Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth

Mon, 2008-07-21 19:46

I recently finished reading R. Buckminster Fuller's excellent short book, Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth. I love Fuller's writing, attitude and philosophy. Here's perhaps my favorite passage:

It is easy to demonstrate to those who will take the time and the trouble to unbias their thoughts that automation swiftly can multiply the physical energy part of wealth much more rapidly and profusely than can man's muscle and brain-reflexed-manually-controlled production. On the other hand humans alone can foresee, integrate, and anticipate the new tasks to be done by the progressively automated wealth-producing machinery. To take advantage of the fabulous magnitudes of real wealth waiting to be employed intelligently by humans and unblock automation's postponement by organized labor we must give each human who is or becomes unemployed a life fellowship in research and development or in just simple thinking. Man must be able to dare to think truthfully and to act accordingly without fear of losing his franchise to live. The use of mind fellowships will permit humans comprehensively to expand and accelerate scientific exploration and experimental prototype development. For every 100,000 employed in research and development, or just plain thinking, one probably will make a breakthrough that will more than pay for the other 99,999 fellowships. Thus, production will no longer be impeded by humans trying to do what machines can do better. Contrariwise, omni-automated and inanimately powered production will unleash humanity's unique capability-its metaphysical capability. Historically speaking, these steps will be taken within the next decade. There is no doubt about it. But not without much social crisis and consequent educational experience and discovery concerning the nature of our unlimited wealth.

Through the universal research and development fellowships, we're going to start emancipating humanity from being muscle and reflex machines. We're going to give everybody a chance to develop their most powerful mental and intuitive faculties. Given their research and development fellowship, many who have been frustrated during their younger years may feel like going fishing. Fishing provides an excellent opportunity to think clearly; to review one's life; to recall one's earlier frustrated and abandoned longings and curiosities. What we want everybody to do is to think clearly.

We soon will begin to generate wealth so rapidly that we can do very great things. I would like you to think what this may do realistically for living without spoiling the landscape, or the antiquities or the trails of humanity throughout the ages, or despoiling the integrity of romance, vision, and harmonic creativity. All the great office buildings will be emptied of earned living workers, and the automated office-processing of information will be centralized in the basements of a few buildings. This will permit all the modernly mechanized office buildings to be used as dwelling facilities.

The whole thing can be found here, or at perhaps 90% of all used book stores.