Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

The Evolution of Social Consciousness and Modern Political Theory

Academic journal article International Journal on World Peace

The Evolution of Social Consciousness and Modern Political Theory

Article excerpt


Social consciousness is the collective knowledge, skills, values, and wisdom of a society. It is reflected in language, art, behavior, and social organization. Social consciousness evolves and develops over long periods of time. "Civilization" is a common term used to express the developmental level of social consciousness. "Uncivilized" refers to society with an undeveloped social consciousness that cares little for the well-being of all, while "highly civilized" refers to people who have learned to live and work together, are productive, prosperous, and voluntarily sacrifice for one another.

Historians have often referred to the rise and fall of civilizations, speculating on why some civilizations have flourished and why others failed. The study of social consciousness can help explain the developmental level of societies. This article uses the theories of psychological development-Jean Piaget, Erik Erickson, Lawrence Kohlberg, and Ken Wilber, to name a few-who have focused on stages of growth and development in individuals. These developmental models can also be applied to better understand the development of the social consciousness of groups, nations, and civilizations.

The first section of this article examines three types of personal development: cognitive development, psychosocial development, and the development of consciousness, which transcends and includes cognitive and emotional development. It also discusses the frustration-aggression hypothesis, reactionary and revolutionary behavior, and the stages of development that reflect ego-centered, or first-tier, consciousness. The goal should be the development of second-tier consciousness, or psychological maturity-the point where one naturally values and takes responsibility for others.

The second section examines the development of socio-political consciousness. There is a line of Western socio-political consciousness that begins with Machiavelli and the traditional rule by a king that advances along stages toward democracy through Hobbes, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Locke, and the U.S. Founders. In the nineteenth century the ideal of "socialism" developed, but the psycho-social conscious associated with Marxism was inadequate to create socialism, and revolutionary attempts to implement it in Russia never evolved to a higher political level than dictatorship.

Through comparing the seven phases of social development described by Akmal A. Gafurov (in the March 2017 issue of this journal) to stages of psychological development discussed by Piaget, Erickson, and Wilber, we conclude that any "real socialism" requires second-tier social consciousness. Because today only about five percent of the world's population is functioning at the level of second-tier consciousness,1 social consciousness needs to go through other stages of development before moving to higher stages of society that are capable of socialism. If yoga is an individual practice to better understand oneself, one's path, and one's level of consciousness, then we could call "social yoga" the introspection on the development of social consciousness and the practice of social principles required to achieve second-tier social consciousness. A review of individual development is first in order.


People are born as helpless babies, totally dependent on others for milk, burping, and cleaning their bottoms. When babies are frustrated they cry, kick, wave their arms, and scream to get the attention of someone else to care for them. Through a developmental process, babies turn into adults who, in turn, have their own babies to care for. Adults will generally be willing to sacrifice themselves for their children. This progression reflects a process of ego transcendence. Psychology has many developmental theories that describe different "lines" of development. In this article, we are concerned with three key aspects of development:

1. The first is cognitive development. …

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