Mutual Aid
by P. Kropotkin
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The natives of Australia do not stand on a higher level of development than their South African brothers. Their huts are of the same character. very often simple screens are the only protection against cold winds. In their food they are most indifferent: they devour horribly putrefied corpses, and cannibalism is resorted to in times of scarcity. When first discovered by Europeans, they had no implements but in stone or bone, and these were of the roughest description. Some tribes had even no canoes, and did not know barter-trade. And yet, when their manners and customs were carefully studied, they proved to be living under that elaborate clan organization which I have mentioned on a preceding page.(17)

The territory they inhabit is usually allotted between the different gentes or clans; but the hunting and fishing territories of each clan are kept in common, and the produce of fishing and hunting belongs to the whole clan; so also the fishing and hunting implements.(18) The meals are taken in common. Like many other savages, they respect certain regulations as to the seasons when certain gums and grasses may be collected.(19) As to their morality altogether, we cannot do better than transcribe the following answers given to the questions of the Paris Anthropological Society by Lumholtz, a missionary who sojourned in North Queensland:(20)—

"The feeling of friendship is known among them; it is strong. Weak people are usually supported; sick people are very well attended to; they never are abandoned or killed. These tribes are cannibals, but they very seldom eat members of their own tribe (when immolated on religious principles, I suppose); they eat strangers only. The parents love their children, play with them, and pet them. Infanticide meets with common approval. Old people are very well treated, never put to death. No religion, no idols, only a fear of death. Polygamous marriage. quarrels arising within the tribe are settled by means of duels fought with wooden swords and shields. No slaves; no culture of any kind; no pottery; no dress, save an apron sometimes worn by women. The clan consists of two hundred individuals, divided into four classes of men and four of women; marriage being only permitted within the usual classes, and never within the gens."

For the Papuas, closely akin to the above, we have the testimony of G.L. Bink, who stayed in New Guinea, chiefly in Geelwink Bay, from 1871 to 1883. Here is the essence of his answers to the same questioner:(21)—

"They are sociable and cheerful; they laugh very much. Rather timid than courageous. Friendship is relatively strong among persons belonging to different tribes, and still stronger within the tribe. A friend will often pay the debt of his friend, the stipulation being that the latter will repay it without interest to the children of the lender. They take care of the ill and the old; old people are never abandoned, and in no case are they killed—unless it be a slave who was ill for a long time. War prisoners are sometimes eaten. The children are very much petted and loved. Old and feeble war prisoners are killed, the others are sold as slaves. They have no religion, no gods, no idols, no authority of any description; the oldest man in the family is the judge. In cases of adultery a fine is paid, and part of it goes to the negoria (the community). The soil is kept in common, but the crop belongs to those who have grown it. They have pottery, and know barter-trade—the custom being that the merchant gives them the goods, whereupon they return to their houses and bring the native goods required by the merchant; if the latter cannot be obtained, the European goods are returned.(22) They are head-hunters, and in so doing they prosecute blood revenge. 'Sometimes,' Finsch says, 'the affair is referred to the Rajah of Namototte, who terminates it by imposing a fine.'"

When well treated, the Papuas are very kind. Miklukho-Maclay landed on the eastern coast of New Guinea, followed by one single man, stayed for two years among tribes reported to be cannibals, and left them with regret; he returned again to stay one year more among them, and never had he any conflict to complain of. True that his rule was never—under no pretext whatever—to say anything which was not truth, nor make any promise which he could not keep. These poor creatures, who even do not know how to obtain fire, and carefully maintain it in their huts, live under their primitive communism, without any chiefs; and within their villages they have no quarrels worth speaking of. They work in common, just enough to get the food of the day; they rear their children in common; and in the evenings they dress themselves as coquettishly as they can, and dance. Like all savages, they are fond of dancing. Each village has its barla, or balai—the "long house," "longue maison," or "grande maison"—for the unmarried men, for social gatherings, and for the discussion of common affairs—again a trait which is common to most inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, the Eskimos, the Red Indians, and so on. Whole groups of villages are on friendly terms, and visit each other en bloc.

Unhappily, feuds are not uncommon—not in consequence of "Overstocking of the area," or "keen competition," and like inventions of a mercantile century, but chiefly in consequence of superstition. As soon as any one falls ill, his friends and relatives come together, and deliberately discuss who might be the cause of the illness. All possible enemies are considered, every one confesses of his own petty quarrels, and finally the real cause is discovered. An enemy from the next village has called it down, and a raid upon that village is decided upon. Therefore, feuds are rather frequent, even between the coast villages, not to say a word of the cannibal mountaineers who are considered as real witches and enemies, though, on a closer acquaintance, they prove to be exactly the same sort of people as their neighbours on the seacoast.(23)

Many striking pages could be written about the harmony which prevails in the villages of the Polynesian inhabitants of the Pacific Islands. But they belong to a more advanced stage of civilization. So we shall now take our illustrations from the far north. I must mention, however, before leaving the Southern Hemisphere, that even the Fuegians, whose reputation has been so bad, appear under a much better light since they begin to be better known. A few French missionaries who stay among them "know of no act of malevolence to complain of." In their clans, consisting of from 120 to 150 souls, they practise the same primitive communism as the Papuas; they share everything in common, and treat their old people very well. Peace prevails among these tribes.(24) With the Eskimos and their nearest congeners, the Thlinkets, the Koloshes, and the Aleoutes, we find one of the nearest illustrations of what man may have been during the glacial age. Their implements hardly differ from those of palaeolithic man, and some of their tribes do not yet know fishing: they simply spear the fish with a kind of harpoon.(25) They know the use of iron, but they receive it from the Europeans, or find it on wrecked ships. Their social organization is of a very primitive kind, though they already have emerged from the stage of "communal marriage," even under the gentile restrictions. They live in families, but the family bonds are often broken; husbands and wives are often exchanged.(26) The families, however, remain united in clans, and how could it be otherwise? How could they sustain the hard struggle for life unless by closely combining their forces? So they do, and the tribal bonds are closest where the struggle for life is hardest, namely, in North-East Greenland. The "long house" is their usual dwelling, and several families lodge in it, separated from each other by small partitions of ragged furs, with a common passage in the front. Sometimes the house has the shape of a cross, and in such case a common fire is kept in the centre. The German Expedition which spent a winter close by one of those "long houses" could ascertain that "no quarrel disturbed the peace, no dispute arose about the use of this narrow space" throughout the long winter. "Scolding, or even unkind words, are considered as a misdemeanour, if not produced under the legal form of process, namely, the nith-song."(27) Close cohabitation and close interdependence are sufficient for maintaining century after century that deep respect for the interests of the community which is characteristic of Eskimo life. Even in the larger communities of Eskimos, "public opinion formed the real judgment-seat, the general punishment consisting in the offenders being shamed in the eyes of the people."(28)

Eskimo life is based upon communism. What is obtained by hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. But in several tribes, especially in the West, under the influence of the Danes, private property penetrates into their institutions. However, they have an original means for obviating the inconveniences arising from a personal accumulation of wealth which would soon destroy their tribal unity. When a man has grown rich, he convokes the folk of his clan to a great festival, and, after much eating, distributes among them all his fortune. On the Yukon river, Dall saw an Aleonte family distributing in this way ten guns, ten full fur dresses, 200 strings of beads, numerous blankets, ten wolf furs, 200 beavers, and 500 zibelines. After that they took off their festival dresses, gave them away, and, putting on old ragged furs, addressed a few words to their kinsfolk, saying that though they are now poorer than any one of them, they have won their friendship.(29) Like distributions of wealth appear to be a regular habit with the Eskimos, and to take place at a certain season, after an exhibition of all that has been obtained during the year.(30) In my opinion these distributions reveal a very old institution, contemporaneous with the first apparition of personal wealth; they must have been a means for re-establishing equality among the members of the clan, after it had been disturbed by the enrichment of the few. The periodical redistribution of land and the periodical abandonment of all debts which took place in historical times with so many different races (Semites, Aryans, etc.), must have been a survival of that old custom. And the habit of either burying with the dead, or destroying upon his grave, all that belonged to him personally— a habit which we find among all primitive races—must have had the same origin. In fact, while everything that belongs personally to the dead is burnt or broken upon his grave, nothing is destroyed of what belonged to him in common with the tribe, such as boats, or the communal implements of fishing. The destruction bears upon personal property alone. At a later epoch this habit becomes a religious ceremony. It receives a mystical interpretation, and is imposed by religion, when public opinion alone proves incapable of enforcing its general observance. And, finally, it is substituted by either burning simple models of the dead man's property (as in China), or by simply carrying his property to the grave and taking it back to his house after the burial ceremony is over—a habit which still prevails with the Europeans as regards swords, crosses, and other marks of public distinction.(31)

The high standard of the tribal morality of the Eskimos has often been mentioned in general literature. Nevertheless the following remarks upon the manners of the Aleoutes—nearly akin to the Eskimos—will better illustrate savage morality as a whole. They were written, after a ten years' stay among the Aleoutes, by a most remarkable man—the Russian missionary, Veniaminoff. I sum them up, mostly in his own words:—

Endurability (he wrote) is their chief feature. It is simply colossal. Not only do they bathe every morning in the frozen sea, and stand naked on the beach, inhaling the icy wind, but their endurability, even when at hard work on insufficient food, surpasses all that can be imagined. During a protracted scarcity of food, the Aleoute cares first for his children; he gives them all he has, and himself fasts. They are not inclined to stealing; that was remarked even by the first Russian immigrants. Not that they never steal; every Aleoute would confess having sometime stolen something, but it is always a trifle; the whole is so childish. The attachment of the parents to their children is touching, though it is never expressed in words or pettings. The Aleoute is with difficulty moved to make a promise, but once he has made it he will keep it whatever may happen. (An Aleoute made Veniaminoff a gift of dried fish, but it was forgotten on the beach in the hurry of the departure. He took it home. The next occasion to send it to the missionary was in January; and in November and December there was a great scarcity of food in the Aleoute encampment. But the fish was never touched by the starving people, and in January it was sent to its destination.) Their code of morality is both varied and severe. It is considered shameful to be afraid of unavoidable death; to ask pardon from an enemy; to die without ever having killed an enemy; to be convicted of stealing; to capsize a boat in the harbour; to be afraid of going to sea in stormy weather. to be the first in a party on a long journey to become an invalid in case of scarcity of food; to show greediness when spoil is divided, in which case every one gives his own part to the greedy man to shame him; to divulge a public secret to his wife; being two persons on a hunting expedition, not to offer the best game to the partner; to boast of his own deeds, especially of invented ones; to scold any one in scorn. Also to beg; to pet his wife in other people's presence, and to dance with her to bargain personally: selling must always be made through a third person, who settles the price. For a woman it is a shame not to know sewing, dancing and all kinds of woman's work; to pet her husband and children, or even to speak to her husband in the presence of a stranger.(32)

Such is Aleoute morality, which might also be further illustrated by their tales and legends. Let me also add that when Veniaminoff wrote (in 1840) one murder only had been committed since the last century in a population of 60,000 people, and that among 1,800 Aleoutes not one single common law offence had been known for forty years. This will not seem strange if we remark that scolding, scorning, and the use of rough words are absolutely unknown in Aleoute life. Even their children never fight, and never abuse each other in words. All they may say is, "Your mother does not know sewing," or "Your father is blind of one eye."(33)

Many features of savage life remain, however, a puzzle to Europeans. The high development of tribal solidarity and the good feelings with which primitive folk are animated towards each other, could be illustrated by any amount of reliable testimony. And yet it is not the less certain that those same savages practise infanticide; that in some cases they abandon their old people, and that they blindly obey the rules of blood-revenge. We must then explain the coexistence of facts which, to the European mind, seem so contradictory at the first sight. I have just mentioned how the Aleoute father starves for days and weeks, and gives everything eatable to his child; and how the Bushman mother becomes a slave to follow her child; and I might fill pages with illustrations of the really tender relations existing among the savages and their children. Travellers continually mention them incidentally. Here you read about the fond love of a mother; there you see a father wildly running through the forest and carrying upon his shoulders his child bitten by a snake; or a missionary tells you the despair of the parents at the loss of a child whom he had saved, a few years before, from being immolated at its birth. you learn that the "savage" mothers usually nurse their children till the age of four, and that, in the New Hebrides, on the loss of a specially beloved child, its mother, or aunt, will kill herself to take care of it in the other world.(34) And so on.

Like facts are met with by the score; so that, when we see that these same loving parents practise infanticide, we are bound to recognize that the habit (whatever its ulterior transformations may be) took its origin under the sheer pressure of necessity, as an obligation towards the tribe, and a means for rearing the already growing children. The savages, as a rule, do not "multiply without stint," as some English writers put it. On the contrary, they take all kinds of measures for diminishing the birth-rate. A whole series of restrictions, which Europeans certainly would find extravagant, are imposed to that effect, and they are strictly obeyed. But notwithstanding that, primitive folk cannot rear all their children. However, it has been remarked that as soon as they succeed in increasing their regular means of subsistence, they at once begin to abandon the practice of infanticide. On the whole, the parents obey that obligation reluctantly, and as soon as they can afford it they resort to all kinds of compromises to save the lives of their new-born. As has been so well pointed out by my friend Elie Reclus,(35) they invent the lucky and unlucky days of births, and spare the children born on the lucky days; they try to postpone the sentence for a few hours, and then say that if the baby has lived one day it must live all its natural life.(36) They hear the cries of the little ones coming from the forest, and maintain that, if heard, they forbode a misfortune for the tribe; and as they have no baby-farming nor creches for getting rid of the children, every one of them recoils before the necessity of performing the cruel sentence; they prefer to expose the baby in the wood rather than to take its life by violence. Ignorance, not cruelty, maintains infanticide; and, instead of moralizing the savages with sermons, the missionaries would do better to follow the example of Veniaminoff, who, every year till his old age, crossed the sea of Okhotsk in a miserable boat, or travelled on dogs among his Tchuktchis, supplying them with bread and fishing implements. He thus had really stopped infanticide.

The same is true as regards what superficial observers describe as parricide. We just now saw that the habit of abandoning old people is not so widely spread as some writers have maintained it to be. It has been extremely exaggerated, but it is occasionally met with among nearly all savages; and in such cases it has the same origin as the exposure of children. When a "savage" feels that he is a burden to his tribe; when every morning his share of food is taken from the mouths of the children—and the little ones are not so stoical as their fathers: they cry when they are hungry; when every day he has to be carried across the stony beach, or the virgin forest, on the shoulders of younger people there are no invalid carriages, nor destitutes to wheel them in savage lands—he begins to repeat what the old Russian peasants say until now-a-day. "Tchujoi vek zayedayu, Pora na pokoi!" ("I live other people's life: it is time to retire!") And he retires. He does what the soldier does in a similar case. When the salvation of his detachment depends upon its further advance, and he can move no more, and knows that he must die if left behind, the soldier implores his best friend to render him the last service before leaving the encampment. And the friend, with shivering hands, discharges his gun into the dying body. So the savages do. The old man asks himself to die; he himself insists upon this last duty towards the community, and obtains the consent of the tribe; he digs out his grave; he invites his kinsfolk to the last parting meal. His father has done so, it is now his turn; and he parts with his kinsfolk with marks of affection. The savage so much considers death as part of his duties towards his community, that he not only refuses to be rescued (as Moffat has told), but when a woman who had to be immolated on her husband's grave was rescued by missionaries, and was taken to an island, she escaped in the night, crossed a broad sea-arm, swimming and rejoined her tribe, to die on the grave.(37) It has become with them a matter of religion. But the savages, as a rule, are so reluctant to take any one's life otherwise than in fight, that none of them will take upon himself to shed human blood, and they resort to all kinds of stratagems, which have been so falsely interpreted. In most cases, they abandon the old man in the wood, after having given him more than his share of the common food. Arctic expeditions have done the same when they no more could carry their invalid comrades. "Live a few days more. may be there will be some unexpected rescue!" West European men of science, when coming across these facts, are absolutely unable to stand them; they can not reconcile them with a high development of tribal morality, and they prefer to cast a doubt upon the exactitude of absolutely reliable observers, instead of trying to explain the parallel existence of the two sets of facts: a high tribal morality together with the abandonment of the parents and infanticide. But if these same Europeans were to tell a savage that people, extremely amiable, fond of their own children, and so impressionable that they cry when they see a misfortune simulated on the stage, are living in Europe within a stone's throw from dens in which children die from sheer want of food, the savage, too, would not understand them. I remember how vainly I tried to make some of my Tungus friends understand our civilization of individualism: they could not, and they resorted to the most fantastical suggestions. The fact is that a savage, brought up in ideas of a tribal solidarity in everything for bad and for good, is as incapable of understanding a "moral" European, who knows nothing of that solidarity, as the average European is incapable of understanding the savage. But if our scientist had lived amidst a half-starving tribe which does not possess among them all one man's food for so much as a few days to come, he probably might have understood their motives. So also the savage, if he had stayed among us, and received our education, may be, would understand our European indifference towards our neighbours, and our Royal Commissions for the prevention of "babyfarming." "Stone houses make stony hearts," the Russian peasants say. But he ought to live in a stone house first.

Similar remarks must be made as regards cannibalism. Taking into account all the facts which were brought to light during a recent controversy on this subject at the Paris Anthropological Society, and many incidental remarks scattered throughout the "savage" literature, we are bound to recognize that that practice was brought into existence by sheer necessity. but that it was further developed by superstition and religion into the proportions it attained in Fiji or in Mexico. It is a fact that until this day many savages are compelled to devour corpses in the most advanced state of putrefaction, and that in cases of absolute scarcity some of them have had to disinter and to feed upon human corpses, even during an epidemic. These are ascertained facts. But if we now transport ourselves to the conditions which man had to face during the glacial period, in a damp and cold climate, with but little vegetable food at his disposal; if we take into account the terrible ravages which scurvy still makes among underfed natives, and remember that meat and fresh blood are the only restoratives which they know, we must admit that man, who formerly was a granivorous animal, became a flesh-eater during the glacial period. He found plenty of deer at that time, but deer often migrate in the Arctic regions, and sometimes they entirely abandon a territory for a number of years. In such cases his last resources disappeared. During like hard trials, cannibalism has been resorted to even by Europeans, and it was resorted to by the savages. Until the present time, they occasionally devour the corpses of their own dead: they must have devoured then the corpses of those who had to die. Old people died, convinced that by their death they were rendering a last service to the tribe. This is why cannibalism is represented by some savages as of divine origin, as something that has been ordered by a messenger from the sky. But later on it lost its character of necessity, and survived as a superstition. Enemies had to be eaten in order to inherit their courage; and, at a still later epoch, the enemy's eye or heart was eaten for the same purpose; while among other tribes, already having a numerous priesthood and a developed mythology, evil gods, thirsty for human blood, were invented, and human sacrifices required by the priests to appease the gods. In this religious phase of its existence, cannibalism attained its most revolting characters. Mexico is a well-known example; and in Fiji, where the king could eat any one of his subjects, we also find a mighty cast of priests, a complicated theology,(38) and a full development of autocracy. Originated by necessity, cannibalism became, at a later period, a religious institution, and in this form it survived long after it had disappeared from among tribes which certainly practised it in former times, but did not attain the theocratical stage of evolution. The same remark must be made as regards infanticide and the abandonment of parents. In some cases they also have been maintained as a survival of olden times, as a religiously-kept tradition of the past.

I will terminate my remarks by mentioning another custom which also is a source of most erroneous conclusions. I mean the practice of blood-revenge. All savages are under the impression that blood shed must be revenged by blood. If any one has been killed, the murderer must die; if any one has been wounded, the aggressor's blood must be shed. There is no exception to the rule, not even for animals; so the hunter's blood is shed on his return to the village when he has shed the blood of an animal. That is the savages' conception of justice—a conception which yet prevails in Western Europe as regards murder. Now, when both the offender and the offended belong to the same tribe, the tribe and the offended person settle the affair.(39) But when the offender belongs to another tribe, and that tribe, for one reason or another, refuses a compensation, then the offended tribe decides to take the revenge itself. Primitive folk so much consider every one's acts as a tribal affair, dependent upon tribal approval, that they easily think the clan responsible for every one's acts. Therefore, the due revenge may be taken upon any member of the offender's clan or relatives.(40) It may often happen, however, that the retaliation goes further than the offence. In trying to inflict a wound, they may kill the offender, or wound him more than they intended to do, and this becomes a cause for a new feud, so that the primitive legislators were careful in requiring the retaliation to be limited to an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and blood for blood.(41)

It is remarkable, however, that with most primitive folk like feuds are infinitely rarer than might be expected; though with some of them they may attain abnormal proportions, especially with mountaineers who have been driven to the highlands by foreign invaders, such as the mountaineers of Caucasia, and especially those of Borneo—the Dayaks. With the Dayaks—we were told lately—the feuds had gone so far that a young man could neither marry nor be proclaimed of age before he had secured the head of an enemy. This horrid practice was fully described in a modern English work.(42) It appears, however, that this affirmation was a gross exaggeration. Moreover, Dayak "head-hunting" takes quite another aspect when we learn that the supposed "headhunter" is not actuated at all by personal passion. He acts under what he considers as a moral obligation towards his tribe, just as the European judge who, in obedience to the same, evidently wrong, principle of "blood for blood," hands over the condemned murderer to the hangman. Both the Dayak and the judge would even feel remorse if sympathy moved them to spare the murderer. That is why the Dayaks, apart from the murders they commit when actuated by their conception of justice, are depicted, by all those who know them, as a most sympathetic people. Thus Carl Bock, the same author who has given such a terrible picture of head-hunting, writes:

"As regards morality, I am bound to assign to the Dayaks a high place in the scale of civilization.... Robberies and theft are entirely unknown among them. They also are very truthful.... If I did not always get the 'whole truth,' I always got, at least, nothing but the truth from them. I wish I could say the same of the Malays" (pp. 209 and 210).

Bock's testimony is fully corroborated by that of Ida Pfeiffer. "I fully recognized," she wrote, "that I should be pleased longer to travel among them. I usually found them honest, good, and reserved... much more so than any other nation I know."(43) Stoltze used almost the same language when speaking of them. The Dayaks usually have but one wife, and treat her well. They are very sociable, and every morning the whole clan goes out for fishing, hunting, or gardening, in large parties. Their villages consist of big huts, each of which is inhabited by a dozen families, and sometimes by several hundred persons, peacefully living together. They show great respect for their wives, and are fond of their children; and when one of them falls ill, the women nurse him in turn. As a rule they are very moderate in eating and drinking. Such is the Dayak in his real daily life.

It would be a tedious repetition if more illustrations from savage life were given. Wherever we go we find the same sociable manners, the same spirit of solidarity. And when we endeavour to penetrate into the darkness of past ages, we find the same tribal life, the same associations of men, however primitive, for mutual support. Therefore, Darwin was quite right when he saw in man's social qualities the chief factor for his further evolution, and Darwin's vulgarizers are entirely wrong when they maintain the contrary.

The small strength and speed of man (he wrote), his want of natural weapons, etc., are more than counterbalanced, firstly, by his intellectual faculties (which, he remarked on another page, have been chiefly or even exclusively gained for the benefit of the community). and secondly, by his social qualities, which led him to give and receive aid from his fellow men.(44)

In the last century the "savage" and his "life in the state of nature" were idealized. But now men of science have gone to the opposite extreme, especially since some of them, anxious to prove the animal origin of man, but not conversant with the social aspects of animal life, began to charge the savage with all imaginable "bestial" features. It is evident, however, that this exaggeration is even more unscientific than Rousseau's idealization. The savage is not an ideal of virtue, nor is he an ideal of "savagery." But the primitive man has one quality, elaborated and maintained by the very necessities of his hard struggle for life—he identifies his own existence with that of his tribe; and without that quality mankind never would have attained the level it has attained now.

Primitive folk, as has been already said, so much identify their lives with that of the tribe, that each of their acts, however insignificant, is considered as a tribal affair. Their whole behaviour is regulated by an infinite series of unwritten rules of propriety which are the fruit of their common experience as to what is good or bad—that is, beneficial or harmful for their own tribe. Of course, the reasonings upon which their rules of propriety are based sometimes are absurd in the extreme. Many of them originate in superstition; and altogether, in whatever the savage does, he sees but the immediate consequences of his acts; he cannot foresee their indirect and ulterior consequences— thus simply exaggerating a defect with which Bentham reproached civilized legislators. But, absurd or not, the savage obeys the prescriptions of the common law, however inconvenient they may be. He obeys them even more blindly than the civilized man obeys the prescriptions of the written law. His common law is his religion; it is his very habit of living. The idea of the clan is always present to his mind, and self-restriction and self-sacrifice in the interest of the clan are of daily occurrence. If the savage has infringed one of the smaller tribal rules, he is prosecuted by the mockeries of the women. If the infringement is grave, he is tortured day and night by the fear of having called a calamity upon his tribe. If he has wounded by accident any one of his own clan, and thus has committed the greatest of all crimes, he grows quite miserable: he runs away in the woods, and is ready to commit suicide, unless the tribe absolves him by inflicting upon him a physical pain and sheds some of his own blood.(45) Within the tribe everything is shared in common; every morsel of food is divided among all present; and if the savage is alone in the woods, he does not begin eating before he has loudly shouted thrice an invitation to any one who may hear his voice to share his meal.(46)

In short, within the tribe the rule of "each for all" is supreme, so long as the separate family has not yet broken up the tribal unity. But that rule is not extended to the neighbouring clans, or tribes, even when they are federated for mutual protection. Each tribe, or clan, is a separate unity. Just as among mammals and birds, the territory is roughly allotted among separate tribes, and, except in times of war, the boundaries are respected. On entering the territory of his neighbours one must show that he has no bad intentions. The louder one heralds his coming, the more confidence he wins; and if he enters a house, he must deposit his hatchet at the entrance. But no tribe is bound to share its food with the others: it may do so or it may not. Therefore the life of the savage is divided into two sets of actions, and appears under two different ethical aspects: the relations within the tribe, and the relations with the outsiders; and (like our international law) the "inter-tribal" law widely differs from the common law. Therefore, when it comes to a war the most revolting cruelties may be considered as so many claims upon the admiration of the tribe. This double conception of morality passes through the whole evolution of mankind, and maintains itself until now. We Europeans have realized some progress—not immense, at any rate—in eradicating that double conception of ethics; but it also must be said that while we have in some measure extended our ideas of solidarity—in theory, at least—over the nation, and partly over other nations as well, we have lessened the bonds of solidarity within our own nations, and even within our own families.

The appearance of a separate family amidst the clan necessarily disturbs the established unity. A separate family means separate property and accumulation of wealth. We saw how the Eskimos obviate its inconveniences; and it is one of the most interesting studies to follow in the course of ages the different institutions (village communities, guilds, and so on) by means of which the masses endeavoured to maintain the tribal unity, notwithstanding the agencies which were at work to break it down. On the other hand, the first rudiments of knowledge which appeared at an extremely remote epoch, when they confounded themselves with witchcraft, also became a power in the hands of the individual which could be used against the tribe. They were carefully kept in secrecy, and transmitted to the initiated only, in the secret societies of witches, shamans, and priests, which we find among all savages. By the same time, wars and invasions created military authority, as also castes of warriors, whose associations or clubs acquired great powers. However, at no period of man's life were wars the normal state of existence. While warriors exterminated each other, and the priests celebrated their massacres, the masses continued to live their daily life, they prosecuted their daily toil. And it is one of the most interesting studies to follow that life of the masses; to study the means by which they maintained their own social organization, which was based upon their own conceptions of equity, mutual aid, and mutual support—of common law, in a word, even when they were submitted to the most ferocious theocracy or autocracy in the State.


1. Nineteenth Century, February 1888, p. 165.

2. The Descent of Man, end of ch. ii. pp. 63 and 64 of the 2nd edition.

3. Anthropologists who fully endorse the above views as regards man nevertheless intimate, sometimes, that the apes live in polygamous families, under the leadership of "a strong and jealous male." I do not know how far that assertion is based upon conclusive observation. But the passage from Brehm's Life of Animals, which is sometimes referred to, can hardly be taken as very conclusive. It occurs in his general description of monkeys; but his more detailed descriptions of separate species either contradict it or do not confirm it. Even as regards the cercopitheques, Brehm is affirmative in saying that they "nearly always live in bands, and very seldom in families" (French edition, p. 59). As to other species, the very numbers of their bands, always containing many males, render the "polygamous family" more than doubtful further observation is evidently wanted.

4. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, fifth edition, 1890.

5. That extension of the ice-cap is admitted by most of the geologists who have specially studied the glacial age. The Russian Geological Survey already has taken this view as regards Russia, and most German specialists maintain it as regards Germany. The glaciation of most of the central plateau of France will not fail to be recognized by the French geologists, when they pay more attention to the glacial deposits altogether.

6. Prehistoric Times, pp. 232 and 242.

7. Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart, 1861; Lewis H. Morgan, Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, New York, 1877; J.F. MacLennan, Studies in Ancient History, 1st series, new edition, 1886; 2nd series, 1896; L. Fison and A.W. Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Melbourne. These four writers—as has been very truly remarked by Giraud Teulon,—starting from different facts and different general ideas, and following different methods, have come to the same conclusion. To Bachofen we owe the notion of the maternal family and the maternal succession; to Morgan—the system of kinship, Malayan and Turanian, and a highly gifted sketch of the main phases of human evolution; to MacLennan—the law of exogeny; and to Fison and Howitt—the cuadro, or scheme, of the conjugal societies in Australia. All four end in establishing the same fact of the tribal origin of the family. When Bachofen first drew attention to the maternal family, in his epoch-making work, and Morgan described the clan-organization,—both concurring to the almost general extension of these forms and maintaining that the marriage laws lie at the very basis of the consecutive steps of human evolution, they were accused of exaggeration. However, the most careful researches prosecuted since, by a phalanx of students of ancient law, have proved that all races of mankind bear traces of having passed through similar stages of development of marriage laws, such as we now see in force among certain savages. See the works of Post, Dargun, Kovalevsky, Lubbock, and their numerous followers: Lippert, Mucke, etc.

8. None

9. For the Semites and the Aryans, see especially Prof. Maxim Kovalevsky's Primitive Law (in Russian), Moscow, 1886 and 1887. Also his Lectures delivered at Stockholm (Tableau des origines et de l'evolution de la famille et de la propriete, Stockholm, 1890), which represents an admirable review of the whole question. Cf. also A. Post, Die Geschlechtsgenossenschaft der Urzeit, Oldenburg 1875.

10. It would be impossible to enter here into a discussion of the origin of the marriage restrictions. Let me only remark that a division into groups, similar to Morgan's Hawaian, exists among birds; the young broods live together separately from their parents. A like division might probably be traced among some mammals as well. As to the prohibition of relations between brothers and sisters, it is more likely to have arisen, not from speculations about the bad effects of consanguinity, which speculations really do not seem probable, but to avoid the too-easy precocity of like marriages. Under close cohabitation it must have become of imperious necessity. I must also remark that in discussing the origin of new customs altogether, we must keep in mind that the savages, like us, have their "thinkers" and savants-wizards, doctors, prophets, etc.—whose knowledge and ideas are in advance upon those of the masses. United as they are in their secret unions (another almost universal feature) they are certainly capable of exercising a powerful influence, and of enforcing customs the utility of which may not yet be recognized by the majority of the tribe.

11. Col. Collins, in Philips' Researches in South Africa, London, 1828. Quoted by Waitz, ii. 334.

12. Lichtenstein's Reisen im sudlichen Afrika, ii. Pp. 92, 97. Berlin, 1811.

13. Waitz, Anthropologie der Naturvolker, ii. pp. 335 seq. See also Fritsch's Die Eingeboren Afrika's, Breslau, 1872, pp. 386 seq.; and Drei Jahre in Sud Afrika. Also W. Bleck, A Brief Account of Bushmen Folklore, Capetown, 1875.

14. Elisee Reclus, Geographie Universelle, xiii. 475.

15. P. Kolben, The Present State of the Cape of Good Hope, translated from the German by Mr. Medley, London, 1731, vol. i. pp. 59, 71, 333, 336, etc.

16. Quoted in Waitz's Anthropologie, ii. 335 seq.

17. The natives living in the north of Sidney, and speaking the Kamilaroi language, are best known under this aspect, through the capital work of Lorimer Fison and A.W. Howitt, Kamilaroi and Kurnaii, Melbourne, 1880. See also A.W. Howitt's "Further Note on the Australian Class Systems," in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 1889, vol. xviii. p. 31, showing the wide extension of the same organization in Australia.

18. The Folklore, Manners, etc., of Australian Aborigines, Adelaide, 1879, p. 11.

19. Grey's Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West and Western Australia, London, 1841, vol. ii. pp. 237, 298.

20. Bulletin de la Societe d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p. 652. I abridge the answers.

21. Bulletin de la Societe d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p. 386.

22. The same is the practice with the Papuas of Kaimani Bay, who have a high reputation of honesty. "It never happens that the Papua be untrue to his promise," Finsch says in Neuguinea und seine Bewohner, Bremen, 1865, p. 829.

23. Izvestia of the Russian Geographical Society, 1880, pp. 161 seq. Few books of travel give a better insight into the petty details of the daily life of savages than these scraps from Maklay's notebooks.

24. L.F. Martial, in Mission Scientifique au Cap Horn, Paris, 1883, vol. i. pp. 183-201.

25. Captain Holm's Expedition to East Greenland.

26. In Australia whole clans have been seen exchanging all their wives, in order to conjure a calamity (Post, Studien zur Entwicklungsgeschichte des Familienrechts, 1890, p. 342). More brotherhood is their specific against calamities.

27. Dr. H. Rink, The Eskimo Tribes, p. 26 (Meddelelser om Gronland, vol. xi. 1887).

28. Dr. Rink, loc. cit. p. 24. Europeans, grown in the respect of Roman law, are seldom capable of understanding that force of tribal authority. "In fact," Dr. Rink writes, "it is not the exception, but the rule, that white men who have stayed for ten or twenty years among the Eskimo, return without any real addition to their knowledge of the traditional ideas upon which their social state is based. The white man, whether a missionary or a trader, is firm in his dogmatic opinion that the most vulgar European is better than the most distinguished native."—The Eskimo Tribes, p. 31.

29. Dall, Alaska and its Resources, Cambridge, U.S., 1870.

30. Dall saw it in Alaska, Jacobsen at Ignitok in the vicinity of the Bering Strait. Gilbert Sproat mentions it among the Vancouver indians; and Dr. Rink, who describes the periodical exhibitions just mentioned, adds: "The principal use of the accumulation of personal wealth is for periodically distributing it." He also mentions (loc. cit. p. 31) "the destruction of property for the same purpose," (of maintaining equality).

31. See Appendix VIII.

32. Veniaminoff, Memoirs relative to the District of Unalashka (Russian), 3 vols. St. Petersburg, 1840. Extracts, in English, from the above are given in Dall's Alaska. A like description of the Australians' morality is given in Nature, xlii. p. 639.

33. It is most remarkable that several writers (Middendorff, Schrenk, O. Finsch) described the Ostyaks and Samoyedes in almost the same words. Even when drunken, their quarrels are insignificant. "For a hundred years one single murder has been committed in the tundra;" "their children never fight;" "anything may be left for years in the tundra, even food and gin, and nobody will touch it;" and so on. Gilbert Sproat "never witnessed a fight between two sober natives" of the Aht Indians of Vancouver Island. "Quarrelling is also rare among their children." (Rink, loc. cit.) And so on.

34. Gill, quoted in Gerland and Waitz's Anthropologie, v. 641. See also pp. 636-640, where many facts of parental and filial love are quoted.

35. Primitive Folk, London, 1891.

36. Gerland, loc. cit. v. 636.

37. Erskine, quoted in Gerland and Waitz's Anthropologie, v. 640.

38. W.T. Pritchard, Polynesian Reminiscences, London, 1866, p. 363.

39. It is remarkable, however, that in case of a sentence of death, nobody will take upon himself to be the executioner. Every one throws his stone, or gives his blow with the hatchet, carefully avoiding to give a mortal blow. At a later epoch, the priest will stab the victim with a sacred knife. Still later, it will be the king, until civilization invents the hired hangman. See Bastian's deep remarks upon this subject in Der Mensch in der Geschichte, iii. Die Blutrache, pp. 1-36. A remainder of this tribal habit, I am told by Professor E. Nys, has survived in military executions till our own times. In the middle portion of the nineteenth century it was the habit to load the rifles of the twelve soldiers called out for shooting the condemned victim, with eleven ball-cartridges and one blank cartridge. As the soldiers never knew who of them had the latter, each one could console his disturbed conscience by thinking that he was not one of the murderers.

40. In Africa, and elsewhere too, it is a widely-spread habit, that if a theft has been committed, the next clan has to restore the equivalent of the stolen thing, and then look itself for the thief. A. H. Post, Afrikanische Jurisprudenz, Leipzig, 1887, vol. i. p. 77.

41. See Prof. M. Kovalevsky's Modern Customs and Ancient Law (Russian), Moscow, 1886, vol. ii., which contains many important considerations upon this subject.

42. See Carl Bock, The Head Hunters of Borneo, London, 1881. I am told, however, by Sir Hugh Law, who was for a long time Governor of Borneo, that the "head-hunting" described in this book is grossly exaggerated. Altogether, my informant speaks of the Dayaks in exactly the same sympathetic terms as Ida Pfeiffer. Let me add that Mary Kingsley speaks in her book on West Africa in the same sympathetic terms of the Fans, who had been represented formerly as the most "terrible cannibals."

43. Ida Pfeiffer, Meine zweite Weltrieze, Wien, 1856, vol. i. pp. 116 seq. See also Muller and Temminch's Dutch Possessions in Archipelagic India, quoted by Elisee Reclus, in Geographie Universelle, xiii.

44. Descent of Man, second ed., pp. 63, 64.

45. See Bastian's Mensch in der Geschichte, iii. p. 7. Also Grey, loc. cit. ii. p. 238.

46. Miklukho-Maclay, loc. cit. Same habit with the Hottentots.



The great migrations. New organization rendered necessary. The village community. Communal work. Judicial procedure. Inter-tribal law. Illustrations from the life of our contemporaries. Buryates. Kabyles. Caucasian mountaineers. African stems.

It is not possible to study primitive mankind without being deeply impressed by the sociability it has displayed since its very first steps in life. Traces of human societies are found in the relics of both the oldest and the later stone age; and, when we come to observe the savages whose manners of life are still those of neolithic man, we find them closely bound together by an extremely ancient clan organization which enables them to combine their individually weak forces, to enjoy life in common, and to progress. Man is no exception in nature. He also is subject to the great principle of Mutual Aid which grants the best chances of survival to those who best support each other in the struggle for life. These were the conclusions arrived at in the previous chapters.

However, as soon as we come to a higher stage of civilization, and refer to history which already has something to say about that stage, we are bewildered by the struggles and conflicts which it reveals. The old bonds seem entirely to be broken. Stems are seen to fight against stems, tribes against tribes, individuals against individuals; and out of this chaotic contest of hostile forces, mankind issues divided into castes, enslaved to despots, separated into States always ready to wage war against each other. And, with this history of mankind in his hands, the pessimist philosopher triumphantly concludes that warfare and oppression are the very essence of human nature; that the warlike and predatory instincts of man can only be restrained within certain limits by a strong authority which enforces peace and thus gives an opportunity to the few and nobler ones to prepare a better life for humanity in times to come.

And yet, as soon as the every-day life of man during the historical period is submitted to a closer analysis and so it has been, of late, by many patient students of very early institutions—it appears at once under quite a different aspect. Leaving aside the preconceived ideas of most historians and their pronounced predilection for the dramatic aspects of history, we see that the very documents they habitually peruse are such as to exaggerate the part of human life given to struggles and to underrate its peaceful moods. The bright and sunny days are lost sight of in the gales and storms. Even in our own time, the cumbersome records which we prepare for the future historian, in our Press, our law courts, our Government offices, and even in our fiction and poetry, suffer from the same one-sidedness. They hand down to posterity the most minute descriptions of every war, every battle and skirmish, every contest and act of violence, every kind of individual suffering; but they hardly bear any trace of the countless acts of mutual support and devotion which every one of us knows from his own experience; they hardly. take notice of what makes the very essence of our daily life—our social instincts and manners. No wonder, then, if the records of the past were so imperfect. The annalists of old never failed to chronicle the petty wars and calamities which harassed their contemporaries; but they paid no attention whatever to the life of the masses, although the masses chiefly used to toil peacefully while the few indulged in fighting. The epic poems, the inscriptions on monuments, the treaties of peace—nearly all historical documents bear the same character; they deal with breaches of peace, not with peace itself. So that the best-intentioned historian unconsciously draws a distorted picture of the times he endeavours to depict; and, to restore the real proportion between conflict and union, we are now bound to enter into a minute analysis of thousands of small facts and faint indications accidentally preserved in the relics of the past; to interpret them with the aid of comparative ethnology; and, after having heard so much about what used to divide men, to reconstruct stone by stone the institutions which used to unite them.

Ere long history will have to be re-written on new lines, so as to take into account these two currents of human life and to appreciate the part played by each of them in evolution. But in the meantime we may avail ourselves of the immense preparatory work recently done towards restoring the leading features of the second current, so much neglected. From the better-known periods of history we may take some illustrations of the life of the masses, in order to indicate the part played by mutual support during those periods; and, in so doing, we may dispense (for the sake of brevity) from going as far back as the Egyptian, or even the Greek and Roman antiquity. For, in fact, the evolution of mankind has not had the character of one unbroken series. Several times civilization came to an end in one given region, with one given race, and began anew elsewhere, among other races. But at each fresh start it began again with the same clan institutions which we have seen among the savages. So that if we take the last start of our own civilization, when it began afresh in the first centuries of our era, among those whom the Romans called the "barbarians," we shall have the whole scale of evolution, beginning with the gentes and ending in the institutions of our own time. To these illustrations the following pages will be devoted.

Men of science have not yet settled upon the causes which some two thousand years ago drove whole nations from Asia into Europe and resulted in the great migrations of barbarians which put an end to the West Roman Empire. One cause, however, is naturally suggested to the geographer as he contemplates the ruins of populous cities in the deserts of Central Asia, or follows the old beds of rivers now disappeared and the wide outlines of lakes now reduced to the size of mere ponds. It is desiccation: a quite recent desiccation, continued still at a speed which we formerly were not prepared to admit.(1) Against it man was powerless. When the inhabitants of North-West Mongolia and East Turkestan saw that water was abandoning them, they had no course open to them but to move down the broad valleys leading to the lowlands, and to thrust westwards the inhabitants of the plains.(2) Stems after stems were thus thrown into Europe, compelling other stems to move and to remove for centuries in succession, westwards and eastwards, in search of new and more or less permanent abodes. Races were mixing with races during those migrations, aborigines with immigrants, Aryans with Ural-Altayans; and it would have been no wonder if the social institutions which had kept them together in their mother countries had been totally wrecked during the stratification of races which took place in Europe and Asia. But they were not wrecked; they simply underwent the modification which was required by the new conditions of life.

The Teutons, the Celts, the Scandinavians, the Slavonians, and others, when they first came in contact with the Romans, were in a transitional state of social organization. The clan unions, based upon a real or supposed common origin, had kept them together for many thousands of years in succession. But these unions could answer their purpose so long only as there were no separate families within the gens or clan itself. However, for causes already mentioned, the separate patriarchal family had slowly but steadily developed within the clans, and in the long run it evidently meant the individual accumulation of wealth and power, and the hereditary transmission of both. The frequent migrations of the barbarians and the ensuing wars only hastened the division of the gentes into separate families, while the dispersing of stems and their mingling with strangers offered singular facilities for the ultimate disintegration of those unions which were based upon kinship. The barbarians thus stood in a position of either seeing their clans dissolved into loose aggregations of families, of which the wealthiest, especially if combining sacerdotal functions or military repute with wealth, would have succeeded in imposing their authority upon the others; or of finding out some new form of organization based upon some new principle.

Many stems had no force to resist disintegration: they broke up and were lost for history. But the more vigorous ones did not disintegrate. They came out of the ordeal with a new organization— the village community—which kept them together for the next fifteen centuries or more. The conception of a common territory, appropriated or protected by common efforts, was elaborated, and it took the place of the vanishing conceptions of common descent. The common gods gradually lost their character of ancestors and were endowed with a local territorial character. They became the gods or saints of a given locality; "the land" was identified with its inhabitants. Territorial unions grew up instead of the consanguine unions of old, and this new organization evidently offered many advantages under the given circumstances. It recognized the independence of the family and even emphasized it, the village community disclaiming all rights of interference in what was going on within the family enclosure; it gave much more freedom to personal initiative; it was not hostile in principle to union between men of different descent, and it maintained at the same time the necessary cohesion of action and thought, while it was strong enough to oppose the dominative tendencies of the minorities of wizards, priests, and professional or distinguished warriors. Consequently it became the primary cell of future organization, and with many nations the village community has retained this character until now.

It is now known, and scarcely contested, that the village community was not a specific feature of the Slavonians, nor even of the ancient Teutons. It prevailed in England during both the Saxon and Norman times, and partially survived till the last century;(3) it was at the bottom of the social organization of old Scotland, old Ireland, and old Wales. In France, the communal possession and the communal allotment of arable land by the village folkmote persisted from the first centuries of our era till the times of Turgot, who found the folkmotes "too noisy" and therefore abolished them. It survived Roman rule in Italy, and revived after the fall of the Roman Empire. It was the rule with the Scandinavians, the Slavonians, the Finns (in the pittaya, as also, probably, the kihla-kunta), the Coures, and the lives. The village community in India—past and present, Aryan and non-Aryan—is well known through the epoch-making works of Sir Henry Maine; and Elphinstone has described it among the Afghans. We also find it in the Mongolian oulous, the Kabyle thaddart, the Javanese dessa, the Malayan kota or tofa, and under a variety of names in Abyssinia, the Soudan, in the interior of Africa, with natives of both Americas, with all the small and large tribes of the Pacific archipelagoes. In short, we do not know one single human race or one single nation which has not had its period of village communities. This fact alone disposes of the theory according to which the village community in Europe would have been a servile growth. It is anterior to serfdom, and even servile submission was powerless to break it. It was a universal phase of evolution, a natural outcome of the clan organization, with all those stems, at least, which have played, or play still, some part in history.(4)

It was a natural growth, and an absolute uniformity in its structure was therefore not possible. As a rule, it was a union between families considered as of common descent and owning a certain territory in common. But with some stems, and under certain circumstances, the families used to grow very numerous before they threw off new buds in the shape of new families; five, six, or seven generations continued to live under the same roof, or within the same enclosure, owning their joint household and cattle in common, and taking their meals at the common hearth. They kept in such case to what ethnology knows as the "joint family," or the "undivided household," which we still see all over China, in India, in the South Slavonian zadruga, and occasionally find in Africa, in America, in Denmark, in North Russia, and West France.(5) With other stems, or in other circumstances, not yet well specified, the families did not attain the same proportions; the grandsons, and occasionally the sons, left the household as soon as they were married, and each of them started a new cell of his own. But, joint or not, clustered together or scattered in the woods, the families remained united into village communities; several villages were grouped into tribes; and the tribes joined into confederations. Such was the social organization which developed among the so-called "barbarians," when they began to settle more or less permanently in Europe.

A very long evolution was required before the gentes, or clans, recognized the separate existence of a patriarchal family in a separate hut; but even after that had been recognized, the clan, as a rule, knew no personal inheritance of property. The few things which might have belonged personally to the individual were either destroyed on his grave or buried with him. The village community, on the contrary, fully recognized the private accumulation of wealth within the family and its hereditary transmission. But wealth was conceived exclusively in the shape of movable property, including cattle, implements, arms, and the dwelling house which—"like all things that can be destroyed by fire"—belonged to the same category(6). As to private property in land, the village community did not, and could not, recognize anything of the kind, and, as a rule, it does not recognize it now. The land was the common property of the tribe, or of the whole stem, and the village community itself owned its part of the tribal territory so long only as the tribe did not claim a re-distribution of the village allotments. The clearing of the woods and the breaking of the prairies being mostly done by the communities or, at least, by the joint work of several families—always with the consent of the community—the cleared plots were held by each family for a term of four, twelve, or twenty years, after which term they were treated as parts of the arable land owned in common. Private property, or possession "for ever" was as incompatible, with the very principles and the religious conceptions of the village community as it was with the principles of the gens; so that a long influence of the Roman law and the Christian Church, which soon accepted the Roman principles, were required to accustom the barbarians to the idea of private property in land being possible.(7) And yet, even when such property, or possession for an unlimited time, was recognized, the owner of a separate estate remained a co-proprietor in the waste lands, forests, and grazing-grounds. Moreover, we continually see, especially in the history of Russia, that when a few families, acting separately, had taken possession of some land belonging to tribes which were treated as strangers, they very soon united together, and constituted a village community which in the third or fourth generation began to profess a community of origin.

A whole series of institutions, partly inherited from the clan period, have developed from that basis of common ownership of land during the long succession of centuries which was required to bring the barbarians under the dominion of States organized upon the Roman or Byzantine pattern. The village community was not only a union for guaranteeing to each one his fair. share in the common land, but also a union for common culture, for mutual support in all possible forms, for protection from violence, and for a further development of knowledge, national bonds, and moral conceptions; and every change in the judicial, military, educational, or economical manners had to be decided at the folkmotes of the village, the tribe, or the confederation. The community being a continuation of the gens, it inherited all its functions. It was the universitas, the mir—a world in itself.

Common hunting, common fishing, and common culture of the orchards or the plantations of fruit trees was the rule with the old gentes. Common agriculture became the rule in the barbarian village communities. True, that direct testimony to this effect is scarce, and in the literature of antiquity we only have the passages of Diodorus and Julius Caesar relating to the inhabitants of the Lipari Islands, one of the Celt-Iberian tribes, and the Sueves. But there is no lack of evidence to prove that common agriculture was practised among some Teuton tribes, the Franks, and the old Scotch, Irish, and Welsh.(8) As to the later survivals of the same practice, they simply are countless. Even in perfectly Romanized France, common culture was habitual some five and twenty years ago in the Morbihan (Brittany).(9) The old Welsh cyvar, or joint team, as well as the common culture of the land allotted to the use of the village sanctuary are quite common among the tribes of Caucasus the least touched by civilization,(10) and like facts are of daily occurrence among the Russian peasants. Moreover, it is well known that many tribes of Brazil, Central America, and Mexico used to cultivate their fields in common, and that the same habit is widely spread among some Malayans, in New Caledonia, with several Negro stems, and so on.(11) In short, communal culture is so habitual with many Aryan, Ural-Altayan, Mongolian, Negro, Red Indian, Malayan, and Melanesian stems that we must consider it as a universal— though not as the only possible—form of primitive agriculture.(12)

Communal cultivation does not, however, imply by necessity communal consumption. Already under the clan organization we often see that when the boats laden with fruits or fish return to the village, the food they bring in is divided among the huts and the "long houses" inhabited by either several families or the youth, and is cooked separately at each separate hearth. The habit of taking meals in a narrower circle of relatives or associates thus prevails at an early period of clan life. It became the rule in the village community. Even the food grown in common was usually divided between the households after part of it had been laid in store for communal use. However, the tradition of communal meals was piously kept alive; every available opportunity, such as the commemoration of the ancestors, the religious festivals, the beginning and the end of field work, the births, the marriages, and the funerals, being seized upon to bring the community to a common meal. Even now this habit, well known in this country as the "harvest supper," is the last to disappear. On the other hand, even when the fields had long since ceased to be tilled and sown in common, a variety of agricultural work continued, and continues still, to be performed by the community. Some part of the communal land is still cultivated in many cases in common, either for the use of the destitute, or for refilling the communal stores, or for using the produce at the religious festivals. The irrigation canals are digged and repaired in common. The communal meadows are mown by the community; and the sight of a Russian commune mowing a meadow— the men rivalling each other in their advance with the scythe, while the women turn the grass over and throw it up into heaps— is one of the most inspiring sights; it shows what human work might be and ought to be. The hay, in such case, is divided among the separate households, and it is evident that no one has the right of taking hay from a neighbour's stack without his permission; but the limitation of this last rule among the Caucasian Ossetes is most noteworthy. When the cuckoo cries and announces that spring is coming, and that the meadows will soon be clothed again with grass, every one in need has the right of taking from a neighbour's stack the hay he wants for his cattle.(13) The old communal rights are thus re-asserted, as if to prove how contrary unbridled individualism is to human nature.

When the European traveller lands in some small island of the Pacific, and, seeing at a distance a grove of palm trees, walks in that direction, he is astonished to discover that the little villages are connected by roads paved with big stones, quite comfortable for the unshod natives, and very similar to the "old roads" of the Swiss mountains. Such roads were traced by the "barbarians" all over Europe, and one must have travelled in wild, thinly-peopled countries, far away from the chief lines of communication, to realize in full the immense work that must have been performed by the barbarian communities in order to conquer the woody and marshy wilderness which Europe was some two thousand years ago. Isolated families, having no tools, and weak as they were, could not have conquered it; the wilderness would have overpowered them. Village communities alone, working in common, could master the wild forests, the sinking marshes, and the endless steppes. The rough roads, the ferries, the wooden bridges taken away in the winter and rebuilt after the spring flood was over, the fences and the palisaded walls of the villages, the earthen forts and the small towers with which the territory was dottedall these were the work of the barbarian communities. And when a community grew numerous it used to throw off a new bud. A new community arose at a distance, thus step by step bringing the woods and the steppes Under the dominion of man. The whole making of European nations was such a budding of the village communities. Even now-a-days the Russian peasants, if they are not quite broken down by misery, migrate in communities, and they till the soil and build the houses in com mon when they settle on the banks of the Amur, or in Manitoba. And even the English, when they first began to colonize America, used to return to the old system; they grouped into village communities.(14)

The village community was the chief arm of the barbarians in their hard struggle against a hostile nature. It also was the bond they opposed to oppression by the cunningest and the strongest which so easily might have developed during those disturbed times. The imaginary barbarian—the man who fights and kills at his mere caprice—existed no more than the "bloodthirsty" savage. The real barbarian was living, on the contrary, under a wide series of institutions, imbued with considerations as to what may be useful or noxious to his tribe or confederation, and these institutions were piously handed down from generation to generation in verses and songs, in proverbs or triads, in sentences and instructions. The more we study them the more we recognize the narrow bonds which united men in their villages. Every quarrel arising between two individuals was treated as a communal affair—even the offensive words that might have been uttered during a quarrel being considered as an offence to the community and its ancestors. They had to be repaired by amends made both to the individual and the community;(15) and if a quarrel ended in a fight and wounds, the man who stood by and did not interpose was treated as if he himself had inflicted the wounds.(16) The judicial procedure was imbued with the same spirit. Every dispute was brought first before mediators or arbiters, and it mostly ended with them, the arbiters playing a very important part in barbarian society. But if the case was too grave to be settled in this way, it came before the folkmote, which was bound "to find the sentence," and pronounced it in a conditional form; that is, "such compensation was due, if the wrong be proved," and the wrong had to be proved or disclaimed by six or twelve persons confirming or denying the fact by oath; ordeal being resorted to in case of contradiction between the two sets of jurors. Such procedure, which remained in force for more than two thousand years in succession, speaks volumes for itself; it shows how close were the bonds between all members of the community. Moreover, there was no other authority to enforce the decisions of the folkmote besides its own moral authority. The only possible menace was that the community might declare the rebel an outlaw, but even this menace was reciprocal. A man discontented with the folkmote could declare that he would abandon the tribe and go over to another tribe—a most dreadful menace, as it was sure to bring all kinds of misfortunes upon a tribe that might have been unfair to one of its members.(17) A rebellion against a right decision of the customary law was simply "inconceivable," as Henry Maine has so well said, because "law, morality, and fact" could not be separated from each other in those times.(18) The moral authority of the commune was so great that even at a much later epoch, when the village communities fell into submission to the feudal lord, they maintained their judicial powers; they only permitted the lord, or his deputy, to "find" the above conditional sentence in accordance with the customary law he had sworn to follow, and to levy for himself the fine (the fred) due to the commune. But for a long time, the lord himself, if he remained a co-proprietor in the waste land of the commune, submitted in communal affairs to its decisions. Noble or ecclesiastic, he had to submit to the folkmote—Wer daselbst Wasser und Weid genusst, muss gehorsam sein—"Who enjoys here the right of water and pasture must obey"—was the old saying. Even when the peasants became serfs under the lord, he was bound to appear before the folkmote when they summoned him.(19)

In their conceptions of justice the barbarians evidently did not much differ from the savages. They also maintained the idea that a murder must be followed by putting the murderer to death; that wounds had to be punished by equal wounds, and that the wronged family was bound to fulfil the sentence of the customary law. This was a holy duty, a duty towards the ancestors, which had to be accomplished in broad daylight, never in secrecy, and rendered widely known. Therefore the most inspired passages of the sagas and epic poetry altogether are those which glorify what was supposed to be justice. The gods themselves joined in aiding it. However, the predominant feature of barbarian justice is, on the one hand, to limit the numbers of persons who may be involved in a feud, and, on the other hand, to extirpate the brutal idea of blood for blood and wounds for wounds, by substituting for it the system of compensation. The barbarian codes which were collections of common law rules written down for the use of judges—"first permitted, then encouraged, and at last enforced," compensation instead of revenge.(20) The compensation has, however, been totally misunderstood by those who represented it as a fine, and as a sort of carte blanche given to the rich man to do whatever he liked. The compensation money (wergeld), which was quite different from the fine or fred,(21) was habitually so high for all kinds of active offences that it certainly was no encouragement for such offences. In case of a murder it usually exceeded all the possible fortune of the murderer "Eighteen times eighteen cows" is the compensation with the Ossetes who do not know how to reckon above eighteen, while with the African tribes it attains 800 cows or 100 camels with their young, or 416 sheep in the poorer tribes.(22) In the great majority of cases, the compensation money could not be paid at all, so that the murderer had no issue but to induce the wronged family, by repentance, to adopt him. Even now, in the Caucasus, when feuds come to an end, the offender touches with his lips the breast of the oldest woman of the tribe, and becomes a "milk-brother" to all men of the wronged family.(23) With several African tribes he must give his daughter, or sister, in marriage to some one of the family; with other tribes he is bound to marry the woman whom he has made a widow; and in all cases he becomes a member of the family, whose opinion is taken in all important family matters.(24)

Far from acting with disregard to human life, the barbarians, moreover, knew nothing of the horrid punishments introduced at a later epoch by the laic and canonic laws under Roman and Byzantine influence. For, if the Saxon code admitted the death penalty rather freely even in cases of incendiarism and armed robbery, the other barbarian codes pronounced it exclusively in cases of betrayal of one's kin, and sacrilege against the community's gods, as the only means to appease the gods.

All this, as seen is very far from the supposed "moral dissoluteness" of the barbarians. On the contrary, we cannot but admire the deeply moral principles elaborated within the early village communities which found their expression in Welsh triads, in legends about King Arthur, in Brehon commentaries,(25) in old German legends and so on, or find still their expression in the sayings of the modern barbarians. In his introduction to The Story of Burnt Njal, George Dasent very justly sums up as follows the qualities of a Northman, as they appear in the sagas:—

To do what lay before him openly and like a man, without fear of either foes, fiends, or fate;... to be free and daring in all his deeds; to be gentle and generous to his friends and kinsmen; to be stern and grim to his foes [those who are under the lex talionis], but even towards them to fulfil all bounden duties.... To be no truce-breaker, nor tale-bearer, nor backbiter. To utter nothing against any man that he would not dare to tell him to his face. To turn no man from his door who sought food or shelter, even though he were a foe.(26)

The same or still better principles permeate the Welsh epic poetry and triads. To act "according to the nature of mildness and the principles of equity," without regard to the foes or to the friends, and "to repair the wrong," are the highest duties of man; "evil is death, good is life," exclaims the poet legislator.(27) "The World would be fool, if agreements made on lips were not honourable"—the Brehon law says. And the humble Shamanist Mordovian, after having praised the same qualities, will add, moreover, in his principles of customary law, that "among neighbours the cow and the milking-jar are in common." that, "the cow must be milked for yourself and him who may ask milk;" that "the body of a child reddens from the stroke, but the face of him who strikes reddens from shame;"(28) and so on. Many pages might be filled with like principles expressed and followed by the "barbarians."

One feature more of the old village communities deserves a special mention. It is the gradual extension of the circle of men embraced by the feelings of solidarity. Not only the tribes federated into stems, but the stems as well, even though of different origin, joined together in confederations. Some unions were so close that, for instance, the Vandals, after part of their confederation had left for the Rhine, and thence went over to Spain and Africa, respected for forty consecutive years the landmarks and the abandoned villages of their confederates, and did not take possession of them until they had ascertained through envoys that their confederates did not intend to return. With other barbarians, the soil was cultivated by one part of the stem, while the other part fought on or beyond the frontiers of the common territory. As to the leagues between several stems, they were quite habitual. The Sicambers united with the Cherusques and the Sueves, the Quades with the Sarmates; the Sarmates with the Alans, the Carpes, and the Huns. Later on, we also see the conception of nations gradually developing in Europe, long before anything like a State had grown in any part of the continent occupied by the barbarians. These nations—for it is impossible to refuse the name of a nation to the Merovingian France, or to the Russia of the eleventh and twelfth century—were nevertheless kept together by nothing else but a community of language, and a tacit agreement of the small republics to take their dukes from none but one special family.

Wars were certainly unavoidable; migration means war; but Sir Henry Maine has already fully proved in his remarkable study of the tribal origin of International Law, that "Man has never been so ferocious or so stupid as to submit to such an evil as war without some kind of effort to prevent it," and he has shown how exceedingly great is "the number of ancient institutions which bear the marks of a design to stand in the way of war, or to provide an alternative to it."(29) In reality, man is so far from the warlike being he is supposed to be, that when the barbarians had once settled they so rapidly lost the very habits of warfare that very soon they were compelled to keep special dukes followed by special scholae or bands of warriors, in order to protect them from possible intruders. They preferred peaceful toil to war, the very peacefulness of man being the cause of the specialization of the warrior's trade, which specialization resulted later on in serfdom and in all the wars of the "States period" of human history.

History finds great difficulties in restoring to life the institutions of the barbarians. At every step the historian meets with some faint indication which he is unable to explain with the aid of his own documents only. But a broad light is thrown on the past as soon as we refer to the institutions of the very numerous tribes which are still living under a social organization almost identical with that of our barbarian ancestors. Here we simply have the difficulty of choice, because the islands of the Pacific, the steppes of Asia, and the tablelands of Africa are real historical museums containing specimens of all possible intermediate stages which mankind has lived through, when passing from the savage gentes up to the States' organization. Let us, then, examine a few of those specimens.

If we take the village communities of the Mongol Buryates, especially those of the Kudinsk Steppe on the upper Lena which have better escaped Russian influence, we have fair representatives of barbarians in a transitional state, between cattle-breeding and agriculture.(30) These Buryates are still living in "joint families"; that is, although each son, when he is married, goes to live in a separate hut, the huts of at least three generations remain within the same enclosure, and the joint family work in common in their fields, and own in common their joint households and their cattle, as well as their "calves' grounds" (small fenced patches of soil kept under soft grass for the rearing of calves). As a rule, the meals are taken separately in each hut; but when meat is roasted, all the twenty to sixty members of the joint household feast together. Several joint households which live in a cluster, as well as several smaller families settled in the same village—mostly debris of joint households accidentally broken up—make the oulous, or the village community. several oulouses make a tribe; and the, forty-six tribes, or clans, of the Kudinsk Steppe are united into one confederation. Smaller and closer confederations are entered into, as necessity arises for special wants, by several tribes. They know no private property in land—the land being held in common by the oulous, or rather by the confederation, and if it becomes necessary, the territory is re-allotted between the different oulouses at a folkmote of the tribe, and between the forty-six tribes at a folkmote of the confederation. It is worthy of note that the same organization prevails among all the 250,000 Buryates of East Siberia, although they have been for three centuries under Russian rule, and are well acquainted with Russian institutions.

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