Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other.
 Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance (1841). copy citation

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Author Ralph Waldo Emerson
Source Self-Reliance
Topic society gain
Date 1841
Language English
Reference in "Essays: First Series"
Note
Weblink https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Essays:_First_Series/Self-Reliance

Context

“Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart, and thou shalt reproduce the Foreworld again.
4. As our Religion, our Education, our Art look abroad, so does our spirit of society. All men plume themselves on the improvement of society, and no man improves.
Society never advances. It recedes as fast on one side as it gains on the other. It undergoes continual changes; it is barbarous, it is civilized, it is christianized, it is rich, it is scientific; but this change is not amelioration. For every thing that is given, something is taken.” source