State Interference by William Graham Summer

According to William Graham Sumner (1887), state interference in people’s lives was already in the public domain including himself and that individualism become under attack. During the time, the state which was then people’s representative decided to thwart and diverted the people’s quest for governance by interfering in the societies best interests. At the end of that struggle, the state departments carried the day but not for long as individualism started creeping back again.

To explain the extreme biases exerted by the state towards individualism, Graham decided to describe the history of the effect upon the individuals of various forms of the state. He argued that collection of people brought together by the ties of neighborhood or brother and sisterhood come together so as to safeguard their common interest against any interference from another real area. Those common interest plus the social bond become at war with the individual’s interests by exerting coercive power to destroy individualism, to produce uniformity, to ban opposition, to make the personal judgment a social offense, and to workout drill and punishment.

For instance, in the Roman state, internal discipline become successful in the struggle with neighbors as each member become swayed up by the victory of the body of which he was a member to the status of a world conquistador. After that, the communities disintegrated because of quarrels instigated by spoils of the world until lawlessness becomes a one man’s power after then a looming civil war among the Roman Empire communities. If only they could have known that life could have been in such a state, then they could have understood such occurrences that the emperor would become the state (Sumner, 1887). The emperor becomes aggressive and ruthless and in fact, anybody who dare challenged his authority by possessing anything which human may need, held his life at his mercies since he was the world and the question of escaping from his wrath was not warranted.

Now the first significant relation people have with the state is that of a soldier and a taxpayer. When soldier’s aspect losses importance, then the taxpayer context becomes the chief. In later centuries, the obsequies of the citizens become regulated in a way that they can contribute to the most focus. It is that the citizens were not made part of a machine, but themselves were tax paying machines as all his hopes, rights, interests, and human capabilities merged for the purpose of his survival. Each person after that become locked tight in the large and artificial organization of the society and any attempt by Roman handicraftsmen to better their lives were considered a breach of peace as the rebellion become a breach of peace, disobedience become a revolt, resistance was treason, and finally running away becomes a desertion.

In the middle ages, a nation which had been settled into its simple elements had to reform. The old form was imposed upon it by the conditions and details of the cases. Those oppressions brought about associations and other organizations for collective defense whereby sometimes such groups wore civil power, at times become under the political sovereign, but they clung to their regulation and control. The authority always interfered and at all points by either fixing wages and prices of commodities or regulated businesses among other restrictions. Those organizations later become the individual’s hamper on their enterprises and success.

Graham argues that currently if the old fashioned theories of state interference with individualism could get applied to new democratic states, they could come out to become simply a mechanism for setting order interests in a struggle against each other within those societies. Now that most political machines are brought within everybody’s reach, the temptation of leadership is just as dominating over a democratic faction as ever it was over those rulers and noblemen (Sumner, 1887). No governing organ has yet abstained from any function because it recognized itself uninformed or ineffectual.


Sumner, W. (1887). Retrieved 17 October 1987, from http://State Interference

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