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.
It is with institutions, the firmest part of the social organization, that natural selection does its great work; the members of the ruling class are mostly blind to their own faults, and only failure can open their eyes. We have already noted repeatedly that institutions change. A group of persons composing an institution will grow larger and larger if the institution is a success. They will drop away one by one and there will be few accessions if it is not a success. The successful institution is imitated by others, the unsuccessful one has no imitators.
The institution that runs too far against some instinct of human nature, or against some force in nature, or that does not satisfy some human need better than other institutions, loses its vitality; its membership does not keep up; funds do not come to it; the members it has do not support it loyally; it is unable to bring things to pass. It is unfit and nature is killing it off. The fit institution is just the opposite in all these respects. "Man proposes and God disposes," is the old proverb expressing the same idea. That form of government which proves effective in state, business, church, or school spreads from group to group throughout the world. Government by representatives of the people began in England seven hundred years ago. It made England a stronger and better country. For centuries few other countries followed its example, the English colonies in America being the most conspicuous. France went through the throes of a revolution to establish it. During the nineteenth century it spread throughout western Europe. The twentieth century has seen its extension into eastern Europe and Asia.
A railroad was built through my town recently. Later some wealthy men from Chicago visited the town and noted that the surrounding country was good for dairying. They built a large milk condensery and began paying high prices for milk. Superintendents and overseers came to the town with their families. They began agitating the building of a high school. Up to this time there had been only a parochial school and a little country school. Within a year there was a new building and new teachers were secured for all the grades, for now they had intelligent men on the board whereas formerly they had men who could barely write their names. The parents began sending their children to high school and allowing them to finish the course. The interest in education spread to the country. Now if you were to go there you would see the farmers taking their milk to the condensery and then their children to the high school.
In a town on Lake P. there are several churches. Two churches gave Christmas programs. One church had the larger attendance, and along with it a much better program. The next year the other church did not give a program.
. . . Thus is social genesis secured through individual telesis.
. . . The initiative is almost exclusively individual and the ends sought are egocentric in the widest sense. . . . The social consequences . . . are unintended, and social evolution, however large the telic factor in it may be, is to all intents and purposes unconscious. In fact, so far as the phrase "social evolution" is concerned, I would restrict it wholly to this aspect, and would exclude from it any and all effects that can be shown to have been consciously produced. ... - Ward, Pure Sociology, p. 545.
. . . Schiller says, "The world's history is the world's verdict." It is a true saying, but it must not be interpreted in too crudely material a fashion. . . . The life of nations is counted by centuries, and judgment can only be pronounced when some definite stage in their history is relatively concluded. ... If it had been said of the Italians in 1858, or in 1868 of the Germans, that they had got what they deserved, it would have been proved false at once. ... - Treitschke, Politics, Vol. I, p. 11.