Throughout the evolution of human societies there has existed a stratification along the lines of simple, compound, doubly-compound, and compound-complex. It is from the lowest through the highest that societies evolve. Along similar lines, though less definitely, societies may be grouped as agricultural, militant, and industrial; the first being a subsistence, individualistic, land-based society, the second type in its developed form being organized on the principle of compulsory cooperation, while the third in its most developed form being organized on the principle of voluntary cooperation. The militant society is characterized not only by a despotic central power but also by unlimited political control of personal conduct; while the third is characterized not only by a democratic or representative central power, but also by limitation of political control over personal conduct. The first is similar to the third in terms of freedom, autonomy, and self-determination, but it lacks the central power of either of the other two.
An important point to note is that changes in prominent social activities often bring about social metamorphosis. In instances where the militant type has not evolved into so rigid a form as to prevent change and a considerable industrial system arises, there come mitigations of the coercive restraints characterizing the militant type, and weakening of its structures. Conversely, where an industrial system largely developed has established freer social forms, resumption of offensive and defensive activities causes reversion towards the militant type. And it is from agrarian independence that either of the more complex forms sprouts.
Like evolving aggregates in general, societies show integration both by simple increase of mass and by coalescence and recoalescence of masses. The change from homogeneity to heterogeneity is multitudinously exemplified; up from the simple tribe, alike in all its parts, to an advanced nation, full of structural and functional unlikenesses. With progressing integration and heterogeneity come increasing coherence. We see the wandering group dispersing, dividing, held together by no bonds; the tribe with parts made more coherent by subordination to a dominant leader; the cluster of tribes united in a political plexus under a chief with sub-chiefs; and so on up to the advanced nation, consolidated enough to hold together for a thousand years or more. Simultaneously comes increasing definiteness. Social organization is at first vague; advance brings settled arrangements which grow slowly more precise; customs pass into laws which, while gaining fixity, also become more specific in their applications to varieties of actions. And all institutions, at first confusedly intermingled, slowly separate, at the same time that each within itself marks off more distinctly its component structures. Thus in all respects is fulfilled the formula of evolution. There is progress towards greater size, coherency, multiformity, and definiteness.
Comparisons of societies in their ascending grades have made clear certain essential facts in regards to their growth, structures, and functional facts representing the systems of structures that sustain coherence, distribute resources, and regulate action. Also included are the relations of these structures to the surrounding conditions and the dominant forms of social activities entailed. And it is in this respect, regarding the metamorphoses of types caused by changes in the activities, that we see the evolution of ever more complex forms of social organization. There is a general order of coexistence and sequence even at the macro-level of human societies.
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