The Necessity of Territory in the state

The necessity of Territory. The second constituent physical element in the make-up of the state is the land or territory upon which the people Who constitute the state permanently reside and within whose limits its power and activities are exercised.

As the state has its personal basis in the people, said Bluntschli, so it has its material basis in the land.

“The people do not become a state until they have acquired a territory.”

In this respect, the state differs from other human associations or organizations. The latter exist without regard to relations of place their membership and activities may, in fact, embrace the entire world, whereas the state is a territorial association that embraces the population only of a particular and limited area.

Moreover, there is no limit to the number of voluntary associations that may exist in a given territory, whereas only one state can exist on the same territory. The co-existence of two or more states on the same territory would, as Jellinek remarks produce a continual state of war by reason of the conflicts of interests and of jurisdiction.

To this principle, however, there are several apparent exceptions. The first is afforded by the situation known as a condominium (a better term would be co-imperium), where two or more states exercise over the Same territory common sovereignty or jurisdiction.

Examples are afforded by Austrian-Prussian condominium over Schleswig -Holstein (1864-1868), that of Austria-Hungary over Bosnia and Herzegovina (18781908) the Anglo-Egyptian condominium over Sudan, and that of Great Britain and France over the New Hebrides Islands, the last two being still in existence.

Relationships of this kind have usually been established where there was an irreconcilable dispute as to which of the two states should have the territory. Generally, they represent a provisional arrangement and have not endured permanently.

In the second place, in the case of federal unions, there is a co-existence on the same territory of the federation and the component member-states. The latter, however, is not generally regarded as states, at least not in the full sense of the term in any case, they are not sovereign states and therefore do not have the power to determine their own competence. Consequently, the danger of conflict is reduced to a minimum.

In the third place, as a result of the principle of extraterritorial jurisdiction under which foreign diplomatic representatives remain subject to the law of their own state and under which in a few countries (China, for example) foreigners generally are permitted to be tried before the ministers, consuls, or courts of their own country, we have an example of two or more states exercising jurisdiction in the same territory.

Finally, in the fourth place, in consequence of military occupation by an enemy, a territory may be legally subject to the sovereignty of one state and at the same time temporarily subject, in fact, to the authority of another state. But since it is the military occupant alone who actually gives commands in the territory, while the legal sovereign is for the time-displaced, it is really not a case of the actual exercise of jurisdiction by two states within the same territory.

Recent notable examples of such a situation were afforded during the World War by the occupation of the territory of Belgium by Germany, and of Serbia and Montenegro by the allies of Germany. The government of Belgium, with the authorization of the French government, transported itself to France, installed itself at Havre, and there continued to exercise such of its powers as it was capable of exercising. Was this an example of a state without a territory?

In legal theory, the Belgian state continued to exist, although its government was in exile and the territory occupied by an enemy. Could it’d be said that Havre, and indeed all the Belgian camps and other places in England and France where the Belgian government functioned and exercised jurisdiction, constituted a part of the “territory” of Belgium, a sort of “ideal” territory so to Speak?

A Belgian military court sitting at Havre rendered a decision on July 21, 1918, adopting this view, but it was overruled by a decision, of the Belgian Court of Cassation (Feb. 1, 1923), which held that the “territory” of Belgium must be understood in its ordinary sense and did not embrace all places everywhere, in which the sovereign rights of Belgium extended, for example, the Belgian military camps which had been established in England and France, with the consent of their governments.

The decision of the military court was contrary to the principle of exclusivité according to which a given territory can constitute the domain of but a single state. The notion that any place in which the authority of the state may be exercised, even if situated in a foreign country, constitutes a part of the territory of the state, if admitted, would lead to the impossible conclusion that the entire world constitutes the territory of each state, since there is hardly a part of it in which citizens of foreign states are not to, be found and over whom their own state exercises the right of protection.

The necessity of Territory in the state Denied:-

The early writers on political science do not appear to have expressly affirmed the necessity of territory as an element of the state, and it has been pointed out that none of the definitions of the state prior to the nineteenth century mentioned territory as an essential element.

Today, however, nearly all writers on political science and international law consider territory to be essential, and their definitions of the state expressly embody the idea. There are, however, a few exceptions. Thus, W.E. Hall, one of the highest authorities on international law, said,

abstractly, there is no reason why even a wandering tribe or society should not feel bound as stringently as a settled community, by definite rules of conduct toward other communities, although he admits that the circumstances of modern civilization which associate land with sovereignty make the possession of a fixed territory a practical necessity.

M. Duguit goes still further and asserts emphatically that

territory is not an indispensable element in the formation of a state

The differentiation between the governed and those who govern, according to him, is what makes a state, and this differentiation can exist in a society that is not fixed on a determinate territory. The differentiation, he says, has its limits in a certain territory furnishes the material limit of the effective action of government, and only in this sense does it play a role in the constitution of modern states. But he, too, admits that modern civilized societies are in fact fixed on definite territories. Practically, it is hard to see how a nomadic or migratory people unattached to a definite portion of land can constitute a state, at least according to the modern conception of the state.

The Jews, before their settlement in Palestine and after their dispersion, the German tribes during their wanderings after the break-up of the Roman Empire, the Boers of South Africa during their trek northward, may have had leaders and been subject to discipline and control, but they could hardly be said to have constituted a state.

People under such conditions may be a state in the making, but they do not become a state until their migration has ceased and they have established themselves permanently on a definite portion of the territory. The state, as the etymological meaning of the word implies, is associated with a fixed abode.

It may be remarked in this connection that the territory of a state may be compact and contiguous in character or it may be divided and disconnected geographically, as in the case of states like Great Britain, which consists in part of colonies separated from parent state by seas and oceans. The territory of the German state to-day is divided into two parts, separated from each other by the Polish “corridor.”

A state may also be in the anomalous position of an “enclave”, that is, surrounded entirely by the territory of another state. Such is the situation of the petty Republic of San Marino, which is entirely surrounded by Italian territory. Likewise, parts of a state may be enclaves. Examples were numerous two centuries ago and they are not entirely lacking to-day.

Territory as Jurisdictional Area:-

The juridical importance of territory reveals itself, as Jellinek remarketing a double aspect first, in a negative manner by the fact that every other power than that of the state itself is excluded from exercising dominion in the territory Without the authorization of the state and second, in a positive aspect, by the fact that all persons and things within the territory are, in the absence of the state’s consent, subject to its own jurisdiction.

As has already been said, the one element which distinguishes the state from all other groups or associations of men is that the state possesses sovereignty while the others do not, and the modern conception of sovereignty is territorial and not personal. That is, the exercise of sovereignty is associated with territory and is confined to the territorial limits of the state exercising it, within which territory is included also, by a fiction of the law, ships possessing the nationality of the state even when actually outside those limits.

It is quite true that in many countries, particularly those of continental Europe, where then the theory of personal jurisdiction prevails, the jurisdiction of the state is asserted over its citizens while abroad and they will be punished for crimes committed outside the territorial limits of the state, in case they return thereto and are apprehended. In this sense, it might be said that the jurisdiction of every state in which this theory prevails extends over the entire globe.

But it can be actually exercised only within the territorial limits of the state to which such citizens belong. They cannot be pursued, arrested, or punished outside those limits, nor can the laws of the state be enforced as regards other matters beyond the territorial frontier.

The territory is thus the indispensable spatial base upon which the state exercises its power of command and restraint. Unlike the population, however, the territory can hardly be considered, as some German writers have asserted, the object of the sovereignty of the state, and consequently subject to what the from the right of government exercised over persons.

This doctrine Was very properly denied by Jellinek, who asserted that the state can exercise imperium, the power of government, over territory only through the intermediary of the individuals who live on it. The state can command only men, not the territory.

A thing, territory, for example, can be subject to imperium only in so far as the state commands men to act On these things? It is equally attacked by Duguit, who asserts that sovereignty is the power to command and territory cannot be commanded.

To speak of sovereignty or political power over a territory, he says,

is to employ a formula which contains a contradiction in itself.

The Patrimonial Theory:-

It was one of the characteristics of the feudal theory of the state that sovereignty and ownership of the land over which it was exercised were identified. According to that theory, whoever had the right of government had the right of ownership of the land and, indeed, of the people who occupied it. Imperium, in short, involved dominium.

This theory prex vailed even in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries and was acted upon in practice. It’ Was approved by Grotius Who said,

It may therefore happen that a king has authority over a people as a proprietary right so that he can even alienate that territory to another.

Louis XIV may never have pronounced the words attributed to him:

I am the state

but they expressed, nevertheless, the dominant conception of his day. As a result of the theory, territories with their inhabitants were some times sold, exchanged, acquired by marriage, or bequeathed by kings as if they were nothing more than chattels according to private law

The theory involved a confusion of a concept of public law (the imperium of the Roman law) with that of private law (dominium), although the Romans did not identify them. Thus Seneca was often quoted as saying: To kings belong to power, to individuals, property. The theory received its death-blow at the hands of the French Revolutionists, who proclaimed the doctrine of the sovereignty of the people, a doctrine with which the patrimonial conception of the state was irreconcilable.

Nevertheless, the old idea was not without influence upon the Vienna Congress (1815), whose disposition of peoples and territories was in line with the notion that they are, longed to the monarchs who governed them. Today, however, the patrimonial conception, like the divine right of kings, belongs to the dead and discarded political theories of the past.

The state has over the territory only the right of government, the right which the Romans called imperium, and not the right of ownership (dominium), exception, of course, being made in the case of land which constitutes the public domain strictly speaking. Over such land, the state has both the right of government and of ownership.

Restrictions Resulting from International Servitudes:-

Although, as, stated above, the normal condition of a state is that it has absolute and exclusive jurisdiction over all persons and things within its territorial limits, nevertheless all states through considerations of comity and mutual convenience have waived the exercise of their jurisdiction over foreign sovereigns, diplomatic representatives, and foreign public vessels which may happen to be temporarily within their territory or ports.

The supremacy of the state over its territory may be further restricted by the existence of what is known as international servitudes to which it has become subject. Such a restriction exists where a foreign state has acquired by treaty, custom, or prescription, a permanent right to use the territory, ports, or waters of another state for certain purposes, for example, the exercise of the right of fishery, the construction of telegraph lines, the laying of cables in territorial waters, the construction of railways or railway tunnels, the right of passage for troops, the erection of customs houses, the maintenance of post offices, the acquisition of coaling stations, the running of railWay trains across the territory, etc. History affords numerous examples of such servitudes.

The great majority of writers on international law approve the doctrine of international servitudes, although a few still reject it. In view of the practice, it would seem futile to deny it. It is true that the tribunal of arbitration in the North Atlantic Fisheries. Case (1910), while not absolutely condemning the doctrine, declared it to be little suited to the principle of sovereignty which prevails in states under a system of constitutional government, and to the present international relations of states.

In this case, the government of the United States had contended that the privilege of fishing in certain waters of British North America and of curing and drying fish on the coasts thereof, granted by treaty (1818), constituted an international servitude the idea of which, it further contended, was to impair the sovereignty of Great Britain to the extent of depriving the British and local governments of the right to regulate the exercise of the privilege of fishery thus granted.

The tribunal in its decision interpreted a servitude in international law as involving the express grant by one state,(the servant state) of a “sovereign right” to another state (the dominant state) to use the territory of the former for certain purposes, it asserted that the doctrine of servitudes, in the sense which the United States sought to attribute to it in this case, originated in the peculiar and now obsolete conditions prevailing in the Holy Roman Empire, of Which the domain terms were not fully sovereign and, as stated above, declared that it was not in harmony with the modern conception of territorial sovereignty.

The tribunal did not deny the existence of inter, national servitudes or even condemn the doctrine, as has been erroneously stated by some authors. What it did deny was that the grant by Great_Britain of the privilege of the fishery on certain of its coasts and in certain of its waters was intended to be the grant of a “sovereign right” and what it affirmed was that servitude in the sense of involving a diminution of the sovereignty of the servient state was no longer admissible.

The commission of jurists appointed by the Council of the League of Nations (1920) to report on the Aland Islands controversy, likewise rejected the doctrine of international servitudes in so far as the doctrine implies restrictions upon the sovereignty of the servient state and declared that the existence of servitudes in this sense was not generally admitted.

While there is an increasing preponderance of opinion in favor of the view that the doctrine of servitudes in the sense of implying the surrender of sovereign rights by the servient state over its territory, for the benefit of a foreign state, must be condemned as incompatible with the modern conception of territorial sovereignty, servitudes nevertheless continue to exist, and there can be no denial of the fact that they do involve restrictions upon the jurisdiction of the state which grants them, whether we call it sovereignty or something else. Recent examples of what, in effect at least, amounts to servitudes were the restrictions placed upon Germany and Austria by the treaties of peace in 1919 in favor of certain other states.

Thus Poland was given the right of access to the free city of Danzig across German territory, France was given the right to erect certain works on the right bank of the Rhine, including also the right of passage thereover Czechoslovakia was allowed the use of certain free zones for customs purposes in the ports of Hamburg and Stettin, for a period of 99 years, also, the right to run trains over Austrian railroads and to have trunk telegraph and telephone lines for its exclusive use across Austrian territory, and all countries at peace with Germany were given the right to, use the Kiel Canal on an equal footing with Germans.

On the other hand, Germany was given the right to communicate by railway with the non-contiguous parts of her territory in the east, across Polish territory. These and other like dispositions, whether they may be technically regarded as servitudes or not, necessarily involve restrictions poll the territorial supremacy of the states to which they apply.

Theory of Territory as a Subjective Element of the State:-

When we Speak of territory as a constituent element of the state, we ordinarily have in mind the state in its concrete physical sense. Some German writers, however, who attribute to the state a juridical personality, go to the length of maintaining that territory is even a constituent element of that personality.

This subtle doctrine, known as the theory of territory as a subjective element of the state, is maintained and discussed at great length by Jellinek, but it is vigorously attacked by Duguit, who not only denies that the state has such-a personality, but also maintains that even admitting that it has, the theory which regards territory as one of its elements leads to consequences which are absolute, unacceptable and which are contrary to the facts of international practice today, although he admits that it was the theory of the founders of modern French public law.

One of the corollaries of the theory he says, is the indivisibility and inalienability of the national territory, a doctrine which was affirmed by the French Revolutionists in their constitution of 1791 and in several later constitutions. If a territory is an element of the state-person, Duguit adds, it cannot be divided and ceded away without the extinction of the personality. But, in fact, a portion of French territory was alienated in 1871, and the territory belonging to other states has frequently been alienated. The theory cannot, therefore, be reconciled with these undoubted historical facts.

While Duguit goes too far-in arguing that the state does not possess a juridical personality, he is clearly correct in his view that territory cannot be properly regarded as a constituent element of the State’s personality. It would be as reasonable to maintain that a bank is one of the constituent elements of the corporate body which owns it and directs its affairs.

Another distinguished French jurist, M. Carre de Malberg, however, appears to support the theory of Jellinek. Territory, he says,

is not an object which is situated outside the juridical statesperson and over which this person would possess power more or less comparable to rights which may belong to a private person over the property dependent upon his patrimony, but it is a constituent element of the state, that is to say, an element of its being and not of its having an element, in consequence, even of its personality, and in this sense, it appears as a component and integral part of the state-person, which, without it, would be inconceivable.

What is Included in the Notion of Territory:-

(1) Subsoil and Marginal Sea:-

When we speak of the territory of a state, it is to be understood as comprehending not merely the land domain over which the jurisdiction of the state extends, but also the rivers and-lakes therein, a certain area of the sea which abuts upon its coast, in case there is one, and the air space above it.

Thus the domain of the state is or maybe, terrestrial, fluvial, maritime, and Arial. The terrestrial domain includes not only the surface of the land but also the subsoil extending downward to an indefinite depth. The power of the state over the subsoil assumes importance for the construction of subterranean telegraph or telephone lines and railway tunnels and for the exploitation of mineral resources underneath the earth’s surface.

As to the extent of the area of the sea the territorial or marginal sea, as it is usually called-which is included within the territorial jurisdiction of the state, there is a difference of opinion and it has been a subject of prolific discussion.

The need for agreement on the subject has been recognized by the League of Nations committee of jurists on the codification of international law, which in 1925 placed the subject on its list of questions concerning which there is an urgent need for international agreement. The generally admitted rule is that the area of the territorial sea extends into the Open sea for a distance of three miles measured from low-water mark.

But many states have in fact exercised jurisdiction beyond this limit for the purpose of protecting their neutrality in time of war, for the enforcement of health, police, and revenue legislation, and for the protection of fisheries, coral reefs, and the like. The exercise of jurisdiction for these purposes has been quently been acquiesced in by other states but it has produced many conflicts and protests.

The right of Norway, Sweden, Uruguay, and other states to extend their jurisdiction beyond the three-mile limit during the World Var for the purpose of protecting their neutrality was not recognized by Great Britain or Germany.

There is, it must be admitted, an increasing sentiment in favor of an extension of the three-mile limit Regarding the nature of the right of the state over the territorial sea-whether it is a right of sovereignty or a mere right of jurisdiction-there has been Much discussion.

(2) The Superincumbent Air Space:-

As a consequence of the recent development of aviation and radiotelegraphy, by which the aérialspace is capable of being utilized for commercial navigation, for the transmission of wireless telegrams, and as a theater for the conduct of the war, the nature and extent of the rights of subjacent states over the air space has assumed great importance. The concern in the nature and extent of these rights there has been much discussion by jurists and learned societies, a vast amount of literature, on the subject has been produced, and various theories have been advanced and solutions proposed.

With the passing of time, the view that the subjacent state should be admitted to have the full right of sovereignty over the air space above it came to prevail-generally, and by the International, Air Convention concluded at the Peace Conference in 1919 this right was affirmed.

By article I of this convention the high contracting parties recognize that every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty in the air space above its territory and territorial waters.

By article II, however, they undertake, in time of peace, to allow freedom of innocent passage above this territory, provided the conditions established by the convention are observed.

The convention appears to have been ratified up to the present time by twenty-eight states, mostly European. Until it is generally ratified the rule of sovereignty which it affirms cannot, therefore, be admitted to be a rule of international law.

There is still much criticism of this solution of the question since it I believed to concede too much to individual state control over the air space at the expense of the freedom of international navigation. As it stands, any and every state are left free t6 prohibit international aerial navigation above its territory, for such reasons as it may deein sufficient, and if it allows the right of innocent passage it may prescribe the routes to be followed by aviators.

Land-locked states, therefore, like Switzerland, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Bolivia, and others, may be deprived of access to the outside world through the air space, while those Which are fortunate enough to have outlets upon the sea may be compelled to follow sea routes if their neighbors choose not to allow the right of the innocent passage above their territories.

The doctrine of Natural Boundaries and Sea Outlets:-

In connection with the discussion of the territory of the state, much might be, said regarding the importance of boundaries, especially in re5pect to the weakness of artificial boundaries and the value of so-called “natural” frontiers. The contention has at times been put forward that every state has a right to a natural boundary in the sense of a strategic frontier, in case one can be found such as a river or a mountain range. While it has never been admitted in the sense that a state without such boundaries has a right to extend by forcible appropriation, if necessary, its frontiers at the expense of other states, the value of strategical frontiers has sometimes been taken into consideration by peace conferences in redrawing national boundaries. Thus, it was on considerations of this kind that the peace conferences at the close of the World War yielded to the demand of Italy and assigned to her the South Tyrol of, Austria, inhabited almost entirely by a German population.

It has likewise been contended that a landlocked state has a natural right to an outlet on the sea. This claim is based in part on the doubtful argument that since the free navigation of the high seas is a universally recognized right the people of a country which has no access to the sea should, in order to be able to avail itself of this right, be given one.

The lack of such access was one of them the standing grievances of Serbia prior to the World War. President Wilson, who apparently sympathized with Serbia’s demand, declared in his address of January 18, 1918 (enunciating that Serbia must be assured access to the sea.

Alike demand was made upon the peace conference by other peoples and their claims were, to some degree at least, recognized. Thus, Poland was given certain rights in the free city of Danzig to ensure her access to the sea, Bulgaria was given an outlet on the Egean Sea by the internationalization of the river Elbe, Czechoslovakia was given access to the North Sea. Memel was detached from Germany and given to Lithuania, in order to ensure that state an outlet to the sea.

There still remain, however, several states in Europe and one in South America which are without access to the sea. It would manifestly be a great advantage to them to have such an outlet, but it can hardly be said that it can be claimed as a right under international law. As Fauchille remarks, the theory of obligatory access, if admitted, would involve a remaking of the map of the world.

The extent of Territorial Area Necessary:-

As in the case of population, no rule can be laid down as to the extent of territory-necessary to form a state. As a matter of fact, the existing states of the world vary in territorial areas from a few square miles the republics of San Marino and Monaco, for examples to vast empires covering millions of square miles, such as China, Great Britain with its Colonies, Russia, and the United States.

It would be absurd, therefore, as Bluntschli remarked, to attempt to lay down any rule as to the minimum or maximum area which a state must-have. During medieval times the area of states was uniformly small. Until a comparatively recent date, the number of states in Europe was more than four hundred.

Nearly every seigniory, many towns, and even religious establishments were, in appearance, at least, states during the Middle Ages: As late as the early nineteenth century the territory now embraced within the limits of Germany were parceled out among the rulers of more than 300 petty states. The present Italian state was equally a patchwork of petty kingdoms, republics, and principalities. Other existing states were similarly divided.

In former times, theory as well as the practice was in favor of the system of small states-de Kleinstaaterie, as the Germans call it. Plato drew an analogy between the stature of a well-formed man and the size of a normal state and Aristotle appears to have favored states of moderate size. Even eighteenth-century writers on political science were generally hostile to the idea of large states Rousseau, following Plato’s analogy, declared that just as nature has set limits to the stature of a normal man, so it has equally set limits to the size of a well-governed state.

It ought not, therefore, to be too vast in the area to enable it to be well governed nor too small to enable it to maintain itself single-handed. Administration, he said, becomes difficult at great distances as a weight becomes heavier at the end of a long lever. Laws are enforced with less vigor and celerity in remote and distant communities, while the people feel less affection for a government so distantly removed that they rarely come in contact with it.

The more the social bond is extended, he asserted, the more it is weakened, and he added in general, a small state is proportionally stronger than a large one. He maintained further that there is a necessary relation between the size of the state and the fOrm of government best adapted to it. His conclusion was that monarchy is suited only to large states, aristocracy to states of moderate size, and democracy to small states.

Montesquieu, like Rousseau, maintained that there is a relation between the size of the state and the form of government best suited to it, and he laid down categorically the dogma that the republican form is best-suited to-states of a small area, the monarchial form to states of moderate area, and the despotic form to those of vast extent.

De Tocqueville, like Montesquieu, was also of the opinion that the republican system of government is unsuited to large states. The history of the world, he said,

offers no instance of a great nation retaining the form of a republican government for a long series of years. It may be advanced with confidence that the existence of a great republic will always be exposed to far greater dangers than that of a small one. All the passions Which are most fatal to republican institutions spread with an increasing territory, while the virtues which maintain their dignity do not augment in the same proportion.

John Stuart Mill, if one more opinion may be quoted, like Rousseau, emphasized the difficulty of governing states of the vast area. There is, he said, a limit to the extent of a country which can be advantageously governed or even whose government can be conveniently superintended from a single center. There are vast countries so governed but they, or at least their distant provinces, are in general deplorably ill administered, and it is only when the inhabitants are almost savages that they cannot manage their affairs better separately.

As to the alleged non-adaptability of the republican form of government to large states, it may be sufficient to quote the remark of a well-known English scholar that the foundation of the United States of America proved that a great modern state could adept the republican form.

The success with which Great Britain has governed a vast empire is an equal refutation of the theory that large states cannot be well-governed. The contrary opinions quoted above were, for the most part, advanced in an age when railroads, telegraphs, and far-sailing steamships were non-existent and when, consequently, communication by governments, with their distant territories and peoples was slow and difficult.

The principles of decentralization, federalism, and local self-government were also largely unknown at the time. The introduction of rapid means of communication in the nineteenth century and the development of the principles of federalism and autonomy in government have greatly simplified the task of governing large states. Under the circumstances, the former skepticism regarding the possibility of governing successfully such states was natural and in great measure well-founded.

The Value of Small States Denied:-

The disregard by Germany of the rights of certain small states during the World War and the making known to the English-speaking world of the somewhat contemptuous attacks of Treitschke and other German writers upon small states generally, provoked widespread discussion of the relative value of large and petty states as agencies for the advancement of civilization.

Treitschke in his work on Politic’s (Politik), published some years before the war declared that large states are the nobler type. Emphasizing again and again that the state is power, the lack of which is a sin against the Holy Ghost, he said,

it is manifest that it is only the state that is really powerful that corresponds to our idea.

The idea of the small state, he said, is ridiculous on account of its weakness, which in itself is reprehensible because it masquerades as strength. In small states, that ruling spirit is hatched which judges the state by the taxes it levies and materialism is generated which has a deleterious effect upon the citizens. Furthermore, small states are totally lacking in that capacity for justice which characterizes their greater neighbors, and what is of even more importance, they cannot wage war with any prospect of success.

The economic superiority of large states, he added, is patent they can overcome economic crises more easily the outlook of their citizens upon the world is freer and larger culture matures more readily in them than in the narrow limits of small state art and science flourish more abundantly in them and only in large states can there be developed that genuine national pride which is the sign of the moral efficiency of a nation. Large states are more adapted than small ones to promote the development of intellectual culture.

Although there is some truth in Treitschke’s evaluation of small states, there is much exaggeration, and the somewhat sneering manner in which he referred to them provoked vigorous criticism from many quarters. Before Treitschke, a great English historian, Lord Acton, had expressed (1862) an unfavorable Opinion of the value of small states as instrumentalities for the promotion of civilization, but his criticism was less violent and better reasoned.

Among other things, he said :

Their tendency is to isolate and shut off their inhabitants, to narrow the horizon of their views, and to dwarf in some degree the proportions of their ideas. Public opinion cannot maintain its liberty and purity in such small dimensions, and the currents that come from larger communities sweep over a contracted territory.  These states, like the minuter communities of the Middle Ages, serve a purpose, by constituting partitions and securities of self-government in the larger states but they are impediments to the progress of society, which depends on the mixture of races under the same governments.

More recently still the German writer Ratzel, in his “Politische Geographic” (2nd ed, 1903), condemned small states on the ground that they were contrary to scientific laws, particularly the law of evolution, and that in consequence they were doomed to disappear in the struggle with more powerful states which would ultimately absorb them

History showed, he argued, that states in their evolution pass through three stages:

  • First, that of the village state (Dorfstaat)
  • Second, the city-state (Stadtstaat)
  • Third, the country-state (Landstaat)

Like the first two, in turn, had disappeared, so the petty states of the third class which still exist as abnormal are survivals would disappear in turn.

It must be admitted that large states do possess advantages over small ones. Their resources for maintaining the national existence-according to a high standard, for promoting the material forms of civilization, and for defense against attack are likely to be much greater than those of small states.

It is also true, as Acton and Treitschke pointed out, that the range of vision, the outlook of the citizen, and the national pride which comes from membership in a powerful state are not without moral and cultural value. Finally, the existence of a multiplicity of small states on a given continent intensifies the difficulty of maintaining the general peace.

Other things being equal, the fewer sovereign bodies there are entering into direct relations with each other, the less complicated those relations and the issues between the states will be, the less likelihood there will be of incalculable disturbing factors hampering the cause of peace, and the greater will be the possibility of establishing the rule of law.

The opinion is by no means lacking in support of the view that the recent multiplication of petty states in Europe will have the effect of increasing international conflicts and perhaps of international wars, although it has undoubtedly diminished the possibility of internal dissension by giving satisfaction to the political aSpirations of the discontented nationalities.

Defense of Small States:-

But when all is said against small states that can be said, it must be admitted that some of them have played an important role in the history of civilization, and their contributions to art, science, literature, and the intellectual life of the world have compared favorably with those of much larger states.

The power of a state is not necessarily to be measured by the extent of its territory or even by the strength of its military and naval forces or by the conquests it has made, but rather, by the contributions it has made through its art, its science, and its literature, to the cause of human progress and civilization, and by the achievements, it has accomplished in social and political reform. The Greek city-states, as Bluntschli remarked, looked petty in the face of the Roman Empire, but Athens takes her place beside Rome in the history of the world.

The territorial areas of Great Britain proper, Germany, and France look like communes on the map of the world in comparison with those of Russia and China but measured by any other than quantitative standards they are much more powerful states than either of the latter. Among still smaller existing states whose contributions to the sum total of civilization have been vastly greater than those of much larger states, maybe mentioned Belgium, Denmark, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.