A sharp distinction should be made between the conquest of primitives and the conquest of civilized peoples. In the case of the former, the displacement of the existing class structure is likely to be more violent and radical than when civilized peoples are conquered. The difference between the treatment of the Boers by the British and their common treatment of the natives is a case in point. 34
Although all examples of social class formation through conquest should be checked, there is no doubt as to the general effect of the conquest of South American Indians by Europeans. Not all those of lighter complexions are high in status, but there is a tendency in the direction of displacing the authority and prestige of leading natives, and a tendency to superimpose the European class system upon the whole population, which system places the native at a disadvantage. 35Next Page
The classical theory of conquest deserves at least mention and a hearing here. And it must be borne in mind that it has applicability in many instances. Furthermore, there is a deep-seated half-truth in the theory itself. Ratzel's formulation reads: "Where war is carried on and booty acquired, greater differences arise, which find their expression in the ownership of slaves, women, arms, and spirited mounts." 36 Oppenheimer is more positive. He says: 37
A sound sociology has to recall the fact that class formation in historic times did not take place through gradual differentiation in pacific economic competition, but was the result of violent conquest and subjugation.
Gumplowicz indicates the ethnic aspect in stating the theory. "Social inequality," he says, "arises originally from the union (Zusammentreffen) of distinct (heterogen) ethnical element of unlike power . . . . " 38 This alienism, plus conquest, tends to make for relative inflexibility between the classes, according to Sumner. 39 An example of this rigidity is to be found in the history of English village of Crawley, where the old Celtic village was subordinated to the younger Anglo-Saxon village and given the "menial tasks and week-work . . . . " 40
Much the same could be said of the social classes in the Baltic states, up to the withdrawal of the Germans and the recent entrance of Soviet authority there. 41 But the Normans, as will be shown, did not permanently establish either a higher nobility or even a high class in England, as has so often been alleged.
Primogeniture and entail. Directly responsible for much social class rigidity are mechanisms such as primogeniture and entail. This is because of their effect upon the families out of which the social classes are formed. They preserve family fortunes intact, increase the uneven distribution of wealth, encourage aristocratic thought and action, and entrench conservatism. Instances of this practice are to be found among primitives in ancient civilizations, and in modern nations with strong aristocratic institutions.
The effect of primogeniture is not to give all the children of an upper class family equally high status. The effect, whether intended or not, is (1) to preserve the family name and line, (2) to limit the number of persons in very high positions, (3) to insure their high status, and (4) to force parts of every high family downward, as if to make them take the front lines trenches against the threat from lower class competition. When in full, swing, primogeniture and entail were powerful instruments with which to beat back the masses, by using younger brothers as shock troops and property as ordnance.
34. Carter G. Woodson, African Heroes and Heroines (Washington, 1939) p. 189.
35. A. W. Pezet, "The Latin Americans," in Immigrant Backgrounds, Henry Pratt Fairchild, ed. (New York, 1927) p. 171.
36. Taken from Franz Oppenheimer, The State, tr. J. M. Gitterman (New York, 1926) p. 36.
37. Ibid., p, viiii.
38. Gumplowicz, op. cit., p. 134.
39. Sumner and Keller, op. cit., p. 582.
40. Norman Scott and Ethel Culbert Gras, The Economic and Social History of an English Village, (Crawley, Hampshire) A.D. 909 - 1928 (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1930) p. 8.
41. Arthur Ruhl, "Russians and Baltic Peoples," in Immigrant Backgrounds, ed. Henry Pratt Fairchild (New York, 1927) p. 226.