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Organization of Human Society

Nature volume 140, page 679 (16 October 1937) | Download Citation



IN his Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford on May 27 entitled "Integrative Levels: a Revaluation of the Idea of Progress" (Oxford: Clarendon Press ; London: Oxford University Press, 1937. 2s. 6d. net), Dr. J. Needham discusses Spencer's treatment of sociological problems in relation to the evolution of social organizations to meet the needs imposed by mechanization and the impact of science to day. He suggests that a democracy which produces is the form of society most in accord with what we know of the biological basis of human common life. Evolution is not yet finished, organization has not yet reached its highest level and we can see the next stage in the co-operative commonwealth of humanity, the socialization of the means of production. Every transition from the unconscious to the conscious implies a step from bondage to freedom from lower to higher level of organization, and Dr. Needham emphasizes that our present civilization is not in a state of stable equilibrium. The enormous advances in scientific knowledge and practical technique have made the economic system of Spencer an anachronism. He is of opinion that nothing short of the abolition of private ownership of resources and machines, the abolition of national sovereignties and the government of the world by a power proceeding from the class which must abolish classes will suit the technical situation of the twentieth century. The organization of human society is only as yet at the beginning of its inevitable triumphs.

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