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- Sociology and Modern Social Problems - 6/45 -


it affords to its weaker members, and in human society the natural process of eliminating the inferior often seems reversed. As Huxley has pointed out, human society tries to fit as many as possible to survive, and we may add, not only to survive, but to live well. Altruism and its resulting co÷peration have come especially to characterize human social evolution. To some extent this is due, no doubt, to the necessities of group survival; for only that nation, for example, can survive that can maintain the most loyal citizenship, the best institutions, and the largest spirit of self-sacrifice in its members. Human social groups, therefore, try to fit as many individuals as possible for the most efficient membership, and this necessitates caring for the temporarily weak, and also for the permanently incapacitated, in order that the sentiments of social solidarity may be strengthened to their utmost.

It is evident, then, that all the factors at work in organic evolution are at work also in social evolution, though in some part modified and varying in degree. The struggle for existence in human society, for example, has been greatly modified from the condition in the early animal world, while co÷peration, or altruism, is much more highly developed. Nevertheless, these factors of organic evolution are at work in social evolution and must be taken into full account by the student of social problems. Social evolution rests upon organic evolution.

Some Effects upon Industry.--These factors in organic evolution express themselves more or less in the industrial phase of human society. Thus, the first factor, the multiplication of organisms through reproduction in some geometric ratio, was first studied by Malthus, an economist in the beginning of the nineteenth century, and exclusively with reference to its effect upon economic conditions. Malthus perceived the tendency for human beings to multiply in some geometric ratio where food supply was sufficiently abundant, and argued from this that if better wages, and so a larger food supply, were given the lower classes, they would multiply so much more rapidly that worse poverty would result than before. There is no doubt that in certain classes of human society there is a tendency for population to press against food supply, and it is in these classes that the struggle for existence takes on its most animal-like forms.

Again, the struggle for existence is continually illustrated in the world of human industry. Not only do individuals lose place and power because they are unadapted to their environment, but also economic groups, such as corporations, show the natural competition or struggle for existence sometimes in its most intense form. The result in all cases is the dying out of the least adapted and the survival of the better adapted. Thus, through competition and the survival of the better adapted we secure in industry the evolution of higher types of industrial organization, industrial methods, and the like, just as higher types are secured in the same way in the animal world. Again, in economic matters, as in other social affairs, co÷peration continually comes in to modify competition and to lift it to a higher plane. Just as the higher type of societies has been characterized by higher types of co÷peration, so it is safe to say that the higher types of industry are characterized by higher types of co÷peration. And while, as we shall see later, co÷peration can never displace competition in industry any more than elsewhere in life, yet increasing co÷peration characterizes the higher types of industry as well as the higher types of society.

A word of caution is perhaps necessary against confusing the economic struggle as it exists in modern society with the natural struggle under primitive conditions. It is evident that in present society the economic struggle has been greatly changed in character from the primitive struggle, and therefore can no longer have the same results. Laws of inheritance, of taxation, and many other artificial economic conditions, have greatly interfered with the natural struggle. The rich and economically successful are therefore by no means to be confused with the biologically fit. On the contrary, many of the economically successful are such simply through artificial advantageous circumstances, and from the standpoint of biology and sociology they are often among the less fit, rather than the more fit, elements of society.

A Brief Survey of Social Evolution from the Biological Standpoint.--In order to sum up and make clear some of the principal applications to social evolution of the biological principles just stated we shall endeavor to state in a brief way some of the salient features of social evolution from the biological standpoint.

From the very beginning there has been no such thing as unmitigated individual struggle among animals. Nowhere in nature does pure individualism exist in the sense that the individual animal struggles alone, except perhaps in a few solitary species which are apparently on the way to extinction. The assumption of such a primitive individual struggle has been at the bottom of many erroneous views of human society. The primary conflict is between species. A secondary conflict, however, is always found between the members of the same species. Usually this conflict within the species is a competition between groups. The human species exactly illustrates these statements. Primitively its great conflict was with other species of animals. The supremacy of man over the rest of the animal world was won only after an age-long conflict between man and his animal rivals. While this conflict went on there was apparently but little struggle within the species itself. The lowest groups of which we have knowledge, while continually struggling against nature, are rarely at war with one another. But after man had won his supremacy and the population of groups came to increase so as to encroach seriously upon food supply, and even on territorial limits of space, then a conflict between human groups, which we call war, broke out and became almost second nature to man. It needs to be emphasized, however, that the most primitive groups are not warlike, but only those that have achieved their supremacy over nature and attained considerable size. In other words, the struggle between groups which we call war was occasioned very largely by numbers and food supply. To this extent at least war primitively arose from economic conditions, and it is remarkable how economic conditions have been instrumental in bringing about all the great wars of recorded human history.

The conflict among human groups, which we call war, has had an immense effect upon human social evolution. Five chief effects must be noted.

(1) Intergroup struggle gave rise to higher forms of social organization, because only those groups could succeed in competition with other groups that were well organized, and especially only those that had competent leadership.

(2) Government, as we understand the word, was very largely an outcome of the necessities of this intergroup struggle, or war. As we have already seen, the groups that were best organized, that had the most competent leadership, would stand the best chance of surviving. Consequently the war leader or chief soon came, through habit, to be looked upon as the head of the group in all matters. Moreover, the exigencies and stresses of war frequently necessitated giving the war chief supreme authority in times of danger, and from this, without doubt, arose despotism in all of its forms. The most primitive tribes are republican or democratic in their form of government, but it has been found that despotic forms of government rapidly take the place of the primitive democratic type, where a people are continually at war with other peoples.

(3) A third result of war in primitive times was the creation of social classes. After a certain stage was reached groups tried not so much to exterminate one another as to conquer and absorb one another. This was, of course, after agriculture had been developed and slave labor had reached a considerable value. Under such circumstances a conquered group would be incorporated by the conquerors as a slave or subject class. Later, this enslaved class may have become partially free as compared with some more recently subjugated or enslaved classes, and several classes in this way could emerge in a group through war or conquest. Moreover, the presence of these alien and subject elements in a group necessitated a stronger and more centralized government to keep them in control, and this was again one way in which war favored a development of despotic governments. Later, of course, economic conditions gave rise to classes, and to certain struggles between the classes composing a people.

(4) Not only was social and political organization and the evolution of classes favored by intergroup struggle, but also the evolution of morality. The group that could be most efficiently organized would be, other things being equal, the group which had the most loyal and most self-sacrificing membership. The group that lacked a group spirit, that is, strong sentiments of solidarity and harmonious relations between its members, would be the group that would be apt to lose in conflict with other groups, and so its type would tend to be eliminated. Consequently in all human groups we find recognition of certain standards of conduct which are binding as between members of the same group. For example, while a savage might incur no odium through killing a member of another group, he was almost always certain to incur either death or exile through killing a member of his own group. Hence arose a group code of ethics founded very largely upon the conceptions of kinship or blood relationship, which bound all members of a primitive group to one another.

(5) A final consequence of war among human groups has been the absorption of weaker groups and the growth of larger and larger political groups, until in modern times a few great nations dominate the population of the whole world. That this was not the primitive condition, we know from human history and from other facts which indicate the disappearance of a vast number of human groups in the past. The earth is a burial ground of tribes and natrons as well as of individuals. In the competition between human groups, only a few that have had efficient organization and government, loyal membership and high standards of conduct within the group, have survived. The number of peoples that have perished in the past is impossible to estimate. But we can get some inkling of the number by the fact that philologists estimate that for every living language there are twenty dead languages. When we remember that a language not infrequently stands for several groups with related cultures, we can guess the immense number of human societies that have perished in the past in this intergroup competition.

Even though war passes away entirely, nations can never escape this competition with one another. While the competition may not be upon the low and brutal plane of war, it will certainly go on upon the higher plane of commerce and industry, and will probably be on this higher plane quite as decisive in the life of peoples in future as war was in the past.

While the primary struggle within the human species has been in the historic period between nations and races, this is not saying, of course, that struggle and competition have not gone on within these larger groups. On the contrary, as has already been implied, a continual struggle has gone on between classes, first perhaps of racial origin, and later of economic origin. Also there is within the nation a struggle between parties and sects, and sometimes between "sections" and communities. Usually, however, the struggle within the nation is a peaceful one and does not come to bloodshed.

Again, within each of these minor groups that we have mentioned struggle and competition in some modified form goes on between its members. Thus within a party or class there is apt to be a struggle or competition between factions. There is, indeed, no human group that is free from struggle or competition between its members, unless it be the family. The family seems to be so constituted that normally there is no competition between its members,--at least, there is good ground tor


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