Tuesday, 8 March 2016

"The Great Pirates" by Buckminster Fuller (1969}



The Great Pirates
(from "Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth")

"...in observing a little child, we find it is interested in everything and spontaneously apprehends, comprehends, and coordinates an ever expending inventory of experiences. Children are enthusiastic planetarium audiences. Nothing seems to be more prominent about human life than its wanting to understand all and put everything together.

One of humanity's prime drives is to understand and be understood. All other living creatures are designed for highly specialized tasks. Man seems unique as the comprehensive comprehender and coordinator of local universe affairs. If the total scheme of nature required man to be a specialist she would have made him so by having him born with one eye and a microscope attached to it.

What nature needed man to be was adaptive in many if not any direction; wherefore she gave man a mind as well as a coordinating switchboard brain. Mind apprehends and comprehends the general principles governing flight and deep sea diving, and man puts on his wings or his lungs, then takes them off when not using them. The specialist bird is greatly impeded by its wings when trying to walk. The fish cannot come out of the sea and walk upon land, for birds and fish are specialists.

Of course, we are beginning to learn a little in the behavioral sciences regarding how little we know about children and the educational processes. We had assumed the child to be an empty brain receptacle into which we could inject our methodically-gained wisdom until that child, too, became educated. In the light of modern behavioral science experiments that was not a good working assumption.

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 ribbellied 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 coordinated top swordsman, sea venturer. If his "ship came in"  - that is, returned safely from its years' long venturing all the

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.

Obviously we need to pursue further the origins of specialization into deep history, hoping thereby to correct or eliminate our erroneous concepts. Historically we can say that average human beings throughout pre-twentieth-century history had each seen only about one-millionth of the surface of their spherical Earth. This limited experience gave humans a locally-focused, specialized viewpoint. Not surprisingly, humanity thought the world was flat, and not surprisingly humans thought its horizontally extended plane went circularly outward to infinity. In our schools today we still start off the education of our children by giving them planes and lines that go on, incomprehensibly "forever" toward a meaningless infinity. Such oversimplified viewpoints are misleading, blinding, and debilitating, because they preclude possible discovery of the significance of our integrated experiences.

Under these everyday, knowledge-thwarting or limiting circumstances of humanity, the comprehensively-informed master venturers of history who went to sea soon realized that the only real competition they had was that of other powerful outlaws who might also know or hope to learn through experience "what it is all about." I call these sea mastering people the great outlaws or Great Pirates-the G. P.'s simply because the arbitrary laws enacted or edicted by men on the land could not be extended effectively to control humans beyond their shores and out upon the seas. So the world men who lived on the seas were inherently outlaws, and the only laws that could and did rule them were the natural laws-the physical laws of universe which when tempestuous were often cruelly devastating. High seas combined with nature's fog and night-hidden rocks were uncompromising.

And it followed that these Great Pirates came into mortal battle with one another to see who was going to control the vast sea routes and eventually the world. Their battles took place out of sight of landed humanity. Most of the losers went to the bottom utterly unbeknownst to historians. Those who stayed on the top of the waters and prospered did so because of their comprehensive capability. That is they were the antithesis of specialists. They had high proficiency in dealing with celestial navigation, the storms, the sea, the men, the ship, economics, biology, geography, history, and science. The wider and more long distanced their anticipatory strategy, the more successful they became.

But these hard, powerful, brilliantly resourceful sea masters had to sleep occasionally, and therefore found it necessary to surround themselves with super-loyal, muscular but dull-brained illiterates who could not see nor savvy their masters' stratagems. There was great safety in the mental dullness of these henchmen. The Great Pirates realized that the only people who could possibly contrive to displace them were the truly bright people. For this reason their number-one strategy was secrecy. If the other powerful pirates did not know where you were going, nor when you had gone, nor when you were coming back, they would not know how to waylay you. If anyone knew when you were coming home, "small-timers" could come out in small boats and waylay you in the dark and take you over-just before you got home tiredly after a two-year treasure-harvesting voyage. Thus hijacking and second-rate piracy became a popular activity around the world's shores and harbors. Thus secrecy became the essence of the lives of the successful pirates; ergo, how little is known today of that which I am relating. Leonardo da Vinci is the outstanding example of the comprehensively anticipatory design scientist. Operating under the patronage of the Duke of Milan he designed the fortified defenses and weaponry as well as the tools of peaceful production. Many other great military powers had their comprehensive design scientist-artist inventors; Michelangelo was one of them.

Many persons wonder why we do not have such men today. It is a mistake to think we cannot. What happened at the time of Leonardo and Galileo was that mathematics was so improved by the advent of the zero that not only was much more scientific shipbuilding made possible but also much more reliable navigation. Immediately thereafter truly large-scale venturing on the world's oceans commenced, and the strong sword-leader patrons as admirals put their Leonardos to work, first in designing their new and more powerful world-girdling ships. Next they took their Leonardos to sea with them as their seagoing Merlins to invent ever more powerful tools and strategies on a world-around basis to implement their great campaigns to best all the other great pirates, thereby enabling them to become masters of the world and of all its people and wealth. The required and scientifically designed secrecy of the sea operations thus pulled a curtain that hid the Leonardos from public view, popular ken, and recorded history.

Finally, the sea-dwelling Leonardos became Captains of the ships or even Admirals of Fleets, or Commandants of the Navy yards where they designed and built the fleets, or they became the commandants of the naval war colleges where they designed and developed the comprehensive strategy for running the world for a century to come. This included not only the designing of the network of world-around voyaging and of the ships for each task but also the designing of the industrial establishments and world-around mining operations and naval base-building for production and maintenance of the ships. This Leonardo-type planning inaugurated today's large-scale, world-around industrialization's vast scale of thinking. When the Great Pirates came to building steel steamships and blast furnaces and railroad tracks to handle the logistics, the Leonardos appeared momentarily again in such men as Telford who built the railroads, tunnels, and bridges of England, as well as the first great steamship.

You may say, "Aren't you talking about the British Empire?" I answer, No The so-called British Empire was a manifest of the world-around misconception of who ran things and a disclosure of the popular ignorance of the Great Pirates' absolute world-controlling through their local-stooge sovereigns and their prime ministers, as only innocuously and locally modified here and there by the separate sovereignties' internal democratic processes. As we soon shall see, the British Isles lying off the coast of Europe constituted in effect a fleet of unsinkable ships and naval bases commanding all the great harbours of Europe. Those islands were the possession of the topmost Pirates. Since the Great Pirates were building, maintaining, supplying their ships on those islands, they also logically made up their crews out of the native islanders who were simply seized or commanded aboard by imperial edict. Seeing these British Islanders aboard the top pirate ships the people around the world mistakenly assumed that the world conquest by the Great Pirates was a conquest by the will, ambition, and organization of the British people. Thus was the G. P.'s grand deception victorious. But the people of those islands never had the ambition to go out and conquer the world. As a people they were manipulated by the top pirates and learned to cheer as they were told of their nation's world prowess.

The topmost Great Pirates' Leonardos discovered-both in their careful, long-distance planning and in their anticipatory inventing that the grand strategies of sea power made it experimentally clear that a plurality of ships could usually out-maneuver one ship. So the Great Pirates' Leonardos invented navies. Then, of course, they had to control various resource-supplying mines, forests, and lands with which and upon which to build the ships and establish the industries essential to building, supplying, and maintaining their navy's ships.

Then came the grand strategy which said, "divide and conquer." You divide up the other man's ships in battle or you best him when several of his ships are hauled out on the land for repairs. They also had a grand strategy of anticipatory divide and conquer. Anticipatory divide and conquer was much more effective than tardy divide and conquer, since it enabled those who employed it to surprise the other pirate under conditions unfavorable to the latter, So the great top pirates of the world, realizing that dull people were innocuous and that the only people who could contrive to displace the supreme pirates were the bright ones, set about to apply their grand strategy of anticipatory divide and conquer to solve that situation comprehensively.

The Great Pirate came into each of the various lands where he either acquired or sold goods profitably and picked the strongest man there to be his local head man. The Pirate's picked man became the Pirate's general manager of the local realm. If the Great Pirate's local strong man in a given land had not already done so, the Great Pirate told him to proclaim himself king. Despite the local head man's secret subservience to him, the Great Pirate allowed and counted upon his king-stooge to convince his countrymen that he, the local king, was indeed the head man of all men - the god-ordained ruler. To guarantee that sovereign claim the Pirates gave their stooge-kings secret lines of supplies which provided everything required to enforce the sovereign claim. The more massively bejeweled the kings gold crown, and the more visible his court and castle, the less visible was his pirate master.

The Great Pirates said to all their lieutenants around the world, "Any time bright young people show up, I'd like to know about it, because we need bright men." So each time the Pirate came into port the local king-ruler would mention that he had some bright, young men whose capabilities and thinking shone out in the community. The Great Pirate would say to the king, "All right, you summon them and deal with them as follows: As each young man is brought forward you say to him, 'Young man, you are very bright. I'm going to assign you to a great history tutor and in due course if you study well and learn enough I'm going to make you my Royal Historian, but you've got to pass many examinations by both your teacher and myself.'" And when the next bright boy was brought before him the King was to say, "I'm going to make you my Royal Treasurer," and so forth. Then the Pirate said to the king, "You will finally say to all of them: But each of you must mind your own business or off go your heads. I'm the only one who minds everybody's business.' "

And this is the way schools began as the royal tutorial schools. You realize, I hope, that I am not being facetious. That is it. This is the beginning of schools and colleges and the beginning of intellectual specialization. Of course, it took great wealth to start schools, to have great teachers, and to house, clothe, feed, and cultivate both teachers and students. Only the Great- Pirate-protected robber-barons and the Pirate-protected and secret intelligence-exploited international religious organizations could afford such scholarship investment. And the development of the bright ones into specialists gave the king very great brain power, and made him and his kingdom the most powerful in the land and thus, secretly and greatly, advantaged his patron Pirate in the world competition with the other Great Pirates.

But specialization is in fact only a fancy form of slavery wherein the "expert" is fooled into accepting his slavery by making him feel that in return he is in a socially and culturally preferred, ergo, highly secure, lifelong position. But only the king's son received the Kingdom-wide scope of training.

However, the big thinking in general of a spherical Earth and celestial navigation was retained exclusively by the Great Pirates, in contradistinction to a four-cornered, flat world concept, with empire and kingdom circumscribed knowledge, constricted to only that which could be learned through localized preoccupations. Knowledge of the world and its resources was enjoyed exclusively by the Great Pirates, as were also the arts of navigation, shipbuilding and handling, and of grand logistical strategies and of nationally-undetectable, therefore effectively deceptive, international exchange media and trade balancing tricks by which the top pirate, as (in gambler's parlance) "the house," always won."



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