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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 131 pages of information about The Theory of Social Revolutions.

FOOTNOTES: 

[40] Histoire du Tribunal Revolutionaire de Paris, H. Wallon, I, 57.

[41] “C’est demain qu’on me tue; n’etes-vous donc qu’un lache?”

CHAPTER VI

INFERENCES

As the universe, which at once creates and destroys life, is a complex of infinitely varying forces, history can never repeat itself.  It is vain, therefore, to look in the future for some paraphrase of the past.  Yet if society be, as I assume it to be, an organism operating on mechanical principles, we may perhaps, by pondering upon history, learn enough of those principles to enable us to view, more intelligently than we otherwise should, the social phenomena about us.  What we call civilization is, I suspect, only, in proportion to its perfection, a more or less thorough social centralization, while centralization, very clearly, is an effect of applied science.  Civilization is accordingly nearly synonymous with centralization, and is caused by mechanical discoveries, which are applications of scientific knowledge, like the discovery of how to kindle fire, how to build and sail ships, how to smelt metals, how to prepare explosives, how to make paper and print books, and the like.  And we perceive on a little consideration that from the first great and fundamental discovery of how to kindle fire, every advance in applied science has accelerated social movement, until the discovery of steam and electricity in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries quickened movement as movement had never been quickened before.  And this quickening has caused the rise of those vast cities, which are at once our pride and our terror.

Social consolidation is, however, not a simple problem, for social consolidation implies an equivalent capacity for administration.  I take it to be an axiom, that perfection in administration must be commensurate to the bulk and momentum of the mass to be administered, otherwise the centrifugal will overcome the centripetal force, and the mass will disintegrate.  In other words, civilization would dissolve.  It is in dealing with administration, as I apprehend, that civilizations have usually, though not always, broken down, for it has been on administrative difficulties that revolutions have for the most part supervened.  Advances in administration seem to presuppose the evolution of new governing classes, since, apparently, no established type of mind can adapt itself to changes in environment, even in slow-moving civilizations, as fast as environments change.  Thus a moment arrives when the minds of any given dominant type fail to meet the demands made upon them, and are superseded by a younger type, which in turn is set aside by another still younger, until the limit of the administrative genius of that particular race has been reached.  Then disintegration sets in, the social momentum is gradually relaxed,

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