History Index

The State Physical Unproductive Sphere

This chapter will discuss the development of the state through eight stages that begin with the chief, and end with Athenian Democracy. As mentioned in Chapter 3, the state is one of four spheres that will be discussed. It is the first sphere that will be discussed because it reaches the last stage of its eight stage development, democracy, before any of the other spheres. Religion actually begins its development through the system simultaneously with the state in the chiefdom that precede civilization. But it does not reach the conclusion of its development until civil liberty is developed in first Holland and then other western countries. So while religion and the state begin their development together the state is the first to complete the process.

The precocious development of the state is related to two factors that make it particularly dynamic and powerful during the earlier period. First, the state exercises control by making, and at least occasionally carrying out, threats of physical violence. The physical nature of the control makes the state harder to ignore than religion that must rely on intellectual persuasion. The immediacy and certainty of physical punishment apparently weigh heavily as compared to the long run and uncertain punishment of the gods.

Secondly, the activities of the state destroy order and complex systems, for example, people and property. Thus entropy, the tendency for systems to move from order to disorder, works in favor of the destructive activities of the state. In simple terms it was easier in ancient times to kill than to feed. In conclusion, the state became dynamic and developed through the eight stages earlier because its means for exercising control are physical and unproductive.

Throughout the system the physical proceeds the intellectual: the state before religion, economics before science. Furthermore the unproduct spheres proceed the productive, the state and religion before economics and science. Thus the state is first, religion second, economics third and science last.

The eight stages developed in chapter three will now be applied to the state in this chapter. Below is a list of those steps as they relate to the state. Steps in the Development of the State -

Steps in the theoretical system

1. The Chief - Specialist

2. Theocratic State - Educational Institution

3. Military Specialist - Independent Competitive Specialist

4. Emperor - Individual Ownership institution

5. Aristocracy - Dependent Competitive Specialist

6. Creten and Spartan Mess -

Educational Institution for Dependent Competitive Specialists

7. Hopholite - Despecialization

8. Democracy - Egalitarian Ownership Institution

1. The Chief - Specialist

The big man and later the chief are the first specialists in the development of the State. The big man is an early form of the chief. The difference is that big men are less official and the title is not hereditary: in fact, the big man must constantly maintain his position. It has been theorized that chiefdoms develop from a succession of several successful big men coming from the same family. After several generations of power the more permanent chiefdom is established.

To understand specialization it is useful to look at what preceded specialization. As mentioned in chapter two, the hunting and gathering band is the most primitive form of organization found today. Power and work are distributed on the basis of age and sex, but for the adult male the band is very egalitarian. While some individuals may have more influence than others and the desires of the group influence the individual, no one has either the power or the right to give orders to an adult male.

This form of organization works well (and indeed seems idyllic to adult male anthropologists), as long as the population is sparse. Today such organizations are only found on marginal lands, arctic tundra, deserts, and jungles, for example. Before the development of agriculture a much larger portion of he earth only supported sparse populations so no doubt band organization was more common.

Agriculture provided the food that could support far higher population densities. As population increased the need to mediate violent conflict became more acute. Various organizational forms were used to coordinate the greater numbers of people, some of these structures emphasized hierarchy leading to bigman and ultimately chiefdom organizations.

Agriculture also makes another contribution to the development of the state, farmers are far easier to exploit than hunter-gatherers. Because agricultural produce can be transported and stored it can be taxed in a manner that hunting can not. Furthermore agriculture ties the farmer to the land making the farmer easier to keep track of and control. Thus agriculture makes the produce more mobile and the producer less mobile. Both changes make farming a better basis for exploitation.

The specialists, big men and chiefs, that took advantage of these changes did not use only one form of control. This chapter discusses the state, but the chief uses all forms of power to control. Thus the big man and the chief are not just the first specialist for the state but are also the first specialists for religion. The chief and big man also control the economy and science. At this point specialization has separated the chief from the rest of society, but the various spheres are still embodied in the chief.

The mediation of violence was the most relevant of the chief's activities to the state's development. As mentioned before, as population grew violence became acute. The state's method of controlling that violence was threat of violence by the chief and those who supported him. But, while this may have controlled, or at least reduced, violence within the chiefdom, it does not control violence among chiefs. Mediation of this required cooperative organization among chiefs which brings us to the next topic, the theocratic state.

2. Theocratic State - Educational Institution

The theocratic state is the first civilized institution. Civilization has developed in several places, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Indus Valley, China, Mezo America, and Peru are generally accepted examples. These developments were not necessarily independent but the outside influence was weak enough that most, if not all, went through the theocratic state stage instead of starting at a more advanced stage. Mesopotamia was the earliest and the most relevant example and the theocratic state was definitely the first institutional form there.

This theocratic state, like the chiefs before it, uses all levers of power. The spheres at this point have not separated. This is illustrated by the name theocratic state. Theocratic suggests religion and state suggests state.

Focusing on the state aspect, the theocratic state mediates the violence that would occur among chiefs. According to the theory developed here, the chiefs cooperate, forming civilized institutions, to avoid violent competition among themselves. To the extent that they were successful these should have been relatively peaceful societies. The archaeological evidence supports this contention. Theocratic states were relatively peaceful compared to the military states that followed them, though even theocratic states were not perfectly peaceful.

To the extent that the theocratic state succeeded in suppressing violence internally, did not fight with neighboring states, and was not threatened by uncivilized neighbors, it avoided violent competition, and reaped the political-military equivalent of monopoly profits. Why didn't the states conflict? Eventually they did, but there was an early formative stage in which merely surviving was enough. The traditions and technique of institutional life were not developed well enough to support expansion and competitive violent conflict. Thus the lack of sophistication of the state forced localism and localism enforced monopoly.

The benefits of suppressed competition had to be rationed, so an institutional competition in the form of education replaced natural competition. The evidence here is once more sparse, but there are two important sources of support. First, the theocratic states had specialists who kept records, discovered the calendar, worked with metals and carried on other skilled activities. These skilled activities had to be taught which suggests education. The concentration of these activities within the temple complex and their almost total absence in earlier societies suggests that the education was more formal than the simple casual learning that goes on in all societies.

The second major evidence of education is that the theocratic state was ruled by a priestly caste. The theocratic state loses its political state functions when it is superseded by the military state. But the religious side of the institution lives on well into historic times as the temple religions. Eventually they were replaced by modern religions, Buddhism, Christianity, etc. Temple religions used education during historic times to screen entrants which suggests strongly that the theocratic state also did.

Beyond the empirical evidence is the theoretical argument described in chapter two. Education breaks down family ties and establishes loyalty to the institution by (a) providing an alternative child-rearing process, (b) requiring high investments in human capital that can not be utilized elsewhere and (c) selecting those loyal to the institution. Without this loyalty it is doubtful that civilization could have survived the divisive effect of family ties.

In conclusion the monopoly position and educational systems firmly established the theocratic state. Once firmly established it could expand thus breaking the monopoly and creating competition.

3. Military - Independent Competitive Specialist

The success of the theocratic state established the tradition and technique of control and exploitation. As the theocratic state suppressed internal competition the state was able to emphasize outward expansion. This led to violent institutional conflict, better known as war. Before the existence of institutions institutional conflict could not exist. In pre-civilized societies violence takes the form of raiding rather than war and conquest. The technique of exploitation is too primitive to make conquering another people practical. What is the purpose of conquest if there is no administrative system capable of exploitation?

In the early stages of the theocratic state war might strain the structure to such a degree that both attacking and defending theocratic state might have been destroyed, and the societies might have returned to the chiefdom stage. But as the state became well established, military expansion was the only possible route to survival because the small state could no longer defend itself against the larger. To organize and carry out war a new and powerful class of military specialists developed. The archaeological evidence suggests that the military specialist began as part of the institutional structure (Robert McAdams 1966:132-134). But eventually relatively uncivilized tribesmen from neighboring areas seized control.

This transformation has been observed in various early civilizations. Thus there is a fair body of evidence to check the theory against.

The military specialist fits into this paper's theory as the independent competitive specialist for the state. The military specialist fits the criterion because (A) their rise to power breaks the hold of the educated priest elite over the mediation of violent conflict (the priest elite continues its religious duties but their political duties are usurped), (B) the military specialist, particularly the conquering tribesmen, gain control without educational credentials, (C) the size of the state greatly expands as conquering states incorporate the defeated within their domains. This trend toward greater size continues with the development of empire the following institutional development.

4. Emperor - Individual Ownership Institution

The loss of institutional control of violence associated with the military specialist was both internal and external. The danger inherent in eliminating education and other institutional means of distributing power was that internal conflict would break out. This problem was particularly acute in an intensely competitive environment. Internal conflict hobbled plans of conquest and made the state more vulnerable to conquest from other states (Robert McAdams 1966, 158-159). Typically the king was murdered and a fight for succession followed. Only when the internal rebellions were put down could expansion resume.

A new cooperative form to control competition was called for. The new institution was the emperor. The military specialists cooperated by establishing a common strategy of allowing one individual, the emperor, to rule. This strategy might have been expressed passively by not resisting and of course, the emperor encouraged cooperation through threat of execution, nevertheless the acceptance of the emperor's legitimacy was an important foundation for his power.

The monarch provides more than just a focus for the cooperation of military specialists he also acts as a coordinating intellectual decision making system. In many previous examples intellectual decision making systems were progressively less closely associated with the genetic. But the emperor is an individual and thus more closely associated with the genetic.

The close association of genetically determined drives with decision making encourages competition. For example, the larger the state is the more resources it controls with which it can defend itself and its monarch. Therefore, the identity of interests between monarch and state encourages more, not less, external institutional conflict. This intensification of external conflict was also observed as the chief established control. That conflict was brought under control by the cooperative strategy of the chiefs, the theocratic state. The monarch in turn will be institutionalized by democracy.

The basic motif is that competition in one level is controlled, thus encouraging competition on another level. This competition is in turn mediated through another cooperative organization.

Monarchy an ownership institution can also be contrasted with the theocratic state in that education does not determine ownership. The monarch may have been given the right to rule by inheritance or usurped it in a coup, but he did not earn it by achieving the highest score on a competitive test. Thus the position of emperor was an individual ownership institution.

5. Aristocracy - Dependent Competitive Specialist

The establishment of monarchy did not eliminate the need for military specialists but it did put them in a subservient role. Their relationship to the institution changed thus producing a new specialty. The case for distinguishing the independent competitive specialist is particularly confusing for the state. There is a relatively fine line between military specialists and aristocracy. The difference between independent and dependent competitive specialists is more clearly distinguished for religion. The independent thinker and teacher, Socrates for example, is more clearly different from the proselytizing supporter, Saint Paul.

The power and importance of the aristocracy was greatly enhanced in the old world by the introduction of the chariot. Chariot warfare was expensive requiring a large investment for each warrior. Thus the effective, first rate, warriors were few and because they were few they were powerful.

Up to this point several relatively independent examples of the progression from theocratic state through empire could be examined. But the chariot was only developed in the old world and its use spread principally by imitation and conquest. Therefore the ability to examine independent examples is lost.

6. Spartan Mess - Educational Institution for Dependent Competitive Specialists

The late bronze age and early iron age, several centuries to either side of the first millenium BC, were characterized by barbarian invasions and political disorganization. Greece in general and Crete and Sparta in particular were conquered by the Dorians. In Crete the Dorian aristocrats ruled the indigenous population. Violence among the aristocrats was very poorly controlled. This increased the chance of revolt by the serfs and made life dangerous.

To control the violence and arrange larger political units the Aristocrats set up an educational institution. The young men were raised together in age cohorts thus breaking down family ties and building institutional ties. In this case the use of education to build loyalty was probably conscious. Whether conscious or not, it was effective, for the institution spread quickly throughout Crete. Those communities that did not adopt the educational system were probably quickly conquered by those that did.

The Spartans had little to fear from the tiny city states of Crete but nevertheless they seem to have been impressed. The Greeks believed that Lycurgus, the Spartan lawgiver, copied the educational system of Crete. The Spartan system, however, went beyond the system of Crete. Not every young Spartan who survived the training was elected to a mess and given the full rights of a Spartan citizen so the system did allow personal failure. The Spartan educational system did not merely train, it also tested. This makes it more clearly an educational institution.

The "equals" who were elected to a mess, received political rights that laid the basis for republican government. Sparta had a dual monarchy but the bulk of political power was held by elected officials. The method of election in Sparta was primitive. Judges were placed in a room where they could not see the electorate. The electorate, the assembly of "equals," applauded their favorites. The candidate with the greatest applause was chosen by the judges. The argument here is not that Spatans were fully democratic; but that they were using a primitive democratic form that laid the basis for the more sophisticated democratic forms that developed later.

In conclusion Crete and Sparta developed an educational institution for dependent competitive specialists. In doing so they helped lay the basis of the state's egalitarian ownership institution, democracy.

7. Hoplite - Despecialization

The Spartans ruthlessly used their educational system to instill bravery and discipline in their citizens. Bravery and discipline are key elements in the highly organized hoplite tactics. The hoplite is the heavily armed spear man that the Greek armies were so famous for. As long as the discipline of the troops holds the hoplite is an effective warrior. Therefore the tradition of discipline established by the Spartans was very important.

Even though the other Greek city states did not emulate Spartan education similar traditions of discipline were established among the Greeks both out of admiration of Spartan military success and out of fear of a helots fate (helots were Spartan slaves).

The hoplite generally had to buy his own equipment but it was far less expensive than the chariots that had been used by the Greek aristocrats. This meant that a far larger portion of the male population could function as first rate soldiers. Thus the military was despecialized. This was crucial because the aristocrats had already established that members of the army had a right to participate in government.

Athens was a sea power so even the lowest classes who were too poor to pay for a hoplite's armor could serve an important military function as rowers in the fleet. This completed the process of military despecialization and laid the basis for the further spread of political power inherent in democracy.

8. Democracy - Egalitarian Ownership Institution

The transformation from aristocratic government to democratic was tumultuous. Civil strife and tyranny marred the transition but the Athenians finally made the transition. It should be pointed out that the events in the other spheres were also important in making Athenian democracy possible but those are discussed later. The political-military story is that because all citizens were important in defense all voted.

Athenian democracy qualifies as an egalitarian ownership institution. It was egalitarian in that under at least one of their constitutions all adult male freeborn native citizens were given the right to vote. (Granted this in not totally egalitarian by modern standards.) Athenian democracy was an ownership institution in that the voters received their right by birth rather than education. Finally it is an institution in that the group establishes a cooperative strategy to respect the outcome of the voting.

As mentioned in chapter two, Democracy is a major gain in power for the intellectual decision making systems. Democracy dilutes the relationship between the decision maker's decision and his self-interest because it is unlikely that his vote will be the deciding one. Thus, democracy allows the rational and mostly selfish voter to safely make decisions of conscience. Athenian democracy was not by any standard a totally ethical society, but it was a very special and creative one. The nature of democracy and its potential for ethical decisions was a key factor in making Athens such a creative and important city.

This concludes the eight developments in the progression of egalitarian ownership of the state. A quick review may help clarify the progression. Before the system began there was an egalitarian organization, the band. This was lost with the success of the big man and later the 1. chief who established the first specialization. The chiefs cooperated too for the 2. theocratic state the first educational institution. Competition between the states opened opportunities for 3. military specialists. These military specialists often came from outside the institution and ignored older institutional traditions; thus they are independent competitive specialists. The need for suppression of internal violent competition and vigorous coordination of resources made the individual ownership right of the 4. emperor important. The emperor had highly skilled military supporters, the 5. aristocrats. The aristocrats were dependent competitive specialists. In Crete and later Sparta the aristocrats set up an educational institution, the 6. mess. This helped establish loyalty to the city, state, and republican traditions. The 7. hoplite system of warfare despecialized the military profession. Wider participation in the military laid the basis for egalitarian ownership of the state, 8. democracy. Democracy was a major step toward greater intellectual control and is a major development in the overall system developed in chapter two.

The system developed here fits closely into the theory developed in chapter three. I hope the reader now has a more concrete feel for the system.

Chapter 5 Religion to Freedom

Tell me what you think in my guest book.

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