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News ::
Comprehensive Propensities - 2
07 Aug 2002
The American Revolution - the global revolution - is as alive as ever....
Operating Manual For Spaceship Earth

by Buckminster Fuller

....Inasmuch as the new life always manifests comprehensive propensities I would like to know why it is that we have disregarded all children's significantly spontaneous and comprehensive curiosity and in our formal education have deliberately instituted processes leading only to narrow specialization.

We do not have to go very far back in history for the answer. We get back to great, powerful men of the sword, exploiting their prowess fortuitously and ambitiously, surrounded by the abysmal ignorance of world society. We find early society struggling under economic conditions wherein less than I per cent of humanity seemed able to live its full span of years.

This forlorn economic prospect resulted from the seeming inadequacy of vital resources and from an illiterate society's inability to cope successfully with the environment, while saddled also with preconditioned instincts which inadvertently produced many new human babies. Amongst the strugglers we had cunning leaders who said, "Follow me, and we'll make out better than the others." It was the most powerful and shrewd of these leaders who, as we shall see, invented and developed specialization.

Looking at the total historical pattern of man around the Earth and observing that three quarters of the Earth is water, it seems obvious why men, unaware that they would some day contrive to fly and penetrate the ocean in submarines, thought of themselves exclusively as pedestrians - as dry land specialists.

Confined to the quarter of the Earth's surface which is dry land it is easy to see how they came to specialize further as farmers or hunters-or, commanded by their leader, became specialized as soldiers. Less than half of the dry 25 per cent of the Earth's surface was immediately favorable to the support of human life.

Thus, throughout history 99.9 per cent of humanity has occupied only 10 per cent of the total Earth surface, dwelling only where life support was visibly obvious. The favorable land was not in one piece, but consisted of a myriad of relatively small parcels widely dispersed over the surface of the enormous Earth sphere. The small isolated groups of humanity were utterly unaware of one another's existence. They were everywhere ignorant of the vast variety of very different environments and resource patterns occurring other than where they dwelt.

But there were a few human beings who gradually, through the process of invention and experiment, built and operated, first, local river and bay, next, along-shore, then off-shore rafts, dugouts, grass boats, and outrigger sailing canoes.

Finally, they developed voluminous rib-bellied fishing vessels, and thereby ventured out to sea for progressively longer periods. Developing ever larger and more capable ships, the seafarers eventually were able to remain for months on the high seas. Thus, these venturers came to live normally at sea. This led them inevitably into world-around, swift, fortune-producing enterprise. Thus they became the first world men.

The men who were able to establish themselves on the oceans had also to be extraordinarily effective with the sword upon both land and sea. They had also to have great anticipatory vision, great ship designing capability, and original scientific conceptioning, mathematical skill in navigation and exploration techniques for coping in fog, night, and storm with the invisible hazards of rocks, shoals, and currents.

The great sea venturers had to be able to command all the people in their dry land realm in order to commandeer the adequate metalworking, woodworking, weaving, and other skills necessary to produce their large, complex ships. They had to establish and maintain their authority in order that they themselves and the craftsmen preoccupied in producing the ship be adequately fed by the food-producing hunters and farmers of their realm.

Here we see the specialization being greatly amplified under the supreme authority of the comprehensively visionary and brilliantly co-ordinated top swordsman, sea venturer. If his "ship came in" (that is, returned safely from its years' long venturing) all the people in his realm prospered and their leader's power was vastly amplified.

There were very few of these top power men. But as they went on their sea ventures they gradually found that the waters interconnected all the world's people and lands. They learned this unbeknownst to their illiterate sailors, who, often as not, having been hit over the head in a saloon and dragged aboard to wake up at sea, saw only a lot of water and, without navigational knowledge, had no idea where they had traveled.

The sea masters soon found that the people in each of the different places visited knew nothing of people in other places. The great venturers found the resources of Earth very unevenly distributed, and discovered that by bringing together various resources occurring remotely from one another one complemented the other in producing tools, services, and consumables of high advantage and value. Thus resources in one place which previously had seemed to be absolutely worthless suddenly became highly valued.

Enormous wealth was generated by what the sea venturers could do in the way of integrating resources and distributing the products to the, everywhere around the world, amazed and eager customers.

The ship owning captains found that they could carry fantastically large cargoes in their ships, due to nature's floatability-cargoes so large they could not possibly be carried on the backs of animals or the backs of men. Furthermore, the ships could sail across a bay or sea, traveling shorter distances in much less time than it took to go around the shores and over the intervening mountains. So these very few masters of the water world became incalculably rich and powerful.

To understand the development of intellectual specialization, which is our first objective, we must study further the comprehensive intellectual capabilities of the sea leaders in contradistinction to the myriad of physical, muscle, and craft-skill specializations which their intellect and their skillful swordplay commanded.

The great sea venturers thought always in terms of the world, because the world's waters are continuous and cover three-quarters of the Earth planet. This meant that before the invention and use of cables and wireless 99.9 per cent of humanity thought only in the terms of their own local terrain. Despite our recently developed communications intimacy and popular awareness of total Earth we, too, in 1969 are as yet politically organized entirely in the terms of exclusive and utterly obsolete sovereign separateness.

This "sovereign--meaning top-weapons enforced "national" claim upon humans born in various lands leads to ever more severely specialized servitude and highly personalized identity classification. As a consequence of the slavish "categoryitis" the scientifically illogical, and as we shall see, often meaningless questions "Where do you live?" "What are you?" "What religion?", "What race?", "What nationality?" are all thought of today as logical questions.

By the twenty-first century it either will have become evident to humanity that these questions are absurd and anti-evolutionary or men will no longer be living on Earth. If you don't comprehend why that is so, listen to me closely....

http://bfi.org/operating_manual.htm

See also:
jpchance@egroups.com