Individual and Social Progress
Although individual and social progress are intimately interconnected and interrelated in a complex way yet these are different dimensions of progress. Social progress includes individual progress and individual progress is reflected in overall social progress. Social progress invariably is reflected in individual progress, though it may be different in different individuals. But the converse may not be true. Individual progress may not be reflected in social progress. The vivid example that proves this point is that there are few billionaires but they exist along with millions of very poor people. It, therefore, becomes imperative to appreciate the two separately and also their interconnection, if any. Are there any models that connect the two in such a way that progress of one will be necessarily reflected in the progress of the other?
Beginning of Progress
Progress of humans started when homo-habilis – the earlier version of homo sapiens (the present human) – started making tools out of stone or wood to make his leaving little easier. This happened several lacks of years ago. This progress also evolved the human brain and anatomically similar to present day humans, with cortex brain like today’s, appeared some 60-70,000 years ago. It still continues. Material progress was mainly due to the capacity of humans in changing the existing things, in terms of physical size, its shape and, its location and, its chemistry into something different. Material progress of humans started from there.
The next phase of progress occurred when homo-sapiens discovered the art of cultivation that finally led to agricultural revolution and that changed social and individual life-styles by a paradigm shift. Slowly it got established in different areas in the world at different times. The rate at which different societies progressed thus differed considerably. Soon arts and craft were developed to produce goods for making human jobs easier. Thereafter utility goods began to be produced in metallic, ceramic, fibrous and in the form of their combinations. The surplus goods then had to be sold to others and even at the inter-societal levels. Individual, family and somewhat societal life thus became relatively easier. The relaxed cortex brain then became more active. Deciphering of the world around became the first pas-time. Production of goods on ever increasing scale began to make human life more relaxed and happy.
When challenges of production of goods could not be met on individual basis organized efforts were resorted to. This was the beginning of collective or social progress. The easier life, relaxed life-styles, thus started pondering in terms of purpose of humans and their final destination, if any. That is how social life on ever increasing scale started flourishing. They mutually helped to progress each other. Over few thousand years some macro-models of progress were evolved, at different regions at different times in the world, depending upon the appreciation of the world around, including humans. Over the years some macro models of social progress were thus evolved and they got stabilized as a means of social progress on macro-levels. Similarly models of individual progress were also evolved in tune with social progress that is before us and humans now adopt them at the individual levels. These are extremely intertwined and cannot be separated readily. But on macro-level these can be classified broadly into a few macro-models that are in use in different societies all over the world. These are discussed below.
Evolution of different models of progress was mainly because of the historical background of each societies and lack of tele-communications and direct contact between different societies, to have been affected by other societies. Lack of long distance travel in those days was also equally responsible in their individual social developments. Otherwise they would have influenced each other to some extent at least. Wherever the contact was possible the individual model did influence the other and got modified accordingly. That is how these macro-models were named after the area/nations where they were developed and large population adopted them in their lives.
Asia and Europe however being directly connected by land and since India produced quality goods to carry trade between these areas, mutual interaction became possible very early and as a result they could know progress of each other. On the whole for quite some time, progress of any individual society could not influence that of the other until long distance travel became a regular feature in the middle of last millennium. When travel over the globe via sea routes became popular just before and after the industrial revolution the status of progress of individual societies became known to each other. They did influence progress of each other thereafter. That is how the industrial revolution of North-Western Europe, that affected societal progress beyond imagination, reached all over the world. On the whole progress of individual societies in the agricultural era was more due to their own efforts and not much influenced by progress of other societies whereas progress after industrial revolution was more due to the mutual influence and exchange of knowledge.
The typical characteristic of agricultural era was the development of different religions in different societies which had very diverse formats in different parts of the world. Religious considerations were very dominant in the agricultural societies and hence religions decided to a large extent the way the societies progressed.
Because of different perceptions of different religions progress of different societies in the agricultural world occurred in different ways and at different rates. In some European countries religion did dominate progress in the agricultural era. But its influence continuously decreased as a result of clashes between church and natural scientist and consequently religion became less and less effective and the progress was more for material benefits and bodily enjoyments using predominantly science and technology.
Hence the macro-models of social and national progress of different societies were different. With increasing interaction amongst different societies, at times per force, the individual models either underwent some changes or new western model was superimposed on the societies that had no specific model of social progress, particularly after the industrial revolution. Some however steadfastly resisted such cultural aggression and remained more or less the same as were originally conceived of in their own societies.
These macro-models of progress, as conceived by different societies all over the world and are still followed by different societies are broadly as follows :
- The first model that appeared almost everywhere in the world, though at different times, was the feudal model that was king-centric and that the progeny of the king became the king in succession.
- By far the oldest model is of India, more so of Hindus, perhaps some five thousand or more years old, based on the Indian perception of happiness of individual human being as well as his peaceful and disciplined existence at the social level. It is based on two-fold progress with equal emphasis on material as well as spiritual progress to ultimately make every individual happy and contented, irrespective of his mode of worship of God. It also aimed at social happiness without sacrificing individuality.
- Christian model, based on service and love to humanity, is little less than two thousand year old, but essentially follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. It insists that for social progress everyone must become follower of Christianity.
- The Islamic model is based on thirteen hundred year old realities in the region of Arabia but it claims to be universal and applicable at all times and for all people and all societies all over the world alike.
- Chinese model is more than some two thousand years old, based el
- Marxian model of pure materialistic outlook based on the book ‘Das Capital’ written by Karl Marx in nineteenth century and became known as Marxian or communistic or socialistic models.
- Western materialistic model essentially evolved out of European perception of material reality of little over two thousand years, but blossomed mainly out of industrial revolution of seventeenth century, further consolidated by the information technology after the II War.
Most of these models are old enough and therefore have influenced each other at least to some extent and the present variety has become somewhat hybrid though the original essentials still remain intact.
The next part will be coming soon