Force and Freedom: Reflections on History

Force and Freedom: Reflections on History

Force and Freedom: Reflections on History

Force and Freedom: Reflections on History

Excerpt

All our efforts to reconstruct the beginnings and origin of the State are vain. Hence, unlike the philosophers of history, we are under no necessity to rack our brains over such questions. Yet in order to have light enough to see the abyss at our feet, we must ask the question--how does a people become a people, and how does it become a State? What are its birth-throes? At what point of its growth can we begin to call it a State?

The hypothesis of the State as founded upon an antecedent contract is absurd. Rousseau makes use of it merely as an ideal, an expedient. His purpose is not to show what happened, but what, according to him, should happen. No State has ever yet been created by a genuine contract, i.e. a contract freely entered into by all parties ( inter volentes ); for cessions and settlements like those between the trembling Romans and triumphant Teutons are no genuine contracts. Hence no State will come into being in that way in the future. And if ever one did, it would be a feeble thing, since men could quibble for ever over its principles.

Tradition, which draws no distinction between the People and the State, is prone to dwell on the idea of racial origin. Eponymous heroes and partly eponymous State-

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