An Anthropological/Darwinian View of the Rise and Fall of Societies

World History Tutorial

An Anthropological/Darwinian View of the Rise and Fall of Societies


The label “high society” has traditionally been understood to describe urban centers with written language and developed art, music, architecture, irrigation, community organization, and other cultural milestones. The label “low society” has traditionally been understood to describe those living in remote, rural areas, especially pastoral nomads.

Sample Problem

What is actually “high society” and “low society?”


The terms “civil” and “civilized” have long been used to describe those in what are traditionally viewed as “socially developed” cultural centers. And those in “less developed” cultures have traditionally been viewed as “uncivilized.” When considered from the perspective of functional adaptation, however, those typically identified as “low society” have persevered over what we know or suspect of the past 10,000 years of history. They have adapted to change, even changes as significant as severe weather/climate upheavals, being pushed out by urban sprawl, tyrannical demands for land and tribute, and even attempted massacres or genocides. Those typically identified as “high societies” (due in large part to the fascination of historians and archaeologists over their rapid technological and industrial advancements) have tended to develop swiftly and crumble oftentimes even more swiftly. But “low society” groups, slow to change, resistant to tantalizing “advancements,” ever adaptable to being cut off from their ancestral lands and choked by government edicts and monetary mandates, have persevered. They continue to persevere.

It is even strongly suspected by some that the continuation of religious traditions and societal norms from urban societies have been carried on by these pastoral nomads between the rise and fall of various civilizations. Others suspect that the religious and societal traditions of urban centers throughout history has been “borrowed” or adapted from ongoing rural traditions. Either way, those groups able to survive or even thrive in less-than-comfortable, “non-advanced” rural areas and climates have steadily out-lasted the rise and fall of civilizations. Some would even say that the displacement of pastoral nomads could be responsible for the spread of ideas and traditions far and wide, even across the globe.

So what really is the “high society,” and what really is the “low society?”

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