«Д. М. БОНДАРЕНКО ДОИМПЕРСКИЙ БЕНИН ФОРМИРОВАНИЕ И ЭВОЛЮЦИЯ СИСТЕМЫ СОЦИАЛЬНО-ПОЛИТИЧЕСКИХ ИНСТИТУТОВ Москва 2001 Серия “Цивилизационное измерение” Том 2 Редколлегия серии: И.В. ...»
However, having gained the unreserved victory over the Oba in the struggle for the profane power, the titled chiefs inversely propotional increased up to the limit his sacral power by the means of imposing taboos on him. In the context of the Benin society and culture, the latter was true power that allowed to limit the behavioral alternatives of subjects not less really than profane one. Not only in the Bini’s minds but objectively as well, by the very fact of his existence, the Oba went on playing an important role of the main symbol of the all-Benin unity, of the focus and guard of the people’s cultural tradition and identity. Just due to this the Oba remained a figure that really influenced the course of the Benin history in any period. It may look paradoxically, but the role of the supreme ruler in the history of Benin became as greater as less his profane power (the only true one in the modern people’s minds) turned out.
§ 4. The Supreme (Titled) Chiefs. All what was stated above makes evident that the Bini culture rejected true autocracy at any level of the socio-political hierarchy including the supreme one. The real situation was dynamic, it was changing in the course of time. Increase of the measure of proximity to the supreme ruler, of opportunities for influencing him was one of the most important means of struggle for distribution and redistribution of power among titled chiefs of different categories.
This struggle was carried on in “two dimensions”. On the one hand, it was carried on for making this or that person the crown prince within the clan of the Oba and for titles of rulers in the dependent lands (especially in the imperial period). On the other hand, the supreme rulers and titled chiefs struggled for key factors in the country. On the contrary to struggle in the “first dimension” which was determined by the archaic kinship collective norms practically completely, the opposition of the Oba and chiefs far exceeded these limits (though the chiefs also came to power as representatives of their lineages first and foremost). Furthermore, it depended on the lineage members to a considerable, sometimes even decisive degree, if a claimant would get a title or not.
The main attention is paid in the paragraph to three principal categories of the Benin titled chiefs: the “kingmakers” (Uzama N’ihinron), palace (Eghaevbo N’ogbe), and town (Eghaevbo N’ore) chiefs. In the meantime, the supreme chiefs can be devided into two large groups, viz. Hereditary and appointed by the Oba. However, one should not think that the supreme ruler could command non-hereditary titles easily, by his own wish. As well as hereditary, these titles were usually inherited within definite extended families. The matter is that a lineage which held a hereditary title could not lose it anyway, while the Oba had a right to hand a non-hereditary title over to another extended family, though only after the death of its previous holder.
To the hereditary supreme chiefs belonged holders of the titles the history of which was rooted in the pre-Oba period plus holders of some titles introduced by Ewedo and Ewuare. As it was argued above, the Uzama N’ ihinron were the most important of them. They were six (seven from the Ewuare time) successors of the Edionewbo, the kingmakers in the Ogiso period. The Uzama were considered as the first in rank among all the Benin chiefs. They enjoyed a considerable power over inhabitants of their dependent settlements exerting influence on them through local chiefs. Having been tribute collectors from their dependent territories, the Uzama N’ ihinron had the right either to leave a part it for themselves or to surtax communalists in their favor.
Nevertheless, after the Ewedo’s military victory over them followed by reforms, the political role of the Uzama, official kingmakers, decreased considerably. Intronization of a new supreme ruler was fixed as the main task of the Uzama N’ ihinron as a collective body (as just they had initiated the advent of Oranmiyan from Ife). However, from the Ewdo time the Uzama were deprived from their bygone key administrative functions and powers including the right to select a new Oba, not to crown him only. Besides their common obligation to intronize a new supreme ruler, almost each of the Uzama performed some individual duties: the Oliha was a priest, the Ezomo was a general, and so on.
Having established the Uzama N’ ihinron at the down of the Second dynasty period, Eweka I did not achieve his end that was to get freedom in governing the country by paying off from the nobility with a grain of power.
In spite of this, the supreme ruler was regarded as a member of all the all-Benin administrative bodies. The titled chiefs council was among those bodies. Representatives of twenty-one group of administrators (including the heads of court craftsmen unions) were members of it. That council formed and functioned as a development of the institution of extended family, community (village), and chiefdom councils at the all-Benin level. But the Oba could not manoeuvre among chiefs of different categories successfully for the main error in reckoning their strategy was that they took the extensive road of building the political institutions system. On this road every new category of titled chiefs not only did not return the Oba their lost power (though took away a part of it from predeccessors), but “robbed” the monarch more and more. As a result, by the end of the 15th century the “sources” for establishing new categories of chiefs had practically been exhausted: even representatives of not noble city lineages had already been involved into the system of central political institutions by that moment. Members of the corporations established earlier turned out de facto independent from the supreme ruler and collectively seized the whole volume of profane power once and for all in the early 17th century when they deprived the Oba from the last means of its keeping, i.e. the true commanding the army.
But before that, in the preimperial period there were at least two other crucial moments in the struggle of the Oba with supreme chiefs: in the mid-13th and mid-15th centuries. In the first case Oba Ewedo, following the “syndrome of Eweka I”, not only restricted sharply power of the Uzama but also introduced the first institution of non-hereditary chiefs (“palace chiefs”) as a counterbalance to them. It was formed by heads of noble families (probably, of the city first settlers). But those families were not as noble as clans of the Uzama members, heads of the protocity chiefdom in the past. The structure of the palace chiefs institution reproduced the age-grade system. The Eghaevbo N’Ogbe members were kept by their extensive agricultural households. Besides, they received half of the tribute which they collected for the Oba from some villages, had a share in court fines, in collections from heads of craft unions at the latter’ installation. The Eghaevbo N’Ogbe were administrators, generals, priests, masters of ceremonies. Besides membership in the Oba’s council, they had another collective duty: to control the activities of the palace craft unions. The Oba’s deputies in the annexed lands (the onotueyevbo) were also responsible at them, first of all, for regularity and totality of the tribute they had to pay to the Benin supreme ruler. The presence of numerous courtiers related to the idea of sacrality of the monarch’s power imparted the government a halo of supernaturality and mysticism, necessary for influencing the subjects’ consciousness.
The measure of the Eghaevbo N’Ogbe members’ corporativeness was high enough and their importance as of a titled chiefs category was great.
Though the supreme rulers’ power increased for some time after Ewedo’s reforms, the palace chiefs had threatened it not less than earlier the Uzama by the reign of Ewuare. That is why the great reformer had to make a new “coup”. As a counterbalance to the palace chiefs, Ewuare introduced the institution of even less noble “town chiefs”.
The Eghaevbo N’Ore members, like once the palace chiefs, got titles of generals, priests, judges, etc. They also participated in governing villages; probably those to which they were related as heads of agricultural (though town) communitites. Deputies in the annaxed lands were selected among them, too. As a deputy, a town chief was responsible for several dependencies in different parts of the country (that was made so for the sake of decreasing the potential of his oppositon to the central authority). However, he resided permanently in Benin City, as well as other titled chiefs: the actual government in dependencies was exercised by local rulers who recognized the Benin Oba’s supremacy.
Practicully from the very moment of their introduction the town chiefs began to struggle (quite successfully) with the Eghaevbo N’Ogbe for the influence on the supreme ruler, on the one hand, and for power with the sovereign himself, on the other hand. The Eghaevbo N’Ore members became very powerful but they could surpass the communal organization even to a less degree than the palace chiefs for while the latter were strong by their proximity to the Oba, just masses of Benin City communalists were the Eghaevbo N’Ore’s support. That remained so even when the town chiefs turned out among the wealthiest people in the country due to receiving remuneration for military, judicial, priestly, and other activities to what half of the tribute they collected for the supreme ruler added. Only when they overcame the Oba’s resistance and their head, the Iyase got the position of commander-in-chief, when they became at least as powerful as the palace chiefs, the Eghaevbo N’Ore members stopped being dependent on the common communalists’ support so crucially.
The Iyase (whose personal title was introduced by Ewedo long before the creation of the town chiefs institution) opposed himself to the Oba from the very beginning being both influential in the summit and popular with towndwellers. Later that was just he who led the Eghaevbo N’Ore’s struggle for power. While the Oba was losing profane power and importance of the Uzama N’Ihinron was decreasing, the Iyase was becoming the most influential figure within the governmental system and in the society despite strengthening of the palace chiefs. Just on the personal might of the Eghaevbo N’Ore’s head the competitiveness of the town chiefs as a whole at the face of their palace vis-a-vis was based to no small degree.
When Ewuare established the Eghaevbo N’Ore as a category of titled chiefs-heads of non-aristocratic kin units, the opportunities for further development of the governmental apparatus in accordance with the previous “extensive” model, i.e. by means of creating new institutions of communities’ heads, were practically exhausted. Thus, at the moment of Benin’s transformation into the “empire”, the limit of evolution and simultaneously peak of expediency of the Second dynasty governmental system were reached. Partly owe to this an active expansion of Benin became possible.
But the common victory of Ewuare and all his predeccessors was Pyrrhic: after the most plebeian by origin category of title chiefs, the town chiefs, went to opposition to the supreme rulers too, the Oba left without any serious support in the summit and lost profane power.
So, the system of socio-political institutions that had existed in Benin till the advent of British colonizers had formed in fundamental outline still in the preimperial times. From the mid-15th century on, only a redistribution of functions and volume of power between the supreme ruler and titled chiefs, on the one hand, and among different categories of the latter, on the other hand, mostly took place.
Chapter 6. FORMATION AND EVOLUTION OF THE SYSTEM OF SOCIO-POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS OF
BENIN IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE 12TH LATE 15TH CENTURIES: A GENERAL ESTIMATION OF THE
PERIODThe interregnum period of the second half of the 12th century resulted not in coming to power and strengthening of the Second dynasty only, but also in an essential “reconfiguration” of the Bini’s socio-political order, what was connected directly with that historical event. That reconfiguration was determined by the fact that the Oba eventually managed to establish effective supra-chiefdom central authority, on the contrary to the rulers of the First dynasty. Heads of chiefdoms and autonomous communities were really subordinated to the supreme authority, occupied a “fitting” place within the governmental hierarchy. The all-Benin administrative apparatus created under the new dynasty was not an amorphous conglomeration of leaders of socio-political units of the complex society as it was under the Ogiso. The socio-political whole personified in the central authority, the Benin society, from the 13th century was also, figuratively speaking, not equal to a simple sum of its parts (chiefdoms and autonomous communitites) but now had a higher quality of its own. This new quality ensured lack of a real threat of desintegration of Benin as a socio-political unit or of another change of dynasty. The role of the political center did not pass from one segment of society (chiefdom) to another any longer. The center really surpassed the socio-political components of the Bini complex society.
With the establishment of the Second dynasty the historical search of the most appropriate forms of social and political organization and of their interaction models was finally over at all the levels of complexity. Benin found the sociopolitical «frames» in which all the changes of the subsequent centuries prior to the violent interruption of her independent existence in 1897 took place. Nevertheless, the socio-cultural background of the society, the heterogenious extended-family community, remained basically immutable notwithstanding the change of dynasties. Despite the sociopolitical reconfiguration, the complex Benin society was still being based in accordance with its “matrix” which was characterized by a tangle of kin and neighbor ties, hierarchicity, collectivism of the “modal personality”’s nature.
The socio-political homogenization of the society did not happen, too. Benin remained a socio-political unit within which structural elements of different types and measure of complexity coexisted and interacted. In the Ogiso time autonomous communitites and chiefdoms got along together within a complex chiefdom. In the Oba period the same componenets, still equal to each other on the hierarchical scale of socio-political institutions, formed parts of a society of a different type. This form of socio-political organization may be called the “megacommunity”. Its structure may be depicted in the shape of four concentric circles forming an upset cone. These “circles” are as follows: the extended family, the heterogenious extended-family community, the chiefdom, and finally, the broadest circle that included all the three narrower ones, i.e. the megacommunity as such (the Benin Kingdom as a whole).
So, under the Oba one socio-political system based on the extended family (autonomous heterogenious extendedfamily communities + chiefdoms the complex chiefdom) was changed by another: autonomous heterogenious extended-family communities + chiefdoms = the megacommunity. In every next circle of the megacommunity the sociopolitical institutions reproduced functionally and formally the analogous institutions of preceeding circles but the contents and spheres of their activities were broadening and transforming in view of the necessity to correspond to a higher level of complexity. The megacommunity’s integrity was guaranteed by principally the same various mechanisms as that of the community. Features of the communalists’ thinking, consciousness, world outlook were adequate to the conditions of life in the megacommunity. Just the community was not only the focus of the Benin complex society by which it was “modeled”, but also the core of the whole universe in Bini’s outlook.
From the aforesaid follows the community’s key role in determination of the character of the mental-cultural, socio-economic, and governmental subsystems of the society-megacommunity. The explanation for many truely and already pseudo-, quasicommunal traits and features of the Benin society is contained in the aforesaid, too. As the fundamental, basic institution, the community together all the levels of the hierarchical structure of the Benin society. All of them were penetrated by, at all of them communal by character ties and relations dominated, reflecting and expressing the nature of that society. To a considerable degree, just this fact determined durability of the megacommunity’s “construction”, its longevity; in particular, the preservation of that construction practically immutable (both structurally and essentially) in the imperial period. Thus, specificity of the megacommunity is in organization within it in rather a vast territory of a complex, “many-tier” society on the basis of predominantly transformed kin principle supplemented by a “grain” of territorial one. This basis was inherited from the heterogenious community, within which extended families preserved kin relations not only within themselves but with each other as well, supplementing them by relations of neighborhood.
In the meantime, the megacommunity, both by the level of economic development and the degree of elaboration and effectiveness of the political institutions system, qualitatively surpassed the complex chiefdom of the Ogiso. Furthermore, neither in territory nor in degree of the social organization complexity, economic parameters, the level of the governmental apparatus hierarchicity, the development of spiritual culture, the Benin megacommunity was inferior to many so-called “transitional early states” characterized by the Early State concept adepts as ones in which territorial (“social”) ties dominate over kin. (Not by chance some of them do attribute Benin as a transitional early state).
Theories of the state origin consentrate practically invariably on understanding of the state as a specialized institution for governing a society (even in cases when scholars try to represent the state as a type of society in general, not of a political organization only). Indeed, a natural criterion of the state is the presence of bureaucracy, a category of professional governors, officials that “fill” this “ specialized institution”. As a matter of fact, the latter was specialized just because those involved into the process of the state machine functioning were professionals. The most authoritative concept of bureaucracy was elaborated by Weber. Just this vision of this phenomenon is the evident or implicit basis of the majority of modern theories of the state. In the meantime, an attempt to “try on” Weber’s ten characteristics of bureaucracy and bureaucrats to Benin supreme chiefs revealed that none of them is applicable to those titleholders.
CONCLUSIONIt had gone without saying till recently that just the formation of the state (and of social classes in the Marxist theory) marks the end of the primitive society era, and that no alternatives to the state have ever existed. However, these postulates do not look so indisputable nowadays. In particular, it is evident that recognition of such a complex and highly developed society as Benin of the 13th – 15th centuries as a non-state one, actually means a refusal to consider the state as the universal, the only possible form of the post-chiefdom socio-political organization. So, the megacommunity looks like one of many possible alterantives to the sate in world history.
It has always been peculiar to evolutionists to compare social and biological evolution, the latter as visualized by Charles Darwin. But it also seems possible and correct to draw an analogy with another great discovery in the field of evolutionary biology, with the homologous series of Nikolay Vavilov. There are reasons to suppose that an equivalent level of socio-political (and cultural) complexity, which makes it possible to solve equally difficult problems faced by societies, can be achieved not only in various forms but on essentially different evolutionary pathways, too. Thus it is possible to achieve the same level of system complexity through differing pathways of evolution, being organized on different foundations. A comparison of societies of the same developmental level but different socio-cultural foundations looks quite permissible in the sense implied by the principle of the “law of homologous series” in biology.
At the first level of analysis, all evolutionary variability can be reduced to two principally different (though equivalent in the world-historical scale) groups of homologous series, as any society is based either on a hierarchical (vertical, homoarchic, non-democratic) or non-hierarchical (horizontal, heterarchic, democratic) principle. This fundamental distinction among societies, including those of the same level of overall cultural complexity, might be already rooted in the nature of primates and runs all through the whole socio-political history of the humanity from nonegalitarian and egalitarian early primitive associations to contemporary totalitarian monarchies and democratic republics. Hence, the degree of socio-political hierarchization is not a perfect criterion for evaluation of a society’s evolutionary level, though it is regarded as such by unilineal concepts of social evolution supporters.
In the meantime, on the further level of analysis the dichotomy turns out not to be rigid at all. No doubt, it is necessary to qualify that a certain hierarchy could be found in any society. The actual organization of any society employs both vertical (dominance – subordination) and horizontal (apprehended as ties among equals) links. Furthermore, in the course of their history societies (including archaic) turn out able to change models of socio-political organization radically, transforming from hierarchical into non-hierarchical or vice versa.
Nevertheless, vertical and horizontal links play different parts in different societies at every concrete moment.
Among numerous factors capable to influence the nature of this or that society the family and community type character characteristic of it seem to be worth notice.
However, besides social factors, a complex of phenomena that result from the fact that political culture is a reflection of a society’s type of culture in geneal, is also important for determination of its evolutionary form. The general type of culture that varies from one civilization to another defines the trends and limits of socio-cultural evolution. It influences crucially the essence of the political culture characteristic of a given society. In its turn, the political culture determines the human vision of the ideal socio-political model which, correspondingly, may be different in various cultures. This way the political culture forms the background for the character, type, forms of the politogenesis, including the enrolling of the politogenetic process along either the hierarchical or non-hierarchical evolutionary pathway. But real, “non-ideal” social institutions are results of conscious activities (social creativity) of people to no small degree, though people are not capable to realize completely the global socio-political outcomes of their deeds aimed at destination of personal goals. People create in the social sphere (as well as in other spheres) in correspondence with the value systems they adopt within their cultures in the process of socialization. They apprehend these norms as the most natural, the only true ones. Hence, It is evident that the general culture type is intrinsically connected with its respective modal personality type.
The ecological factor is also important for determination of the “homologous series” to which this or that society belongs. Not only natural environment but socio-historical one as well should be included into the notion of “ecology” in this case. The environment also contributes a lot to the defining of a society’s evolutionary potential, of its advancement along hierarchical or non-hierarchical axis’ limits.
The Benin evidence can make the picture of the socio-political institutions evolution more versatile. In particular, it reveals that not only hierarchical but also non-hierarchical societies can reach a very high level of development and socio-cultural complexity never transforming into a state. It looks like the character of a complex society is determined by the specifics of its local (substratum) institution, i.e. the community to a greater extent than by the ways of the local and supra-local levels interaction.
So, alternativity towards each other characterizes not only two basic macrogroups of human associations, i.e. hierarchical and non-hierarchical societies. Alternativity does exist within each of them, too. In particular, at the upper stair of complexity and integrativity of the socio-political organization, the state (at least in the pre-industrial world) “competes” with not only non-hierarchical systems of institutions but also with some forms of social organization that are not less hierarchical than the state. The megacommunity is one of such forms.
The Benin data demonstrate that intensification of communal bases, their extension to supra-communal levels does not necessarily results in a democratic complex society formation. A communal in its basis complex society can well turn out not less hierarchical, non-democratic than a pre-industrial state, which principally cannot be built up by a communal matrix. Again, the community type plays a decisive part here. Cross-cultural research have allowed to reveal a positive link between the level of socio-political institutions democracy (or non-democracy) not at the communal level but at the supra-communal one, too. A democratic complex society, especially one based on a communal matrix, with a higher probability can appear in the result of “extention” of the territorial (neighbor) community, democratic in its nature. In the meantime, the way of the megacommunity’s formation was through the “likening” of supra-communal socio-political organization to the hierarchical (in the majority of cases) extended-family community, or its heterogenious “derivative” as it was in Benin.
It seems reasonable and grounded to classify the megacommunity as a specific type of complex hierarchical sociopolitical organization. This type of organization was alternative to the statehood, for it is also clear that from all points of view Benin was not less developed than the majority of early states, though there were neither professional (bureaucratic) governmental apparatus no pronounced priority of the territorial organization over the kin one.
Напротив, некоторые ученые, склонные к излишним генерализациям, включая первого теоретика вождества Элмана Сервиса (Service 1975: 16, 307), даже утверждают, что сакральность власти якобы есть одна из общих характеристик этой формы социально-политической организации [см.: (Carneiro 1981: 57; Першиц 1986а:
35; Куббель 1988б: 55, 8182, 153154; Крадин 1991: 275277, 288289; 1995б: 1617;
Бондаренко и Коротаев 1998а: 884; Kelekna 1998)].
Kelekna P. War and Theocracy // Chiefdoms and Chieftaincy in the Americas. Gainesville etc., 1998. P. 164188.
Другими словами, хотя война сопровождает вождество на всем протяжении его существования, является неизменным атрибутом его бытия (Семенов 1994: 2069;
Крадин 1995: 42; Earle 1997: 105142), ныне представляется неверным взгляд на формирование вождества как на результат непременно прямого насильственного подчинения некой группы общин сильнейшей из них под предводительством военного вождя [см.: Beliaev et al. 2001: 399401)].
Beliaev D.D., Bondarenko D.M. & Korotayev A.V. Origins and Evolution of Chiefdoms // RA. 2001. Vol. 30.
RA Reviews in Anthropology. New Paltz ГЛАВА 2 с. 24:
К тому же времени относятся и образцы керамики (Wesler 1999: 244251), «временами демонстрирующие достаточно высокую степень совершенства» (Isichei 1983: 67), несмотря на незнание бини гончарного круга.
Wesler K.W. Chronological Sequences in Nigerian Ceramics // AAR. 1999. Vol. 16. № 4. P. 239258.
AAR African Archaeological Review. New York ГЛАВА 6 с. 4:
После смерти Овонрамвена (в 1914 г. Д.Б.) британцы пришли к пониманию того, что если они хотят обеспечить хотя бы вынужденную солидарность бини, они должны восстановить монархию. Таким образом, падение Овонрамвена не означало крушения монархии, которая и сегодня вызывает уважение и любовь» [(Igbafe 1974:
175); аналогично см.: (Nevadomsky 1993: 66–67); подробно см.: (Bradbury 1968:
203233; Зотова 1979: 105–114)].
Bradbury R.E. Continuities and Discontinuities in Pre-colonial and Colonial Benin Politics (18971951) // History and Social Anthropology. L. etc., 1968. P. 193252.
Однако также известно немало случаев сохранения обществами прежнего уровня сложности и интегрированности при переходе с одного эволюционного «гомологического ряда» в другой [примеры см.: (van der Vliet 1987; Ferguson 1991;
Коротаев 1993; 1995а; 1996а; 1996б; 1997а; 1998а; 1998б; 2000а; 2000б; Korotayev 1993; 1995; 1996; Levy 1995; Lynsha 1998; Weir 1998; Березкин 2000; Beliaev 2000;
Dozhdev 2000; Kowalewski 2000; Kradin 2000b Chamblee 2000: 1535);
Chamblee J.F. The Classic-Postclassic Transition in the Central Mixteca Alta, Oaxaca. Unpublished M.A. Thesis.
Отпечатано в ПМЛ Института Африки РАН 103001, Москва, ул. Спиридоновка, 30/1
Серия “Цивилизационное измерение”:
Том 1. Цивилизационные модели политогенеза. Д.М. Бондаренко и А.В. Коротаев (отв. ред.) ДЛЯ ЗАМЕТОК