From a historical perspective, societies in need of government have moved from the primitive to the patriarchal state and finally to the military, the real politics of modern times. The origin and development of government institutions is the most visible subject for the study of Politics and its history.
Regardless of how civilized the world is, there are still large numbers of people living in the most primitive conditions. The most important of these because most scientifically studied are the "aborigines" of Australia. The scientific study of the aboriginal Australian forms the basis of what is best known of primitive societies in general.
The aboriginal Australian understands neither the cultivation of the land nor the rearing of sheep and cattle. The dog is their only "domestic" animal. They take shelter in caves and in primitive huts. They have no food but the natural products of the earth. They know a very primitive form of fire-making and their cooking is very crude. They have no knowledge of metal work. Their weapons are the flint-headed spear, the axe and the wooden boomerang. They wear no clothing at all. Living like this on the point of starvation may have gone on for thousands of years. It could be said that isolation is the only single factor in the aboriginal Australian state of stagnation.
The Totem group is the real social unit of the aboriginal Australian. The Totem is not an Australian word but it is generally accepted to designate the name of an institution which is found everywhere among primitive people. The Totem group is primarily a group of people distinguished by the sign of a natural object, such as an animal or tree, who may not intermarry with one another - this is the first rule of primitive social organization; its origin is lost in antiquity ("Alcheringa") but its object is certainly to prevent the intermarriage of close relatives. Marriage takes place between men and women of differen Totems; the husband belongs to all the women of his wife's totem and the wife belongs to all the men of the husband's totem at the same time that a communal marriage is established between the men and women of the two different Totems - the men and women being of the same generation. This presents a most valuable objective lesson in social history. There are no unmarried couples; marriage for them is part of the natural order into which they are born.
The ceremonies are kept secret and are directed by a "Birraark" or sorcerer, usually an old man. The candidates are instructed in the history of their Totem and on the power of the Birraark. They are initiated into the mystery of the Totem, usually accompanied by an ordeal such as circumcision and then they are tattooed with a seal of identity that marks them for a given Totem and a given generation in that Totem. In this way is constructed the simple system of relationship of the aboriginal Australian. The mother takes a predominant role, for descent is almost always reckoned through females. Parent, child, brother and sister are the only recognized relationships. Rudimentary as this system may appear to be, it is widely spread among the Malay Archipelago and prevails widely among primitive peoples everywhere.
The Totem serves the purpose of forbidding intermarriage between close relatives and will deal destruction if this rule is not strictly enforced. These are the rudiments of two of the most important factors in human progress: Religion and Law. The rudimentary notion of Law is very specific about what is prohibited or Taboo. Primitive people do not recognize any duties towards strangers unless there is an abundant food supply in a given area. It is a sure sign of progress if the same area is able to maintain an ever larger number of people. In his own milieu, close to nature, the savage outwits the civilized man but both are subject to natural law.