Characteristics of Civilizations

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Keith Chandler:

"There are at least eight principal attributes that clearly characterize all civilized societies:

1. A hierarchical social organization dominated by a power elite which is not accountable to the powerless majority and for whose actions there is little or no redress.

2. Concentration of power and wealth in fortified urban centers.

3. Written language, the understanding and use of which are monopolized by the elite and its functionaries.

4. An economic system which vests title to the wealth produced by the society in the elite and controls that wealth by a strictly measured allocation of all industrial, agricultural, forestry, and mining resources within the control of the central power.

5. Skills, training, and labor specialization designed to serve the goals of the power elite.

6. Extensive slavery or serfdom.

7. A grand mythology portraying society as originating from and continuing to be influenced by suprahuman powers with the elite as the conduit of that influence.

8. A military establishment which is utilized not only for external defense and aggression but also for internal control and repression of the dispossessed majority."



  • Book. Beyond Civilization: The World's Four Great Streams of Civilization: Their Achievements, Their Differences and Their Future. Keith Chandler. Rivendell Publishing Company, 1992