Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth - Chapter VII
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The first census of population in the United States was taken in 1790.
In I8IO the United States Treasury conducted the first economic census of
the young democracy. There were at that time one million families in this
country. There were also one million human slaves. This did not mean that
each family had a human slave; far from it. The slaves were owned by
relatively few. The Treasury adjudged the monetary value of the average
American homestead, lands, buildings, furnishings, and tools to be worth
sum-totaIly $350 per family. The Treasury appraised the average worth of
each slave as $400. It was estimated that the wilderness hinterlands of
America were worth $1,500 per family. The foregoing assets plus the canals
and toll roads brought the equity of each family to a total of $3,000.
This made the national wealth of the United States, as recognized by man,
worth three billion dollars.
Let us assume that, practicing supreme wisdom, the united American citizens of I8IO had convened their most reliably esteemed and farsighted leaders and had asked them to undertake a 150-year, grand economic and technical plan for most effectively and swiftly developing America’s and the world’s life-support system-to be fully realized by 1960. At that time, it must be remembered, the telegraph had not been invented. There were no electro-magnetics or mass-produced steel. Railroads were as yet undreamed of, let alone wireless, X-ray, electric light, power by wire and electric motors. There was no conception of the periodic table of the atoms or of the existence of an electron. Had any of our forefathers committed our wealth of I8IO toward bouncing radar impulses off the Moon he would have been placed in a lunatic asylum.
Under those I8IO circumstances of an assumed capital wealth of the united American states, both public and private, amounting to only three billion dollars, it is preposterous to think of humanity’s most brilliant and powerful leaders electing to invest their "all" of three billion dollars in a "thousand times more expensive" ten-trillion-dollar adventure such, however, as has since transpired, but only under the war-enforced threat of disintegration of the meager rights won thus far by common man from history-long tyrannical powers of a techno-illiterate and often cruel few.
In I8IO it was also unthinkable by even the most brilliant leaders of humanity that I60 years hence, in 1970, the gross national product of the United States would reach one trillion dollars per year. (This is to be compared with the meager forty billion of the world’s total monetary gold supply.) Assuming a 10 per cent rate of earnings, this 1970 trillion-dollar product would mean that a capital base of ten trillion dollars was operative within the United States alone where the 18IO national leaders had accredited only three billion dollars of national assets. The wisest humans recognized in I8IO only one three-hundredth of I per cent of the immediately thereafter "proven value" of the United States’ share of the world’s wealth-generating potentials. Of course, those wisest men of the times would have seen little they could afford to do.
Our most reliable, visionary, and well-informed great-grandfathers of I8IO could not have foreseen that in the meager century and one-half of all the billionsfold greater reaches of known universal time that human life-span would be trebled, that the yearly real income of the individual would be "enfolded, that the majority of diseases would be banished, and human freedom of realized travel one-hundred-folded; that humans would be able to whisper effortlessly in one another’s ear from anywhere around the world apart and at a speed of seven hundred million miles an hour, their audibility clearly reaching to the planet Venus; and that human vision around Earth’s spherical deck would be increased to see local pebbles and grains of sand on the moon.
Now in 1969, 99.9 per cent of the accelerating accelerations of the physical environment changes effecting all humanity’s evolution are transpiring in the realms of the electromagnetic spectrum realities which are undetectable directly by the human senses. Because they are gestating invisibly it is approximately impossible for world society to comprehend that the changes in the next thirty-five years-ushering in the twenty-first century-will be far greater than in our just completed century and one-half since the first United States economic census. We are engulfed in an invisible tidal wave which, as it draws away, will leave humanity, if it survives, cast up upon an island of universal success uncomprehending how it has all happened.
But we can scientifically assume that by the twenty-first century either humanity will not be living aboard Spaceship Earth or, if approximately our present numbers as yet remain aboard, that humanity then will have recognized and organized itself to realize effectively the fact that humanity can afford to do anything it needs and wishes to do and that it cannot afford anything else. As a consequence Earth-planet-based humanity will be physically and economically successful and individually free in the most important sense. While all enjoy total Earth no human will be interfering with the other, and none will be profiting at the expense of the other. Humans will be free in the sense that 99.9 per cent of their waking hours will be freely investable at their own discretion. They will be free in the sense that they will not struggle for survival on a `’you" or "me" basis, and will therefore be able to trust one another and be free to co-operate in spontaneous and logical ways.
It is also probable that during that one-third of a century of the curtain raising of the twenty-first century that the number of boo-boo’s, biased blunders, short-sighted misjudgments, opinionated self-deceits of humanity will total, at minimum, six hundred trillion errors. Clearly, man will have backed into his future while evolution, operating as inexorably as fertilized ovaries gestate in the womb, will have brought about his success in ways as synergetically unforeseeable to us today as were the ten-trillion-dollar developments of the last I50 years unforeseen by our wisest great-grandfathers of 1810.
All of this does not add up to say that man is stupidly ignorant and does not deserve to prosper. It adds up to the realization that in the design of universal evolution man was given an enormous safety factor as an economic cushion, within which to learn by trial and error to dare to use his most sensitively intuited intellectual conceptioning and greatest vision in joining forces with all of humanity to advance into the future in full accreditation of the individual human intellect’s most powerfully loving conceptions of the potential functioning of man in universe. All the foregoing is to say also that the opinions of any negatively conditioned reflexes regarding what I am saying and am about to say are unrealistically inconsequential.
I have so far introduced to you a whole new synergetic assessment of wealth and have asked that you indicate your disagreement if you detected fallacies in the progressively-stated concepts of our common wealth. Thus we have discovered together that we are unanimous in saying that we can afford to do anything we need or wish to do.
It is utterly clear to me that the highest priority need of world society at the present moment is a realistic economic accounting system which will rectify, for instance, such nonsense as the fact that a top toolmaker in India, the highest paid of all craftsmen, gets only as much per month for his work in India as he could earn per day for the same work if he were employed in Detroit, Michigan. How can India develop a favorable trade balance under those circumstances? If it can’t have a workable, let alone favorable balance, how can these half-billion people participate in world intercourse? Millions of Hindus have never heard of America, let alone the international monetary system. Said Kipling "East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet."
As a consequence of the Great Pirates’ robbing Indo-China for centuries and cashing in their booty in Europe, so abysmally impoverished, underfed and physically afflicted have India’s and Ceylon’s billions of humans been throughout so many centuries that it is their religious belief that life on Earth is meant to be exclusively a hellish trial and that the worse the conditions encountered by the individual the quicker his entry into heaven. For this reason attempts to help India in any realistic way are looked upon by a vast number of India’s population as an attempt to prevent their entry into heaven. All this because they have had no other way to explain life’s hopelessness. On the other hand, they are extremely capable thinkers, and free intercourse with the world could change their views and fate. It is paradoxical that India’s population should starve as one beef cattle for every three people wander through India’s streets, blocking traffic as sacred symbols of nonsense. Probably some earlier conquerors intent to reserve the animals for their exclusive consumption as did later the kings of European nations decreed that God had informed the king that he alone was to eat animal meat and therefore God forbade the common people under penalty of death from killing a beef cattle for their own consumption.
One of the myths of the moment suggest that wealth comes from individual bankers and capitalists. This concept is manifest in the myriad of charities that have to beg for alms for the poor, disabled, and helpless young and old in general. These charities are a hold-over from the old pirate days, when it was thought that there would never be enough to go around. They also are necessitated by our working assumption that we cannot afford to take care of all the helpless ones. Counseled by our bankers, our politicians say we can’t afford the warring and the great society, too. And because of the mythical concept that the wealth which is disbursed is coming from some magically-secret private source, no free and healthy individual wants that "hand out" from the other man, whoever he may be. Nor does the individual wish to be on the publicly degrading "dole" line.
After World War II several million of our well-trained, healthiest young people came suddenly out of the military service. Because we had automated during the war to a very considerable degree to meet the "war challenges" there were but few jobs to offer them. Our society could not say realistically that the millions of their healthiest, best informed young were unfit because they couldn’t get a job, which had until that historical moment been the criteria of demonstrated fitness in Darwin’s "survival only of the fittest" struggle. In that emergency we legislated the GI Bill and sent them all to schools, colleges, and universities. This act was politically rationalized as a humanly dignified fellowship reward of their war service and not as a "hand out." It produced billions of dollars of new wealth through the increased know-how and intelligence thus released, which synergetically augmented the spontaneous initiative of that younger generation. In legislating this "reckless spending" of wealth we didn’t know that we had produced a synergetic condition that would and did open the greatest prosperity humanity has ever known.
Through all pre-twentieth century history wars were devastating to both winners and losers. The pre-industrial wars took the men from the fields, and the fields where the exclusively agricultural-wealth germinated, were devastated. It came as a complete surprise, therefore, that the first World War, which was the first full-fledged industrial-era war, ended with the United States in particular but Germany, England, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, and Russia in lesser degree all coming out of the war with much greater industrial production capabilities than those with which they had entered. That wealth was soon misguidedly invested in the second World War, from which all the industrial countries emerged with even greater wealth producing capabilities, despite the superficial knockdown of the already obsolete buildings. It was irrefutably proven that the destruction of the buildings by bombing, shell fire, and flames left the machinery almost unharmed. The productive tooling capabilities multiplied unchecked, as did their value.
This unexpected increase in wealth by industrial world wars was caused by several facts, but most prominently by the fact that in the progressive acquisition of instruments and tools which produce the even more effective complex of industrial tools, the number of special purpose tools that made the end-product armaments and ammunition was negligible in comparison with the redirectable productivity of the majority of the general-purpose tools that constituted the synergistic tool complex. Second, the wars destroyed the obsolete tool-enclosing brick-and-wood structures whose factual availability, despite their obsolescence, had persuaded their owners to over extend the structures’ usefulness and exploitability. This drive to keep milking the old proven cow not risking the production of new cows had blocked the acquisition of up-to-date tools. Third, there was the synergetic surprise of alternative or "substitute" technologies which were developed to bypass destroyed facilities. The latter often proved to be more efficient than the tools that were destroyed. Fourth, the metals themselves not only were not destroyed but were acceleratingly reinvested in new, vastly higher-performance per pound tools. It was thus that the world war losers such as Germany and Japan became overnight the postwar industrial winners. Their success documented the fallacy of the whole economic evaluation system now extant.
Thus again we see that, through gradually increasing use of his intuition and intellect, man has discovered many of the generalized principles that are operative in the universe and has employed them objectively but separately in extending his internal metabolic regeneration by his invented and detached tool extensions and their remote operation affected by harnessing inanimate energy. Instead of trying to survive only with his integral set of tool capabilities-his hands-to pour water into his mouth, he invents a more effective wooden, stone, or ceramic vessel so that he not only can drink from it but carry water with him and extend his hunting and berry picking. All tools are externalizations of originally integral functions. But in developing each tool man also extends the limits of its usefulness, since he can make bigger cups hold liquids too hot or chemically destructive for his hands. Tools do not introduce new principles but they greatly extend the range of conditions under which the discovered control principle may be effectively employed by man. There is nothing new in world technology’s growth. It is only the vast increase of its effective ranges that are startling man. The computer is an imitation human brain. There is nothing new about it, but its capacity, speed of operation, and tirelessness, as well as its ability to operate under environmental conditions intolerable to the human anatomy, make it far more effective in performing special tasks than is the skull and tissue encased human brain, minus the computer.
What is really unique about man is the magnitude to which he has detached, deployed, amplified, and made more incisive all of his many organic functionings. Man is unique among all the living phenomena as the most adaptable omni-environment penetrating, exploring, and operating organism being initially equipped to invent intellectually and self-disciplined, dexterously, to make the tools with which thus to extend himself. The bird, the fish, the tree are all specialized, and their special capability-functioning tools are attached integrally with their bodies, making them incapable of penetrating hostile environments. Man externalizes, separates out, and increases each of his specialized function capabilities by inventing tools as soon as he discovers the need through oft-repeated experiences with unfriendly environmental challenges. Thus, man only temporarily employs his integral equipment as a specialist, and soon shifts that function to detached tools. Man cannot compete physically as a muscle and brained automaton ‹as a machine-against the automated power tools which he can invent while metaphysically mastering the energy income from universe with which evermore powerfully to actuate these evermore precise mass-production tools. What man has done is to decentralize his functions into a world-around-energy-networked complex of tools which altogether constitute what we refer to as world industrialization.