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.
Civilization is replacing barbarism. The peoples that are devoted to the arts of peace are now stronger in war than the peoples that cultivate only the arts of war. The uncivilized are yielding their territory and the control over their own affairs to the more civilized.
Large-scale organization is replacing the old particularism. The integration of larger and larger social units for the various kinds of human activity has now gone on steadily for upwards of a thousand years. There is no reason why it will not continue, and we might as well adjust ourselves to it, educationally and otherwise. This means to pay more attention to what others are doing, to get into step with them, and sometimes to force them to get into step with us; to develop discipline; to permit differences in some matters only for the purpose of experiment or some other recognized advantage besides local or individual habit. The schools must train for cooperative living. The room for the non-conformist, who will not or cannot keep step with his fellows, is becoming narrower.
This tendency must not be lost from sight in the developments which seem to run counter to it, such as liberty, wide opportunity for all, free initiative for individuals or small groups, and other phases of democracy. Although the large institution normally gives more liberty than it takes away, yet it must enforce its rules more rigidly than a small group needs to do. When I study in the large library I suffer less from interruptions than when I study at home, and the opportunities are beyond comparison, but I must obey the rules or else lose my privileges. The anarchist and the "conscientious objector," who break rules just because they are rules, must certainly have a thorny path ahead.
Population is increasing by leaps and bounds. As war is suppressed and disease is brought under control, a larger proportion of the children that are born live to mature years.
The same technical skill that controls disease also controls the resources of nature and increases the production of food and the other necessaries of life. Every part of the earth that has resources for producing anything to satisfy human wants will be both populous and rich. All the skill that the sciences and arts of the future can develop will be employed to wring a subsistence from regions that now seem to be barren. The sciences that teach us how to utilize nature's resources will be more appreciated.
From time to time, nature's resources will be exhausted. Two hundred years ago the scarcity of timber in southern England started the movement of population toward the north, with important results, industrial, political, and social. The same will be true of the exhaustion of the natural forests in this country and elsewhere. In another century, perhaps, petroleum and natural gas will be things of the past, their utilization constituting a notable incident in the human career. In some centuries more, coal will be a vanishing resource, but what the world will be without it is impossible for us to conceive, as it was impossible for the people who first began to use it six hundred years ago to conceive what the world would become with it. Needless to say, it will be a very different world. The metals, too, will become scarce sometime. When the supply of gold begins to decrease again, as it did in the Middle Ages, it will tend to make prices lower and to check business enterprise. What will be done when there is no more mining of iron, with only old iron to melt over, we cannot possibly foresee, because we cannot foretell how the arts will change meanwhile. So also of copper, and zinc, and lead, and silver, and platinum. Much will depend upon the order of their exhaustion, and still more, probably, on the substitutes for them which may be discovered or invented in the future.
And then will come that remote time after many of the exhaustible resources shall have been exhausted. And still it will probably be, after all, only a small part of man's entire career on the earth - ten thousand or a hundred thousand years. There will be many hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of years after that, before the last man on the earth will lie down to die. If we are to judge by the past, that time of decline in material resources will be the flowering of our civilization. The greatest gifts to civilization made by Judaea, and Greece, and Rome, and Florence, were matured after their material greatness began to wane. It does not take much imagination to conceive of a society, without oil wells or mines of any kind, as much superior to ours in America to-day as ours is to that in England under Henry VIII.