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A Theory of the Origin of the State

A Theory of the Origin of the State

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A Theory of the Origin of the StateAuthor(s): Robert L. CarneiroSource:
Science,
New Series, Vol. 169, No. 3947 (Aug. 21, 1970), pp. 733-738Published by: American Association for the Advancement of ScienceStable URL:
Accessed: 06/06/2009 00:09
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Landau,Amer.J. Public Health54,85(1964).Ifoneacceptedthisevidence asconclusive,itwould follow thatthe annualcost of airpollution,becauseofhealtheffects,wouldrunbetween$14billion and$29billion.65.SeeJ.H.Schulte,Arch.Environ.Health 7,524(1963);A.G.Cooper,"Carbon Mon-oxide,"U.S.Public HealthServ. Publ. No.1503(1966);Effects ofChronicExposuretoLowLevelsofCarbon Monoxide onHumanHealth,Behavior,andPerformance (NationalAcademyofSciencesandNationalAcademyofEngineering,Washington, D.C.,1969).66.Anotherwayto estimate thecostofairpollu-tion is toexamine theeffectofairpollu-Landau,Amer.J. Public Health54,85(1964).Ifoneacceptedthisevidence asconclusive,itwould follow thatthe annualcost of airpollution,becauseofhealtheffects,wouldrunbetween$14billion and$29billion.65.SeeJ.H.Schulte,Arch.Environ.Health 7,524(1963);A.G.Cooper,"Carbon Mon-oxide,"U.S.Public HealthServ. Publ. No.1503(1966);Effects ofChronicExposuretoLowLevelsofCarbon Monoxide onHumanHealth,Behavior,andPerformance (NationalAcademyofSciencesandNationalAcademyofEngineering,Washington, D.C.,1969).66.Anotherwayto estimate thecostofairpollu-tion is toexamine theeffectofairpollu-tion onpropertyvalues.SeeR. J.Anderson,Jr.,and T.D.Crocker,"AirPollution andresidentialproperty values,"paper presentedat ameetingoftheEconometricSociety,NewYork,December1969;H.0.Nourse,LandEcon.43,181(1967);R. G.Ridker,Eco-nomicCostsofAir Pollution(Praeger,NewYork,1967);R. G.RidkerandJ. A.Hen-ning,Rev. Econ.Statist.49,246(1967);R.N.S.Harris,G.S.Tolley,C.Harrell,ibid.50,241(1968).67.P.Buell,J.E.Dunn,Jr.,L.Breslow,Cancer20,2139(1967).68.E.C.Hammond andD.Horn,J. Amer.Med.Ass.166,1294(1958).tion onpropertyvalues.SeeR. J.Anderson,Jr.,and T.D.Crocker,"AirPollution andresidentialproperty values,"paper presentedat ameetingoftheEconometricSociety,NewYork,December1969;H.0.Nourse,LandEcon.43,181(1967);R. G.Ridker,Eco-nomicCostsofAir Pollution(Praeger,NewYork,1967);R. G.RidkerandJ. A.Hen-ning,Rev. Econ.Statist.49,246(1967);R.N.S.Harris,G.S.Tolley,C.Harrell,ibid.50,241(1968).67.P.Buell,J.E.Dunn,Jr.,L.Breslow,Cancer20,2139(1967).68.E.C.Hammond andD.Horn,J. Amer.Med.Ass.166,1294(1958).69. P.Stocks,"BritishEmpireCancerCampaign,"supplementto"CancerinNorthWales andLiverpool Region,"part2(SummerfieldandDay,London, 1957).70.G.Dean,Brit. Med. J.1,506(1966).71. A. H.GolledgeandA.J.Wicken,Med.Officer112,273(1964).72. W.Haenszel,D.B.Loveland,M.G.Sirken,J.Nat. CancerInst.28,947(1962).73. The researchdiscussedinthis article wassupported byagrantfrom ResourcesfortheFuture,Inc.WethankMortonCorn,AllenKneese,andJohnGoldsmith forhelpfulcomments.Anyopinionsandremainingerrorsare ours.69. P.Stocks,"BritishEmpireCancerCampaign,"supplementto"CancerinNorthWales andLiverpool Region,"part2(SummerfieldandDay,London, 1957).70.G.Dean,Brit. Med. J.1,506(1966).71. A. H.GolledgeandA.J.Wicken,Med.Officer112,273(1964).72. W.Haenszel,D.B.Loveland,M.G.Sirken,J.Nat. CancerInst.28,947(1962).73. The researchdiscussedinthis article wassupported byagrantfrom ResourcesfortheFuture,Inc.WethankMortonCorn,AllenKneese,andJohnGoldsmith forhelpfulcomments.Anyopinionsandremainingerrorsare ours.
Forthefirst2millionyearsof hisexistence,manlived in bandsor vil-lageswhich,asfaraswecantell,werecompletelyautonomous.Notuntilperhaps5000B.C. didvillagesbegintoaggregateintolargerpoliticalunits.But,oncethisprocessofaggregationbegan,itcontinuedataprogressivelyfasterpaceandled,around 4000B.C.,totheformation of the first state inhistory.(WhenIspeakofastateImeanan autonomouspoliticalunit,encompassingmanycommunitieswith-initsterritoryandhavingacentralizedgovernmentwiththepowertocollecttaxes,draftmenfor workorwar,anddecreeandenforcelaws.)Althoughit wasbyall odds the mostfar-reaching political developmentinhumanhistory,theoriginofthestateisstillveryimperfectlyunderstood. In-deed,not one of the currenttheoriesoftheriseofthe state isentirelysatis-factory.Atonepointoranother,allofthemfail.There is onetheory, though,whichIbelievedoesprovideacon-vincingexplanationofhow statesbegan.Itis atheorywhichIproposedoncebefore(1),andwhich Ipresentheremorefully.Beforedoingso, however,
21AUGUST 1970
Forthefirst2millionyearsof hisexistence,manlived in bandsor vil-lageswhich,asfaraswecantell,werecompletelyautonomous.Notuntilperhaps5000B.C. didvillagesbegintoaggregateintolargerpoliticalunits.But,oncethisprocessofaggregationbegan,itcontinuedataprogressivelyfasterpaceandled,around 4000B.C.,totheformation of the first state inhistory.(WhenIspeakofastateImeanan autonomouspoliticalunit,encompassingmanycommunitieswith-initsterritoryandhavingacentralizedgovernmentwiththepowertocollecttaxes,draftmenfor workorwar,anddecreeandenforcelaws.)Althoughit wasbyall odds the mostfar-reaching political developmentinhumanhistory,theoriginofthestateisstillveryimperfectlyunderstood. In-deed,not one of the currenttheoriesoftheriseofthe state isentirelysatis-factory.Atonepointoranother,allofthemfail.There is onetheory, though,whichIbelievedoesprovideacon-vincingexplanationofhow statesbegan.Itis atheorywhichIproposedoncebefore(1),andwhich Ipresentheremorefully.Beforedoingso, however,
21AUGUST 1970
it seems desirable todiscuss,ifonlybriefly,afew ofthe traditionalheories.Explicittheories oftheoriginof thestate arerelativelymodern. ClassicalwriterslikeAristotle,unfamiliar withother formsofpoliticalorganization,tended to thinkofthestate as"nat-ural,"andthereforeasnotrequiringanexplanation.However,theageofexploration,by makingEuropeansawarethatmany peoplesthroughoutthe worldlived,notinstates,but inindependentvillagesortribes,madethestateseem lessnatural,and thusmore inneedofexplanation.Ofthemanymoderntheoriesofstateoriginsthat have beenproposed,wecanconsideronlyafew.Those witharacialbasis,forexample,arenowsothoroughlydiscreditedthattheyneed notbedealtwithhere.We canalsorejectthe belief thatthestate isanexpressionofthe"genius"ofapeople(2),orthat itarosethrougha"historicalaccident."Such notionsmakethestateappeartobesomethingmetaphysicaloradventitious,and thusplaceitbeyondscientificunderstanding.Inmyopinion,theoriginofthe statewasneithermysteriousnorfortuitous.it seems desirable todiscuss,ifonlybriefly,afew ofthe traditionalheories.Explicittheories oftheoriginof thestate arerelativelymodern. ClassicalwriterslikeAristotle,unfamiliar withother formsofpoliticalorganization,tended to thinkofthestate as"nat-ural,"andthereforeasnotrequiringanexplanation.However,theageofexploration,by makingEuropeansawarethatmany peoplesthroughoutthe worldlived,notinstates,but inindependentvillagesortribes,madethestateseem lessnatural,and thusmore inneedofexplanation.Ofthemanymoderntheoriesofstateoriginsthat have beenproposed,wecanconsideronlyafew.Those witharacialbasis,forexample,arenowsothoroughlydiscreditedthattheyneed notbedealtwithhere.We canalsorejectthe belief thatthestate isanexpressionofthe"genius"ofapeople(2),orthat itarosethrougha"historicalaccident."Such notionsmakethestateappeartobesomethingmetaphysicaloradventitious,and thusplaceitbeyondscientificunderstanding.Inmyopinion,theoriginofthe statewasneithermysteriousnorfortuitous.Itwasnottheproductof"genius"orthe result ofchance,but theoutcomeofaregularanddeterminateculturalprocess.Moreover,itwasnotauniqueeventbutarecurring phenomenon:statesaroseindependentlyindifferentplacesandatdifferenttimes.Wheretheappropriateconditionsexisted,thestateemerged.VoluntaristicTheoriesSerioustheories ofstateoriginsareof twogeneral types:voluntaristicandcoercive.Voluntaristic theories holdthat,at somepointin theirhistory,certainpeoplesspontaneously,ration-ally,andvoluntarily gave uptheir in-dividualsovereigntiesandunited withothercommunitiestoformalargerpoliticalunitdeservingtobe calledastate. Ofsuchtheoriesthe bestknownis theoldSocialContracttheory,whichwasassociatedespeciallywith thenameofRousseau.We nowknowthatnosuchcompactwasever subscribedtobyhumangroups,and the Social Con-tracttheoryistodaynothingmorethan ahistoricalcuriosity.Themostwidelyacceptedofmodervoluntaristic theoriesis the oneI callthe"automatic"theory.Accordingtothistheory,theinventionofagricultureautomaticallybroughtintobeinga sur-plusoffood,enablingsome individualsto divorcethemselves fromfoodpro-ductionandtobecomepotters,weav-ers,smiths, masons,andsoon,thuscreatinganextensivedivision of labor.Outof thisoccupational specializationtheredevelopedapoliticalintegrationwhichunitedanumber ofpreviouslyindependentcommunities into astate.Thisargumentwasset forthmostfre-quentlybythelateBritisharcheologistV.GordonChilde(3).Itwasnottheproductof"genius"orthe result ofchance,but theoutcomeofaregularanddeterminateculturalprocess.Moreover,itwasnotauniqueeventbutarecurring phenomenon:statesaroseindependentlyindifferentplacesandatdifferenttimes.Wheretheappropriateconditionsexisted,thestateemerged.VoluntaristicTheoriesSerioustheories ofstateoriginsareof twogeneral types:voluntaristicandcoercive.Voluntaristic theories holdthat,at somepointin theirhistory,certainpeoplesspontaneously,ration-ally,andvoluntarily gave uptheir in-dividualsovereigntiesandunited withothercommunitiestoformalargerpoliticalunitdeservingtobe calledastate. Ofsuchtheoriesthe bestknownis theoldSocialContracttheory,whichwasassociatedespeciallywith thenameofRousseau.We nowknowthatnosuchcompactwasever subscribedtobyhumangroups,and the Social Con-tracttheoryistodaynothingmorethan ahistoricalcuriosity.Themostwidelyacceptedofmodervoluntaristic theoriesis the oneI callthe"automatic"theory.Accordingtothistheory,theinventionofagricultureautomaticallybroughtintobeinga sur-plusoffood,enablingsome individualsto divorcethemselves fromfoodpro-ductionandtobecomepotters,weav-ers,smiths, masons,andsoon,thuscreatinganextensivedivision of labor.Outof thisoccupational specializationtheredevelopedapoliticalintegrationwhichunitedanumber ofpreviouslyindependentcommunities into astate.Thisargumentwasset forthmostfre-quentlybythelateBritisharcheologistV.GordonChilde(3).
Theauthor is curator of SouthAmericanethnologyin thedepartmentofanthropologyat theAmerican Museum ofNaturalHistory,NewYork,NewYork.733Theauthor is curator of SouthAmericanethnologyin thedepartmentofanthropologyat theAmerican Museum ofNaturalHistory,NewYork,NewYork.733
ATheoryoftheOriginof theState
Traditional heoriesof stateoriginsare consideredandrejectednfavorofanewecologicalhypothesis.
RobertL.Carneiro
ATheoryoftheOriginof theState
Traditional heoriesof stateoriginsare consideredandrejectednfavorofanewecologicalhypothesis.
RobertL.Carneiro
 
Theprincipaldifficultywith this CoerciveTheoriestheoryis thatagriculturedoes not au-tomaticallycreate afoodsurplus.Weknowthisbecausemany agriculturalpeoplesof the worldproduceno suchsurplus.Virtuallyall Amazonian In-dians,forexample,wereagricultural,but inaboriginaltimestheydid notproducea foodsurplus.Thatitwastechnicallyfeasiblefor them topro-ducesuchasurplusis shownbythe,factthat,underthestimulusof Euro-peansettlers' desire forfood,anumberof tribesdid raise maniocin amountswellabovetheirownneeds,for thepurposeoftrading(4).Thusthe tech-nicalmeans forgeneratingafoodsur-pluswerethere;itwasthesocialmech-anismsneededto actualizeit that werelacking.Another currentvoluntaristictheoryofstateoriginsis KarlWittfogel's "hy-draulichypothesis."AsIunderstandhim,Wittfogelsees the statearisinginthefollowing way.Incertain aridandsemiaridareas of theworld,wherevillagefarmershadtostruggletosup-portthemselvesbymeansof small-scaleirrigation,atimearrivedwhentheysaw thatit would be to thead-vantageofallconcernedto setasidetheirindividualautonomiesandmergetheirvillagesinto asingle largepo-liticalunitcapableofcarryingoutirri-gationonabroadscale.Thebodyofofficialstheycreatedtodeviseand ad-ministersuch extensiveirrigationworksbroughtthestateintobeing(5).Thistheoryhasrecentlyrunintodifficulties.Archeologicalevidencenowmakesitappearthatinat least threeof theareas thatWittfogelcites asex-emplifyinghis"hydraulichypothesis"-Mesopotamia,China,andMexico-full-fledgedstatesdevelopedwell beforelarge-scale irrigation(6).Thus,irriga-tiondid notplaythecausalroleintheriseofthe state thatWittfogelappearsto attributeto it(7).Thisandallother voluntaristic the-oriesof theriseof thestate founderon the samerock:thedemonstratedinabilityofautonomouspoliticalunitstorelinquishtheirsovereigntyin theabsenceofoverridingexternalcon-straints.Wesee thisinabilitymani-festedagainandagainbypoliticalunitsrangingfromtiny villagestogreatem-pires.Indeed,onecanscan thepagesofhistorywithoutfindingasingle genu-ineexceptionto thisrule.Thus,inorderto account for theoriginof thestate we must setasidevoluntaristictheoriesand lookelsewhere.
734
A-closeexaminationofhistoryindi-catesthatonlyacoercivetheorycanaccountfor the rise of the state.Force,andnotenlightenedself-interest,is themechanismbywhichpoliticalevolutionhasled,stepbystep,from autonomousvillagestothestate.Theviewthatwarlies at the rootofthestateisbynomeansnew.Twenty-fivehundredyearsagoHeraclituswrotethat"waris thefatherof allthings."The firstcarefulstudyof therole ofwarfare inthe rise of thestate,how-ever,was made less thanahundredyearsago, byHerbertSpencerin hisPrinciplesofSociology(8).Perhapsbetter knownthanSpencer's writingsonwarandthestateare theconquesttheories of continentalwriters suchasLudwig Gumplowicz(9),GustavRat-zenhofer(10),and FranzOppenheim-er(11).Oppenheimer,forexample, arguedthatthestateemergedwhen thepro-ductivecapacityofsettledagriculturistswas combinedwiththeenergyofpas-toral nomadsthroughtheconquestoftheformerbythelatter(11,pp.51-55).Thistheory,however,has twoseriousdefects.First,itfails toaccountfortheriseof states inaboriginalAmerica,wherepastoralnomadism wasunknown.Second,it isnow wellestab-lishedthatpastoralnomadism did notarise in the OldWorlduntilafter theearliest states hademerged.Regardlessof deficienciesinpar-ticularcoercivetheories,however,thereislittlequestionthat,inonewayoranother,warplayeda decisive roleintheriseofthe state.Historicalorarche-ologicalevidenceofwarisfoundintheearlystagesof stateformation inMesopotamia, Egypt,India,China,Japan,Greece, Rome,northern Eu-rope,centralAfrica,Polynesia,MiddleAmerica,Peru,andColombia,tonameonlythe mostprominentexamples.Thus,withthe GermanickingdomsofnorthernEuropeespeciallyinmind,Edward Jenksobservedthat,"histori-callyspeaking,thereis not theslightestdifficultyinprovingthatallpoliticalcommunities ofthemoderntype[thatis, states]owe theirexistence to suc-cessfulwarfare"(12).And inreadingJan Vansina'sKingdoms ofthe Sa-vanna(13),a book with notheoreticalax togrind,onefindsthatstateafterstateincentralAfricaarosein thesamemanner.Butisitreallytrue that thereisnoexceptionto thisrule?Mightthere notbe,somewhere in theworld,an ex-ampleof a state which arose withouttheagencyofwar?Until afewyearsago, anthropolo-gists generallybelievedthattheClassicMayaprovidedsuchaninstance.Thearcheologicalevidence then availablegavenohint of warfareamongtheearlyMayaandledscholarstoregardthem as apeace-lovingtheocraticstatewhichhadarisenentirelywithout war(14).However,this view is nolongertenable.Recentarcheologicaldiscov-erieshaveplacedtheClassicMayainaverydifferentlight.Firstcamethediscoveryof theBonampakmurals,showingtheearly Mayaatwarandrevelinginthetortureof warcaptives.Then,excavations around Tikalre-vealedlargeearthworkspartlysur-roundingthatClassicMaya city, point-ingclearlytoamilitary rivalrywiththeneighboringcityofUaxactuin(15).Summarizingpresentthinkingonthesubject,MichaelD. Coehasobservedthat"theancientMayawerejustaswarlike asthe.. .bloodthirstystatesof thePost-Classic"(16).Yet,thoughwarfare issurelyaprimemover intheoriginof thestate,itcan-not betheonlyfactor.Afterall,warshave beenfoughtinmany partsof theworldwherethe stateneveremerged.Thus,whilewarfaremaybe a neces-saryconditionfortheriseof thestate,it isnotasufficientone.Or,toputitanotherway,whilewecanidentifywar as the mechanismof state forma-tion,weneedalsotospecifythecon-ditions underwhichitgaverise to thestate.EnvironmentalCircumscriptionHoware we todeterminethese con-ditions? Onepromisingapproachistolookforthosefactors common toareasoftheworld inwhich states arosein-digenously-areassuchas theNile,Tigris-Euphrates,andIndusvalleysintheOldWorldandtheValleyof Mex-icoandthe mountainandcoastalval-leysofPeruin theNew.Theseareasdiffer fromone another inmanyways-inaltitude,temperature,rainfall,soiltype, drainagepattern,andmanyotherfeatures.Theydo, however,haveonethingincommon:theyareall areasofcircumscribedagriculturalland.Eachofthemisset offbymountains,seas,ordeserts,andtheseenvironmentalfea-turessharplydelimittheareathatsimple
SCIENCE,VOL. 169

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