Who said that war begets the king?

Answered by Tom Adger

The idea that war begets the king, or that the state originated through force exerted by the strong over the weak, is a theory that has been posited by several scholars throughout history. This perspective suggests that the rise of the state can be attributed to a dominant group or individual using their power and force to establish control over others.

One notable proponent of this theory is David Hume, a Scottish philosopher and historian. In his work, Hume argues that the authority of the state ultimately rests on force, as the ruling power must be able to enforce its will upon the governed. He suggests that the state emerges from a state of nature where individuals exist in a constant struggle for power and resources. Through this struggle, a dominant group or individual emerges victorious and establishes their authority through force.

Another scholar who supports the idea that force is the origin of the state is Oppenheim. In his influential book “The State: Its History and Development Viewed Sociologically,” Oppenheim emphasizes the role of force in the establishment and maintenance of the state. He argues that the state is formed when a group or individual successfully imposes their will on others through coercive means.

Jenks-Bernhardy, another proponent of the force theory, takes a similar stance. He suggests that the state is born out of a struggle for power, where the strongest individuals or groups emerge as rulers and impose their authority through force. According to Jenks-Bernhardy, the state is essentially a product of conquest and domination.

Trietschke, a German historian and political theorist, also supports the force theory. He argues that the state is a result of the struggles and conflicts between different groups within society. Trietschke asserts that the state emerges when one group gains the upper hand through force and establishes its dominance over others.

It is important to note that the force theory does not provide a comprehensive explanation for the origin of the state. There are other theories, such as the social contract theory, which propose alternative explanations. However, the force theory highlights the role of power dynamics and coercion in the establishment of political authority.

In my own experiences and observations, I can see elements of the force theory at play in certain historical and contemporary contexts. Throughout history, we can observe instances where rulers and governments have used force to establish and maintain their control over populations. Additionally, in situations of conflict and war, we often witness the emergence of strong leaders who gain power through forceful means.

The idea that war begets the king is a theory that suggests the state originated through the exertion of force by the strong over the weak. While not without its limitations, this perspective sheds light on the role of power dynamics in the formation and functioning of political systems.