Page images






(CONTINUED.) The structure of the internal organs always tends toward adjustment. In reality, the frontier line is the expression both of the internal organization and of the relations of that to the surroundings. As, according to Bancroft, the ancient Pueblos of North America, sheltered in their walled villages, went to war only to repel invasion, so their interior state approached a peaceful democracy; they had a governor and council, chosen each year by the people, and were monogamous. This law of correlation between the external structure and the internal organization is, however, only a particular application of the general law of the correlation of the social organs — a law which we shall study at another time.

Heretofore it seems to have been lost sight of in sociology that the frontier, the exterior limit of every society, is a part of the structure of that society, and constitutes the most simple and most general condition of its existence; constitutes, first of all, its successive differentiations.

The phenomena observed in America by Bancroft are found also among the colonists who, having peaceful relations with their neighbors, have limits which are not at all essentially military. The amiable and peaceful tribes of Bodos and Dhimals have high morality and large independence of character; they resist unreasonable injunctions with an indomitable obstinacy; likewise they do not give themselves over to any act of violence against their neighbors; they refrain froni similar acts within the group. The peaceful Lephas undergo great privations rather than submit to oppression and injustice; they seldom quarrel; in all cases the disputes are adjusted by chiefs elected from the people; they


make reparations and reciprocal concessions; they forget injuries. The Santal, in his simple spirit, possesses a keen sense of justice, and if one attempts to force him, he prefers to leave the country; the people are virtuous; crimes, and magistrates charged with punishing them, are unknown. Among the Hos, who belong to the same group, it is sufficient that the honesty or the veracity of a man be suspected for him to kill himself. The Santals, the

. Leptchas, the Alfarons, the Jakuns, are hospitable, obliging, and beneficent; the Bodos, the Dhimals, the Hotchs, the Santals, the Leptchas, are monogamous, chaste, faithful; in general, daughters and sons are equal. Among the Bodos and Dhimals, essentially peaceful, the priestly offices, contrary to Brahmanism, are not hereditary, but belong to all the elders. Among the Santals, however, two of the tribes are especially set apart to religion and furnish a great majority of the priests. Among them a betrothed woman abandons her clan and gods for those of her husband. A person passes casily from one clan to another, from one tribe to another. In a word, although there are limits and territorial boundaries for classes and tribes, these limits never assume the form of military frontiers; and, as has been seen, the external situation of these societies is correlative to their internal peaceful organizations, the moral elements of which have especially impressed observers, although that high morality rests primarily upon favorable economic conditions, and upon external conditions on the whole equally favorable.

Reclus says that, although the Santals are agriculturists, they are nevertheless nomads and love to change their place of abode. About two million of them inhabit the valleys of Behar and Bengal. Their moving about is explained, however, by the fact that when the soil they are cultivating is impoverished they move into the jungle to seek other land to be grubbed out. In some districts in which there were only 3,000 people in 1790, there were 200,000 in 1840, and, in spite of themselves, all the land being taken 11p, they had become sedentary. They had also come into contact with military societies. The Mongols and the English have made serfs of this peaceful and virtuous population, and the moving about that is seen among them now is only the


work of great capitalists and proprietors exploiting their labor. Yet marriages continue to be made between individuals of different classes. Expulsion from the tribe and deprivation of rights common to members of the tribe are the two chief means of punishment. This is true, says the illustrious geographer, among all the original peoples of Bengal — Leptchas, Kotchs, Kohls, etc. 1

Thus, so long as these peoples found among themselves and in their environment conditions favorable to their peaceful development, their exterior frontiers were of little consequence, as were the class distinctions within the group; but when the vacant territory had become scarce through the increase of the population, and when they came into contact with peoples already subjected, their equilibrium of equality and peace gave place to an equilibrium of inequality maintained by force, and which tended not only to their economic subjugation, but also to the destruction of their moral qualities.

In reality, it is not the hunting stage, not the pastoral stage, and not the agricultural stage in itself which is naturally peaceful or naturally warlike; it is only the external and the internal conditions of their development which imprint the one character or the other. We must therefore reject altogether that old hypothesis which explains the militarism of Sparta and Rome by their economico-agricultural hypothesis, of which the legend of the soldier-laborer is a survival. War and peace are inherent in different classes of economic existence; industrial and commercial societies are not from their nature essentially peaceful, contrary to the hypothesis of St. Simon, Auguste Comte, and Herbert Spencer — a hypothesis unfortunately inconsistent with the facts. The truth is that among commercial and industrial peoples, as well as among agricultural peoples, equilibrium and peace depend upon the interior organization and its correspondence to the exterior.

According to von Martins, quoted by E. de Laveleye,2 in all North America there did not exist a single race as nomadic as those of the steppes of Asia, except the Murras, who wandered from place to place without having any settled abode. All the other peoples gave themselves to the cultivation of the soil. The frontiers of the Murras, different from those of the other tribes, were movable, but it would be a mistake to suppose they did not exist. I would add that it would be another mistake to suppose that all frontiers are not movable; they are always variable. It remains, nevertheless, true that a frontier can exist, although it be

1 ELISÉE RECLUS, New Universal Geography, Vol. VIII, pp. 327 ff. * Property and its Primitive Forms, pp. 300 ff.

a fluctuating. In the example given above, differing in part from others, there is the continual displacement of population and territory which is characteristic; mobility of the frontier only manifests a quite rudimentary mode of adaptation and of social equilibration. When one tribe of the Murras established itself temporarily in a region, the territory of which it took possession was considered by all as the property of the community.

We see very clearly here that in primitive societies the frontiers called political are the frontiers or limits of property. But this property, in the case of which we are speaking, is communistic, and if the society, because of the situation in which it finds itself, is warlike, the economic frontier, and also the other more specialized frontiers, tend to assume a military structure, at once aggressive, coercive, and prohibitive.

Can it be said, then, that the communistic form of property of the horde, the clan, or the tribe will come to be substituted for private property in land, or for other forms of property, to the advantage, economic and otherwise, of the group? Evidently not. The frontier continues, in these new conditions, to represent the organ of envelopment (enveloppe), of protection, and of attack; the means of communication for the economic interests, and for other more specialized interests common to the group. In a word, with a content always variable, and under forms equally variable, the function of frontiers is constant, and continues to be represented by constant, but morphologically diversified, organs. The smallest special society has its limits correlative to its organization, just as individual societies have their limits in the great universal society, the forces and forms of which are equally delimited.

From all these facts and institutions relative to their life there result, among these different peoples who have not yet what we call social and political theories, some beliefs, more or less co-ordinated, which are nevertheless the embryo of the theories that we meet in the most advanced states. Thus, the Murras do not comprehend, according to von Martins, that land can belong to an individual. It would follow that this conception of the economic order from the territorial point of view reflects exactly a condition that does not rest upon the existence of territorial limits of the individual or even of the family. There would be only a general and common frontier, as there was only a general and common property. The Murras never permitted a member of a neighboring tribe to settle upon their territory, unless detained there by force. On the other hand, as they were not closely bound to the land they occupied, and as their kind of property did not necessarily imply fixity of tenure of the soil or specific hereditary transmission, their ideas and customs conformed to that economic régime; they quitted their dwellings sometimes without appreciable motives in order to settle in another locality. Defense of the territory they occupied was not for them of capital importance, and in the conditions in which they found themselves their habitual migration was advantageous for the preservation of both the group and the individuals.

In general, hunting populations are the most accentuated types of the communal forms of property, in so far as property is reserved by the tribe. Among them the idea of property possessed by the tribe generally arises from the necessity of marking off the part of the forest which is indispensable to it as a territory reserved for the chase. If some well-cultivated clearings, in a territory of very limited extent, are sufficient for the maintenance of a numerous population, it is not the same for peoples whose game forms almost the sole alimentary source. Sometimes the territory reserved for this purpose extends beyond the areas actually occupied by the tribe. This reserved territory is necessary for the normal development of the group, but it is also that which is exposed to invasions.

Very often the hunting territory of the tribe is naturally

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »