The Civilization Index

The Civilization Index

Andrew Targowski (Haworth College of Business, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-004-2.ch003

Abstract

The purpose of this chapter is to define energy levels of civilizations, particularly in respect to a role of information-communication processes. Rapid changes in the world economy and social structure have brought into question traditional assumptions, prompting some intellectuals to speak of a “clash of civilizations” (Huntington, 1993; 1996) or even “the end of history” (Fukuyama, 1989; 1992). Before one can speculate about a new world order, it is necessary to develop an appropriate set of measurements to compare human societies and a terminology to describe them. The environment described as a “civilization” by Toynbee (1995) and “the world civilization” by Braudel (1993) has changed so drastically that those definitions are no longer sufficient. The spectacular progress in technology and social life that has been achieved at the beginning of the third millennium stimulates an extensive investigation into the human condition and the world status. Questions like the following need to be answered: 1. What is the state of Western and other civilizations at the beginning of the 21st century? 2. How can it be compared to other civilizations in terms of level of development? 3. What criteria and measurements should be applied in evaluating and comparing civilizations? 4. What is the relationship between a given civilization and the world civilization? This study falls into a category of wide-ranging comparisons of large structures and processes, in order to understand how human entities behave in a certain way because of the consequences of the civilization system’s behavior as a whole (Tilly, 1984).
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Introduction

The purpose of this chapter is to define energy levels of civilizations, particularly in respect to a role of information-communication processes. Rapid changes in the world economy and social structure have brought into question traditional assumptions, prompting some intellectuals to speak of a “clash of civilizations” (Huntington, 1993; 1996) or even “the end of history” (Fukuyama, 1989; 1992). Before one can speculate about a new world order, it is necessary to develop an appropriate set of measurements to compare human societies and a terminology to describe them. The environment described as a “civilization” by Toynbee (1995) and “the world civilization” by Braudel (1993) has changed so drastically that those definitions are no longer sufficient.

The spectacular progress in technology and social life that has been achieved at the beginning of the third millennium stimulates an extensive investigation into the human condition and the world status. Questions like the following need to be answered:

  • 1.

    What is the state of Western and other civilizations at the beginning of the 21st century?

  • 2.

    How can it be compared to other civilizations in terms of level of development?

  • 3.

    What criteria and measurements should be applied in evaluating and comparing civilizations?

  • 4.

    What is the relationship between a given civilization and the world civilization?

This study falls into a category of wide-ranging comparisons of large structures and processes, in order to understand how human entities behave in a certain way because of the consequences of the civilization system’s behavior as a whole (Tilly, 1984).

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The Next Entity To Measure

Several attempts to measure civilizations’ vitality have been undertaken. Most of these studies were conducted at the level of the development of regions over several millennia. Kroeber (1944) counted “geniuses,” whom he defined as “superior individuals” whose superiority had been established by a consensus of encyclopedia and textbook authors. He counted them in seven disciplines: philosophy, science, grammar (philology), sculpture, painting, drama, and literature, through the 59 centuries from 4,000 B.C. to 1,900 A.D. He found 5,323 geniuses; of whom 56% were from Europe, 11% from the Far East, 3% from India, 8% from the Middle East, and 22% from elsewhere (assuming 50% of it from America). Hence, one can assume that about 67% of geniuses were “generated” by the Western civilization. According to Kroeber, the Middle East provided the overwhelming majority of geniuses from 3,000 to 800 B.C. Then Europe took over the supply until 500 A.D., followed by the Far East for a few centuries. The Middle East prevailed for a few centuries, to pass the leadership to Europe since the 12th century. He stopped counting at 1,900 A.D., so “geniuses” from the U.S. in the 20th century are not included, but certainly they received the most of the Nobel Prizes.

Sorokin (1937) provided a count of historic persons, scientific discoveries and technological inventions only in the scope of “Europe” and the “rest of the world.” Naroll, et al. (1971) assumed implicitly that creativeness and civilization were synonymous terms, or at least indicative of each other (Eckhard, 1995).

Taagepera (1978) measured imperial systems of Africa and Eurasia in terms of their areas in square megameters, one square megameter equaling 386,000 square miles. Until 600 B.C., empires were small. Later, when the Medes and Persians invented more effective hierarchical bureaucracy, the sizes of empires grew. There was a leap in average size after 1,600 A.D., influenced by the European trade-industry-transportation and communication revolutions. This progress of empires in the world is meaningful. In the 6th century B.C., they covered only 6% of the earth’s surface; in the 20th century their coverage grew to 95%.

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