Origin of State and the Necessity of Politics

Man’s inherent affinity to form social groups has led to the development of systematised structures of social interaction that suits the increasing complexity of economic and material resources at each historical period. The evolution of the state, in my opinion, has been keeping pace with and is a reflexive image of evolution in other institutions. The means of production, distribution and consumption at each stage has a direct effect on the way people come together in hierarchical organisational structures to fend for their collective and individual needs. The emergence of modern politics is one such phenomenon. Kinship and clan based organisations were the first kind of political systems that emerged.

Due to the perils of inbreeding, a system of exchanging marriage partners between neighbouring kin groups emerged. The system of exchange coupled with different groups monopolising different resources according to geographical terrain led to the development of inter-clan warfare. Slowly, as ways of extraction of resources from the earth became more refined and labour became more specialised, warfare developed into a way of territorial conquest and consolidated in antagonistic polarities. Smaller groups were merged with the stronger groups which led to the development of larger collectives with centralised authority that governed resource distribution. Ecological factors and technological sophistication favoured the centralised consolidation of the existing scattered and fragmented tribes and clan systems.

This was the nature of the first formal centralised political organisation. The clan organisation of the primitive people evolved into the tribal State, which was a form of government fitted only for nomadic people. As soon as the race advanced to the pursuits of agriculture and the formation of stable communities, locality undoubtedly became the important bond of adhesion, and a clearer conception of the modern State began to appear.  It is the agrarian period that played an important role in the beginning of a model that was further developed into the modern state. An agrarian society is a community that practices agriculture through which their livelihood and existence is taken care of. The main feature of agrarian societies is that, the heads of the community took care of the people not for the greater good but because they were able to derive economic benefits from the asset of land that they owned.

It was the beginning of agrarian societies that helped form the first foundation for a more established society, and as such political ─ the state. The State is the seat of supreme political power, whence proceed all binding rules of civic conduct. The size, form and mode of legitimisation of a state are the result of the dominant pattern of economic and technological progress. Obviously, the evolution of the State is not merely the evolution of man.  It deals rather with the growth of mankind in association, considered solely as a governing entity. Whenever two men come together in their habitat, agreement becomes necessary i.e., they must be  organised, and there is founded a rudimentary State. Herbert Spencer says, “Socially as well as individually, organisation is indispensable to growth ─ beyond a certain point there cannot be further growth without further organisation”.

The State has been defined to be “a whole people united into one body politic”; and as a “visible embodiment of justice under the conditions of human society.”  And when the boundaries of cities were enlarged, by conquest, to great territories, the flag became the symbol of one people. By conquest, a number of petty sovereigns were reduced to one dominion, each small kingdom or tribe was represented in the parliament of the supreme king by a chosen delegation. Before the art of printing was discovered, religious authority via the church was the sole vehicle of knowledge. The organisational structure of the church was paving way for the voice of the people to be heard in the councils of the State.

The emergence of the modern state was a slow process in which the religious legitimacy was replaced by the secular rules. The modern state emerged with the decline of the Roman Empire. In this situation Europe was kept unified only due to the efforts and the power that the church had over the people. “Secularism is an essential attribute because it enables the location of the state above the religious diversity of the citizens and symbolises the fact that the social bond is not only religious but also national, that is, political”.  According to political scientist Francis Fukuyama, the three components of a modern political order are: a strong and capable state, the state’s subordination to the rule of law, and government accountability to all citizens. In his opinion, these had all been established in one or another part of the world by the end of the 18th Century.

China had developed a powerful state early on. The rule of law existed in India, the Middle East, and Europe; and in Britain, an accountable government appeared for the first time. Political development in the years subsequent to the Battle of Jena (1806) involved the replication of these institutions across the world, but not in their being supplemented by fundamentally new ones.  Warfare, development of agrarian economies, labour specialisation and increasing diversification required society to come up with an organisational structure in which people gave up some rights and duties to a central authority in lieu of other rights and protection from the state and were bound by some degree of solidarity. This led society to slowly outgrow the kinship-based organisational structure and move towards the modern state.

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