Origin of government - PDF by Hugh Taylor

Origin of government

Origin of government
Origin of government

The nature, meaning, and origin of government are subjects that have engaged the attention of some of the most celebrated writers in the history of the world. Yet all early treatises on government, though they attest the importance and fascination of a subject which concerns the whole human race, are vitiated as political investigations by defects that are inseparable from premature speculation upon intricate social problems. 

All thinkers since the time of Comte are aware that there is a certain order in which the various departments of human knowledge must be taken if the results obtained are to possess a real scientific value. If this order is inverted, and a subject which properly comes last in the hierarchy of science is of such intense human interest as to tempt the enquiring mind to undertake its study out of due course, before the discovery of other important truths has duly prepared the way, the accuracy and reliability of the conclusion is sure to be correspondingly impaired. 

Certain sciences can, in fact, be built up only on the basis of conclusions that other sciences have incidentally supplied. Social science, which includes the problem of the origin of government, comes last of all, and cannot be properly attempted until the foundations upon which it must rest, shaped by previous labours in other regions of thought, have been well and truly laid. 

It is of the greatest importance, therefore, that those who inaugurates a new science should accurately identify the preliminary department of knowledge since the conclusions which it has established must form the starting point and suggest the principles upon which their own enquiry is to be conducted. We shall see in the succeeding chapter how vital these previous researches are, and how the investigation of the origin of government has been confused and retarded by a mistake as to the nature of the study which must immediately precede the inauguration of social science. 

Though the works of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau on the subject of government and its origin have a worldwide celebrity, they cannot be taken seriously from the scientific point of view. They are mere of the nature of political speculations, which are without permanent value except as an indication of the eternal interest aroused by the problem of government in the mind of man. But to such considerations, their authors were supremely indifferent, because their object was not the discovery of scientific truth, but the enforcement of a moral or constitutional principle, to which the facts were deliberately made subservient. An examination of the nature of the political speculations of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 

The "Social Contract" theory on the origin of government will serve to show that under the guise of a pretended investigation into the earliest political conditions, writers like Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau in reality endeavour to find material in support of their preconceived notions of what government ought to be. 

The political requirements of the hour, or a supposed necessity of defending the liberties of the human race, and not the true spirit of scientific investigation, have inspired these attempts. Indeed, when the social contract theory of the origin of government was first started, the true spirit of scientific research cannot be said to have existed at all outside the physical sciences. Hobbes, it is true, made desperate efforts to keep his view of the social contract in conformity with the actual facts of history, or of what we should now call the evolution of government. 

But in the hands of Locke and Rousseau, this theory is, in fact, nothing more than a piece of imaginary history, supported by the most transparent special pleading, and designed to justify by supposed inductive proofs opinions already regarded as deductively certain. The various forms which the theory assumed agree in the view that government was supposed to be the outcome of a contract between ruler and people, under which the ruler was granted certain privileges on condition of enforcing justice and order, and securing the general well-being of the community. According to the somewhat nebulous views of these political philosophers, the appointment of a political authority took place as the result of a desire on the part of human 3 Origin of Government beings to secure ordered social relations, and thus to terminate the primitive discord of savage life, or, as it is quaintly called, " the war of each against all "; and men were actually supposed to have met together in a forest or on a plain for this purpose, and to have instituted government by universal agreement.

Some contents:

Early theories of the origin of government are political dissertations rather than scientific treatises. All speculation on politics must start again with the Darwinian theory. Yet interest in the origin of government has been lessened by theories of evolution. Survival of the fittest is supposed to dispense with aid of the government. The optimism of Spencer encourages belief in survival of the fittest. Examination of the phrase: capable of three different meanings, but originally formulated to apply to the animal, not social conditions. According to its first meaning, it is merely tautologous. In its second and only accurate meaning, it merely implies adaptation to conditions. Its third meaning involves a deliberate fallacy - the fittest in a brigand's den is the fittest in the philosopher's study. Illustration of the three different ways in which the term " survival of fittest" is used. An analogous use of the term " nature " in philosophy. Nietzsche is the only philosopher who reasons correctly from Darwinian premises, but he makes the mistake of applying the Darwinian law to social existence. Darwin's caution suggests his consciousness of a missing factor. This missing factor entirely changes the conditions so that survival of the socially fittest is possible: just as a change of climate renders possible the existence of higher animal types. Morality is a plant that requires artificial protection: that protection can only be supplied by the government 1-39

Origin of government to be found in the struggle for supremacy. Animals are not entirely occupied with the struggle for existence. The leadership of a herd involves a psychological principle. Tendency to physical violence is the most characteristic principle of animal existence. A Priori necessity of some principle arising amidst savagery capable of repressing savagery. Utilitarian or humanitarian considerations being impossible, self-assertion by the strongest the only alternative. The war of organisms is now a scientific certainty. It is immaterial to the argument whether the unit of an ancient society is the family or the individual. Patriarchal theory out of date. The origin of government cannot be separated from the origin of the nation, which is war. Views upon the origin of government are prejudiced by biological theories of society. Spencer's biological views. Mr D. E. Eraser and the priestly origin of government. Universal applicability to the whole history of the human race must characterize a true theory of the origin of government. Patriarchal and priestly theories are deficient in this respect, and inapplicability to war. When Spencer is most reasonable he asserts that there has been no civilization without government and that the origin of government is to be found in war. We have seen how government originates; the next question is. Why does it originate? Government is a device of nature for the protection of the social organism in the struggle for existence in which it has become involved. It assists the social organism in two most important points by counteracting individualism and thus giving it cohesion and leadership. Though the first function of government is the protection of the social organism, it is nonetheless, but rather all the more, the protector of nascent morality. The view that the original function of government is to care for the State need not exclude the belief that its final function is to care for the individual. Not merely the dim beginnings of society, but the entire course of political history may be called in evidence of the correctness of the present theory 40


importance of the phenomenon of the origination of government. It is a natural antidote to the danger which threatens the social organism from anarchy. Case of the Greek despots. Political evolution takes place by violent as well as by peaceful methods. Usurpation is not an interruption but a continuation of political development. Struggle for supremacy in the Wars of the Roses. The constitutional historians and their place in political science. Parliament in early times always ready to recognize successful usurpers. Early government, though brutal and irresponsible as the present theory would lead us to expect, is gradually adapted to the needs of the community by the pressure of the will of the people. The attitude of absolute monarchs is evolutionarily justified. The sanction of a political control must be kept distinct from its origin. To admit the value of usurpation is not to under- mine the source of law and order. Study of history distorted by prejudices. A typical case of the historian Grote. Another method of evading plain issues is adopted with regard to such usurpers as William the Conqueror. Non- moral motives may be productive of highly moral results. The phenomenon of the origination of government may be regarded as evidence of nature's care for the social organism and possibly for humanity. The defiance of " nature's " pre-human dispositions take place by order of nature - 91-126

the book details :
  • Author: Hugh Taylor
  • Publication date:  1919
  • Company: Oxford, B.H. Blackwell

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