Needed - A Mental Revolution
L. W. Nicholson
- The Northwest Technocrat, 3rd quarter 1996, No. 344
For the first time in the history of mankind, human knowledge has become sufficient to determine the physical characteristics required to implement the world's first intelligently directed society. History will record this event as the greatest human achievement of the 20th century. Always in the past, society has been led by the strong man, the witch doctor, medicine man, petty chiefs, kings, emperors and presidents or prime ministers -- all using what has come to be called, the political method.
The political method is a social decision-making process determined by beliefs and opinions, superstitions and traditions of the time, many of which were more or less dictated by the political leaders as a self appointed task, and have, therefore been susceptible many inaccuracies. In recent times, this method has become quite obsolete in many areas of human activity. Society has outgrown many of the above types of leadership, with only a president and congress or a prime minister and parliament, nominated by a few and elected by many, remaining to provide significant political control.
The economic methods ``designed'' by the cunning and the greedy have supported such ``leaders'' since the development of the ``Barter System'' at some time in the distant past. In today's world, politics is inappropriate. The decision making processes required in a high energy, highly complex, computer controlled technological world are different. This modern technological world has outmoded the economic control techniques that are part of the political method.
Human education has been a slow and often difficult task with political and economic interference all the way. It has certainly not been easy to replace the political and economic superstitions of the past with the factual information of the present. The self-satisfying beliefs that one's opinions are correct cannot be overcome without resistance. Only with the development of the scientific method did humans begin to realize that only factual information, determined by careful study and measurement and verifiable by others, could be considered accurate. As this technique gained acceptance, there has been a rapidly increasing understanding of that real world of matter and energy, and even of humans themselves. New ideas, if factual, became easier to accept. Only after the background of scientific knowledge was established, had mankind prepared for phenomenal technological growth.
To illustrate graphically the explosive growth of the technological world in recent times, a review of the number of patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office may suffice. In 1790, the number of patents issued was 3. In 1850, 60 years later, the number was 823. In 1929, it was 45,267 and in 1992, the number reached 106,800. Since these statistics show no decline in the rate of growth, we assume that this progression will continue at an increasing rate.
And now, the technologists are preparing to make accessible almost any recorded information: movies, video games, VCR and TV shows, whole libraries of information, home shopping by TV, banking, educational programs for children and adults -- information to all citizens who can pay for the service. From a technical standpoint it can probably be done. However, it will require many billions of dollars to design produce and install the necessary equipment to allow 264 million Americans and 30 million Canadians to participate in such a complex project.
There are many important and highly technical projects which should be given a higher priority and that are also possible from a technical standpoint -- producing equipment to make automobiles crash-proof, for example. But it is doubtful if the economic system can distribute sufficient purchasing power to make it possible for North Americans to enjoy them. In the U.S. we already have 38 million Americans living in poverty with a federal debt of $5 trillion. With the interest on this debt the second highest of all government expenditures and with politicians trying to avoid bankruptcy, the economic system is extended about as far as possible.
As technologists continue to make possible many new technological marvels, the politico-economic ``knowledge'' available continues to become further antiquated by comparison. Already technology has resulted in great changes in our lifestyles -- the trend is ongoing at an ever faster pace. Consider the steam-engine which made power available to start the greatest technological development of all time. Consider the electrical generator and power grid, the telephone, the automobile, and now the computer which can supply the control technique for all the other technology so that it can operate without human hands.
Not only will this vast, and increasing, technology require overall control methods which are appropriate, but the very nature of the job to be done will demand far more intelligence than can be supplied by any control technique based on beliefs, opinions, tradition, prejudice, superstition, or the concepts of the market place. Therefore the political method, in all its various forms, must be discarded and consigned to the Museum of Political Nonsense to assist future generations in understanding what shouldn't be done. Impossible? That is what the witch doctor thought, but he survived only by updating his approach to that of a ``modern'' politician.
The role that a political government plays in a technological society is to referee the inequities created by a defective economic system. An intelligently designed economic system would have the defects engineered out and wouldn't need such an ineffective political method as a referee. The first requirement for an intelligently directed society would therefore, require a completely redesigned economic system, one which wouldn't allow 38 million Americans, more than the total population of Canada and Alaska combined, to live in poverty when a technologically produced plenty is available. It would require a completely redesigned social control technique capable of smoothing out the oscillations in the productive process and match total production with total consumption. It would be necessary for the people who administer such a control to understand the physical requirements -- technologists, not politicians. Very few laws would be needed to keep people from stealing that which they already have plenty of, so humans could be free to do almost anything they wanted to do -- if it were physically possible and didn't interfere with other peoples' freedom to do the same.
Unfortunately, there is no intelligently directed society now existing that could be used as an example for studying its operating characteristics. We are on our own, and it will be necessary to investigate the possibilities ourselves. To do so we must reaffirm the factual and discard the non-factual information. This is the last roadblock to the installation of the world's first intelligently directed society. Difficult yes, but not impossible. The knowledge is available; the motivation should be sufficient when one considers the unmitigated mess we are now in, with millions living in poverty and near poverty in a land of plenty, with overall purchasing power decreasing as underemployment is increased -- with environmental degradation, crime and an overall public and private debt of more than $20 trillion. It is obvious that the continuation of present trends will dump us into an impossible situation in the near future.
Will a revolution be required? Of course a revolution will be required, and a major one at that. We, on this Continent, are already well into the greatest revolution in all of recorded history. According to Webster, a revolution is, ``a sudden and violent change of the government or the political constitution of a country, usually by internal instigation; a radical change of circumstances in a scientific social, or industrial system. The latter part of this definition is a fitting definition of our progression that has taken place for more than a century.
The word ``revolution'' is usually thought to mean an uprising of the population resulting in a new set of political leaders. Such a revolution usually is comparatively unimportant except to those few individuals who are directly concerned with the change in leadership. Changing political leaders, whether by vote or by force, accomplishes very little for society as a whole. The majority must still work at the same type of tasks with the same living standards as before. The type of revolution we are now in, and have been in, is a technological revolution which changes the means whereby we live, increases the ability to produce and could increase living standards drastically. However, before everyone can enjoy the potential plenty technology can now produce, changes are required that have so far been unknown. Changes that reduce political actions to near irrelevance, changes in environmental conditions, and changes in social control techniques to match the physical requirements of the new conditions.
The physical revolution of this technological age is in a process of forcing North American citizens to seriously consider the changes required in their methods of social and economic control. The increasing crime, both legal and illegal, underemployment, homelessness, poverty in the midst of plenty, war, ecological deterioration, greed, so- called moral deterioration, loss of confidence in political leaders, debt, inflation and a general feeling of insecurity -- all on a Continent with an impending major social change. This social turbulence will continue to increase as technology continues to outgrow social control techniques. Social disturbances will smooth out and disappear when control techniques are brought into balance with the technological age in which we now live.
In spite of all human efforts in the past, or present, to force the physical world in which we must live to conform to our desires, wishes and opinions, it just continues to refuse to operate except according to natural laws. The sun continues to rise in the east, and the plenty our technology can produce increasingly can't be bought and sold despite the manipulations of man-made economic customs. The solutions to poverty cannot be solved by the destruction of farm products to maintain scarcity and price, or by building obsolescence into our products to increase sales. No system can distribute the plenty our technology can produce for a price, either with or without a profit -- 38 million Americans living in poverty and a $5 trillion federal debt should be ample proof that a Price System cannot work in a technological era.
The only effective method, by which plenty can be distributed, like the air we breathe, is without price. As long as an economy based on price, a Price System, is continued, an intelligently directed society cannot exist. To maintain price requires the destruction of a technological abundance. People who support such a system regard money as being more important than people. That is greed, not intelligence. In the meantime our technology becomes ever more efficient and is able to produce an ever increasing amount with an ever declining total number of man-hours of human labor per unit of production. Those trends have accelerated to the point that it is eliminating the need for millions of workers and underemployment is the result. An intelligently operated society would have no poverty in the midst of plenty. And it would not ruin the physical environment to produce an ever greater quantity of shoddy products.
The physical revolution has already occurred; the revolution remaining before us to complete the long journey into an intelligently operated society is a revolution of the ``mind.'' Unfortunately this is the most difficult of all, it requires a mental housecleaning to trash all the old antiquated political and economic superstitions passed on from the past. North Americans already have the necessary physical resources and technology to provide every citizen with plenty of everything produced. Now we need an engineered method of distribution.
It will accomplish nothing useful to waste time blaming those responsible for interfering with the widespread dissemination of this knowledge to the public. Call it an act of social treason, if you must, and then proceed with the act of learning and teaching the factual information provided by Technocracy Inc. After this is done; after the social and economic problems of an antiquated economic and political system have been replaced with an intelligent social mechanism capable of functioning in a high energy, computer controlled technological society; history will then record what has happened while we enjoy a thousand years of peace and plenty made possible by this vast technological mechanism that has forced us into making the mental changes necessary to reach that goal.