Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Oppenheimer: Origins of the State

"The transition between prehistoric and historic times is the age of migration and conquest. At this stage the clans have become larger, and have either developed or combined so as to form tribes, and in many cases even associated groups of tribes. Here and there their own territory becomes too small for their primitive methods of cultivation, and a tendency to expansion arises. A more numerous or better armed tribe, or one which is capable of better tactical co-operation or more perfect discipline, attacks and conquers another tribe. This, in all parts of the world, is the origin of the State. The active factors in the formation of the State are in the Old World the pastoral peoples and the sea-faring peoples which proceed from them; in the New World the active factors are the more highly-developed hunting peoples. The passive factors are as a general rule the less highly developed cultivators, those who still cultivate their land by hoeing it by hand. The use of the plough for cultivation only begins in the State, when the draught animals introduced by the pastoral peoples - horses, oxen or camels - are harnessed to the instrument used for tilling. The object of conquest and the subjection of other clans is everywhere the same: it is exploitation. The conquered are compelled to work for their conquerors without recompense, or to pay them tribute. The form assumed by exploitation is mastership, which must [p. 15] not be confused with the leadership of earlier times, which did not involve any kind of exploitation. Mastership is leadership combined with exploitation."

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