Popular Science Monthly/Volume 18/December 1880/The Development of Political Institutions II

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Popular Science Monthly Volume 18 December 1880  (1880) 
The Development of Political Institutions II
By Herbert Spencer






THE mere gathering of individuals into a group does not constitute them a society. A society, in the sociological sense, is formed only when, besides juxtaposition, there is cooperation. So long as members of the group do not combine their energies to achieve some common end or ends, there is little to keep them together. They are prevented from separating only when the wants of each are better satisfied by uniting his efforts with those of others than they would be if he acted alone.

Coöperation, then, is at once that which can not exist without a society, and that for which a society exists. It may be a joining of many strengths to effect something which the strength of no single man can effect; or it may be an apportioning of different activities to different persons, who severally participate in the benefits of one another's activities. The motive for acting together, originally the dominant one, may be defense against enemies; or it may be the easier obtainment of food, by the chase or otherwise; or it may be, and commonly is, both of these. In any case, however, the units pass from the state of perfect independence to the state of mutual dependence; and as fast as they do this they become united into a society rightly so called.

But coöperation implies organization. If acts are to be effectually combined, there must be arrangements under which they are adjusted in their times, amounts, and characters.

This social organization, necessary as a means to concerted action, is of two kinds. Though these two kinds generally coexist, and are more or less interfused, yet they are distinct in their origins and natures. There is a spontaneous coöperation which grows up without thought during the pursuit of private ends; and there is a cooperation which, consciously devised, implies distinct recognition of public ends. The ways in which the two are respectively established and carried on present marked contrasts.

Whenever, in a primitive group, there begins that cooperation which is effected by exchange of services—whenever individuals find their wants better satisfied by giving certain products which they can make best in return for other products they are less skilled in making, or not so well circumstanced for making—there is initiated a kind of organization which then, and throughout its higher stages, results from endeavors to meet personal needs. The division of labor, to the last as at first, grows by experience of mutual facilitations in living. Each new specialization of industry arises from the effort of one who commences it to get profit, and establishes itself by conducing in some way to the profit of others. So that there is a kind of concerted action, with the elaborate social organization developed by it, which does not originate in deliberate concert. Though it is true that within the small subdivisions of this organization we find everywhere repeated the relation of employer and employed, of whom the one directs the actions of the other; yet this relation, spontaneously formed in the pursuit of private ends and continued only at will, is not made with conscious reference to achievement of public ends: ordinarily these are not thought of. And though, for the regulating of trading activities, there eventually arise agencies serving to adjust the supplies of commodities to the demands; yet such agencies do this not by direct stimulations or restraints, but simply by communicating information which serves to stimulate or restrain; and, further, these agencies themselves grow up not for the intended purpose of thus regulating, but in the pursuit of gain by individuals. So unintentionally has there arisen the elaborate division of labor by which production and distribution are now carried on, that only in modern days has there come a recognition of the fact that it has all along been arising.

On the other hand, that coöperation which unites the actions of individuals for a purpose immediately concerning the whole society, is a conscious coöperation, and is carried on by an organization of another kind, arising in a different way. When the primitive group has to defend itself against other groups, its members act together under further stimuli than those constituted by purely personal desires. Even at the outset, before any control by a chief exists, there is the control exercised by the group over its members; each of whom is obliged, by the consensus of opinion, to join in the general defense. Very soon the warrior of recognized superiority begins to exercise over each, during war, an influence additional to that exercised by the opinion of the group; and, when his authority becomes established, it greatly farthers combined action. From the beginning, therefore, this kind of social cooperation is a conscious coöperation, and a cooperation which is not wholly a matter of choice—is often much at variance with private wishes. As the organization initiated by it develops, we see that, in the first place, the fighting division of the society displays in a more marked degree these same traits; the grades and divisions constituting an army coöperate more and more under a regulation, consciously established, of agencies which override individual volitions—or, to speak strictly, control individuals by motives which prevent them from acting as they would spontaneously act. In the second place, we see that, throughout the society as a whole, there spreads a kindred form of organization—kindred in so far that, for the purpose of maintaining the militant organization and the government which directs it, there are similarly established over citizens agencies which force them to labor more or less largely for public ends instead of private ends. And, simultaneously, there develops a further organization, still akin in its fundamental principle, which restrains individual activities in such wise that social safety shall not be endangered by the disorder consequent on unchecked pursuit of personal ends. So that this kind of social organization is distinguished from the other, as arising through conscious pursuit of public ends, in furtherance of which individual wills are constrained, first of all by the joint wills of the entire group, and afterward more definitely by the will of a regulative agency which the group evolves.

Most clearly shall we perceive the contrast between these two kinds of organization on observing that, while they are both instrumental to social welfare, they are instrumental in converse ways. That organization shown us by the division of labor for industrial purposes exhibits combined action; but it is a combined action which directly seeks and subserves the welfares of individuals, and indirectly subserves the welfare of society as a whole by preserving individuals. Conversely, that kind of organization evolved for governmental and defensive purposes exhibits combined action; but it is a combined action which directly seeks and subserves the welfare of the society as a whole, and indirectly subserves the welfares of individuals by preserving the society. Efforts for self-preservation by the units originate the one form of organization; while efforts for self-preservation by the aggregate originate the other form of organization. In the one case there is conscious pursuit of private ends only; and the correlative organization resulting from this pursuit of private ends, growing up unconsciously, is without coercive power. In the other case there is conscious pursuit of public ends; and the correlative organization, consciously established, exercises coercion.

Of these two kinds of coöperation and the structures effecting them, we are here concerned only with one. Political organization is to be understood as that part of social organization which consciously carries on directive and restraining functions for public ends. It is true, as already hinted, and as we shall see presently, that the two kinds are mingled in various ways—that each ramifies through the other more or less according to their respective degrees of predominance. But the two are essentially different in origin and nature; and for the present we must, so far as may be, limit our attention to the last.


That the coöperation into which men have gradually risen secures to them benefits which could not be secured while, in their primitive state, they acted singly, and that, as an indispensable means to this cooperation, political organization has been, and is, advantageous, we shall see on contrasting the states of men who are not politically organized with the states of men who are politically organized in less or greater degrees.

There are, indeed, conditions under which as good an individual life is possible without political organization as with it. Where, as in the habitat of the Esquimaux, there are but few persons, and these very widely scattered; where there is no war, probably because the physical impediments to it are great and the motives to it feeble; and where circumstances make the occupations so uniform that there is little scope for the division of labor—mutual dependence can have no place, and the arrangements which effect it are not needed. Recognizing this exceptional case, let us consider the cases which are not exceptional.

The Digger Indians, "very few degrees removed from the orangoutang," who, scattered among the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, sheltering in holes and living on roots and vermin, "drag out a miserable existence in a state of nature, amid the most loathsome and disgusting squalor," differ from the other divisions of the Shoshones by their entire lack of social organization. The river-haunting and plain haunting divisions of the race, under some, though but slight, governmental control, lead more satisfactory lives. In South America the Chaco Indians, low in type as are the Diggers, and like them degraded and wretched in their lives, are similarly contrasted with the superior and more comfortable savages around them in being dissociated. Among the Bedouin tribes, the Sherarat are unlike the rest in being divided and subdivided into countless bands which have no common chief; and they are described as being the most miserable of the Bedouins. More decided still is the contrast noted by Baker between certain adjacent African peoples. Passing suddenly, he says, from the unclothed, ungoverned tribes—from the "wildest savagedom to semi-civilization"—we come in Unyoro to a country governed by "an unflinching despot," inflicting "death or torture" for "the most trivial offenses"; but where they have developed administration, sub-governors, taxes, good clothing, arts, agriculture, architecture. So, too, concerning New Zealand when first discovered. Cook remarks that there seemed to be greater prosperity and populousness in the regions subject to a king.

These last cases introduce us to a further truth. Not only does that first step in political organization which places individuals under the control of a tribal chief bring the advantages gained by better cooperation, but such advantages are increased when minor political heads become subject to a major political head. As typifying the evils which are thereby avoided, I may name the fact that among the Belooches, whose tribes, unsubordinated to a general ruler, are constantly at war with one another, it is the habit to erect a small mud tower in each field, where the possessor and his retainers guard his produce—a state of things allied to, but worse than, that of the Highland clans, with their strongholds for sheltering women and cattle from the inroads of their neighbors, in days when they were not under the control of a central power. The benefits derived from such wider control, whether of a simple head or of a compound head, were felt by the early Greeks when the Amphictyonic Council established the laws that "no Hellenic tribe is to lay the habitations of another level with the ground; and from no Hellenic city is the water to be cut off during a siege." The good which results from that advance of political structure which unites smaller communities into larger ones was shown in our own country when, by the Roman conquest, the incessant fights between tribes were stopped; and again, in later days, when feudal nobles, becoming subject to a monarch, were debarred from private wars. Under its converse aspect, we see the same truth when, amid the anarchy which followed the collapse of the Carlovingian empire, princes and barons, resuming their independence, became active enemies to one another: their state being such that "when they were not at war they lived by open plunder." And the history of Europe has repeatedly, in many places and times, furnished kindred illustrations.

While political organization, as it extends itself throughout masses of increasing size, directly furthers welfare by removing that impediment to cooperation which the antagonism of individuals and of tribes causes, it indirectly furthers it in another way. Nothing beyond a rudimentary division of labor can arise in a small social group. Before commodities can be multiplied in their kinds, there must be multiplier! kinds of producers; and, before each commodity can be produced in the most economical way, the different stages in the production of it must be apportioned out among special hands. Nor is this all. Neither the required complex combinations of individuals, nor the elaborate mechanical appliances which facilitate manufacture, can arise in the absence of a large community, generating a great demand.


But though the advantages gained by coöperation presuppose political organization, this political organization necessitates disadvantages; and it is quite possible for these disadvantages to outweigh the advantages. The controlling structures have to be maintained, and the restraints they impose have to be borne; and the evils inflicted by taxation and by tyranny may become greater than the evils prevented.

Where, as in the East, the rapacity of monarchs has sometimes gone to the extent of taking from cultivators so much of their produce as to have afterward to return part for seed, we see exemplified the truth that the agency which maintains order may cause miseries greater than the miseries caused by disorder. The state of Egypt under the Romans, who, on the native set of officials, superposed their own set, and who made drafts on the country's resources not for local administration only but also for imperial administration, furnishes an instance. Beyond the regular taxes there were demands for feeding and clothing the military, wherever quartered; extra calls were continually made on the people for maintaining public works and subaltern agents; men in office were themselves so impoverished by exactions that they "assumed dishonorable employments or became the slaves of persons in power; gifts made to the government were soon converted into forced contributions; and those who purchased immunities from extortions found them disregarded as soon as the sums asked had been received. More marked still were the curses following excessive development of political organization in Gaul during the decline of the Roman Empire:

So numerous were the receivers in comparison with the payers, and so enormous the weight of taxation, that the laborer broke down, the plains became deserts, and woods grew where the plow had been. . . . It were impossible to number the officials who were rained upon every province and town.,. . The crack of the lash and the cry of the tortured filled the air. The faithful slave was tortured for evidence against his master, the wife to depose against her husband, the son against his sire. . . . Not satisfied with the returns of the first enumerators, they sent a succession of others, who each swelled the valuation—as a proof of service done; and so the imposts went on increasing. Yet the number of cattle fell off, and the people died. Nevertheless, the survivors had to pay the taxes of the dead.

And how literally in this case the benefits were exceeded by the mischiefs is shown by the remark that "they fear the enemy less than the tax-gatherer: the truth is, that they fly to the first to avoid the last. Hence, the one unanimous wish of the Roman populace, that it was their lot to live with the barbarian."

In the same regions during later times the lesson was repeated. While internal peace and its blessings were achieved in mediæval France as fast as feudal nobles became subordinate to the king—while the central power, as it grew stronger, put an end to that primitive practice of a blood-revenge which wreaked itself on any relative of an offender, and made the "truce of God" a needful mitigation of the universal savagery; yet from this extension of political organization there presently grew up evils as great or greater—multiplication of taxes, forced loans, groundless confiscations, arbitrary fines, progressive debasements of coinage, and a universal corruption of justice consequent on the sale of offices: the results being that many people died by famine, some committed suicide, while others, deserting their homes, led a wandering life. And then, afterward, when the supreme ruler, becoming absolute, controlled social life in all its details, through an administrative system vast in extent and ramifications, with the general result that in less than two centuries the indirect taxation alone "crossed the enormous interval between eleven millions and three hundred and eleven millions," there came the national impoverishment and misery which resulted in the great Revoultion.

Even the present time supplies kindred evidence, in sundry places. A voyage up the Nile shows every observer that the people are better off where they are remote from the center of government—where administrative agencies can not so easily reach them. Nor is it only under the barbaric Turk that this happens. Notwithstanding the boasted beneficence of our rule in India, the extra burdens and the complication of restraints it involves have the effect that the people find some of the adjacent countries preferable; the ryots in sundry places are leaving their homes and settling in the territory of the Nizam and in Gwalior.

Not only do those who are controlled suffer, from political organization, evils which greatly deduct from, and sometimes exceed, the benefits. Numerous and rigid governmental restraints shackle those who impose them as well as those on whom they are imposed. The successive grades of ruling agents, severally coercing grades below, are themselves coerced by grades above; and even the very highest ruling agent is enslaved by the system created for the preservation of his supremacy. In ancient Egypt the daily life of the king was minutely regulated alike as to its hours, its occupations, its ceremonies; so that, nominally all-powerful, he was really less free than a subject. It has been, and is, the same with other despotic monarchs. Till lately, in Japan, where the form of organization had become fixed, and where, from the highest to the lowest, the actions of life were prescribed in detail, the exercise of authority was so burdensome that voluntary resignation of it was frequent. Adams writes, "The custom of abdication is common among all classes, from the Emperor down to his meanest subject." European states have examplified this reacting tyranny. "In the Byzantine palace," says Gibbon, "the Emperor was the first slave of the ceremonies he imposed." Concerning the tedious court life of Louis le Grand, Madame de Maintenon remarks: "Save those only who fill the highest stations, I know of none more unfortunate than those who envy them. If you could only form an idea of what it is!"

So that, while the satisfaction of men's personal wants is furthered both by the maintenance of order and by the formation of aggregates large enough to permit extensive division of labor, it is hindered both by deductions, often very great, from the products of their actions, and by the restraints imposed on their actions, usually in excess of the needs. And political control indirectly entails evils on those who exercise it as well as on those over whom it is exercised.


The stones composing a house can not be otherwise used until the house has been pulled down. If the stones are united by mortar, there must be extra trouble in destroying their present combination before they can be recombined. And if the mortar has had centuries in which to consolidate, the breaking up of the masses formed is a matter of such difficulty that building with new materials becomes more economical than rebuilding with the old.

I name these facts to illustrate the truth that any kind of arrangement stands in the way of rearrangement; and that this must be true of organization, which is one kind of arrangement. When, during the evolution of a living body, its component substance, at first relatively homogeneous, has been transformed into a combination of heterogeneous parts, there results an obstacle, always great and often insuperable, to any considerable change of structure; the more elaborate and definite the structure the greater is the resistance it opposes to alteration. And this, which is conspicuously true of an individual organism, is true, if less conspicuously, of a social organism. Though a society, composed of discrete units, and not having had its type fixed by inheritance from countless like societies, is much more plastic, yet the same principle holds. As fast as its parts are differentiated—as fast as there arise classes, bodies of functionaries, established institutions—these, becoming coherent within themselves and with one another, resist such forces as tend to modify them. The conservatism of every long-settled institution daily exemplifies this law. Be it in the antagonism of a Church to legislation interfering with its arrangements; be it in the opposition of an army to abolition of the purchase system; be it in the disfavor with which the legal profession at large has regarded law reform—we see that neither in their structures nor in their modes of action are parts that have once been specialized easily changed.

As it is true of a living body that its various acts have as their common end self-preservation, so is it true of its component organs that they severally tend to maintain themselves in their integrity. And, similarly, as it is true of a society that maintenance of its existence is the aim of its combined actions, so it is true of its separate classes and systems of officials, or other specialized parts, that the dominant aim of each is to preserve itself. Not the function to be performed, but the sustentation of those who perform the function, becomes the object in view: the result being that when the function is needless, or even detrimental, the structure still preserves itself as long as it can. In early days the history of the Knights Templars furnished an illustration of this tendency. Down to the present time we have before us the familiar instance of trade guilds in London, which, having ceased to perform their original functions, nevertheless jealously maintain themselves for no purpose but the gratification of their members. And the accounts given in "The Black-book," of the sinecures which survived up to recent times, yield multitudinous illustrations.

The extent to which an organization resists reorganization we shall not fully appreciate until we observe that its resistance increases in a compound progression. For, while each new part is an additional obstacle to change, the formation of it implies a deduction from the forces causing change. If, other things remaining the same, the political structures of a society are further developed—if the existing institutions are extended or fresh ones set up—if, for directing social activities in greater detail, extra staffs of officials are appointed, the simultaneous results are an increase in the aggregate of those who form the regulating part and a corresponding decrease in the aggregate of those who form the part regulated. In various ways all who compose the controlling and administrative organization become united with one another and separated from the rest. Whatever be their particular duties, they are similarly related to the minor and major governing centers of their departments, and, through them, to the supreme governing center; and are habituated to like sentiments and ideas respecting the set of institutions in which they are incorporated. Receiving their subsistence through the national revenue, they tend toward kindred views and feelings respecting the raising of such revenue. Whatever jealousies there may be between their divisions, are overridden by sympathy when any one division has its existence or privileges endangered, since the interference with one division may spread to others. Moreover, they all stand in like relations to the rest of the community, whose actions are in one way or other superintended by them; and hence are led into kindred views respecting the need for such superintendence and the propriety of submitting to it. No matter what their previous political opinions may have been, they can not become public agents of any kind without being biased toward opinions congruous with their functions. So that, inevitably, each further growth of the instrumentalities which control, or administer, or inspect, or in any way direct social forces, increases the impediment to future modifications, both positively, by strengthening that which has to be modified, and negatively, by weakening the remainder; until at length the rigidity becomes so great that change is impossible and the type becomes fixed.

Nor does each further development of the regulative organization increase the obstacles to change only by relatively increasing the power of those who, as regulators, maintain the established order, and decreasing the power of those who, as the regulated, have not the same direct interests in maintaining it. For the ideas and sentiments of a community as a whole progressively adapt themselves to the régime familiar from childhood, in such wise that it comes to be looked upon as natural, and as the only thing possible. In proportion as public agencies occupy a larger space in daily experience, leaving but a smaller space for other agencies, there comes a greater tendency to think of public control as everywhere needful, and a less ability to conceive of activities as otherwise controlled. At the same time the sentiments, adjusted by habit to the regulative machinery, become enlisted on its behalf, and adverse to the thought of a vacancy to be made by its absence. In brief, the general law, that the social organism and its units act and react in such ways as to become congruous, implies that every further extension of political organization increases the obstacle to reorganization, not only by increasing the strength of the regulative part and decreasing the strength of the part regulated, but also by producing in citizens thoughts and feelings in harmony with the resulting structure, and out of harmony with anything substantially different. Both France and Germany furnish examples of this truth. M. Comte, while looking forward to an industrial state, was so swayed by the ideas and sentiments appropriate to the French form of society, that his scheme of organization for the industrial state prescribes its arrangements with a definiteness and detail characteristic of the militant type, and utterly at variance with the industrial type. Indeed, he had a profound aversion to that individualism which is a product of industrial life and gives the character to industrial institutions. So, too, in Germany, we see that the Socialist party, who are regarded and who regard themselves as wishing to entirely reorganize society, are so incapable of really thinking away from the social type under which they have been born and nurtured, that their proposed social system is in essence nothing else than a new form of the system they would destroy. It is a system under which life and labor are to be arranged and superintended by public instrumentalities, omnipresent like those which already exist and no less coercive, the individual having his life even more regulated for him than now.

While, then, on the one hand, in the absence of settled arrangements, there can not be coöperation, yet coöperation of a higher kind is hindered by the arrangements which facilitate coöperation of a lower kind. Though, without some established relations among parts, there can be no combined actions, yet, the more extensive and elaborate such relations grow, the more difficult does it become to make an improved combination of actions. There is an increase of the forces which tend to fix, and a decrease of the forces which tend to unfix; until the fully-structured social organism, like fully-structured individual organism, becomes no longer adaptable.


In a living animal, formed as it is of aggregated units originally like in kind, the progress of organization implies, not only that the units composing each differentiated part severally maintain their positions, but also that their progeny succeed to those positions. Bile cells which, while performing their functions, grow and give origin to new bile-cells, are, when they decay and disappear, replaced by these: the cells descending from them do not migrate to the kidneys, or the muscles, or the nervous centers, to join in the performance of their duties. And, evidently, unless the specialized units each organ is made of gave origin to units similarly specialized, which remained in the same place, there could be none of those settled relations among parts which characterize the organism and fit it for its particular mode of life.

In a society, also, fixity of structure is favored by the transmission of positions and functions through successive generations. The maintenance of those class-divisions which arise as political organization advances implies the inheritance of a rank and a place in each class. Obviously, in proportion as the difficulty of rising from one grade into another is great, the social grades become settled in their relations. The like happens with those subdivisions of classes which, in some societies, constitute castes, and in other societies are partially exemplified by guilds. Where custom or law compels the sons of each trader to follow his father's occupation, there result, among the structures carrying on production and distribution, obstacles to change analogous to those which result in the regulative structures from impassable divisions of ranks. India shows this in an extreme degree; and in a less degree it was shown by the craft-guilds of early days in England, which facilitated adoption of a craft by the children of those engaged in it, and hindered adoption of it by others. Thus we may call inheritance of position and function the principle of fixity in social organization.

There is another way in which succession by inheritance, whether to class-position or to occupation, conduces to stability. It secures supremacy of the elder; and supremacy of the elder tends toward maintenance of the established order. A system under which a chief-ruler, sub-ruler, head of a clan or house, official, or any person having the power given by rank or property, has his place filled up at death by a descendant, in conformity with some accepted rule of succession, is a system under which, by implication, the young, and even the middle aged, are excluded from the conduct of affairs. So, too, where an industrial system is such that the son, habitually brought up to his father's business, succeeds to his position when he dies, it follows in like manner that the regulative power of the elder over the processes of production and distribution is scarcely at all qualified by the power of the younger. Now, it is a truth daily exemplified that increasing rigidity of organization, necessitated by the process of evolution, produces in age an increasing strength of habit and aversion to change. Hence it results that succession to place and function by inheritance, having as its necessary concomitant the monopoly of power by the eldest, involves a prevailing conservatism; and this further insures maintenance of things as they are.

Conversely, social change is facile in proportion as men's positions and functions are determinable by personal qualities. If, not being prevented by law or custom, members of one rank establish themselves in another rank, they in so far directly break the division between the ranks; and they indirectly weaken the division by preserving their family relations with the first, and forming new ones with the second; while, further, the ideas and sentiments prevailing in the two ranks, previously more or less different, are made to qualify one another and to modify the characters of their members. Similarly, if between subdivisions of the producing and distributing classes there are no barriers to migration, then, in proportion as migrations are numerous, influences physical and mental, following interfusion, tend to alter the natures of their units; at the same time that they perpetually check the establishment of differences of nature, caused by differences of function. Such transpositions of individuals between class and class, or group and group, must, on the average, however, be determined by the fitnesses of the individuals for their new places and duties. Intrusions will ordinarily succeed only where the intruding citizens have more than usual aptitudes for the businesses they undertake. Those who desert their original social positions and occupations are at a disadvantage in the competition with those whose positions and occupations they assume; and they can overcome this disadvantage only by force of some superiority in respect of the occupations in which they compete. This leaving of men to have their careers determined by their efficiencies we may therefore call the principle of change in social organization.

As we saw that succession by inheritance conduces in a secondary way to stability, by keeping the places of authority in the hands of those who by age are made most averse to new practices, so here, conversely, we may see that succession by efficiency conduces in a secondary way to change. Both positively and negatively the possession of power by the young facilitates innovation. While the energies are overflowing, little fear is felt of those obstacles to improvement and evils it may bring, which, to those of flagging energies, look formidable; and at the same time the greater imaginativeness that goes along with higher vitality, joined with a smaller strength of habit, facilitates acceptance of fresh ideas and adoption of untried methods. Since, then, where the various social positions come to be respectively filled by those who are experimentally proved to be the fittest, the relatively young are permitted to exercise authority, it results that succession by efficiency furthers change in social organization, indirectly as well as directly.

Contrasting the two, we thus see that, while the acquirement of function by inheritance conduces to rigidity of structure, the acquirement of function by efficiency conduces to plasticity of structure. Succession by descent favors the maintenance of that which exists. Succession by fitness favors transformation, and makes possible something better.


As previously pointed out, "complication of structure accompanies increase of mass," in social organisms as in individual organisms. When small societies are compounded into a larger society, the controlling agencies needed in the several component societies must be subordinated to a central controlling agency: new structures are required, Recompounding necessitates a kindred further complexity in the governmental arrangements; and at each of such stages of increase all other arrangements must become more complicated. As Duruy remarks: "By becoming a world in place of a town, Rome could not conserve institutions established for a single city and a small territory. . . . How was it possible for sixty millions of provincials to enter the narrow and rigid circle of provincial institutions?" The like holds where, instead of extension of territory, there is only increase of population. The contrast between the simple administrative system which sufficed in old English times for a million people and the complex administrative system at present needed for many millions sufficiently indicates this general truth.

But now, mark a corollary. If, on the one hand, further growth implies more complex structure, on the other hand changeableness of structure is a condition to further growth; and, conversely, unchangeableness of structure is a concomitant of arrested growth. Like the correlative law just noted, this law is clearly seen in individual organisms. On the one hand, the transition from the small immature form to the large mature form, in a living creature, implies that not the whole only, but all the parts have to be changed in their sizes and connections; every detail of every organ has to be modified; and this implies the retention of plasticity. On the other hand, when, on approaching maturity, the structures are assuming their final arrangement, their increasing definiteness and firmness constitute an increasing impediment to growth: the unbuilding and rebuilding required before there can be the needful readjustment become more and more difficult. So is it with a society. Augmentation of its mass necessitates change of the preexisting structures, either by incorporation of the increment with them, or by their extension through it. Every elaboration and further settlement of the structures presents an additional obstacle to this; and, when rigidity is reached, such modifications of them as increase of mass would involve are impossible, and increase is prevented.

Hence a significant relation between the structure of a society and its growth. While each increment of growth is aided by an appropriate organization, yet this organization, being inappropriate to a greater mass, becomes thereafter an impediment to further growth. Whence it follows that organization in excess of need prevents the attainment of that larger size and accompanying higher organization which might else have arisen.


To aid our interpretations of the special facts presently to be dealt with, we must keep in mind the foregoing general facts. They may be summed up as follows:

Coöperation is made possible by society, and makes society possible. It presupposes associated men, and men remain associated because of the benefits association yields them.

But there can not be concerted actions without agencies by which actions are in some way adjusted in their times, amounts, and kinds; and the actions can not be of various kinds without the coöperators undertaking different duties. That is to say, the coöperators must fall into some kind of organization, either voluntarily or involuntarily.

The organization which cooperation implies is of two kinds, distinct in origin and nature. The one, arising directly from the pursuit of individual ends and indirectly conducing to social welfare, develops unconsciously and is non-coercive. The other, arising directly from the pursuit of social ends and indirectly conducing to individual welfare, develops consciously and is coercive.

While, by making cooperation possible, political organization achieves benefits, deductions from the benefits are entailed by such organization. Maintenance of it is costly; and the cost may become a greater evil than the evils escaped. It necessarily imposes restraints; and these restraints may become so extreme that anarchy, with all its miseries, is preferable.

Organization as it becomes established is an obstacle to reorganization. Both by the inertia of position, and by the cohesion gradually established among them, the units of the structures formed oppose change. Self-sustentation is the primary aim of each part as of the whole; and hence parts once formed tend to continue, whether they are or are not useful. Moreover, each addition to the regulative structures implying, other things equal, a simultaneous deduction from the remainder of the society which is regulated, it results that, while the obstacles to change are increased, the forces causing change are decreased.

Maintenance of a society's organization implies that the units forming its component structures shall severally be replaced as they die. Stability is favored if the vacancies they leave are filled without dispute by descendants; while change is favored if the vacancies are filled by those who are experimentally proved to be best fitted for them. Succession by inheritance is thus the principle of social rigidity; while succession by efficiency is the principle of social plasticity.

Though to make coöperation possible, and therefore to facilitate social growth, there must be organization, yet the organization formed impedes further growth; since further growth implies reorganization, which the existing organization resists.

So that while, at each stage, better immediate results may be achieved by completing organization, they must be at the expense of better ultimate results. These are to be achieved by carrying organization at each stage no further than is needful for the orderly carrying on of social actions.

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