When you distil it down to it's most basic analysis, the following comment from Tom Swift at Legal Insurrection is one of the most insightful comments on the development of civilization that I have ever seen, because in a mere few lines, it actually explains the economics of civilization in a way that can be understood by those who have not spent extensive time studying economics.
Quote: Tom Swift:
Civilization exists because we need masses of goods. Plan or no plan, the need was always there. Otherwise, we’d still be hunter/gatherers.
First it was just food. If you need a steady supply of food, farming becomes inevitable. Then you need irrigation, which requires organized labor [working as a group]; and walls, so your livestock doesn’t wander off, and that’s the start of architecture. Then you need defense, so that your neighbors, who aren’t so good at organized labor, don’t move in and steal your crops and animals or, worse, appropriate your irrigated farmland and your stockades. Then, because you spend your day farming and are too busy to develop weapons for defense, you trade [with] some of your other neighbors some of your food for some of their weapons, and suddenly, you have a trade economy.
The great triumph of civilization is not religion, or science, or art; it is cheap food, and everything needed to produce, transport, and supply it. It may be hard for European intellectuals or “back to nature” Greenies to admit it, but the acme, the supreme achievement of civilization, the fulfillment of an age-long dream, is … McDonalds.