On the whole, I am not given to the belief that societies are on some inevitable and purposeful march towards an end game. I tend to think that the changes we see in societies over time are emergent properties mediated by certain technologies within those societies. One of the most important technologies (of a sort) is the development of written words and languages. The ability to abstract ideas and distribute those ideas across time and geographical space, to store and pass down information and knowledge to succeeding generations is in my opinion the most important catalyst pushing societies to further complexity. Talcott Parson’s Stage Model of Evolution notes that a written language system is absent in Primitive Societies and that the expansion of written languages moves societies from Intermediate Archaic societies to Advanced Intermediate societies. Parson’s theories resonates the most with me.
I believe that ultimately a society’s ability to persist is going to be limited to its population. As populations grow, differentiate, and specializes into different social institutions it becomes increasingly difficult to find a cohesive glue to keep all the disparate groups together(culturally, socially). This is especially true in the presence of competing interests and social inequalities. I believe there is always a danger of any society of getting too big but as our technology grows more advanced, enabling us to better and more cheaply provide for more people’s needs…maybe we won’t have to suffer a societal collapse.