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Regular version of the site

Article

Democracy and Early State.

Social Evolution & History. 2004. Vol. 3. No. 2. P. 93-149.

The article is devoted to the problem which is debated actively today, namely whether Greek poleis and the Roman Republic were early states or they represented a specific type of stateless societies. Some scholars suppose that even in the times of their flourishing these societies were stateless ones. I am of the opinion that this conclusion is wrong: and I believe thatAthens and the Roman Republic were early states. Therefore the present article is in many respects a direct discussion with the supporters of the idea of the stateless character of the ancient societies.

The problem as to whether Athens and the Roman Republic were early states is important in itself. However, the attempts to settle it inevitably result in a consideration of a wider problem of great importance: what polities in general can be considered as early states. In particular, is it also possible to regard as such the democratically organized societies?

Thus, in this contribution a specific aspect of the problem of multilinearity in sociopolitical evolution is examined. On the one hand, simultaneously with early states there coexisted complex non-state societies comparable to the states in size, population, other parameters and functions. Elsewhere I termed such polities the analogues of the early state(e.g., Grinin 2003c, 2004c; Bondarenko, Grinin, and Korotayev 2002). On the other hand, the diversity of sociopolitical evolution is expressed also in a tremendous variety of the early states proper among which the bureaucratic states represent just one of many types. The democratic early states without bureaucracy were early states of another type.

In this article I analyze Athens and the Roman Republic as examples of this very type.