This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
Social telesis comes only when social organization reaches a high degree of development in the government of an institution. Natural selection has no goal - at least none which the naturalist recognizes, although metaphysics may postulate a goal for it. Telic selection sets up a goal that as fully as possible embodies the ideals in the public mind, and then coordinates the energies of the members of the institution for its attainment, coercing the unwilling ones if necessary. Natural selection leaves each individual intelligence to pursue its particular interest. Telic selection subordinates particular interest to general interest and regulates conflict within the institution so as to avoid waste of resources; thus it conserves the resources for great enterprises which would otherwise be impossible, and makes progress toward the goal.
If we look at the local life going on around us in town and school, we see many things which could be better done collectively than individually, and with far less cost of time and money, thus making it possible to do other things now left undone. Extending the range of social telesis has been one factor in the tremendous progress of the past century. A measure of it is found in the growth of cities, since rural life is mainly individualistic. About half the population of the
United States is now classified as urban. In many kinds of activity individual enterprise has given way to corporate, and smaller corporations have combined with larger ones. Many kinds of activity have been taken over by the state, the supreme agency of social telesis, and small states have combined into larger ones - some by conquest, some by peaceful annexation, some by federation.
How far is this to go? Is the socialist's vision - one universal state owning all the capital and carrying on all the industries - to be realized? No, that is only a vision, and we should be neither allured nor disturbed by it. If such a state were once established the children would still trade with one another in colored water, housewives would do business among themselves in food supplies, some men would consume less than the share of product assigned to them, and the accumulation of private capital would begin all over again. The reason is that human nature craves liberty above everything else; opportunity for individual initiative will always be found, in getting up revolutions if no other way offers. Combination is welcome, therefore, only when it is necessary, when it gives more liberty than it takes away. "Liberty and union" is still the watchword, and liberty still leads. If play in the team allows the boy less scope for his activities than he finds playing alone or with a single companion, then he will leave the team. So the range of telic selection extends only as the technical situation gives opportunity and as the efficiency of government extends, the latter borne up by the capacity and moral qualities of the ruling class.
When telic selection lays hold of natural selection and attempts to guide it, the aim should never be to suppress struggle, either within the institution or between it and other institutions, but to raise it to a higher plane. The important question is, what type of person or social organization does a given form of struggle favor and what type does it tend to eliminate?
Most of past civilization is, so to speak, of rather an instinctive type, a more or less unconscious electing of fairly effective means for attaining on the whole fairly worthy ends. . . . Nature has been fairly tamed and gives up her treasures freely. Man is confronted with the tremendous problem of squaring himself with himself in the effort to utilize these riches justly. Future civilization must, in consequence, become more and more rational, self-motivated, definitely willed. The haphazard, unconscious, and halting progress of the past may be considered simply as the preparation for a conscious and deliberate movement toward social reorganization in the interest of a program of conscious advance. ... - Todd, Theories of Social Progress, pp. 505, 506.
The apparatus of control and administration of great cities is yet following afar off upon their rapid material development; adaptation is still very imperfect. But that there is coming into being a system of control which is quite different in degree and complexity from anything the world has yet seen, admits of no doubt. New situations arise so rapidly and suddenly that the existing regulative machinery is always strained beyond its capacity. ... - Keller, Societal Evolution, p. 320.
Paradoxical though the assertion looks, the progress is at once toward complete separateness and complete union. But the separateness is of a kind consistent with the most complex combinations for fulfilling social wants; and the union is of a kind that does not hinder entire development of each personality. Civilization is evolving a state of things and a kind of character, in which two apparently conflicting requirements are reconciled ... in the ultimate man perfect morality, perfect individuation, and perfect life will be simultaneously realized.
Yet must this highest individuation be joined with the greatest mutual dependence. - Spencer, Social Statics, p. 482, first edition.
... A population in which the individuals are under no inward restraint from lying, or stealing, or violating their promises, so long as the odds are in favor of not getting caught, is a population with a materially and morally high cost of living. Everyone has to pay more for what he gets, and he gets less for what he pays, than in a population otherwise in the same stage of technical development, but made up of people who have a high degree of regard for one another's rights. This is true, not of pecuniary cost alone, but of all the effort, both active and passive, which must be charged to the overhead cost of life.
. . . We are remodeling the older type of self-reliance into self-reliance in executing team-plays. Instead of stimulating one another to fight each his own battle, we are demanding that each shall fall into the ranks of the social battle. We are broadening the principle of thrift into the program of social conservation. Instead of being content with the savage half-truth every man for himself, we are trying to see steadily within the wider view that in the long run men cannot make the most of themselves unless each is for all. We are trying to take in the discovery of a few, that "every man the architect of his own fortune" builds at last a few sightly structures, in a wilderness of many failures and much debris and wreckage. We are becoming conscious of the task of converting the ideal "Every man the architect of his own fortune" into that of "every man in his place in building the city efficient and the city beautiful." We are facing the problem of convincing ourselves that "God helps those that help themselves" much less than he helps those who most systematically help one another. - American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 20, pp. 635, 637, A. W. Small, "The Bonds of Nationality."