Politics and Philosophy

Exploring Political Issues Through Philosophy


Anarchy and Government






Martin Bliss


Preliminary note: This essay is written in two parts.  The first part of the essay offers some of the more widely recognized philosophical premises to justify the existence of the state, and especially the modern liberal state.  The second part takes on the question of what is anarchy through an analytical discussion of the historical reality and how anarchist theory would treat with the discrepancy between liberal philosophy and historical reality.  Although the second part drawn on the first, both parts can be read independent of each other.


1.      Plato

2.      Aristotle

3.      Hobbes and Locke

4.      Thomas Hobbes

5.      The Social Contract

6.      An Anarchist Response

7.      A Fanciful State of Nature

8.      The Real State of Nature

9.      Cultivation and Motivating Factors

10.  Consequences of Deliberate Cultivation

11.  Emerging Inequities and Social Stratification

12.  The Economy of Surplus Products

13.  The Rise of Military Force

14.  Ideological Influence

15.  How the State Comes About

a.       Monopoly of Force

b.      The Idea of Legitimacy

16.  Conclusion


What is government: a political directorate exercising control over inhabitants of a community or society.

What is anarchy: a state of society without government or law.


Part One: The Case For Government


Governments are ubiquitous entities. Going back as far as any written record will allow there have always been the ruled and their rulers. This universality is so obvious that debates concerning ‘government,’ as such, generally revolve around types and not some overall argument for their existence. The existence of ‘government’ has always been taken for granted; ‘government’ is an assumed entity – end of discussion!  But suppose we question this apparent axiom. Suppose we ask ourselves just what stands at the foot of the assumption of government as omnipresent, this presumed postulate to be ruled over by others.  Just exactly how theoritically sturdy are the philosophical underpinnings for the ubiquity of government?

When we casually consider the typical justification for government Thomas Hobbes  is undoubtedly the first spokesperson that comes to mind.  In a dedication to one of the editions of De Cive, (The Citizen) Hobbes states, as it is usually paraphrased, albeit somewhat clumsily, that  ‘Man is wolf to man.’[1]  This is, however, only a thin slice of the famous statement by Hobbes.  The complete statement found in the 1651 dedication of De Cive is as follows:


          “To speak impartially, both sayings are very true; That Man to Man is

a kind of God; and that Man to Man is an errant Wolfe. The first is true, if we

compare Citizens amongst themselves; and the second, if we compare Cities.”


The complete quote raises enumerable questions as to what exactly Hobbes means when he speaks of human nature as opposed to the nature of political organization; we will look at this statement in greater detail a bit further down.  So, before going further into Hobbes it will serve our purpose in questioning the assumption of government to look further back in history.  First are the observations on the origins of civil government made by Plato and Aristotle.

At the time of Plato, the Greeks lacked extensive resources to study the history of humanity.  As a consequence much of their speculation were a bit fanciful and based largely on reason and acceptance of current reality as somehow the way things always were.  As we will see further on their speculation was not that far off the actual mark.


 Plato (427-347 BCE). In book three of The Laws, Plato, taking the part of the Athenian Stranger, speculates somewhat briefly on need for government.  This was not a ‘man in nature’ theme as was later contrived by Hobbes and Locke, but a position based on the notion that a great deluge had destroyed all city-states, which is to say that civilization as the Greeks knew it was all but washed from existence leaving our species in a primitive state.[2]  Plato then suggests reason why cities and government would start up anew.

 In the dialogue, Plato claims that the few survivors of this catastrophe were well disposed toward one another, as their small number caused all in nature to be in great abundance.  Natural abundance would cause strife and warfare to be minimal or non-existent.  In this by-gone era, Plato speculates, because all metal like gold and silver had disappeared, there was no class mired in poverty, and no class steeped in riches.  Given the lack of amenity, or all things being equal, Plato asserts, “The fewness of the survivors would make them desirous of intercourse with one another.”[3]  Here Plato suggests that people are by nature social and even gregarious, enjoying each other’s company.

Plato remarks:


“Hence in those days mankind were not very poor; nor was poverty a cause of

difference among them; and rich they could not have been, having neither gold

nor silver; such at that time was their condition. And the community which has

neither poverty nor riches will always have the noblest principles; in it there is no

insolence or injustice, nor, again, are there any contentions or envyings (sic). And

therefore they were good.”[4]


Yet even here, where there was no need to control a population because of disparity in wealth, Plato claims that there were lordships of sorts.  Families were governed by the eldest who rendered laws and judgments to the wives and children.  Such a governing structure was endemic to the nature of the family. To support his claim of early paternal lordships, Plato cites as evidence the works of the poet Homer.[5]

Plato continues on to suggest that after a time of many generations the natural sociability of humanity drew them into collections of greater numbers, at which time they turned to husbandry and farming which required a restructuring for their new agrarian lifestyle.  This was a lifestyle that involved the difficult organization of common defense and a more complex system of food production.[6]  As the population grew, the people got together to select a council of arbitrators for the purpose of selecting from among the conflicting decrees those which would best serve the interests of the whole.  These were presented to the king for him to choose those he thought best. There began the beginning of legislation and aristocracy, for the aristocracy surly developed out of this class of arbitrators.[7] 

At this point Plato goes on to analyze the several forms that government can take, which is beyond the scope of this paper.  However, three things clearly emerge from this look into Plato and the case he presents for government.  The first is that according to Plato governments emerge naturally from the patriarchal family structure he was familiar with, and second, that government cannot be destroyed except by the rulers.[8]  And finally, he says, a need to settle disputes became increasingly critical with the transition from the primitive family structure to the more complex extended agrarian community.  All three of these notions found in Plato will be subjected to scrutiny and debate in the following portion of the paper devoted to an anarchist response.

In making the case for government, what is crucial in Plato’s position are two assumptions:  (1) Domination and authority are built into the structure of the human family; the underlying theme being that by the basic nature of human organization there are always the ruler and the ruled; and (2) as societies transition from an archaic hunter-gather state to a complex agrarian state, the need to resolve disputes breeds a sovereignty that becomes more complex and more entrenched.  Due to a complete lack of historical resources, the first claim was, in Plato’s day, impossible to explore and verify.  The running dialogue makes clear that the Greeks of Plato’s time were simply unable to imagine a time when there was not some kind of authoritarian organization.

One cannot fault Plato for this lack of historical insight as such exploration only became possible in the last couple hundred years with the arrival of advanced anthropological tools and study.  And it should be noted that in contemporary times, while there is such tool available, the common notion remains that there was always some kind of authoritarian structure no matter how rudimentary the society.


Aristotle (384-322 BCE): Aristotle, in keeping with his characteristic style, is more richly detailed than Plato, and more lengthy in the systematic elucidation of his argument.   Aristotle begins his famous work Politics, with the statement:


“Every state is a community of some kind and every community is established with

a view to some good; for everyone always acts in order to obtain that which they think

good. But, if all communities aim at some good, the state or political community, which

is the highest of all, and which embraces all the rest, aims at good in a greater degree

            than any other, and at the highest good.”[9] 


There is a vague quality about this statement; what should pop right out are questions concerning what does Aristotle means by ‘the highest good.’  The good for Aristotle, which is the aim of the state, means far more than just the supplying of material products and services, though Aristotle clearly understands that these are necessary.[10]   For Aristotle the highest good, as he also states in his work the Ethics, is the attainment of happiness, which for Aristotle is only found in a life of excellence and contemplation.[11]  There are controversial aspects of Aristotle’s vision for the state, such as the implied elitism and the necessity of a class of individuals at the bottom of the social ladder (in his day, slaves) necessary for the comfortable support of the contemplative life. These objections are to be noted here, and then set aside, as a lengthy criticism of Aristotle’s vision is beyond the scheme of this treatise.  What is to be considered is that the state is, for Aristotle, the fulfillment of humanness, which is to say, the achievement of virtue and excellence through rational contemplation.

As to the origin of the state, Aristotle first attests that before all else “there must be a union of those who cannot exist without each other; namely, of male and female, that the race may continue, and of natural ruler and subject.”[12]  Aristotle then claims that “out of these two relationships the first thing to arise is the family.”[13]  Aristotle next describes the family as “The association established by nature for the supply of men’s everyday wants.”[14]  As wants grew beyond basic needs, collections of families, in the form of villages, arose.  These villages are composed, as a most natural form, all of the same blood.[15] The villages were ruled by kings of the same blood as that of the collected families.[16]  Like Plato before him, Aristotle’s general outline appears to balance against whatever evidence was provided the Greeks by Homeric sources.[17]  However, in going back further, to the prehistory of the ‘family,’ to a time which we today understand as the hunter-gatherer clan, Aristotle’s position does not square up particularly well with the paleoanthropology. He is not wildly off, but enough so that his claim of natural ruler and ruled is a slippery one.  But in making a case for the state the actual facts of the matter are of less immediately important than the argument itself. The historical facts will be considered in due course.

It is at this point that Aristotle makes his argument for the state .  He writes:


“When several villages are united in a single community, large enough to be nearly

or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of

life, and continuing in existence for the sake of the good life.  And therefore, if the

earliest forms of society are natural, so is the state, for the end of them, and the nature

of a thing is its end[18]…Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that

man is by nature a political animal.”[19]


Further, Aristotle goes on to assert that:


“The state is by nature clearly prior to the family and to the individual, since the whole

is of necessity prior to the part[20]…The proof that the state is a creation of nature and

prior to the individual is that the individual, when isolated, is not self-sufficing; and

therefore he is alike a part in relation to the whole.  But he who is unable to live in

society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast

or a god; he is not part of a state.”[21]


We need to exercise a bit of caution when reading Aristotle.  By the above passage he does not mean that the individual or the family would disappear, or be otherwise unravel in the absence of the state, but rather that the individual and the family become something less than fully human without the state.  Therefore, as suggested before, for Aristotle the state bestows the quality of ‘humanness’ to the individual and the family. The individual in the family or the village (i.e., collection of like families) can satisfy basic needs and wants; but when separated from law and justice (i.e. the state) individuals are reduced to “The most savage of animals, and the most full of lust and gluttony.”[22]  In these remarks by Aristotle there is certainly more than a glimmer of the commonplace assumptions concerning Thomas Hobbes.

Like Plato before him, Aristotle hints at a pre-state condition, a collection of like families, as in villages, where law and justice achieve prominence and dominance. The ‘good’ that was spoken of so ambiguously earlier has come to mean that the state allows for the fulfillment of human design.  The state cannot exist without the human, nor the human exist without the state.

Aristotle is very much aware that the state is made up of various parts, some intended to rule and other ruled.  In a section ostensibly a discourse on slavery, Aristotle momentarily digresses to claim:  “That some should rule and others be ruled is a thing not only of necessity, but expedient; from the hour of their birth, some are marked out for subjection, other for rule.”[23] Aside from remarks on slavery as a natural condition, there is little room to doubt that Aristotle considers women subservient to men.[24]  But other than these specifics, equality among free citizens is left a somewhat a blurry picture, although he does consider there to be superior citizens and inferior.[25]  A detailed analysis here of the source of unequal authority is beyond the primary question of his paper which concerns itself with the case for authoritarian rule.

Aristotle, very much like Plato, considered that authoritarian rule began with the family, and was refined in the political state.  Therefore, that there were always the rulers and the ruled is indisputable. So in making the case for government, Aristotle, in a similar manner to Plato, suggests (1) that authoritarian rule is according to nature and cannot be avoided, (2) that the first authoritarian structures (families and collections of families) were proper and expedient for meeting basic needs, and (3) that the state, as a refinement, codified authoritarian rule in order that the greater good be achieved. 

                                                *** *** *** ***

For Aristotle, and Plato, the case for government rests on elements in nature that support the meeting of human needs through a hierarchal power structure, which is to say, the basic needs for sustenance, shelter and defense are executed through a system of ruler and subject. Government, for both these ancients, supplies the necessary requirements for a just distribution of these basic necessities.  The types of government thought best by Plato and Aristotle are beside the immediate point.  Suffice it to say that neither of the philosophers favored democracy, that is, rule by the people. Yet government, it was thought of by them, was for the attainment and fulfillment of humanness, and sought in the best interest of all, ruler and governed alike. In addressing justification for government we will see that the argument presented by Plato and Aristotle are largely continued by Hobbes and Locke, those the question of origin shows some considerable difference.


Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679) and John Locke (1632-1704).  Neither Hobbes nor Locke presupposed the existence of the state. Both these philosophers start with human beings and build the state around their understanding of our species.  They will argue that the state is a necessity given the nature of our species in natural and uncontrolled circumstances.  For them the state becomes necessary because of the way that human beings are in a raw ‘state of nature,’ an imaginative thought experiment designed to argue the necessity of the state given the unattractive core nature of human beings.[26]  This presentation of the ‘true nature’ of human beings explains, in part, why these two philosophers have had a much greater impact on modern political thinking than either Plato or Aristotle.  The former presents the state as a necessary development for the wellbeing of our species, while the later present the state as merely omnipresent and prior.

            Hobbes is more forthright, detailed and organized than Locke.  He is also a thinker more bold in his assertions.  So bold in this thinking that he had at least one conservative scholar, Leo Strauss, maintaining that Locke saw it as his personal duty of mitigate the teachings of Hobbes, cause Hobbes to be more palatable for his time by turning the need for government as an institution for outright self-preservation into an institution for the protection private property.[27]   As the rights of private property are only one aim of one form of government, we will set a direct study of Locke aside for this project.  Thomas Hobbes as a proponent of strong government – ostensively speaking for no certain class interests, (though clearly certain classes have expropriated his position) – advocated a strong hand for all in his call for the Leviathan.  Class interests were a byproduct, or perhaps a presumption of the byproduct.

            Thomas Hobbes and the Social Contract.  Hobbes argued that human beings, radical individuals that they are, are primarily possessed of only the need to survive; there is no lust after power for its own sake, but only the lust for survival and security which power can provide.[28]  Nor are human beings evil.  In fact there is no such thing as good and evil, apart from the persons using the terms.[29]   Human beings, Hobbes declares, are equal in nature, equal in their wants and desires, and therein lies part of the problem.  There is nothing wicked in this, but just the way nature has arranged matters. As people try to gain their ends, which are, by the reality of things, often the same ends, they come into conflict and act as enemies to one another. There comes a time when the many collect to deprive the one of the fruits of labor, and sometimes of life and liberty.[30] Thus, Hobbes, asserts when everyone is potentially everyone else’s enemy; therefore in a state of nature there exists a perpetual state of war in which there can be no security, no industry, no fruits of labor, no society, nothing “but continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, nasty, brutish, and short.”[31]  In this war there is no sin or injustice, for in this state of war where there is no law there is no justice and even the notions of right and wrong have no place amongst people.[32]  But for Hobbes there are natural principles, which he calls the Laws of Nature, and it their desire to quit the state of war and gain peace, people following the rule of reason will understand and desire these Laws and should follow them.[33] The Laws of Nature, those precepts which lead people to desire peace by their faculties of reason, will be understood as emerging from the basic principle found in the primacy of self-preservation. 

A Law Of Nature is not a law legislated, but one that exists in advance of society, one that is a “general rule, found out by reason, by which a man is forbidden to do, that, which is destructive of his life, or taketh away the means of preserving the same.”[34]   This general rule leads to what Hobbes identifies as the Fundamental Law Of Nature: “That every man, ought to endeavor peace, as far as he has hope of obtaining it; and when he cannot obtain it, that he may seek, and use, all helps, and advantages of war”.  In other words, given the state of war that exists between everyone it is a precept of reason that everyone has a right to everything, even to another’s body, that might help preserve the individual’s life and liberty. That first branch of this rule, Hobbes states, is “to seek peace and follow it.  The second, the sum of the right of nature; which is by all means we can, to defend ourselves.”[35]

[It might be pointed out here that it is this whole section that Locke was determined to amend and ‘mitigate.’  In defending the rights of property, right that Hobbes claimed were secondary to the right to life and liberty, Locke was determined to reverse.  Locke was bent on making the defense of private property primary, or at least equal to the Hobbesian position on survival.  Locke’s emphasis on private property has great impact on the development of the ‘liberal’ state, but not the rise of the State, as such.  The crucial argument for the State, per se, was the bailiwick of Thomas Hobbes.]

            The Social Contract.  Following the development of the Fundamental Law of Nature, Hobbes posits his second Law of Nature, which is derived from the Fundamental Law. This second law is to seek peace.  This Second Law of Nature argues that the individual can set aside all rights to any and all practices necessary for self-preservation, when others are willing to also do the same, and bind themselves to mutual forebearance of destruction and war; Hobbes argues that this setting aside of rights can be done by contract – a Social Contract. By taking up this contract people will sign away the rights to all things necessary for self-preservation in exchange for safety.[36]  Of course, the affixing of one’s name (or mark) to a piece of paper is not actually done.  Both Hobbes (and Locke) knew that this contract did not actually exist in this world.  Instead, the ‘signing’ of the contract can be inferred by either action or inaction, the mere living within a given domain connotes acquiescence to the supervision by a third party, a ruling body, a Leviathan.  

The Leviathan is a necessary, nearly mandatory ingredient of the position taken by Hobbes.  It seemed quite clear to Hobbes that  the Social Contract, once having been made is no guarantee that all individuals will trust, or that all will abide by its this Social Contract, therefore a common power must be set up to enforce the contract, this is necessary because the bonds of words are too weak to control ambition.[37]  In short, Hobbes argues that the state is necessity to forcibly provide for a social stability required for the safety and wellbeing of the population.  The Social Contract is a device Hobbes conjures to offer plausibility for the force necessary to control and dominate the impulses of a subject population.  It is important to note that although the notion of a Social Contract is pure conjuring, there is nothing overtly sinister in its construct.  To Hobbes (and Locke) a strong government appeared of necessity omnipresent, and the imaginary Social Contract merely a way of rationalizing the necessity of removing freedom of choice and controlling what appeared to this philosopher as humanity’s single minded need to survive, no matter the cost to others. The Leviathan was there to save humanity from itself.

            However, in not presupposing the existence of an organized society, Hobbes developed an argument for the State that is both compromised by the lack of this presupposition and weaker for the lack of a formal arrangement attesting to voluntary agreement.  Rather than solving these two issues, (i.e., the assumption of human anti-sociability and the absence of any actual mechanism underlying contract theory) the devise of a Social Contract actually highlights these problems. This is an underlying problem with all Social Contract theories, as will become more apparent in the following part of the essay on anarchistic theory.  

For the present it is only important to recognize that for both Hobbes and Lock, and the liberal philosophers that followed, the case for the existence of government (i.e., the state) rests on the argument that in one way or another the population being governed is better off for the governing.  It is argued that contentious situations will arise that find their best and most peaceful solution by employing a third, more objective party (e.g., a code of law and a legal system) rather than leaving the resolution to a violent struggle.  The existence of a governing body, in the form of a single ruler, or a code of laws, or ‘representatives of the people’ is ultimately in the interests of the individual and the population as a whole; this is the argument of all the above philosophers, Plato, Aristotle and Hobbes, and an argument that seems highly compelling.




Part Two: An Anarchist Response

          The anarchist is not left dumbfounded and speechless in the face of the political philosophy by such theorists as Plato and Hobbes.  The bulk of the arguments by the above rest on certain assumptions about human nature that are opportunistically ‘revealed’ in thought constructs of a ‘state of nature.’   It in these constructs that the flaws in their justification for the state must be uncovered by the anarchist.  Of course, the overall anarchist position for a stateless society is highly diverse diverse,[38] but given the length of this essay undermining the dominate justification for the state is the most appropriate path to take.  In so doing, the path is softened for arguments for a stateless society.

            A Fanciful State of Nature. The first thing to be noted is that the base assumptions supporting the arguments presented by Plato, Aristotle and Hobbes and Locke are, in one of two ways, pure fiction.  The first fiction is that the staring points for human society as described by Plato, then picked up on by Aristotle, is simply bad history.  Through no real fault of their own both philosophers lacked the empirical historical resources we, in modern times, have come to take for granted.  The second fallacy is that the ‘state of nature’ as described by Hobbes and Locke, et al, is not simply bad history, but is a deliberately imaginative construct, an illusory bit of intellectual nonsense, but nonsense with a purpose.  No such ‘state of nature’ ever existed, at least not as Hobbes and Locke conceived of it.  This is probably no surprise to the contemporary reader.  Both these English philosophers, perhaps unconsciously in the grip of an emerging worldview, concocted the imaginary circumstances in order to establish a premise for a desired conclusion, which is to say the existence of the State – that is, for a certain kind of State.[39] 

            The Real State of Nature.  At this point it will serve the purposes of this essay to draw on actual history.  This will be accomplished by looking at a picture of exactly how human beings lived and behaved in a real ‘state of nature’ rather than an imaginary one.  

Paleoanthropologists generally agree that unlike the image portrayed by the theories of Hobbes and Locke, humans were never solitary creatures.  As a species we humans were always social.  Further, the first social bands of hunter-gathers were small familial structures, highly mobile and equalitarian in nature.[40]  This equalitarianism was based largely on equal access to resources such as food and shelter, even when these resources were lacking in abundance.[41]  It seems that the casual speculations of Plato and Aristotle are closer to the mark than those offered by Hobbes and Locke; those speculations by the ancient Greek philosophers hewed the claim that people were social, gregarious, and well-disposed to one another, or if not congenial, at least cooperative.  If anthropological research is correct then the question is begged as to what was it that lay behind the sudden appearance of rancor and the sharp rise of hostility and violence that became so undeniably present in the world?

            This discussion is not about personal or individual behavior.  The personal is an area for the psychologist rather than the sociologist.  The enmity spoken of here somehow springs from the group.   In a ‘state of nature,’ as described by anthropologists, decision-making was largely spontaneous, ad hoc, and not hierarchical or repressive.  Anyone could spontaneously act as a leader.[42]  If hierarchy existed, it was the hierarchy of status not of control.[43]  This seems understandable and well fitted to the size of hunter-gather bands and the small and uncomplicated scope of their activities.  Therefore the question that is raised here is a political one rather than a psychological one.  The issue here is what developments bring about apparently unavoidable intragroup antagonism and aggression, followed by the rise of the State which seems so necessary to control this emerging violence?  

Anthropological research  strongly supports the contention that it is not human beings living in the state of nature that produces antagonisms, but a new way of being in the world that developed out of a transition to a new set of social relations.[44]  The change to a more controlled, hierarchical and repressive political circumstance seems to emerge alongside a later development during the Neolithic period. That change in social relations was the introduction of deliberate cultivation and a new sedentary lifestyle.[45]  However, let it be quickly noted that this is not to be interpreted as an introduction of contemporary notions of ‘private property,’ per se.  Our modern concept of private property rise during Locke’s time not Neolithic time.  Be that as it may, a look into the transition to agriculture will enlarge our understanding of the origins of the political state and its seemingly apparent need.

            Motivating factors for cultivation. What motivating factors drove the hunter-gather bands to deliberate cultivation is a most interesting question, but not directly relevant to the focus of this small paper.[46]  Even so, it is important to satisfy curiosity by allowing that conditions for such a huge conversion had to be ripe, that the opportunity for deliberate cultivation must have been present in the form of post glacial environmental changes making for a warm, temperate climate.[47]  Other environmental considerations also arose, e.g., geographic placement of the band, its proximity to reliable water sources, rich soil composition, and the absence of large predators, etc.

Beyond the above, and more pertinent to political development, there must have been some degree of social encouragement toward the conscious planting and harvesting of food grains.  This social motive was perhaps driven by an individual desire to provide greater food stuff for the band, or encouraged by a band-wide sense of competition with other nearby bands offering a sense of security vis-à-vis these competing bands.[48]  Motivation could also have been energized by competitive intra-band social demands, such as providing security for the increasing individual size of autonomous families.[49]  And of course, one cannot overlook the obvious possibility that a turn to cultivation was motivate by the needs of a fast growing population.[50]    Whatever the cause, at some point the emergence of deliberate cultivation seems to have provoked abandonment of equalitarian relations and turned the band into a political structure more generally identifiable as a ‘tribe,’ which allows for heredity leaders. The tribe then becomes the first political entity that might be identified as a budding political state.

All of these are important considerations.  And interestingly enough, all the major anthropological theories indicate a motive toward cultivation that was cooperative rather than competitive in nature.  However, what is directly relevant to this study is that the impact of organized and deliberate cultivation 10,000 years ago brought profound changes in the social lives of small human collectives.  What were these changes?

Consequences of Deliberate Cultivation. It seems quite apparent that a sedentary lifestyle would be a first big change brought by deliberate cultivation.  This would have revolutionized the way in which the workloads were organized and distributed among members of small, previously equalitarian groups.  An adjunctive change would have been that this turn to farming ultimately meant an increase in the need for a larger labor pool.  This need would have opened the door for an increase in the number of males who might desire to begin distinct families within the clan.  Increased number of families would have increased the labor pool.  But coming along with this necessary labor pool was a considerable size increase in the population to be fed.  In this way an increased population density would have been established, and, it should be pointed out, a growing density whose very increase fed on itself.

It must be emphasized that to plant and harvest meant that the high mobility of the hunter clan had to be given up. This change brings about four not entirely obvious consequences. The first consequence is found when considering the way people understood their environment, that is, how the families of the clan came to perceive their relationship with the land on which agriculture and farming emerged.  There is little doubt that the Neolithic human population came to view their relationship with the land in greatly changed terms.

A second consequence was that the transition to domestication and a sedentary lifestyle inevitably brought cultural, ideological and psychological changes.  Much of the way in which these Neolithic people came to perceive their relationship with each other as individuals underwent a radical change, a change that is still with us today.

 Third, farming required a much different set of labor skills than hunting.  This would have left a shrinking and increasingly specialized group of individuals in charge of hunting, which means in charge of weapons and the know-how to use them. This sub-group, certainly in the beginning, would have been fully integrated into the farming occupations, yet distinct in that their knowledge and skill with weapons and hunting set them apart.  This sub-group would have been distinguished not only by a line of skills surround the handling of weapons, but also with the production of secondary resources and equipment necessary for weapons production.  By secondary resources it is meant the making of such things as arrowheads, carving stones for the making of throwing sticks, spears poles, axe heads, etc.  In addition there would have been the development of secondary products associated with the hunt and animal domestication, e.g., pottery for transporting water and salt, wheels for carts, as well as the carts themselves, hide tanning for sturdy footwear, garments for harsh weather, pouches for traveling supplies, etc. 

The fourth consequence of a sedentary life would have been the inevitable rise of barter and trade between families and bands.  This would have been made possible by an increase of secondary products.  Planting, harvesting, and tending to cultivation, only take up so much time, leaving some left over for handicraft.  As surplus grain increased in abundance and the storage for this grain became available, the temporary off shoot of craft-makers would have become a semi-permanent and then a permanent occupational shift. The nature and control of secondary products was to have far reaching effects.

At a certain point in the prehistory and early history of the late Natufian period [c. 10,000 BCE] there begins to be evidence of a surplus of hard goods such as obsidian and stone carvings, pottery, shells, woven baskets, stored seed grain, all of which suggests the development of accumulation and trade between clans, which by this time may be more properly called tribes or villages.[51]  The size of villages also seemed to develop along with evidence of trade, as the unearthing of such sites as Jericho attests.[52]  All unearthed sites begin to show an accumulation of products not local in origin, but must have been transported from distant locales.  The product accumulation appears to have been unequal in distribution among family sites.

Social Differentiation and Emerging Inequities.  It is at this point that societal inequities begin to reveal themselves through such evidence as burial ornamentation: collections of household tools and agriculture implements, the accumulation of shells, pottery, jewelry, etc.[53]   These secondary products were apparently becoming amassed and heading into circulation.  It is now, with the circulation and exchange of goods, that we can claim that there is an active economy in embryo.  As the storing and circulation of these goods become increasingly obvious, so does its association with emerging social differentiation and a growing inequity in accumulation.  With circulation these secondary products come to take on an added value which adds an artificial augmentation to the actual utility value of the hard goods.  This augmentation creates a differentiation in both horizontal occupation and a vertical differentiation. The melding of these two differentiations is the genesis of a social faction that is for the first time structurally distinct from the actual producers of material wealth.  What starts as exchange ends with an accumulated added value that presents a certain and obvious kind of vertical distinction to the social differentiation.

 It seems clear that in an agrarian society the original source of wealth can be primarily nothing other than the product of the land.  From this wealth comes a surplus product to feed individuals beyond an immediate family.  That is, from the original growing comes produce that exceeds the needs of the individual growers and harvesters.  This overproduction can go to the producers of handicrafts, weapons, ornamentation, etc.  For the purposes of this study, the individual motivation for deliberately producing of a surplus matters less than the added value that comes to be invested in these secondary, more durable goods;[54]  the concept of added value is derived from the original value of the agricultural product that is augmented via the labor that goes into the secondary products.  It is with the arrival of these secondary durable goods, with their added value, that circulation, exchange and trade begins. 

The added value comes to support not only the existence of a permanent group of secondary producers but also a faction whose self-serving function it is to direct and control the exchange and trade of these goods.[55] This is a faction that by virtue of its function must become distinct from both the producers of agricultural wealth and the producers of secondary products, a faction strictly involved in the control of the exchange of goods.  This faction is a non-producing social group whose role it is to accumulate and guide the wealth created by others.  This faction, as it is non-producing itself, comes quickly to need a firm control over the producers of social wealth. It is in the control of exchange that the social power of this faction is located. The survival of this directive faction is always tenuous without this solid control, this domination over the social product and its producers. It is this domination over the social product that lifts this group vertically into a status identifiable not so much by accumulation as it is by control over production and distribution; it is fair to say, at this point that a social and political elite has emerged. 

Further, not only does this non-producing elite desire immediate control but also it needs to pass this control over produced wealth on to generation after generation in order to continue to control a stable power base for permanent elite status.  In determining how this is control and transmission of wealth is accomplished it can be uncovered how hierarchal structure develops into the permanent political state.  The hereditary, hierarchal state, in its earliest forms of permanence, are typically of the type called chiefdoms, and eventually kingships.  This is a probable model for how the earliest form of government as it was defined at the very head of his paper (i.e., a political directorate exercising control over inhabitants of a community or society) emerged from the survival needs of a non-producing class.

Paleoanthropologists have long suggested that societies must acknowledge some form of inequality based on something other than age or sex or intra-family position, a structure that can guarantee the transmission of unequal wealth possessed by elites across generational lines.  We see this when collections of households first combine to maintain their cross generational wealth.  At some point, for reasons that may vary, the households combine to recognize an particular elite house as a central power, and the elite households themselves agree to become subservient to that one houses and arrange themselves in some sort of hierarchy. 

There are three key factors that act to stabilize a permanent hierarchical development of subservience, as well as a more general and practical governance of the inhabitants of a community of producers.  These three factors of stabilization that can be seen in early Neolithic development are the economic, the military and the ideological.[56]   It is the changing relationship between these three factors that give rise to the possibility of permanent social differentiation, horizontal at first, evolving later into a static vertical separation.  As it seems to be these three factors (economic, military, and ideological) are of considerable importance for the case for government, this study will move into an examination of their Neolithic development

            The Economy of Surplus Products.  It is important to draw a distinction between surplus product and surplus value. Surplus value (certainly in the Marxist sense of the concept) derives much of its meaning from the existence of money and the exchange and circulation of commodities possessed of labor value converted to specie. In certain forms this would represent the primitive accumulation of capital.  No such “primitive accumulation” happened in Neolithic times.  In the context of this paper it is not surplus value which is described, but a kind of surplus product (or perhaps even surplus labor) in the form of crops utilized for the support of a non-agrarian population.  In the absence of any written records during the Neolithic era the exact mechanism by which surplus labor was appropriated by – or exchanged with – a non-agrarian class is not clear, but it is certain is that the appropriations were made and then used in ongoing barter exchanges. There seems that there is no other way some households would have been able to collected and store more hard goods than other households.

            It is not accurate to call the appropriating ‘tithing’, in some medieval sense, as the land resources on which the produce was grown were, in all probability, family owned.  The feudal manorial system, and any other such like economic systems, was a much later development.  Here, in the 3rd millennium, there had to develop a surplus agricultural product that would have made possible secondary occupations (flint and stone workers, potters, tanners, jewelry makers etc.).  It is highly doubtful that at this early state there existed any lord of the land through which the primary products were filtered for distribution to secondary producers.  It is highly likely that the primary distribution was spontaneous and direct.  The important fact claimed here is that the surplus made possible secondary producers and secondary products.  As a consequence, beyond the agriculture product, certain non-agricultural items became invested with value, a value which could be used for barter and trade. In this way it can be said that commodity circulation entered the world for the first time.[57]  The arrival of commodities marks the beginning of social stratification, but does not directly cause it in some one-to-one relationship.  It was in the accumulation and control of commodities by a non-producing faction that came to determine rank within the Neolithic community some four thousand years ago.  Due to the lack of written documentation, a precise accounting of the origin and impact of commodity exchange is impossible, but it is reasonable that certain individuals saw commodity exchange and accumulation as highly advantageous[58], and this marks the advent of social differentiation and the foundation of social and political power.

The Rise of Military Force.  The term ‘military’ is used here in the loosest of ways.  The rise of the warrior does not automatically denote the existence of an organized military.  A warrior faction does, however, demonstrate the concentration of potential violence within a distinct structural grouping, a societal grouping that possesses a monopoly of weapons and the skill necessary to use them.  It must be added that although weapons during the Neolithic period were crude, even by the standards of the Bronze Age, their use required skills far different from a farmer.  The concentration of different skills in certain segments clearly does allow for the emergence of a defined warrior faction that operates as an organized force both for defense of the community and also control within the community.  There is little doubt that this secondary social structuring takes place by the opening of the 3rd millennium.[59]  It is around this time also that separate, individual tombs were constructed for these warriors, this as opposed to the mass burial sites of the general population.[60]  It is quite apparent that these warriors became increasing revered and distinguishable from the balance of the community.

It should be obvious that given a monopoly on both weapons and the skill necessary to use them, such a sub-group of warriors can dominate and direct a community.  This direction can be done either on its own behalf or on the behalf of a more primary group, one with the wherewithal to support and maintain this warrior faction. Without making any judgments, or drawing any conclusions, this much appears objectively correct.

Ideological Infuences .  The third factor, ideology, is most important because of a theme it supports that is closely associated with government.  That theme is legitimacy, that amorphous, nearly metaphysical concept that acts like glue to keep governing systems above question and in total command of the political environment.  Loosely, and for our purposes here, ideology can be thought of as a world view, a way of distinguishing and sorting things as right or wrong which may have no ultimate meaning other than in terms of obedience to political norms.

Before about 5000 BCE ideological influence is very difficult to track.  There were no written testaments to give us a clue as to the world view of the populace.  Depending on the locale under study this problem continued for a considerable time – in Europe, for example, written documentation was completely unreliable until the coming of the Romans[61] – written records were simply unavailable.  Of course this makes it impossible to directly peer into the mind of a Neolithic population.  Inferences can, however, be made.  These inferences come in the form of art work and burial sites.

Throughout the 4th and 3rd millennium Neolithic art is dominated by scenes of the hunt and of hunted animals.  Such art was frequently interpreted as possessing a magical intervention to gain success in bringing down large prey as food stuff.  This connects the importance of the hunt to the importance of the hunter with the budding notion of supernatural intervention.[62]   We also know that primitive religion, in the form of cult activity, began around this period, and that cult orientated rituals were used in a manner that supported certain groups and activities while ignoring other factions and activities.[63]  

We see this cult activity in the individual burials of those of rank, complete with religious jewelry and stone icons, while at the other end of the spectrum, mass burials without markers or evidence of ceremony.   Neolithic tombs are replete with suggestions a sense of status and high regard for the bearer of weapons, weapons adapted to both hunting and warfare.[64]  Cult objects are also found in the tombs of warriors, suggesting that the rising class of weapons bearers began to occupy an increasingly important role in the maintenance of social control together with the direction of community decisions.  Cult activity was used to affect social control through the young ideology of legitimacy through cult activity.  Anthropologists have concluded that this warrior class developed into something very near to a cult of the aristocracy by the end of the third millennium.[65]

How the State Comes About .  As the above paleoanthropology strongly suggests, anything resembling organized politics and government was not the result of long term, structural planning, much less philosophical study and rumination.  Just the opposite appears the case.  The road to authoritarian rule was an unguided process – a process which evolved slowly over two millennium – developing somewhat differently in various parts of the populated world but always closely intertwined with the three conditions cited above: (1) the circulation of commodities; (2) increasingly sophisticated weaponry; (3) and most importantly, a worldview strongly influenced by the manner in which commodities were controlled and distributed, together with the various factors related to the exercise of violence.  The unhurried pace of development no doubt had to do with an equally slow advancement in technology, both in and out of the agricultural realm.

The first result of these three conditions is an embryonic vertical hierarchy of status-as-influence admits relation to power.  This position of status paleoanthropologists have convincingly uncovered.[66]  And if this status-as-influence were true in the hunter-gather bands, it no doubt continued on into the emerging agricultural communities.[67]  However, this type of influence is a vertical hierarchy as yet lacking the levers of power for widespread social control.  The eventual need to develop levers of social control came out of the quite understandable desire to stabilize the growing institutionalization of status-as-influence.  This stabilizing process can be called the politicalizing of influence, which is to say the attempts at resolving the competitive struggle among influencing groups – (a primitive kind of pluralism that never survived the increasing sophistication of weaponry).  It is within this politicalization of influence that the embryonic form of the state is first found.  The first result of this prehistorical politicalization is that the social dynamic begins to lose its equalitarian resiliency and starts the long process of coalescing into the hieratical, repressive and inflexible apparatus we see first in the prehistoric form of the tribe, and eventually, historically as the state.

The long term success of this politicalization of status-as-influence depends on two key developments: (1) the idea of legitimacy, which, as detailed above, is a quasi-metaphysical derivative of an evolving ideological outlook, and (2) a monopoly of force.  It is important to note here that class, as it is thought of in historical times, is not yet a function of position within the vertical structure (although they are synergetically related).  In early agrarian Neolithic society social position as a hardened vertical structure was not yet a reality. What was experienced by Neolithic society was a social relationship to both advancing technology and growing exchange practices.[68]  This relationship to exchange and technology eventually leads to a formalized position that can eventually be called ‘class’ in something very near the historical and modern sense of the term.  The social position of class rests on factors commonly understood as politicization, (e.g., a consistent network structure, a supportive system of laws, clear ideological triggers, a functioning coercive apparatus, related political rituals, etc.), and not only on mere possession of production and distribution, which are relational factors. This apparent splitting of hairs is important to describe the point at which the fluidity of relationship becomes statically politicized, with the entire top down coercive apparatus that politicization implies.  Before actual politicization can be fully achieved the relationship must develop levers of control over production and exchange.  This relationship begins largely as a function of power and a monopoly over the exercise of power in its rawest form (i.e., violence).  However, no state can long remain in existence if based entirely on force. The energy and resources to maintain a state by force is a cost to high to sustain for very long.  Eventually enforcement through legitimacy must be secured.  The successful legitimizing of this relationship to production and distribution with the levers of control largely emerges from an ideological view that blends awareness of social position with the concrete facts of power. In this way a budding politics of legitimacy, well stirred by fear and awe, comes about to ideologically cement a social hierarchy in place.  The question is: how exactly does this politicization of legitimacy emerge as a deciding force?

Monopoly of Force. Of the two developments cited above, (i.e., monopoly of force and legitimacy) force is the easier to consider and analyze, and the first undertaken.

The physical material of force is at hand.  Tools can quickly become weapons. Stone and flint axes can chop wood, and also kill human beings; arrows can kill deer, and humans, and so on.[69]  It is here, in violence and the use of weaponry, that the one common dominator that links all states, regardless of historical time or philosophical design, is found, viz., that the state possesses a monopoly on legitimate violence.  There seems to always have been a certain status and reverence awarded to masters of weaponry, even prior to the formal existence of the state.[70]   From the clan to the state, social status and greater access to resources was awarded the hunter-warrior, as provider, guardian and hero.  It is also the warrior, with a monopoly on weapons, who emerges center stage with the state, rather as the direct controller, or as the agent of control. 

At this point it seems appropriate to mention that the direct use of force is often rationalized by the supposed evil in human nature.   Promoters of state violence consistently put forth the argument that humans are possessed by some sort of selfish gene that demands people be controlled for their own betterment.  If force is not applied, it is claimed, people will rape and murder one another in an uncontrollable plunge into hedonism and the expansion of power, wealth and rank.  This argument holds that all that restrains the wave of chaos, bloodshed and pillage, is the strong arm of state authority. This notion of evil does not exactly square up with the Hobbesian notion of the Social Contract.

It is not the point of this study to present differing views on human nature, per se, but rather to look into how such views argue a justification for government.  The nature of the human species is a topic for psychology and not in-and-of-itself political science.  But under the rubric of political science using the ‘evil’ lurking in our species as a justification for forcibly restraining human nature falls short of the political mark demanded by the Social Contract; recall that even Hobbes rejected ‘evil’ as having any objective validity.  Hobbes claimed that evil was merely a projection of the individual and had no real life of its own.[71]  Further, Hobbes considers the quest for power to be only part of human survival strategy and not indicative of any innate ‘badness’ in the human spirit.[72]  One must look elsewhere besides the evil in human nature for any rational involved in the controlling of a population and the preserving of a status quo.  Hobbes is quite clear in that the Social Contract rests on the abandonment of violence that springs from the scuffle for competitive survival needs and not on the supposed evil in human nature.[73] 

The warrior as a distinct sub-group was indirectly made a practical possibility by the existence of a surplus of agricultural product.  As discussed above, such a surplus in agricultural production leads to the possibility of full time secondary occupations and the development of commodities for exchange.  Where agriculture offered only perishable food stuffs and domestic animals for trade, there now arose more non-perishable goods, everything from pottery to woven cloth to weapons that could be moved and traded among communities.  Such commodity exchange developed a new set of values for a new kind of permanent wealth.  This new wealth led to the establishment of some individuals totally divorced from direct toil in production.  One such group was the warrior, newly separated from both agricultural and commodity production.  The rise of the warrior sub-group gives to the state its axiomatic link to force, violence and coercion, and it is through the reverence for the warrior that these less than noble realities may be camouflaged by the various contrivances of legitimacy.  If the warrior is the material cornerstone of the state, legitimacy is the hallowed cornerstone.

The Idea of Legitimacy. It is the sensation of legitimacy – those seeming unconscious excitabilities that sanctify, even glorify subservience to hierarchy – that is the more difficult to grasp.  No doubt the metaphysical roots of legitimacy are part of what makes an analysis of the ‘feelings’ so elusive.  These ethereal roots are sunk deep into the spirit of god, the zeitgeist and the heroic race, tapping into the esoteric mythology of destiny, the ancestor, and tradition, things all grander than material reality, sensations rising above the simple fear of Moloch. While these metaphysical qualities might be considered intangible, murky, if vaguely pretentious, bear in mind that without the idea of legitimacy control by the state could never be fully realized. Paradoxically, this fact alone reveals the spotlights the central weakness of legitimacy: it is based on nothing solid or concrete, but like a wisp of smoke, is threatened by the slightest material or intellectual breeze.  Even so, loosen the grip of legitimacy and any human grouping larger than a clan would forever be dependent on overt violent suppression.  The covert suppression by an idea is clearly the surest self-regulating gatekeeper of social control.

 Legitimacy allows for self-policing behavior – a control, typically guided by laws, and without a need for overt violence.  Making law is a (if not ‘the’) principle legitimate function of government.  Through legitimacy the state (i.e. government) is the origin of laws with their purpose to suppress certain activities and certain societal groups, and to press these groups toward activities deemed by the state to be benign.  Legitimacy is the fine agent for covert suppression.  Legitimacy fixes the onus for suppression, and the energy to maintain that suppression, deep within the dominated population itself.  By its monopoly of violence there is little doubt that the state has the ready capacity of an oppressive apparatus.  However, by dint of its revered hold on legitimacy the usual overt expressions of violence are uncalled for.  Covert suppression is the real source of power, a covert power underwritten by a powerful system of ideas.  When considered carefully it can be seen that the dominated population participates in its own suppression by adhering to powerful worldviews that sanctify legitimacy, and all without being self-aware.  We typically call these worldviews ideology to which we next turn.

Ideologies are, at bottom, merely the systems of ideas that we humans use to organize experience.  This organizing of experience is done in order to understanding the world around us and to understand ourselves and our place in this world; ideologies are everywhere and everywhere ideologies tell us who we are and what are we doing here.[74]  Just as important, the organizing of experience often serves us in one way or another to control the world around us – or at least make some sort of peace with a world that can often seem angry, hostile and unforgiving.  In these senses both science and religion have always been leading (if antagonistic) ideological forces.  Both of these idea systems can be used as markers to grasp the mind set of many societies, even the very earliest.  But our concern with legitimacy as a basis for social control focuses attention on the more spectral ideological factors and not the empirical.  Social control happens most successfully when it starts in the mind.  As one paleoanthropologist put it:  “This control may have been accomplished by ritual and ideological means rather than by more overt expressions of power.  The elaboration of cult objects at this period [Neolithic] indicates the existence of ritual codes shared by all communities.”[75] 

When examining the tombs of the Neolithic period paleoanthropologists find that the tombs of what appear to be the most affluent member contain many cult like statues and relics.[76]  This would seem to indicate an investment in religion by an emerging affluent faction of the community.  This may not be an entirely calculated move on the part of this faction, as they might have been true believers, but it is difficult to entertain the possibility that they did not recognize the status enhancement offered by being central figures in cult worship.  And while we do not know the precise configurations and spiritual details of Neolithic religion, it can certainly be surmised that there were magical and otherworldly elements that would have cast the central figures in a shroud of superiority, a superiority seen as being close to god or as god-like, or even as one held in awe as a minor deity.  We can find support for this contention by examining the religious rites and influence within the earliest societies with literate ability (e.g., Sumeria and Egypt).  The written evidence of these early socio-political groupings demonstrates that a celebrated link was fashioned between the ruling class and the ‘Gods.’   Archeological study concerning Sumeria, for example, shows that as early as 3000 BCE a great time of warfare produced king-generals who took up the mantle of gods, and along with their priests became a ruling elite entrusted with interpreting divine will.[77]  There is little reason to think that people of preliterate societies, such as those found in the Neolithic era, possessed a different ideological outlook.  It is very likely, therefore, that from the very beginning the ‘citizens’ of the state looked at the world in much the same way as the Sumerians. The state was legitimized through an ideological system derived from metaphysical principles and not reality.

The entire edifice of the state rests on one of two premises, both erudite and intellectually flimsy.  Either some supernatural phenomena causes authoritarian governments to spring into being, such as in the case of the divine right of kings, or the case for government is grounded by some sort of agreement as seen in the Hobbesian ‘Social Contract.’  One of the two bestows legitimacy on governing bodies, thus granting them authoritarian prerogatives.  Since both these ideological constructs are at best metaphysical entities, or at worst fanciful fictions, it is clear that legitimacy is not automatically real and concrete, and in fact rests only on a foundation as strong as the metaphysical argument behind it.  It is also clear that once the simple faith in legitimacy is brushed aside the violent face of the state is what remains as the sole control of the social order.

Conclusion.  Flying in the face of Hobbes’ Second Fundamental Law and the Social Contract are the facts of history.  The rise of the political state, as a real historical episode, did not develop out of some rational thought process, but out of real and tangible material relations. This can be stated as a ‘voluntary’ process only in the most absurd sense, viz., you can either stay on board or jump into the sea.  Simply put, the state arose not out of voluntary association, but because of material, historical development, i.e., transition to agriculture, followed by secondary commodity production, which itself rested on an increasing division of labor, and commodity circulation that excited exchange and trade which quickly evoked a political structure divided along the lines of producers on one side and aggrandizers on the other.  Again, none of these developments were the result of some process of collective rational decision making.  The actual evolution from the hunter-gather clan to the first political entity, the tribe – that entity where leadership first became hereditary supported by a monopoly of force – can be said to have developed out of free choice only given the probability that the vast bulk of individuals collectively came to desire their social and political subservience.  For obvious reasons such a conscious self-divestiture is not a terribly likely scenario.

Putting Plato and Aristotle aside for the moment, the Hobbes–Locke philosophy underwriting the modern liberal-democratic state collides with the historical actualities surrounding the origin of the political state.  Everything in Hobbes rests solely on the ‘state of nature’ with its centerpiece of the ‘war of all against all.’  When factoring in the historical reality about the only recourse the classic Hobbesian liberal has is to claim that Hobbes (or Locke) never intended his ‘state of nature,’ to be anything other than a purposeful, if imaginative, piece of fiction.  But of course an important consequence of admitting that this ‘state of nature’ is nonsense, along with the ‘war of all against all,’ is that it undermines the Second Fundamental Law which supports legitimacy via the Social Contract. This leaves the political state wide open to the anarchist charge that the state is not deserving of legitimacy at all, as the Social Contract portents, but is based purely on coercion, and ultimately violence, thinly disguised; the state, therefore, from the very beginning, is a socio-political machine whose primary purpose is the exploitation of the many for the benefit of the few.

In the sense of evolving political dynamics, rather than conscious decision making, Aristotle and Plato were close to the actuality of events.  They did not credit the rise of the state with voluntary actions, but with a circumstantial processing of events the power of which makes human beings flotsam rather than helmsmen.  Few among us fully grasp the outcome of immediate events, much less long term complexities.  We drift with the tide to arrive at shores not of our election, and frequently not even to our recognition.  Locked into the prison of our own idea-systems we are often kept from fully grasping and successfully organizing the material reality around us.  Inaccurate or inadequate ideologies tangle the pathway to our own self-interest. False ideologies make us alone, frustrated, depressed and at odds with events.

One is driven to wonder that just as the divine right of kings is a recognizable piece of fiction, why is it so difficult to recognize the same thing about the Social Contract?  Why is it that so few recognize that the Social Contract was a fuzzy intellectual concoction rationalizing a newly emerging 15th Century political order – a concoction that subsequently worked its way into dominating modern ideology – to mask the lopsided economic and political realities of the liberal state?  The modern liberal state is not, and was not, founded on some voluntary association, but the result of changing material conditions that resulted in sharp division of labor.  This division of labor, unguided, leads directly to a hierarchal society with those at the top enforcing their ‘good fortune’ through a monopoly of force and a shimmering idea-system that ultimately controls the destiny and labor product of the bulk of the population.  This is what the material realties of history teach, not liberal ideology, thus making the case for government overwhelmingly metaphysical and not a realistic argument.   What is left is that the material case for government rests, as it always did, on coercion and violence aimed at delivering the good life for the few and labor for the many.





[1] It is well to note that this often quoted by Hobbes goes back much further, to at least the Greek playwright Plautus (254-184 BCE)

[2] In passing, it should be noted that the Greeks of Plato’s time lacked the same vision of history possessed by modern thinkers.  It was difficult for the ancient Greeks to imagine a time without some form of civilization and organized societies.

[3] Plato, The Laws, chapter III

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid, and it should be noted that Plato seems to be suggesting a change over from what we today would call a hunter-gather society to an agrarian social system.  One has to be careful not to stick too many words in Plato’s mouth, but this clearly seems to be one plausible reading of the text.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Aristotle, Politics, 1252a1, Jowett translation

[10] 1323a25, 1323b15

[11] 1281a1, 1295b1, 1323b1, 1323b20

[12] 1252a25

[13] Ibid, 1252b10

[14] Ibid, 1252b10

[15] Ibid, 1252b15, 1252b20

[16] Ibid, 1252b20

[17] For example, see: M.I. Finley, The World of Odysseus, (New York Review Books, New York, 2002) especially chapter 4.

[18] Politics, op.cit. 1252b28

[19] Ibid, 1253a3

[20] Ibid, 1253a20

[21] Ibid, 1253a25

[22] Ibid, 1253a35

[23] Ibid. 1254a21.  It is possible to argue here that Aristotle is merely carrying through with his thoughts on slavery.  But in this passage and for some lines after, Aristotle continues to discuss rulers and subjects without ever mentioning slaves.  Most scholars would maintain that Aristotle was a consistent thoroughgoing in his belief that rulers and ruled were according to nature.

[24] Politics, op.cit. 1254b13-14

[25] See Politics, Book VII, part 3

[26] The intellectual construct of a ‘state of nature’ did no originate with Hobbes.  It can be traced to the writing of Thomas Aquinas.  The notion is important for Catholic theology and the theologies ‘natural law’ theories.

[27] Strauss, Leo, What is Philosophy?, from What is Philosophy and Other Essays, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1988) p. 48

[28] Hobbes, Thomas, The Leviathan, Prt. 1, Ch. XI, §2

[29] Hobbes, Op. Cit, Prt. 1,  Ch. VI, §7

[30] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIII §1, §3

[31] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIII, §9

[32] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIII, §10, §13

[33] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIII, §14

[34] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIV, §3

[35] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. XIV, §4

[36] Much of chapter fourteen of the Leviathan concerns itself with the ‘contract,’ but the sections five through fourteen mark the strongest and clearest expression of this Social Contract.

[37] Ibid, Prt. 1, Ch. VIX

[38] For example, see:  Emma Goldman, Anarchism and Other Essays, (Dover Publications, New York, 1969)

[39] It should be noted that J.J. Rousseau also began with at State of Nature theme, but by virtue of be driven by far different goals, ended up in a far different place than either Hobbes or Locke.

[40] Peter Bogucki, The Origins of Human Society, (Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, 1999), pp. 74-76

[41] Ibid.

[42] Keith Grint, Leadership, A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford University Press, NY, 2010) p. 113

[43] Robert Wright, The Moral Animal,  (Vantage Books, NY, 1994) p. 237

[44] Price and Gebarer (eds), Last Hunters – First Farmers, (School of American Research, Sante Fe, NM, 1995)         pp, 4, 8

[45] Peter Bogucki, op, cit, p. 205

[46] Peter Bogucki, op. cit, especially chapter 5

[47] Peter Bellwood, First Farmers, The Origins of Agricultural Societies, (Blackwell Publishing, Maldin, MA., 2005)

pp.  19-22

[48] Cowgill, G.L ., 1975  American Anthropologist 77: 505-25

[49] Farrington, I and Urry, J., 1985, Journal of Ethnobiology 5:143-57

[50] This is a general theme expressed by such works as that by Mark Cohen, The Food Crisis in Prehistory, ( New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977).

[51] Steven Mithen, After the Ice, (First Harvard University Press paperback edition,  London,  2006) p. 50

[52] Ibid. p. 68

[53] Guilaine and Zammit, The Origins of War, Violence in Prehistory, (Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, UK, 2005)

pp. 158, 159

[54] Deliberate overproduction might be attributed to altruistic cooperative motivations, but more probably is the thought that particular individuals saw the advantage of accumulating value-added hard goods.

[55] Brian Hayden, “Pathways to Power. Principals for Creating Socioeconomic Inequalities,” From Foundations in Social Inequality, ed by Price and Feinman, (Plenum Press, NY, 1995) pp. 15-86

[56] See Antonio Gilman, “Unequal Development in Cooper Age Iberia,” Specialization, Exchange, and Complex Societies, E.M. Brumfield and T.K. Earle (eds), (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1987) pp. 22-29

[57] Guilaine and Zammit, op. cite. pp.170/171

[58] John Clark & Michael Blake, “The Power of Prestige: Competitive Generosity and the Emergence of Ranked Societies in Lowland Mesoamerica,”  found in Factional Competition and Political Develoment in the New World, E.M. Brumfield & J.W. Fox (eds) pp. 17-30, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994)

[59] Guilaine and Zammit, op. cite. P. 200 

[60]  Ibid.  p. 200

[61] Robinson, Andrew, “The Origins of Writing” in Crowley and Heyer (eds) Communication in History: Technology, Culture, Society (Ally and Bacon, Boston, 2003)  pp. 35,36

[62] Whitley, David, Cave Paintings and the Human Spirit: The Origin of Creativity and Belief, (Prometheus Books,  Amherst, NY,  2009)  p. 34 - 36

[63] Andrew Sherratt, Economy and Society in Prehistoric Europe, (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1997)  p. 263-264

[64] See Guilaine and Zammit, op.cit., pp. 158, 159

[65] Ibid. p. 207

[66] Ibid. p. 159

[67] Robert Wright, The Moral Animal, (Vantage Books, New York, 1994)  p. 237

[68] E.M. Brumfiel & J.W. Fox (ed) Factional Competition and Political Development in the New World, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994) pp. 17-30

[69] Guilaine and Zammit, op. cit. p. 159

[70] Robert Wright, op. cit. p. 237

[71] The Leviathan, op.cit.  ch. VI, §7

[72] Libid.  Pt. 1, Ch. XI, §2

[73] Libid. Ch XIV, §5, 7, 18

[74] For an elucidation of this topic see Louis Althusser, For Marx, (New Left Books, NY 1977), especially pp. 231-233

[75] Sherratt, op. cit., p. 264

[76] Guilaine and Zammit, op. cit. p. 200

[77] For a quick read of the early political history of Sumeria see:  http://history-world. Org/sumeria.htm

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