« PreviousContinue »
and also for peaceful agreements. It is thus in organisms; the nervous system and the special organs of sensibility are formed from the outside cells, those directly in contact with excitations from without.
The social frontiers appear to us, then, as the resultant of a continual but changing equilibration between the internal molecular composition of each social group, on the one hand, and of the external and equally molecular composition of the groups, on the other, whence come molar action and reaction; that is, inter-group, the result of which is a reciprocal limitation, an inter-group equilibrium, the first manifestation of which is a boundary, placed just where the equilibrium is produced. And here appears the positive role of the frontier, which has been represented, up to this time, only as a negative function, that of obstacle, of separation, more or less insurmountable. This negative function is, in reality, entirely secondary. The constant and positive function of every frontier is to bring together the internal forces of a society and the forces of external groups, and, in a general way, put them in equilibrium. The frontier is above all the organ of movements and inter-group exchanges, the organ of the life of the relation between the groups, a register and a monitor, which informs the group continually concerning its possible expansion and upon its necessary contractions.
Up to this time, the social relations having been developed chiefly under military form, and all the internal structure of society having received the imprint of that form, the frontiers have been equally conceived and established with the same point of view. But conquest and war are rude and abominable forms of relation between nations; and this is precisely what explains why the limits have always been changing, and why, in reality, the limits, called natural, have themselves always been overstepped, by virtue of the constant and universal law which proportions the extension of each group to its composition and to its internal organization as related to the same conditions among neighboring groups.
In that constant and always unstable equilibrium the consideration of the exterior group and of the purely physical sur
roundings has the same importance as that of the internal composition of that group. In fact, outside of the internal conditions and organization of each group, the frontier is as much determined by the physical or geographical conditions, permanent or transitory, as by the neighboring social groups, the conditions of the composition and organization of which enter equally into the establishment of a boundary at the point of equilibrium. That frontier line resulting from an equilibrium of the social forces common to each group may differ because of the various social forces in the group. Thus some societies have a military frontier very plainly marked; some have economic frontiers for that reason, already less determined; some have religious and scientific frontiers which are still farther from the point of being transformed into continuous lines of communication.
Military frontiers are essentially simple; they indicate the value and the equilibrium of the values between social groups in the most brutal and rude manner. However, they are only the result, the expression, of this reciprocal value. What proves this is that they are perpetually unstable. In the most advanced societies, the phenomena, although more complex, are nevertheless the same as those which we have observed in rudimentary societies. If the limits between these societies — limits always provisional, but which have been maintained up to a certain moment in a relation of peaceful equilibrium-are exceeded, either because of an excess of population or because of a lack of food which can be produced, this will be under a form of war or a form of peace. In reality, the result will be the same; the process will be only superficially different. I do not see, in fact, any essential difference between the conquest of a country by force of arms and its economic subordination; for example, by a foreign agreement, either of trade or production, the economic conquest usually leads to political vassalage in the end. Portugal, since the treaty of Methuen, is a remarkable historical example among many others.
The complex phenomena of our time are only the amplification of the more simple phenomena observed in the case of primitive peoples. Thus "among the Khonds,” according to Mc
Pherson,3 " a field or strip of land, on the border of a district is an object of dispute and gives rise to a contest between the parties and their respective tribes, and, if the tribes to which the parties belong are inclined to hostility, they go to war.” This is what is done between villages, tribes, etc., of the same peoples over a strip of land on the border of these small districts. Conflicts over boundaries have been, and no doubt will always be, most frequent, considerable, and violent. Even in our European villages and towns we see the same strife between neighbors. They agitate the parties interested and the neighbors. The conflicts between neighboring tribes of the same stock are naturally the most frequent and active, especially if they are of an economic character. Does this not prove the Italian proverb, “They hate each other like brothers"? These conflicts are naturally accumulative as the territory increases. As is seen in Europe, are not boundary disputes, even the least important, which arise between countries, such as France, Germany, Italy, Austria, and Russia, continual causes of apprehension? Among the least settled hordes, characterized by promiscuity and motility, territories are not even defined. These wandering hordes intermingle, come in contact and continual conflict; their boundaries are very unstable, wavering; but they exist nevertheless. The determination of a boundary — that is, of an organ of protection, of attack and defense, and at the same time of relation — always limits the structure and the internal activity, putting them in relation with the external forces. This is the first and most general of all social differentiations; the essential conditions of the existence of a community. Herbert Spencer has very well stated in noting the primitive differentiations between the external and internal structures compared by him, the first to the industrial or peaceful structure, the second, to military structure; only, he has not seen that the two forms were, in their turn, decomposable by analysis, and that, in following this to the end, one discovers that whatever was the structure, military or industrial, the most general and simple form had been frontier. Herbert Spencer did not comprehend the constant and positive function of fringes
Reports upon the Khonds of Ganjani and Cuttach, Calcutta, 1842-43.
and limits. That was not without considerable influence on his conception of the individual and the state. He has not set them
. over against each other when the problem to be solved is that of their reciprocal relations and of the limits of their reciprocal activity -- limits constant as well as always variable.
The observations made up to this point relative to the boundaries of primitive groups and to the beliefs concerning these boundaries should be completed. Social groups that live off of the spontaneous products of the territory they inhabit are the least developed in civilization. Among these peoples we see constant conflicts between groups over territories naturally fruitful. This contest continues later among pastoral peoples; still later among agricultural people, or people belonging to unequal stages of development; the same contests will continue between commercial and industrial peoples. To summarize: Strife arises between groups of different quality, as well as between groups qualitatively homogeneous. The conflicts manifest not only the antagonistic interests of the group, but also positive tendencies toward a higher state of development, by a partial or total assimilation of one group by another. Victory does not always belong to the group most advanced in civilization, especially if the latter has some conditions of relative inferiority. For example, if it has become too civilized and too peaceful to defend itself against military society, the final result will generally be a certain lowering of the superior type and an establishment of a mean level as between two communicating vessels. Every civilization undergoes a certain social degradation, because, in subordinating inferior groups it assimilates them more or less, and modifies them to its own composition both materially and morally. It should be added that military conquest, being the manifestation of the force of a society, is a savage form of the functioning of that force, and therefore, by virtue of the laws of correlation and of constant interdependence, the practice of these methods necessarily affects the structure of a highly civilized people. The present tendency to military imperialism in certain countries chiefly industrial, as England and the United States, not to mention little Belgium with its immense empire of the Congo- are some striking examples. One is always lowered by the mere fact of having anything to do with an inferior, and especially if, instead of raising them, one degrades them still more. Conquest and exploitation destroy at the same time the victor and the vanquished, the exploits and the exploited.
We have seen that war for territory is not limited to hunting tribes; it extends to all peoples. The quarrel between the shepherds of Abraham and those of Lot was a conflict relating to pasture. Here we are in the stage of transition between the life of hunting and that of domestication and utilization of animals; that life, though still nomad, becomes more stable, and from that time the pasture lands become better defined. In pastoral groups the tendency toward extension, toward development, and toward displacement is produced as well by the increase of population as by that of cattle in comparison to the available pasturage. The need creates the desire of aggrandizement, and, unfortunately, too often the desire continues when the need disappears. Thus, generally, the conquerors are weakened and exhausted, as licentious old men who continue to follow their passion when, normally, their vital budget is exhausted. It is thus that great empires are never nearer decay than at the moment of their most wide expansion. The Russian empire, which ought to be considered as an excessive and monstrous development of society, where the pastoral and patriarchal forms have continued in the governing structure, when the internal conditions of its existence have already been in great part modified, is a remarkable example of the persistent tendency of a society, primitively pastoral, to extend its boundaries excessively, when in reality it has passed that stage of development and attained that of vigorous culture and intensive industry.
Is it possible, however, to determine in an accurate and absolute manner the number of people which a tribe of hunters or of herdsmen allows? M. Gumplowicz, in his Contest of the Races, seems to affirm wrongly that in normal conditions a tribe is composed of from five hundred to one thousand five hundred persons, In fact, the total number may vary between limits much wider apart. It is a question of social conditions. The number of