DEVELOPMENT OF POLITICAL ECONOMIC INSTITUTIONS
When humans lived by gathering nuts and herbs, there was little need for either trade or government. The extended' family was sufficient to organize their activities. Each society developed institutionalized ways of meeting needs for food, clothing, housing, and whatever else it needed. Food sharing, for example, was an institutionalized practice in many simple societies, especially if they hunted large game. Every household in the village had a recognized right to a share of the kill made by anyone in the village [Farb, .1968, p. 43]. This was an institutionalized right. Thus economic institutions emerged from people's trial-and-error efforts to meet their needs (functional' analysis), or sometimes, economic institutions emerged from the success of one group in imposing duties or obligations upon another group (conflict analysis). Trade developed when people wanted something their neighbors produced; gradually the process of exchange became standardized, orderly, and predictable=-therefore; institutionalized. Economic institutions emerged as people developed orderly fustiness for exchanging goods, assigning work asks, and recognizing claims upon one another. The domestication of animals. the establishment of settled agriculture with claims to land, and the eventual development of industries allied to development of economic and governmental systems Just how governments developed is lost to gated agriculture, with its system of ditches history. We learn from .anthropologists that and control gates, required protection from the simplest societies had no government. marauders as well as protection of land rights Some, such as the Polar Eskimo, did not even and other property. Trade and economic have recognized "family heads," although development created the need for government. some respected persons might have more Peudalism was a set of economic and influence than others Murdock, 1936, p. 210]. political institutions which developed in The growth of political authority apparently of places as an intermediate stage between paralleled the growth of cultural complexity- tribal societies and the national state . It was from family head to tribal council to chief," based upon a set of reciprocal rights and Yet many simple societies had no chiefs e~o" ,duties. The lord, in his castle with his retinue perhaps, temporary leaders of a raiding of knights, provided security, protecting the party. vassal's person, property, and right to use a The word "civilized" implies a system of piece of land. The vassal and civil law in place of (or in addition to) loyalty ("fealty") to the lord. feudalism was authority, administered by certain des- thus a of organizing life. and work at a officers. Civil government became particular moment history.11 passed when necessary when the ancient river-valley increasing trade, growth of towns, and idealizations arose along the Nile, the Tigris- development of the centralized national state Euphrates, the Ganges, and elsewhere.made feudalism an obstacle rather than a useful institution. Conflicts of interest arose' between kings and provincial nobility, between the towns and the feudal estates, and between the church and both the kings and ' the provincial nobility. enough, the rise and fall of feudalism neatly fits the functionalist perspective (Institutions arise because they are functionally useful and pass when they cease to be useful) but also fits the conflict perspective (institutions arise because they serve the interests of the powerful' and when new interest groups appear to contest them).
Almost from their governments have been involved in economic affairs. The Bible tells how Egypt's pharaoh, respond to Joseph's interpretation of his dream, collected and stored grain during seven years to carry the country through seven . years of famine [Gen. 41:14.-57) (and also transferred most of the land from peasant to . state ownership). Rome had state-operated mines throughout the empire, requiring a constant stream of slaves and convicts for their operation (since working file of the miner was about four years). the 'economic regulations of Emperor Vientiane in the third century are still cited as examples of detailed government direction of the economy. The medieval guilds regulated entry to the crafts, while'the towns tried to prevent their craftsmen from ever leaving town. the mercantilism. system of the, seventeenth and eighteenth' centuries assumed that it was the responsibility of the 'state to control and direct all economic activity, and modern capitalism is, in part, a reaction against mercantilism. Warfare also the growth of government. A disciplined army can defeat an unorganized horde .many times its size. All warfare demands organization. Modern warfare demands the organization and of masses of personnel and mountains of supplies of a thousand different kinds. . In modern societies, the social service function has become a. powerful 'source 'of governmental' century- ago, governments began Vices directly· to their citizens, and today, a wide range of.health, education, and welfare services-are provided by most governments. For all these reasons, government at all levels absorbs about one-third of America's gross national product and still more in-some other (see Figure 13-1). Political-economic institutions are more than standardized ways of doing things. As with all institutions, they also include supporting . ideas, sentiments, traditions, and values, Canoe building among the Polynesians, the walrus hunt among the Eskimos, rice planting in the wet rice culture of Southeast Asia, the ground-breaking ceremony for the new government building, and the christening of a new aircraft carrier=-all these involve ascribed roles, traditions, and elaborate rituals. These rituals solidify the cooperation humans and bring the blessing of God or the gods on the undertaking. Modern governments are supported by a panoply of flag-waving, martial music, and impressive buildings. Even modern business makes use of tradition, ritual, and sentiment. The singing commercial, stories of charismatic business leaders, gifts to charity and public services, the recognitior. banquet for retiring employees-all these-seek to give the business system the appearance of a warm-blooded collection of human beings rather than simply a cold economic machine.