The Historical Basis of Modern States

There are five (5) different kinds of states. They are presented below according to the order of their development:

The Primitive state

The first state formed by primitive men. It first developed in the orient (Asia). States characterized by:

    • The presence of centralized organization under one military supreme ruler.
    • The absolute rule of the authorities, there being no political freedom and no citizenship in the modern sense of the terms.

The City-State

Made its first appearance in the Balkan and Italian peninsula (e.g. Athens, Sparta, etc.) these are states in small units. In the city-state of Rome, it already posses a three Fold division of government:

    • The King
    • The council (i.e. comitis curiatia)
    • The Senate

The Roman City-state, because of its more complex and effective organization, has proved to be more powerful than the Greek City-states. It is also important to take note that the contribution of Rome to the modern political Thought is more on its legal institution rather than its political theories.

The Roman Imperial State

The Roman City-State has grown to become one of the leading military superpowers. Through its impressive and many successful military conquests, the Roman City-state gradually became an empire.

Because of its huge territory (covering almost all of Europe and a part of Africa and the Middle East) and because of its growing population, the empire necessarily required a system that could assure Unity, Organization, and Law and Order.

The Romans had been successful in developing an efficient system of governance and it maintained this for many centuries. The Empire lasted for 500 years (5 centuries) in the west and for 1,500 years (15 centuries) in the East.

When the Roman Empire fell, out from its ashes arose the feudal states of medieval Europe.

The Feudal States

After the Teutonic Tribes defeated the Romans and became the uncontested lords of Europe, they introduced a new Political innovation based on the combination of the Teutonic concept of the relation of the individual to the local chief and the Romans concept of control over a definite portion of the territory.

Later on, these political units became under the heavy influence of Papal authority. This political concept became the foundation of Feudalism.

The Modern State

The first appearance of the modern States could generally be traced back to the Peace of Westphalia of 1648.

The old system crumbled and a new system is born. The former as the subject of Papal authority and the latter as an independent political entity and accepts no higher authority than themselves. States are now in control of their own destinies.

Thus, modern states are built on the concept of nationalism and state sovereignty. The following are the concepts of Westphalian international law:

    1. Legitimacy – “All states have the right to exist.”

    2. Sovereignty – “No authority higher than the state exists.”

    3. Duties – “States must observe certain rules of behavior in their

      interactions with other states, respecting, among many other things, the sovereignty of other States.”

These concepts were widely accepted and paved the way for the first proliferation of Nation-States.

Colonies adopted these concepts and broke away from the traditional empires (e.g. the case of America, formerly known as the “New World”, from Great Britain) and small territorial units were also transformed into Nations-States. The growing consciousness of men about Self-Determination further accelerated the growth of new nation-states.

The second proliferation of states occurred after World War II when European states gradually granted the independence of their former colonial territories. It is important to take note that the 3rd World countries, which include the Philippines, are former colonial territories. Thus, it is not only Nationalism but also Colonialism that led to the proliferation of States.