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Formal Roles and Hierarchy

For the first time, with chiefdoms, there existed groups under the permanent control of a paramount chief. A chief's status was usually based on kinship, which was inherited or ascribed rather than derived from achievements like it was for leaders at the band level.

Chiefdoms relied on the centralization of authority, entailing pervasive inequality. This hierarchy resulted in at least two inherited social classes; farmers extracting resources from the environment, and a ruling elite that extracted resources from the farmers.

Through this exploitative dynamic, the ruling elite could accumulate surplus from other people's labor rather than their own. As Daniel Schmatchenberger says, this was the beginning of a new multiplicative economy.

File:Formal Roles and Hierarchy.jpg
Typical hierarchy in civilizations

In civilizations, specialist roles began to emerge like potters, merchants, priests, and soldiers. People held formal roles. There were a few wealthy, politically powerful people and many more comparatively poor commoners who had little political influence and almost no possibility of acquiring it. As single-city kingdoms became multi-city empires with vast territories, the hierarchy became more rigid.  

Sacredness of the ruling elite

Chiefs had demigod status and possessed religious authority. They often styled themselves as representatives of gods and performed rituals that only they could perform.

Surveying the past few centuries, chiefdoms went to great lengths to legitimate their supremacy. Many forms of chiefly self-advertisement are enduring, such as monumental architecture. These include the vast mounds built in North America as tombs for past chiefs, pyramid-like temples on Tahiti, and even the giant stone heads on Easter Island.

Similarly, in agrarian civilizations, the ruler became a god-king with absolute authority. The Pharaohs of Egypt are a prime example of this. As living gods, their authority was absolute, as illustrated by monumental architecture like large pyramids.

Formal Narrative, Social Norms, Religion

Any large-scale human cooperation is rooted in shared myths. The crucial historical role of religion has been to give superhuman legitimacy to structures of states. Religion asserts that laws are not susceptible to human fallibility, but are ordained by an absolute and indisputable authority. This exempts them from critique and ensures social stability. As Yuval Harari describes, "The imagined order is inter-subjective." It exists in the shared imagination of everyone.

Armies and Police

As Chris Boehm suggests, it was the development of weaponry that allowed two betas to kill an alpha, and thus one alpha could not dominate unchallenged, resulting in an essentially egalitarian hierarchy at the band level. With the extra resources, Chiefdoms could assemble military forces and break out of the anti-hierarchical operating system that prevailed on the band level.

In 1970, the American anthropologist Robert Carneiro developed the coercive theory of state formation. It suggests that increasing population pressure in early agricultural societies resulted in intense competition with other societies for scarce resources such as land, water, salt, and wood. To persist in the ensuing wars of conquest, centralized governments developed to mobilize and direct armies. According to Carneiro, armies continued to exist to control conquered peoples, collect tribute, and allocate resources.

Formal Laws

Written laws came into existence after writing was invented. Writing allowed these laws to be easily shared and inscribed. For example, the Code of Hammurabi of 1776BC presented Hammurabi as a just king and served as the basis for a more uniform legal system across the Babylonian Empire. It asserted that Babylonian social order is rooted in universal principles of justice, dictated by the gods. According to the code, people are divided into two genders and three classes. With this collection of laws imposed through the threat of force, a social order was created that was clear and binding.