Will Durant: “The Political Elements of Civilization” (1935)

The State

‘This violent subjection is usually of a settled agricultural group by a tribe of hunters and herders. For agriculture teaches men pacific ways, inures them to a prosaic routine, and exhausts them with a long day’s toil; such men accumulate wealth, but they forget the arts and sentiments of war. The hunter and the herder, accustomed to danger and skilled in killing, look upon war as but another form of the chase, and hardly more perilous; when the woods cease to give them abundant game, or flocks decrease through a thinning pasture, they look with envy upon the ripe fields of the village, they invent with modern ease some plausible reason for attack, they invade, conquer, enslave and rule.

‘It is a law that holds only for the early societies, since under more complex conditions a variety of other factors–greater wealth, better weapons, higher intelligence–contribute to determine the issue. So Egypt was conquered not only by Hyksos, Ethiopian, Arab and Turkish nomads, but also by the settled civilizations of Assyria, Persia, Greece, Rome, and England–though not until these nations had become hunters and nomads on an imperialistic scale.’

. . . ‘In permanent conquest the principle of domination tends to become concealed and almost unconscious; the French who rebelled in 1789 hardly realized, until Camile Desmoulins reminded them, that the aristocracy that had ruled them for a thousand years had come from Germany and had subjugated them by force. Time sanctifies everything; even the most arrant theft, in the hands of the robber’s grandchildren, becomes sacred and inviolable property. Every state begins in compulsion; but the habits of obedience become the content of conscience, and soon every citizen thrills with loyalty to the flag.’

[Stephen speaking]
One of my colleagues has told me a story a couple times, which to some extent may be viewed as casuistry, but I’ve found a new answer. The story is something from television, I think perhaps Bill O’Reilly, in which he’s interviewing some “big time liberal” and asks him “if a man comes up to you and takes your money and gives it to someone else, what does that make him?”
“A thief.”
“If instead of one man, what if it’s ten who take your money?”
“Then that’s ten thieves.”
“And if instead of ten men, it’s the government, what does that make the government?”
And, see, the liberal sits there stewing because he knows he’s been caught in a trap of pure common sense! Hah!

Here’s the rebuttal though:

Better to pay tribute to one magnificent robber than to bribe them all.

Good fucking point!

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