The state is a territorial social regulative organization, and the strongest, most efficient, and enduring state is composed of a single nation whose people have a common language, mores, and institutions.
The early states were small and were all the result of conquest. They did not originate in voluntary associations. Many were founded by conquering nomads, who would swoop down on peaceful herders or settled agriculturists to overpower and enslave them. Such states, resulting from conquest, were, perforce, stratified; classes were inevitable, and class struggles have ever been selective.
The northern tribes of the American red men never attained real statehood. They never progressed beyond a loose confederation of tribes, a very primitive form of state. Their nearest approach was the Iroquois federation, but this group of six nations never quite functioned as a state and failed to survive because of the absence of certain essentials to modern national life, such as:
1. Acquirement and inheritance of private property.
2. Cities plus agriculture and industry.
3. Helpful domestic animals.
4. Practical family organization. These red men clung to the mother-family and nephew inheritance.
5. Definite territory.
6. A strong executive head.
7. Enslavement of captives—they either adopted or massacred them.
8. Decisive conquests.
The red men were too democratic; they had a good government, but it failed. Eventually they would have evolved a state had they not prematurely encountered the more advanced civilization of the white man, who was pursuing the governmental methods of the Greeks and the Romans.
The successful Roman state was based on:
1. The father-family.
2. Agriculture and the domestication of animals.
3. Condensation of population—cities.
4. Private property and land.
5. Slavery—classes of citizenship.
6. Conquest and reorganization of weak and backward peoples.
7. Definite territory with roads.
8. Personal and strong rulers.
The great weakness in Roman civilization, and a factor in the ultimate collapse of the empire, was the supposed liberal and advanced provision for the emancipation of the boy at twenty-one and the unconditional release of the girl so that she was at liberty to marry a man of her own choosing or to go abroad in the land to become immoral. The harm to society consisted not in these reforms themselves but rather in the sudden and extensive manner of their adoption. The collapse of Rome indicates what may be expected when a state undergoes too rapid extension associated with internal degeneration.
The embryonic state was made possible by the decline of the blood bond in favor of the territorial, and such tribal federations were usually firmly cemented by conquest. While a sovereignty that transcends all minor struggles and group differences is the characteristic of the true state, still, many classes and castes persist in the later state organizations as remnants of the clans and tribes of former days. The later and larger territorial states had a long and bitter struggle with these smaller consanguineous clan groups, the tribal government proving a valuable transition from family to state authority. During later times many clans grew out of trades and other industrial associations.
Failure of state integration results in retrogression to prestate conditions of governmental techniques, such as the feudalism of the European Middle Ages. During these dark ages the territorial state collapsed, and there was a reversion to the small castle groups, the reappearance of the clan and tribal stages of development. Similar semistates even now exist in Asia and Africa, but not all of them are evolutionary reversions; many are the embryonic nucleuses of states of the future.