The State : Its Historic Title.
In the first centuries of our era, immense migrations took place
among the tribes and confederations of tribes that inhabited Central
and Northern Asia. A stream of peoples, driven by more or less civilised tribes, came down from the table-lands of Asia—probably driven
away by the rapid* drying-up of those plateaux—inundated Europe, impelling one another onward, mingling with one another in their overflow towards the West.
During these migrations, when so many tribes of diverse origin were
intermixed, the primitive tribe which still existed among them and the
primitive inhabitants of Europe necessarily became disaggregated. The
tribe was based on its common origin, on the worship of common ancestors; but what common origin could be invoked by the agglomerations
that emerged from the hurly-burly of migrations, collisions, wars between tribes, during which we see the paternal family spring up here
and there—the kernel formed by some men appropriating women they
had conquered or kidnapped from neighbouring tribes ?
Ancient ties were rent asunder, and under pain of a general breakup (that took place, in fact, for many a tribe, which then disappeared
from history) it was essential that new ties should spring up. And
they sprung up. They were found in the communal possession of land
—of a territory, on which such an agglomeration ended by settling
The possession in common of a certain territory, of certain valleys,
plains or mountains, became the basis of a new agreement. Ancient
gods had lost all meaning; and the local gods of a valley, river or forest,
gave the religious consecration to the new agglomeration, substituting
themselves for the gods of the primitive tribe. Later on, Christianity,
always ready to accommodate itself to pagan survivals, made local saints
Henceforth, the village community, composed partly or entirely of
separate families—all united, nevertheless, by the possession in common
of the land—became the necessary bond of union for centuries to come.
On the immense stretches of land in Eastern Europe, Asia and
Africa, it still exists to-day. The barbarians who destroyed the Roman
empire—Scandinavians, Germans, Celts, Slavs, etc.—lived under this
kind of organization. And, in studying the ancient barbarian codes,
as well as the laws and customs of the confederations of village communes among the Kabyles, Mongols, Hindoos, Africans, etc., which still
exist, it become possible to reconstitutes in its entirety that form of
society, which was the starting point of our present civilization,
Let us therefore, cast a glance on that institution.