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bounded by rivers, mountains, etc. However, rivers and mountains are not impassable barriers. They are above all material signs of the frontiers of the group. The error of the theorists has been in considering them as natural frontiers, as indications presented by nature for the fixation, according to a certain plan, of the regions within the limits of which each group is destined to live and develop. This theory was never more than a superficial and metaphysical one, by means of which the jurists and purely political theoricians attempted to give a material basis to the conception of a natural and immutable order of societies. Neither rivers, nor mountains, nor seas, nor oceans are frontiers traced by nature once and for all and in a definite fashion. Always and everywhere they have been traversed and passed beyond, according to necessities of the internal and external equilibrium of societies. Their defensive character is altogether secondary. Their indicative character is, on the contrary, essential. The territory of the group does not extend beyond the water courses nor over the opposite slopes of mountains so long as the territory thus bounded suffices for the social needs. When these require an extension, it is produced by, or at least produces, the conflict which, according to several modes, military or peaceful, furnishes the basis of a new equilibrium.
What is constant is a limit, and so far as possible, but accessorily, a more or less visible and precise indication of this limit. There is always a frontier even in absence of mountains or water courses. Rocks, cascades, and great trees, easily recognizable, serve as boundaries. From trees as post-indicators, covered with the national colors, the evolution is visible. The one fact remaining true is that the most apparent natural sign-indicators successively give place, as indicators of limits, to purely symbolical and even purely ideal signs, but susceptible of being graphically represented upon a map; as, for example, in Africa, where the limits of certain parts of English, French, Belgian, and German territories are indicated by the enunciation of a simple degree of longitude.
Rivers and mountains in the establishment of frontiers, aside from this indicative nature, which they have in common with other signs, play only a strategic and military rôle from the standpoint of attack and defense. These are only a historical form, secondary and subordinate in the formation of frontiers. They intervene in the fixation of limits only in order to perturb, by artificial means and by force, the real natural boundaries of social groups - boundaries which are above all social and positive. The military boundaries established in order to favor not only defense, but offense, are far from representing, as we shall see, the reciprocal limits of intersocial actions and reactions.
If neither rivers, seas, oceans, nor mountains, nor even, at certain times, deserts, can prevent continued variations of the intersocial equilibrium, we can then understand the meaning of the evolution of the sign-indicators of frontiers. This evolution is effected by transferring the most apparent physical forms into more and more ideal symbolical signs. This very evolution is favored by the fact that between a great many groups there do not exist any physical or geographical phenomena as considerable as those which have furnished the basis for the theory of the natural frontiers. To illustrate, there are six trees of colossal size still existing in Mexico, being a species of magnolia, at least six hundred years old, which formerly served as the frontier of the state of the ancient king of the Zapotecs. We can still admire them at Etla, Teozacualco, Zaniza, Santiaguito, and Totomochapa. These boundaries were fixed through traditions, that is, through custom and even through formal treaties. When it was a question of establishing limits of this kind, the witch-doctor was called in, who executed some magic ceremonies by beating a drum called maraca — a drum peculiar to all the savage people of
a America - and by smoking long cigars, doubtless in order to drive away, by the noise and smoke, the hostile and malignant spirits. Sometimes baskets, rags, and bits of bark were suspended from these trees in order to render the frontiers visible, violation of which was a frequent cause of war. This rag is the ancestor of the flag around which are still grouped our national forces whose colors are represented upon the boundary posts of modern nations. Among the Murras there appears also to have been a certain understanding in reference to the possession of
territories among the several tribes. When one of these tribes left the country, it ceded its hunting-ground to its neighbors. In this organization of the Murras there was already a certain complexity. There also existed certain private properties marked off, but inalienable; for instance, the houses. However, the latter were themselves owned by one or several families, who inhabit them together, rather than by a particular individual.3
All of the observed facts thus conspire everywhere and always to show that the external frontiers of each group are in correlation with its structure and its internal organization, as well as with the structure and composition of the surrounding groups. The striking similarity of facts, institutions, and beliefs among the most opposite populations is naturally explained by the homogeneity of the existing conditions, and by the laws of adaptation to these conditions, without the necessity of taking imitation into account. Imitation, like invention, is only a derived and subordinate phenomenon. Both appear only as assistants of the natural conditions which alone render imitation and invention advantageous to the group. The same inventions arise spontaneously under like conditions. The fundamental conditions of social life everywhere varying only within certain limits, as I presume to have demonstrated, the same practices, same institutions, and same beliefs are met in analogous stages of civilization, even among populations which have never been in contact with each other and which are ignorant of each other's existence.
Among hunting populations, but among such as are more military than those of which we are speaking, the frontiers, according to Waitz,4 in the same way as the internal structure, are much more rigorously established. For instance, the frontiers of the tribes of redskins east of the Rocky Mountains could not be crossed by strangers without authority, and were bounded with great care. The soil was nominally the property of the chief of the community. It was inalienable as belonging not only to the contemporaries, but to future generations. The society, being
* VON MARTINS, Beiträge zur Ethnographie und Sprachkunde Amerikas; I, “Zur Ethnographie” (Leipzig, 1867).
* Anthropologie, Vol. III, p. 221.
military, had a chief into whose hands the property passed, but the property remained communal, with a tendency to individualization in the hands of the chief or chiefs. However, confusion persisted between the limits of the state and those of landed property. The latter remained communal, at least by right of possession, but the chief or chiefs were the titularies of it. The exterior and also interior limits of the group become all the more rigid as the internal structure in reference to the external is no longer equal, but authoritative; and according to this internal structure, if it continues to develop in the same authoritative sense, all the special social organs— economic, familial, moral, juridic, and others will be modeled in proportion to the social development. Each new differentiation produced among the groups in the interior will be a differentiation in the direction of inequality, and of the authority of the groups and individuals in reference to each other.
Everywhere, to an equal extent, these forms of social life have their repercussion in religious beliefs. For example, the real forms of the frontiers, as well as those of the boundaries of the particular groups in the interior, have their reflex in the beliefs relative to the future life. The Chibehas of America, according to Schoolcraft, believed that in the future life each nation would have its own territory where it could cultivate the soil. We find the same belief among hunting populations; and among the one kind as among the other, the organization of the future common or private territories is always commensurate with the organization which exists among the living. There is, however, this reservation, that sometimes the post-mortem life represents primitive conditions considered as happier than those in real existence. Hence is formed, within societies having unequal structures, a social ideal at first borrowed from the past, but which, with the progress of sciences, becomes more and more attached to present conditions and to the prevision of the most advantageous forms for the future. Thus from the beyond the ideal redescends upon the earth to illuminate the progressive march of humanity.
In this way is explained how, where the communal equality and peaceful forms have disappeared, they persist or reappear as ideal. I have already set forth elsewhere that the communistic and socialistic theorists are generally far from being absolute utopians. They are most often attached, consciously or not, to the real pre-existing, or even contemporaneous, states.
For instance, in my opinion, the City of the Sun of Campanella was closely associated with the descriptions of the empire of the Incas, or Sun empire, which was conquered by the Spanish.
What is interesting and important to note in rudimentary societies is the real identification of property with the territory of the state, and of the boundaries of the former with the boundaries of the latter. This identification has had within very advanced periods in the Middle Ages, and even in modern times, lasting consequences even after the individual property of the soil was in fact already firmly established. For instance, in case of conquest, the conqueror seized not only the government of the conquered state and the state domains, but also the private domains. The invasion of the barbarians into the Roman empire, and the conquest of England by the Normans, were accompanied by forcible seizure of private estates. Private property was a long time in coming to be respected, and this was so in maritime as well as in continental wars. The differentiation between the state and property was very slow in being effected from the economic point of view as well as from that of the moral, juridic, and political, and where it began to be affirmed in our military and inequality societies it was through a violent divorce between private property and public property, between the individual and the state, and even between society and the state. Perhaps in this respect as in
others the future reserves to us at least some apparent returns toward the communal and equality forms, in which society will reduce the state, in so far as it is governmental, to its special and subaltern function. However, the differentiation between the state, the individual, and society ought to be considered as one organic development, though partly deformed through the unfavorable conditions in which it is realized. The whole effort of our contemporaries consists precisely in ameliorating these conditions. Herein is the social question, the raison d'être of sociology.