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Historically, the development of mankind resembled a cyclic process in which some civilizations disappeared while new arouse in their place. In fact, the same trend could be traced in the development of life at large. In other words, the cyclic development is the characteristic of not the only human race, but also other species inhabiting the Earth as well as nature at large. In such a situation, it is very important to understand how the life cycle actually works and which forces make the cycle repeat and function without interruption. In this respect, it is possible to find various theories explaining the changes of life cycles in various spheres of human life as well as in nature at large. For instance, it is possible to refer to the carrying capacity curve or J curve to explain changes of various political, social and economic issues in human society and changes in the population of various species inhabiting the planet. Nevertheless, these theories still are not perfect and often they are criticized, but these theories are very important to study because they help better understand major factors that influence the life of humans and the development of the environment at large.
Hence, on the basis of these theories, it is possible to understand better how the process of the development of human civilization and life at large occurs and how this process changes.
First of all, it is important to underline that traditionally the development of the life on the planet and the human society were viewed in the context of the anthropocentric ideology, which put humans in the center of the universe and made them the main, if not the only agent that can perceive the changes in the world and that can influence these changes.
Naturally, the anthropocentric view has been undermined with the development of evolutionist views under the impact of Charles Darwin’s works. Nevertheless, the influence of anthropocentrism is still very significant even in the contemporary theories which attempt to explain the progress and development of human society and the life cycles on the Earth.
In fact, the focus of scientists specifically on nature or on humans solely is the result of the dominance of the anthropocentrism in the past. In this respect, the carrying capacity curve, the J curve and the lifecycle civilization curve perfectly illustrate the distinction between humans and nature. In a way, it is even possible to speak about certain juxtaposition between humans and nature because often the development of human society is viewed independently from the development or changes that took place in the environment. Obviously, such an approach is totally erroneous because human society cannot progress and change without influencing and being influenced by the environment, i.e. by the nature.
This is why it is necessary to view various theories explaining the development and progress of life and human societies as complementary to each other but not as isolated and independent theories.
In such a context, the J curve may be very helpful in the understanding of the evolution and changes of human societies.
Basically, the J curve is focused on political, social and economic life of human society and it allows tracing the changes in the society which eventually lead to the radical and often violent change of the existing social, political and economic order, i.e. to the revolution. The creator of the J curve, James Chowning Davies, while working on his theory, attempted to explain political revolutions above all. This strife for the explanation of the political revolutions that regularly take place in human societies consistently affected his J curve and defined its orientation on the socio-economic and political life of human societies.
The milestone of the J curve is the idea that political revolutions occur under the impact of the rapid and unexpected reversal in fortunes after a long process of economic growth. In such a way, on the basis of the J curve, it is possible to define the principle of the radical socio-economic and political changes which take place in human societies. Basically, the idea is quite simple: the economic growth leads to the accumulation of wealth, which, though, is accompanied by pauperization of the lowest layers of the society. Gradually, the gap between the elite and deprived layers of the society grows wider leading to the almost inevitable reversal in fortunes which results in the redistribution of the wealth from the elite to the deprived layers of the population. This radical change, which often results in a political revolution under which the reversal in fortunes actually occurs, marks the end of the economic growth and it is the turning point when internal socioeconomic and political contradictions within the society come to a turning point. The revolution solves basic socioeconomic and political contradictions and leads to the recovery and new economic growth and the life cycle is repeating
In actuality, the J curve provides the socioeconomic and political explanation of the civilization lifecycle curve, which also indicates to the main stages of the development of human civilizations.
Historically, human civilizations have undergone the stage of the formation, progress but, as the highest point in the development of human civilization is achieved, a gradual or sometimes rapid decline commences which eventually leads to the total disappearance of human civilization. Instead, new human civilization starts to develop and grow stronger instead of those civilizations that have just disappeared. At this point, it is possible to apply the J curve to explain the rise and fall of human civilizations by internal contradictions which accompanied by political revolutions and reversal in fortunes. However, it is necessary to take into consideration external factors such as the impact of new civilizations, their development and growth which may lead to the weakening of the existing human civilizations. When they come into conflict the civilizations which win the struggle and which are more competitive, survive, while weaker and less competitive civilizations disappear.
In this respect, it is possible to extrapolate the carrying capacity curve on both the J curve and lifecycle civilizations curve since human relations and the development of human societies and civilizations do not really differ in their essence from processes which take place in the wilderness to other species. In actuality, the carrying capacity curve helps define the supportable population of an organism, giver the food, habitat, water and other necessities available within the ecosystem. In such a way, the presence of the necessities available within the ecosystem and the size of the population are closely interdependent since the increase of the population inevitably leads to the decrease of the necessities available within the ecosystem, while the abundance of the necessities available defines the changes of the size of the population. Traditionally, this curve is applied to the wildlife, but it can be also applied to humans on the condition that the list of necessities is enlarged in accordance with the existing demands and needs of people and human society at large.
Obviously, humans, similar to other species, are developing within the ecosystem and they cannot live in the isolation from their natural environment. On the other hand, the technological, social and economic development of society creates larger opportunities for human civilizations to grow and develop since people can produce new commodities and use the available necessities more effectively than previous generations. However, whatever the level of the development of human civilization is it cannot avoid a crisis and decline. The reason is quite obvious and it can be explained by the complementation of the J curve, the civilization lifecycles curve and the carrying capacity curve. What is meant here is the fact that any human civilization, as well as any other species, develops within the ecosystem and people use resources which are available in their ecosystem. Using the available resources people develop their socioeconomic relations, science, form complex political structures, which contribute to the strengthening of their civilization. The effective use of the available natural resources leads to economic growth, which, in its turn, provokes economic contradictions within the civilization.
Simultaneously, there are other human civilizations that are also progressing and are growing in power.
Eventually, the human civilization arrives to the point when the human population consistently exceeds the natural resources available in their ecosystem and they have either to come into conflict with other human civilizations or disappear. In addition, the lack of natural resources, the large population and conflicts with other civilizations are aggravated by internal socioeconomic contradictions within the civilization which may result in the political revolution and the reversal in fortunes, which mark a profound economic crisis. As a result, the human civilization can hardly survive such a complex of natural, demographic, socioeconomic and political problems, and eventually, it disappears given the way to a new, stronger civilization that has just started to grow in power.
Thus, the life cycle is repeating, human civilizations are changing, but these changes constitute only a part of the general evolution of nature and environment in which all humans live.