The sequence from productivity, through prosperity, wealth accumulation, abundance and the measures needed to defend and safeguard the accumulations, leads to an affluent community or society. It also calls into being new and distinctive class forces.
I. The business class (hucksters and profiteers), a self-seeking, aggressive group of adventurers, promoters and organizers of bourgeois society to whom profit comes first. At one or another stage in the life cycle of every civilization aggressive bourgeois greed for wealth and power makes itself felt. Their role in western civilization has been outstanding. The business class through its control of the productive apparatus and the sources of credit has been able to surround itself with subordinates, scientists and other experts, apologists, strong-arm squads (police and military), spies and assassins.
II. A middle class, made up of business class subordinates plus self employed tradesmen, professionals, independent farmers and craftsmen.
III. A class of blue collared and white collared producers of goods and services who hold their jobs during good behavior. When not needed or wanted they are pushed into the ranks of the partially or wholly unemployed. Most civilizations have added to the working force serfs, peons and/or chattel slaves.
IV. A class of hangers on—economic parasites—who consume more than they produce. The payment of unearned income to property holders and the creation of monopolies enables this class to live on rent, interest and profit in proportion to their ownership. As parasitism increases and multiplies it proves to be a dead weight which eventually drags down any economy that tolerates it.
V. A class of dependents, defectives and delinquents, supported by society but contributing little or nothing to its maintenance or its advancement.
Every civilization has maintained a greater or lesser degree of mobility between the classes. Mobility makes it possible for those with greater ability and energy to leave the countryside, settle near the market-place and climb the ladder of success. It has also made it possible for policy makers to dump those whose services are no longer needed or wanted by the ruling oligarchy.
Among the driving economic forces in a civilization are hunger, fear, greed, ambition. In practice these forces have proved far more effective than whips and clubs in the hand of slave drivers. They animate the rat-race for pelf, power, "success", which attracts idealism, energy, ability and throws out the carcases of those no longer able to make a contribution to the wealth and power of the oligarchy and its establishment.
Hunters, herdsmen, cultivators, craftsmen, mariners, miners perform services that maintain the solvency of any economy in which they play a leading role. Fast talkers, adventurers, promoters, manipulators, gamblers add little or nothing to the income of the communities in which they operate. Often, however, as gargantuan consumers, they play an important role in building up the deficits which finally wreck an economy.
Accumulations of wealth in market centers tempts the ambitious and the adventurous to enter the rat-race and grab more than their pro-rata share of the honey. The most obvious way to do this is to secure possession of the honey pot.
Far away, in the tribal past of a civilization, lay a period of scarcity in which the members of the community shared the scarce income or starved. As the tribal wealth increased, the leaders, their families and retainers got more than a fair share of the available goods, services, preferment, privileges. At a very early stage the "ants" stored away what they could spare, while the "grasshoppers" had a "good time". Investing their stored wealth in land or productive enterprises the "ants" added unearned income to their normal earnings from productive labor.
Because the "ants" held the wealth of the community they were able to exercise authority and determine community policy. One result of their decisions was the creation of titles to land and stored wealth. A second result was the institution of property-custom and later of property-law under which those who owned property enjoyed special privileges which gave them still larger shares of the community wealth and income.
Wealth ownership and the exercise of authority, concentrated in one person or family, created a basic division in the community between those whose livelihood depended on their labor and those whose income was determined by their ownership of property and their exercise of authority. In the course of time this development divided the community into a property-owning, governing minority which was wealthy, and a property-poor majority whose livelihood depended upon the willingness of the property holding minority to use their land and productive implements in operations that turned out goods and services.
Property ownership and income were protected by law. Labor income depended on the bargaining power of the property-less majority. Property income yielded wealth to the property owners. Labor income, under the pressure of competition in the labor market, yielded only subsistence. Thus the community was divided into owners and workers. The owners controlled and spent or invested the income. The workers were provided with the necessaries and a few crumbs of comfort.
Private property and property law supported by state power institutionalized a basic division in every civilization. One segment of a civilized community enjoyed wealth and power; other segments produced goods and performed services. The owners were rich; the producers were poor. Riches side by side with poverty are characteristic features of a civilized society.
Exploitation has been the economic backbone of every civilization from earliest times to the present day. Each civilization has exploited and used up its natural resources. In every civilization individuals, groups, classes and sometimes castes have exploited or used up fellow humans and fellow creatures to suit their own purposes and advance their own interests.
Abraham Lincoln gave a classical definition of human exploitation in a simple sentence: "It is the principal that says you work and toil and earn bread and I will eat it."
Exploitation of nature and of fellow beings by man began long before written history. During periods of civilization, and notably in present-day civilization, exploitation has determined social relationships. It has also become one of the pillars of every civilized community.
Civilized peoples use up natural resources as a matter of course. The more advanced technically have stripped their environments of replaceable and irreplaceable resources. They have also perfected techniques for using the productive power of their fellow creatures. One way to do this is by owning the body. Another way is ownership of land, capital and consumer goods which enable the owner to live without labor on the products resulting from the labor of others.
Owners of property and wealth receive an income because they are owners. They may be very young or very old, able-bodied or helpless. Their livelihood comes to them not because of anything they do, but because of the property titles which they own.
The owner of land may collect rent. The owner of capital may collect interest. The owner of an enterprise may collect profits. Each lives by owning.
Workers produce goods and services. They are paid an income proportioned to their production.
Owners of land, capital and consumer goods are paid incomes proportioned to their ownership.
Workers work for a living. Owners live by ownership, chiefly of land and the implements of production.
Owners of property frequently are rich. Workers, by comparison, are poor. The line separating owners from workers also separates riches from poverty.
Income from services rendered, from work, is earned income. Income from property ownership, by contrast, is unearned income.
The relation between earned and unearned income is not confined to one generation. Under laws passed by the owners and their retainers the owners of private property may give or bequeath this property to their descendants. In the course of time a community is divided between workers who are poor and owners who are rich. Since the rich need not work in order to live, they and those associated with them may live on the unearned income derived from property ownership. In a word, they may become parasitic.
Parasitism may lead to social decay. Generation after generation, the owners and their dependants may live in comfort or even in luxury while those who work and their dependents may lack simple necessities. This is the confrontation of riches and poverty which has played so large a role in every civilization.
Through the ages, in one civilization after another, the glaring contrast between riches and poverty has appeared, dividing the community and laying the foundation for class struggle and class war, both of which decrease social efficiency, intensify class antagonism.
In the early stages of any culture cycle, barter is replaced by a money economy. Money is a medium of exchange, usually issued by a public authority and used in daily transactions, to pay tribute or taxes and to meet other general expenses. In its earlier forms it is made of relatively scarce materials that are in general demand, limited in supply and easily divisible into smaller units. Gold, silver and other metals meet these requirements and have been used as money through the ages.
Cash money and promises to pay speed up wholesale and retail exchanges in the market place. They fill the bill in normal times. But there are emergencies and other exceptions. One of the commonest of the emergencies is war.
In a previous chapter we pointed out that war is a characteristic feature of a civilization that has passed the top-point of its expansion and begun to decline. Then the chickens come home to roost. Civil war, colonial wars and wars between imperial rivals follow each other, creating emergencies in which demand for certain strategic goods and services rises steeply, with no corresponding increase in supply. Prices increase. The common defense requires immediate purchase of supplies. The public treasury is exhausted. The government borrows from money lenders (bankers). It also prints paper money and puts it in circulation.
If the credit of the government is good, if the emergency is of short duration, matters right themselves and the economy survives without serious derangements. But war-emergency disrupts and sometimes destroys an economy. This outcome often results from military defeat.
Another exception to normal economic transactions is buying on credit—buying today and paying tomorrow. The temporary gap between purchase and payment is filled by credit—a promise of the purchaser to pay later and the confidence of the seller that the bill will be paid. Such credit transactions are covered by notes, bonds and mortgages made out by the buyer and accepted by the seller. Until the debt is settled, the borrower pays the seller interest at an agreed rate. Bankers enter the picture, providing capital and collecting interest on their loans.
Where credit is abundant and relatively cheap, borrowers spend beyond their incomes, hoping to pay later when the loan falls due. Borrowing and over-spending are among human frailties. They are also forms of risk-taking or gambling. Who knows whether the banker who promises to pay on demand will be alive and doing business next week when his promise to pay is presented for settlement? When the promise to pay is issued by a government which decides the value of currency, and accepted by that government as payment for taxes and other obligations, it is more readily acceptable than paper issued and guaranteed by an individual money lender or banker.
Each civilization has had a background of simple use economy—food gathering, animal husbandry, agriculture—in which most of the people produced what they needed and consumed what they produced. Such an economy employs money rarely.
In a money economy those who have cash use it to pay their bills or settle their accounts.
Those who buy on credit pay interest to money lenders. The money lenders, later the bankers, make their profits by helping others to spend beyond their own means. The money-lender also accepted loans from others, promising to pay them back at a later date, and giving the lender a piece of paper, specifying the amount of the loan. The paper promise to pay became a bank-note, passed from hand to hand. It had no intrinsic value, but as the money lender promised to pay cash for the note on demand, it was accepted in payment of debts or for the purchase of commodities.
When a shirt-maker turns out a product and exchanges it for a pair of shoes made by a shoemaker there are no overhead costs. Each producer adds to his wardrobe an item that makes his life more satisfactory.
Examples of simple barter are seldom found in market economies. Civilized society assembles quantities and varieties of goods and services in the market place, invites consumers to choose among the wares and provides money to make transactions quick and easy. Civilized society supplements money with credit on the principle: buy and use today; pay tomorrow. Civilization goes beyond these bare essentials of merchandizing by furnishing transportation and communication, making long term loans at interest, writing insurance, developing the techniques of accounting and management. Customers who visit the market have basic human needs—the necessities of life. Beyond these necessaries, there are conveniences, comforts, luxuries. The markets of civilization cover the entire range of human needs and human wants from necessaries to luxuries.
Civilized merchandizers take two other steps aimed to activate consumption. They develop new lines of merchandise that will have more customer appeal, leading to new wants. They also advertise new wares that will create new wants, bring back old customers and attract new ones.
For the foot-weary customer who has shopped away his energy and enthusiasm for buying more and more, a civilized marketplace furnishes food and shelter, recreation, entertainment and culture—beer, libraries, concert halls and circuses as well as food, clothing and shelter.
These multiple functions of a civilized economy are part and parcel of the changes which have converted the simple barter deal of exchanging a pair of shoes for a shirt into a specialized, civilized market place. They also cause civilized economies to devote far more time and money to marketing goods and services than they spend in their manufacture. In a broad sense, these supplementary costs are "overhead."
Shirt makers and shoemakers convert raw materials and partly finished goods into shirts and shoes. Operating costs of manufacture are minimal in a civilized economy. The major items that go into the final price of the product are overhead costs.
Current accounting practices include in overhead: taxes, interest, insurance and general items. Actually the price of goods and services in a civilized economy includes minimal charges for raw materials and labor and maximum charges for overhead.
There is another phase of overhead which pyramids with each advance in the extent and complexity of a civilization—taxes to cover the costs of government. As the civilization expands and specializes, governmental services multiply. The number of government workers grows in proportion and often out of proportion to the total production costs. Expenses of government rise and with them the corresponding need to increase taxes.
Overhead costs in the village or small town are low. Much of the "public service" is done by citizens who volunteer their time and energy. In the centers of civilization public service is a profession, often well paid and usually quite permanent.
Expansion is a basic feature in the life of every civilization. Expansion increases overhead costs. When American Indians made their silent way through the forests or roamed the plains there was no overhead. Each provided his own means of locomotion. With roads came bridges. With roads and bridges came capital costs. As dirt roads gave way to macadam and macadam to asphalt and concrete, as country roads, winding over hill and through dale were replaced by graded superhighways cut straight through or built over all obstacles, the cost per mile rose fantastically. All of these added costs appeared somewhere in the tax bills which citizens were required to pay.
In any enterprise overhead costs rise in direct proportion to the extent and complexity of the social order. As they rise, they increase the prices of the goods and services which citizens (or consumers) must pay for their livelihood. A good illustration of this principle is the price of an identical acre of land: in the remote countryside; on an improved highway; in the suburbs of a growing city and at the city center.
Increasing wealth brings greater risks. Wealthy cities like wealthy individuals and families must pay for their protection against robbery and piracy; against extortion and expropriation. Among important business enterprises insurance ranks high. The costs and profits of insurance are suggested by elaborate insurance company buildings and the high salaries paid to their officials.
Insurance, usually a private overhead, comes high. Public insurance: maintenance of law and order, crime and punishment, the secret and open police, the armed forces, (land and sea and air) are vastly more expensive. If, to these limited costs of overhead are added the costs of militarism as a public enterprise and the ruinous costs of military adventurism and its inevitable wars, the mounting costs lead to insolvency and eventual economic and social ruin.
Another overhead cost which plays havoc with civilized nations and peoples is the support of a bureaucracy. Increased extent and complexity exhaust the community capacity for voluntary service and lead into an era where the volunteers who carried on the limited public activities of a village are supplemented and eventually replaced by a constantly growing body of public servants. Growing extent and complexity plus the need for finding safe places for those who are useful to the rich and powerful, widens and deepens the public crib. In large enterprises, private as well as public, paper work employs a small army, which must be fed and housed at a level worthy of "a great nation." Business machines reduce the personnel necessary for a given social enterprise, but their high capital and operational costs increase overhead.
Another aspect of overhead costs is the multiplication of parasitic professions. In simple villages, there are few body servants, no able-bodied individuals who fetch and carry at the word of command, or who only stand and wait for the moment when some whim, fancy or real need may call for their services.
Village life, with its limited area and still more limited resources, has little economic surplus upon which parasitism can feed. There is landlordism, of course, but the margin of surplus is small. The city, the province, the nation, the empire present a different picture. Parasitic professions abound and proliferate: money changers, money lenders, realtors, confidence men, gamblers, fortune tellers, priests, entertainers, artists, thieves, robbers, and prostitutes abound, consume more than their share of the community income, without making an equivalent return in production or service. Their support adds to the social overhead.
Another source of social overhead are the numerous followers of the "something for nothing" cult who receive unearned income—an income derived from civilization in its mature and its final stages.
Broadly there are two types of income—earned income and unearned income. Earned income is something for something—or return for goods provided or service rendered. Unearned income is something for nothing—an income derived from some monopoly, privilege, sinecure or form of property ownership.
Property in persons or things has been a characteristic feature of all civilizations. Property owners, receiving rents, interest, dividends, in proportion to the amount of property which they own are not called upon to make equivalent return in exchange for their property—based income. This personal parasitism of property owners is aggravated by provisions of property law under which the owners of property can give, sell or bequeath these sources of unearned income to family members, friends, associates.
Eventually, unearned income, handed on through generations, creates a class or even a caste of citizens who live without rendering an equivalent of services, on the labor of their fellows, adding a significant amount to the total of overhead costs.
Wealth ownership, the exercise of power, living in luxury on unearned income, add to overhead costs, but are accepted as respectable in civilized communities. Another and far less respectable form of social parasitism is the manipulation of social forces in a way that will bring the operator more than a fair share of social income with no equivalent in service. Such is "politics" or "politicising." "Politics" as a source of livelihood takes many forms, some less legitimate than others.
The most usual source of office-holding is the humble work of the clerk, handyman or messenger, responsible for carrying out the nagging routine of government. Beyond this common labor of public service are public servants skilled in their several professions. Beyond and above them are department heads and still higher are the appointed or elected officials responsible for the success or failure of a given public policy.
Who are the occupants of town, city, state, and national positions of authority and responsibility? Preferably they are elected or appointed because of their popularity or are the successful product of civil service examinations. At worst they are appointed as a return for favors or else because they are relatives or friends of successful politicians or their backers.
Whatever its source and however efficient or inefficient its performance, the body of paid public servants increases with the expanding life of locality, region, province, state, nation and empire. With its growth goes corresponding accommodations in wages and salaries, office space and equipment and other routine outlays. Frequently the increase of the emoluments of bureaucrats, especially at the higher levels of authority and responsibility, creates sinecures which are filled by parasites or by individuals who are engaged in shoring up the bureaucracy rather than rendering a public service. The outlays necessary to finance such a top-heavy bureaucratic fabric grow in direct proportion to the age and rigidity of the bureaucracy, draining off public funds into private coffers and adding uncompensated elements to overhead costs. If inflation is a problem, at or beyond the apex of an imperial epoch or cycle of civilization, financial costs rise correspondingly.
The chief overhead cost in every civilization is and has been war. Examine the budget of the United States or any other leading civilized power. From two-thirds to three-quarters of central government outlays are for war in the past and preparation for war in the future.
The net result of rising overhead costs appears in the history of all previous civilizations. They are eating out the vitals of western civilization while we write and read these words.
THE SOCIOLOGY OF CIVILIZATION
Sociology is the science and art of association.
Human associations range from kinship groups like the family, tribe and clan to larger more complex groups like villages, towns, cities, nations, empires, to still more inclusive leagues, federations and civilizations.
In a broad view, sociology includes politics, economics and ideology. For the purposes of our social analysis, we have divided the field into four separate categories, beginning with politics, continuing through economics and drawing our study together under the general headings of sociology and ideology.
No civilization that we have studied can be regarded as an intentional or projected or planned enterprise. On the contrary, civilizations have developed and matured in true pragmatic fashion, taking one step after another because their predecessors had followed this course or because, given the human urges and the available natural and social opportunities, the next step seemed to be determined by previous steps plus the momentum of the enterprise. In the course of this development an ideology was built up and modified in such a way as to justify and strengthen the entire project.
When William Penn received a grant of land from the English Crown, he was already committed, ideologically, by the Quaker faith to Quaker methods. Without ever seeing his proposed home across the Atlantic he drew up a plan for his City of Brotherly Love (Philadelphia), and for the organization and conduct of his enterprise. The entire project was formulated in Penn's mind and put on paper. This is a good example of an intentional community.
No civilization so far as I know, has followed such a sequence. Certainly in the civilizations with which we are most familiar, political and economic forces, the principles of necessity and availability have led to the formulation of an ideology that would justify and promote the interests of the social group which was controlling and directing the community or communities in which the civilization was maturing.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that each of the component elements making up the expanding civilization—each people, city, state, nation, empire—developed its own total culture pattern, subject to the pressures mutually exerted by neighboring communities. The aggregate of these culture patterns, separately and often antagonistically matured, comprised a lesser totality called an empire and a larger totality called a civilization. It is with this larger totality that we are concerned.
We propose to analyse the sociology of civilization under the following headings: (1) the structure or anatomy; (2) the function, physiology, or process; (3) motive forces in civilization; (4) contradictions and conflicts, with a final section on the life cycle of civilization.
The structure of human society consists of specialized economic, political, administrative and cultural groupings assembled and maintained in relationships that supply necessities, conveniences, comforts, luxuries for the individuals, together with capital goods and services for the social groups composing the civilization.
In terms of social history the growth of structure has proceeded from the horde, tribe and clan to the family, village, city, city-state, nation, empire, civilization. These steps are not necessarily sequential. Under varying social conditions they have been determined and modified by particular historical situations. The smallest and most intimate building block of human society has been the family. The largest and most inclusive has been the civilization. The family as a social group has existed for long periods, over wide areas, in immense numbers. Civilizations have been few and often far between. They have arisen out of particular historical situations, played distinctive roles, written their own histories and made varying contributions to the sum total of human culture. In the long time intervals and the wide geographical distances that have separated civilizations human beings have lived within more local and less complex social structures.
Civilized human society is distinctive in structure. While it varies in detail from one civilization to another, its broad outline is unmistakable. Each civilization has been built, defended and perpetuated in and around cities.
Between civilizations, in time and space, most human communities have been self-sufficient. Whether as food gatherers, pastoral people or cultivators of the soil they have produced and consumed the food, shelter, clothing, implements and weaponry required for their survival.
The city, whether a political capital or a center of trade and commerce, was sharply separated from the self-sufficient countryside. The city, by its very nature, could not be self-sufficient. Food, building supplies and raw materials were not produced inside the city limits, but must be produced in the hinterland from which they were transported to the cities. City dwellers devised means of paying for the production, transportation and marketing of these necessary imports. The countryside can and does exist independently of the city because it can provide the goods and services on which its existence depends. The city, on the contrary, cannot exist without the supplies produced in the hinterland and transported to the city.
Urban centers of civilization have for their background a pastoral and agricultural source of food supplemented by fabrication, merchandising and financing. Instead of the occupational uniformity of the countryside, the city offers a wide range of occupations, increased productivity, quick and substantial profits resulting in a build-up of capital on one side and enlarged consumer spending on the other. Consequently the successful competitor in the race for supremacy develops productivity, accumulates wealth, expands capital spending, enlarges the scope of the arts, thereby augmenting the city's attractiveness to business enterprise and migrants from the hinterland.
As the capital city grows in wealth and opportunity it requires larger imports of food, raw materials, building supplies, manpower. Growing internal need leads to greater external expansion. Economic, political, administrative and cultural needs not only increase the demands of the city on its existing hinterland, but they lead to a demand for a more widely extended hinterland.
The countryside is the goose that lays the golden eggs. The city gathers, guards and eventually consumes the eggs or converts them into capital forms and lives in part on this unearned income.
The city is the mecca which attracts by its wide ranging opportunities. It is also the center in which policies are made and offered to the countryside as normal facts of life. The countryside accepts city leadership including a higher wealth-power per capita ratio for the city.
Cities, with their accumulations of population and wealth, are walled or otherwise defended. When danger threatens, countrymen often move inside the walls until the danger abates.
Cities and city life increase and expand with the growth and expansion of civilization. Cities are the centers from which civilization grows and expands. Historically, a number of cities or city-states have competed for survival and supremacy. One by one they have dropped out of the race or have been out-classed, defeated and/or absorbed by the victors in the competitive struggle. One location proved to be more advantageous than others. The inhabitants of one locality were more skillful, more far sighted than those of rival localities. Many competed. Eventually one survived the final round of struggle, emerging as the nucleus of an expanding empire and a maturing civilization. A protracted conflict raging first in Italy and later in the entire Mediterranean basin, resulted in the Roman Empire and eventually in Roman civilization. A similar series of struggles, this time planet-wide, gave the British a taste of planetary supremacy in the nineteenth century and opened the door wide enough to give the United States oligarchy a glimpse of an American Twentieth century, which never eventuated.
Occupational differences within the city led to a differentiated class structure. As the trading city developed, businessmen eventually played a dominant role because they were able to command larger incomes, accumulate more wealth and offer more aggressive leadership.
Nuclei of both empire and civilization were associated with a cluster of allies, client states, dependencies and colonies related to the center by economic interests and by diplomatic bargains or political controls. They paid tribute or taxes as the price of living within the defense perimeter of the ruling elite, conforming to the chief aspects of its culture and in emergencies taking refuge inside the city defenses.
The city center made and implemented policy and provided local leadership in emergencies. Inhabitants of the city enjoyed a superior status and had a higher standard of consumer-living than most of those who inhabited the countryside and the hinterland.
A structured society based on division of labor and/or function enjoys a competitive superiority over a classless community. The structured city was not only richer than the countryside, but it was in a position to provide leadership, to plan and implement policy and act more effectively.
A civilization consists of a cluster of associated allies, clients, dependencies, and colonies bound together by economic, political and cultural ties. Since armed force has been the chief instrument for bringing these elements together, the agency responsible for exercising armed force enjoys priority in a listing of the structural institutions of civilization.
Land owners, often acting as military chieftains, dominated the hinterland of a civilization. The city was dominated by businessmen. The unification of city and hinterland and the complex of cities and hinterlands composing a civilization established a governmental apparatus in which all ruling elements were represented. In the earlier stages of a civilization there may have been assemblies or parliaments composed of representatives of various interests. As the civilization was unified by war, representation was replaced by some form of monarchy in which one supreme commander, emperor or pharoah was the final judge and arbiter. The monarch set up a network of public authority, regional as well as universal, provincial as well as central, and garrisoned it with professional soldiers and sailors paid by the monarch and responsible to him.
Corresponding with this political structure was an economic structure consisting of a central treasury, a uniform system of weights, measures and values, a system of spending priorities, decided by the central authority, a source of income: taxes, tribute, booty, sufficient to cover expenditures.
A civilization which ran a chronic deficit—over-spending its income—moved year by year, through debt, inflation, currency degradation, and repudiation toward its own disintegration and ultimate bankruptcy. The historical record is very clear on this point, especially in Roman civilization and in western civilization after 1870.
Most civilizations have had a body of religious institutions staffed by a priestcraft, which has shared power with the economic overlords. During certain periods in the long history of Egyptian civilization the priestcraft held the balance of power. So great was its ascendancy that the spoils of war and the gains of peace were shared by the temple treasury and the royal treasury. In some cases the temple treasuries had priority.
All civilizations for at least five thousand years have had a professional military of sufficient consequence to play a leading role in policy making and to claim a lion's share of the spoils of military victory. In some cases civil and military authority were merged in one supreme commander—emperor, pharoah. At other times, notably in Rome, after the fall of the Republic, the Pretorian Guard nominated and appointed its emperors.
Well up toward the summit of each known civilization, four groups have shared authority and competed for supremacy: land-lords, wealth-lords, war-lords and priests. Where these four major shapers of public policy and directors of public administration were of like mind, they shared wealth and power. When they differed, one or another enjoyed priority and exercised some measure of control over the other three.
Less personal, but of major concern among the institutions of civilization were the channels of communication and transportation that have played so decisive a role in the life of every civilization. Top ranking among the means of communication were common language, spoken and written on metal, papyrus, paper; a unified system of accounting and cost keeping; permanent records. Among the means of transport were waterways, including canals, viaducts, roads, bridges skillfully built and kept in good repair.
Another significant institution of civilization is the idea of ownership, the division of property into public property and private property and the right of the private property owner to do what he will with his property, subject always to the over-riding principle of eminent domain: the right of the community to expropriate private property for public uses, with or without compensation.
Another institution of civilization is the provision of public services in addition to means of communication and transportation. These public services include a water supply; the disposal of waste; public defense of life and property; food and diversion (bread and circuses) for the needy; fire prevention and fire fighting apparatus; educational facilities, including libraries and reading rooms; outside recreational facilities such as parks and play-grounds. All of these facilities could be provided by the rich and powerful for themselves and members of their families. They could be supplied more effectively and apportioned more justly when they were public services open to all.
The countryside lacks the financial and the administrative means of providing a wide range of public services. Indeed, countryside dwellers pride themselves on being able to provide necessary services on a family, household or village basis. City dwellers learn to regard such public services as a matter of public right. Their existence is a magnet which draws a steady stream of migrants from the countryside into the cities.
Civilizations are dominated by business interests. It is for them to provide facilities for the transaction of business, cash money, credit instruments, installment buying, means for changing money, insurance, discounting facilities. As a civilization grows in wealth and population the political apparatus becomes a major employer, a major producer of goods and services, a major purchaser of producer and consumer goods, a major agency for borrowing, lending, insuring, in short a major factor in the multitudinous activities of a commercial, industrial community.
Classes, class interests and class lines are a part and parcel of all civilizations. They are less rigid and more flexible than similar lines existing in an agrarian community where land ownership plays so large a role in determining social forms and social functions. In a static agrarian community dominated by landlords, war-lords and the clergy, rigid class lines help to hold the community together. In a community dominated by business interests, both labor power and purchasing power must be free to respond to demand and supply. This is as true in a planned public economy as it is in a private enterprise economy. In accordance with the same principle, facilities are provided for the movement of individuals back and forth across class lines.
The specialized, interdependent structure of civilization with its city control of the hinterland, its products and inhabitants, enabled the city-centered oligarchy to accumulate and concentrate wealth and monopolize power, to skim the cream from the available milk, monopolize the cream, distribute the skimmed milk judiciously and thus perpetuate its ascendancy through generations and centuries. During periods of expansion civilized communities develop a dynamism which maintains their ascendancy. In subsequent periods of contraction form takes over, imposing conformity on the status quo.
During their periods of expansion civilizations are dynamic. Their history records growth at home, expansion abroad, exploitation, domestic and foreign under the pressure of effective motivating forces. The resulting dynamism leads to the contradictions, confrontations and conflicts which have studded the internal and external life story of every civilization.
Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of the dynamic functioning of civilization is its growth in magnitude. It might be more accurate to describe the process as an explosive expansion—explosive because rapid and spectacular.
Form limits function. At the same time function modifies and ultimately determines form. The two factors are omnipresent and complementary. Except for purposes of analysis they are two inseparable aspects of every human society. Where form predominates, social status results. Where function predominates fluidity, flexibility and dynamism are the outcome. Rapid change occurs on the home front at the same time that it is taking place abroad.
Growth at home takes place in two fields. The first is the extension of the homeland frontiers, broadening the geographical area of the nucleus around which the civilization is being built. The second aspect of growth involves an increase in multiplicity, variety and complexity and perhaps also a higher level of quality. Increase in quality is an optional feature of growth and expansion. Toward the end of a cycle of civilization quality declines.
For the record we list fourteen aspects of the domestic growth of civilization: (1) population; (2) production of goods and services; (3) trade, commerce, finance; (4)wealth, capital, income, capital construction; (5) the defense establishment; (6) growth in numbers and in variety of consumer goods and services; (7) specialization; (8) formal education, literacy, learning; (9) advances in science and technology; (10) growth in the arts; (11) rising standards of luxury for the oligarchy and growth in the volume of the professional and technical middle class and their living standards; (12) growth of the state bureaucratic apparatus in its complexity and in the number of its personnel; (13) growth of the sources of unearned income and especially in the number of persons living on unearned income; (14) growth of dependents, delinquents, criminals and other outlaws. This list is not exhaustive, but it is indicative of the wide area in which domestic growth takes place.
Paralleling their domestic expansion, civilizations expand geographically up to the point of diminishing returns, determined by the growth of overhead costs. This process has taken the civilization, its personnel, its institutions and practices into territory not heretofore occupied, sometimes with the consent of the "foreigners", but more often in the teeth of their determined and long-continued opposition.
Expansion of a civilization is of necessity a movement from an urban center and beyond the urban center. Each civilization has been built around one or more urban nuclei which accepted and practiced expansion as the primary law of their beings.
Expansion takes many forms. It may be peaceful, as travel is peaceful. It may be competitive, as trade is competitive. It may be economically aggressive; the search for markets, for raw materials, for investment opportunities carried on simultaneously by representatives of long time rival cities, states, empires. It may be a movement for a place in the sun; mass migration, colonization. It may take the form of planned military invasion having as its purpose the conquest and occupation of foreign territory; the subjugation of the citizenry of the conquered lands; the establishment of an alien government in the conquered territory; the reduction of the "natives" to the status of second class citizens in their own homelands; exploitation of the natural resources; the levying of tribute; the imposition of taxes and the expropriation of moveable articles such as bullion, works of art and other treasure by the invaders, conquerors and occupiers.
Policies of expansion, conquest and occupation rely upon weaponry and war-making as essential instruments. Historically their role has been frankly recognized by builders of every empire and the leaders of every civilization. All civilizations known to history prepared for war and utilized war as the final arbiter in their pursuit of expansionist policy. Empire builders and civilizers have taken it for granted that might made right. The mighty, in terms of military striking power and killing power, have fought over and inherited the earth.
The practices of every civilization have centered about exploitation—of natural resources, of labor power, of rivals in the race for supremacy, of weaker and less aggressive peoples. Expansion gives the ruling oligarchy of the expanding nation, empire or civilization command of the strategic vantage points from which the principle of exploitation can be made continuously operative.
We have dealt with exploitation in connection with the economics of civilization (Chapter 7). Its central concept is the "you work—I eat" formula. In sociological terms it extends far beyond livelihood, into the relations of man with the natural environment (ecology); the management and direction of labor power and policy making; social administration and policy implementation, including policing of the territories lying within the frontiers of the nation, empire or civilization, plus contacts and relationships with territories lying outside the frontiers: in short, with the success or failure, the domination or subordination of the territory under consideration.
Structurally and functionally a civilization cannot remain static. It must expand or contract. If it expands, crossing frontiers and penetrating areas heretofore considered foreign or alien, and proposes to remain in those alien territories, it must have sufficient means at its disposal to continue the administration of its home territory and at the same time to take on the administration of the newly acquired foreign territory.
Home territory administration has as its broad purpose the utilization of available means to attain its ends and serve its interests. Administration of areas into which the home forces are penetrating must attain the same ends and serve the same interests on the "you work—I eat" axiom. Unless the newly acquired territory can attain those ends and serve those interests it is a liability, not an asset, and its continued existence will pose a threat to the expansionist venture.
Natural resources, plus labor power, plus effective management and direction must be integrated in the interests of the entire enterprise. Self determination is of secondary consequence, coming into play only after the interests of the whole have been assured and safeguarded.
There is of course the collective principle under which the interests of the whole can be best served through the cooperation of its component elements. But this is a horse of quite another color. It presupposes the willingness of the respective parts to enter voluntarily into a cooperative relationship. Sociologically speaking this is the antithesis of the situation we have been considering: expansion and exploitation in the interests and for the purposes of the expanding forces. So long as expansion and exploitation are accepted and practiced as the basic principles of any community, so long independence and self-determination will be irrelevant and inimical to the dominant elements in the nation, empire or civilization under consideration.
Under the "you work—I eat" formula natural resources will be utilized in the manner best calculated to advance the interests of the ruling oligarchy. Who will be the judge, jury and executioner in the case? Who else but the concerned ruling oligarchy?
In the history of civilization this principle has been followed systematically. The forests have been cleared away, the land has been overgrazed, cultivated and exposed to the erosive attacks of sunlight, air, water and frost. Wood from the forests has been hauled to the cities and burned, has been used to construct palaces and temples, houses and ships, with no recognition of the principles of priority or renewal. If wood was available where must it go? The oligarchy decided the issue in terms of ostentation and expediency. Rarely during recorded human history have there been oligarchs who said: "Irreplaceable resources like minerals must be used with extreme economy. Replaceable resources like forests or top-soil must be used and at the same time replaced and if possible augmented."
Decision making in the civilizations reported by history has been chiefly in the hands of specially privileged minorities. The purpose of these minorities has revolved around the provision of comforts and luxuries for the decision makers and their dependents and the increase of their wealth and power. Rarely has any ruling oligarchy said: "The continuance of our privileges and our barest existence is the result of labor power applied to natures gifts. We must safeguard nature and improve the health and vitality of those who do the world's work. If, due to unforeseen circumstances, over which we have failed to exercise adequate control, there is some shortage, let the idler and the wastrel suffer. Under all circumstances the producers must have all those goods and services needed to preserve their productive efficiency."
Through the entire course of written history the shrewdest, the strongest, the best fed and most comfortably housed have gained wealth and power, kept them and added to them. This has been the central sociological principle followed by the wealth-owning, power-wielding oligarchs of one civilization after another. Nature has been polluted, despoiled, pillaged. Society has been exploited and plundered. Most civilizations, during most of their history, have been led and ruled by the rich and powerful, who have used their wealth and power to advance their own interests, with scant respect for the hewers of wood, the drawers of water and the tillers of the soil. Those at the imperial center have milked the periphery. Cooperation has been occasional and confined largely to pre-civilized communities. In all civilizations exploitation has been the rule; the exploitation of nature, of labor power and of the social fabric.
The record of natural resources exploitation is well known. Paul Sears' Deserts on the March; Fairfield Osborn's Our Plundered Planet; William Vogt's Road to Survival, and Rachel Carson's Silent Spring tell the story of the misuse and the extravagant abuse of nature. The record of labor power exploitation is less publicized.
Food gatherers like the North American Indians had no machinery and a minimum of implements or weapons. They migrated with the weather and the available game, traveling with their possessions. Herdsmen also moved about in search of pasture. Land workers faced four new problems. They must stay with their land and make a weather-proof habitat in dwellings and villages. They must make the implements needed for farming, building and defense against marauders. They must accumulate and preserve enough food to carry them from one harvest to the next. They must improve and beautify their artifacts and constructs. Traders added a fifth must—they must produce and accumulate stocks to meet the needs of various customers as well as their own greed for profits.
Successive stages, from food gathering to trading and manufacturing, required more energy—human energy, animal energy, and eventually mechanical energy. Part of this energy enabled humans to survive, another part enabled them to multiply. Still another part made it possible for one portion of the population to live without productive work on the work output of their fellow creatures. This exploiting minority was headed by land owners, soldiers and priests.
Landowners built themselves and their dependents strong houses and castles. Much of the labor power that went into this construction was "forced." The laborer gave the landlord labor time in exchange for the privilege of working part of the land for his own support. Soldiers defended the landlord and joined plundering forays on the territory of neighbors. The priests, in exchange for sustenance, mollified "higher powers" and built temples in which the people could gather, worship and be admonished.
Farsighted, energetic, resourceful men (and women), using mass productive energy, built themselves castles, built their priests temples and mobilized serfs, war captives and slaves who worked in gangs for generations and centuries to assemble the raw materials, construct and decorate the buildings, and perform the services needed to operate the enterprises and to provide their owners and masters with the necessaries, comforts, luxuries.
As centers of civilization grew richer and more powerful they defeated neighboring peoples, brought some of them home as war captives and exacted from their defeated rivals promises to pay yearly tribute in the form of timber, metals, food and often of slaves.
Mobilization of energy resources had been proceeding on a small scale for ages. Successful civilizers made this one of their chief tasks, mobilizing energy forces and materials and using them to build palaces, temples, mausoleums and whole city complexes with appropriate defenses against marauders and other enemies.
Administrative networks, adequate to produce such results, planned and directed the construction and administered and policed the operations. Using elaborate techniques of communication, transportation, fabrication, beautification, accounting, planning, initiative, leadership, mobilization, maintenance and replacement of labor power, imposition and sharing of authority, discipline, adjustment to deviation and opposition, means for dealing with revolt and rebellion, the builders of civilization performed their necessary tasks.
As civilizations have matured they have grown at the nucleus, expanded abroad and experimented more or less successfully with various means of exploiting nature, man and human society. Most of the competitors for survival and supremacy dropped out or were forced out in the course of continuous survival struggles.
Survivors of the obstacle race dealt successively with personal rivalries; class conflicts; civil wars; dictatorships; tyrannies; with overhead costs that grew more rapidly than income; with empty treasuries, inflation, depression, economic stagnation; with increases in top-heavy bureaucracies; with parasitism; with hooliganism; with the growing role of the military in decision making and administration; sharing the honey-pot with migrants and invaders; with rivalry and power struggle at home and abroad; with division, fragmentation and eventual dissolution.
Any student of the sociology of civilization must turn from this analysis of function with the conviction that whatever the advantages of civilization as opposed to earlier phases of human association, the pattern of civilization in action is workable only to a very limited extent. Civilization is not an example of perpetual motion. Rather it is a social life cycle, with a beginning and an end, and a peck of troublesome contradictions and conflicts in between.
Civilization is an integrative process. During the course of its competitive survival struggle, potential building units of an expanding civilization are tested out and included or rejected in much the same way that a stone-mason checks and tests the individual stones of which his wall is being built. The analogy is not entirely accurate. A wall becomes a completed part of a total structure. A civilization is a process of existence from conception and birth to dissolution and death. At any point in the process there is a delicate balance between integration and disintegration. As a matter of fact, both integration and disintegration exist and act, constantly, side by side. If the integrative forces are in the ascendant, form is built and function is accelerated. If the disintegrative forces are dominant, form breaks down and function stagnates.
This shifting balance and/or imbalance with its resulting build-up and/or break-down exists geographically, biologically, sociologically. It can perhaps be best described as successive change. It cannot be referred to as evolution except in its integrative aspect. Disintegratively it becomes devolution.
Civilization is a result of sociological build-up at a certain cultural level. It has not been universal in all human societies, but exceptional, both in time and in geographical space.
What has caused the pattern of civilization to appear, disappear and reappear again and again during the period of written history?
There have been many answers. The most general answer is divine intervention by beings above and beyond mankind. Whether such intervention has taken place or is taking place, human beings are unable to say with finality, but several thousand years of recorded history, plus our own daily experience provides convincing proof that the political, economic, ideological and sociological constructs which have appeared and disappeared in the course of social history are, at least in large part, the products of human brains and human hands. They are man-made.
The social pattern of civilization, like other social patterns which preceded civilization and which continue to exist side by side with civilized communities, is the result of human ingenuity and human energy, of human inertia, ineptitude, and the human urges to build, decorate and destroy.
Variety in human culture is caused by the variety in the human natural environment, the human social environment and in man himself.
Natural advantages exist and vary from place to place. There are fertile valleys; there are also mountains and deserts. There are a few fine harbors, but for the most part landings are difficult and dangerous. Certain islands have become the bases of civilizations, but this is true of only a very small number of many existing islands.
Civilizations have flourished in certain climatic zones and not elsewhere. At one historical period civilizations were established in the tropics and semi-tropics. In the present period they are located chiefly in temperate climatic belts.
Another source of differences between civilizations is the variation and the adaptability of certain peoples to the peculiar conditions out of which civilization grows.
Still another explanation of the presence or absence of civilization in particular times and places is the "great man" theory of history. All human communities, pre-civilized and civilized, have had gifted leaders whose thoughts and actions have brought about social changes. These "greats" were the divinely, ideologically or sociologically inspired. Divine inspiration or revelation led to the founding of religious faiths. Ideological and sociological inspiration resulted in domestic cultural changes and the extension of economic, cultural and ideological activities into foreign lands, thus pushing the frontiers of nations, empires, and civilizations farther from the chief wealth-power centers.
Thomas Carlyle wrote that history is the lengthened shadows of a few great men. Arnold Toynbee concluded from his Study of History that religion has been a prime motive force in the building and preservation of civilizations.
Technology has been a motive force of hard-to-define importance in revitalizing, changing, expanding and perpetuating civilizations. Increased productivity, expressing itself as increases in income, accumulated wealth and various forms of capital investment, have provided the economic basis for population growth and the more effective exploitation of natural resources and labor power, advances in the means for transportation and communication, accounting, planning management and "defense."
Among the social motive forces responsible for the development of civilization is the accumulation of wealth in an impoverished world. The most important single factor in this connection was the development of a class of businessmen in a society dominated by landlords, churchmen and soldiers. Landlords, churchmen and soldiers lived during periods of animal husbandry and primitive agriculture on the very narrow margins produced during bountiful harvests. When harvests were bad, husbandmen and farmers were reduced to starvation levels. Lacking means of storage and refrigeration as well as facilities for transporting heavy materials such as food, fuel and building materials, pre-civilized society accumulated wealth slowly in mobile forms (precious metals and jewels) and made few productive investments.
The advent of trade (business) and the trading class created a small but potentially powerful class whose income and wealth were not derived from direct contact with nature but came from trade, money changing, lending, insuring and other activities associated with the accumulation and investment of wealth in profit-yielding enterprises. Only in a secondary sense did business depend on animal husbandry or agriculture. As their primary task businessmen devoted themselves to the exploitation of labor power and the storage and merchandising of the products turned out by herdsmen, farmers, craftsmen. Part of their profits went into more elaborate standards of feeding, clothing and housing themselves and their dependents. Another, and a more crucial part of their profits went into ships, warehouses, and the implements used in converting raw materials into consumer goods and services, transporting them to the markets, displaying them and persuading consumers to diversify their needs, purchase a greater variety of goods and services and thus increase the number and profitability of business transactions.
As this process mushroomed with the expansion of civilization, consumers demanded a greater number of more expensive artifacts and consumer capital goods, from housing and house furnishings such as bathrooms and well-stocked kitchens to refrigerators, washing machines, air conditioners, telephones, television sets, bicycles, automobiles and elaborate recreation facilities and equipment. The expansion of mass production and the mass market paced one another, constantly raising the ante.
Mass production, mass marketing and pyramiding profits resulted, first and foremost in the enrichment of businessmen. Their riches automatically pushed them into a position of pre-eminent importance from which they were able to make public policy and utilize public authority for the protection and advancement of their own class interests. It also called into being a vast array of new professionals; teachers, engineers, scientists, technicians, social workers and propagandists, converting the "middle class" from a shadowy remnant of feudal society into the largest class numerically and the most influential class politically in the entire modern community.
At the same time, economic enrichment and expansion increased the importance of the war-making apparatus. The expansion of civilization has involved a competitive struggle carried on constantly along several fronts, economic, political, cultural, ideological. The means of struggle in every civilization has included the military as a political force and as a final arbiter in deciding who should win and who should lose civil and inter-group wars. Victory and defeat determined the fate of land and natural resources, populations, capital installations, taxing facilities, domestic policing. This deterministic role of the war machine has never been more dramatically in the foreground than during the crucial years from 1910 to the present day, when war apparatus costs have topped the list of government expenditures.
Growth of state functions with the expansion of the economy has resulted in the creation of a vast state bureaucratic apparatus. Heading this bureaucracy are the ministers of state, each with a separate department. Under the department heads are sub-departments, sub-divided in their turn into bureaus or separate offices. At each level, functions are assigned and salaries are fixed. Entrance into this anthill is sometimes by personal favor, sometimes by examination. Once in, however, barring misbehavior, or some catastrophe like the abolition of a particular bureau, the office holder is in for life with a pension when he is retired for age.
Inside the bureaucracy there is a slow movement determined by seniority. There is also some skipping, as when new bureaus are formed or when death or retirement offer opportunities for the favored few to move forward or skip upward. As we read the record, the bureaucracy existed in the days of Egypt's Amenhotep, or in those of Rome's Augustus Caesar, as it exists today—locally in every municipality, province, nation and empire and generally throughout western civilization.
Every civilization known to history has had its priestcraft as well as its statecraft. Statecraft spawned its bureaucracy. Priestcraft spawned its theocracy. Both patterns have inter-penetrated entire civilizations. Each locality, region and district has had its representatives of state and of church. In some instances the church took precedence. In others the state was supreme. As the civilization matured, using war as the chief instrument of policy, the state in the person of military dictators has tended to predominate. In every civilization the state has collected its taxes and the church has collected its tithes.
The net result, in every civilization, has been a ruling oligarchy, self-appointed and self-perpetuating, which has shaped policy, planned and directed administration, exercised authority and lived comfortably and at least semi-parasitically on the backs of the underlying urban and rural masses, sharing its sinecure with its middle class handymen. In some times and in certain localities the oligarchy has maintained a representative front. Elsewhere it has functioned arbitrarily. In extreme cases one man has ruled for a brief period. Generally the oligarchy has held the reins of authority.
Each phase of human society has had its oppositions, its confrontations, its conflicts, proportioned to its magnitude, its specialization and the interdependence of its component parts, its ratio of change to stability and its foresight, plans and preparations for dealing with changes when they occur. Since civilization, of all known forms of human association, is the largest, most specialized and most interdependent, it is in civilization that we should expect to find the most intensive and extensive contradictions, confrontations and conflicts.
Among the many oppositions of civilized association five are outstanding: the we-they relationship; rural versus urban life; subsistence versus acquisition and accumulation; hard work versus ease, luxury and parasitism; poverty versus wealth.
Civilization is not only complex and interdependent in form, it is avowedly competitive in its functioning. Politically, nation building, empire building and the establishment and maintenance of each civilization is a competitive struggle between declared rivals to gain and keep place and power. Economically, the efforts to get and keep natural resources and labor power and to use them to Our advantage and Their disadvantage dominates the field of livelihood. Ideologically We are right, while They are wrong. Culturally We are superior. They are inferior.
The We-They relationship developed very early in the history of the human family. Individuals and small, more advanced groups have reached a level of understanding and living based on the cooperative inclusive formula of "We, Ours, Us", but every civilization known to history has accepted and adopted the competitive, divisive formula and poured energy and wealth into the political, economic, ideological and cultural struggle to take and keep for individual, local or class advantage.
Resulting oppositions fragmented civilization: (1) urban vs. rural life, city vs. hinterland; (2) cooperation vs. competition; (3) acquisition and accumulation vs. sharing; (4) riches vs. poverty; (5) the individual vs. the group; (6) status vs. change.
These fragmenting forces have been accepted, adopted and given priority by civilizations as they developed predominance. As they grew in magnitude they limited or subordinated the forces of integration and unification.
Opposites and oppositions lead to confrontations along class lines, geographic lines, cultural lines, color lines, racial lines. The traditional confrontation of rural vs. urban life is doubly underlined by two factors: first, the countryside operates generally on a use economy with pay for services largely in kind or by barter. The city operates under a market economy with payment for services usually in money. Second, the standards of life and work are more primitive in the countryside than in the city. Third, as the civilization advances toward maturity, city population increases while it declines in the countryside. Consequently vigorous, energetic, adventurous people leave the deteriorating countryside.
Increasingly the owners of land and capital live in the cities, visiting the countryside for holidays and recreation, leaving rural areas to servants, peons, serfs and slaves. Small owning farmers are bought out or expropriated. Unable to make a living in the countryside they move to the city. Lacking city skills they work as casual labor or are unemployed. The city is divided between enterprisers, their subordinates, owners of country estates and members of the state bureaucracy on one side and vassals, servants, serfs, and slaves and the unemployed on the other. The rich and powerful become richer and more powerful. The poor and dependent grow in numbers—protest, demonstrate, riot, revolt.
This class struggle dominates public life in the urban centers of every civilization. The rich offer petty reforms and minor benefits to the impoverished, semi-employed city masses. At the same time the urban oligarchy breaks up into rival factions: the Ins and the Outs. The Ins hold public jobs, spend public money, award contracts and pass around favors. The Outs wait and maneuver for their turn at the public pie-counter. Both Ins and Outs appeal for mass support.
Oppositions and confrontations lead to conflicts which have studded the life of every civilization. Conflicts include wars which may be divided into six groups: (1) Wars of expansion, conquest, colonization directed toward the enlargement of the territories included in the civilization. (2) Wars of survival among adjacent nations and empires. (3) Wars fought to suppress unrest and revolt in the colonies and dependencies of an empire or civilization. (4) Wars fought to repel the invasion of migrating peoples attempting to occupy territory over which an empire or a civilization claims jurisdiction. (5) Peasant, serf and slave revolts and rebellions against the authority of empires or civilizations. (6) Civil wars to determine the leadership of particular empires; wars of leadership succession; conflicts and power seizures within particular oligarchies.
In every civilization final decisions regarding domestic and foreign issues have been made by an appeal to arms. There were laws and legal institutions in many civilizations under which confrontations might have been prevented and armed conflict avoided. Where these legal means failed to provide solutions, contestants turned to armed force as the final arbiter.
Competitive survival struggle has played a prominent role in the life of every civilization known to history. Competition at its highest level employs armed force as its instrument of policy. War, domestic and foreign has, therefore, dominated the history of every civilization. Walter Bagehot called war a state maker. In the same context, war may be referred to as a civilization maker.
Conflict, including war, has played a major role, often a determining role in building and maintaining civilizations. It has also been a major and perhaps the major factor in undermining and destroying civilizations. Arnold Toynbee contends that war has been a "proximate cause" of the overthrow of one civilization after another. No observer of current western civilization can fail to note the determining part played by war during the first half of the present century.
Every completed civilization known to historians has passed through a sociological life cycle: origin, growth, expansion, maturity, violent premature dismemberment and death in the competitive survival struggle or gradual decline and eventual dissolution.
Every completed civilization has had small, local beginnings, on an island like Crete, or a group of islands like the Japanese Archipelago, or a tiny spot like Latium on the Tiber River, or an isolated area like the desert-surrounded Nile River Valley in Africa. The seed ground or nucleus of each civilization has been a small, well-knit group of vigorous, energetic people, well-led, living in an easily defended, limited area, enjoying relative isolation, but also having ready access to the outside world.
At the beginning the growth cycle has moved slowly, from victory to victory, as competing neighboring peoples have been brought under the authority of the victor in local wars. After generations or centuries of struggle a point is reached at which the nucleus of the growing empire begins to expand, through trade, colonization, diplomatic alliances, conquest, into an era of survival struggle in which rival cities reach out for the same piece of fertile land, the same markets, the same mineral deposits. Again the life and death survival struggle tests out the people, their leaders, their ambitions, determination, tenacity.
Earlier struggles were local. Now the struggle area has become regional. At the outset the peoples were amateurs in the science and art of expansion, occupation, consolidation, exploitation. Through the hard school of struggle they became professionals. From victory to victory they gained in territory, in wealth, in administrative skill. One by one, rivals were eliminated, annexed or associated with the nascent empire which was by way of becoming the central empire of a maturing civilization.
Generations of effort and centuries of time have gone into the empire building process. The farther the civilization has expanded, the greater the necessary input of manpower, wealth, enterprise and administrative talent needed to keep the enterprise strong, solvent, masterful.
Eventually the expanding civilization reaches a point at which the costs of further expansion are greater than the income derived from further extension of its authority. Up to this point expansion had paid its own way. Beyond this point it is a losing proposition—politically, economically, sociologically. At this point begin times of troubles; bad harvests; colonial or provincial revolts; power struggles between individuals or classes in the homeland; new rivals moving in to share in the prospective plunder of the mother-city.
From this time of troubles the civilization enters a new phase of its lifecycle. Up to this point victory has brought plunder and prosperity which have financed new foreign adventures and led to new victories. Beyond this point lies stalemate, economic stagnation, military defeat. Building an empire and establishing it as the central force in a civilization is a long and arduous process. Once the process is reversed, the decline may move quickly or slowly, but as it proceeds the civilization is fragmented and eventually dissolved or taken over by a more vigorous rival.
At all stages of this cycle there have been life and death survival struggles. Peoples, nations and empires entered the contest, played their parts, made their contribution to the up-building process. There were ups and downs, advances and withdrawals, victories and defeats. There were many contenders for survival and supremacy. Usually there was one survivor which gave its name to the civilization.
The period of ascendancy of any civilization has been historically brief. The struggle to the summit was long and exhausting; the descent from the summit more rapid than the ascent. Literally, like the bear that went over the mountain to see what he could find, and who found the other side of the mountain, the civilizations that have reached the summit of wealth and power have found on the other side of the summit a steep downward sloping time of troubles that ended in dissolution and liquidation.
Civilization, as a sociological life pattern, has proved to be seductive and alluring in prospect, but in retrospect unsatisfactory and frustrating. Civilization has proved to be not an opportunity for the ambitious, but a trap for the ignorant, inexperienced and unwary. For the many contestants who set out to conquer the world the experience has been disappointing and on the whole disastrous. For the few who have reached the summit the experience has been frustrating.
Civilization as a way of life is like any other contest. The struggle is good for those who are able to benefit from it by learning its lessons. Whether they win or lose is a matter of no great consequence. For the losers the experience often is heart breaking and death-dealing.
Students of social history have been tempted to draw a parallel between the biological life cycle of an individual and the sociological lifecycle of a civilization. There are elements of likeness between biological birth, growth, maturity, old age and death of human individuals and of human civilizations. All of the individuals and civilizations that we know have passed or are passing through such a lifecycle. The same thing may be true of the larger universe of which we are a minute fragment. However exact or inexact it may prove to be, the parallel certainly is unmistakable, alluring. It may also be seductive and mortal.
IDEOLOGIES OF CIVILIZATION
This study was laid out along inductive lines: an examination of the facts with such generalizations as the facts suggest or justify. We began our social analysis of civilization by presenting noteworthy facts concerning the politics, economics, and sociology of various civilizations. In the present chapter we deal with their ideologies.
We are accepting and following the fourth variant definition of "ideology" presented by Webster's New World Dictionary: "The doctrines, opinions or way of thinking of an individual, class, etc." In this case we are reporting on the doctrines, opinions, thought forms and action patterns of entire civilizations.
Our concern is not with the doctrines, opinions and ways of thinking and acting advanced by elite minorities. Such an approach would involve a study of comparative ideologies. Rather we are asking what civilized peoples were trying to do, as measured by their political, economic and sociological activities, programs and purposes.
It may be presumptuous for an individual to generalize about civilizations of which he knows so little. On the other hand, if we recognize the limitations under which all assumptions and generalizations operate it is possible and often helpful to assume and generalize, although the generalizations may be no more than interim reports, subject to later amendment, correction or rejection.
What were the prevailing ideas of civilizations and what ideas were put into practice? What purposes dominated and directed the lives of civilized peoples? How successful have civilized peoples been in achieving their objectives?
At the outset we must realize that in any complex society there are wide ranges of ideology, from the body of ideas held by small uninfluential sects to the purposes, ideas, policy declarations and actions of governing oligarchies. We do not wish to defend or attack the ideas, but to summarize them and understand them in a way that will give a group picture of the purposes, ideas, policies and day-to-day activities of the civilizations in question. For convenience in our discussion we will take up, first, civilized societies as collectives, and then the operation of civilized ideology as expressed in the lives of individuals.
Presumably the most immediate purpose of all civilized peoples has been survival, getting on as a collective or group from day to day, through summer and winter, under normal conditions, and/or in periods of stress and emergency. If the group cannot survive it loses its identity, breaking up into the self-determining parts of which it is composed.
Survival means continued existence as a group—in the face of disruption from within or attack and invasion from without. The group which survives continues to exist and to act as a group that maintains the common defense and promotes the general welfare.
Each social group competing for survival has a sense of its own identity and a belief in its capacity to survive. This ideology is strengthened by the belief that the group has special qualities and is protected by powerful entities that will guarantee its success in the survival struggle. The group considers itself better qualified to survive than neighbor groups. Such ideas, carried to their logical conclusion, make the group in question superior to its neighbors in survival qualities and a people chosen by its gods.
A superior people, chosen by its gods, is in a class by itself. Other people, by comparison, are inferior. It is the destiny of the superior people to take the lands of their inferior neighbors, and, whenever opportunity offers, to defeat the neighbors in battle, capture them and force them to do the bidding of the captors.
Cults of ideological superiority are widespread. Put into successful practice by a victorious tribe, nation or empire, they develop into cults of superiority which assert: "We, the victors, are stronger, better people than our weaker neighbors." As one victory follows another the belief in superiority grows. People in an expanding empire or burgeoning civilization are obviously better survivors than their less successful competitors.
Competitive survival struggle modifies the cultures of both victors and vanquished. The dispersal and adoption of culture traits, supplemented by negotiation and accommodation, broaden the geographical area of the victors, increasing the population and adding to the material resources, the wealth and income of the enlarged group. It may also involve the corresponding decrease of the geographical area, population, wealth and income of the vanquished.
In order to protect itself, preserve itself, to enlarge itself and, where possible, to improve itself, each competing groups aims to set up standards of ideas and conduct to which all living members of the group are presumed to agree and to which they must adhere. When new members enter the group, by birth or adoption, they are duly indoctrinated with the group ideology. Early in their history the individuals and sub-groups composing every civilization adopted such standards and promulgated them by the decree of a leader or by the common consent of associated groups, as the outcome of negotiation, discussion, give and take. During the history of every civilization such agreements were reached and recorded in compacts, treaties, laws, constitutions, specifying the nature and limits of the collective cultural uniformity at which the community aimed.
The struggle for collective uniformity was long and often bitter. Individuals and factions resented and resisted the imposition of group authority. Internal conflict led to civil wars in the course of which the group was divided or the solidarity of the group was reaffirmed despite hardships imposed on disagreeing, divergent minorities.
Closely paralleling the group need for survival and uniformity (solidarity) was the need for group expansion, or extension. In the competitive struggle for survival which played such an important role in the life of pre-civilized communities, strategic geographic location was often decisive. Soil fertility, mineral deposits, timber reserves, access to waterways, location on trade routes all played a part in community survival, stability and growth.
Such geographical advantages are few and far between. Often they are already occupied and defended by stable communities. Their control and utilization are basic in determining the survival or elimination of rivals in the competitive struggle.
Above and beyond the need to occupy the "corner lots" of the planetary land mass was the urge of civilized peoples to advance from littleness to bigness as a goal in itself. Confined by limitations on communication and transportation, pre-civilized man was circumscribed and localized. With the advent of cultivation, land workers were tied to a particular piece of real estate on which they lived and worked. When asked whether the village across the valley was Sunrise Mountain the local peasant could reply: "How should I know? I live here."
Reacting against restricted living and pressed by curiosity and the spirit of adventure, the imaginative and adventurous members of each generation pressed outward from the homeland toward wider horizons. Many traveled. Some migrated. Others pursued the will o' the wisp of expansion by adding field to field. The grass always looked greener on the other side of the mountain. The ambitious expansionist therefore tried to control both sides.
"Move on! Move on!" became the watchword, without any particular emphasis on quality. In one civilization after another bigness (magnitude) was accepted as a symbol of success, because "the more you get and keep, the happier you will be."
Mastery of strategic advantages, plus the illusion of mere bigness, without any specification to quality, became keys to survival and success.
Civilized man exploited natural advantages and augmented his power over nature and society by increasing his wealth and multiplying the population. At the outset of the struggle strategic geographical advantages were occupied and utilized by local groups. Through survival struggle, one of the groups, better organized, better led, more determined and productive, succeeded in securing possession of one strong point after another, until an entire region, like the Nile Valley or the Mediterranean Basin had been conquered and occupied by a single great power. The measure of success in the power struggle is the occupation of strategic strong points. Natural resources, including land and labor power, are among the chief spoils of victory.
Seven basic goals or principles were involved in the building of civilizations: group survival; propitiating the gods; recognizing and following aesthetic principles; achieving and stabilizing property and class relations; expansion (bigness); individual conformity to the collective pattern; and collective uniformity in a united world of human brotherhood. At times and in places the basic propositions were accepted, rejected, fought over. Each civilization which followed them successfully was able to establish itself, maintain itself, and up to a certain point add to its prestige, wealth and power.
The first goal was success in the struggle for survival. Collective uniformity and expansion opened the path to wealth and power, in the city, state, the empire, the civilization. From a multitude of local beginnings the struggle for expansion and consolidation led to ever larger aggregations of land, population, capital and wealth concentrated in the hands of an increasingly rich, powerful oligarchy, protected and defended by a military elite pushing itself ceaselessly toward a position from which it could make and enforce domestic policy and order.
A second collective goal has been propitiating and wooing the unseen forces of the universe: holding their attention; keeping them on "our" side; relying on their influence for defense against enemies, mortal and immortal, and help in providing water in case of drought, fertility, assistance in healing the sick, comfort for the dying, consolation for the bereaved and success in business deals. These multiple aspects of ideology are summed up under the term "religion".
Each civilization has had its religious ideas and ideals, its religious practices and institutions. Many civilizations have divided their attention between civil ideology and religious ideology. In some cases religious ideology took precedence, resulting in a theocratic society under the leadership of religious devotees. In other cases, notably Roman civilization and western civilization, religious ideology was subordinated to secular interests.
In the early stages of western civilization, religious ideology took precedence over secular ideology. With the rise of the bourgeoisie, secular ideology moved into the foreground, making loud religious professions, but also making sure that business-for-profit had the last word in the determination of public policy.
A third collective ideological goal of civilization has been aesthetic; the yen for symmetry and balance; the love of beauty; the desire for harmony; the quest for excellence; the lure of magnificence; the search for truth. Out of these urges have arisen the pictorial and plastic arts, architecture, music, the dance, science, and philosophy, providing outlets, occupations and professions that have colored and shaped many aspects of civilized living.
A fourth collective goal of civilization has been the establishment and maintenance of social structure, including classes and/or caste lines based partly upon tradition, partly on function and partly upon proximity to the honey-pot, the wellspring of wealth, income, prestige and power.
Since the principle of private property has been implicit in every known civilization, the ownership of land, capital and consumer goods and services has been a prerogative of the ruling oligarchies, shared by them with their associates and dependents and used as their chief means of establishing and maintaining the "you work, I eat" principal of economic relationships.