How far is the theory of force a justification for the origin of the State? The theory of force has been advanced as an historical interpretation of the origin and development of the state. It is said that the state is the result of aggression and the saying that ‘war begot the king’ is offered as the historical explanation regarding the origin of the state.

The theory of force has been advanced as an historical interpretation of the origin and development of the state. It is said that the state is the result of aggression and the saying that ‘war begot the king’ is offered as the historical explanation regarding the origin of the state.

In primitive society, might was right. A person, physically stronger than others, brought under his subjection people hitherto politically unorganized and established his authority over them. This is how the chief of a tribe came into existence. One tribe fought against another and the more powerful dominated the other.

Thus through the process of conquest and domination, the institution of kingship came to be established. A state was formed when the leader of a victorious tribe, with his handful of warriors, secured an undisputed control over a definite territory of a considerable size. That led to creation of a state.


Once a state was established, the force that was previously used for subjugating other tribes was employed to perpetuate control over their civil affairs. Later the struggle for supremacy went on amongst the states and only those survived which were powerful enough to withhold another.

Thus it was through the use of sheer force that the people were brought under control and by force again the authority of the state was maintained. The theory emphasizes that might had been the supreme force responsible for the origin and development of the state.

History abounds in examples regarding the use of force in the establishment of stale. In the words of Edward Jenks, ‘Historically speaking, there is not the slightest difficulty in proving that all political communities of the modern type owe their existence to successful warfare.

” He further amplified this fact and says that with increase of population and the consequent pressure on the means of subsistence, there was also an improvement in the art of warfare.


Fighting became the work of specialists. Whatever may be the technique of warfare, the earliest states came into existence by conquest through force. Rulers of small territories fought amongst themselves, the comparatively more powerful subjugated the others and established big states.

This happened in the case of Scandinavia when a number of tribal overlords fought amongst themselves and the victorious chiefs established the kingdoms of Norway, Sweden and Denmark. In the same way the kingdom of Spain was established in the 6th Century A.D. The use of force for the establishment of states is demonstrated by the Norman race.

Normans conquered Russia in 9th century A.D. and established Russian Kingdom. In the 10th Century A.D. they founded the Kingdom of Normady and in 11th Century A.D. they vanquished the tribal chiefs of England and established the new Kingdom of England.

Lcacock sums up the theory of the State in the following words : “…….. the beginning of the state are to be sought in the capture and enslavement of man by man, in the conquest and subjugation of weaker tribes and generally in the self-seeking domination acquired by superior physical force.


The progressive growth from tribe to kingdom and from kingdom to empire is but a continuation of the same process.” The theory finds its direct and indirect support at the hands of various schools of political philosophy, some of which may be discussed as follows:

History of the Theory:

1. The Church Fathers gave indirect prominence to this theory in their controversy with the Kings of Europe regarding their supremacy.

They tried to discredit the state by saying that it was the result of brute force and the Kings were force personified.

2. The Individualist School of thought gives it importance by the application of the principle of the ‘survival of the fittest’ to human society.


They assert that there is a natural struggle for existence in the animal world. In this struggle only the fittest can survive. The state itself is the direct result of this struggle. The strong have an inherent right to dominate the weak.

3. The Socialists argue that the state is the organ of class coercion. It helps the exploitation of the weaker by the stronger. Government is the force organized to curb and exploit the working classes.

4. The theory of force found an all-out support at the hands of the German philosophers like Hegel, Bernhardi and Triestchki.

These phi­losophers glorified the state to an illogical extreme.


In the words of Triestchki, “State is power: it is sin for a state to be weak. State is the public power of offence and defence.”Bernhardi said, ‘Might is the supreme right, and the dispute as to what is right decided by the arbiterment of war.

War gives a biologically just decision since its decisions rest on the very nature of things. According to Treistchki “the grandeur of history lies in the perpetual conflict of nations and the appeal to arms will be valid until the end of history.”

Bismark, Hider and Mussolini were all believers in the doctrine of ‘blood and iron’ and were responsible for plunging the vast masses into the whirlpool of world wars.

Merits of the Theory:

1. In so far as this theory explains the origin and development of the state, it contains a considerable amount of truth because war and conquest have gone a long way in building of states in all ages.


2. The theory brings to the forefront the fact that ‘might’ or force is indispensable to the state and without it a state can neither exist nor function.

Apart from the fact that war and conquest have played an important part in the establishment of states, the whole fabric of social order and maintenance of internal peace and external safety are bound up with existence of adequate defence force.

It has to be admitted that all states of the world are spending huge sums of money on the maintenance of defence forces. There is an ever increasing tendency among the states to increase their military strength as much as possible. Kant said, “Even a population of devils would find it to their advantage to establish a coercive state by general consent.”

3. The theory also rescues the state from the contractual allegiance of the capricious individual of the social contract school. The obligation of an individual to the state is backed by coercive force.


1. Force is not the only factor:

There is a considerable amount of truth in the theory. Force is undoubtedly an essential element of the state. It is both necessary for internal law and order and security from external aggression.

We have no hesitation in admitting that force is indispensable to the state, that force has given rise to many kingdoms and empires, but to point out force to be the sole controlling factor in creation of the state is palpably wrong.

The theory of force, observes Leacock, “errs in magnifying what has been only one factor in the evolution of society into the sole controlling force”. The state based on mere brute force can continue its existence for a temporary period of time but ultimately it will be found that something other than force is necessary to ensure the continuance of the state.

2. Will not Force, is the basis of State:

Modern views about origin of the state are, however, entirely different. According to T.H. Green, Will, not force, is the basis of the state.”Might without right can at best only temporary, might with right is a permanent basis for the state.

Force is essential but it should be used only as a medicine. Indiscriminate use of force is the fore-runner of revolutions,

3. Opposed to individual liberty:

The theory is opposed to the idea of individual freedom and upholds despotism. In pre-war Germany, Treitschki and Bernhardi preached the gospel of force and world domination.

They maintained that war was a biological necessity and peace meant decadence. The world knows only too well the disastrous conse­quences of such preaching’s.

4. Non-violence alternative to force:

Mahatma Gandhi, held the view that society can be effectively built upon the basis of pure ahimsa or non-violence in which force has no place.

He conducted the whole struggle for Indian Independence on the basis of theory of non-violence with a remarkable success. He even appealed to Hitler and the Britishers to achieve what they wanted through non-violence.

5. Faulty application of the theory of survival of the fittest:

The supporters of the theory defend the use of force on the doctrine of survival of the fittest. It means that might is right and those who are physically weak should go to the wall.

It is clearly a wrong application of the theory. It should be used to explain the evolution of animal life. Its use to explain the existence and end of the state is evidendy unscientific and irrational.

6. State is the result of political consciousness:

State came into existence through the desire of the human beings to lead a peaceful and setded life. Man by nature is a political animal and it was this instinct and his needs which could only be satisfied in a corporate existence which impelled and compelled man to live in state.

In the words of Gilchrist, “The state, government and indeed all institutions are the result of man’s consciousness, creations which have arisen from his appreciation of a moral end.”