The Human System: An Introduction
Manning treats humanity as an open, world-encompassing system which has now grown to become a major influence on the larger system of the earth itself. Analysis focuses on the mechanisms of social evolution, governed by conscious construction of social structures. The systemic story is told through four major epochs: (1) formation and expansion of the human system, from 70,000 BP (Before present); (2) emerging sub-systems of production in an era of ecological fluctuation, from 30,000 BP; diverging scales of the social order, from 6000 BP; and the human-system growth that brought two global crises, from 1700 CE. The current challenges confronting the human system lie in the interplay of two dynamics: external effects bringing environmental degradation and internal conflicts brought by expanding inequality.