required to work the farms of their masters or to pay tribute to them.”80 It is probable that most of the Doric colonies in Crete were similarly organized.
But in the course of universal history these “territorial states,” whether they arose more or less frequently, did not acquire any such importance as did those maritime cities which devoted their principal energies to commerce and to privateering. Mommsen contrasts in distinct and well chosen sentences the Achæan landed squire with the “royal merchants” of the Greek Colonies in Southern Italy: “In no way did they spurn agriculture or the increase of territory; the Greeks were not satisfied, at least not after they became powerful, to remain within the confined space of a fortified commercial factory in the midst of the country of the barbarians, as the Phænicians had done. Their cities were founded primarily and exclusively for purposes of trade, and unlike the Achæan colonies, were universally situated at the best harbors and landing places.”81 We are certain, in the case of the Ionic colonies, and may well assume it for the other cases, that the founders of these cities were not landed squires, but seafaring merchants.
But such maritime states or cities, in the strict sense, came into being not only through warlike conquest, but also through peaceable beginnings, by a more or less mixed pénétration pacifique.
Where, however, the Vikings did not meet peaceable peasants, but feudal states in the primitive stage, willing to fight, they offered and accepted terms of peace and settled down as colonies of merchants.
We know of such cases from every part of the world, in harbors and on markets held on shore. To take the instances with which Germans are most conversant, there are the settlements of North German merchants in countries along the German ocean and the Baltic Sea, the German Steel Yard in London, the Hansa in Sweden and Norway, on the Island of Schönen, and in Russia, at Novgorod. In Wilna, the capital of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania, there was such a colony; and the Fondaco dei Tedeschi in Venice is another example of a similar institution. The strangers in nearly every instance settle down as a compact mass, subject to their own laws and their own jurisdiction. They often acquire great political influence, sometimes extending to dominion over the state. One would think the following tale of Ratzel, concerning the coast and islands of the Indian Ocean, were a contemporaneous narrative of the Phænician or Greek invasion of the Mediterranean at about 1,000 B. C.: “Whole nations have, so to say, been liquefied by trade, especially the proverbially clever, zealous, omnipresent Malays of Sumatra; as well as the treacherous Bugi of Celebes. These can be met with at every place from Singapore to New Guinea. Latterly, especially in Borneo, they have immigrated in masses on the call of the Borneo chieftains. Their influence was so strong that they were permitted to govern themselves according to their own laws, and they felt themselves so strong that repeatedly they attempted to achieve independence. The Achinese formerly occupied a similar position. Malacca had been made the principal mart by Malays from Sumatra, and after its decline, Achin became the most frequented harbor of this distant east, especially for the first quarter of the seventeenth century, the pivotal period of the development of that corner of the world.”82 The following, from among numberless instances, demonstrate the universality of this form of settlement: “In Urga, where they politically dominate, the merchants are crowded together into a separate Chinese Town.”83 In the Jewish States there were “small colonies of foreign merchants and mechanics, set apart in distinct quarters of the cities. Here, under the king’s protection, they could live according to their own religious customs.”84 We may also compare with this, First Kings XX, 34. “King Omri of Ephraim was forced by the military success of his opponent, the King of Damascus, to grant to the Aramaic merchants the use of certain parts of the city of Samaria, where under royal protection they could trade. Later, when the turn of war favored his successor, Ahab, the latter demanded the same privilege for the Ephraimitic merchants in Damascus.”85 “The inhabitants of Italy, wherever they were, held together as solid and organized masses, the soldiers as legionaries, the merchants of all large cities as corporations; while the Roman citizens domiciled or dwelling in the various provincial circuits, were organized as a ‘convention of Roman citizens’ with their own communal government.”86 We may recall the mediæval Ghettos, which, before the great persecution of the Jews in the Middle Ages, were similar merchant colonies. The settlements of Europeans in the ports of strong foreign empires at the present time show similar corporate organizations, having their own constitution and (consular) jurisdiction. China, Turkey and Morocco must continue to bear this mark of inferiority, while recently Japan has been able to rid herself of that badge.
The most interesting point about these colonies, at least for our study, consists in their general tendency to extend their political influence into complete domination. And there is good reason for this. Merchants have a mass of movable wealth, which is likely to be used as a decisive factor in the political upheavals constantly disturbing all feudal states, be it in international wars between two neighboring states, or in intra-national fights, such as wars of succession. In addition to this the colonists, in many cases, may rely on the power of their home state, basing their claim on ties of blood and on uncommonly strong commercial interests; while there is besides, the fact that in many cases they have in their warlike sailor-folk and their numerous slaves an effective and compact force of their own, capable of accomplishing much in a limited sphere.
The following story of the rôle played by Arab merchants in East Africa appears to me to show a historical type heretofore not sufficiently appreciated: “When Speke, as the first European, made this trip in 1857, the Arabs were merchants, living as aliens in the land. When in 1861 he passed the same way, the Arabs resembled great landed proprietors with rich estates and were waging war with the native territorial ruler. This process, repeatedly found in many other regions in the interior of Africa, is the necessary consequence of the balance of power. The foreign merchants, be they Arabs or Suaheli, ask the privilege of transit and pay tribute for it; they establish warehouses, which the chiefs favor, as these seem both to satisfy their vanity and to extend their connections; then incurring the suspicion, oppression and persecution of the chiefs, the merchants refuse to pay the rack tolls and dues, which have grown with their increased prosperity. At last, in one of the inevitable fights for the succession, the Arabs take the side of one pretender if he is pliable enough, and are thus brought into internal quarrels of the country and take part in the often endless wars.”87
This political activity of the merchant denizens (metoikoi) is a constantly recurring type. “In Borneo there developed from the settlements of Chinese gold diggers separate states.”88 Properly speaking, the entire history of colonization by Europeans is a series of examples of the law that, with any superior force, the factories and larger settlements of foreigners tend to grow into domination, unless they approximate to the primal type of simple piracy, such as the Spanish and Portuguese conquests, or the East India Companies, both the English and the Dutch. “There lies a robber state beside the ocean, between the Rhine and the Scheldt,” are the accusing words of the Dutch Multatuli. All East Asiatic, American and African colonies of all European peoples arose as one or the other of these two types.
But the aliens do not always obtain unconditional mastery. Sometimes the host state is too strong, and the newcomers remain politically powerless but protected aliens; as, for example, the Germans in England. Sometimes the host state, although subjugated, becomes strong enough to shake off the foreign domination; so, for instance, Sweden drove out the Hanseats who had imposed on her their sovereignty. In some cases, a conqueror overcomes both merchants and host state, and subjugates both; as happened to the republics of Novgorod and Pskov, when the Russians annexed them. In many cases, however, the rich foreigners and the domestic nobility amalgamate into one group of rulers, following the type of the formation of territorial states, in which we saw this take place whenever two about equally strong groups of rulers came into conflict. It seems to me that this last named situation is the most probable assumption for the genesis of the most important city states of antiquity, for the Greek maritime cities, and for Rome.
Of Greek history, to use the terms of Kurt Breysig, we know only the “Middle Ages,” of Roman history, only its “Modern Times.” For the matters that preceded, we must be extremely careful in drawing deductions from fancied analogies. But it seems to me that enough facts are proved and admitted to permit the conclusion that Athens, Corinth, Mycenæ, Rome, etc., became states in the manner already set forth. And this would follow, even if the data from all known demography and general history were not of such universal validity as to permit the conclusion in itself.
We know accurately from the names of places (Salamis: Island of Peace, equivalent to Market-Island), from the names of heroes, from monuments, and from immediate tradition, that in many Greek harbors there existed Phænician factories, while the hinterland was occupied by small feudal states with the typical articulation of nobles, common freemen, and slaves. It can not seriously be disputed that the development of the city states was powerfully advanced by foreign influences; and this is true, though no specific evidence can be adduced to show that any of the Phænician, or of the still more powerful Carian merchants were either allowed to intermarry with the families of the resident nobility, or were made full citizens, or finally even became princes.
The same applies to Rome, concerning which Mommsen, a cautious author, states: “Rome owes its importance, if not its origin, to these commercial and strategic relations. Evidence of this is found in many traces of far greater value than the tales of historical novels pretending to be authentic. Take an instance of the primæval relations existing between Rome and Cære, which was for Etruria what Rome was for Latium, and thereafter was its nearest neighbor and commercial friend; or the uncommon importance attributed to the bridge over Tiber and the bridge building (Pontifex Maximus) in every part of the Roman State; or the galley in the municipal coat of arms. To this source may be traced the prinitive Roman harbor dues to which, from early times, only those goods were subject which were intended for sale (promercale) and not what entered the harbor of Ostia, for the proper use of the charterer (usuarium), and which constituted therefore an impost on trade. For that reason we find the comparatively early use of minted money, and the commercial treaties of states oversea with Rome. In this sense, then, Rome may, as the story of its origin states, have been rather a created than a developed city, and among the Latin cities rather the youngest than the eldest.”89
It would require the work of a lifetime of historical research to investigate these possibilities, or rather these probabilities; and then to write the constitutional history of these preëminently important city states, and to draw thence the very necessary conclusions. It seems to me that along this path there would be found much information on many an obscure question, such as the Etruscan dominion in Rome, or the origin of the rich families of Plebeians, or concerning the Athenian metoikoi, and many other problems.
Here we can only follow the thread which holds out the hope of leading us through the labyrinth of historical tradition to the issue.
(d) essence and issue of the maritime states
All these are true “States” in the sociologic sense, whether they arose from the fortresses of sea-robbers, or from harbors of original land nomads as merchant colonies which obtained dominion or which amalgamated with the dominating group of the host people. For they are nothing but the organization of the political means, their form is domination, their content the economic exploitation of the subject by the master group.
So far as the principle is concerned, they are not to be differentiated from the States founded by land nomads; and yet they have taken a different form, both from internal and external reasons, and show a different psychology of classes.
One must not believe that class feeling was at all different in these and in the territorial states. Here as there the master class looks down with the same contempt on the subjects, on the “Rantuses,” on the “man with the blue fingernails,” as the German patrician in the Middle Ages looked on a being with whom, even when free born, no intermarriage or social intercourse was permitted. Little indeed does the class theory of the καλοχάγαθόι (well-born) or of the patricians (children of ancestors) differ from that of the country squires. But other circumstances here bring about differences, consonant, naturally, with class interests. In any district ruled by merchants, highway robbery can not be tolerated, and therefore it is considered, e.g., among the maritime Greeks, a vulgar crime. The tale of Theseus would not in a territorial state have been pointed against the highwaymen. On the other hand, “piracy was regarded by them, in most remote times, as a trade nowise dishonorable . . . of which ample proof may be found in the Homeric poems; while at a much later period Polycrates had organized a well developed robber-state on the island of Samos.” “In the Corpus Juris, mention is made of a law of Solon in which the association of pirates(ἐπὶ λείαν οίΧόμενοι) is recognized as a permissible company.”90
But quite apart from such details, mentioned only because they serve to cast a clear light on the growth of the “ideologic superstructure,”∗ the basic conditions of existence of maritime states, utterly different from those of territorial states, called into being two exceedingly important phenomena, which are of universal historical importance, viz., the growth of a democratic constitution, whereby the gigantic contest between the sultanism of the Orient and the civic freedom of the West was to be fought out (according to Mommsen the true content of universal history); and in the second place the development of capitalistic slave-work, which in the end was to annihilate all these states.
Let us first consider the inner or socio-psychological causes of this contrast between the territorial and the maritime state.
States are maintained by the same principle from which they arise. Conquest of land and populations is the ratio essendi of a territorial state; and by the repeated conquest of lands and populations it must grow, until its natural growth is checked by mountain ranges, desert, or ocean, or its sociological bounds are determined by contact with other states of its own kind, which it can not subjugate. The maritime state, on the other hand, came into being from piracy and trade; and through these two means, it must strive to extend its power. For this purpose, no extended territory need be absolutely subjected to its sway. There is no need to carry its development beyond the first five stages. The maritime states rarely, and only when compelled, proceed beyond the fifth stage, and attain to complete intra-nationality and amalgamation. Usually, it is enough if other sea nomads and traders are kept away, if the monopoly of robbery and trade is secured, and if the “subjects” are kept quiet by forts and garrisons. Important places of production are, of course, actually “dominated”; and this applies especially to mines, to a few fertile grain belts, to woods with good lumber, to salt works, and to important fisheries. Domination here, therefore, means permanent administration, by making the subjects work these for the ruling class. It is only later in the development, that there arises a taste for “lands and serfs” and large domains for the ruling class beyond the confines of the narrow and original limits of the State. This happens when the maritime state by the incorporation of subjugated territories has become a mixture of the territorial and the maritime forms. But even in that case, and in contradistinction to territorial states, large landed properties are merely a source of money rentals, and are in nearly all cases administered as absentee-property. This we find in Carthage and in the later Roman Empire.
The interests of the master class, which in the maritime state as well as in every other state, governs according to its own advantage, are different from those in the territorial state. In the latter the feudal territorial magnate is powerful because of his ownership of lands and people; while conversely, the patrician of the maritime city is powerful because of his wealth. The territorial magnate can dominate his “State” only by the number of men-at-arms maintained by him, and in order to have as many of these as possible, he must increase his territory as much as possible. The patrician, on the other hand, can control his “state” only by movable wealth, with which he can hire strong arms or bribe weak souls; such wealth is won faster by piracy and by trade than by land wars and the possession of large estates in distant territories. Furthermore, in order thoroughly to use such property, he would be obliged to leave his city to settle down on it, and to become a regular squire; because in a period when money has not yet become general, where a profitable division of labor between town and country has not yet come about, the exploitation of large estates can only be carried on by actually consuming their products, and absentee ownership as a source of income is inconceivable. Thus far, however, we have not reached that portion of the developments. We are still examining primitive conditions. No patrician of any city state would, at this time, think of leaving his lively rich home, in order to bury himself among barbarians, and thus with one move cut himself off in his state from any political rôle. All his economic, social and political interests impel him with one accord toward maritime ventures. Not landed property, but movable capital, is the sinew of his life.
These were the moving causes of the actions of the master class in the maritime cities; and even where geographical conditions permitted an extensive expansion beyond the adjoining hinterland of these cities, they turned the weight of effort toward sea-power rather than toward territorial growth. Even in the case of Carthage, its colossal territory was of far less importance to it than its maritime interests. Primarily it conquered Sicily and Corsica more in order to check the competition of the Greek and Etruscan traders than for the sake of owning these islands; it extended its territories toward the Lybians largely to insure the security of its other home possessions; and finally, when it conquered Spain, its ultimate reason was the need of owning the mines. The history of the Hansa shows many points of similarity to the above. The majority of these maritime cities, moreover, were not capable of subjugating a large district. Even had there been the will to conquer, there were extraneous, geographical conditions that hindered. All along the Mediterranean, with the exception of some few places, the coastal plain is extremely narrow, a small strip fenced off by high mountain ranges. That was one cause which prevented most of the states grouped about some trading harbor from growing to anything like the size we should naturally assume to be probable; while in the open country, ruled by herdsmen, and this very early, immense realms came into being. The second cause for the small beginnings of these states is found in this, that the hinterland whether in the hills or on the few plains of the Mediterranean was occupied by warlike tribes. These tribesmen, either hunters or warlike herdsmen, or else primitive feudal states of the same master race as the sea nomads, were not likely to be subjugated without a severe contest. Thus in Greece the interior was saved from the maritime states.
For these reasons the maritime State, even when most developed, always remains centralized, one is tempted to say centered, on its trading harbor; while the territorial State, strongly decentralized from the start, for a long time continues to develop as it expands a still more pronounced decentralization. Later, we shall see how this is affected by the adoption of those forms of government and of economic achievement which first were perfected in the “city-state,” and which thus obtained the strength to counteract the centrifugal forces, and to build up the central organization which is characteristic of our modern states. This is the first great contrast between the two forms of the State.
No less decisive is the second point of contrast, whereby the territorial State remains tied up to natural economies as opposed to money economies, toward which the maritime State quickly turns. This contrast grows also out of the basic conditions of their existence.
Wherever a State lives in natural economy, money is a superfluous luxury—so superfluous that an economy developed to the use of money retrogrades again into a system of payments in kind as soon as the community drops back into the primitive form. Thus after Charlemagne had issued good coins, the economic situation expelled them. Neustria—not to mention Austrasia—under the stress of the migration of the peoples reverted to payment in kind. Such a system can well do without money as a standard of values, since it is without any developed intercourse and traffic. The lord’s tenants furnish as tribute those things that the lord and his followers consume immediately; while his ornaments, fine fabrics, damascened arms, or rare horses, salt, etc., are procured in exchange with wandering merchants for slaves, wax, furs and other products of a warlike economic system of exchange in kind.
In city life, at any advanced stage of development, it is impossible to exist without a common measure of values. The free mechanic in a city can not, except in rare cases, find some other craftsman in need of the special thing which he produces, prepared to consume it immediately. Then, too, in cities the inevitable retail trade in food products, where every one must purchase nearly everything required, makes the use of coined money quite inevitable. It is impossible to conduct trade in its more limited sense, not between merchant and customers, but between merchant and merchant, without having a common measure of value. Imagine the case of a trader entering a port with a cargo of slaves, wishing to take cloth as a return cargo, and finding a cloth merchant who at the time may not want slaves but iron, or cattle, or furs. To accomplish this exchange, at least a dozen intermediate trades would have to take place before the object could be achieved. That can be avoided only if there exists some one commodity desired by all. In the system of payment in kind of the territorial states this may be taken by cattle or horses, since they may be used by any one at some time; but the ship owner can not load with cattle as a means of payment, and thus gold and silver become recognized as “money.”
From centralization and from the use of money, which are the necessary properties of the maritime or the city State, as we shall hereafter call it, its fate follows of necessity.
The psychology of the townsman, and especially of the dweller in the maritime commercial city, is radically different from that of the countryman. His point of view is freer and more inclusive, even though it be more superficial; he is livelier, because more impressions strike him in a day than a peasant in a year. He becomes used to constant changes and news, and thus is always novarum rerum cupidus. He is more remote from nature and less dependent on it than is the peasant, and therefore he has less fear of “ghosts.” One consequence of this is that an underling in a city State is less apt to regard the “taboo” regulations imposed on him by the first and second estates of rulers. And as he is compelled to live in compact masses with his fellow subjects, he early finds his strength in numbers, so that he becomes more unruly and seditious than the serf who lives in such isolation that he never becomes conscious of the mass to which he belongs and ever remains under the impression that his overlord with his followers would have the upper hand in every fight.
This in itself brings about an ever progressive dissolution of the rigid system of subordinated groups first created by the feudal state. In Greece the territorial states alone were able to keep their subjects for a long time in a state of subjection: Sparta its Helots, Thessaly its Penestæ. In all the city States, on the other hand, we early find an uprising of the proletariat against which the master class was unable to oppose an effective resistance.
The economic situation tends toward the same result as the conditions of settlement. Movable wealth had far less stability than landed property: the sea is tricky, and the fortunes of maritime war and piracy not less so. The rich man of to-day may lose all by a turn of Fortune’s wheel; while the poorest man may, by the same swing, land on top. But in a commonwealth based entirely on possessions, loss of fortune brings with it loss of rank and of “class,” just as the converse takes place. The rich Plebeian becomes the leader of the mass of the people in their constitutional fight for equal rights and places all his fortune at risk in that struggle. The position of the patricians becomes untenable; when coerced they have ever conceded the claims of the lower class. As soon as the first rich Plebeian has been taken into their ranks, the right of rule by birth, defended as a holy institution, has forever become impossible. Henceforth it follows that what is fair for one is fair for the other; and the aristocratic rule is followed first by the plutocratic, then by the democratic, finally by the ochlocratic reégime, until either foreign conquest or the “tyranny” of some “Savior of the Sword” rescues the community from chaos.
This end affects not only the State, but in most cases its inhabitants so profoundly that one may speak of a literal death of the peoples, caused by the capitalistic exploitation of slave labor. This latter is a social institution inevitably bound to exist in every state founded on piracy and maritime ventures and thus coming to use money as a means of exchange. In the primitive stages of feudalism, whence it was derived, slavery was harmless, as is true in all economic systems based on exchange and use in kind, only to become an ulcerating cancer, utterly destructive of the entire life of the State as soon as it is exploited by the “capitalist” method, i. e., as soon as slave labor is applied, not to be used in a system of a feudal payment in kind, but to supply a market paying in money.
Numberless slaves are brought into the country by piracy, privateering, or by the commercial wars. The wealth of their owners permits them to work the ground more intensively, and the owners of realty within the confines of the city limits draw ever increasing revenues from their possessions, and become more and more greedy of land. The small freeholder in the country, overburdened by the taxes and military service of wars waged in the interests of this great merchant class, sinks into debt, becomes a slave for debt, or migrates into the city as a pauper. But even so there is no hope for him, since the removal of the peasants has damaged the craftsmen and small traders, for the peasants were wont to purchase in the city, while the great estates, constantly increasing by the removal of the peasantry, supply their own needs by their own slave products. The evil attacks other parts of the body politic. The remaining trades are gradually usurped by masters exploiting slave labor, which is cheaper than free labor. The middle class thus goes to pieces; and a pauper, good-for-nothing mob, a genuine “bob-tail proletariat” comes into being, which, by reason of the democratic constitution achieved in the interim, is the sovereign of the commonwealth. The full course, political as well as military, is then a mere question of time. It may take place without a foreign invasion; which, however, usually sets in, when by reason of the physical breakdown caused by the immense depopulation, by the consumption of the people in its literal sense, the final stage is attained. This is the end of all these states. Within the scope of this treatise we can not dilate on this phase.
Only one city State was able to maintain itself throughout the centuries, because it was the ultimate conqueror of all the others, and because it was enabled to counteract the consumption of population by the only method of sanitation possible; by extensive recreations of middle class populations, both in cities and in country districts, as well as by vast colonizations of peasants on lands taken from the vanquished.
The Roman Empire was that state. But even this gigantic organism finally succumbed to the consumption of population, caused by capitalistic slave exploitation. In the interval, however, it had created the first imperium, i. e., the first tensely centralized state on a large scale, and had overcome and amalgamated all territorial states of both the Mediterranean shores and its neighboring countries, and had thereby for all time set before the world the model of such an organized dominion. In addition to this it had developed the organization of cities and of the system of money economy to such an extent that they never were utterly destroyed, even in the turmoil of the barbarian migration. In consequence of this, the feudal territorial states that occupied the territory of the former Roman Empire either directly or indirectly received those new impulses which were to carry them beyond the condition of the normal primitive feudal State.
[∗]This may account for the use made of old women as heralds. They are doubly available for that purpose, since they are worthless for warfare, and are supposed to be endowed with specific powers of sorcery (Westermarck), even more than old men, who also are treated cautiously, since they may soon become “ghosts.”
[∗]Whether the Etruscans were immigrants into Italy by land who took up piracy after having made war successfully on land, or whether as sea nomads they had already settled the country along the sea named after them, has not been determined.
[∗]How characteristic of these relations it is that Great Britain, the only “maritime state” of Europe, even at this present day will not surrender the right to arm privateers.
[58.]I. Kulischer, l. c., p. 317, where other examples may be found.
[59.]Westermarck, History of Human Marriage, p. 400, which contains a number of ethnographical examples.
[60.]Westermarck, l. c., p. 546.
[61.]Cf. Ratzel, l. c. I, pp. 318, 540.
[62.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 106.
[63.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 335.
[64.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 346.
[65.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 347.
[66.]Buecher, Entstehung der Volkswirtschaft, Second Edition, Tübingen, 1898, p. 301.
[67.]Cf., Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 271, speaking of the islanders of the Pacific Ocean: “Intercourse from tribe to tribe is carried on by inviolable heralds, preferably old women. These act also as intermediary agents in trades.” See also page 317 for the same practises among the Australians.
[68.]German Translation by L. Katscher. Leipzig, 1907.
[69.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 81.
[70.]Ratzel, l. c. I, pp. 478-9.
[71.]A. Vierkandt, Die wirtschaftlichen Verhältnisse der Naturvölker. Zeitschrift für Sozialwissenschaft, II, pp. 177-8.
[72.]Kulischer, l. c. pp. 320-1.
[73.]Lippert, l. c. I, p. 266, et seq.
[74.]Cf. Westermarck, History of Human Marriage.
[75.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 27.
[76.]Herodotus IV, 23, cited by Lippert, l. c. I, p. 459.
[77.]Lippert, l. c. II, p. 170.
[78.]Mommsen, l. c. I, p. 139.
[79.]Similar conditions may be observed among the islanders near India. Here the Malays are vikings. “Colonization is an important factor, as conquest and settlement oversea . . .reminding one of the great rôle played in ancient Hellas by the roving tribes . . .. Every strip of coast line shows foreign elements, who enter uncalled for and in most instances spreading damage among the natives. The right of conquest was granted by the rulers of Tornate to noble dynasts, who later on became semi-sovereign viceroys on the islands of Buru, Serang, etc.”
[80.]Mommsen, l. c. I, p. 132.
[81.]Mommsen, l. c. I, p. 134.
[82.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 160.
[83.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 558.
[84.]Buhl, l. c., p. 48.
[85.]Buhl, l. c., pp. 78-79.
[86.]Mommsen, l. c. II, p. 406.
[87.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 191; cf. also pp. 207-8.