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Some of these conditions responsible for social change include limited resources, war, overpopulation, epidemics, natural disasters, economic recession, downsizing on a mass scale, technological displacement of people by machines, and the failure of their appointed leaders to overcome these problems.
Change can come from disasters or from major technological advances. The introduction of agriculture brought about a significant change in society, as did the Industrial Revolution and the introduction of the medium of money to the exchange process. From a historical perspective all of these appear positive. At the time of their inception, however, people lost jobs, new skills were required, and entire ways of life disappeared.
The direction change takes is not always for the better or for the improvement of the human condition. Change is risky. Deprivation or scarcity that is artificial or real drives the economy. Power-seeking leaders command weapons powerful enough to annihilate entire populations and render our planet uninhabitable. Humankind’s potential for creativity and innovation far exceeds its inclination to destroy, yet every time that we exercise destructive power, we take a thousands steps backward for every few forward.
History shows that not all change has been beneficial to humanity or to the integrity of the planet’s life support systems. For this reason, many people desire a return to earlier and simpler times.
I am not advocating that these older institutions be overthrown: it is just that they are becoming unworkable. Unfortunately, it will most likely take a social and economic breakdown to bring about the demise of the old system and its institutions. At this point the only significant social change will probably occur when a sufficient amount of people, through economic failure, lose confidence in their elected officials. The public will then demand other alternatives. While we would like to think that this could usher in a bright new chapter in the human drama, it is far more likely that the most probable course will be a form of dictatorship, perhaps even an American brand of fascism, ostensibly presented to the people as a way of protecting them from the products of their own inadequate culture.
However, it is not enough to point out the limiting factors that may threaten the survivability of all nations. The challenge all cultures now face in this technological age, some more than others is to provide a smooth transition towards the introduction of a new way of thinking about ourselves, the environment and the management of human affairs. It is now mandatory that all nations engage in a joint venture, planning on a global scale for new alternatives with a relevant orientation toward social arrangements. This is the only option if we are to avoid the unavoidable decline of the civilized world. If humankind is to come together toward a mutual prosperity, universal access to resources is essential.