Theories on the Origin of Government

Theories on the Origin of Government

The question about the origin of the state and organized government has been discussed for centuries. There is no concrete evidence to support any of the proposed theories, it all just remains as speculation.

Each of these most accepted theories do agree that the state must have certain basic elements: territory, population, government and sovereignty.

Force Theory

This theory proposes that the origin of state is developed through the use of force. One person or a small group of people claim control over the population in a specific area by force.

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Once the rule is well established the state is established. This theory is generally a result of war. One example: Adolf Hitler and his control over Germany that led to the attempted control of Europe, as well as the mass genocide of the Jewish population.

Evolutionary Theory

This theory states that the state evolved over time, starting with the primitive family. One person in the family was determined to be the leader of the family. On a primitive level, a basic government was formed.

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Over decades, the family became a clan and a clan became a tribe. The state was identified when the tribe settled in a designated area and claimed it as their own.

Divine Right Theory

The divine right theory holds that God created the state. God gave certain individuals of royal birth the divine right to rule. Since God divinely ordained its rulers and they were accountable to God, the population obeyed the ruler as they were required to obey God.

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This theory existed in many countries such as England and Europe throughout the Middle Ages.

Social Contract Theory

In the social contract theory, a specific population within a given designated area gave up as much power to a government as needed to promote the well-being of all. Specifically, the community population and the leader have a contract. The state has power and authority over the territory.

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The community receives certain services such as a safe, crime-free area in which to live and keep their rights protected.

This theory was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries by philosophers such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau. The U.S. political system is based on the social contract theory.


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