Sociogenesis vs. Marx Evolutionary Determinism: The Anthropic Mechanism of Social Dynamics

Sociogenesis vs. Marx Evolutionary Determinism:  The Anthropic Mechanism of Social Dynamics
Author: Dobrolyubov, Sergey V.
Journal: Social Evolution & History. Volume 11, Number 1 / March 2012


In this essay, the author examines social evolution with respect to cyclical emergence, expansion and collapse of societies (in terms of sociogenesis). The Soviet Marxist tradition considered evolution as a path through a sequence of social formations: slavery, feudalism, capitalism according to the modes of production. From sociogenesis point of view, these ‘formations’ are the implementations of social patterns relevant to the scale and phases of society growth. Those implementations have different quality at different levels of material development but also at different levels of cognition and consciousness' sophistication and thus they depend on different understanding of each individual's place in society. During their lifecycles, societies move to the maximum possible size, limited by these evolutionary factors and at a certain point they collapse being unable to integrate such complex social diversity. For a society's sustainable existence at the global scale, there is a need to change radically consciousness, which would be comparable with its transformation during the transition from hunter-gatherer bands to a ‘civilized’ society.

Contradictory human beings

There are two opposite approaches to social phenomena. One moves from society toward individual and the other goes from individual toward society. In the first case, the theories consider society as a whole; they find objectivity and determinism of social and historic processes, systemic and organismic features of society. That holistic tradition originates from the classics of sociology (K. Marx, H. Spencer, E. Durkheim) and is developed in variety of systemic theories (Parsons 1966; Luhmann 1996) including the world-system approach (Wallerstein 2004). The second tradition goes from M. Weber's consideration of individual actions and reveals the individual agency, role of ideas, the uniqueness of social changes and historic process. That paradigm is developed in symbolic interactionism (Mead 1934), phenomenology (Schutz 1967) and comes to a postmodernist complete denial of historic laws, social progress, etc. These two theoretical extremes never eliminate each other; on the contrary, by adopting the opponents' discoveries, they become more adequate to reality and less contradictory, they are transformed into neo-conceptions (e.g., neo-Marxism, neo-phenomenology). We may find such never-ending opposition of paradigms in the recent discussion between evolutionary (Carneiro 2010) and historical (Pauketat 2007) viewpoints on chiefdom in Social Evolution & History journal.

Traditionally the first approach is called objectivist and the other is denoted as subjectivist. One may say that nothing exists besides individuals but, on the other hand, a whole has properties that are not reducible to individual. This is because subjective interpretations are not entirely arbitrary in each mind; they are typical and exist in other minds, too. To that extent, they are external (objective) for a separate individual and are conditioned by others' minds (in fact, by a society). That gives a society its own properties which are only ‘programmed’ (planned, presumed) in individuals, the same way as individual's properties are programmed in DNA and are not reduced to its properties. Contemporary social theories such as the structuration theory (Giddens 1986) or the theory of practice (Bourdieu 1984) try to merge those opposite approaches by incorporating structural ‘schemas’ into the individual.

Despite the polarization of systemic and agential paradigms, a real human naturally lives in system's environment. In fact, her or his own nature is contradictory; therefore we may derive both conceptual extremes from the same human being: one goes from his or her creativity and agency, the other one – from her or his determinism and dependence upon society. Such a contradiction is evolutionary necessary because the evolution ‘strategy’ was based on selection and balancing of opposite abilities in order to achieve an effective behavioral outcome. The organisms' aggression is balanced by their kindness, courage – by cowardice, perseverance – by laziness. Specifically social instinctive propensities are also balanced: organisms compete with each other but gather into cooperative groups, they dominate and subordinate and so on. A human being acquires her or his social skills and necessities in the process of socialization but they are also balanced: the need for competition is balanced by the need for cooperation, the need for freedom is balanced by the need for social connectedness; creative ability of mind is balanced by the ability of mind to rely on stereotypes.

Ultimately, the society itself is possible only because a human being is not absolutely unique (typical) as well as not fully free (dependent). That is why all radically determinist and nominalist approaches are always inconsistent. Let us begin the consideration of human freedom and dependence, uniqueness and typicality from Marx's understanding of human being since it is a good sample of deterministic inconsistency.


Karl Marx was a philosophical apologist for individual's freedom and self-realization; that gives magical attractiveness to his ideas, no matter how much social practice has refuted his social doctrine. As an evolutionist, he founded the dynamics of his social scheme on the opposite premises. He stated a direct causal chain: technologyproductionsocietyconsciousness. The primary cause is the level of material development that determines the mode of production and the mode of social organization. Consciousness in this chain is the last and passive outcome of social practice and has no active influence on society and consequently, on material production.

Consciousness can never be anything else than conscious existence and the existence of men is their actual life-process… [Consciousness' content is] the development of ideological reflexes and echoes of this life-process. Phantoms formed in the human brain are also, necessarily, sublimates of their material life-process, which is empirically verifiable and bound to material premises. Morality, religion, metaphysics, all the rest of ideology and their corresponding forms of consciousness, thus no longer retain the semblance of independence. They have no history, no development; but men, developing their material production and their material intercourse, alter, along with this their real existence, their thinking and the products of their thinking (Marx and Engels 1987 [1846]).

Such rigid determinism becomes a source of a number of theoretical problems. One problem is that the content of consciousness cannot be fully reduced to previous practice, and another problem is that content, in fact, has its own evolution and history.

Although a thought is actually a chain of electrochemical reactions in nerve cells, these reactions are not the cause of the content of a thought: consciousness creates ideas itself as a system, and as such it cannot be reduced to electrochemical phenomena of lower levels.

Creativity of consciousness was evolutionarily developed from the ability of the first living cell for arbitrary action. This arbitrariness is not a deterministic response (‘reflexes and echoes’) to the circumstances in which organism is at the moment. Conversely, arbitrariness is the ability to ignore these circumstances. Consciousness, in its turn, obtains ability to create arbitrary concepts detached from perception of reality. It is this creative ability that allows a human being to produce abstractions and complicate knowledge. Since consciousness is a creative entity, the content of consciousness cannot be completely defined by previous practice. Of course, people apprehend their existence and ideas existing in their minds. However, consciousness allows human being not only to passively reproduce existing ideas and practice but also to create new ones, and that eventually allows altering productive forces and production relations, which, Marx believed, themselves were the material basis of mental content.

Note, that cognitive notions have a hierarchy, since each notion is based on other notions. This fact is predetermined by the method of human (as well as non-human) cognition. Nervous system perceives signals by associating external environment with classifiers (identifiers, constructs, maps, cells ensembles, etc.) of these signals already existing in the system (Turchin 1977; Piaget 1971; Baars 1988). The more complex (hierarchical) identifiers nervous system has, the more informative signals it can recognize and operate within the environment.

Getting more complex representations is possible only by means of abstraction (lifting hierarchy) of such classifiers. The abstraction process is internal and creative; it comes not from the external environment, vice versa, the results of this process are adapting to the environment. Therefore, consciousness must first create (heuristically, intuitively, and accidentally) or borrow a more abstract idea and only after that, associate this idea with the reality (verifying or falsifying idea by experience). We can find this mechanism in Piaget's (1971) theory of cognition as pre-constructing of viable (applicable) concepts in consciousness, and in Popper's (1957) idea of inability of logical induction of theoretical concepts from the empirical facts. Consciousness potentially may endlessly create abstractions detached from perception of reality. The only reason why people do not outrun their concepts far away from experience is that in this case they lose practical and cognitive value for them.

Here is the distinction between agency and freedom. Agency is the ability to make arbitrary (free) choice, but options of that choice are always determined and therefore are limited. Freedom is the description of the choice and in contrast with agency is meaningful. All living organisms have the agency in an equal degree, while freedom depends upon the complexity of their understanding and description of reality. Freedom is limited by unawareness (or knowledge) of options and by mental addictions or preferences of options. These limitations (objective and subjective) determine the ‘landscape’ of options where human is able to realize his or her unlimited agency (ability to make a choice).

Since cognitive concepts have hierarchy and adjust to objective reality in practice, knowledge has objective levels of complexity and the growth of knowledge is possible only alongside with the extension of the foundation of this hierarchy. The new concepts become more complex (hierarchical) if they are based on a wider range of empirical facts and theoretical notions from a wider range of neighboring fields of knowledge. The achieved level in one area becomes an objective foundation for further complication of concepts in other areas. People have a potential ability to have knowledge of any complexity; nevertheless, they get it consistently (both, through studying and in the process of evolution) and could not skip objective levels of complexity. As much as the content has hierarchy, to the same extend consciousness has its own evolution and its own history, contrary to Marx's ideas.

One may notice that Marx's development scheme is quite static. According to Marx, new ideas cannot emerge until people develop ‘material production’ and ‘material intercourse’, however, people can develop them only by applying new ideas. Where is the source of development? In order to justify active role of material production in relation to human consciousness Marx doubtfully juggles with the definition of human being. He argued (Marx and Engels 1987 [1846]) that men's ability to produce first of all ‘is conditioned by their physical organization’, thus, in fact, he distinguishes an ability to produce from the ability to apprehend.1 However, it is consciousness, but not the physical organization of human hand, that is a characteristic feature distinguishing human from animals even in the production sphere. In fact, Marx implicitly separates scientific knowledge from ideology by their origin. He accented on the fact that religion, morality, and other types of ideological concepts are related to material conditions of human life but ignored that people create all concepts (scientific and ideological) and the development of a concept has its internal logic. He granted human being with creativity in knowledge and deprives of creativity in ideology.

But in fact there is no fundamental difference between how scientific and ideological concepts have appeared in human mind for the first time. In both cases, it is a heuristic result which is only validated and saved in practice. For example, when members of a tribe worship gods and perform rituals they also find confirmation of religious ideas validity in their own practice.

Meanwhile, Marx argues that a new idea might reflect only the already existing practice. That opinion looks sound when we observe the slow development of prehistoric societies. If primitive people did not modify stone knife or ritual for millennia, we may not see any active role of ideas over their practice. However, when we observe the development of modern science and societies, the active role of ideas becomes more evident.

Human creativity does not deny that knowledge or social forms may have objective levels of development and complexity. Some societies (as well as scientists) lift up in this hierarchy faster, some do not at all; while each individual action and social change is always open. Objectivity of physical reality cannot produce any scientific knowledge by itself, the same way as social inevitability cannot create new social practices. It is people themselves but not the objective conditions that must gradually do it. Since consciousness is an active subject with respect to material conditions, the consciousness is not a passive consequence of practice; it is only tightly connected with practice. However, it is consciousness that pulls practice to development. If it were not so, people would never get out of primitive life, because without creative attitude to material and social practice, they would only endlessly repeat the same practice.

SOCIAL dependence and group CONSCIOUSNESS

One cannot say that Marx was completely wrong in his interpretation of consciousness as a secondary essence. Human being is not only a creative generator of new ideas and practices, but also a passive repeater of already existing ones. Every repeatable practice (religious, cultural, social and even scientific) reproduces a dogmatic consciousness associated with it.

Conservative role of practice stems from the way in which consciousness and all other acquired abilities are formed. Nervous system even recognizes the practice that was carried out successfully only once and starts motivating organism to continue the same practice in order to acquire it as a skill. All abilities are formed in repeatable practice via the formation of dependence (affections, addiction) upon that practice. Therefore, abilities are in fact needs and require satisfaction. Such needs are motor skills, habits, rituals, values, etc., including the need for society and for communication. A person is potentially able to create any unique moral and social idea, but only through practice it becomes necessary (valuable) for her or him. Values are addictions obtained in the previous practice, therefore values direct further practice, which in its turn serves to satisfy the previously obtained needs.

Moreover, consciousness is obtained in practice of interactions with other consciousnesses by acceptance of ideas and practices already existing in other minds. As a result, consciousness becomes stereotypic within a social framework. An insulated individual action (even thought) may be arbitrary or unique in general case, but when it is a part of communication between different consciousnesses it should be mutually understandable and therefore, cannot not be unique but should be typical; communication requires common codes, symbols, and notions. This leads to standardization of language, knowledge, values, etc. The interaction contains, in addition to informative component, an active (procedural) component, which being combined with standard content of communication, becomes standard as well. That leads to the emergence of common rituals, cultural and religious traditions, and social standards. The sustainability or ‘path dependence’ (David 2000) on such standard interactions is provided by mental addiction to these standards.

An individual is free to interpret others’ actions, accept roles of others or adjust action to others and therefore forms collective actions and a structured society (Mead 1934). If a person does that independently and uniquely, he or she can really create a new social practice. However, in most cases an individual only uncritically adopts interpretations and even adjustments to society in the process of socialization. These interpretations and adjustments become automatic solutions of standard situations. Such bodily automatic (i.e. performed without rational analysis) schemas of behavior were termed by P. Bourdieu (1984) the habitus, which are the behavioral patterns incorporated into individuals. An individual changes habitus when he creates a new practice, but when he begins to use the same solution then behavior again becomes automatic and is reproduced by updated habitus.

Thus, individuals are free agents but they are stereotyped: they have similar choices, which are defined by typical goals, values, and social addictions.

The similar parts of the individual's content of consciousnesses form the so-called social consciousness (‘collective consciousness’ in Durkheim's notion). The most common part of social consciousness – that is basic and simple knowledge, ideas, beliefs, and social practices shared by the majority of society members – is mass consciousness. In its turn, the part of social consciousness containing stereotyped (common with others) perception and attitude to own society can be recognized as self-consciousness of society as a whole (Dobrolyubov 2009).

Society's self-consciousness comprises a hierarchy of values, which is different from an individual's hierarchy, because the social consciousness cuts off the unique egoism with respect to individual self and accumulates common (typical) egoism with respect to society. The value of the society remains alone at the top of that hierarchy, as well as the value of individual life is at the top of personal values' hierarchy. Due to its own value hierarchy, a society obtains self-sufficiency. Being common, social consciousness cuts off the most creative and at the same time the most marginal parts of the individual consciousness. Innovative ideas, including Marx's ideas, are unable to change quickly the conservative social consciousness connected with current practice.

Marx's concept of the predominance of practice over consciousness is more adequate to that social consciousness, but again not completely. Social consciousness is really conservative but not static. If individuals have stereotyped motives and goals with respect to society, then social self-consciousness also accepts it. Social self-consciousness becomes goal-oriented; this orientation is fixed as a value in a society's value hierarchy. As a result, this society cannot switch direction of its development until its mass consciousness has a certain value hierarchy and certain social identity.

At the first glance, effective social inventions are easily acceptable, but if a society's system of values persists it does not allow arbitrary shifts of priority values. This system could be modified only by the development of its own values in its own practice. In this sense, not all effective rational ideas are implemented in social practice but only those, which people of this society consider applicable to their current practice. In other words, social consciousness accepts only ideas compatible with current social priorities. All ideological and religious ideas that led to a new social practice entered social consciousness through attractiveness of the ideas, through subjective belief in their validity. When a new idea does not seem attractive to people because of their commitment to the old conservative traditions, the social consciousness is not ready to adopt this idea. In its turn, if the idea has occupied social consciousness it becomes a ‘material force’ (Marx 1970 [1844]) capable to change social practices.


When we set aside the problem of primacy of consciousness or material conditions, we see that levels of their development are always in line with each other. Consciousness is evolving and content is an object of its evolution. People, using products of their thinking, that is ideas, develop their knowledge and thus change their understanding of reality. Along with that, people change their attitude toward reality and toward human role (including social role) in the reality. It allows people to alter social practice according to that understanding.

An obvious connection between human role and knowledge becomes apparent in the historical dynamics of the concepts of supernatural power. Understanding reality in more informative and abstract concepts leads to the displacement of supernatural cause from the explained phenomena and accordingly lifts that cause to a more abstract (meaningful) level of concepts and phenomena. At first, people saw the spirits in concrete things and concrete events (bonfire, water source) and then only in more abstract natural forces (fire, water). Alone with cognition of nature, supernatural causality obtains a more rational and meaningful representation. Spirits were substituted by gods in animal guise, later in human guise, then the single God emerged, and now creationism shifts the abstract God behind the originating moment of the Universe. Accordingly, the role and goal of a human being in the reality has also evolved, it becomes more creative rather than adaptive and more self-aimed. Thus, ‘the first man's’ consciousness began from total incomprehension of nature phenomena and full coherency by collective consciousness. The human role was fully servicing; man served his band, he was afraid of spirits and propitiated them. In more complex cultures, people obtained some power over nature; they increased their roles and came into conflict with unmotivated arbitrariness of gods (heroes' mythology). The ancient man became a master of nature; he started searching for an equal to his central role producing the single God representing the whole nature. The Christian man raised his goals to an abstract level; he strived to achieve the God's perfection. The contemporary person herself or himself becomes his or her own goal.

Evolution of knowledge has resulted in production and in social practice as well. The prehistoric consciousness was weak, and people reached every technological innovation with difficulty. They mostly repeated technological decisions which were once found. The creative role of consciousness in production increased in the course of evolution. Today, scientific creativity has become a necessary element in production of all commodities. The same takes place in social practice. Prehistoric people only repeated social traditions and forcedly responded to changes of conditions. People of antiquity began to operate with social ideas, although in a narrow range of social phenomena. Modern people, more than ever, strive to implement ideas of a rational and fair society.

Thus, social relations are based on the attitude to a human being. Social consciousness evolved toward the increasing human's role in nature and in society (consciousness' humanization) and toward human liberalization from society (consciousness' individualization). Each evolutionary level of consciousness corresponds to the degree of rigidity of society, with humanism of social, cultural, and religious rituals and practices. For example, understanding of a human being in the earliest societies was consistent with the social values of killing men of the defeated tribe, with cultural values of cannibalism, with religious values of human sacrifice. Ancient understanding of a human being got over some of these misconceptions but it was still consistent with gladiatorial murder for fun and with acceptability of slavery, whereas the modern understanding of human being is not consistent with slave status and murdering, and this is the only reason for prohibiting slavery or, for instance, murdering in sport. It is also true that humanism and individualism of consciousness at all historical stages corresponded to the development of the means of production.2 At the same time, they did not cause one another; they both were mediated by the level of knowledge and by understanding of nature and human being.

Each leap of individualism and social freedom always raises a problem of rationality because there is a risk of self-destruction of a free individuality. However, it never happens because people seek a new morality at each revolutionary leap of rationality. For instance, Antiquity brought wider freedom to urban society but burdened it by moral civil responsibility and by the idea of human perfection. Christianity recognizes the nature of the human being as fully free but has burdened him by moral responsibility for internal aspirations. Only more advanced moral responsibility of individuality can help to overcome the postmodern crisis of rationality (Adorno and Horkheimer 2002).


Thus, consciousness has two opposite qualities – creativity and conservatism. The question is how their interaction leads to social dynamics. Marx considers consciousness as a passive side of the pair ‘ideas-practice’, therefore, every time, going from production premises toward society and consciousness, he falls into a circle in which ‘circumstances make men just as much as men make circumstances’ (Marx and Engels 1987 [1846]). The most illustrative case happens when Marx comes to conclusion that technological progress, which one may presume as a cause of productive forces development, is itself an outcome of socioeconomic system's growth: the ‘demand, outgrowing the productive forces, was the motive power’ for appearance of big industry (Ibid.).

While Marx concentrates at such cause-and-effect circle we can see that ideas and practices are really connected, but when he steps out, he comes to a controversial development schema driven by material forces but not by alive people. Only if we put consciousness-practice pair in a proper position, then the development mechanism obtains logic. Any material circumstances are passive with respect to human being and are objects for subject's activity. Being passive they may only play a role of conditions which limit or promote further development. Technology, economy, and society correlate with each other through the content of consciousness and serve as conditions for each other.

One may agree with Carneiro's (2002) materialistic causal chain conditions → idea → outcome because conditions are not direct cause of idea, and thus of social outcome. At that point, people always have potential or actual freedom for social change. In fact, this causal chain is circular because social outcome always serve as an objective condition for further ideas' development. However, these are human ideas but not conditions that make this causality active.

That fact does not mean that all social changes are planned deliberately. People achieve their short-term goals or respond to immediate challenges and may be unaware of the long-term consequences of their actions. Conditions play the same role for development as landscape relief does for a water flow; changes are occurring naturally in some directions but in others they are difficult or impossible. However, along with consciousness evolution and growing individual's role, the consciousness becomes more influential and obtains more potential abilities to overcome limitations of conditions and eventually comes to creation of own conditions. The early primitive consciousness was weak; therefore, initial forms of social life had significant similarity all over the world. In course of evolution consciousness obtained some power. Still limited by conditions, society obtains ability to overcome previous social traditions and to get opportunity for diverse ways of social evolution.

Marx argued that ideologies are always aimed at preservation of existing social order. Indeed, early ideologies grew unintentionally from social, religious and cultural traditions; but beginning from antiquity, when first theoretical ideas appeared, ideologies were directed not only at the preservation of order but also at changing the order. Marx's theory is a clear example of this. At present, it has become visible that all social changes are preceded by changes in consciousness. For example, the industrial revolution was preceded by an explosive growth of scientific and technical knowledge. Such growth would have been impossible without secularization and rationalization of European consciousness, without Reformation and protestant work ethic (Weber 1957), without philosophy of Descartes, Hobbes, and Locke. European social transformations of the Modern Age (that started after the French Revolution) also happened on the basis of proliferation of new social ideas of Rousseau, Voltaire and others. The Russian Revolution of 1917 and the fall of Soviet Union in 1991 also occurred on the basis of ideas that previously proliferated in the mass consciousness.

Of course, the material processes such as natural disasters, demographic cycles, and economic Kondratieff waves may lead to reduction of consumption and provoke rebellions; but this is a passive or destructive power. Only ideas may direct social changes.

The active role of ideas does not mean that society permits any ideal impact. The choice is limited by subjective and objective (including evolutional) limitations of its understanding and by conservatism of consciousnesses. Society carries its own values' hierarchy, therefore society has to develop its own values through own practice, and cannot simply import them. If those ideas contradict existing values, they can be implemented only along with replacement of values hierarchy, in fact, together with replacement of society itself. Even in science, since it is a social phenomenon, the change of scientific paradigms (Kuhn 1962) or research programs (Lakatos 1976) goes through the same process of genesis and decay of groups of followers.


Social goals have an objective component both in rational (symbolic, linguistic) and mental (instinctive, psychological) aspects. The basic features of society are conditioned by opposite individuals' needs for competition and cooperation. People satisfy the need for cooperation by intentional and unintentional association in groups where they minimize competition. They satisfy the opposite need by participation in competition of their group with others. That means that people have a natural need in recognizing some sort of collectivity as we in order to fasten their social egoism and altruism with certain social entity (Tajfel and Turner 1986). These opposite desires are actualized in active ‘responses’ of society to the ‘challenge’ of reality, if we use Toynbee’s terminology. One response is egoistic strive to subordinate and retain society's periphery, while another is altruistic strive to elaborate and harmonize own social fabric. That mechanism has launched sociogenesis – a process of gradual expansion of formal social structure and transfer of group (social) consciousness and identity to a wider format (Dobrolyubov 2009).

Each step of society's expansion is going through four phases: preliminary, administrative, universal and final. At preliminary phase different societies only start communication and competition. At administrative phase one competitive center unifies (merges, subordinates, conquers) others in one formal community and retain them in rigid administrative structure.3 However, with the evolution of consciousness, the role of forced means of integration is reduced, and the role of ideas' attractiveness is increased. Anyway, being formally united, people are forced to communicate. With time, at universal phase the area of typical communications grows up to the size of a formal political entity, then society develops common social self-consciousness, identity, and hierarchy of values with value of this society at the top. It happens not because each individual expands his or her communication, but because the new common concept of ‘we’ is formed in individual minds. Then the formal unity becomes an informal commonality, which we may call the main social commonality for the person. At this point the universality of social identity allows society to overcome social rigidity.

Social cohesion has different nature at different phases of community lifecycle. Initially, this cohesion is elitist and then administrative. Only at the universal phase, this cohesion is based on unity of values and social identity. Every shift from one type of cohesion to another is accompanied by value's crises, ethnic, religious and other social conflicts.

Society at the universal phase obtains an internal cohesion and external activity. That pushes society to competition at the next level. Thus, the universal phase of a community overlaps with the administrative phase of another wider one. At the final phase, narrow social identity dissolves in the identity of a new wider commonality.

This mechanism leads to the appearance of a sequence of growing communities following each other. Their growth phases are imposed on each another; so cycles of communities' development have to be synchronized with each other in time. The town community gradually expands into polis, then to national and later to civilization scale. Fig. 1 presents samples of such cycles for Roman, European and Russian (Dobrolyubov 2009, 2012) communities.

Fig. 1. Social connectedness in the civilization cycle of sociogenesis

Each step of the main community growth creates a wider socio-economic system. The process of social identity expansion cannot be stopped: it continues until social institutions, technologies and communication tools are able to maintain the integrity of growing social system, otherwise genesis fails. The inability to universalize wider ethno-cultural diversity and obtain wider social identity leads to society's collapse. If not for such internal reason for the death of civilizations, the history of humanity might have been a continuing development of the first civilizations, for example, Sumerian or Egyptian. They would have only increased a cultural and technological gap and would have easily absorbed the ‘uncivilized’ peoples. In reality, they culturally and technologically inseminated the ‘uncivilized’ peoples and collapsed.


Social evolution is traditionally considered mainly as a society's complication in two aspects – differentiation and generalization. Meanwhile, social evolution also ultimately leads to wider individual freedom within society and wider possibilities for individual self-realization. That freedom and self-realization are never absolute or full since the human goals are stipulated by lack of consciousness sophistication. An individual can freely realize only his own social stereotypes via self-ruling of society.4 The internal human non-freedom can be overcome only with cognition and consciousness' evolution. Thus, social evolution has two different ordinates (individual freedom and social complicity) and society's development path along just one of these ordinates cannot be permanent, it breaks at certain point and steps backwards.

Democracy in early societies demonstrates this mutual dynamics of the complexity and perfection of society. For example, Leonid Grinin in his article ‘Early State and Democracy’ (Grinin 2004) shows that democracy was one of the ‘natural paths of politogenesis’, however, democracy, being evolutionally suitable for small poleis, stepped backwards each time when society grew, because ‘territorial expansion made even aristocratic republics inclined to dictatorship or monarchy’. That means that a larger society simply was not ready for democracy at the given evolutional stage.

Grinin considers some preconditions for democracy in early states, namely: pre-state democratic traditions, presence of some specific social practices, for example, immigrants' inflow restriction, and also people's territorial closeness to power which led to ‘restricted sacral character of rulers’ and to ‘weakness of the royal power’. This allowed a transformation of rudimentary tribal traditions of self-government into institutional democracy. However, ‘democracy of a polis did not evolve directly out of the pre-state democracy’; it went through overcoming of social rigidity (monarchy, dictatorship) which previously had replaced tribal democracy. That double shift Grinin illustrated by Hegel's concept negation of negation.

Indeed, bands of hunters and gatherers were self-governed. When bands started evolving into institutional society, each step of society growth went through an administrative phase, thus each wider society had to implement a more rigid social structure. Therefore, the emergence of civilized society was only possible with simultaneous emergence of external for individual (institutional) social despotism. However, when society in each wider format turns to the universal phase and becomes informal, the external power may be replaced by internal power of individual social stereotypes. At that moment the universality of social identity allowed society to soften social rigidity.

The anthropologists consider the state emergence as an evolutionary step forward (Sahlins 1963; Carneiro 1981; Claessen and Skalník 1978; Sanderson 1995; Bondarenko, Grinin, and Korotayev 2002). However, paradoxically, the transition from self-ruling to institutional society initially led to the most rigid form of society. Such social stiffening happens every time when society has material conditions for expansion but the consciousness lacks an evolutionary perfection. In this case, society can ensure the growth of social structure only by administrative suppression of an individual. Society commits an actual evolutionary step whenever it is able to overcome suppression of individuality within a broader format of social commonality. Society could achieve it only through a more active social role of an individual, which is conditioned by more advanced consciousness. That is why, democracy appears first in small societies and only with further evolution of consciousness democracy was implemented in larger social formats of a nation (Rome), of a complex multi-ethnic nation (Europe), and today has a chance to be implemented in a civilization format (EU).

In this sense, the stateless character of the early complex societies, discussed among evolutionists, might not be only an intermediate phase between an undeveloped pre-state society and developed state society, but an evolutionally advanced feature of mature society, which allowed personality a free social self-realization through a direct participation in society governing. Representation (even democratic) of this direct participation requires an institutional presentation of such functions. Historically we have just single sample of developed and at same time stateless society – Athens democracy, however, even in our days the most advanced societies are at the same time less-state. Only the lack of consciousness' perfection does not allow modern western societies to obtain a more advanced form of direct democracy. That visual disappearance of statehood in mature social systems of democratic poleis even leads to discussion whether Athens and Rome were states or not (Berent 2004; van der Vliet 2005; Grinin 2004).

There are also geographical (natural) factors that influenced democracy formation in early societies. Some of these factors were already discussed (Korotayev 1995). I just draw attention to the fact that they are mutually exclusive. At the period of early civilizations formation the effective surplus production was only possible in irrigated valleys of large rivers. There was a payment for that – a state quickly grew to large formats and to social rigidity. Only when agricultural technologies allowed efficient productivity for civilized life in small geographic niches, then society may have limited itself to a polis size and developed for a long time in that format. However, even under these conditions, the space for democracy was very narrow: poleis should have existed in the area of cultural impact of advanced civilizations, but, on the other hand, protected from their invasion. Poleis should have existed close to each other, so that they could exist in a competitive and cooperative environment that allowed development, but, on the other hand, their natural niches should have been evident and protective enough in order to prevent early administrative merging of poleis. Of course, the role of these factors could be different because early states may have had different nature (e.g., trading, military,5 and so on).

Democracy in its different forms appeared in the 1st millennium BC in different regions, e.g., in the Mediterranean, or North India (Grinin 2004; Bongard-Levin and Ilyin 1969). However, only Greek poleis were able to develop democracy to a mature and, therefore, to a very influential form. The emergence (one may say the invention) of institutional democracy and civil society allowed Greco-Roman and then European civilizations to establish a western line (tradition, trajectory) of development. Eastern centers missed this evolutionary bifurcation at that moment. Later on, traditional centers of civilization became powerful and influential enough to unify social traditions within a huge area into one eastern despotic evolution line. Thus, the cycle of society's genesis or even the entire line of civilizations could evolutionary mark time if they pass that divarication. However, until present, small and hard-to reach mountain and nomadic societies have been constantly reproducing systems of self-government (Korotayev 1995; Berezkin 1995).

Thus, we may assign some dynamic properties, which only seem evolutionary, to the society's natural growth. Of course, evolutionary larger social formats appeared later, but for a particular society's transformation, each wider format is not necessarily evolutionary more advanced; it is wider and therefore it is more complex. A visual universality of different development paths occurs through the similarity of social niches which they have passed (e.g., chiefdom, city-state, nation-state, civilization-state) but not directly through similar levels of their material and cultural development. In its turn, society's actual evolutionary quality within these social niches is mainly related to the place and role of an individual within society. Social development has two ordinates and in that sense social evolution is unilinear (actually bilinear) as it was seen by classics of social evolutionism (Spencer, Marx). However, since societies may not commit evolutionary leap at the step of growing, and even do not make that step of growth, the actual trajectories of their development are multilinear as it was considered by neoevolutionists (Steward 1955).

Thus, the evolutionism is not synonymous with determinism; it deals with levels of complexity and perfection, not the paths (the same as biological evolution). In fact, societies make a lifecycle of development that is open, unique and ‘historic’ (Pauketat 2007), but we may observe this way in terms of social complexity (Carneiro 2010). There is no evolution law in specific social transformations, but when society goes through complication process it cannot skip certain levels of complexity (‘stations’ of evolution). The progress which each society makes along its evolutionary ordinates is influenced by objective conditions (level of knowledge, material and cultural development) and unpredictable agential factors (strong ideology, leaders, effort) and, finally, by luck or coincidence circumstances. Initially a society (let us say a village community in case of chiefdom formation) has to make a step in expansion of its power and build a wider social structure. The next step is the institutional elaboration of this structure (the early state formation). And the most difficult developmental step, which societies usually do not make, is a qualitative transformation of state institutions towards expanding the role of an individual and towards self-governing (polis democracy). But every change in this way to social sophistication is open.

Global society faces the same evolutionary challenge. By saying this we do not become determinists: global evolutionary transformation remains open (humanity may come to self-destruction, but may achieve a new social quality in global format), while global scale of society is evolutionary inevitable.

There is an explanation of why chiefdoms, for example in North American southeast, appeared and disappeared during the prolonged period – from 3500 BC to 1500 AC – without further evolution (Pauketat 2007). Since there is an evolutionary limitation to society's growth, societies should inevitably oscillate in their lifecycles around a social format which exceeds village community but not extends beyond one or two levels (chiefdom and complex chiefdom) of it hierarchical subordination. Along with the overall technological and consciousness evolution, every cycle of sociogenesis leads to a more mature chiefdom until it becomes an early state, which actually never happened in that region.

The traces of democracy founded here by Pauketat (2007) are also natural. Village communities within chiefdoms retained traditions of self-government because at the beginning the paramount chief's power is weakly institutionalized (Berezkin 1995). However, the rudimental ‘democracy’ of chiefdom is the result of its structural underdevelopment and immaturity. Further institutionalization of power leads to elimination of self-government, but not to its development. For example, Athens and Rome, as we discussed earlier, came first to social rigidity (monarchy, social stratification, debt slavery, etc.). Only the following response to the social rigidity allowed society to reestablish the communal self-government into institutional democracy. Such social transformations usually occur during the transition from administrative to universal phase of town community genesis.


Social evolution occurs in societies' lifecycles and there should be some discrepancy between evolution levels and stages. Sequential (phase) transformations may lead (or not lead) to next levels of wideness, complexity and social perfection. Thus, for the evolutionary comparison we should look at societies at the similar stages of their lifecycles.

The society's long-term lifecycle allows a sustainable development of knowledge, production and culture. Revolutionary inventions happen in the middle or at the end of civilization lifecycle; historically, they were spread around and were often used for the destruction of civilizations by barbarian peoples. However, in its turn, innovations accepted by barbarian peoples allowed their societies to make longer life cycles and further achieve a higher level of knowledge, consciousness and social sophistication. A small step from gathering to agriculture has enabled primitive societies to grow up to the city-state size and allowed human consciousness, culture and social relations to mature up to civilized conditions. That progress was achieved without fundamental changes in technologies. Introduction of iron enabled societies to grow up to the size of local civilizations and to mature their social relations, culture and consciousness up to the Classic level. It can be assumed that industrial (scientific) revolution will allow society to grow up to the global size.

Thus, there are only very general platforms of overall evolutionary sophistication related to revolutionary changes in production, knowledge, consciousness and society, which are mutually linked. It is still possible to use only production to mark such platforms; however, all other spheres may be used for periodization as well.

Societies complete the full cycle of sociogenesis within the same evolutionary platform; consequently, the transition between platforms happens through collapse of societies and their primitivization. Therefore, evolutionary characteristics of the platforms are given for the final (highest) stages of societies' growth. Thus, designation of the latest platforms is possible only in relation to lifecycle of particular civilization, in our case – the European one.

I neither suggest a new periodization nor criticize the existing ones, for instance, introduced by Morgan and used by Engels (1972 [1884]), as well as more recent periodizations based on other criteria, such as the ones of Jaspers (1953), Green (1992), Goudsblom (1996), Shanks and Tilley (1987), and Grinin (2007). The periodization presented below (Table 1) is given mainly as an illustration of lifecycle approach and as a demonstration of correlation of different spheres of evolution.

Consciousness makes a significant leap towards emancipation and strengthening on each evolution platform. I will briefly point out only a few most notable breakthroughs in humanization and individualization of consciousness. The switch from primitive band to society was related to human liberation from collective consciousness and its individualization. Another obvious step in this direction was taken by ‘Classical’ societies in the 8th – 2nd centuries BC, which Jaspers called the ‘axial’ age. At that time abstract ideas, science, and monotheistic religions appeared, attitude to an individual was humanized, and first civil societies developed. Modern civilization is also passing through a leap of consciousness. Scientific knowledge led to technological development, secularization of consciousness, humanization and individualization of a human being, more creative self-realization of an individual.

If we do not distinguish social evolution in general from the development of specific societies in their lifecycles we can give universal meaning to specific stages and put the final (complex) stage of one society in evolution sequence with the following initial (simple) stage of the next society, as Marx did. As for Europe, we can impose civilizations on the segment of material periodization of history (see Fig. 2). We can see that social forms are not in a world-historical sequence, they are limited within every civilization.

Fig. 2. The stages and levels of European trend of development

This diagram shows lifecycles of a few European civilizations that were simplified to the three stages of development. The first stage closely relates with the preliminary and administrative phases of small town and polis societies, the second stage – with their blossom at universal phases, and the final stage – with large universal national/civilization society. Civilizations reach cultural, technical and social sophistication at the universal phases of the widest communities. At that point consciousness achieves maximum humanization and individualization. After civilization's collapse, a distinct social self-consciousness, carrying civilization identity, is fragmented and genesis begins again from small communities. Such a fragmentation does not indicate any particular role of communal society. Until recently it has been the most widespread form of social organization of barbarian peoples surrounding civilized societies.

Meanwhile, Marx's basic idea is that social intercourse is the outcome of production and eventually, if one re-establishes the entire chain, the outcome of productivity of tools. However, Marx withdraws direct connection between productivity and intercourse, and introduces the notion of society's productive forces. Those forces are characterized by the scale of economy, markets and trade, by available resources, population, level of state support, etc. These factors are determined not only by productivity but also by the size of socio-economic system, which, in fact, is an outcome of society's growth (sociogenesis). If social forms were a direct outcome of technological development, then the world dissemination of bronze should really have led to all-round emergence of early states; the dissemination of iron should have led to the emergence of ‘Classical’ societies everywhere. However, that did not happen.

The evolutionary correlation between material conditions and social outcome certainly exists. However, the emergence of advanced society requires a cycle of its development. Within this cycle, some societies fulfill only their life cycle. That is why primitive organization of society exists at the level of stone and bronze, and even iron technology. However, some societies make remarkable evolutionary leap in their lifecycle while staying overall at the same technological level. Thus, social sophistication only correlates with technological advancing.

Indeed, the production intercourse is a manner of connection between an individual and means of production or a manner of enforcing an individual to work. But this manner includes, in a hidden form, the attitude to a human being, which is the result of consciousness' evolution. That is why the means of enforcing an individual to work quite relatively correlate with the productivity, despite Marx arguing that ‘slavery cannot be abolished without the steam-engine and… serfdom cannot be abolished without improved agriculture’ (Marx and Engels 1987 [1846]). In fact slaves were used not only in slave societies but also in primitive, feudal, and even in capitalist societies. Slaves' labor was used effectively in the US until the mid-19th century and was abolished by humanitarian reasons (Newman 2002) due to moral unacceptability of slave conditions for human being, not because of its low productivity. Also serfdom in its various and often implicit forms of individual or collective affixing to the land is linked to the social rigidity but not to the productivity. Ancient Egyptian commoner using hoe (Lehner 1997) and Soviet collective farmer using tractors in fact were serfs. One of the obvious obstacles of economic determinism is the ‘second edition of serfdom’ (Engels 1968 [1882]) as a paradoxical return of serfdom in most bourgeois Europe after it was abolished in feudal Europe.



Deterministic link between material production and social organization always led to rigid linear evolutionary sequence of social stages, in Marxist case: primitive society – slavery – feudalism – capitalism. Such evolutionary social stage (formation) can be considered in two ways: as a historical period in existence of societiesof a certain mode or as a relevant phase of particular society development. From the Marxist point of view, this is the same, since social organization is linked only to the level of development but not to the phases of development. That is why social transformations of many real societies do not coincide with Marx's evolutionary sequence of social formations.

Instead, if we look at the sequence of civilizations, we may find out that they recapitulated development and went through the similar social patterns in their lifecycles. First civilizations start with chiefdoms and achieved statehood and rigid social structure (Sumer, Egypt). They existed for a long time without widespread use of forced labor and reached high level of agriculture, craft, and culture. For example, the Egyptian pyramids were built in the mid of the third millennium BC by free commoners, not by slaves (Hawass and Lehner 1997). Slave labor becomes essential only at mature phases of society's growth.

For secondary civilizations this dynamic is not so obvious because they often borrowed social institutions and stratification systems from their predecessor societies. In many cases they were chimerical combination of ethnicities and societies of different level of social development (e.g., Persia, Assyria, and Babylon). Nevertheless, the main part of the land fund belonged to commoners (free or dependant) but not to slave owners (Vasiliev 1998). Only at the final imperial periods the intensive warfare led to an increase in influx of slaves (e.g., in Babylon).

Classical generation of civilizations (Greek, Roman) also began their development with chiefdoms. For a long time the main producer was a free member of peasant communities, who eventually fell into economic and social dependence on the land aristocracy. At this stage society is turned into a rigid social structure while economy retained subsistence farming and thus cannot utilize a large number of slaves. Only the external expansion in one way or another (e.g., the Athens' political hegemony in the League, Rome's military domination in Italy, Carthage's trade domination in Mediterranean) led to expansion of trade, markets and warfare which were accompanied by the growth of slaves' influx. Expansion turned small subsistence production into a big commodity production. Rome society came to the classic form of slave labor domination only at polis and national stage of genesis (Hopkins 1978). Discontinuation of territorial expansion at Late Empire led to reduction of slaves import and increased cost of slave labor. Slaves were put to land as coloni without any productivity growth. Marx understood that as the beginning of transition to a new feudal mode of production. However, this transition did not happen; Roman society simply collapsed.

European societies began new sociogenesis at the ruins of Roman society. They started again with chiefdom-like political systems and during further development jumped through slavery, thus they violated Marxist evolutionary scheme. Feudal European society and Roman slavery society were not developed one out of the other. They were separated by several centuries of primitive communal forms and there is no class and even ethnic continuity between those societies (Bloch 1961).

Some of medievalists rejected not only the concept of feudalism as an universal historical stage but the notion of feudalism itself (e.g., Reynolds 1994). Indeed the strong legal component in feudal subordination (feudal ladder) was not typical for eastern Middle Age societies. Nevertheless, there are universal social features at the early stages of many societies (Strayer 1965). In terms of sociogenesis these universal features are fragmented (communal) social structure, fixing peasants to the communal land, and subsistence farming. However, these insulated communities initiated the process of social identity crystallization and its growth.

Thus, feudal system is a means of resolving contradictions between the big size of political entity and absence of informal social identity of any size. That may happen at early phases of sociogenesis when society borrowed statehood from outside.6 In the absence of social identity of a large scale, state should suppress an individual to the smallest communities and adapt state institutions to that fragmented social structure through delegation of some central power's state functions (administration, police, court, tax collection, etc.) to the lower levels of regents or feudal lords. The necessary component of this system is administrative hierarchy of regents. The European feudalism is a version of such system with specifically European strong legal component. The mature state appears when the size of informal social commonality coincides with the size of political entity. That only happened in Europe at the national stage of sociogenesis. Thus, modern nation-state is historically temporal (within every local civilization) social format between past city-state and future civilization-state format (see Fig. 1).

The feudal ladder inevitably has to decline when informal society overgrows fiefdom scale. Large-scale economy and markets led to intensification of trade and big commodity production. It is not difficult to notice that European societies came to widespread use of wage labor at nearly the same phase of growth when the antique societies came to the widespread use of slave labor (see Fig. 1). At that phase Rome peasants migrated to cities, became craftsmen and were squeezed out by widespread use of slaves. In Europe peasants also migrated to cities, became craftsmen, and were squeezed out by widespread use of wage-earners.

Marx treats capitalism as a form of socio-economic organization with industrial production. Indeed, industrial production is a revolutionary step in technology; however, it also coincided with the national phase of society's growth. Meanwhile, natural lifecycle of European nations would lead to markets growth and trading economy even without industrial breakthrough. Industry, technology and knowledge gave those processes only a new quality. The economic and cultural blossom of the first civilizations also happens at the polis or national phases of their growth.

Thus, feudal and capitalistic patterns can be recognized in development of any society. Feudal pattern is typical for the initial stages of lifecycle, for fragmented social structure, natural economy and administrative mode of society. Capitalistic pattern is typical for the latest stages of lifecycle, for the integrated market economy and for universal society. As regards Europe, these patterns are feudal and capitalist social formations in the Marx's sense. However, it is also possible to recognize not only national but poleis ‘capitalism’ in European city-republics of the thirteenth century or national ‘feudalism’ in absolute monarchies of seventeenth century.

Of course, these patterns are realized in Rome and Europe with the help of evolutionary different technological means. Antique national ‘capitalism’ has almost reached a manufactory phase; European national capitalism reached the level of industrial technology. In this case, Marxist evolutionary logic is applicable, since the antique ‘capitalism’ with the slave labor and European capitalism with wage labor have evolutionally different levels of productivity. At the same time, these different capitalisms are also based on a different consciousness, on a different humanization and individualization of human being.

If society turns to slavery only at relatively mature stage of lifecycle, and feudalism is at its early stages, then feudalism cannot come out of slavery society, but only out of neighbor village community; that actually happened in Europe (see Fig. 2). Marx put feudalism between slavery and capitalism simply because he considered social evolution from the Eurocentric point of view. However, that transfer happens due to complete collapse of one society and emergence of new ones, in fact, due to return to the small-scaled and primitive social organization.

Thus, feudalism is a specifically European social system related to initial stages of sociogenesis. Accordingly, there are three variations of feudalism – Early, High and Late Middle Ages that lasted about 250 years each (see Fig. 1) – related to administrative phases of communal, polis and national societies.


Society has an objective tendency to growth and that, at certain moment and at certain conditions, will inevitably open the possibility for global society formation. That society will have all-humanity social self-consciousness caring all-humanity values hierarchy with the value of humankind on the top. Current economic and following it political globalization only represents the very beginning of the administrative stage of such consolidation, which we can observe in the fact that so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ (Huntington 1996) is perceived by competing societies as their external conflict. The most challengeable point will happen at transition to global universal phase when societies begin transferring their main social identities(European, American, Islamic, and Chinese) to the new common one. It will inevitably lead to internal global civil conflict. In the past, such conflicts were exacerbated up to civil wars,7 while future technologies will allow self-destroying of humankind. It means that consciousness should obtain ethnical, racial, civilization values tolerance and non-violence nature before that crisis but not in the result of it as it happened in the past.

If globalization process does not overcome that crisis then collapse and fragmentation of global society will be accompanied by global cultural primitivization and loss of modern social achievements. The global merging will be postponed till new societies recapitulate development in new cycles of sociogenesis on a new values and technological base.

Future global universalization of social life standards will come to a conflict with consumption orientation of modern consciousness. In the past one of the tools of society harmonization was a continuing expansion of society and exploitation of the new periphery. For example, social conflict between the patricians and plebs in Roman town community was resolved by providing plebs with conquered lands. This practice was used at each stage of Rome expansion. At the next polis phase there was taxation of subordinate Italic poleis along with importation of cheap slave labour. Taxes, slaves and captured wealth became a source for support of low-income citizens. At the national phase the whole Italy was liberated from tax burden which was shifted to the provinces. This cyclical expansion of society and exploited periphery was repeated until Rome reached the maximum possible size; then absence of further expansion resulted in interruption of influx of cheap slaves and resources, and Roman society switched over to self-supplying. Then large army, state apparatus, advanced culture and education, high levels of consumption, municipal utilities became burdensome to the society. It demanded funds, which now could be obtained from internal sources only. Economy was unable to bear such complex social superstructure. The society came into over-complexity (Tainter 1990) while paradoxically it was not direct result of social complication, but the result of this process stoppage.8

No doubt that social conflict of Marx's time was resolved through the technological development and leveling of consumption. However, significant contribution to the growth of overall level of consumption was made by exploitation of colonies, and today, by global expansion of western economy and unequal economic exchange between developed and developing societies (UN 2001). That misbalance could be considered in Weber's (1968) terms of struggle for the ‘price of labour power’, which Weber, however, applies only to internal class conflict, or in terms of World-System approach (Wallerstein 2004; Chase-Dunn and Hall 1997) as interactions of Western core and external peripheries.

The current growth of consumption in some new peripheral centers (e.g., China) cannot level this misbalance completely. World natural and labour recourses are limited, and there is technological inability to provide western level of consumption to all world population. As long as the world leaders (new and old) are distinct countries with borders, citizenship, and egoistic economic interest, they will try, as long as they have possibility, to support the high cost of their labour and products by specialization on science and high technologies, and by using copyright policy. World of competitive countries will always be divided into those who produce the expensive high-tech products and those who produce cheap products and recourses.

Such expansionist mechanism of social harmonization threatens the future global society. Global society will be common society for rich and poor nations; therefore that society will face a problem of global harmonization of consumption when it comes to its universal phase, while traditional way of this problem resolution is an exploitation of external labour and resources. Since a global society is the latest in a sequence of growth, the absence of external sources places the global society in the same context of over-complexity as the Roman civilization had before its collapse. In order to overcome this crisis, the global society, in addition to acquiring more sophisticated technology, would need radical alteration of consciousness toward non-consumptive orientation which will be compatible with more free and creative role of human being within society.

Unlimited consumerism inevitably leads to depletion of earth recourses and expansion of human aggression to the space environment. Current understanding of human place in the Universe derives from the destructive idea of nature transformation for the needs of humankind. Meanwhile, the true goal for humankind can only be in preservation of Nature in all forms of its existence. Only transition to self-sufficiency may open to humankind a way for creative and non-aggressive communication with space environment.

Thus, if developed extraterrestrial civilizations exist they should pursue a strategy of contact prevention with less advanced civilizations until they overcome their global crisis and come to self-sufficiency and certain level of tolerance. Otherwise, such contact will cost humanity two problems. Firstly, it is warfare, since adoption of advanced technologies at current level of consciousness' tolerance will raise violence, similar to tribal genocides in Africa. Secondly, humankind may repeat the path of all aboriginal people beginning contact with more attractive Western values. Humankind may interrupt its own unique path of development and obtain earth inferiority complex.

One of the most attractive Marx's ideas is the concept of alienation (Marx and Engels 1987 [1846]). He considered alienation as alienation from the means of production and products occurring through private property and as alienation from the labor occurring through the division of labor. Note, that both types of alienation are generated by mechanical separation and division,while actual alienation can only be human as alienation of one person from another or from others (from the society). There is a distance between mechanical separation and human alienation. This distance exists in the consciousness and is related to the human perception and dissatisfaction of such a separation and division. It is influenced by level of competition and exploitation in society, by the gap in consumption and social status between the haves and have-nots, by content of labor. Alienation happens when mechanical separation becomes painful for a human being. Ultimately, people may overcome alienation from the means of production only via balance of consumption and alienation from division of labor only via creative and interesting work. That is possible with any type of ownership and at any degree of labor division; it mainly depends upon attitude to human being.

There is also a correct Marx's idea of a future single, supranational and classless society. That will happen via natural growth of society beyond the national and then civilization format, and via inevitable harmonization of global society and higher value of individuality in it.

There is general evolution trend to the increase in labor creativity and the reduction of rigidity of enforcement to labour. Slaves were enforced to labor by direct violence, serfs were enforced by law, and wage workers by economic necessity. But wage labor is also a form of enforced labor, because people voluntarily would not do it. They have to sell their labor for life support and for being able to do wishful activity. The stiffness of labor enforcement is a function of consciousness evolution. Society first broke the most severe forms of enforced labor, such as slavery and serfdom, and then it is inevitably coming to the elimination of economic means of constraint as well. This idea looks as utopian today, as the idea of abolition of slavery did for an ancient Athenian.

Indeed, today, economically enforced labor remains an objective necessity. Economic competition and private property (accompanied by class and wealth disparity) have no alternative because the predominant labor types are still heavy, monotonous and unattractive. Nevertheless, voluntary activity is a basic and natural human need, to which a human being always strives. The issue is the nature of work. The cognitive, creative and interesting labor is done by humans voluntarily, with pleasure and regardless of monetary compensation. People do heavy and monotonous labor out of necessity or under constraint. Future scientific cognition and technological progress would inevitably lead to domination of creative labor, which, respectively, will be predominantly voluntary. The trend towards value increase of creative self-realization is marked already while passing to postmodern society (Inglhart and Welzel 2005).

One can agree with Marx that private property is a source of wealth inequality and human alienation, but socialization of property will not solve these problems. Collectivist society will also have to coerce man to heavy labor only in a more rigid form than an economic necessity. Competition is a natural human need; therefore, it is inevitable in a society. Evolutionary growth of creative labor and individual role could make forms of competition more humanistic and content of competition less economic, and primarily public, cognitive, creative. Even today we can see non-economic competition in sports, science, politics, etc. People certainly get compensation, but money is not always their direct goal; the goals of competition often inherent in the activity itself. This competition is aimed at raising the status of an individual in society, at his appreciation by that society in one way or another.

* * *

Social evolution happens through lifecycles of competitive societies. At the initial level of consciousness' development the fighting of societies was evolutionary necessary for development of knowledge, technology and culture. At certain level of consciousness' maturity human rationality and morality are potentially able to pick up immediate goals of cognition, social harmonization, and peaceful coexistence of diversities. Meanwhile society's lifecycle creates a contradiction between these goals: the ‘aim’ of society is its own survival while the ‘aim’ of social evolution is the social progress in a sequence of more advanced societies. This contradiction can be resolved only at the global cycle of sociogenesis, when both forms of development (civilization and evolution) merge in the society of global format. This will mean for the humankind a way out of societies' competition and way to self-sufficiency. The challenge for the humankind is that it is not ready yet for such a global transformation with the current state of consciousness. Therefore, the consciousness has to go all the way towards the new rationality.


1 By the way that approach led F. Engels (1934 [1895]) to untenable idea that it is labour that transforms an ape-man into a human being.

2 Such relations were considered by Akop Nazaretyan (2009) as a techno-humanitarian balance.

3 The rigidity of administrative integrity could be different; there are rigid mono-polities (e.g.,empires, dictatorship) and less rigid multi-polities (Korotayev 2003), including even democracies.

4 That is why democracy can be consistent even with slavery, as it was in Athens and Rome.

5 For the early state typology see Grinin 2004.

6 Another question is what happens at a certain level of material development that allows nomadic people obtain enough power to conquer big territories.

7 For Europe the WWII became a civil war.

8 A similar mechanism for the Ottoman Empire was described by McNeill (1964).


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