The 12-volume work contains more than 3 million words and about 7,000 pages, plus 412 pages of indices. He argues that civilizations continue to grow only when a study of history pdf meet one challenge only to be met by another, in a continuous cycle of “Challenge and Response”. He argues that civilizations develop in different ways due to their different environments and different approaches to the challenges they face. Creative minorities find solutions to the challenges a civilization faces, while the great mass follow these solutions by imitation, solutions they otherwise would be incapable of discovering on their own.
Toynbee does not see the breakdown of civilizations as caused by loss of control over the physical environment, by loss of control over the human environment, or by attacks from outside. Rather, it comes from the deterioration of the “Creative Minority”, which eventually ceases to be creative and degenerates into merely a “Dominant Minority”. He argues that creative minorities deteriorate due to a worship of their “former self,” by which they become prideful and fail adequately to address the next challenge they face. Universal state to preserve its power and influence, and the internal proletariat seeks to create a Universal church to preserve its spiritual values and cultural norms. He argues that the ultimate sign a civilization has broken down is when the dominant minority forms a “universal state”, which stifles political creativity within the existing social order. Proletariat repays injustice with resentment, fear with hate, and violence with violence when it executes its acts of secession.
Yet the whole movement ends in positive acts of creation—and this on the part of all the actors in the tragedy of disintegration. The Dominant Minority creates a universal state, the Internal Proletariat a universal church, and the External Proletariat a bevy of barbarian war-bands. Toynbee developed his concept of an “internal proletariat” and an “external proletariat” to describe quite different opposition groups within and outside the frontiers of a civilization. These groups, however, find themselves bound to the fate of the civilization. Nonetheless an “internal proletariat,” untrusting of the dominant minority, may form a “universal church” which survives the civilization’s demise, co-opting the useful structures such as marriage laws of the earlier time while creating a new philosophical or religious pattern for the next stage of history. Before the process of disintegration, the dominant minority had held the internal proletariat in subjugation within the confines of the civilization, causing these oppressed to grow bitter. The external proletariat, living outside the civilization in poverty and chaos, grows envious.