Social division in tribal societies: Tribal structure was the most important. There were distinct social classes in the divisions of the tribes. And tribal law was set up for the common good of all. All tribal land was owned by the tribe in general. Any land in the territory occupied by the tribe was to be divided for the use of the tribe, and could not be owned by individuals. Natural boundaries set up borders for the land division. Sections ofthe land were appropriated by the ruler and his civil service group for the work that they performed for the general group. There were large sections of land that were set aside for the public good, and was used by the entire tribe. Usually these were pastoral or grazing areas, and very fertile growing sections.
Other sections were set aside for the elderly, disabled, and the poor of the tribe. Land held by individuals was subjected to taxes to help support the less able members of the tribe. However, if a man died, and had outstanding taxes, surviving relatives didn’t have to assume his debts. Since the tribe held title to the land, and it could not be sold, there was no absolute ownership of land in tribal society. The land held by the chieftains and the nobles was still to be held in the public good. Every tribesman was able to keep and work his land, but could not sell it, conceal it, or use it to pay for any crime or debt. Livestock was also included in the issue. Any disposition of cattle held by one person had to be approved by the tribe, so as not to harm the collective welfare of the tribe.
The overtly communistic nature of the tribal society also played into the way the tribe worked the land. Plowing was done on a communal basis. Since cattle were often held in common fields, the manure that was left was used by the tribe on a common basis as fertilizer. The principles of common ownership of tribal lands lasted a long time.
Archeologists continue to explore the development of pre-state tribes. Current research suggests that tribal structures constituted one type of adaptation to situations providing plentiful yet unpredictable resources. Such structures proved flexible enough to co-ordinate production and distribution of food in times of scarcity, without limiting or constraining people during times of surplus.
Fried, however, proposed that most contemporary tribes do not have their origin in pre-state tribes, but rather in pre-state bands. Such “secondary” tribes, he suggested, actually came about as modern products of state expansion. Bands comprise small, mobile, and fluid social formations with weak leadership, that do not generate surpluses, pay no taxes and support no standing army. Fried argued that secondary tribes develop in one of two ways.
First, states could set them up as means to extend administrative and economic influence in their hinterland, where direct political control costs too much. A Band Society is the simplest form of human society. The word leadership can refer to: the process of leading the concept of leading those entities that perform one or more acts of leading. A tax (also known as a duty) is a financial charge or other levy imposed on an individual or a legal entity by a state or a functional equivalent of a state can, in some countries, refer to any armed force.
States would encourage (or require) people on their frontiers to form more clearly bounded and centralized polities, because such polities could begin producing surpluses and taxes, and would have a leadership responsive to the needs of neighboring states (the so-called “scheduled” tribes of the United States or of British India provide good examples of this). Second, bands could form “secondary” tribes as a means to defend themselves against state expansion. Members of bands would form more clearly bounded and centralized polities, because such polities could begin producing surpluses that could support a standing army that could fight against states, and they would have a leadership that could coordinate economic production and military activities.
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