Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 25.djvu/9

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY.



MAY, 1884



THE SINS OF LEGISLATORS.
By HERBERT SPENCER.

BE it or be it not true that man is "shapen in iniquity" and conceived in sin, it is unquestionably true that Government is begotten of aggression and by aggression. In small, undeveloped societies where for ages complete peace has continued, there exists nothing like what we call Government: no coercive agency, but mere honorary headship, if any headship at all. In these exceptional communities, unaggressive and from special causes unaggressed upon, there is so little deviation from the virtues of truthfulness, honesty, justice, and generosity, that nothing beyond an occasional expression of public opinion by informally-assembled elders is needful.[1] Conversely, we find proofs that, at first recognized but temporarily during leadership in war, the authority of a chief is permanently established by continuity of war; and grows strong where successful aggression ends in subjection of neighboring tribes. And thence onward, examples furnished by all races put beyond doubt the truth that the coercive power of the chief, developing into king, and king of kings (a frequent title in the ancient East), becomes great in proportion as conquest becomes habitual and the union of subdued societies extensive.[2] Comparisons disclose a further truth which should be ever present to us—the truth that the aggressiveness of the ruling power inside a society increases with its aggressiveness outside the society. As, to make an efficient army, the soldiers in their several grades must be subordinate to the commander; so, to make an efficient fighting society, must the citizens be subordinate. They must furnish recruits to the extent demanded, and yield up whatever property is required.

  1. "Political Institutions," §§ 437, 573.
  2. Ibid., §§ 471-473.