Social Evolution. The earliest ancestors of humans ( hominids ) diverged from apes about 8 million years ago. Between 3 and 2 million years ago, they learned to walk erect . Between 2 and 1.5 million years ago, hominids began to migrate from Africa to other lands.
The earliest ancestors of humans (hominids) diverged from apes about 8 million years ago
Between 3 and 2 million years ago, they learned to walk erect.
Between 2 and 1.5 million years ago, hominids began to migrate from Africa to other lands
It was from those few survivors that man (homo sapiens) emerged in Africa
Read this interview with Prof. Steven Pinker of MIT on the evolution of the human mind: Evolution: Library: Steven Pinker: Evolution of the Mind
As their numbers grew, homo sapiens began to move across the continents in search of food, water, land, and security
organizing construction of fortresses, dams and canals,
The Pharaoh’s enemy
Enemy soldiers killed
Antiquity: 3000 B.C.E. (Before Common Era*) – 400 C.E. (Common Era**). Classical (European) Antiquity: 400 B.C.E.- 400 C.E. (from the rise of Ancient Greece to the fall of Rome)
Middle Ages: 400 – 1400 C.E. (from the fall of Rome to the beginning of Renaissance)
Modern Age: 1400 – now(or, are we in a post-modern age already?)
(Note: all dates are approximate, based on certain pivotal events, while in real life, the transitions from one age to another were usually slow and gradual)
*Old term: B.C. (before Christ)
**Old term: A.D. (Anno Domini)
1. M. is the development of industrial, urban, capitalist (with important exceptions) societies, organized in nation-states, guided by belief in reason, science, and progress, and undergoing constant change
2. M. has led to Western dominance over the rest of the world through global development of capitalism. The rest of the world has been forced to modernize, too. In the 20th century, important countries tried alternative paths of modernization (socialist experiments in Russia, China, India, Cuba, several other less developed countries)
3. The West and the Rest: can the Western model be implemented in the rest of the world? If not, what will happen to the West and the Rest?
Per capita income in Europe, for 1,000 years before 1700 –
Grew at 0.11% a year, doubling every 630 years.*
1820-1990 (in 170 years):
Grew by 10times in Britain, by 15 times in Germany, by 18 times in USA, and by 25 times in Japan.**
*William J.Baumol, Sue Ann Batey Blackman, and Edward N.Wolff, Productivity and American Leadership: The Long View (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1989), p.12
**Angus Maddison, Dynamic Forces in Capitalist Development
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1991), pp.6-7
--10,000 years ago – 5-6 million peoplelived on Planet Earth
--1,000 BCE – 150 million (grew by 30 times in 9,000 years, result of the agricultural revolution)
--1700 CE – 500 million (grew by 3.3 times in 2,700 years
--Today – 6,723 billion (grew by 13.5 times in 300 years, result of the industrial revolution)
Follow this link to the current count:
*See Krishan Kumar, The Rise of Modern Society, Basil Blackwell, 1988, p.13
The city appears in history 5,000 ago – as a product of the Agricultural Revolution.
1500: 75 cities with total population of 7.5 million (est.)
1800: 3% of the world’s population lived in cities
2000: 47% of the world lived in cities (411 cities with population of 1 million or more, 41 megacities with population of 5 million or more)
2030 (forecast): 60% will live in cities
Growth of agricultural production, the past 3,500 years
Modernization was testedand challenged.
Humanity has survived
It has grown in numbers, as never before
It has accumulated vast knowledge
Its labour has become vastly more productive
Arguments in favour:
1.The information technology revolution: production and processing of information becomes the most important element of the production process. Continuous innovation. Decoding and reprogramming of living matter
2 The rise of the network society: networks of capital, labour, information, and markets linked up globally through technology. Society becomes ever more complex,more fluid, more difficult to manage.
3. The economic crisis of both socialism and capitalism
4. The nation-state is retreating before global forces
5. The rise of new social movements (feminism, environmentalism, human rights, antiglobalism, pacifism, etc.)
See, for example, Manuel Castells. End of Millennium. Blackwell Publishers, 1998, pp.335-360
Both cooperation and conflict are easily observed in society. But different observers see different things
Some people emphasize that the natural condition of humans is constant strugglewith each other.
If people are free to do what they want, they will likely fight each other.
Those who hold this view are more skeptical of freedom and stress the need for order which needs to be imposed.
For instance, great English political thinker Thomas Hobbes wrote in 1660 in his book Leviathan:
NOTE: Both views proceed from the assumption that cooperation is the essential condition of human life.
It is possible to imagine a human community without conflict.
It is by definition impossible to imagine it without cooperation.
The essence of social evolution, progress is development of more effective forms of social cooperation.
Individuals tend to compete with each other –
but they also form groups (associations) in which they cooperate to make themselves stronger through their groups
So, groups compete with each other –
but they are compelled to cooperate to allow society to exist, and because together they can better achieve their common national goals
So, nations compete with each other –
but they cannot allow their competition to endanger the existence of the human species, so they must learn to cooperate internationally – or perish
Scarcity of resources (land, water, oil, money, etc.).
Cuts both ways…
Distribution of wealth and power, access to them
Who gets what, when and how…*
Strongly held conflicting beliefs, ideas
I am right, you are wrong… I am good, you are evil
*Harold Lasswell’s famous definition of politics
Each individual is unique – and needs maximum freedom to actualize (realize) her or his potential.
In this sense, we are all individualists
But this self-actualization can only be developed throughsociety – through relationships with other individuals. (John Donne: “No man is an island”).
In this sense, we are all collectivists.
We depend on others to survive and grow.
We are interdependent – and more so each passing day – and, paradoxically, it is this growing interdependence that increases the individual power of each one of us.
See The Social Animal, by David Brooks, in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/12/opinion/12brooks.html
Conflict is contained, and cooperation is enhanced, in a society which:
---has achieved a high level of economic development,
---where inequality is not extreme, and rules of competition are fair, and upward social mobility is open to many,
---and where people are tolerant of differences between them.
Individuals belong to many groups: occupational, community, ethnic, religious, etc.
They belong to different classes. Classes are defined by:
levels of income
ownership of the means of production
role in the management of the economy and the state
Classes depend on each other. Together, they form the fabric of society
And yet, class relations are often characterized bytensionand conflict
At the core of class divisions is the issue of private property
Class conflict can polarize and even destroy society
Since mid-19th century, critics of capitalism predicted that acute class conflicts generated by capitalist modernization would destroy capitalism. But the Western model has turned out to be more adaptive than many thought possible.
Where did the critics go wrong?
One of the possible answers:
They overestimated the role of class conflict -
and underestimated the role of the state.
Society can function and grow despite the existence of class divisions and conflicts – unless they reach explosive levels:
Classes are not the only forms of social division - and class conflict can be superceded by other social conflicts (gender, racial/ethnic, regional, state-society conflicts, etc.). This prevents total class polarization.
Class interests rarely find direct and immediate expression in politics – they are molded by many influences and structures.
One’s individual interests and class interests can be at odds.
Classes don’t always fight – despite their differences, they are integrated in a social whole. Appeals to national unity can be more powerful than calls for class struggle.
A major cause of the success of the Western model has been its ability to contain class conflict. How:
Economic growth through global expansion of capitalism
Political democracy which helps resolve class conflicts by allowing workers to organize and struggle for their interests and influence governmental policies
Social mobility – chances to move upwards on the social ladder
Changes in the class structure as a result of industrialization – classes become more fragmented, diffused
Promotion of ideas, beliefs and habits which discourage people from thinking in terms of class (us vs. them)