All civilized peoples seem to have developed from simple beginnings and experimented with broader and more complicated life styles. In western civilization the number of experiments has increased and the span of their deviations seems to have broadened. Under the circumstances an analysis of civilization must take for granted not only social change but the development of, human society along lines which link up the outstanding structural and functional ideas, institutions and practices of successive civilizations.
I propose in this inquiry to state certain accepted facts from the history of civilizations and of contemporary experience. I also propose to analyze the facts and generalize them in such a way that the results of the study may provide an understanding of the human social past, together with some guide-lines that will prove useful in the formulation and implementation of the present-day policy and procedure of civilized peoples, nations, empires and of the western civilization.
This book is not a popular treatise, nor is it a textbook. Rather. it is an attempt to summarize an area of critical human concern. Academia may not use such material: nevertheless it should be available to students and administrators who must plan and direct the social future of humankind.
Civilization and Beyond rounds out a series of studies that I began in 1928 with Where Is Civilization Going? The series has extended through The Twilight of Empire (1930), War (1931) and The Tragedy of Empire (1946). Up to 1914 my field of study was confined largely to the economics of distribution. The war of 1914-18 pushed me rudely and decisively into the broader field. I have described the process in my political autobiography: Making of a Radical (1971).
I hope that this study will provide a useful link in the chain of material dealing with the structure and function of man’s social environment, leading directly into an action program that will conclude the preservation and loving economical use of nature’s rich gifts and the dedication of thousands of young aspiring men and women to the good life here, now and indefinitely, into a bright, productive and creative future.
As of this date seven publishers have examined the manuscript of this work and declined to publish it. All felt that it would not find any considerable reading public. Nevertheless, I feel that the work should be printed and distributed because it carries a message that may be of first rate importance to the future of my fellow humans.
Harborside, Maine May 5, 1975
THOUGHTS ABOUT HISTORY AND CIVILIZATION
We may think and talk about civilization as one pattern or level of culture, one stage through which human life flows and ebbs. In that sense we may regard it abstractly and historically, as we regard the most recent ice age or the long and painful record of large-scale chattel slavery.