Origins of Ancient Civilizations
February 6, 2013
Drawbacks of Complex Societies
Today we are convinced that modern, complex societies excel and surpass earlier civilizations. We believe that we live in a period of all around progress, a state that has a positive connotation to most people. During the transition to complex societies, having first arisen in southern Mesopotamia, humans’ relations to the environment and to other people greatly transformed. Although these changes that led to civilized societies had many gains, there were also many losses, which include: social class becoming more exaggerated, the value of kinship dwindling, and the environment being harmed. These are all downfalls to modern societies that did not exist pre domestication and the rise of cities and states, and tribes over 10,000 years ago. Differences between status and wealth became highly pronounced in complex societies. Karl Marx, an egalitarian normative theorist, saw class division as the most important source of social conflict. Bands avoided such conflict by adopting egalitarian societies, which favored equality among all people. In the film, “Faces of Culture, 17: Political Organization”, the Mende people, grew crops such as rice, yams, and cassava. If one of the families’ crops failed, their neighbors would support them with food for the year. This aided in the prevention of hunger, poverty, and social stratification. All people received the same treatment, had the same opportunities, and were equal in fundamental worth and moral status. Influenced by Marx and Engels, V. Gordon Chide believes that job specialization increased the need for centralized authority to regulate the production and distribution of goods. This gave rise to intra-societal conflicts such as wealth and power, which were acquired by religious functionaries, secular leaders, and craft specialists. The rise of power and wealth resulted in states in order to coordinate the...
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