Thursday, May 04, 2017

The Spiral Of The Civilization

There is the logic of the line – create the fastest route between Point A and Point B. There is also the logic of the circle – that of tracing a distance from the center to all all points at that distance from the center. Combining the two is the spiral that repeats cyclically around X and Y dimensions while trending upwards along the Z dimension.

The civilization can be seen to reflect the spiral. The natural cycles of life – birth, youth, adulthood, old age and death – and all the social concerns associated with the preceding, keep repeating cyclically. Whereas scientifically and economically the civilization builts on itself, using the linear logical mind to realize an ongoing improvement. Technological progress is therefore linear. Whereas socially, what we appear to see is cyclical, with each generation fulfilling the needs particular to its age and then morphing into the needs of the next age, to be replaced eventually with the next generation.

Progress is seen therefore as being both technological and social. I do not believe that there is such a thing as social progress. Societies change all the time in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons. There are natural and social dynamics that we see expressed at the natural and social level (dimensions X and Y) and there are man-made dynamics that are expressed in science and technology (dimension Z). The first is cyclical, the second is linear. Together they form the spiral of civilization.

The social situation is frequently the function of whatever age group is dominant. We see this especially with the baby boomers – the generation around which the world has revolved for over half a century. When they were young, the social attitudes were very relaxed, and many believed that what was happening was progress toward greater freedom and women’s equality. When they became parents themselves, they created a much more striated climate – either to protect or to control their children. This is not an anomaly, and the same thing happened in 19th century with transition from Romanticism to Victorianism and in early 20th century with transition from Bohemian period to 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Every generation makes its cyclical progression through the ages; and every age has its own needs.

At the same time, each generation possesses its own character. The World War II generation lived under many different ideologies, but everywhere it possessed the same character – hard-working, family oriented and nationalistic. The baby boom generation has been seen as a bunch of selfish brats both in America and in the former Soviet Union. There are reasons for this, that I am not going to go into at this time. However we all see different character in different generations.

Each generation raises its children the way that it wanted itself to be raised. It rarely works, as their children are not them. The World War II generation, growing up in a depression and a war, wanted to provide its children peace and prosperity; but their children wanted freedom. The hippies gave their children freedom, but their children wanted stability and structure. Each saw its ways as an improvement upon the preceding and, in some cases, as progress. It was no such thing; in all cases it was a fad.

Social conditions are therefore cyclical in nature. Whereas economic and technological progress is in fact linear. We are both creatures of lines and creatures of circles, and together they form a spiral.


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