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THE ORIGIN OF THE STATE.
THIS has been, and is still, a greatly mooted question. The views of publicists and jurists differ widely in regard to it. I think, however, that these divergences of opinion may be so classified as to reduce the apparently numerous shades of difference to three propositions. I will call the first of these the theological theory, the second the social, and the third the historical. The first claims that the state is founded by God, the second that it is founded by human agreement, and the third that it is the product of history. I think the latter is the true view, and that, when correctly comprehended, it will be seen to do full justice to the other two, and to reconcile all three. The proposition that the state is the product of history means that it is the gradual and continuous development of human society, out of a grossly imperfect beginning, through crude but improving forms of manifestation, towards a perfect and universal organization of mankind. It means, to go a little deeper into the psychology of the subject, that it is the gradual realization, in legal institutions, of the universal principles of human nature, and the gradual subordination of the individual side of that nature to the universal side. Many were the centuries before the human mind became even partially conscious of the state in idea, character and purpose. The state existed as a fact long before it was known and understood, and its powers were long exercised under forms which we do not now regard as political at all. If the theologian means, by his doctrine of the divine origin of the state, simply that the Creator of man
implanted the substance of the state in the nature of man, the historian will surely be under no necessity to contradict him. The unbiassed political historian will not only not dispute this proposition, but he will teach that the state was brought through the earlier and most difficult periods of its development by the power of religion,1 and in the forms of religion; i.e. that the earliest forms of the state were theocratic. This is entirely comprehensible from the standpoint of a correct political philosophy. The first and most fundamental psychological principle concerned in the development of the state is that of piety; i.e. reverence and obedience. Unless the character of the mass of the population be moulded by this principle, the reign of law can never be attained. Now the lifting of this principle from under the barbaric powers of hate and defiance, was the first tremendous struggle of civilization with barbarism. It took thousands of years to accomplish it, and exhausted the spiritual powers of all Asia in its accomplishment. I have already indicated the fact that Asia has produced no real states. Asia has, on the other hand, produced all the great religions of the world. This will not be held to mean, however, that Asia has done nothing towards the historical development of the state, when we consider that her religions have educated and disciplined the larger part of the human race in that preparatory spiritual principle absolutely indispensable to the development of the state. It is often said by modern writers that Asia is but the home of theocracies and despotisms. This is undoubtedly true, but it should not be taught in the language of depreciation. Theocracies and despotisms have their place in the historical development of the state; and their work is as indispensable in the production of political civilization as is that of any other form of organization. We have not done
1 Laurent, Études sur l'histoire de l'humanité, Tome I, p. 98; Von Ranke, Weltgeschichte, Erster Theil, S. 1.
with them yet, either. The need of them repeats itself wherever and whenever a population is to be dragged out of barbarism up to the lowest plane of civilization. To subject barbaric liberty to law, is the first problem in the development of the state everywhere; and the world's history teaches no way to accomplish this save through the theocracies and the despotisms based thereon. Every close reader of Europe's political civilization knows that the political organization of the European states rested originally upon the union of the throne and altar; i.e. upon the principle of the Asiatic despotism. The principle, so happily expressed by Rousseau, that "le plus fort n'est jamais assez fort pour être toujours le maitre, s'il ne transforme sa force en droit, et l'obéissance en devoir," 1 is as true for Europe or America as for Asia; and religion is the only power that can work this transformation in the earliest stages of man's civilization. It was the Christian religion, the Christian church, and Christian bishops that enabled the Carolingians to organize Europe politically, and to start the Teutons upon the path of political civilization.2 Prize as highly as we may the ancient liberty of the Germans, there was in it but little organizing force. The fact that the Saxons, the German race par excellence, had made no political progress from the time when Tacitus wrote of them to the period of their incorporation in the Carolingian Empire, is satisfactory proof of this. The same religious forces enabled the Rurics to organize Russia and stand behind the throne of the Czar to-day, procuring for it the support and obedience of the great masses of the population. The same forces sustained the Cerdics in the making of England. Dunstan, Lanfranc and Wolsey were the pillars of the English monarchy; and the church is still today the chief bond of unity between the masses and the
1 Du Contrat Social, Livre I, Chap. III.
2 Waitz, Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, Bd. III, S. 162.
throne.1 And should we examine carefully into the sources of that readiness to obey law which has characterized the true American citizens of this republic, we should without doubt find ourselves ultimately face to face with the early religious discipline of New England.2
The principle of the historical genesis of the state does not, then, stand opposed to the doctrine of the divine origin of the state, when that doctrine is rationally construed: it includes it, and makes it the starting-point in the evolution.
On the other hand, the theory of the social compact, though reconcilable with the principle of the historical development of the state, requires far more modification in its interpretation. In the first place, the historical principle cannot accept this theory as the starting-point in the evolution of the state. The application of this theory- yea, even the conscious recognition of it - presupposes an already highly developed state-life. It presupposes that the idea of the state, with all its attributes, is consciously present in the minds of the individuals proposing to constitute the state, and that the disposition to obey the law is already universally established. Now we know that these conditions never exist in the beginning of the political development of a people, but are attained only after the state has made several periods of its history. This theory cannot therefore account for the origin of the state: its place is far forward in the evolution of the state. Its application can be conceived in changing the form of the state or in planting the state upon new territory by a population already politically educated, but not in its primal creation. The political historian can accept it only as a force in the development of the later forms of the state, through popular revolution or colonization.
1 Stubbs, Constitutional History of England, Vol. I, pp. 236 ff.; Bagehot, The English Constitution, p. III.
2 Bancroft, History of the United States, Vol. I, pp. 370 ff., C. E.
Under this interpretation it fits into and harmonizes with the principle of the historical development of the state, but under no other interpretation. It would be utterly senseless to speak of the state as a product of history, if, before it came into existence, the individuals proposing to create it were already so highly educated politically as to solve the great problem of sovereignty by the resolution of an original convention. The solution of this problem is the goal towards which political history is working. The most advanced states of the world are to-day still occupied with it, and will continue to be until the mission of man on earth is fulfilled. To assume its complete solution at the beginning, as this theory presupposes, would be either to deny the law of history altogether or to inject into political history the theological doctrine of paradise, fall and redemption. Primal paradise
and redemption cannot be conceived of, however, except as the immediate creations of Deity. The Rousseauist cannot therefore take shelter under this doctrine. He would destroy the basis of his own theory, and range himself with the followers of Augustine, Hildebrand and Aquinas.
Finally, the principle of the historical development of the state needs some further explanation, but no modification or qualification. It takes for its basis and point of departure human nature; it distinguishes in that nature a universal side and a particular side; it recognizes the former as the state subjective; it accepts the principle that the creator of that nature is, therefore, the originator of the subjective state, i.e. the political idea. But the political scientist is looking for the state made objective in institutions and laws, and this is the product of history. It may be that divine power is continually engaged upon this work; but if so, it is not through direct intervention, but by influence upon human consciousness and human wills. We may, then, without questioning the doctrine of the divine origin of the state, claim that the great work of making the sub