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Source: A Chapter in Franz Openheimer's The State:
Its History and Development viewed Sociologically, authorized translation by John M. Gitterman (New York:
B.W. Huebsch, 1922).
II. The Genesis of the State
one single force impels all life; one force developed it, from the single cell, the particle of albumen floating about in the warm ocean of prehistoric time, up to the vertebrates, and then to man. This one force, according to Lippert, is the tendency to provide for life, bifurcated into “hunger and love.” With man, however, philosophy also enters into the play of these forces, in order hereafter, together with “hunger and love, to hold together the structure of the world of men.” To be sure, this philosophy, this “idea” of Schopenhauer’s, is at its source nothing else than a creature of the provision for life called by him “will.” It is an organ of orientation in the world, an arm in the struggle for existence. Yet in spite of this, we shall come to know the desire for causation as a self-acting force, and of social facts as coöperators in the sociological process of development. In the beginning of human society, and as it gradually develops, this tendency pushes itself forward in various bizarre ideas called “superstition.” These are based on purely logical conclusions from incomplete observations concerning air and water, earth and fire, animals and plants, which seem endowed with a throng of spirits both kindly and malevolent. One may say that in the most recent modern times, at a stage attained only by very few races, there arises also the younger daughter of the desire for causation, namely science, as a logical result of complete observation of facts; science, now required to exterminate widely branched-out superstition, which, with innumerable threads, has rooted itself in the very soul of mankind.
But, however powerfully, especially in the moment of “ecstasy,”2 superstition may have influenced history, however powerfully, even in ordinary times, it may have coöperated in the development of human communal life, the principal force of development is still to be found in the necessities of life, which force man to acquire for himself and for his family nourishment, clothing and housing. This remains, therefore, the “economic” impulse. A sociological—and that means a socio-psychological—investigation of the development of history can, therefore, not progress otherwise than by following out the methods by which economic needs have been satisfied in their gradual unfolding, and by taking heed of the influences of the causation impulse at its proper place.
(a) political and economic means
There are two fundamentally opposed means whereby man, requiring sustenance, is impelled to obtain the necessary means for satisfying his desires. These are work and robbery, one’s own labor and the forcible appropriation of the labor of others. Robbery! Forcible appropriation! These words convey to us ideas of crime and the penitentiary, since we are the contemporaries of a developed civilization, specifically based on the inviolability of property. And this tang is not lost when we are convinced that land and sea robbery is the primitive relation of life, just as the warriors’ trade—which also for a long time is only organized mass robbery—constitutes the most respected of occupations. Both because of this, and also on account of the need of having, in the further development of this study, terse, clear, sharply opposing terms for these very important contrasts, I propose in the following discussion to call one’s own labor and the equivalent exchange of one’s own labor for the labor of others, the “economic means” for the satisfaction of needs, while the unrequited appropriation of the labor of others will be called the “political means.”
The idea is not altogether new; philosophers of history have at all times found this contradiction and have tried to formulate it. But no one of these formulæ has carried the premise to its complete logical end. At no place is it clearly shown that the contradiction consists only in the means by which the identical purpose, the acquisition of economic objects of consumption, is to be obtained. Yet this is the critical point of the reasoning. In the case of a thinker of the rank of Karl Marx, one may observe what confusion is brought about when economic purpose and economic means are not strictly differentiated. All those errors, which in the end led Marx’s splendid theory so far away from truth, were grounded in the lack of clear differentiation between the means of economic satisfaction of needs and its end. This led him to designate slavery as an “economic category,” and force as an “economic force”—half truths which are far more dangerous than total untruths, since their discovery is more difficult, and false conclusions from them are inevitable.
On the other hand, our own sharp differentiation between the two means toward the same end, will help us to avoid any such confusion. This will be our key to an understanding of the development, the essence, and the purpose of the State; and since all universal history heretofore has been only the history of states, to an understanding of universal history as well. All world history, from primitive times up to our own civilization, presents a single phase, a contest namely between the economic and the political means; and it can present only this phase until we have achieved free citizenship.
(b) peoples without a state: huntsmen and grubbers
The state is an organization of the political means. No state, therefore, can come into being until the economic means has created a definite number of objects for the satisfaction of needs, which objects may be taken away or appropriated by warlike robbery. For that reason, primitive huntsmen are without a state; and even the more highly developed huntsmen become parts of a state structure only when they find in their neighborhood an evolved economic organization which they can subjugate. But primitive huntsmen live in practical anarchy.
Grosse says concerning primitive huntsmen in general:
“There are no essential differences of fortune among them, and thus a principal source for the origin of differences in station is lacking. Generally, all grown men within the tribe enjoy equal rights. The older men, thanks to their greater experience, have a certain authority; but no one feels himself bound to render them obedience. Where in some cases chiefs are recognized—as with the Botokude, the Central Californians, the Wedda and the Mincopie—their power is extremely limited. The chieftain has no means of enforcing his wishes against the will of the rest. Most tribes of hunters, however, have no chieftain. The entire society of the males still forms a homogeneous undifferentiated mass, in which only those individuals achieve prominence who are believed to possess magical powers.”3
Here, then, there scarcely exists a spark of “statehood,” even in the sense of ordinary theories of the state, still less in the sense of the correct “sociologic idea of the state.”
The social structure of primitive peasants has hardly more resemblance to a state than has the horde of huntsmen. Where the peasant, working the ground with a grub, is living in liberty, there is as yet no “state.” The plow is always the mark of a higher economic condition which occurs only in a state; that is to say, in a system of plantation work carried on by subjugated servants.4 The grubbers live isolated from one another, scattered over the country in separated cartilages, perhaps in villages, split up because of quarrels about district or farm boundaries. In the best cases, they live in feebly organized associations, bound together by oath, attached only loosely by the tie which the consciousness of the same descent and speech and the same belief imposes upon them. They unite perhaps once a year in the common celebration of renowned ancestors or of the tribal god. There is no ruling authority over the whole mass; the various chieftains of a village, or possibly of a district, may have more or less influence in their circumscribed spheres, this depending usually upon their personal qualities, and especially upon the magical powers attributed to them. Cunow describes the Peruvian peasants before the incursion of the Incas as follows: “An unregulated living side by side of many independent, mutually warring tribes, who again were split up into more or less autonomous territorial unions, held together by ties of kinship.”5 One may say that all the primitive peasants of the old and new world were of this type.
In such a state of society, it is hardly conceivable that a warlike organization could come about for purposes of attack. It is sufficiently difficult to mobilize the clan, or still more the tribe, for common defense. The peasant is always lacking in mobility. He is as attached to the ground as the plants he cultivates. As a matter of fact, the working of his field makes him “bound to the soil” (glebæ adscriptus), even though, in the absence of law, he has freedom of movement. What purpose, moreover, would a looting expedition effect in a country, which throughout its extent is occupied only by grubbing peasants? The peasant can carry off from the peasant nothing which he does not already own. In a condition of society marked by superfluity of agricultural land, each individual contributes only a little work to its extensive cultivation. Each occupies as much territory as he needs. More would be superfluous. Its acquisition would be lost labor, even were its owner able to conserve for any length of time the grain products thus secured. Under primitive conditions, however, this spoils rapidly by reason of change of atmosphere, ants, or other agencies. According to Ratzel, the Central African peasant must convert the superfluous portion of his crops into beer as quickly as possible in order not to lose it entirely!
For all these reasons, primitive peasants are totally lacking in that warlike desire to take the offensive which is the distinguishing mark of hunters and herdsmen: war can not better their condition. And this peaceable attitude is strengthened by the fact that the occupation of the peasant does not make him an efficient warrior. It is true his muscles are strong and he has powers of endurance, but he is sluggish of movement and slow to come to a determination, while huntsmen and nomads by their methods of living develop speed of motion and swiftness of action. For this reason, the primitive peasant is usually of a more gentle disposition than they.
To sum up: within the economic and social conditions of the peasant districts, one finds no differentiation working for the higher forms of integration. There exists neither the impulse nor the possibility for the warlike subjection of neighbors. No “State” can therefore arise; and, as a matter of fact, none ever has arisen from such social conditions. Had there been no impulse from without, from groups of men nourished in a different manner, the primitive grubber would never have discovered the State.
(c) peoples preceding the state: herdsmen and vikings
Herdsmen, on the contrary, even though isolated, have developed a whole series of the elements of statehood; and in the tribes which have progressed further, they have developed this in its totality, with the single exception of the last point of identification which completes the state in its modern sense, that is to say, with exception only of the definitive occupation of a circumscribed territory.
One of these elements is an economic one. Even without the intervention of extra-economic force, there may still develop among herdsmen a sufficiently marked differentiation of property and income. Assuming that, at the start, there was complete equality in the number of cattle, yet within a short time, the one man may be richer and the other poorer. An especially clever breeder will see his herd increase rapidly, while an especially careful watchman and bold hunter will preserve his from decimation by beasts of prey. The element of luck also affects the result. One of these herders finds an especially good grazing ground and healthful watering places; the other one loses his entire stock through pestilence, or through a snowfall or a sandstorm.
Distinctions in fortune quickly bring about class distinctions. The herdsman who has lost all must hire himself to the rich man; and sinking thus under the other, become dependent on him. Wherever herdsmen live, from all three parts of the ancient world, we find the same story. Meitzen reports of the Lapps, nomadic in Norway: “Three hundred reindeer sufficed for one family; who owned only a hundred must enter the service of the richer, whose herds ran up to a thousand head.”6 The same writer, speaking of the Central Asiatic Nomads, says: “A family required three hundred head of cattle for comfort; one hundred head is poverty, followed by a life of debt. The servant must cultivate the lands of the lord.”7 Ratzel reports concerning the Hottentots of Africa a form of “commendatio”: “The poor man endeavors to hire himself to the rich man, his only object being to obtain cattle.”8 Laveleye, who reports the same circumstances from Ireland, traces the origin and the name of the feudal system (système féodal) to the loaning of cattle by the rich to the poor members of the tribe; accordingly, a “fee-od” (owning of cattle) was the first feud whereby so long as the debt existed the magnate bound the small owner to himself as “his man.”
We can only hint at the methods whereby, even in peaceable associations of herdsmen, this economic and consequent social differentiation may have been furthered by the connection of the patriarchate with the offices of supreme and sacrificial priesthood if the wise old men used cleverly the superstition of their clan associates. But this differentiation, so long as it is unaffected by the political means, operates within very modest bounds. Cleverness and efficiency are not hereditary with any degree of certainty. The largest herd will be split up if many heirs grow up in one tent, and fortune is tricky. In our own day, the richest man among the Lapps of Sweden, in the shortest possible time, has been reduced to such complete poverty that the government has had to support him. All these causes bring it about that the original condition of economic and social equality is always approximately restored. “The more peaceable, aboriginal, and genuine the nomad is, the smaller are the tangible differences of possession. It is touching to note the pleasure with which an old prince of the Tsaidam Mongols accepts his tribute or gift, consisting of a handful of tobacco, a piece of sugar, and twenty-five kopeks.”9
This equality is destroyed permanently and in greater degree by the political means. “Where war is carried on and booty acquired, greater differences arise, which find their expression in the ownership of slaves, women, arms and spirited mounts.”10
The ownership of slaves! The nomad is the inventor of slavery, and thereby has created the seedling of the state, the first economic exploitation of man by man.
The huntsman carries on wars and takes captives. But he does not make them slaves; either he kills them, or else he adopts them into the tribe. Slaves would be of no use to him. The booty of the chase can be stowed away even less than grain can be “capitalized.” The idea of using a human being as a labor motor could only come about on an economic plane on which a body of wealth has developed, call it capital, which can be increased only with the assistance of dependent labor forces.
This stage is first reached by the herdsmen. The forces of one family, lacking outside assistance, suffice to hold together a herd of very limited size, and to protect it from attacks of beasts of prey or human enemies. Until the political means is brought into play, auxiliary forces are found very sparingly; such as the poorer members of the clan already mentioned, together with runaways from foreign tribes, who are found all over the world as protected dependents in the suite of the greater owners of herds.11 In some cases, an entire poor clan of herdsmen enters, half freely, into the service of some rich tribe. “Entire peoples take positions corresponding to their relative wealth. Thus the Tungusen, who are very poor, try to live near the settlements of the Tschuktsches, because they find occupation as herdsmen of the reindeer belonging to the wealthy Tschuktsches; they are paid in reindeer. And the subjection of the Ural-Samojedes by the Sirjaenes came about through the gradual occupation of their pasturing grounds.”12
Excepting, however, the last named case, which is already very state-like, the few existing labor forces, without capital, are not sufficient to permit the clan to keep very large herds. Furthermore, methods of herding themselves compel division. For a pasture may not, as they say in the Swiss Alps, be “overpushed,” that is to say, have too many cattle on it. The danger of losing the entire stock is reduced by the measure in which it is distributed over various pastures. For cattle plagues, storms, etc., can affect only a part; while even the enemy from abroad can not drive off all at once. For that reason, the Hereros, for example, “find every well-to-do owner forced to keep, besides the main herd, several other subsidiary herds. Younger brothers or other near relatives, or in want of these, tried old servants, watch them.”13
For that reason, the developed nomad spares his captured enemy; he can use him as a slave on his pasture. We may note this transition from killing to enslaving in a customary rite of the Scythians: they offered up at their places of sacrifice one out of every hundred captured enemies. Lippert, who reports this, sees in it “the beginning of a limitation, and the reason thereof is evidently to be found in the value which a captured enemy has acquired by becoming the servant of a tribal herdsman.”14
With the introduction of slaves into the tribal economy of the herdsmen, the state, in its essential elements, is completed, except that it has not as yet acquired a definitely circumscribed territorial limit. The state has thus the form of dominion, and its economic basis is the exploitation of human labor. Hence-forth, economic differentiation and the formation of social classes progress rapidly. The herds of the great, wisely divided and better guarded by numerous armed servants than those of the simple freemen, as a rule, maintain themselves at their original number: they also increase faster than those of the freemen, since they are augmented by the greater share in the booty which the rich receive, corresponding to the number of warriors (slaves) which these place in the field.
Likewise, the office of supreme priest creates an ever-widening cleft which divides the numbers of the clan, all formerly equals; until finally a genuine nobility, the rich descendants of the rich patriarchs, is placed in juxtaposition to the ordinary freemen. “The redskins have also in their progressive organization developed no nobility and no slavery, and in this their organization distinguishes itself most essentially from those of the old world. Both arise from the development of the patriarchate of stock-raising people.”15
Thus we find, with all developed tribes of herdsmen, a social separation into three distinct classes: nobility (“head of the house of his fathers” in the biblical phrase), common freemen and slaves. According to Mommsen, “all Indo-Germanic people have slavery as a jural institution.”16 This applies to the Arians and the Semites of Asia and Africa as well as to the Hamites. Among all the Fulbe of the Sahara, “society is divided into princes, chieftains, commons and slaves.”17 And we find the same facts everywhere, as a matter of course, wherever slavery is legally established, as among the Hova18 and their Polynesian kinsmen, the “Sea Nomads.” Human psychology under similar circumstances brings about like conditions, independent of color or race.
Thus the herdsman gradually becomes accustomed to earning his livelihood through warfare, and to the exploitation of men as servile labor motors. And one must admit that his entire mode of life impels him to make more and more use of the “political means.”
He is physically stronger and just as adroit and determined as the primitive huntsman, whose food supply is too irregular to permit him to attain his greatest natural physical development. The herdsman can, in all cases, grow to his full stature, since he has uninterrupted nourishment in the milk of his herds and an unfailing supply of meat. This is shown in the Arian horse nomad, no less than in the herdsman of Asia and Africa, e.g., the Zulu. Secondly, tribes of herdsmen increase faster than hordes of hunters. This is so, not only because the adults can obtain much more nourishment from a given territory, but still more because possession of the milk of animals shortens the period of nursing for the mothers, and consequently permits a greater number of children to be born and to grow to maturity. As a consequence, the pastures and steppes of the old world became inexhaustible fountains, which periodically burst their confines letting loose inundations of humanity, so that they came to be called the “vaginæ gentium.”
Moreover we find a much larger number of armed warriors among herdsmen than among hunters. Each one of these herdsmen is stronger individually, and yet all of them together are at least as mobile as is a horde of huntsmen; while the camel and horse riders among them are incomparably more mobile. This greater mass of the best individual elements is held together by an organization only possible under the ægis of a slave-holding patriarchate accustomed to rule, an organization prepared and developed by its occupation, and therefore superior to that of the young warriors of the huntsmen sworn to the service of one chief.
Hunters, it may be observed, work best alone or in small groups. Herdsmen, on the other hand, move to the best advantage in a great train, in which each individual is best protected; and which is in every sense an armed expedition, where every stopping place becomes an armed camp. Thus there is developed a science of tactical maneuvers, strict subordination, and firm discipline. “One does not make a mistake,” as Ratzel says, “if one accounts as the disciplinary forces in the life of the nomads the order of the tents which, in the same form, exists since most ancient times. Every one and everything here has a definite, traditional place; hence the speed and order in setting up and in breaking camp, in establishment and in rearrangement. It is unheard of that any one without orders, or without the most pressing reason, should change his place. Thanks to this strict discipline, the tents can be packed up and loaded away within the space of an hour.”19
The same tried order, handed down from untold ages, regulates the warlike march of the tribe of herdsmen while on the hunt, in war and in peaceable wandering. Thus they become professional fighters, irresistible until the state develops higher and mightier organizations. Herdsman and warrior become identical concepts. Ratzel’s statement concerning the Central Asiatic Nomads applies to them all: “The nomad is, as herdsman, an economic, as warrior, a political concept. It is easy for him to turn from any activity to that of the warrior and robber. Everything in life has for him a pacific and war-like, an honest and robber-like, side; according to circumstances, the one or the other of these phases appears uppermost. Even fishing and navigation, at the hands of the East Caspian Turkomans, developed into piracy . . . . The activities of the apparently pacific existence as a herdsman determine those of the warrior; the pastoral crook becomes a fighting implement. In the fall, when the horses return strengthened from the pasture and the second cropping of the sheep is completed, the nomads’ minds turn to some feud or robbing expedition (Baranta, literally, to make cattle, to lift cattle), adjourned to that time. This is an expression of the right of self help, which in contentions over points of law, or in quarrels affecting dignity, or in blood feuds, seeks both requital and surety in the most valuable things that the enemy possesses, namely, the animals of his herd. Young men who have not been on a baranta must first acquire the name batir, hero, and thus earn the claim to honor and respect. The pleasure of ownership joined to the desire for adventure develops the triple descending gradation of avenger, hero and robber.”20
An identical development takes place with the sea nomads, the “Vikings,” as with the land nomads. This is quite natural, since in the most important cases noted in the history of mankind, sea nomads are simply land nomads taking to the sea.
We have noted above one of the innumerable examples which indicate that the herdsman does not long hesitate to use for marauding expeditions, instead of the horse or the “ship of the desert,” the “horses of the sea.” This case is exemplified by the East Caspian Turkomans.21 Another example is furnished by the Scythians: “From the moment when they learn from their neighbors the art of navigating the seas, these wandering herdsmen, whom Homer (Iliad, XIII, 3) calls ‘respected horsemen, milk-eaters and poor, the most just of men,’ change into daring navigators like their Baltic and Scandinavian brethren. Strabo (Cas., 301) complains: ’since they have ventured on the sea, carrying on piracy and murdering foreigners, they have become worse; and associating with many peoples, they adopt their petty trading and spendthrift habits.’”22
If the Phænicians really were “Semites,” they furnish an additional example of incomparable importance of the transformation of land into “sea Bedouins,” i.e., warlike robbers; and the same is probably true for the majority of the numerous peoples who looted the rich countries around the Mediterranean, whether from the coast of Asia Minor, Dalmatia, or from the North African shore. These begin from the earliest times, as we see from the Egyptian monuments (the Greeks were not admitted into Egypt),23 and continue to the present day: e.g., the Riff pirates. The North African “Moors,” an amalgamation of Arabs and of Berbers, both originally land nomads, are perhaps the most celebrated example of this change.
There are cases in which sea nomads—that is to say, sea robbers—arise immediately from fishermen, with no intermediate herdsman stage. We have already examined the causes which give the herdsmen their superiority over the peasantry: the relatively numerous population of the horde, combined with an activity which develops courage and quick resolution in the individual, and educates the mass as a whole to tense discipline. All this applies also to fishermen dwelling on the sea. Rich fishing grounds permit a considerable density of population, as is shown in the case of the North-west Indians (Tlinkit, etc.); these permit also the keeping of slaves, since the slave earns more by fishing than his keep amounts to. Thus we find, here alone among the redskins, slavery developed as an institution; and we find, therefore, along with it, permanent economic differences among the freemen, which result in a sort of plutocracy similar to that noted among herdsmen. Here, as there, the habit of command over slaves produces the habit of rule and a taste for the “political means.” This is favored by the tense discipline developed in navigation. “Not the least advantage of fishing in common is found in the discipline of the crews. They must render implicit obedience to a leader chosen in each of the larger fishing boats, since every success depends upon obedience. The command of a ship afterward facilitates the command of the state. We are accustomed to reckon the Solomon Islanders as complete savages, and yet their life is subject to one solitary element, which combines their forces, namely, navigation.”24 If the Northwest Indians did not become such celebrated sea robbers as their likes in the old world, this is due to the fact that the neighborhoods within their reach had developed no rich civilization; but all more developed fishermen carry on piracy.
For this reason, the Vikings have the same capacity to choose the political means as the basis of their economic existence as have the cattle raiders; and similarly they have been founders of states on a large scale. Here-after, we shall distinguish the states founded by them as “sea states,” while the states founded by herdsmen—and in the new world by hunters—will be called “land states.” Sea states will be treated extensively when we discuss the consequences of the developed feudal state. As long, however, as we are discussing the development of the state, and the primitive feudal state, we must limit ourselves to the consideration of the land state and leave the sea state out of account. This treatment is convenient, since in all essential things the sea state has the same characteristics, but its development can not be followed through the various typical stages as can the development of the land state.
(d) the genesis of the state
The hordes of huntsmen are incomparably weaker, both in numbers and in the strength of the single fighters, than are the herdsmen with whom they occasionally brush. Naturally they can not withstand the impact. They flee to the highlands and mountains, where the herdsmen have no inclination to follow them, not only because of the physical hardships involved, but also because their cattle do not find pasturage there; or else they enter into a form of cliental relation, as happened often in Africa, especially in very ancient times. When the Hyksos invaded Egypt, such dependent huntsmen followed them. The huntsmen usually pay for protection an inconsiderable tribute in the form of spoils of the chase, and are used for reconnoitering and watching. But the huntsman, being a “practical anarchist,” often invites his own destruction rather than submit to regular labor. For these reasons, no “state” ever arose from such contact.
The peasants fight as undisciplined levies, and with their single combatants undisciplined; so that, in the long run, even though they are strong in numbers, they are no more able than are the hunters to withstand the charge of the heavily armed herdsmen. But the peasantry do not flee. The peasant is attached to his ground, and has been used to regular work. He remains, yields to subjection, and pays tribute to his conqueror; that is the genesis of the land states in the old world.
In the new world, where the larger herding animals, cattle, horses, camels, were not indigenous, we find that instead of the herdsman the hunter is the conqueror of the peasant, because of his infinitely superior adroitness in the use of arms and in military discipline. “In the old world we found that the contrast of herdsmen and peasants developed civilization; in the new world the contrast is between the sedentary and the roving tribes. The Toltecks, devoted to agriculture, fought wild tribes (with a highly developed military organization) breaking in from the north, as endlessly as did Iran with Turan.”25
This applies not only to Peru and Mexico, but to all America, a strong ground for the opinion that the fundamental basis of civilization is the same all over the world, its development being consistent and regular under the most varied economic and geographical conditions. Wherever opportunity offers, and man possesses the power, he prefers political to economic means for the preservation of his life. And perhaps this is true not alone of man, for, according to Maeterlinck’s Life of the Bees, a swarm which has once made the experiment of obtaining honey from a foreign hive, by robbery instead of by tedious building, is thenceforth spoiled for the “economic means.” From working bees, robber bees have developed.
Leaving out of account the state formations of the new world, which have no great significance in universal history, the cause of the genesis of all states is the contrast between peasants and herdsmen, between laborers and robbers, between bottom lands and prairies. Ratzel, regarding sociology from the geographical view-point, expresses this cleverly: “It must be remembered that nomads do not always destroy the opposing civilization of the settled folk. This applies not only to tribes, but also to states, even to those of some might. The war-like character of the nomads is a great factor in the creation of states. It finds expression in the immense nations of Asia controlled by nomad dynasties and nomad armies, such as Persia, ruled by the Turks; China, conquered and governed by the Mongols and Manchus; and in the Mongol and Radjaputa states of India, as well as in the states on the border of the Soudan, where the amalgamation of the formerly hostile elements has not yet developed so far, although they are joined together by mutual benefit. In no place is it shown so clearly as here on the border of the nomad and peasant peoples, that the great workings of the impulse making for civilization on the part of the nomads are not the result of civilizing activity, but of war-like exploits at first detrimental to pacific work. Their importance lies in the capacity of the nomads to hold together the sedentary races who otherwise would easily fall apart. This, however, does not exclude their learning much from their subjects . . . . Yet all these industrious and clever folk did not have and could not have the will and the power to rule, the military spirit, and the sense for the order and subordination that befits a state. For this reason, the desert-born lords of the Soudan rule over their negro folk just as the Manchus rule their Chinese subjects. This takes place pursuant to a law, valid from Timbuctoo to Pekin, whereby advantageous state formations arise in rich peasant lands adjoining a wide prairie; where a high material culture of sedentary peoples is violently subjugated to the service of prairie dwellers having energy, war-like capacity, and desire to rule.”26
In the genesis of the state, from the subjection of a peasant folk by a tribe of herdsmen or by sea nomads, six stages may be distinguished. In the following discussion it should not be assumed that the actual historical development must, in each particular case, climb the entire scale step by step. Although, even here, the argument does not depend upon bare theoretical construction, since every particular stage is found in numerous examples, both in the world’s history and in ethnology, and there are states which have apparently progressed through them all. But there are many more which have skipped one or more of these stages.
The first stage comprises robbery and killing in border fights, endless combats broken neither by peace nor by armistice. It is marked by killing of men, carrying away of children and women, looting of herds, and burning of dwellings. Even if the offenders are defeated at first, they return in stronger and stronger bodies, impelled by the duty of blood feud. Sometimes the peasant group may assemble, may organize its militia, and perhaps temporarily defeat the nimble enemy; but mobilization is too slow and supplies to be brought into the desert too costly for the peasants. The peasants’ militia does not, as does the enemy, carry its stock of food—its herds—with it into the field. In Southwest Africa the Germans recently experienced the difficulties which a well-disciplined and superior force, equipped with a supply train, with a railway reaching back to its base of supply, and with the millions of the German Empire behind it, may have with a handful of herdsmen warriors, who were able to give the Germans a decided setback. In the case of primitive levies, this difficulty is increased by the narrow spirit of the peasant, who considers only his own neighborhood, and by the fact that while the war is going on the lands are uncultivated. Therefore, in such cases, in the long run, the small but compact and easily mobilized body constantly defeats the greater disjointed mass, as the panther triumphs over the buffalo.
This is the first stage in the formation of states. The state may remain stationary at this point for centuries, for a thousand years. The following is a thoroughly characteristic example:
“Every range of a Turkoman tribe formerly bordered upon a wide belt which might be designated as its ‘looting district.’ Everything north and east of Chorassan, though nominally under Persian dominion, has for decades belonged more to the Turkomans, Jomudes, Goklenes, and other tribes of the bordering plains, than to the Persians. The Tekinzes, in a similar manner, looted all the stretches from Kiwa to Bokhara, until other Turkoman tribes were successfully rounded up either by force or by corruption to act as a buffer. Numberless further instances can be found in the history of the chain of oases which extends between Eastern and Western Asia directly through the steppes of its central part, where since ancient times the Chinese have exercised a predominant influence through their possession of all important strategic centers, such as the Oasis of Chami. The nomads, breaking through from north and south, constantly tried to land on these islands of fertile ground, which to them must have appeared like Islands of the Blessed. And every horde, whether laden down with booty or fleeing after defeat, was protected by the plains. Although the most immediate threats were averted by the continued weakening of the Mongols, and the actual dominion of Thibet, yet the last insurrection of the Dunganes showed how easily the waves of a mobile tribe break over these islands of civilization. Only after the destruction of the nomads, impossible as long as there are open plains in Central Asia, can their existence be definitely secured.”27
The entire history of the old world is replete with well-known instances of mass expeditions, which must be assigned to the first stage of state development, inasmuch as they were intent, not upon conquest, but directly on looting. Western Europe suffered through these expeditions at the hands of the Celts, Germans, Huns, Avars, Arabs, Magyars, Tartars, Mongolians and Turks by land; while the Vikings and the Saracens harassed it on the waterways. These hordes inundated entire continents far beyond the limits of their accustomed looting ground. They disappeared, returned, were absorbed, and left behind them only wasted lands. In many cases, however, they advanced in some part of the inundated district directly to the sixth and last stage of state formation, in cases namely, where they established a permanent dominion over the peasant population. Ratzel describes these mass migrations excellently in the following:
“The expeditions of the great hordes of nomads contrast with this movement, drop by drop and step by step, since they overflow with tremendous power, especially Central Asia and all neighboring countries. The nomads of this district, as of Arabia and Northern Africa, unite mobility in their way of life with an organization holding together their entire mass for one single object. It seems to be a characteristic of the nomads that they easily develop despotic power and far-reaching might from the patriarchal cohesion of the tribe. Mass governments thereby come into being, which compare with other movements among men in the same way that swollen streams compare with the steady but diffused flow of a tributary. The history of China, India, and Persia, no less than that of Europe, shows their historical importance. Just as they moved about on their ranges with their wives and children, slaves and carts, herds and all their paraphernalia, so they inundated the borderlands. While this ballast may have deprived them of speed it increased their momentum. The frightened inhabitants were driven before them, and like a wave they rolled over the conquered countries, absorbing their wealth. Since they carried everything with them, their new abodes were equipped with all their possessions, and thus their final settlements were of an ethnographic importance. After this manner, the Magyars flooded Hungary, the Manchus invaded China, the Turks, the countries from Persia to the Adriatic.”28
What has been said here of Hamites, Semites and Mongolians, may be said also, at least in part, of the Arian tribes of herdsmen. It applies also to the true negroes, at least to those who live entirely from their herds: “The mobile, warlike tribes of the Kafirs possess a power of expansion which needs only an enticing object in order to attain violent effects and to overturn the ethnologic relations of vast districts. Eastern Africa offers such an object. Here the climate did not forbid stock raising, as in the countries of the interior, and did not paralyze from the start, the power of impact of the nomads, while nevertheless numerous peaceable agricultural peoples found room for their development. Wandering tribes of Kafirs poured like devastating streams into the fruitful lands of the Zambesi, and up to the highlands between the Tanganyika and the coast. Here they met the advance guard of the Watusi, a wave of Hamite eruption, coming from the north. The former inhabitants of these districts were either exterminated, or as serfs cultivated the lands which they formerly owned; or they still continued to fight; or again, they remained undisturbed in settlements left on one side by the stream of conquest.”29
All this has taken place before our eyes. Some of it is still going on. During many thousands of years it has “jarred all Eastern Africa from the Zambesi to the Mediterranean.” The incursion of the Hyksos, whereby for over five hundred years Egypt was subject to the shepherd tribes of the eastern and northern deserts—“kinsmen of the peoples who up to the present day herd their stock between the Nile and the Red Sea”30 —is the first authenticated foundation of a state. These states were followed by many others both in the country of the Nile itself, and farther southward, as far as the Empire of Muata Jamvo on the southern rim of the central Congo district, which Portuguese traders in Angola reported as early as the end of the sixteenth century, and down to the Empire of Uganda, which only in our own day has finally succumbed to the superior military organization of Europe. “Desert land and civilization never lie peaceably alongside one another; but their battles are all alike and full of repetitions.”31
“Alike and full of repetitions”! That may be said of universal history on its basic lines. The human ego in its fundamental aspect is much the same all the world over. It acts uniformly, in obedience to the same influences of its environment, with races of all colors, in all parts of the earth, in the tropics as in the temperate zones. One must step back far enough and choose a point of view so high that the variegated aspect of the details does not hide the great movements of the mass. In such a case, our eye misses the “mode” of fighting, wandering, laboring humanity, while its “substance,” ever similar, ever new, ever enduring through change, reveals itself under uniform laws.
Gradually, from this first stage, there develops the second, in which the peasant, through thousands of unsuccessful attempts at revolt, has accepted his fate and has ceased every resistance. About this time, it begins to dawn on the consciousness of the wild herdsman that a murdered peasant can no longer plow, and that a fruit tree hacked down will no longer bear. In his own interest, then, wherever it is possible, he lets the peasant live and the tree stand. The expedition of the herdsmen comes just as before, every member bristling with arms, but no longer intending nor expecting war and violent appropriation. The raiders burn and kill only so far as is necessary to enforce a wholesome respect, or to break an isolated resistance. But in general, principally in accordance with a developing customary right—the first germ of the development of all public law—the herdsman now appropriates only the surplus of the peasant. That is to say, he leaves the peasant his house, his gear and his provisions up to the next crop. The herdsman in the first stage is like the bear, who for the purpose of robbing the beehive, destroys it. In the second stage he is like the bee-keeper, who leaves the bees enough honey to carry them through the winter.
Great is the progress between the first stage and the second. Long is the forward step, both economically and politically. In the beginning, as we have seen, the acquisition by the tribe of herdsmen was purely an occupying one. Regardless of consequences, they destroyed the source of future wealth for the enjoyment of the moment. Henceforth the acquisition becomes economical, because all economy is based on wise housekeeping, or in other words, on restraining the enjoyment of the moment in view of the needs of the future. The herdsman has learned to “capitalize.” It is a vast step forward in politics when an utterly strange human being, prey heretofore like the wild animals, obtains a value and is recognized as a source of wealth. Although this is the beginning of all slavery, subjugation, and exploitation, it is at the same time the genesis of a higher form of society, that reaches out beyond the family based upon blood relationship. We saw how, between the robbers and the robbed, the first threads of a jural relation were spun across the cleft which separated those who had heretofore been only “mortal enemies.” The peasant thus obtains a semblance of right to the bare necessaries of life; so that it comes to be regarded as wrong to kill an unresisting man or to strip him of everything.
And better than this, gradually more delicate and softer threads are woven into a net very thin as yet, but which, nevertheless, brings about more human relations than the customary arrangement of the division of spoils. Since the herdsmen no longer meet the peasants in combat only, they are likely now to grant a respectful request, or to remedy a well grounded grievance. “The categorical imperative” of equity, “Do to others as you would have them do unto you,” had heretofore ruled the herdsmen only in their dealings with their own tribesmen and kind. Now for the first time it begins to speak, shyly whispering in behalf of those who are alien to blood relationship. In this, we find the germ of that magnificent process of external amalgamation which, out of small hordes, has formed nations and unions of nations; and which, in the future is to give life to the concept of “humanity.” We find also the germ of the internal unification of tribes once separated, from which, in place of the hatred of “barbarians,” will come the all comprising love of humanity, of Christianity and Buddhism.
The moment when first the conqueror spared his victim in order permanently to exploit him in productive work, was of incomparable historical importance. It gave birth to nation and state, to right and the higher economics, with all the developments and ramifications which have grown and which will hereafter grow out of them. The root of everything human reaches down into the dark soil of the animal—love and art, no less than state, justice and economics.
Still another tendency knots yet more closely these psychic relations. To return to the comparison of the herdsman and the bear, there are in the desert, beside the bear who guards the bees, other bears who also lust after honey. But our tribe of herdsmen blocks their way, and protects its beehives by force of arms. The peasants become accustomed, when danger threatens, to call on the herdsmen, whom they no longer regard as robbers and murderers, but as protectors and saviors. Imagine the joy of the peasants when the returning band of avengers brings back to the village the looted women and children, with the enemies’ heads or scalps. These ties are no longer threads, but strong and knotted bands.
Here is one of the principal forces of that “integration,” whereby in the further development, those originally not of the same blood, and often enough of different groups speaking different languages, will in the end be welded together into one people, with one speech, one custom, and one feeling of nationality. This unity grows by degrees from common suffering and need, common victory and defeat, common rejoicing and common sorrow. A new and vast domain is open when master and slave serve the same interests; then arises a stream of sympathy, a sense of common service. Both sides apprehend, and gradually recognize, each other’s common humanity. Gradually the points of similarity are sensed, in place of the differences in build and apparel, of language and religion, which had heretofore brought about only antipathy and hatred. Gradually they learn to understand one another, first through a common speech, and then through a common mental habit. The net of the psychical inter-relations becomes stronger.
In this second stage of the formation of states, the ground work, in its essentials, has been mapped out. No further step can be compared in importance to the transition whereby the bear becomes a bee-keeper. For this reason, short references must suffice.
The third stage arrives when the “surplus” obtained by the peasantry is brought by them regularly to the tents of the herdsmen as “tribute,” a regulation which affords to both parties self-evident and considerable advantages. By this means, the peasantry is relieved entirely from the little irregularities connected with the former method of taxation, such as a few men knocked on the head, women violated, or farmhouses burned down. The herdsmen on the other hand, need no longer apply to this “business” any “expense” and labor, to use a mercantile expression; and they devote the time and energy thus set free toward an “extension of the works,” in other words, to subjugating other peasants.
This form of tribute is found in many well-known instances in history: Huns, Magyars, Tartars, Turks, have derived their largest income from their European tributes. Sometimes the character of the tribute paid by the subjects to their master is more or less blurred, and the act assumes the guise of payment for protection, or indeed, of a subvention. The tale is well known whereby Attila was pictured by the weakling emperor at Constantinople as a vassal prince; while the tribute he paid to the Hun appeared as a fee.
The fourth stage, once more, is of very great importance, since it adds the decisive factor in the development of the state, as we are accustomed to see it, namely, the union on one strip of land of both ethnic groups. (It is well known that no jural definition of a state can be arrived at without the concept of state territory.) From now on, the relation of the two groups, which was originally international, gradually becomes more and more international.
This territorial union may be caused by foreign influences. It may be that stronger hordes have crowded the herdsmen forward, or that their increase in population has reached the limit set by the nutritive capacity of the steppes or praises; it may be that a great cattle plague has forced the herdsmen to exchange the unlimited scope of the prairies for the narrows of some river valley. In general, however, internal causes alone suffice to bring it about that the herdsmen stay in the neighborhood of their peasants. The duty of protecting their tributaries against other “bears” forces them to keep a levy of young warriors in the neighborhood of their subjects; and this is at the same time an excellent measure of defense since it prevents the peasants from giving way to a desire to break their bonds, or to let some other herdsmen become their overlords. This latter occurrence is by no means rare, since, if tradition is correct, it is the means whereby the sons of Rurik came to Russia.
As yet the local juxtaposition does not mean a state community in its narrowest sense; that is to say, a unital organization.
In case the herdsmen are dealing with utterly unwarlike subjects, they carry on their nomad life, peaceably wandering up and down and herding their cattle among their perioike and helots. This is the case with the light-colored Wahuma,32 “the handsomest men of the world” (Kandt), in Central Africa, or the Tuareg clan of the Hadanara of the Asgars, “who have taken up their seats among the Imrad and have become wandering freebooters. These Imrad are the serving class of the Asgars, who live on them, although the Imrad could put into the field ten times as many warriors; the situation is analogous to that of the Spartans in relation to their Helots.”33 The same may be said of the Teda among the neighboring Borku: “Just as the land is divided into a semi-desert supporting the nomads, and gardens with date groves, so the population is divided between nomads and settled folk. Although about equal in number, ten to twelve thousand altogether, it goes without saying that these latter are subject to the others.”34
And the same applies to the entire group of herdsmen known as the Galla Masi and Wahuma. “Although differences in possessions are considerable, they have few slaves, as a serving class. These are represented by peoples of a lower caste, who live separate and apart from them. It is herdsmanship which is the basis of the family, of the state, and along with these of the principle of political evolution. In this wide territory, between Scehoa and its southernmost boundaries, on the one hand, and Zanzibar on the other, there is found no strong political power, in spite of the highly developed social articulation.”35
In case the country is not adapted to herding cattle on a large scale—as was universally the case in Western Europe—or where a less unwarlike population might make attempts at insurrection, the crowd of lords becomes more or less permanently settled, taking either steep places or strategically important points for their camps, castles, or towns. From these centers, they control their “subjects,” mainly for the purpose of gathering their tribute, paying no attention to them in other respects. They let them administer their affairs, carry on their religious worship, settle their disputes, and adjust their methods of internal economy. Their autochthonous constitution, their local officials, are, in fact, not interfered with.
If Frants Buhl reports correctly, that was the beginning of the rule of the Israelites in Canaan.36 Abyssinia, that great military force, though at the first glance it may appear to be a fully developed state, does not, however, seem to have advanced beyond the fourth stage. At least Ratzel states: “The principal care of the Abyssinians consists in the tribute, in which they follow the method of oriental monarchs in olden and modern times, which is not to interfere with the internal management and administration of justice of their subject peoples.”37
The best example of the fourth stage is found in the situation in ancient Mexico before the Spanish conquest: “The confederation under the leadership of the Mexicans had somewhat more progressive ideas of conquest. Only those tribes were wiped out that offered resistance. In other cases, the vanquished were merely plundered, and then required to pay tribute. The defeated tribe governed itself just as before, through its own officials. It was different in Peru, where the formation of a compact empire followed the first attack. In Mexico, intimidation and exploitation were the only aims of the conquest. And so it came about that the so-called Empire of Mexico at the time of the conquest represented merely a group of intimidated Indian tribes, whose federation with one another was prevented by their fear of plundering expeditions from some unassailable fort in their midst.”38 It will be observed that one can not speak of this as a state in any proper sense. Ratzel shows this in the note following the above: “It is certain that the various points held in subjection by the warriors of Montezuma were separated from one another by stretches of territory not yet conquered. A condition very like the rule of the Hova in Madagascar. One would not say that scattering a few garrisons, or better still, military colonies, over the land, is a mark of absolute dominion, since these colonies, with great trouble, maintain a strip of a few miles in subjection.”39
The logic of events presses quickly from the fourth to the fifth stage, and fashions almost completely the full state. Quarrels arise between neighboring villages or clans, which the lords no longer permit to be fought out, since by this the capacity of the peasants for service would be impaired. The lords assume the right to arbitrate, and in case of need, to enforce their judgment. In the end, it happens that at each “court” of the village king or chief of the clan there is an official deputy who exercises the power, while the chiefs are permitted to retain the appearance of authority. The state of the Incas shows, in a primitive condition, a typical example of this arrangement.
Here we find the Incas united at Cuzco where they had their patrimonial lands and dwellings.40 A representative of the Incas, the Tucricuc, however, resided in every district at the court of the native chieftain. He “had supervision over all affairs of his district; he raised the troops, superintended the delivery of the tribute, ordered the forced labor on roads and bridges, superintended the administration of justice, and in short supervised everything in his district.”41
The same institutions which have been developed by American huntsmen and Semite shepherds are found also among African herdsmen. In Ashanti, the system of the Tucricuc has been developed in a typical fashion;42 and the Dualla have established for their subjects living in segregated villages “an institution based on conquest midway between a feudal system and slavery.”43 The same author reports that the Barotse have a constitution corresponding to the earliest stage of the mediæval feudal organization: “Their villages are . . . as a rule surrounded by a circle of hamlets where their serfs live. These till the fields of their lords in the immediate neighborhood, grow grain, or herd the cattle.”44 The only thing that is not typical here consists in this, that the lords do not live in isolated castles or halls, but are settled in villages among their subjects.
It is only a very small step from the Incas to the Dorians in Lacedæmon, Messenia, or Crete; and no greater distance separates the Fulbe, Dualla and Barotse from the comparatively rigidly organized feudal states of the African Negro Empires of Uganda, Unyoro, etc.; and the corresponding feudal empires of Eastern and Western Europe and of all Asia. In all places, the same results are brought about by force of the same socio-psychological causes. The necessity of keeping the subjects in order and at the same time of maintaining them at their full capacity for labor, leads step by step from the fifth to the sixth stage, in which the state, by acquiring full intra-nationality and by the evolution of “Nationality,” is developed in every sense. The need becomes more and more frequent to interfere, to allay difficulties, to punish, or to coerce obedience; and thus develop the habit of rule and the usages of government. The two groups, separated, to begin with, and then united on one territory, are at first merely laid alongside one another, then are scattered through one another like a mechanical mixture, as the term is used in chemistry, until gradually they become more and more of a “chemical combination.” They intermingle, unite, amalgamate to unity, in customs and habits, in speech and worship. Soon the bonds of relationship unite the upper and the lower strata. In nearly all cases the master class picks the handsomest virgins from the subject races for its concubines. A race of bastards thus develops, sometimes taken into the ruling class, sometimes rejected, and then because of the blood of the masters in their veins, becoming the born leaders of the subject race. In form and in content the primitive state is completed.