2. Tribes, kingdoms, empires, governments
Have you read Were we unique in suffering? (Chapter 1)
You might have heard about the Sentinelese people of north Sentinel island. Anthropologists are of the opinion that the Sentinelese have been isolated approximately since last 60000 years. A young christian missionary got himself killed in 2018 while trying to declare Jesus to them. Why did the Sentinelese kill John? From Sentinelese context, probably he looked funny, sounded funny and was invading their space. One theory is John tried to speak to them in some tribal language. Well if they understood him, they could have killed him because he came to claim their territory for a foreign god. For us this is the closest reference to how we might have been like in stone age. You and I have come far away from that.
Before human beings were settlers and farmers, there was a long time when they were hunter-gatherers and scavengers. Like most animals, our forefathers found strength in numbers. To hunt, to survive predators and to fight the competing groups. Thus might have evolved the tribal system, which over the time evolved to have simple rules like membership by birth, primitive nature worship, breeding within the group and customs. There might have been so many isolated pockets of human populations or tribes with distinct customs. And encounters between them may not have been without violence. However once we discovered the strength in numbers, the dynamics of living in a group was always going to evolve with our own evolution. Many people at this point may question if that was the case then how are we the only ones who moved futher. Why lions or elephants who live in groups did not go on to have world wars? What we should know is that we were not alone. Archaeological proofs are available for at least 7 more species in the genus “Homo” who shared planet earth with us, who knows how many more were there. Some of them lived until just 40000 years before. Once the Homo Sapiens started migrating out of Africa and dominating, other species of genus Homo were gradually eliminated. A prime reason for the extinction of others might have been Sapien’s more evolved group strategy.
However after the tribes became a common system within humans, the next step was kingdom. Earliest ones that have solid evidence of existence are from Egypt about 5000 years ago. Tribes living in the Nile valley had developed cultures demonstrating agriculture, animal husbandry, pottery and use of personal items like combs, bracelets, and beads. Society at this time might have evolved further into having hierarchies. Everyone did not have to do the same thing. Some people produced goods, some farmed, some fought and some administered. Those who fought or administered exerted more and more control over the group by the use of power and religion, eventually becoming the rulers. The ruler or king of a kingdom had much bigger stature with respect to the common people compared to that of a tribal head with respect to his tribe. Most kings were portrayed as incarnation of some god or the other.
Empires were not a far thing from kingdoms thanks to the ever growing ambitions of the kings and the glory associated with victory in wars. Sometimes in the name of spreading the word of god, sometimes to find slaves, sometimes to find the riches, sometimes in the name of exploring new lands, sometimes to inflate kingdom’s collective ego and sometimes to satisfy one’s personal ego, thousands of wars were fought. Anyway once the immediate goals were achieved(mainly loot), these new lands had to be administered. Some empires that lasted for longer times integrated continents all together, were forced to innovate modern ways of administration and established more or less a uniformity in culture forcefully or otherwise. Exploitation however was practiced in every empire with the support of religion. It’s just that some are more recent and some are more ancient. Some are easier for you to relate to, some not depending on what you consider foreign. Except the colonial empires that already had governments in their own countries, empires in general suffered anarchy when a supreme ruler died or got killed.
The modern governments, nations and states were established to improve over the instability and exploitation that were features of empires. And for decentralization of power. Compared to the overall human history, the organized constitutional governments have been around for very little time. Wherein citizens and the country are bound by a contract called constitution. Citizens forfeit some of their independent rights to be a part of a larger geographical entity that promises protection, administration and well being. Government is a service in charge of making it happen. Some people may consider the country as a political and geographical entity, understand their responsibility and follow constitution. Some may do the same by aligning their religious belief with the idea of a country. As long as a citizen acts within constitutional rights, he is law-abiding. The government on the other hand is a service provider, citizens always reserve the right to criticize it, in fact it is a responsibility. If you are told to love your government to prove that you love your country, that is a fallacy. Country, love as much as you want but government, well it always has the possibility to roll back to become a ruler. Just be careful with love as love comes with blind-spots.