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Under these influences political integration goes irresistibly forward. The stronger absorb the weaker states, until the resulting civil societies become doubly and trebly compound. Moreover, conquest does not end when the scientific frontier has been established. Ambition overleaps its proper bounds. One after another, visions of universal empire arise, before the eyes of Rameses and of Sargon, of Cyrus and of Alexander, of Cæsar and of Charlemagne. Distant peoples that can never be an integral part of the conquering nation are subjugated in mere wantonness of power, and are compelled to pay tribute, which flows in broadening streams of wealth to enrich the capital city. Material splendor rewards the military success. Palaces and temples are its monuments. Statues and tablets record the deeds of its heroes.
Such are the achievements of the nation-making age, of the militaryreligious period of social evolution. They contribute to civilization two of its essential elements; namely, security of property and of life, and a masterful creative activity of the human spirit, expressing itself in political and religious organization and in a rude but massive and enduring art.
53. Summary of Greek political development. The following brief outline of political history in Greece indicates a number of influences that affect the development of the state, and gives an illustration of the so-called "cycle of political evolution":1
First, we examined the "Primitive Polity," to be called monarchy if anything, but where it is interesting to note, in the council of subchiefs or elders and the assembly of the freemen in arms, undeveloped organs which become prominent respectively in the stages of oligarchy and democracy. Then we discussed the transition to primitive oligarchy, of which the most prominent aspect is the reduction of the power of the king, and ultimately the substitution for him of an annual magistracy. The council then becomes the ruling organ; the assembly was probably preserved, but the landowners of old family predominate in it. We observed different causes tending to give the assembly an oligarchical character, namely, conquest; growth, especially in colonies, of new populations without political rights; integration, under the influence of which small landowners and distant tend to drop out of the assembly; increase of inequalities of wealth and economic servitude of poorer freemen. The next phenomenon considered was Tyrannis — " irregular, unconstitutional reversion to monarchy," probably, as in Athens, with constitutional forms preserved; and we distinguished the earlier type
1 By permission of The Macmillan Company.
developed out of the demagogue, and for which the reaction against early oligarchy gave the opportunity, from the later for which the employment of mercenaries was a favoring condition. We noted that Tyrannis was a prevalent type at certain periods, but not a necessary stage through which Greek states passed.
Then, when the earlier Tyrannis has, speaking broadly, disappeared, the brilliant period of Greek history has begun which is generally characterized by a drift towards democracy. We can trace the progress in the democratic direction from stage to stage at Athens, where a stable democratic constitution is finally established at the end of the fifth century, which remains substantially unaltered up to the time of the subjugation under Macedonia. And elsewhere in Greece the same tendency to democracy is seen — though it does not by any means prevail universally. In one or two cases, as far as we know, the oligarchical form of polity maintains itself throughout this period; more often we hear of oscillation between oligarchy and democracy. Also, in the later part of the time, the habit of employing mercenaries gives a new opportunity for Tyrannis. Then the Macedonian predominance and empire closes the period of effective independence of the city states, and we come to the last noteworthy product of the fertile inventiveness of the Greek mind in the department of political construction: the Federal system, of which the remarkable development in the third century B.C. sheds a gleam of interest on the last stage of the history of free Greece, the period intervening between Macedonian predominance and the final absorption of Greece under Roman rule.
In considering the causes of transition from one form of government to another, we have so far directed our attention chiefly — putting conquest aside — to internal causes. Among these, economic causes are very important; e.g. the growing inequality of wealth tended, as we saw, to alter the primitive polity in an oligarchical direction, making the poor freeman more dependent on the rich: while again the more extensive use of money, leading to borrowing on the part of the smaller cultivators, aggravated this inequality into a felt oppressiveness, and tended both in Greece and Rome to movements against the primitive oligarchy. Also — especially in colonies and commercial cities — the growth of new wealth, outside the privileged classes, was a cause making for change.
But, apart from economic causes, one main impulse to change is doubtless derived from the spread of the simple conviction that "one man is as good as another” – those outside the group politically privileged as good as those inside ; a conviction of which the practical effect would be continually strengthened by the openness to new ideas — the weakening of the force of mere custom and habit — which the gradual civilization and the mutual communication of so many independent communities would cause. This conviction is most obviously effective in the drift to democracy, but we may suppose it operative in earlier stages in a more limited form. ...
But when we speak of the efficiency of the king or government, we have already passed the line separating internal from external relations of the community, since the efficiency of the primitive king was largely estimated with a view to war; in fact, as we saw, the introduction of a war chief, distinct from the hereditary king, is said to have been the first step in the process of change to oligarchy at Athens. And no doubt more generally, war was sometimes an important factor in producing a change in the form of government, and sometimes, on the other hand, a source of stability, when the established government proved itself efficient. We have noted again that the development of the city state out of the more primitive group of village communities was importantly favored by the value of the protection of the walled town in war.
And finally, the predominance of federalism in the last stages of the history of Greece was chiefly caused by the necessity, after the Macedonian conquest of the Persian empire, of having states larger than the old city state, to resist Macedonia and the large states formed out of the fragments of Alexander's empire. I may add that the necessity of greater strength for defense in war has been the cause of federalism in medieval and modern Europe as well as in ancient Greece.
54. Formation of the Roman Empire. The failure of the Roman republic and the causes that led to the establishment of the Empire are concisely given in the following:
Rome had left no state able to keep the seas or guard the frontiers of civilization. It was therefore her plain duty to police the Mediterranean lands herself. In her attempts to do this, she was drawn on from conquest to conquest, and became mistress of the world before she had learned how to rule it. Formerly she had devised a system fit for a free city as the center of allied Italy ; but now she failed to create a new system fit for a free city as the center of the world. The reaction of her conquests, too, lowered her own moral tone and contributed to her decay, economic and political, until she could no longer fulfill her old task of governing Italy, or even herself. From the path of empire there was no retreat; but to that empire the city commonwealth was to sacrifice its own liberty.
There followed a miserable century of plunder in the provinces and of civil strife at home. The internal conflict was threefold: in Rome itself, between rich and poor ; in Italy, between Rome and the "Allies”; in the empire, between Italy and the Provinces. At the same time, the police duty itself was neglected ; the seas swarmed with pirate fleets, and new barbarian thunderclouds gathered unwatched on all the frontiers.
The irresponsible senatorial oligarchy proved incompetent and indisposed to grapple with these problems, and its jealousy crushed individual statesmen who tried to heal the diseases of the state in constitutional ways. A century later, the situation had become unbearable within, and the Roman world seemed on the verge of ruin from barbarian assault from without. But, after all, the vigor of the Italian race was unexhausted ; and the breakdown of senatorial rule, and the danger of a worse mob rule, bred the only resource, — the military rule of Marius, Sulla, Pompey, and Cæsar.
These leaders began a new system. We call it the Empire. Its essence was to be the concentration of power and responsibility. It was to remedy much. For centuries it guarded civilization against attacks from without, while it secured order, good government, and prosperity within. Political life for the people it could not restore. To combine liberty with imperial extent was to be left to a later race on a new stage.
II. THE MEDIEVAL STATE 55. Similarities among Greek, Roman, and Teutonic institutions. Sidgwick points out certain similarities in the early political methods of Greeks, Romans, and Teutons, as follows : 1
At the outset it is important to observe that, divergent as are the lines of development of Greco-Italian and Teutonic civilization, they yet are not so far apart in their beginnings. When we compare the earliest forms of political society in Greece, Rome, and Germany, as the best attainable evidence shows them, we find — among important differences — a certain agreement in general features. Indeed, according to Freeman, le there is one form of government which, under various modifications, is set before us in the earliest glimpses which we get of the political life of at least all the European members of the Aryan family. This is that of the single king or chief, first ruler in peace, first captain in war, but ruling not by his own arbitrary will, but with the advice of a council of chiefs eminent for age or birth or personal exploits, and further bringing all matters of special moment for the final approval of the general assembly of the whole people. . . . It is the form of government which
1 By permission of The Macmillan Company.
we see painted in our first picture of European life in the songs of Homer. . . . It is the form of government which tradition sets before us as the earliest form of that ancient Latin constitution out of which grew, first the Commonwealth, and then the Empire of Rome. It is no less the form of government which we see in the first picture of our race drawn for us by the hand of Tacitus, and in the glimpses given us by our own native annals of the first days of our own branch of that race when they made their way into this island in which we dwell.” 1
56. The feudal state. The conditions in western Europe that led to feudalism, and some of the essential features of the system, are given by Adams as follows :
We have endeavored to present in this sketch, as fully as possible in the space at our command, the rise of the feudal system. Comparatively insignificant practices, of private and illegal origin, which had arisen in the later Roman empire, and which were continued in the early Frankish kingdom, had been developed, under the pressure of public need, into a great political organization extending over the whole West, and virtually supplanting the national government. The public need which had made this development necessary was the need of security and protection. Men had been obliged to take refuge in the feudal castle, because the power of the state had broken down. This breakdown of the state, its failure to discharge its ordinary functions, was not so much due to a lack of personal ability on the part of the king, as to the circumstances of the time, and to the inability of the ruling race as a whole to rise above them. The difficulty of intercommunication, the breakdown of the old military and judicial organization, partly on account of this difficulty, thus depriving the state of its two hands, the lack of general ideas and common feelings and interests, seen for example in the scanty commerce of the time, the almost total absence, in a word, of all the sources from which every government must draw its life and strength, this general condition of society was the controlling force which created the feudal system. The Germans, in succeeding to the empire of Rome, had inherited a task which was as yet too great for the most of them, Merovingian and Carolingian alike. Only by a long process of experience and education were they to succeed in understanding its problems and mastering its difficulties. This is only saying in a new form what we have before said in other connections, that the coming in of the Germans must of necessity have been followed by a temporary decline of civilization. This was just as true of government and political order
1" Comparative Politics,” Lecture II, pp. 65, 66.