Notes on the historical or evolutionary theory regarding the origin of the State



Various theories have been put forward to explain the origin of the state. Some philosophers assert that the state is the result of social contract or an agreement between the people and the sovereign. There are others who feel that it is the direct result of force.

There is yet another set of philosophers who contend that the state is a magnified image of the family. All these theories, however, are maimed and fallacious and have little truth in them.

This led Garner to remark that the state is neither a handiwork of God, nor the result of a superior physical force, nor the creation of a contract, nor a mere expansion of family. It is a slow process of growth and evolution. The state did not come into existence abruptly.

It has developed from its crude and simple form to the modern, complex structure slowly. In the words of Leacock, "the state is a growth, an evolution, the result of a gradual process running through out all the known history of man and receding into remote and unknown past."

To sum up, the origin of the state cannot be traced to a single factor of a definite period. The historical theory regards the state as a product of slow historical evolution extending over a long period. Various factors have contributed to its development. These may be discussed as follows:

1. Social instinct:

Aristotle simply stated a fact when he remarked: "Man is by nature a social animal." The germs of social life are laid in the very nature of man. It is this elemental instinct which prompted primitive people to live together in groups.

The state is thus primarily based on the gregarious instinct of man. According to Aristotle, state is even primary to family. Its origin lies in the basic instinct of sociability of man. State is thus natural outcome of very social nature of man.

2. Kinship:

The social instinct of man was supplemented by kinship or blood relationship. The earliest human organizations were based on kinship or blood relationship. Blood relationship was the most important bond of union among the primitive people.

It knit together clans and groups and gave them unity and cohesion. The people who had their origin in a common ancestor lived together in separate social units. Those who could not establish any blood relationship were treated as enemies. Even today, we see various castes and sub-castes.

In sociologi­cal sense they have their origin in common ancestor and caste is still known by the name of that original ancestor.

There is a good deal of controversy among political thinkers as to what the form of social organization was in the primitive ages. Certain philosophers assert that tribes and matriarchal families were the ancient social organizations. Others contend that the most primary social group was a patriarchal family.

Regardless of this controversy Dr. Leacock remarked, "here it may be matriarchal family, there it may be patriarchal family, but there is no denying the fact that the family is at basis of the state.

" Seeds of the state are found in rigid family discipline. It is in the family that a relationship between command and obedience is estab­lished. A family represents the figure of a state in miniature. All the for factors essential for the formation of the state are seen in their diminutive form in the family.

The members of the family constitute the population Home is the territory. The patriarch or the head of the family forms the government with sovereign power over its members. Hence the justification of Aristotle's remark "State is the magnified image of the family.

" The original family gradually expanded and developed into a household or a 'gen'. The gens by further multiplications developed into clans and clans united to form tribes. The bond throughout was kinship and persons unconnected by blood relationship could not become members of a tribe unless as a special case one was admitted by adoption.

In a tribe, the head of the oldest or the strongest clan became the ruler generally called the 'Chief and his name became the symbol of 'kinship.' In the words of MacIver, 'Kinship created society and society at length created the state.!

3. Religion:

Religion has played a vital role in the process of the building up of the state. Religion gave unity to the people both in the primitive and middle ages. As Gettle observes, "Kinship and religion were simply two aspects of the same thing.

Common worship was even more essential than kinship subjecting the primitive man to authority and discipline and to develop in him a keen sense of social solidarities and cohesion." Those outside were regarded as stranger and even as enemies. People were thus united together under the authority of the same religious sovereign.

Religion appeared in the world in different forms at different stages of history. In the very early times, the prevalent religion of mankind was animism—worship of animals, trees and stones. It was later supple­mented with ancestral worship. People descending from the same ances­tors were thus united together.

Later, religion appeared in the form of Nature worship. The Primitive men could not understand such natural phenomena as storms, thunder and lightning, or the change of seasons! or the mystery of birth and death. They had implicit faith in the spirits of the nature and the spirits of the dead. They were afraid of the forces of nature. They worshipped them out of awe and reverence.

In subsequent ages, magician kings made their appearance. The magicians pretended that they could propitiate the evil spirit. Thus taking advantage of the fear, ignorance and superstition of the fellowmen, the magicians established their authority. In course of time, the magician kings gave way to priest kings.

The priest kings remained popular till late in the middle ages. Religion came to be organized as a regular institution. The Popes dominated the Christian world, the Caliphs established their authority over the Muslim world, etc.

Whatever the form of religion, there is no denying the fact that religion gave unity to the people and thus virtually helped in the process of state building.

4. Force:

Force also played an important part in the development of the state. In primitive ages, might was the supreme right. A powerful person would rally round him a number of warriors and attack a certain territory and would establish his domination over it. History is replete with records showing that big states were formed by occupation and conquest through force.

The application of force also gave territoriality to modern states. War and migration were important factors responsible for the establishment of various states. The demand for constant warfare often led to the rise of permanent headman or chief.

When a tribe was threatened by danger of war, it was driven by necessity to appoint a leader if there was none. The continuation of war was conducive to the establishment of permanent leadership.

When a leader established his authority over a certain territory by conquest and over the people with whom he had no blood relationship, all those who lived in that territory became his subjects. Kinship remained no longer a bond of unity.

5. Economic:

Man has unlimited wants. He cannot satisfy them alone. He has to depend upon others to satisfy his needs. So there is always give and take in society. Man is both selfish and selfless.

There are always disputes. State is born to regulate the economic relations between man and man.

6. Political consciousness:

The sixth factor which contributed to the growth and development of the state was the slow rise of political consciousness. It implies the recognition of certain ends of political consciousness. It implies the recognition of certain ends to be attained through political organization.

At first the state came into existence merely as an idea, that is, it appeared in a subjective form, without being a physical fact. In course of time, the supreme importance of maintaining peace and order within the community and defending the country against any external aggression was felt. It is here that political consciousness appears in the real form.

As Kilson put it, "The need for order and security is an ever present factor; man knows instinctively that he can develop the best of which he is capable only by some form of political organization.

At the beginning, it might well be that the political consciousness was really political unconsciousness but just as the forces of nature operated long before the discovery of the law of gravitation, political organization really rested on the community of minds, unconscious, dimly conscious or fully con­scious of certain moral ends present throughout the whole course of development.'

With the growth of civilization and march of time, man has added to his needs. He requires the cooperation of a large number of persons for the satisfaction of his wants. This, too, is no less an incentive for leading a regulated life in his state.

We may conclude with Burgess that the state 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.

The historical theory of the origin of the state contains the best elements of the other theories of origin of the state. It recognizes the merit of the theory of Divine Origin in as much as human nature has a tendency towards political existence.

It also takes into account the idea of the force theory that force in one form or another has been responsible for the establishment of states. The Social Contract Theory suggests that consent on the part of the individual in the form of political consciousness has played an important part in the organization of the state.

The Patriarchal and the Matriarchal theories suggest that kinship played a prominent role in the evolution of the state.

Points to Remember

Various fallacious theories have been put forward to explain the origin of the state. A state is, in fact, a slow process of growth and evolution. Various factors have contributed to its development.

1. Social instinct:

Man is a social animal. Social instinct is deeply embedded in him. This instinct is to a great extent responsible for the development of the State.

2. Kihship:

The earliest organizations were based on kinship or blood relationship. Family lies at the root of the state. There is a controversy as to what sort of families were found in the primitive ages.

3. Religion:

Religion has contributed a lot to the process of state building. It gave unity to the primitive people. Religion appeared in

various forms at different stages of history.

4. Force:

Force has also contributed to the process of state- building. History is replete with instances of big states having been formed by occupation and conquest.

5. Political consciousness:

Man has multifarious needs for which he depends upon the co-operation and help of others. This consciousness of self-insufficiency compels him to live in the state.