Sense of History: an unfinished draft of an undergraduate history textbook by Robert C. Binkley, 1939-40. This transcription is not yet fully corrected.

Territorial-Political Organizations

There are some organizations within which geographic and social distance coincide. Such is the parish or the neighborhood. And there is one great organization, world wide in scope, which is set up on this specific principle. It is called political organization.

There are perhaps three hundred million households in the world. Each of these has a place where members of the household eat and sleep. These households are clustered in local communities such as villages, townships, cities, counties, circles, districts. The smaller and lower units are included geographically and politically within larger and higher units. At the top is the family of nations, the political world of international affairs. The number of steps from the household to the family of nations varies from a minimum of four to a maximum of ten or twelve. A family in France is five steps away from the family of nations, through the commune, the arrondisement, the canton, the department and the Republic. The Chinese series is longer, and consists of seven steps, [p.012] from the family through the "neighborhood", village, canton, circle, district and province to the Chinese state. There are about sixty-two members of the family of nations. More than half of the world's population enters the family of nations through its four most populous members, China, Russia, British India and the United States of America.

The system of territorial political communities, in which persons and places are trained together, seems to derive a certain natural strength from the fact that in it geographic distance and social distance coincide. An individual has a sense of "belonging" to a group which is defined by a certain area, and therefore he is always at a calculable geographic distance from all the other "insiders" in his group.