Political philosophies and legal theories rest upon particular accounts of the human condition. Most such theories regard the unitary state as the normal form of political association, while other forms of political arrangement, such as federations, are treated as special cases to be explained and justified within a unitary framework. This article offers an account of the human condition that, on the contrary, regards a federal ordering of society and politics as normative, and which explains various forms of state-organization within that framework. The justification of a federal ordering of politics depends, it is argued, on a federal understanding of human sociality. On this view, a federal system of government is but a particular outworking of an understanding of the human condition that is itself constitutively federal. The result is an account of human sociality that is at first local and particular, but which aspires to the more distant and universal, and in which expressions of human sociality and political ordering work their way outwards, from the local to the universal, in a nested association of relatively small communities that are constitutive of ever larger communities. Such an account of the human condition, it is argued, offers a more complete context from which to understand, and a more coherent set of reasons for favoring, a federal ordering of society and politics.