Can a society progress too quickly (for its own good)? And if so, what are some historical or theoretical examples of this?

With very few exceptions - mostly very small tribes in resource-abundant regions of the world - wherever human beings have settled aspects of their society have progressed too quickly. And by “too quickly” I mean that the progress has resulted in some sort of enduring damage. They might exhaust local natural resources, for example. Or they might build dense, weakly constructed towns where one earthquake or major fire kills a majority of inhabitants because they were living packed together in unsafe conditions. Or they might pollute the rivers and soil in a given area so badly that nothing grows there anymore and the water in undrinkable. Or they might hunt local wildlife to extinction. The examples of this kind of self-destructive behavior are endless, but mostly apply to other areas of “progress,” and not to what would be considered ethically or civically progressive.

Regarding other forms of social progress that might be considered ethics-related - such as civil liberties, or social safety nets, or reductions in violent crime, or women’s rights, etc. - I think most of the advances of the last two centuries or so simply haven’t been in play long enough for anyone to know. In other words, we haven’t seen the long-term fruit yet. And since much of this progress is being rolled back by right-leaning populist movements around the globe, it may be that we won’t be able to see them bear fruit at all. That said, two things come to mind with respect to your question. The first is the idea of multiculturalism, which seems to have failed to account for self-isolating or tribalistic groups that refuse to integrate with mainstream society. So multiculturalism must, I think, be replaced with practices like interculturalism, where more engagement, dialog and expectation of integration are priorities. The second is the level of depression and antidepressant use in Nordic countries, cultures that have mastered a very peaceful, calm, compassionate, productive and mutually supportive existence. I don’t know if this high level of depression and antidepressant use has any correlation with all the progressive factors that should instead (theoretically) contribute to happiness, but it does beg the question: does a lack of conflict induce ennui? Perhaps it takes cultures time - multiple generations - to adapt to a peaceful, thriving existence? Just a thought.

My 2 cents.

From Quora post:


Trackback specific URI for this entry

This link is not meant to be clicked. It contains the trackback URI for this entry. You can use this URI to send ping- & trackbacks from your own blog to this entry. To copy the link, right click and select "Copy Shortcut" in Internet Explorer or "Copy Link Location" in Mozilla.

No Trackbacks


Display comments as Linear | Threaded

No comments

The author does not allow comments to this entry