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CHAPTER I

SOVEREIGN STATES

EARLY CONCEPTIONS OF SOVEREIGNTY AND INTERNATIONAL

RELATIONS

The stages of the growth of conceptions of sovereignty must be traced more by comparison of contemporaries than by historical records of the progress of particular tribes and states, for history is altogether too incomplete to show the chain of events from the days of primitive savages to the organization of their descendants into highly civilized states. The starting point of the investigation is not, as many writers make it, the distinct, well ordered family, but the promiscuous herd, utterly devoid of law and order. Out of this chaos have slowly emerged family and tribal organizations. Leadership in war has usually given influence in council, but such sovereignty as exists in a primitive tribe is in the general assembly of all its members. In exceedingly diverse ways temporary leaders of tribes have acquired continuing power, and with increase in numbers and wealth rudimentary governmental functions have come into being. War, disease and famine have taken their tolls of human life with consequent partial or total destruction of the tribe. Only the more prudent, hardy or fortunate ones have survived to continue their development. With increase of numbers the home instinct asserts itself and families become more clearly defined and segregated. These usually have been in part polygamous and in part monogamous, the stronger or more crafty males enslaving more or less of the females. Polyandry, though much more rare, has become an established system in some tribes. Reliable records containing the early history of the nations known to us are very meager and in the nature of things commence after the invention of letters, which in itself is evidence of very considerable progress in civilization.

The earliest comprehensive discussion of the various forms, purposes and principles of government that has come down to us is that of the Greek philosophers after the Persian invasion and prior to the time of Alexander of Macedon. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and numerous others discussed these matters with a wealth of research and clearness and force of reasoning that commands the admiration of modern readers. The basis on which their reasoning was built was the Greek world with its many small cities, the Phoenician and other cities of the Mediterranean shores, Egypt, Crete, Palestine, Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Persia, the barbarians of the surrounding countries and faint gleams of light from distant India. The period was one of brilliant achievement and great intellectual activity.

Aristotle starts his discussion of the founding of a state with his views concerning the proper organization of a family, which he makes consist of a master, his wife, children and slaves. He accepts slavery as a natural and necessary institution and mastery of the husband over his wife and children. The state he contemplates is made up of families living in a city or well defined district of small size. Viewed from our standpoint and surroundings his state appears as merely the next step in advance of tribal organization, yet his definitions of monarchies, tyrannies, oligarchies, aristocracies, and democracies and of the various kinds of each, the principles on which they act, their good and bad tendencies and the laws which should govern them, are most enlightening to the student of the subject now. Unity of purpose and accountability was the central idea of the Greeks in the structure of their states. The welfare of the state as a political entity was deemed of more importance than that of the citizens as individuals. Lacadaemonia affords an extreme illustration of these views, with efficiency in war as the prime object in the organization of the state. To promote unity of sentiment home life was destroyed and common tables provided. Rigid discipline for the young and a hard life for the mature were enforced. In battle the soldier must fight to the death and the survivor of a lost battle was forever disgraced. At Athens democratic principles obtained, and far more scope was allowed for in

dividuality and the private welfare of the citizens. Under the leadership of Aristides the Athenians succeeded in forming a confederacy for the protection of the Greek cities against the Persians about 477 B.C. The general policy of the confederacy was determined by a synod of representatives of the cities which met at Delos in the temple of Apollo. Yearly contributions were made by the members, first of ships and men and later of money. In time Athens assumed control of these contributions and enforced their payment, thus rendering the other cities its tributaries. In the course of time the synod of representatives ceased to exercise authority and all matters of interest to the confederacy were determined at Athens. Discontent among her democratic allies caused by the arbitrary authority exercised by Athens over them and the jealousy of Sparta and her oligarchical confederates culminated in the Peloponnesian war and the downfall of Athens. Two Greek confederacies had been formed and were the parties to this war, which proved mutually destructive to both and was followed by the Macedonian conquest.

Larger states organized on very different principles were well known to the Greeks. Babylon was visited by Hercdotus, and from him we learn something of its laws and the manners and customs of its people. It was far greater than any Greek city, and its king in the height of its power ruled over a vast territory extending from Egypt into Persia. The king ruled under a claim of divine right. He established laws for the government of his subjects but was himself above all laws. The Code of Hammurabi is the oldest code of written laws known to us, but was doubtless preceded by others. Substantially the same theory of sovereign power prevailed in the kingdoms of Assyria, Media, Persia, Egypt and India. The sovereign made laws but did not submit to them. Distant conquests were mainly for the purpose of extorting tribute, which was sometimes paid by the cities and districts through their own officers, and in other cases collected by satraps wielding the despotic powers of the sovereign for their own advantage as well as to get the tribute for the king. The fundamental idea of sovereignty in most of the Asiatic kingdoms

was paternal absolute power vested in a king, while that of the Greek cities was a state composed of its citizens and ruled by such and so many of them as were vested with power at the time. The fact that tyrants usurped arbitrary power at times did not change the prevailing conception of the unity and sovereignty of the city itself.

The Chinese, then unknown to the Greeks, adopted the paternal theory of government, but Confucius conceded the right of the emperor to rule only so long as he himself obeyed the laws. The powers actually wielded by the Chinese rulers were, however, not much less arbitrary than those exercised by the kings of western Asia, but the very great numbers of their people precluded direct personal rulership as to most of them and rendered government by law a necessity. The isolation of China and the multiplication of its homogeneous people rendered its position unique, yet it is interesting to note the similarity of the experiments in government that have been tried there to those of the nations of the west. It is also noteworthy that in the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries B.C. there was profound consideration of the principles of government by Chinese as well as by Greek philosophers. Lao-Tsze and Confucius were contemporaries of Socrates and of Pericles who led in the most brilliant period of Athenian history. Plato, Aristotle and a multitude of other brilliant men followed. China still looks to Confucius as its greatest teacher and lawgiver, and the western world with all its changes and progress still admires the wisdom of the Greek philosophers. The date of the compilation of the great Hindoo Code of Manu, which has so profoundly influenced the social life of India, is uncertain, but it was probably somewhat, and may have been very much earlier.

With Greek soldiers Alexander of Macedon extended his power over Egypt, Asia Minor, Persia and Mesopotamia, and on into India, but his mastery was not perpetuated by his successors in accordance with Greek, but of Asiatic principles of government. His relations with all the nations with which he came in contact were merely that of a warrior who knew no law but that of might. His career affords abundant proof of the truth of many of the sayings of his great teacher, Aris

2

totle, but not of his success in inculcating sound moral principles in his pupil. Aristotle said “Nothing is so savage as injustice in arms,” and “He who bids the law to be supreme makes God supreme, but he who intrusts man with supreme power, gives it to a wild beast, for such his appetite sometimes makes him; passion, too, influences those who are in power, even the

very

best of men; for which reason the law is intellect free from appetite.

Though neighboring tribes of savages have at times had understandings with each other with reference to the use of hunting grounds, the occupancy of land and other matters of concern to both, the instability of their organizations and the vicissitudes of savage life have rendered the establishment of general rules governing the relations of tribe to tribe impossible. Want of the use of letters precludes all written codes, treaties and conventions. Tribal warfare has generally been waged to drive out or exterminate the enemy, with no restrictions designed to mitigate its barbarities. Peaceful relations have often been maintained for considerable periods in accordance with tribal agreements, but war between tribes has known no restrictions of its methods. In America and Africa in recent times utter extermination of one tribe by another has sometimes occurred.

The earliest known limitations on the savageries of war have resulted from religious teachings among related people of considerable culture. The Amphyctionic League of Greek cities did not prohibit its members from warring with each other, but forbade them to cut off the water supply of a besieged city or to raze it when taken. No such restriction saved Troy from the earlier Greeks, nor Carthage from the later Romans. The ancient cities of Mesopotamia and many of those of Asia Minor were destroyed by merciless conquerors in periods of war, and the civilization which had developed in Babylon, Nineveh and succeeding cities was blotted out. Joshua utterly destroyed Jericho and all its inhabitants except

1 Politics B. 1, Ch. 2.
2 Politics B. 3, Ch. XVI.

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