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Franz Oppenheimer, The State: Its History and Development viewed Sociologically, authorized translation by John M. Gitterman (New York: B.W. Huebsch, 1922). Chapter: CHAPTER II: the genesis of the state
Accessed from oll.libertyfund.org/title/1662/36961 on 2009-10-29
The text is in the public domain.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[∗]This psychological contradiction, though often expressly stated, is not the absolute rule, Grosse, Forms of the Family, says (page 137): “Some historians of civilization place the peasant in opposition to the warlike nomads, claiming that the peasants are peace-loving peoples. In fact one can not state that their economic life leads them to wars, or educates them for it, as can be said of stock raisers. Nevertheless, one finds within the scope of this form of cultivation a mass of the most warlike and cruel peoples to be found anywhere. The wild cannibals of the Bismarck archipelago, the blood-lusting Vitians, the butchers of men of Dahome and Ashanti—they all cultivate the ‘peaceable’ acres; and if other peasants are not quite as bad, it seems that the kindly disposition of the vast mass appears to be, at least, questionable.”
[∗]This statement of Lippert is not quite correct. The higher developed domiciled huntsmen and fishermen of Northwest America have both nobles and slaves.
[∗]Ratzel, 1. c. II, page 393, in speaking of the Arabs says: “The difficulty of nourishing slaves makes it impossible to keep them. Vast populations are kept in subjection and deprived of everything beyond the necessaries for maintaining life. They turn entire cases into demense lands, visited at the harvest time in order to rob the inhabitants; a domination characteristic of the desert.”
[∗]There is apparently in the case of the Fulbe, a transition stage between the first three stages and the fourth, in which dominion is exercised half internationally and half intranationally. According to Ratzel (l. c. II, page 419): “Like a cuttle-fish, the conquering race stretches numerous arms hither and thither among the terrified aborigines, whose lack of cohesion affords plenty of gaps. Thus the Fulbe are slowly flowing into the Benue countries and quite gradually permeating them. Later observers have thus quite rightly abstained from assigning definite boundaries. There are many scattered Fulbe localities which look to a particular place as their center and as the center of their power. Thus Muri is the capital of the numerous Fulbe settlements scattered about the Middle Benue, and the position of Gola is similar in the Adamawa district. As yet there are no proper kingdoms with defined frontiers against each other and against independent tribes. Even these capitals are in other respects still far from being firmly settled.”
[2.]Achelis, Die Ekstase in ihrer kulturellen Bedeutung, vol. 1 of Kulturprobleme der Gegenwart, Berlin, 1902.
[3.]Grosse, Formen der Familie. Freiburg and Leipzig, 1896, p. 39.
[4.]Ratzel, Völkerkunde. Second Edition. Leipzig and Wien, 1894-5, II, p. 372.
[5.]Die Sosiale Verfassung des Inkareichs. Stuttgart, 1896, p. 51.
[6.]Siedlung und Agrarwesen der Westgermanen, etc. Berlin, 1895, I, p. 273.
[7.]l. c. I, p. 138.
[8.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 702.
[9.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 555.
[10.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 555.
[11.]For example with the Ovambo according to Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 214, who in part “seem to be found in slavelike status,” and according to Laveleye among the ancient Irish (Fuidhirs).
[12.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 648.
[13.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 99.
[14.]Lippert, Kulturgeschichte der Menschheit. Stuttgart, 1886, II, p. 302.
[15.]Lippert, l. c. II, p. 522.
[16.]Römische Geschichte. Sixth Edition. Berlin, 1874, I, p. 17.
[17.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 518.
[18.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 425.
[19.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 545.
[20.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 390-1.
[21.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 390-1.
[22.]Lippert, l. c. I, p. 471.
[23.]Kulischer, “The history of the development of interest from capital.” Jahrbücher für National konomie. III series, vol. 18, p. 318, Jena, 1899: (Says Strabo: “Plunderers and from the scant supplies of their native land covetous of the lands of others.”)
[24.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 123.
[25.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 591.
[26.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 370.
[27.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 390-1.
[28.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 388-9.
[29.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 103-04.
[30.]Thurnwald, Staat und Wirtschaft im altem Ægypten. Zeitschrift für Soz. Wissenchaft, vol. 4 1901, pp. 700-01.
[31.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 404-05. (Gumplowiez, Rassenkampf, p. 264: “Egypt, rich and self-sufficient, says Ranke, invited the avarice of neighboring tribes, who served other gods. Under the name of the Shepherd peoples, foreign dynasts and foreign tribes ruled Egypt for centuries.
“Truly, the summary of universal history could not be begun with more characteristic words than those of Ranke. For in the words applied to Egypt the quintessence of the whole history of mankind is summed up.”— Translator.)
[32.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 165.
[33.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 485.
[34.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 480.
[35.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 165.
[36.]Buhl, Soziale Verhältnisse der Israeliten, p. 13.
[37.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 455.
[38.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 628.
[39.]Ratzel, l. c. I, p. 625.
[40.]Cieza de Leon, “Seg. parte de la crónica del Peru.” P. 75, cit. by Cunow, Inkareich (p. 62, note 1).
[41.]Cunow, l. c. p. 61.
[42.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 346.
[43.]Ratzel, l. c. II, pp. 36-7.
[44.]Ratzel, l. c. II, p. 221. (Cf. remarks by Hon. A. J. Sabath, M. C., Sociological Argument on Workman’s Compensation Bill, p. 498, Senate Document 338, Sixty-second Congress, Second Session, Volume I. See also Congressional Record for March 1, 1913, Sixty-second Congress, Third Session, pp. 4503, 4529, et seq.—Translator.)
John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XIX - Essays on Politics and Society Part II, ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by Alexander Brady (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977). Chapter: CHAPTER XVI: Of Nationality, as Connected with Representative Government
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a portion of mankind may be said to constitute a Nationality, if they are united among themselves by common sympathies, which do not exist between them and any others—which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government, and desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves, exclusively. This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent. Community of language, and community of religion, greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one of its causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past. None of these circumstances however are either indispensable, or necessarily sufficient by themselves. Switzerland has a strong sentiment of nationality, though the cantons are of different races, different languages, and different religions. Sicily hasa, throughout history,a felt itself quite distinct in nationality from Naples, notwithstanding identity of religion, almost identity of language, and a considerable amount of common historical antecedents. The Flemish and the Walloon provinces of Belgium, notwithstanding diversity of race and language, have a much greater feeling of common nationality, than the former have with Holland, or the latter with France. Yet in general the national feeling is proportionally weakened by the failure of any of the causes which contribute to it. Identity of language, literature, and, to some extent, of race and recollections, have maintained the feeling of nationality in considerable strength among the different portions of the German name, though they have at no time been really united under the same government; but the feeling has never reached to making the separate states desire to get rid of their autonomy. Among Italians an identity far from complete, of language and literature, combined with a geographical position which separates them by a distinct line from other countries, and, perhaps more than everything else, the possession of a common name, which makes them all glory in the past achievements in arts, arms, politics, religious primacy, science, and literature, of any who share the same designation, give rise to an amount of national feeling in the population, which, though still imperfect, has been sufficient to produce the great events now passing before us: notwithstanding a great mixture of races, and although they have never, in either ancient or modern history, been under the same government, except while that government extended or was extending itself over the greater part of the known world.
Where the sentiment of nationality exists in any force, there is a primâ facie case for uniting all the members of the nationality under the same government, and a government to themselves apart. This is merely saying that the question of government ought to be decided by the governed. One hardly knows what any division of the human race should be free to do, if not to determine, with which of the various collective bodies of human beings they choose to associate themselves. But, when a people are ripe for free institutions, there is a still more vital consideration. Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist. The influences which form opinions and decide political acts, are different in the different sections of the country. An altogether different set of leaders have the confidence of one part of the country and of another. The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, do not reach them. One section does not know what opinions, or what instigations, are circulating in another. The same incidents, the same acts, the same system of government, affect them in different ways; and each fears more injury to itself from the other nationalities, than from the common arbiter, the state. Their mutual antipathies are generally much stronger than bjealousyb of the government. That any one of them feels aggrieved by the policy of the common ruler, is sufficient to determine another to support that policy. Even if all are aggrieved, none feel that they can rely on the others for fidelity in a joint resistance; the strength of none is sufficient to resist alone, and each may reasonably think that it consults its own advantage most by bidding for the favour of the government against the rest. Above all, the grand and only ceffectualc security in the last resort against the despotism of the government, is in that case wanting: the sympathy of the army with the people. The military are the part of every community in whom, from the nature of the case, the distinction between their fellow-countrymen and foreigners is the deepest and strongest. To the rest of the people, foreigners are merely strangers; to the soldier, they are men against whom he may be called, at a week’s notice, to fight for life or death. The difference to him is that between friends and dfoesd —we may almost say between fellow-men and another kind of animals: for as respects the enemy, the only law is that of force, and the only mitigation, the same as in the case of other animals—that of simple humanity. Soldiers to whose feelings half or three-fourths of the subjects of the same government are foreigners, will have no more scruple in mowing them down, and no more desire to ask the reason why, than they would have in doing the same thing against declared enemies. An army composed of various nationalities has no other patriotism than devotion to the flag. Such armies have been the executioners of liberty through the whole duration of modern history. The sole bond which holds them together is their officers, and the government which they serve; and their only idea, if they have any, of public duty, is obedience to orders. A government thus supported, by keeping its Hungarian regiments in Italy and its Italian in Hungary, can long continue to rule in both places with the iron rod of foreign conquerors.
If it be said that so broadly marked a distinction between what is due to a fellow-countryman and what is due merely to a human creature, is more worthy of savages than of civilized beings, and ought, with the utmost energy, to be contended against, no one holds that opinion more strongly than myself. But this object, one of the worthiest to which human endeavour can be directed, can never, in the present state of civilization, be promoted by keeping different nationalities of anything like equivalent strength, under the same government. In a barbarous state of society, the case is sometimes different. The government may then be interested in softening the antipathies of the races, that peace may be preserved, and the country more easily governed. But when there are either free institutions, or a desire for them, in any of the peoples artificially tied together, the interest of the government lies in an exactly opposite direction. It is then interested in keeping up and envenoming their antipathies; that they may be prevented from coalescing, and it may be enabled to use some of them as tools for the enslavement of others. The Austrian Court has now for a whole generation made these tactics its principal means of government; with what fatal success, at the time of the Vienna insurrection and the Hungarian contest, the world knows too well. Happily there are now signs that improvement is too far advanced, to permit this policy to be any longer successful.
For the preceding reasons, it is in general a necessary condition of free institutions, that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities. But several considerations are liable to conflict in practice with this general principle. In the first place, its application is often precluded by geographical hindrances. There are parts even of Europe, in which different nationalities are so locally intermingled, that it is not practicable for them to be under separate governments. The population of Hungary is composed of Magyars, Slovacks, Croats, Serbs, Roumans, and in some districts, Germans, so mixed up as to be incapable of local separation; and there is no course open to them but to make a virtue of necessity, and reconcile themselves to living together under equal rights and laws. Their community of servitude, which dates only from the destruction of Hungarian independence in 1849, seems to be ripening and disposing them for such an equal union. The German colony of East Prussia is cut off from Germany by part of the ancient Poland, and being too weak to maintain separate independence, must, if geographical continuity is to be maintained, be either under a non-German government, or the intervening Polish territory must be under a German one. Another considerable region in which the dominant element of the population is German, the provinces of Courland, Esthonia, and Livonia, is condemned by its local situation to form part of a Slavonian state. In Eastern Germany itself there is a large Slavonic population: Bohemia is principally Slavonic, Silesia and other districts partially so. The most united country in Europe, France, is far from being homogeneous: independently of the fragments of foreign nationalities at its remote extremities, it consists, as language and history prove, of two portions, one occupied almost exclusively by a Gallo-Roman population, while in the other the Frankish, Burgundian, and other Teutonic races form a considerable ingredient.
When proper allowance has been made for geographical exigencies, another more purely moral and social consideration offers itself. Experience proves, that it is possible for one nationality to merge and be absorbed in another: and when it was originally an inferior and more backward portion of the human race, the absorption is greatly to its advantage. Nobody can suppose that it is not more beneficial to a Breton, or a Basque of French Navarre, to be brought into the current of the ideas and feelings of a highly civilized and cultivated people—to be a member of the French nationality, admitted on equal terms to all the privileges of French citizenship, sharing the advantages of French protection, and the dignity and prestige of French power—than to sulk on his own rocks, the half-savage relic of past times, revolving in his own little mental orbit, without participation or interest in the general movement of the world. The same remark applies to the Welshman or the Scottish Highlander, as members of the British nation.
Whatever really tends to the admixture of nationalities, and the blending of their attributes and peculiarities in a common union, is a benefit to the human race. Not by extinguishing types, of which, in these cases, sufficient examples are sure to remain, but by softening their extreme forms, and filling up the intervals between them. The united people, like a crossed breed of animals (but in a still greater degree, because the influences in operation are moral as well as physical), inherits the special aptitudes and eexcellencese of all its progenitors, protected by the admixture from being exaggerated into the neighbouring vices. But to render this admixture possible, there must be peculiar conditions. The combinations of circumstances which occur, and which affect the result, are various.
The nationalities brought together under the same government, may be about equal in numbers and strength, or they may be very unequal. If unequal, the least numerous of the two may either be the superior in civilization, or the inferior. Supposing it to be superior, it may either, through that superiority, be able to acquire ascendancy over the other, or it may be overcome by brute strength, and reduced to subjection. This last is a sheer mischief to the human race, and one which civilized humanity with one accord should rise in arms to prevent. The absorption of Greece by Macedonia was one of the greatest misfortunes which ever happened to the world: that of any of the principal countries of Europe by Russia would be a similar one.
If the smaller nationality, supposed to be the more advanced in improvement, is able to overcome the greater, as the Macedonians, reinforced by the Greeks, did Asia, and the English India, there is often a gain to civilization; but the conquerors and the conquered cannot in this case live together under the same free institutions. The absorption of the conquerors in the less advanced people would be an evil: these must be governed as subjects, and the state of things is either a benefit or a misfortune, according as the subjugated people have or have not reached the state in which it is an injury not to be under a free government, and according as the conquerors do or do not use their superiority in a manner calculated to fit the conquered for a higher stage of improvement. This topic will be particularly treated of in a subsequent chapter.
When the nationality which succeeds in overpowering the other, is both the most numerous and the most improved; and especially if the subdued nationality is small, and has no hope of reasserting its independence; then, if it is governed with any tolerable justice, and if the members of the more powerful nationality are not made odious by being invested with exclusive privileges, the smaller nationality is gradually reconciled to its position, and becomes amalgamated with the larger. No Bas-Breton, nor even any Alsatian, has the smallest wish at the present day to be separated from France. If all Irishmen have not yet arrived at the same disposition towards England, it is partly because they are sufficiently numerous to be capable of constituting a respectable nationality by themselves; but principally because, until of late years, they had been so atrociously governed, that all their best feelings combined with their bad ones in rousing bitter resentment against the Saxon rule. This disgrace to England, and calamity to the whole empire, has, it may be truly said, completely ceased for nearly a generation. No Irishman is now less free than an Anglo-Saxon, nor has a less share of every benefit either to his country or to his individual fortunes, than if he were sprung from any other portion of the British dominions. The only remaining real grievance of Ireland, that of the State Church, is one which half, or nearly half, the people of the larger island have in common with them. There is now next to nothing, except the memory of the past, and the difference in the predominant religion, to keep apart two races, perhaps the most fitted of any two in the world to be the completing counterpart of one another. The consciousness of being at last treated not only with equal justice but with equal consideration, is making such rapid way in the Irish nation, as to be wearing off all feelings that could make them insensible to the benefits which the less numerous and less wealthy people must necessarily derive, from being fellow-citizens instead of foreigners to those who are not only their nearest neighbours, but the wealthiest, and one of the freest, as well as most civilized and powerful, nations of the earth.
The cases in which the greatest practical obstacles exist to the blending of nationalities, are when the nationalities which have been bound together cases, each, confiding in its strength, and feeling itself capable of maintaining an equal struggle with any of the others, is unwilling to be merged in it: each cultivates with party obstinacy its distinctive peculiarities; obsolete customs, and even declining languages, are revived, to deepen the separation; each deems itself tyrannized over if any authority is exercised within itself by functionaries of a rival race; and whatever is given to one of the conflicting nationalities, is considered to be taken from all the rest. When nations, thus divided, are under a despotic government which is a stranger to all of them, or which though sprung from one, yet feeling greater interest in its own power than in any sympathies of nationality, assigns no privilege to either nation, and chooses its instruments indifferently from all; in the course of a few generations, identity of situation often produces harmony of feeling, and the different races come to feel towards each other as fellow-countrymen; particularly if they are dispersed over the same tract of country. But if the era of aspiration to free government arrives before this fusion has been effected, the opportunity has gone by for effecting it. From that time, if the unreconciled nationalities are geographically separate, and especially if their local position is such that there is no natural fitness or convenience in their being under the same government (as in the case of an Italian province under a French or German yoke), there is not only an obvious propriety, but, if either freedom or concord is cared for, a necessity, for breaking the connexion altogether. There may be cases in which the provinces, after separation, might usefully remain united by a federal tie: but it generally happens that if they are willing to forego complete independence, and become members of a federation, each of them has other neighbours with whom it would prefer to connect itself, having more sympathies in common, if not also greater community of interest.
[a-a]611, 612 hitherto
[c-c]611, 612 reliable
[e-e]611 excellencies [printer’s error?]
John Emerich Edward Dalberg, Lord Acton, The History of Freedom and Other Essays, ed. John Neville Figgis and Reginald Vere Laurence (London: Macmillan, 1907). Chapter: IX: NATIONALITY1
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Whenever great intellectual cultivation has been combined with that suffering which is inseparable from extensive changes in the condition of the people, men of speculative or imaginative genius have sought in the contemplation of an ideal society a remedy, or at least a consolation, for evils which they were practically unable to remove. Poetry has always preserved the idea, that at some distant time or place, in the Western islands or the Arcadian region, an innocent and contented people, free from the corruption and restraint of civilised life, have realised the legends of the golden age. The office of the poets is always nearly the same, and there is little variation in the features of their ideal world; but when philosophers attempt to admonish or reform mankind by devising an imaginary state, their motive is more definite and immediate, and their commonwealth is a satire as well as a model. Plato and Plotinus, More and Campanella, constructed their fanciful societies with those materials which were omitted from the fabric of the actual communities, by the defects of which they were inspired. The Republic, the Utopia, and the City of the Sun were protests against a state of things which the experience of their authors taught them to condemn, and from the faults of which they took refuge in the opposite extremes. They remained without influence, and have never passed from literary into political history, because something more than discontent and speculative ingenuity is needed in order to invest a political idea with power over the masses of mankind. The scheme of a philosopher can command the practical allegiance of fanatics only, not of nations; and though oppression may give rise to violent and repeated outbreaks, like the convulsions of a man in pain, it cannot mature a settled purpose and plan of regeneration, unless a new notion of happiness is joined to the sense of present evil.
The history of religion furnishes a complete illustration. Between the later mediæval sects and Protestantism there is an essential difference, that outweighs the points of analogy found in those systems which are regarded as heralds of the Reformation, and is enough to explain the vitality of the last in comparison with the others. Whilst Wycliffe and Hus contradicted certain particulars of the Catholic teaching, Luther rejected the authority of the Church, and gave to the individual conscience an independence which was sure to lead to an incessant resistance. There is a similar difference between the Revolt of the Netherlands, the Great Rebellion, the War of Independence, or the rising of Brabant, on the one hand, and the French Revolution on the other. Before 1789, insurrections were provoked by particular wrongs, and were justified by definite complaints and by an appeal to principles which all men acknowledged. New theories were sometimes advanced in the cause of controversy, but they were accidental, and the great argument against tyranny was fidelity to the ancient laws. Since the change produced by the French Revolution, those aspirations which are awakened by the evils and defects of the social state have come to act as permanent and energetic forces throughout the civilised world. They are spontaneous and aggressive, needing no prophet to proclaim, no champion to defend them, but popular, unreasoning, and almost irresistible. The Revolution effected this change, partly by its doctrines, partly by the indirect influence of events. It taught the people to regard their wishes and wants as the supreme criterion of right. The rapid vicissitudes of power, in which each party successively appealed to the favour of the masses as the arbiter of success, accustomed the masses to be arbitrary as well as insubordinate. The fall of many governments, and the frequent redistribution of territory, deprived all settlements of the dignity of permanence. Tradition and prescription ceased to be guardians of authority; and the arrangements which proceeded from revolutions, from the triumphs of war, and from treaties of peace, were equally regardless of established rights. Duty cannot be dissociated from right, and nations refuse to be controlled by laws which are no protection.
In this condition of the world, theory and action follow close upon each other, and practical evils easily give birth to opposite systems. In the realms of free-will, the regularity of natural progress is preserved by the conflict of extremes. The impulse of the reaction carries men from one extremity towards another. The pursuit of a remote and ideal object, which captivates the imagination by its splendour and the reason by its simplicity, evokes an energy which would not be inspired by a rational, possible end, limited by many antagonistic claims, and confined to what is reasonable, practicable, and just. One excess or exaggeration is the corrective of the other, and error promotes truth, where the masses are concerned, by counterbalancing a contrary error. The few have not strength to achieve great changes unaided; the many have not wisdom to be moved by truth unmixed. Where the disease is various, no particular definite remedy can meet the wants of all. Only the attraction of an abstract idea, or of an ideal state, can unite in a common action multitudes who seek a universal cure for many special evils, and a common restorative applicable to many different conditions. And hence false principles, which correspond with the bad as well as with the just aspirations of mankind, are a normal and necessary element in the social life of nations.
Theories of this kind are just, inasmuch as they are provoked by definite ascertained evils, and undertake their removal. They are useful in opposition, as a warning or a threat, to modify existing things, and keep awake the consciousness of wrong. They cannot serve as a basis for the reconstruction of civil society, as medicine cannot serve for food; but they may influence it with advantage, because they point out the direction, though not the measure, in which reform is needed. They oppose an order of things which is the result of a selfish and violent abuse of power by the ruling classes, and of artificial restriction on the natural progress of the world, destitute of an ideal element or a moral purpose. Practical extremes differ from the theoretical extremes they provoke, because the first are both arbitrary and violent, whilst the last, though also revolutionary, are at the same time remedial. In one case the wrong is voluntary, in the other it is inevitable. This is the general character of the contest between the existing order and the subversive theories that deny its legitimacy. There are three principal theories of this kind, impugning the present distribution of power, of property, and of territory, and attacking respectively the aristocracy, the middle class, and the sovereignty. They are the theories of equality, communism, and nationality. Though sprung from a common origin, opposing cognate evils, and connected by many links, they did not appear simultaneously. Rousseau proclaimed the first, Babœuf the second, Mazzini the third; and the third is the most recent in its appearance, the most attractive at the present time, and the richest in promise of future power.
In the old European system, the rights of nationalities were neither recognised by governments nor asserted by the people. The interest of the reigning families, not those of the nations, regulated the frontiers; and the administration was conducted generally without any reference to popular desires. Where all liberties were suppressed, the claims of national independence were necessarily ignored, and a princess, in the words of Fénelon, carried a monarchy in her wedding portion. The eighteenth century acquiesced in this oblivion of corporate rights on the Continent, for the absolutists cared only for the State, and the liberals only for the individual. The Church, the nobles, and the nation had no place in the popular theories of the age; and they devised none in their own defence, for they were not openly attacked. The aristocracy retained its privileges, and the Church her property; and the dynastic interest, which overruled the natural inclination of the nations and destroyed their independence, nevertheless maintained their integrity. The national sentiment was not wounded in its most sensitive part. To dispossess a sovereign of his hereditary crown, and to annex his dominions, would have been held to inflict an injury upon all monarchies, and to furnish their subjects with a dangerous example, by depriving royalty of its inviolable character. In time of war, as there was no national cause at stake, there was no attempt to rouse national feeling. The courtesy of the rulers towards each other was proportionate to the contempt for the lower orders. Compliments passed between the commanders of hostile armies; there was no bitterness, and no excitement; battles were fought with the pomp and pride of a parade. The art of war became a slow and learned game. The monarchies were united not only by a natural community of interests, but by family alliances. A marriage contract sometimes became the signal for an interminable war, whilst family connections often set a barrier to ambition. After the wars of religion came to an end in 1648, the only wars were those which were waged for an inheritance or a dependency, or against countries whose system of government exempted them from the common law of dynastic States, and made them not only unprotected but obnoxious. These countries were England and Holland, until Holland ceased to be a republic, and until, in England, the defeat of the Jacobites in the forty-five terminated the struggle for the Crown. There was one country, however, which still continued to be an exception; one monarch whose place was not admitted in the comity of kings.
Poland did not possess those securities for stability which were supplied by dynastic connections and the theory of legitimacy, wherever a crown could be obtained by marriage or inheritance. A monarch without royal blood, a crown bestowed by the nation, were an anomaly and an outrage in that age of dynastic absolutism. The country was excluded from the European system by the nature of its institutions. It excited a cupidity which could not be satisfied. It gave the reigning families of Europe no hope of permanently strengthening themselves by intermarriage with its rulers, or of obtaining it by bequest or by inheritance. The Habsburgs had contested the possession of Spain and the Indies with the French Bourbons, of Italy with the Spanish Bourbons, of the empire with the house of Wittelsbach, of Silesia with the house of Hohenzollern. There had been wars between rival houses for half the territories of Italy and Germany. But none could hope to redeem their losses or increase their power in a country to which marriage and descent gave no claim. Where they could not permanently inherit they endeavoured, by intrigues, to prevail at each election, and after contending in support of candidates who were their partisans, the neighbours at last appointed an instrument for the final demolition of the Polish State. Till then no nation had been deprived of its political existence by the Christian Powers, and whatever disregard had been shown for national interests and sympathies, some care had been taken to conceal the wrong by a hypocritical perversion of law. But the partition of Poland was an act of wanton violence, committed in open defiance not only of popular feeling but of public law. For the first time in modern history a great State was suppressed, and a whole nation divided among its enemies.
This famous measure, the most revolutionary act of the old absolutism, awakened the theory of nationality in Europe, converting a dormant right into an aspiration, and a sentiment into a political claim. “No wise or honest man,” wrote Edmund Burke, “can approve of that partition, or can contemplate it without prognosticating great mischief from it to all countries at some future time.”1 Thenceforward there was a nation demanding to be united in a State,—a soul, as it were, wandering in search of a body in which to begin life over again; and, for the first time, a cry was heard that the arrangement of States was unjust—that their limits were unnatural, and that a whole people was deprived of its right to constitute an independent community. Before that claim could be efficiently asserted against the overwhelming power of its opponents,—before it gained energy, after the last partition, to overcome the influence of long habits of submission, and of the contempt which previous disorders had brought upon Poland,—the ancient European system was in ruins, and a new world was rising in its place.
The old despotic policy which made the Poles its prey had two adversaries,—the spirit of English liberty, and the doctrines of that revolution which destroyed the French monarchy with its own weapons; and these two contradicted in contrary ways the theory that nations have no collective rights. At the present day, the theory of nationality is not only the most powerful auxiliary of revolution, but its actual substance in the movements of the last three years. This, however, is a recent alliance, unknown to the first French Revolution. The modern theory of nationality arose partly as a legitimate consequence, partly as a reaction against it. As the system which overlooked national division was opposed by liberalism in two forms, the French and the English, so the system which insists upon them proceeds from two distinct sources, and exhibits the character either of 1688 or of 1789. When the French people abolished the authorities under which it lived, and became its own master, France was in danger of dissolution: for the common will is difficult to ascertain, and does not readily agree. “The laws,” said Vergniaud, in the debate on the sentence of the king, “are obligatory only as the presumptive will of the people, which retains the right of approving or condemning them. The instant it manifests its wish the work of the national representation, the law, must disappear.” This doctrine resolved society into its natural elements, and threatened to break up the country into as many republics as there were communes. For true republicanism is the principle of self-government in the whole and in all the parts. In an extensive country, it can prevail only by the union of several independent communities in a single confederacy, as in Greece, in Switzerland, in the Netherlands, and in America; so that a large republic not founded on the federal principle must result in the government of a single city, like Rome and Paris, and, in a less degree, Athens, Berne, and Amsterdam; or, in other words, a great democracy must either sacrifice self-government to unity, or preserve it by federalism.
The France of history fell together with the French State, which was the growth of centuries. The old sovereignty was destroyed. The local authorities were looked upon with aversion and alarm. The new central authority needed to be established on a new principle of unity. The state of nature, which was the ideal of society, was made the basis of the nation; descent was put in the place of tradition, and the French people was regarded as a physical product: an ethnological, not historic, unit. It was assumed that a unity existed separate from the representation and the government, wholly independent of the past, and capable at any moment of expressing or of changing its mind. In the words of Sieyès, it was no longer France, but some unknown country to which the nation was transported. The central power possessed authority, inasmuch as it obeyed the whole, and no divergence was permitted from the universal sentiment. This power, endowed with volition, was personified in the Republic One and Indivisible. The title signified that a part could not speak or act for the whole,—that there was a power supreme over the State, distinct from, and independent of, its members; and it expressed, for the first time in history, the notion of an abstract nationality. In this manner the idea of the sovereignty of the people, uncontrolled by the past, gave birth to the idea of nationality independent of the political influence of history. It sprang from the rejection of the two authorities,—of the State and of the past. The kingdom of France was, geographically as well as politically, the product of a long series of events, and the same influences which built up the State formed the territory. The Revolution repudiated alike the agencies to which France owed her boundaries and those to which she owed her government. Every effaceable trace and relic of national history was carefully wiped away,—the system of administration, the physical divisions of the country, the classes of society, the corporations, the weights and measures, the calendar. France was no longer bounded by the limits she had received from the condemned influence of her history; she could recognise only those which were set by nature. The definition of the nation was borrowed from the material world, and, in order to avoid a loss of territory, it became not only an abstraction but a fiction.
There was a principle of nationality in the ethnological character of the movement, which is the source of the common observation that revolution is more frequent in Catholic than in Protestant countries. It is, in fact, more frequent in the Latin than in the Teutonic world, because it depends partly on a national impulse, which is only awakened where there is an alien element, the vestige of a foreign dominion, to expel. Western Europe has undergone two conquests—one by the Romans and one by the Germans, and twice received laws from the invaders. Each time it rose again against the victorious race; and the two great reactions, while they differ according to the different characters of the two conquests, have the phenomenon of imperialism in common. The Roman republic laboured to crush the subjugated nations into a homogeneous and obedient mass; but the increase which the proconsular authority obtained in the process subverted the republican government, and the reaction of the provinces against Rome assisted in establishing the empire. The Cæsarean system gave an unprecedented freedom to the dependencies, and raised them to a civil equality which put an end to the dominion of race over race and of class over class. The monarchy was hailed as a refuge from the pride and cupidity of the Roman people; and the love of equality, the hatred of nobility, and the tolerance of despotism implanted by Rome became, at least in Gaul, the chief feature of the national character. But among the nations whose vitality had been broken down by the stern republic, not one retained the materials necessary to enjoy independence, or to develop a new history. The political faculty which organises states and finds society in a moral order was exhausted, and the Christian doctors looked in vain over the waste of ruins for a people by whose aid the Church might survive the decay of Rome. A new element of national life was brought to that declining world by the enemies who destroyed it. The flood of barbarians settled over it for a season, and then subsided; and when the landmarks of civilisation appeared once more, it was found that the soil had been impregnated with a fertilising and regenerating influence, and that the inundation had laid the germs of future states and of a new society. The political sense and energy came with the new blood, and was exhibited in the power exercised by the younger race upon the old, and in the establishment of a graduated freedom. Instead of universal equal rights, the actual enjoyment of which is necessarily contingent on, and commensurate with, power, the rights of the people were made dependent on a variety of conditions, the first of which was the distribution of property. Civil society became a classified organism instead of a formless combination of atoms, and the feudal system gradually arose.
Roman Gaul had so thoroughly adopted the ideas of absolute authority and undistinguished equality during the five centuries between Cæsar and Clovis, that the people could never be reconciled to the new system. Feudalism remained a foreign importation, and the feudal aristocracy an alien race, and the common people of France sought protection against both in the Roman jurisprudence and the power of the crown. The development of absolute monarchy by the help of democracy is the one constant character of French history. The royal power, feudal at first, and limited by the immunities and the great vassals, became more popular as it grew more absolute; while the suppression of aristocracy, the removal of the intermediate authorities, was so particularly the object of the nation, that it was more energetically accomplished after the fall of the throne. The monarchy which had been engaged from the thirteenth century in curbing the nobles, was at last thrust aside by the democracy, because it was too dilatory in the work, and was unable to deny its own origin and effectually ruin the class from which it sprang. All those things which constitute the peculiar character of the French Revolution,—the demand for equality, the hatred of nobility and feudalism, and of the Church which was connected with them, the constant reference to pagan examples, the suppression of monarchy, the new code of law, the breach with tradition, and the substitution of an ideal system for everything that had proceeded from the mixture and mutual action of the races,— all these exhibit the common type of a reaction against the effects of the Frankish invasion. The hatred of royalty was less than the hatred of aristocracy; privileges were more detested than tyranny; and the king perished because of the origin of his authority rather than because of its abuse. Monarchy unconnected with aristocracy became popular in France, even when most uncontrolled; whilst the attempt to reconstitute the throne, and to limit and fence it with its peers, broke down, because the old Teutonic elements on which it relied—hereditary nobility, primogeniture, and privilege—were no longer tolerated. The substance of the ideas of 1789 is not the limitation of the sovereign power, but the abrogation of intermediate powers. These powers, and the classes which enjoyed them, come in Latin Europe from a barbarian origin; and the movement which calls itself liberal is essentially national. If liberty were its object, its means would be the establishment of great independent authorities not derived from the State, and its model would be England. But its object is equality; and it seeks, like France in 1789, to cast out the elements of inequality which were introduced by the Teutonic race. This is the object which Italy and Spain have had in common with France, and herein consists the natural league of the Latin nations.
This national element in the movement was not understood by the revolutionary leaders. At first, their doctrine appeared entirely contrary to the idea of nationality. They taught that certain general principles of government were absolutely right in all States; and they asserted in theory the unrestricted freedom of the individual, and the supremacy of the will over every external necessity or obligation. This is in apparent contradiction to the national theory, that certain natural forces ought to determine the character, the form, and the policy of the State, by which a kind of fate is put in the place of freedom. Accordingly the national sentiment was not developed directly out of the revolution in which it was involved, but was exhibited first in resistance to it, when the attempt to emancipate had been absorbed in the desire to subjugate, and the republic had been succeeded by the empire. Napoleon called a new power into existence by attacking nationality in Russia, by delivering it in Italy, by governing in defiance of it in Germany and Spain. The sovereigns of these countries were deposed or degraded; and a system of administration was introduced which was French in its origin, its spirit, and its instruments. The people resisted the change. The movement against it was popular and spontaneous, because the rulers were absent or helpless; and it was national, because it was directed against foreign institutions. In Tyrol, in Spain, and afterwards in Prussia, the people did not receive the impulse from the government, but undertook of their own accord to cast out the armies and the ideas of revolutionised France. Men were made conscious of the national element of the revolution by its conquests, not in its rise. The three things which the Empire most openly oppressed—religion, national independence, and political liberty — united in a short-lived league to animate the great uprising by which Napoleon fell. Under the influence of that memorable alliance a political spirit was called forth on the Continent, which clung to freedom and abhorred revolution, and sought to restore, to develop, and to reform the decayed national institutions. The men who proclaimed these ideas, Stein and Görres, Humboldt, Müller, and De Maistre,1 were as hostile to Bonapartism as to the absolutism of the old governments, and insisted on the national rights, which had been invaded equally by both, and which they hoped to restore by the destruction of the French supremacy. With the cause that triumphed at Waterloo the friends of the Revolution had no sympathy, for they had learned to identify their doctrine with the cause of France. The Holland House Whigs in England, the Afrancesados in Spain, the Muratists in Italy, and the partisans of the Confederation of the Rhine, merging patriotism in their revolutionary affections, regretted the fall of the French power, and looked with alarm at those new and unknown forces which the War of Deliverance had evoked, and which were as menacing to French liberalism as to French supremacy.
But the new aspirations for national and popular rights were crushed at the restoration. The liberals of those days cared for freedom, not in the shape of national independence, but of French institutions; and they combined against the nations with the ambition of the governments. They were as ready to sacrifice nationality to their ideal as the Holy Alliance was to the interests of absolutism. Talleyrand indeed declared at Vienna that the Polish question ought to have precedence over all other questions, because the partition of Poland had been one of the first and greatest causes of the evils which Europe had suffered; but dynastic interests prevailed. All the sovereigns represented at Vienna recovered their dominions, except the King of Saxony, who was punished for his fidelity to Napoleon; but the States that were unrepresented in the reigning families—Poland, Venice, and Genoa—were not revived, and even the Pope had great difficulty in recovering the Legations from the grasp of Austria. Nationality, which the old régime had ignored, which had been outraged by the revolution and the empire, received, after its first open demonstration, the hardest blow at the Congress of Vienna. The principle which the first partition had generated, to which the revolution had given a basis of theory, which had been lashed by the empire into a momentary convulsive effort, was matured by the long error of the restoration into a consistent doctrine, nourished and justified by the situation of Europe.
The governments of the Holy Alliance devoted themselves to suppress with equal care the revolutionary spirit by which they had been threatened, and the national spirit by which they had been restored. Austria, which owed nothing to the national movement, and had prevented its revival after 1809, naturally took the lead in repressing it. Every disturbance of the final settlements of 1815, every aspiration for changes or reforms, was condemned as sedition. This system repressed the good with the evil tendencies of the age; and the resistance which it provoked, during the generation that passed away from the restoration to the fall of Metternich, and again under the reaction which commenced with Schwarzenberg and ended with the administrations of Bach and Manteuffel, proceeded from various combinations of the opposite forms of liberalism. In the successive phases of that struggle, the idea that national claims are above all other rights gradually rose to the supremacy which it now possesses among the revolutionary agencies.
The first liberal movement, that of the Carbonari in the south of Europe, had no specific national character, but was supported by the Bonapartists both in Spain and Italy. In the following years the opposite ideas of 1813 came to the front, and a revolutionary movement, in many respects hostile to the principles of revolution, began in defence of liberty, religion, and nationality. All these causes were united in the Irish agitation, and in the Greek, Belgian, and Polish revolutions. Those sentiments which had been insulted by Napoleon, and had risen against him, rose against the governments of the restoration. They had been oppressed by the sword, and then by the treaties. The national principle added force, but not justice, to this movement, which, in every case but Poland, was successful. A period followed in which it degenerated into a purely national idea, as the agitation for repeal succeeded emancipation, and Panslavism and Panhellenism arose under the auspices of the Eastern Church. This was the third phase of the resistance to the settlement of Vienna, which was weak, because it failed to satisfy national or constitutional aspirations, either of which would have been a safeguard against the other, by a moral if not by a popular justification. At first, in 1813, the people rose against their conquerors, in defence of their legitimate rulers. They refused to be governed by usurpers. In the period between 1825 and 1831, they resolved that they would not be misgoverned by strangers. The French administration was often better than that which it displaced, but there were prior claimants for the authority exercised by the French, and at first the national contest was a contest for legitimacy. In the second period this element was wanting. No dispossessed princes led the Greeks, the Belgians, or the Poles. The Turks, the Dutch, and the Russians were attacked, not as usurpers, but as oppressors,—because they misgoverned, not because they were of a different race. Then began a time when the text simply was, that nations would not be governed by foreigners. Power legitimately obtained, and exercised with moderation, was declared invalid. National rights, like religion, had borne part in the previous combinations, and had been auxiliaries in the struggles for freedom, but now nationality became a paramount claim, which was to assert itself alone, which might put forward as pretexts the rights of rulers, the liberties of the people, the safety of religion, but which, if no such union could be formed, was to prevail at the expense of every other cause for which nations make sacrifices.
Matternich is, next to Napoleon, the chief promoter of this theory; for the anti-national character of the restoration was most distinct in Austria, and it is in opposition to the Austrian Government that nationality grew into a system. Napoleon, who, trusting to his armies, despised moral forces in politics, was overthrown by their rising. Austria committed the same fault in the government of her Italian provinces. The kingdom of Italy had united all the northern part of the Peninsula in a single State; and the national feelings, which the French repressed elsewhere, were encouraged as a safeguard of their power in Italy and in Poland. When the tide of victory turned, Austria invoked against the French the aid of the new sentiment they had fostered. Nugent announced, in his proclamation to the Italians, that they should become an independent nation. The same spirit served different masters, and contributed first to the destruction of the old States, then to the expulsion of the French, and again, under Charles Albert, to a new revolution. It was appealed to in the name of the most contradictory principles of government, and served all parties in succession, because it was one in which all could unite. Beginning by a protest against the dominion of race over race, its mildest and least-developed form, it grew into a condemnation of every State that included different races, and finally became the complete and consistent theory, that the State and the nation must be co-extensive. “It is,” says Mr. Mill, “in general a necessary condition of free institutions, that the boundaries of governments should coincide in the main with those of nationalities.”1
The outward historical progress of this idea from an indefinite aspiration to be the keystone of a political system, may be traced in the life of the man who gave to it the element in which its strength resides,—Giuseppe Mazzini. He found Carbonarism impotent against the measures of the governments, and resolved to give new life to the liberal movement by transferring it to the ground of nationality. Exile is the nursery of nationality, as oppression is the school of liberalism; and Mazzini conceived the idea of Young Italy when he was a refugee at Marseilles. In the same way, the Polish exiles are the champions of every national movement; for to them all political rights are absorbed in the idea of independence, which, however they may differ with each other, is the one aspiration common to them all. Towards the year 1830 literature also contributed to the national idea. “It was the time,” says Mazzini, “of the great conflict between the romantic and the classical school, which might with equal truth be called a conflict between the partisans of freedom and of authority.” The romantic school was infidel in Italy, and Catholic in Germany; but in both it had the common effect of encouraging national history and literature, and Dante was as great an authority with the Italian democrats as with the leaders of the mediæval revival at Vienna, Munich, and Berlin. But neither the influence of the exiles, nor that of the poets and critics of the new party, extended over the masses. It was a sect without popular sympathy or encouragement, a conspiracy founded not on a grievance, but on a doctrine; and when the attempt to rise was made in Savoy, in 1834, under a banner with the motto “Unity, Independence, God and Humanity,” the people were puzzled at its object, and indifferent to its failure. But Mazzini continued his propaganda, developed his Giovine Italia into a Giovine Europa, and established in 1847 the international league of nations. “The people,” he said, in his opening address, “is penetrated with only one idea, that of unity and nationality. . . . There is no international question as to forms of government, but only a national question.”
The revolution of 1848, unsuccessful in its national purpose, prepared the subsequent victories of nationality in two ways. The first of these was the restoration of the Austrian power in Italy, with a new and more energetic centralisation, which gave no promise of freedom. Whilst that system prevailed, the right was on the side of the national aspirations, and they were revived in a more complete and cultivated form by Manin. The policy of the Austrian Government, which failed during the ten years of the reaction to convert the tenure by force into a tenure by right, and to establish with free institutions the condition of allegiance, gave a negative encouragement to the theory. It deprived Francis Joseph of all active support and sympathy in 1859, for he was more clearly wrong in his conduct than his enemies in their doctrines. The real cause of the energy which the national theory has acquired is, however, the triumph of the democratic principle in France, and its recognition by the European Powers. The theory of nationality is involved in the democratic theory of the sovereignty of the general will. “One hardly knows what any division of the human race should be free to do, if not to determine with which of the various collective bodies of human beings they choose to associate themselves.”1 It is by this act that a nation constitutes itself. To have a collective will, unity is necessary, and independence is requisite in order to assert it. Unity and nationality are still more essential to the notion of the sovereignty of the people than the cashiering of monarchs, or the revocation of laws. Arbitrary acts of this kind may be prevented by the happiness of the people or the popularity of the king, but a nation inspired by the democratic idea cannot with consistency allow a part of itself to belong to a foreign State, or the whole to be divided into several native States. The theory of nationality therefore proceeds from both the principles which divide the political world,—from legitimacy, which ignores its claims, and from the revolution, which assumes them; and for the same reason it is the chief weapon of the last against the first.
In pursuing the outward and visible growth of the national theory we are prepared for an examination of its political character and value. The absolutism which has created it denies equally that absolute right of national unity which is a product of democracy, and that claim of national liberty which belongs to the theory of freedom. These two views of nationality, corresponding to the French and to the English systems, are connected in name only, and are in reality the opposite extremes of political thought. In one case, nationality is founded on the perpetual supremacy of the collective will, of which the unity of the nation is the necessary condition, to which every other influence must defer, and against which no obligation enjoys authority, and all resistance is tyrannical. The nation is here an ideal unit founded on the race, in defiance of the modifying action of external causes, of tradition, and of existing rights. It overrules the rights and wishes of the inhabitants, absorbing their divergent interests in a fictitious unity; sacrifices their several inclinations and duties to the higher claim of nationality, and crushes all natural rights and all established liberties for the purpose of vindicating itself.1 Whenever a single definite object is made the supreme end of the State, be it the advantage of a class, the safety or the power of the country, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, or the support of any speculative idea, the State becomes for the time inevitably absolute. Liberty alone demands for its realisation the limitation of the public authority, for liberty is the only object which benefits all alike, and provokes no sincere opposition. In supporting the claims of national unity, governments must be subverted in whose title there is no flaw, and whose policy is beneficent and equitable, and subjects must be compelled to transfer their allegiance to an authority for which they have no attachment, and which may be practically a foreign domination. Connected with this theory in nothing except in the common enmity of the absolute state, is the theory which represents nationality as an essential, but not a supreme element in determining the forms of the State. It is distinguished from the other, because it tends to diversity and not to uniformity, to harmony and not to unity; because it aims not at an arbitrary change, but at careful respect for the existing conditions of political life, and because it obeys the laws and results of history, not the aspirations of an ideal future. While the theory of unity makes the nation a source of despotism and revolution, the theory of liberty regards it as the bulwark of self-government, and the foremost limit to the excessive power of the State. Private rights, which are sacrificed to the unity, are preserved by the union of nations. No power can so efficiently resist the tendencies of centralisation, of corruption, and of absolutism, as that community which is the vastest that can be included in a State, which imposes on its members a consistent similarity of character, interest, and opinion, and which arrests the action of the sovereign by the influence of a divided patriotism. The presence of different nations under the same sovereignty is similar in its effect to the independence of the Church in the State. It provides against the servility which flourishes under the shadow of a single authority, by balancing interests, multiplying associations, and giving to the subject the restraint and support of a combined opinion. In the same way it promotes independence by forming definite groups of public opinion, and by affording a great source and centre of political sentiments, and of notions of duty not derived from the sovereign will. Liberty provokes diversity, and diversity preserves liberty by supplying the means of organisation. All those portions of law which govern the relations of men with each other, and regulate social life, are the varying result of national custom and the creation of private society. In these things, therefore, the several nations will differ from each other; for they themselves have produced them, and they do not owe them to the State which rules them all. This diversity in the same State is a firm barrier against the intrusion of the government beyond the political sphere which is common to all into the social department which escapes legislation and is ruled by spontaneous laws. This sort of interference is characteristic of an absolute government, and is sure to provoke a reaction, and finally a remedy. That intolerance of social freedom which is natural to absolutism is sure to find a corrective in the national diversities, which no other force could so efficiently provide. The co-existence of several nations under the same State is a test, as well as the best security of its freedom. It is also one of the chief instruments of civilisation; and, as such, it is in the natural and providential order, and indicates a state of greater advancement than the national unity which is the ideal of modern liberalism.
The combination of different nations in one State is as necessary a condition of civilised life as the combination of men in society. Inferior races are raised by living in political union with races intellectually superior. Exhausted and decaying nations are revived by the contact of a younger vitality. Nations in which the elements of organisation and the capacity for government have been lost, either through the demoralising influence of despotism, or the disintegrating action of democracy, are restored and educated anew under the discipline of a stronger and less corrupted race. This fertilising and regenerating process can only be obtained by living under one government. It is in the cauldron of the State that the fusion takes place by which the vigour, the knowledge, and the capacity of one portion of mankind may be communicated to another. Where political and national boundaries coincide, society ceases to advance, and nations relapse into a condition corresponding to that of men who renounce intercourse with their fellow-men. The difference between the two unites mankind not only by the benefits it confers on those who live together, but because it connects society either by a political or a national bond, gives to every people an interest in its neighbours, either because they are under the same government or because they are of the same race, and thus promotes the interests of humanity, of civilisation, and of religion.
Christianity rejoices at the mixture of races, as paganism identifies itself with their differences, because truth is universal, and errors various and particular. In the ancient world idolatry and nationality went together, and the same term is applied in Scripture to both. It was the mission of the Church to overcome national differences. The period of her undisputed supremacy was that in which all Western Europe obeyed the same laws, all literature was contained in one language, and the political unity of Christendom was personified in a single potentate, while its intellectual unity was represented in one university. As the ancient Romans concluded their conquests by carrying away the gods of the conquered people, Charlemagne overcame the national resistance of the Saxons only by the forcible destruction of their pagan rites. Out of the mediæval period, and the combined action of the German race and the Church, came forth a new system of nations and a new conception of nationality. Nature was overcome in the nation as well as in the individual. In pagan and uncultivated times, nations were distinguished from each other by the widest diversity, not only in religion, but in customs, language, and character. Under the new law they had many things in common; the old barriers which separated them were removed, and the new principle of self-government, which Christianity imposed, enabled them to live together under the same authority, without necessarily losing their cherished habits, their customs, or their laws. The new idea of freedom made room for different races in one State. A nation was no longer what it had been to the ancient world,—the progeny of a common ancestor, or the aboriginal product of a particular region,—a result of merely physical and material causes,—but a moral and political being; not the creation of geographical or physiological unity, but developed in the course of history by the action of the State. It is derived from the State, not supreme over it. A State may in course of time produce a nationality; but that a nationality should constitute a State is contrary to the nature of modern civilisation. The nation derives its rights and its power from the memory of a former independence.
The Church has agreed in this respect with the tendency of political progress, and discouraged wherever she could the isolation of nations; admonishing them of their duties to each other, and regarding conquest and feudal investiture as the natural means of raising barbarous or sunken nations to a higher level. But though she has never attributed to national independence an immunity from the accidental consequences of feudal law, of hereditary claims, or of testamentary arrangements, she defends national liberty against uniformity and centralisation with an energy inspired by perfect community of interests. For the same enemy threatens both; and the State which is reluctant to tolerate differences, and to do justice to the peculiar character of various races, must from the same cause interfere in the internal government of religion. The connection of religious liberty with the emancipation of Poland or Ireland is not merely the accidental result of local causes; and the failure of the Concordat to unite the subjects of Austria is the natural consequence of a policy which did not desire to protect the provinces in their diversity and autonomy, and sought to bribe the Church by favours instead of strengthening her by independence. From this influence of religion in modern history has proceeded a new definition of patriotism.
The difference between nationality and the State is exhibited in the nature of patriotic attachment. Our connection with the race is merely natural or physical, whilst our duties to the political nation are ethical. One is a community of affections and instincts infinitely important and powerful in savage life, but pertaining more to the animal than to the civilised man; the other is an authority governing by laws, imposing obligations, and giving a moral sanction and character to the natural relations of society. Patriotism is in political life what faith is in religion, and it stands to the domestic feelings and to home-sickness as faith to fanaticism and to superstition. It has one aspect derived from private life and nature, for it is an extension of the family affections, as the tribe is an extension of the family. But in its real political character, patriotism consists in the development of the instinct of self-preservation into a moral duty which may involve self-sacrifice. Self-preservation is both an instinct and a duty, natural and involuntary in one respect, and at the same time a moral obligation. By the first it produces the family; by the last the State. If the nation could exist without the State, subject only to the instinct of self-preservation, it would be incapable of denying, controlling, or sacrificing itself; it would be an end and a rule to itself. But in the political order moral purposes are realised and public ends are pursued to which private interests and even existence must be sacrificed. The great sign of true patriotism, the development of selfishness into sacrifice, is the product of political life. That sense of duty which is supplied by race is not entirely separated from its selfish and instinctive basis; and the love of country, like married love, stands at the same time on a material and a moral foundation. The patriot must distinguish between the two causes or objects of his devotion. The attachment which is given only to the country is like obedience given only to the State—a submission to physical influences. The man who prefers his country before every other duty shows the same spirit as the man who surrenders every right to the State. They both deny that right is superior to authority.
There is a moral and political country, in the language of Burke, distinct from the geographical, which may be possibly in collision with it. The Frenchmen who bore arms against the Convention were as patriotic as the Englishmen who bore arms against King Charles, for they recognised a higher duty than that of obedience to the actual sovereign. “In an address to France,” said Burke, “in an attempt to treat with it, or in considering any scheme at all relative to it, it is impossible we should mean the geographical, we must always mean the moral and political, country. . . . The truth is, that France is out of itself — the moral France is separated from the geographical. The master of the house is expelled, and the robbers are in possession. If we look for the corporate people of France, existing as corporate in the eye and intention of public law (that corporate people, I mean, who are free to deliberate and to decide, and who have a capacity to treat and conclude), they are in Flanders and Germany, in Switzerland, Spain, Italy, and England. There are all the princes of the blood, there are all the orders of the State, there are all the parliaments of the kingdom. . . . I am sure that if half that number of the same description were taken out of this country, it would leave hardly anything that I should call the people of England.”1 Rousseau draws nearly the same distinction between the country to which we happen to belong and that which fulfils towards us the political functions of the State. In the Emile he has a sentence of which it is not easy in a translation to convey the point: “Qui n’a pas une patrie a du moins un pays.” And in his tract on Political Economy he writes: “How shall men love their country if it is nothing more for them than for strangers, and bestows on them only that which it can refuse to none?” It is in the same sense he says, further on, “La patrie ne peut subsister sans la liberté.”2
The nationality formed by the State, then, is the only one to which we owe political duties, and it is, therefore, the only one which has political rights. The Swiss are ethnologically either French, Italian, or German; but no nationality has the slightest claim upon them, except the purely political nationality of Switzerland. The Tuscan or the Neapolitan State has formed a nationality, but the citizens of Florence and of Naples have no political community with each other. There are other States which have neither succeeded in absorbing distinct races in a political nationality, nor in separating a particular district from a larger nation. Austria and Mexico are instances on the one hand, Parma and Baden on the other. The progress of civilisation deals hardly with the last description of States. In order to maintain their integrity they must attach themselves by confederations, or family alliances, to greater Powers, and thus lose something of their independence. Their tendency is to isolate and shut off their inhabitants, to narrow the horizon of their views, and to dwarf in some degree the proportions of their ideas. Public opinion cannot maintain its liberty and purity in such small dimensions, and the currents that come from larger communities sweep over a contracted territory. In a small and homogeneous population there is hardly room for a natural classification of society, or for inner groups of interests that set bounds to sovereign power. The government and the subjects contend with borrowed weapons. The resources of the one and the aspirations of the other are derived from some external source, and the consequence is that the country becomes the instrument and the scene of contests in which it is not interested. These States, like the minuter communities of the Middle Ages, serve a purpose, by constituting partitions and securities of self-government in the larger States; but they are impediments to the progress of society, which depends on the mixture of races under the same governments.
The vanity and peril of national claims founded on no political tradition, but on race alone, appear in Mexico. There the races are divided by blood, without being grouped together in different regions. It is, therefore, neither possible to unite them nor to convert them into the elements of an organised State. They are fluid, shapeless, and unconnected, and cannot be precipitated, or formed into the basis of political institutions. As they cannot be used by the State, they cannot be recognised by it; and their peculiar qualities, capabilities, passions, and attachments are of no service, and therefore obtain no regard. They are necessarily ignored, and are therefore perpetually outraged. From this difficulty of races with political pretensions, but without political position, the Eastern world escaped by the institution of castes. Where there are only two races there is the resource of slavery; but when different races inhabit the different territories of one Empire composed of several smaller States, it is of all possible combinations the most favourable to the establishment of a highly developed system of freedom. In Austria there are two circumstances which add to the difficulty of the problem, but also increase its importance. The several nationalities are at very unequal degrees of advancement, and there is no single nation which is so predominant as to overwhelm or absorb the others. These are the conditions necessary for the very highest degree of organisation which government is capable of receiving. They supply the greatest variety of intellectual resource; the perpetual incentive to progress, which is afforded not merely by competition, but by the spectacle of a more advanced people; the most abundant elements of self-government, combined with the impossibility for the State to rule all by its own will; and the fullest security for the preservation of local customs and ancient rights. In such a country as this, liberty would achieve its most glorious results, while centralisation and absolutism would be destruction.
The problem presented to the government of Austria is higher than that which is solved in England, because of the necessity of admitting the national claims. The parliamentary system fails to provide for them, as it presupposes the unity of the people. Hence in those countries in which different races dwell together, it has not satisfied their desires, and is regarded as an imperfect form of freedom. It brings out more clearly than before the differences it does not recognise, and thus continues the work of the old absolutism, and appears as a new phase of centralisation. In those countries, therefore, the power of the imperial parliament must be limited as jealously as the power of the crown, and many of its functions must be discharged by provincial diets, and a descending series of local authorities.
The great importance of nationality in the State consists in the fact that it is the basis of political capacity. The character of a nation determines in great measure the form and vitality of the State. Certain political habits and ideas belong to particular nations, and they vary with the course of the national history. A people just emerging from barbarism, a people effete from the excesses of a luxurious civilisation, cannot possess the means of governing itself; a people devoted to equality, or to absolute monarchy, is incapable of producing an aristocracy; a people averse to the institution of private property is without the first element of freedom. Each of these can be converted into efficient members of a free community only by the contact of a superior race, in whose power will lie the future prospects of the State. A system which ignores these things, and does not rely for its support on the character and aptitude of the people, does not intend that they should administer their own affairs, but that they should simply be obedient to the supreme command. The denial of nationality, therefore, implies the denial of political liberty.
The greatest adversary of the rights of nationality is the modern theory of nationality. By making the State and the nation commensurate with each other in theory, it reduces practically to a subject condition all other nationalities that may be within the boundary. It cannot admit them to an equality with the ruling nation which constitutes the State, because the State would then cease to be national, which would be a contradiction of the principle of its existence. According, therefore, to the degree of humanity and civilisation in that dominant body which claims all the rights of the community, the inferior races are exterminated, or reduced to servitude, or outlawed, or put in a condition of dependence.
If we take the establishment of liberty for the realisation of moral duties to be the end of civil society, we must conclude that those states are substantially the most perfect which, like the British and Austrian Empires, include various distinct nationalities without oppressing them. Those in which no mixture of races has occurred are imperfect; and those in which its effects have disappeared are decrepit. A State which is incompetent to satisfy different races condemns itself; a State which labours to neutralise, to absorb, or to expel them, destroys its own vitality; a State which does not include them is destitute of the chief basis of self-government. The theory of nationality, therefore, is a retrograde step in history. It is the most advanced form of the revolution, and must retain its power to the end of the revolutionary period, of which it announces the approach. Its great historical importance depends on two chief causes.
First, it is a chimera. The settlement at which it aims is impossible. As it can never be satisfied and exhausted, and always continues to assert itself, it prevents the government from ever relapsing into the condition which provoked its rise. The danger is too threatening, and the power over men’s minds too great, to allow any system to endure which justifies the resistance of nationality. It must contribute, therefore, to obtain that which in theory it condemns,—the liberty of different nationalities as members of one sovereign community. This is a service which no other force could accomplish; for it is a corrective alike of absolute monarchy, of democracy, and of constitutionalism, as well as of the centralisation which is common to all three. Neither the monarchical, nor the revolutionary, nor the parliamentary system can do this; and all the ideas which have excited enthusiasm in past times are impotent for the purpose except nationality alone.
And secondly, the national theory marks the end of the revolutionary doctrine and its logical exhaustion. In proclaiming the supremacy of the rights of nationality, the system of democratic equality goes beyond its own extreme boundary, and falls into contradiction with itself. Between the democratic and the national phase of the revolution, socialism had intervened, and had already carried the consequences of the principle to an absurdity. But that phase was passed. The revolution survived its offspring, and produced another further result. Nationality is more advanced than socialism, because it is a more arbitrary system. The social theory endeavours to provide for the existence of the individual beneath the terrible burdens which modern society heaps upon labour. It is not merely a development of the notion of equality, but a refuge from real misery and starvation. However false the solution, it was a reasonable demand that the poor should be saved from destruction; and if the freedom of the State was sacrificed to the safety of the individual, the more immediate object was, at least in theory, attained. But nationality does not aim either at liberty or prosperity, both of which it sacrifices to the imperative necessity of making the nation the mould and measure of the State. Its course will be marked with material as well as moral ruin, in order that a new invention may prevail over the works of God and the interests of mankind. There is no principle of change, no phase of political speculation conceivable, more comprehensive, more subversive, or more arbitrary than this. It is a confutation of democracy, because it sets limits to the exercise of the popular will, and substitutes for it a higher principle. It prevents not only the division, but the extension of the State, and forbids to terminate war by conquest, and to obtain a security for peace. Thus, after surrendering the individual to the collective will, the revolutionary system makes the collective will subject to conditions which are independent of it, and rejects all law, only to be controlled by an accident.
Although, therefore, the theory of nationality is more absurd and more criminal than the theory of socialism, it has an important mission in the world, and marks the final conflict, and therefore the end, of two forces which are the worst enemies of civil freedom, — the absolute monarchy and the revolution.
[1 ]Home and Foreign Review, July 1862.
[1 ]“Observations on the Conduct of the Minority,” Works, v. 112.
[1 ]There are some remarkable thoughts on nationality in the State Papers of the Count de Maistre: “En premier lieu les nations sont quelque chose dans le monde, il n’est pas permis de les compter pour rien, de les affliger dans leurs convenances, dans leurs affections, dans leurs intérêts les plus chers. . . . Or le traité du 30 mai anéantit complétement la Savoie; il divise l’indivisible; il partage en trois portions une malheureuse nation de 400,000 hommes, une par la langue, une par la religion, une par le caractère, une par l’habitude invétérée, une enfin par les limites naturelles. . . . L’union des nations ne souffre pas de difficultés sur la carte géographique; mais dans la réalité, c’est autre chose; il y a des nations immiscibles. . . . Je lui parlai par occasion de l’esprit italien qui s’agite dans ce moment; il (Count Nesselrode) me répondit: ‘Oui, Monsieur; mais cet esprit est un grand mal, car il peut gêner les arrangements de l’Italie’ ” (Correspondance Diplomatique de J. de Maistre, ii. 7, 8, 21, 25). In the same year, 1815, Görres wrote: “In Italien wie allerwarts ist das Volk gewecht; es will etwas grossartiges, es will Ideen haben, die, wenn es sie auch nicht ganz begreift, doch einen freien unendlichen Gesichtskreis seiner Einbildung eröffnen. . . . Es ist reiner Naturtrieb, dass ein Volk, also scharf und deutlich in seine natürlichen Gränzen eingeschlossen, aus der Zerstreuung in die Einheit sich zu sammeln sucht” (Werke, ii. 20).
[1 ]Considerations on Representative Government, p. 298.
[1 ]Mill’s Considerations, p. 296.
[1 ]“Le sentiment d’indépendance nationale est encore plus général et plus profondément gravé dans le cœur des peuples que l’amour d’une liberté constitutionnelle. Les nations les plus soumises au despotisme éprouvent ce sentiment avec autant de vivacité que les nations libres; les peuples les plus barbares le sentent même encore plus vivement que les nations policées” (L’Italie au Dixneuvième Siècle, p. 148, Paris, 1821).
[1 ]Burke’s “Remarks on the Policy of the Allies” (Works, v. 26, 29, 30).
[2 ]Œuvres, i. 593, 595, ii. 717. Bossuet, in a passage of great beauty on the love of country, does not attain to the political definition of the word: “La société humaine demande qu’on aime la terre où l’on habite ensemble, ou la regarde comme une mère et une nourrice commune. . . . Les hommes en effet se sentent liés par quelque chose de fort, lorsqu’ils songent, que la même terre qui les a portés et nourris étant vivants, les recevra dans son sein quand ils seront morts” (“Politique tirée de l’Ecriture Sainte,” Œuvres, x. 317).
Ludwig von Mises, Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time, trans. Leland B. Yeager, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006). Chapter: 1: Liberal or Pacifistic Nationalism
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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
That politics should be national is a modern postulate.
In most countries of Europe the princely state had replaced the estate system of the Middle Ages from the beginning of modern times. The political conception of the princely state is the interest of the ruler. The famous maxim of Louis XIV, L’état c’est moi [“The State, it is I”], expresses most briefly the conception that was still alive at the three European imperial courts until the recent upheavals. It is no less clear when Quesnay, whose doctrines nevertheless already lead into the new conception of the state, precedes his work with the motto Pauvre paysan, pauvre royaume; pauvre royaume, pauvre roi [“Poor countryman, poor realm; poor realm, poor king”]. It is not enough for him to show that on the well-being of the peasant that of the state also depends; he still considers it necessary to show that the king also can be rich only when the peasant is. Only then does the necessity appear proved of taking measures to raise the well-being of the peasants. For the object of the state is precisely the prince.
Against the princely state there then arises in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the idea of freedom. It revives the political thought of the republics of antiquity and of the free cities of the Middle Ages; it links up with the monarchomachs’ hostility to princes; it patterns itself on the example of England, where the crown had already suffered a decisive defeat in the seventeenth century; it fights with the entire arsenal of philosophy, rationalism, natural law, and history; it wins over the great masses through literature, which puts itself entirely at its service. Absolute kingship succumbs to the attack of the movement for freedom. In its place appears here parliamentary monarchy, there a republic.
The princely state has no natural boundaries. To be an increaser of his family estate is the ideal of the prince; he strives to leave to his successor more land than he inherited from his father. To keep on acquiring new possessions until one encounters an equally strong or stronger adversary—that is the striving of kings. For fundamentally, their greed for lands knows no boundaries; the behavior of individual princes and the views of the literary champions of the princely idea agree on that. This principle threatens, above all, the existence of all smaller and weaker states. That they are nevertheless able to maintain themselves is attributable only to the jealousy of the big ones, which anxiously watch that none should become too strong. That is the conception of European equilibrium, which forms coalitions and breaks them up again. Where it is possible without endangering the equilibrium, smaller states are destroyed; an example: the partition of Poland. Princes regard countries no differently from the way an estate owner regards his forests, meadows, and fields. They sell them, they exchange them (e.g., for “rounding off” boundaries); and each time rule over the inhabitants is transferred also. On this interpretation, republics appear as unowned property that anyone may appropriate if he can. This policy did not reach its high point, by the way, until the nineteenth century, in the Enactment of the Delegates of the Holy Roman Empire of 1803, in Napoleon’s establishments of states, and in the decisions of the Congress of Vienna.
Lands and peoples are, in the eyes of princes, nothing but objects of princely ownership; the former form the basis of sovereignty, the latter the appurtenances of landownership. From the people who live in “his” land the prince demands obedience and loyalty; he regards them almost as his property. This bond that binds him with each one of his subjects should, however, also be the only one that joins the individual persons into a unit. The absolute ruler not only regards every other community between his subjects as dangerous, so that he tries to dissolve all traditional comradely relations between them that do not derive their origin from state laws enacted by him and is hostile to every new formation of community, perhaps through clubs; he also will not allow the subjects of his different territories to begin to feel themselves comrades in their role as subjects. But, of course, in seeking to tear apart all class ties to make subjects out of nobles, the bourgeoisie, and peasants, the prince atomizes the social body and thereby creates the precondition for the rise of a new political sentiment. The subject who has grown unaccustomed to feel himself a member of a narrow circle begins to feel himself a person, a member of his nation, and a citizen of the state and of the world. The way opens up for the new outlook on the world.
The liberal theory of the state, hostile to princes, rejects their greed for, and trafficking in, lands. First of all, it finds it a matter of course that state and nation coincide. For so it is in Great Britain, the model country of freedom, so in France, the classical land of the struggle for freedom. That seems such a matter of course that no further word is wasted on it. Since state and nation coincide and there is no need to change this, there is no problem here.
The problem of state boundaries first appeared when the power of the idea of freedom gripped Germany and Italy. Here and in Poland there stands behind the despicable despots of the present day the great shadow of a vanished unified state. All Germans, Poles, and Italians have a great political goal in common: the liberation of their peoples from the rule of princes. That gives them first unity of political thinking and then unity of action. Across state boundaries, guarded by customs guards and gendarmes, the peoples stretch their hands in unity. The alliance of the princes against freedom is confronted by the union of peoples fighting for their freedom.
To the princely principle of subjecting just as much land as obtainable to one’s own rule, the doctrine of freedom responds with the principle of the right of self-determination of peoples, which follows necessarily from the principle of the rights of man.14 No people and no part of a people shall be held against its will in a political association that it does not want. The totality of freedom-minded persons who are intent on forming a state appears as the political nation; patrie, Vaterland becomes the designation of the country they inhabit; patriot becomes a synonym of freedom-minded.15 In this sense the French begin to feel themselves a nation when they break the despotism of the Bourbons and when they take up the struggle against the coalition of monarchs who threaten their just-won freedom. The Germans, the Italians become nationally minded because foreign princes, joined in the Holy Alliance, hinder them from establishing a free state. This nationalism directs itself not against foreign peoples but against the despot who subjugates foreign peoples also. The Italian hates above all not the Germans but the Bourbons and Habsburgs; the Pole hates not the Germans or Russians but the Czar, the King of Prussia, and the Emperor of Austria. And only because the troops on which the rule of the tyrants rests are foreign does the struggle also adopt a slogan against foreigners. But even in battle the Garibaldians shouted to the Austrian soldiers: Passate l’Alpi e tornerem fratelli [“Go back across the Alps, and we’ll become brothers again”].16 Among themselves the individual nations fighting for freedom get along marvelously. All peoples hail the struggle for freedom of the Greeks, the Serbs, and the Poles. In “Young Europe” the freedom fighters are united without distinction of nationality.
The nationality principle above all bears no sword against members of other nations. It is directed in tyrannos.
Therefore, above all, there is also no opposition between national and citizen-of-the-world attitudes.17 The idea of freedom is both national and cosmopolitan. It is revolutionary, for it wants to abolish all rule incompatible with its principles, but it is also pacifistic.18 What basis for war could there still be, once all peoples had been set free? Political liberalism concurs on that point with economic liberalism, which proclaims the solidarity of interests among peoples.
One must also keep that in mind if one wants to understand the original internationalism of the socialist parties since Marx. Liberalism, too, is cosmopolitan in its struggle against the absolutism of the princely state. Just as the princes stand together to defend themselves against the advance of the new spirit, so the peoples also hold together against the princes. If the Communist Manifesto calls on the proletarians of all countries to unite in the struggle against capitalism, then that slogan is consistently derived from the asserted fact of the identity of capitalistic exploitation in all countries. It is no antithesis, however, to the liberal demand for the national state. It is no antithesis to the program of the bourgeoisie, for the bourgeoisie, too, is in this sense international. The emphasis lies not on the words “all countries” but on the word “proletarians.” That like-thinking classes in the same position in all countries must combine is presupposed as a matter of course. If any point at all can be perceived in this exhortation, it is only the point made against pseudo-national strivings that fight every change in traditional arrangements as an infringement on warranted national individuality.
The new political ideas of freedom and equality triumphed first in the West. England and France thus became the political model countries for the rest of Europe. If, however, the liberals called for adoption of foreign institutions, then it was only natural that the resistance mounted by the old forces also made use of the age-old device of xenophobia. German and Russian conservatives also fought against the ideas of freedom with the argument that they were foreign things not suitable for their peoples. Here national values are misused for political purposes.19 But there is no question of opposition to the foreign nation as a whole or to its individual members.
So far as relations among peoples are concerned, therefore, the national principle is above all thoroughly peaceful. As a political ideal it is just as compatible with the peaceful coexistence of peoples as Herder’s nationalism as a cultural ideal was compatible with his cosmopolitanism. Only in the course of time does peaceful nationalism, which is hostile only to princes but not to peoples also, change into a militaristic nationalism. This change takes place, however, only at the moment when the modern principles of the state, in their triumphant march from West to East, reach the territories of mixed population.
The significance of the nationality principle in its older peaceful form becomes especially clear to us when we observe the development of its second postulate. First of all, the nationality principle includes only the rejection of every overlordship and so also of every foreign overlordship; it demands self-determination, autonomy. Then, however, its content expands; not only freedom but also unity is the watchword. But the desire for national unity, too, is above all thoroughly peaceful.
One of its sources, as already mentioned, is historical remembrance. From the dismal present the glance turns back toward a better past. And this past shows a unified state, not in such splendid pictures for every people as for the Germans and the Italians, but, for most, attractive enough.
But the idea of unity is not merely romanticism; it is also important for political reality. In unity strength is sought to overcome the alliance of the oppressors. Unity in a unified state offers the peoples the highest assurance of maintaining their freedom. And there, too, nationalism does not clash with cosmopolitanism, for the unified nation does not want discord with neighboring peoples, but peace and friendship.
So we also see, then, that the idea of unity cannot exert its state-destroying and state-creating power where freedom and self-government already prevail and seem assured without it. To this day Switzerland has scarcely been tempted by that idea. The least inclination to secession is shown by the German-Swiss, and very understandably: they could only have exchanged freedom for subjugation in the German authoritarian state. But the French also, and on the whole also the Italians, have felt themselves so free in Switzerland that they felt no desire for political unification with their fellows in nationality.
For the national unified state, however, yet a third consideration is at work. Without doubt the stage of development of the international division of labor already reached today required an extensive unification of law and of communication and transportation facilities in general, and this demand will become all the more pressing the more the economy is further reshaped into a world economy. When economic contacts were still in their earliest stages, on the whole scarcely extending beyond the boundaries of a village, the splitting of the earth’s surface into innumerable small legal and administrative districts was the natural form of political organization. Apart from military and foreign-policy interests, which, after all, did not press everywhere for union and for formation of great empires—and even where they were at work in this direction in the age of feudalism and still more in the age of absolutism, they did not always lead to formation of national states—there were no circumstances that demanded unification of law and administration. That became a necessity only to the extent that economic relations began to reach out more and more beyond the boundaries of provinces, of countries, and finally of continents.
Liberalism, which demands full freedom of the economy, seeks to dissolve the difficulties that the diversity of political arrangements pits against the development of trade by separating the economy from the state. It strives for the greatest possible unification of law, in the last analysis for world unity of law. But it does not believe that to reach this goal, great empires or even a world empire must be created. It persists in the position that it adopts for the problem of state boundaries. The peoples themselves may decide how far they want to harmonize their laws; every violation of their will is rejected on principle. Thus a deep chasm separates liberalism from all those views that want forcibly to create a great state for the sake of the economy.
Yet political realism must first still reckon with the existence of states and with the difficulties that they pit against the creation of supranational law and freedom of international transactions. It is with envy, therefore, that the patriots of nations fragmented into many states regard the nationally unified peoples. They want to follow their example. They view things with different eyes than do liberal doctrinaires. In the Germany of the German Confederation, the necessity of unification of law and the administration of justice, of communication and transportation facilities, and of the entire administration was recognized as urgent. A free Germany could also have been created through revolutions within the individual states; for that, unification would not have first been necessary. In favor of the unified state, however, there speaks in the eyes of political realists not only the necessity of setting an alliance of the oppressed against the alliance of the oppressors in order to achieve freedom at all20 but also the further necessity of holding together in order to find in unity the strength to preserve freedom. Even apart from that, the necessity of trade is pressing for unity. It will no longer do to permit the fragmentation in law, in monetary systems, in communications and transportation, and in many other fields, to continue. In all these fields the times require unification, even beyond national boundaries. Already the peoples are beginning to make preliminary preparations for world unity in all these matters. Does it not seem obvious to achieve in Germany, to begin with, what the other peoples have already achieved—to create a German civil law as precursor of the coming world law, a German penal law as a preliminary stage for world penal law, a German railroad union, a German monetary system, a German postal system? All that, however, the German unified state is to assure. The program of the men of freedom, therefore, cannot limit itself to the “auction of thirty princes’ crowns” (Freiligrath21 ); even if only because of the stage of economic development, it must call for the unified state.
Thus the striving for the unified state already contains the kernel of the new interpretation of the nationality principle, which leads from the peaceful liberal nationality principle to militant power-policy nationalism to imperialism.
[14 ]Cf. Sorel, Nouveaux essais d’histoire et de critique (Paris: 1898), pp. 99 ff.
[15 ]Cf. Michels, “Zur historischen Analyse des Patriotismus,” Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft und Sozialpolitik, vol. 36, 1913, pp. 38 ff., 402 f.; Pressensé, “L’idée de Patrie,” Revue mensuelle de l’École d’Anthropologie de Paris, vol. 9, 1899, pp. 91 ff.
[16 ]Cf. Robert Michels, “Elemente zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Imperialismus in Italien,” Archiv für Sozialwissenschaft, vol. 34, 1912, p. 57.
[17 ]Cf. Seipel, Nation und Staat (Vienna: 1916), pp. 11 f. footnote; Meinecke, loc. cit., pp. 19 f.
[18 ]Cf. Michels, “Patriotismus,” loc. cit., p. 403.
[19 ]Cf. Schultze-Gaevernitz, Volkswirtschaftliche Studien aus Russland (Leipzig: 1899), pp. 173 ff.; Bauer, Nationalitätenfrage, loc. cit., pp. 138 ff.
[20 ]Think of Schleswig-Holstein, the left bank of the Rhine, etc.
[21 ][Ferdinand Freiligrath (1810–76), German lyric poet and democratic partisan.]
Ludwig von Mises, Nation, State, and Economy: Contributions to the Politics and History of Our Time, trans. Leland B. Yeager, ed. Bettina Bien Greaves (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2006). Chapter: C: The Roots of Imperialism
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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
It is usual to seek the roots of modern imperialism in the desire for territories to settle and colonies to exploit. This interpretation represents imperialism as an economic necessity. We best recognize that this interpretation is inadequate if we consider how liberalism stands on the same problem. Its watchword is freedom of movement; at the same time, it is averse to all colonial undertakings. The proof that the liberal school has provided is irrefutable: that free trade and only free trade appears justified from the purely economic point of view, that only it guarantees the best provisioning of all persons, the greatest yield of labor with the smallest expenditure of costs.
This liberal dogma cannot be shaken, either, by the assertion—on whose correctness we offer no opinion—that there are peoples who are not ready for self-government and never will be ready. These lower races supposedly must be politically governed by the higher races, without economic freedom being in any way limited thereby. Thus have the English long interpreted their rule in India, thus was the Congo Free State conceived: the open door for economic activity of all nations in free competition both with the members of the ruling nation and with the natives. That the practice of colonial policy deviates from this ideal, that it again, as formerly, regards the natives only as a means, not as an end in their own right, that it—above all the French, with their trade-policy assimilation system—excludes from the colonial territories all who do not belong to the ruling nation, is only a consequence of imperialistic lines of thinking. But where do these come from?
An individualistic justification for imperialism can also be found. That is the one based on the conditions of territories with mixed population. There the consequences of the application of the democratic principle were bound by themselves alone to lead to militant aggressive nationalism. Things are no different in those territories to which the stream of immigration is directed today. There the problem of mixed languages arises ever anew, there imperialistic nationalism must also arise ever anew. Thus we see efforts growing in America and in Australia for limitation of undesired—foreign-nationality—immigration, efforts that were bound to arise out of the fear of being outnumbered by foreigners in one’s own country at the same time that the fear arose that the immigrants of foreign national origin could no longer be fully assimilated.
Doubtless this was the point from which the rebirth of imperialistic thinking proceeded. From here the spirit of imperialism gradually undermined the entire thought structure of liberalism, until finally it could also replace the individualistic basis from which it had originated with a collectivistic one. The idea of liberalism starts with the freedom of the individual; it rejects all rule of some persons over others; it knows no master peoples and no subject peoples, just as within the nation itself it distinguishes between no masters and no serfs. For fully developed imperialism, the individual no longer has value. He is valuable to it only as a member of the whole, as a soldier of an army. For the liberal, the number of fellow members of his nationality is no unduly important matter. It is otherwise for imperialism. It strives for the numerical greatness of the nation. To make conquests and hold them, one must have the upper hand militarily, and military importance always depends on the number of combatants at one’s disposal. Attaining and maintaining a large population thus becomes a special goal of policy. The democrat strives for the unified national state because he believes that this is the will of the nation. The imperialist wants a state as large as possible; he does not care whether that corresponds to the desire of the peoples.48
The imperialistic people’s state scarcely differs from the old princely state in its interpretation of sovereignty and its boundaries. Like the latter, it knows no other limits to the expansion of its rule than those drawn by the opposition of an equally strong power. Even its lust for conquest is unlimited. It wants to hear nothing of the right of peoples. If it “needs” a territory, then it simply takes it and, where possible, demands further from the subjugated peoples that they find this just and reasonable. Foreign peoples are in its eyes not subjects but objects of policy. They are—quite as the princely state once thought—appurtenances of the country where they live. Expressions also recur in the modern imperialistic manner of speaking, therefore, that were believed to be already forgotten. People speak again of geographic boundaries,49 of the necessity of using a piece of land as a “buffer zone”; territories are again rounded off; they are exchanged and sold for money.
These imperialistic doctrines are common to all peoples today. Englishmen, Frenchmen, and Americans who marched off to fight imperialism are no less imperialistic than the Germans. Of course, their imperialism differed from the German variety before November 1918 in one important point. While the other nations brought their imperialistic efforts to bear only against the peoples of the tropics and subtropics and treated the peoples of the white race in conformity with the principles of modern democracy, the Germans, precisely because of their position in the polyglot territories in Europe, directed their imperialistic policy against European peoples also.50 The great colonial powers have held fast to the democratic-pacifistic nationality principle in Europe and America and have practiced imperialism only against the African and Asiatic peoples. They have therefore not come into conflict with the nationality principle of the white peoples, as has the German people, which even in Europe has sought to practice imperialism everywhere.
To justify the application of imperialistic principles in Europe, the German theory saw itself compelled to fight the nationality principle and replace it with the doctrine of the unified state. Small states are said no longer to have any justification for their existence nowadays. They are said to be too small and too weak to form an independent economic territory. They supposedly must therefore necessarily seek links with larger states in order to form an “economic and protectionist community.”51
If this means no more than that small states are scarcely able to mount sufficient resistance to the lust for conquest of their more powerful neighbors, well, one cannot contradict that. Small states cannot in fact compete with large ones on the battlefield; if it comes to war between them and a great power, then they must succumb unless help comes to them from outside. This help seldom is lacking. It is provided by large and small states, not from sympathy or on principle but in their own interest. In fact, we see that small states have maintained themselves for centuries just as well as the great powers. The course of the World War shows that even nowadays small states do not always prove weakest in the end. If one seeks to prod the small states by threats into association with a larger state or if one compels them into subjugation through force of arms, well, this is no proof of the assertion that “time is working against small state sovereignties.”52 This proposition is no less correct or false today than in the days of Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, or Napoleon. The political ideas of modern times allow the continued existence of a small state to appear rather more secure today than in earlier centuries. That the Central Powers won military victories over a number of small states during the World War in no way justifies our declaring that “a small-scale state” is just as out of date today as a small-scale ironworks. When Renner, with reference to military victories that German and Austrian troops won over the Serbs, thinks he can dispose of the nationality principle with the Marxist expression “the materialistic conditions of statehood are in rebellion against the idealistic—a conceptual contradiction that in practice has a tragic consequence for people and state,”53 he is thereby overlooking the fact that military weakness could be fatal for small states thousands of years ago also.
The assertion that all small states have had their day is further supported by Naumann, Renner, and their followers by the remark that a state must at least possess enough territory for a self-sufficient economy. That this is not true is already clear from what was said earlier. There can be no question of a test of economic self-sufficiency in the formation of states at a time when the division of labor embraces broad stretches of land, whole continents, indeed the whole world. It does not matter whether the inhabitants of a state meet their needs directly or indirectly by production at home; what is important is only that they can meet them at all. When Renner confronted the individual Austrian nations striving for political independence with the question of where they then would obtain this or that article once they had been detached from the whole of the Austro-Hungarian state, well, that was an absurd question. Even when the state structure was unified, they did not obtain these goods for nothing, but only in exchange for something of equivalent value, and this equivalent value does not become any larger if the political community falls apart. This objection would have made sense only if we were living at a time when trade between states was impossible.
The size of a state’s territory therefore does not matter. It is another question whether a state is viable when its population is small. Now, it is to be noted that the costs of many state activities are greater in small states than in large ones. The dwarf states, of which we still have a number in Europe, like Liechtenstein, Andorra, and Monaco, can organize their court systems by levels of jurisdiction, for example, only if they link up with a neighboring state. It is clear that it would be financially quite impossible for such a state to set up as comprehensive a court system as that which a larger state makes available to its citizens, for example, by establishing courts of appeal. One can say that, seen from this point of view, states encompassing a smaller number of people than the administrative units of the larger states are viable only in exceptional cases, namely, only when they have especially rich populations. The smaller states for which this precondition does not hold will, for reasons of state finance, have to link their administrations with a larger neighboring state.54 Nations so small in number of people that they do not satisfy these conditions do not exist at all and cannot exist at all, since the development of an independent standard language presupposes, after all, the existence of several hundred thousand speakers.
When Naumann, Renner, and their numerous disciples recommended to the small peoples of Europe an association with a Central Europe under German leadership, they completely misunderstood the essence of the protective-tariff policy. On political or military grounds, an alliance with the German nation assuring independence to all participants could be desirable for the small nations of Eastern and South-eastern Europe. In no case, however, could an alliance that would be serviceable exclusively to German interests appear welcome to them. That was the only kind, however, that the advocates of Central Europe had in view. They wanted an alliance that would enable Germany to compete militarily with the world’s great powers for colonial possessions, possessions whose advantages could have benefited the German nation alone. They conceived of the Central European world empire, furthermore, as a protective-tariff community. Just that, however, is what all these smaller nations do not want. They do not want to be mere markets for German industrial products; they do not want to forgo developing at home those branches of industry that have their natural locations there and importing from outside Germany the goods produced more cheaply there. It was thought that the rise in prices of agricultural products that was infallibly bound to occur in consequence of incorporation into the Central European tariff territory would, even by itself alone, be attractive to the predominantly agrarian states whose incorporation into the Central European empire was being sought. It was overlooked, however, that this argument could make an impression only on economically untrained persons. It is not to be denied that Rumania, say, on joining a German-Austrian-Hungarian customs community, would have experienced a rise in the prices of agricultural products. It is overlooked, however, that industrial products would have risen in price, on the other hand, since then Rumania would have had to pay the higher German domestic prices, while if it is not joined in a customs community with Germany, it pays the lower world-market prices. What it would have lost from joining the German customs community would have been greater than what it would have gained thereby. At present Rumania is a relatively underpopulated or at least a not overpopulated country; that means that the bulk of its export goods can at present and in the foreseeable future be exported without any dumping. Rumania has no enterprises in primary production and only a few in industry whose location would not be natural. Things are different for Germany, which, precisely in the most important branches of production, works under more unfavorable conditions than foreign countries.
The imperialistic way of thinking, which comes forward with the claim to be helping modern economic development to its rightful condition, is in truth gripped by barter-economy and feudal preconceptions. In the age of the world economy it is downright nonsensical to represent the demand for creation of large autarkic economic territories as an economic demand. In peacetime it is a matter of indifference whether one produces foodstuffs and raw materials at home oneself or, if it seems more economic, obtains them from abroad in exchange for other products that one has produced. When a medieval prince acquired a piece of land where ore was mined, then he had a right to call this mine his own. But if a modern state annexes a mining property, these mines still have not thereby become those of its citizens. They must buy their products by transferring products of their own labor just as they did before, and that changes have occurred in the political order remains without significance for ownership of them. If the prince is happy about the annexation of a new province, if he is proud about the size of his realm, that is immediately understandable. If, however, the common man is happy that “our” realm has become larger, that “we” have acquired a new province, well, that is a joy that does not arise from the satisfaction of economic needs.
In economic policy, imperialism in no way suits the stage of world economic development reached in 1914. When the Huns slashed through Europe killing and burning, they harmed their enemies by the destruction that they left behind, but not themselves also. But when German troops destroyed coal mines and factories, then they also worsened the provisioning of the German consumer. That coal and various manufactured products can be produced in the future only in smaller quantities or only with higher costs will be felt by everyone involved in world economic transactions.
Once that has been recognized, however, then only the military argument can still be adduced in favor of the policy of national expansion. The nation must be populous to field many soldiers. Soldiers are needed, however, to acquire land on which soldiers can be raised. That is the circle that the imperialistic way of thinking does not escape.
[48 ]We have seen how the striving for the unified national state originates from the desire of the peoples. Imperialism interprets the matter otherwise. For it, the idea of the unified state is a legal title for annexations. Thus the Pan-Germans wanted to annex the German cantons of Switzerland and even the Netherlands against their will.
[49 ]The answer of the nationality principle to the theory of natural geographic boundaries was given by Arndt when he explained that “the single most valid natural boundary is made by language” (Der Rhein. Deutschlands Strom aber nicht Deutschlands Grenze, 1813, p. 7) and then was aptly formulated by J. Grimm when he speaks of the “natural law . . . that not rivers and not mountains form the boundary lines of peoples and that for a people that has moved over mountains and rivers, its own language alone can set the boundary” (loc. cit., p. 557). How one can manage to derive from the nationality principle the demand for annexation of the territories “of the small, unviable peoples, specifically, those incapable of having their own state” may be seen in Hasse, Deutsche Politik, vol. 1, third part (Munich: 1906), pp. 12 f.
[50 ]Only in impeding immigration does imperialism on the part of the Anglo-Saxons operate against the whites also.
[51 ]Cf. Naumann, Mitteleuropa (Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1915), pp. 164 ff. (Central Europe, trans. by Christabel M. Meredith [New York: Knopf, 1917], pp. 179 ff.); Mitscherlich, Nationalstaat und Nationalwirtschaft und ihre Zukunft (Leipzig: 1916), pp. 26 ff.; on other writers of the same orientation, cf. Zurlinden, Der Weltkreig. Vorläufige Orientierung von einem schweizerischen Standpunkt aus, vol. 1 (Zurich: 1917), pp. 393 ff.
[52 ]Cf. Renner, Österreichs Erneuerung, vol. 3 (Vienna: 1916), p. 65.
[53 ]Ibid., p. 66.
[54 ]Cf. also the speech of Bismarck in the session of the Prussian House of Deputies of 11 December 1867 on Prussia’s treaty of accession with the principality of Waldeck-Pyrmont. (Fürst Bismarcks Reden, edited by Stein, vol. 3, pp. 235 ff.)