These conclusions are based on several thousand years of experiment and experience with the civilized life pattern. Time after time, in age after age, human beings by the millions have poured faith, hope and unbounded energy, devotion and dedication into the upbuilding of the urban nuclei of successive civilizations. Details have varied. Ultimate conclusions have been the same. One civilization after another has passed into the limbo of history leaving, sometimes, splendid ruins as a testimonial to its evident inadequacy to meet the survival needs of oncoming generations.
Such conclusions, based on history, are underlined by current experience with the over-ballyhooed, over-priced variant of the life pattern which signs itself western civilization. Dating from the Crusades a thousand years ago, western civilization has been promoted, built up and carried forward by the blood, sweat and tears of credulous, hopeful, eager human beings. Its promises have been wonderful; its performance, especially since 1900, has been pitifully inadequate, superficial and unsatisfying.
THE POLITICS OF CIVILIZATION
Several thousand years ago humankind began experimenting with the life style which we are now calling civilization. Presumably it was not thought out and blueprinted in advance but worked out by trial and error, episode by episode, step by step—perhaps, also, leap by leap.
Historical and contemporary experiments with this lifestyle supply a fund of valuable information, some of which has been covered in the earlier chapters of this book. Our next task is to analyze and classify this information under four headings: the politics, the economics, the sociology and the ideology of civilization. (When the information is properly arranged, we can do something with it and about it.)
Politics is the part of social science and engineering which is concerned with the organization, direction and administration of human communities. We use the word to cover the conduct of public affairs in any social group more extensive than a family. Hence we refer to village politics, town politics, national politics, international politics and, in the present instance, to the politics of civilization as a way of life.
Each sample, referred to in our examination of typical civilizations, was built around a center, nucleus or homeland consisting of one or more cities with their adjacent hinterlands. The nucleus of the developing civilization was also the nucleus of an empire. Each nucleus was a center of planned production; accumulating wealth, growing population and expanding authority. Certain locations are better suited than others to provide the essentials of a civilization nucleus.
The first requirement for a nucleus is a tolerable climate, primarily a satisfactory balance between heat and cold. Before the general use of fire as a source of warmth human populations were concentrated at or near the tropics. With the increasing use of artificial heating and lighting human beings were able to cluster farther and farther away from concentrated equatorial sunlight.