The mental and physical inequality of human beings insures that social classes will appear. The only worlds without social strata are the most primitive and the most advanced. A dawning civilization has not yet begun the differentiation of social levels, while a world settled in light and life has largely effaced these divisions of mankind, which are so characteristic of all intermediate evolutionary stages.
As society emerged from savagery to barbarism, its human components tended to become grouped in classes for the following general reasons:
- Natural – contact, kinship, and marriage; the first social distinctions were based on sex, age, and blood – kinship to the chief.
- Personal – the recognition of ability, endurance, skill, and fortitude; soon followed by the recognition of language mastery, knowledge, and general intelligence.
- Chance – war and emigration resulted in the separating of human groups. Class evolution was powerfully influenced by conquest, the relation of the victor to the vanquished, while slavery brought about the first general division of society into free and bond.
- Economic – rich and poor. Wealth and the possession of slaves was a genetic basis for one class of society.
- Geographic – classes arose consequent upon urban or rural settlement. City and country have respectively contributed to the differentiation of the herder-agriculturist and the trader industrialist, with their divergent viewpoints and reactions.
- Social – classes have gradually formed according to popular estimate of the social worth of different groups. Among the earliest divisions of this sort were the demarcations between priest-teachers, ruler-warriors, capitalist-traders, common laborers, and slaves. The slave could never become a capitalist, though sometimes the wage earner could elect to join the capitalistic ranks.
- Vocational – as vocations multiplied, they tended to establish castes and guilds. Workers divided into three groups: the professional classes, including the medicine men, then the skilled workers, followed by the unskilled laborers.
- Religious – the early cult clubs produced their own classes within the clans and tribes, and the piety and mysticism of the priests have long perpetuated them as a separate social group.
- Racial – the presence of two or more races within a given nation or territorial unit usually produces color castes. The original caste system of India was based on color, as was that of early Egypt.
- Age – youth and maturity. Among the tribes the boy remained under the watchcare of his father as long as the father lived, while the girl was left in the care of her mother until married.
Flexible and shifting social classes are indispensable to an evolving civilization, but when class becomes caste, when social levels petrify, the enhancement of social stability is purchased by diminishment of personal initiative. Social caste solves the problem of finding one’s place in industry, but it also sharply curtails individual development and virtually prevents social cooperation.
Classes in society, having naturally formed, will persist until man gradually achieves their evolutionary obliteration through intelligent manipulation of the biologic, intellectual, and spiritual resources of a progressing civilization, such as:
- Biologic renovation of the racial stocks – the selective elimination of inferior human strains. This will tend to eradicate many mortal inequalities.
- Educational training of the increased brain power which will arise out of such biologic improvement.
- Religious quickening of the feelings of mortal kinship and brotherhood.
But these measures can bear their true fruits only in the distant millenniums of the future, although much social improvement will immediately result from the intelligent, wise, and patient manipulation of these acceleration factors of cultural progress. Religion is the mighty lever that lifts civilization from chaos, but it is powerless apart from the fulcrum of sound and normal mind resting securely on sound and normal heredity.
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