Fifty years ago, I believed we were going to change the world. One of the popular aphorisms in those days was, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” There were many of us who believed we knew the solution – “All You Need Is Love” – and that we were part of it. But as it turned out, something was missing. And just when I saw the (r)evolutionary fervor of the counterculture beginning to slip away, it was another Beatles lyric that suggested the reason. It was in the song “Revolution” on their 1968 White Album:
You say you want a revolution.
Well, you know, we all want to change the world.
You say you got a real solution.
Well, you know, we’d all love to see the plan.
The plan. That’s what was missing then and what is still missing today. Where is the plan? How precisely do we go about changing the world? What does changing the world actually mean? And what’s love got to do with it?
If I had to reduce my life’s philosophy to a single word, it would be, Yes! With an exclam. And if I were asked to describe with one word the emotional expression of that philosophy, that word would be, Love! Also with an exclam.
So I’m sticking with the Beatles announcement that love is all we need, because it is the emotional expression of the only social philosophy that can truly change the world.
But if love is the answer, and if we all have had the pleasure of expressing it and the joy of receiving it, why have we not universally adopted it as our zeitgeist? I’m going with the Beatles on that issue as well. We have not adopted it as the solution because we can’t imagine how it would work in the real world. There’s no plan.
So in the absence of such a plan, and in response to the Beatles request, I am here to offer one for your consideration. It’s called the Whole Earth Design Project, inspired by R. Buckminster Fuller, the futurist whose many designs and inventions included the geodesic dome and who early on recognized that we are all passengers and crew members alike aboard Spaceship Earth.
In the 1960s, Fuller proposed a project he called the World Game, the objective of which was to demonstrate “how to make the world work.” His idea was to take an inventory of all the planet’s human and natural resources and all of humankind’s needs, feed the data into a giant computer, and then invite teams of experts to manipulate the data in a collective search for a way to organize society that would result in “the success of all humanity.”
Fuller imagined that the work of his teams of experts would capture the attention and the imagination of the world’s population; that as the world observed and began to understand the importance of the principles being developed en route to the declared objective, people would begin to modify their own lives accordingly; and that this process would continue until the moment when all of the pieces fell into place and resulted in a near-spontaneous worldwide social transformation.
That project never got off the ground as Fuller intended. However, since then, two important developments have made such an effort considerably more feasible: the exponential growth in the power of computers and the explosive growth in communication. Therefore, with a tip of the hat to “Bucky” Fuller, the time now seems right for the launch of a 21st century version of his vision.
The ultimate objective of the Whole Earth Design Project is to design, in cyberspace, an ecologically and environmentally sustainable economic system capable of providing every individual on the planet with all of life’s essentials that can serve as a template for a new economic system in the real world, one that will result in “the success of all humanity,” as Fuller imagined.
In the pursuit of that objective, following is a summary of the project’s four stages as presently conceived:
STAGE I: Confirm the project’s feasibility. Here’s how:
The WEDP will organize ten workgroups to conduct broad-stroke surveys of the individuals and organizations most knowledgeable about ten of life’s essentials: clean and safe air, water, food, clothing, and shelter, as well as access to communication, information, transportation, health care, and energy.
The purpose of the surveys is to produce expert-sourced answers to the following three bedrock questions:
1. What percentage of the population now has access to each essential?
2. How many additional workers would be required to extend that access to the rest of the population, and how long would it take?
3. Once universal access is established, how many workers would be required thereafter to maintain that access?
Note that the answers to questions two and three are to be expressed in terms of human labor rather than monetary costs, a significant distinction that will serve to reveal the essential cause of society’s present dysfunction while simultaneously identifying the solution.
If those questions asked “how much money would be required,” rather than “how many additional workers,” the results would clearly indicate that universal access to life’s essentials is demonstrably impossible given the present state of the world’s financial system.
On the other hand, by measuring the cost of universal life support in the units of labor required to produce it, the resulting report will support the startling revelation that, “There is enough for everyone!” Thereby undercutting scarcity as the cause and the justification for adopting competition as the driving social force in the world with capitalism, or money-ism, serving as competition’s facilitator and score-keeping mechanism.
Fifty years ago, Fuller expressed the opinion that 60 percent of jobs in the United States produced nothing of life-sustaining value. Today, that figure is likely to be closer to 80 percent. (Think bankers, lawyers, accountants, cashiers, meter maids, the military, etc., versus farmers, doctors, plumbers, electricians, etc.)
The Stage I survey results will vividly demonstrate that the abundance of available human, natural, and technological resources make it possible for an all-hands worldwide emergency effort to bring the planet’s entire population up to a humane and sustainable standard of living in just a few short years; and that the maintenance of that standard would require as little as the equivalent of a day a week from each of us as our individual contribution to the smooth functioning of the newly designed economic system.
STAGE II: Fill in the details. Here’s how:
Utilizing existing Geographic Information System (GIS) software, we will create the framework for a virtual world in cyberspace. We will begin by geographically locating needs and resources by continents and regions, collecting the gross statistics from various government, trade, professional, and philanthropic organizations. Then, with the aid of a worldwide army of VIGs (volunteer information gatherers) − drawn to the design project by its dramatic declaration of possibilities − we will dissect those gross statistics by locating needs and resources down through increasingly detailed geographic layers until they identify and embrace the entire human population, city by city, town by town, neighborhood by neighborhood, home by home, and individual by individual, resulting in what amounts to the first Earth-wide census.
STAGE III: Complete the winning design. Here’s how:
First, assume a post-coalescent world, that is, a world toward which we are all striving, one where we act as a global family, looking after one another, sharing burdens, celebrating life together. Next, assume an entirely new operating system in which violence and money are no longer elements of control. Therefore, no armies and no banks, and none of their offspring or various instrumentalities. Then, without regard to any matters financial, political, or legal, but with a laser-like focus on the simple and direct objective of providing everyone on the planet with all of life’s essential goods and services, begin connecting resources with needs by way of the shortest and most direct routes, a process facilitated by the Internet’s capacity for communication, collaboration, coordination, and cooperation.
By so connecting the “resource” dots with the “need” dots, out of the design project will emerge an economic model so dramatically superior to the one we have now that, if adopted, would improve the lives of 99.99 percent of the world’s population.
This begs the question: If it can be shown that this is so, what could possibly prevent the overwhelming majority of the population from adopting that system?
STAGE IV: Promote the winning design. Here’s how:
By now the Whole Earth Design Project will have become a movement, with a capital M, supported by the millions who have participated in assembling the data. Call it the Whole Earth Movement. Or the Coalescence Movement. But by giving it a name, it can serve as a banner under which all organizations and individuals trying to make this a better world can march in oneness of purpose.
Then, give this new movement a symbol, a logo, that can be used to express support. The early Christians had the fish symbol and now the cross, Jews have the Star of David, Churchill used the V for Victory sign, the anti-war movement had the peace sign, and the Nazis had the swastika. Here’s a suggestion for the Whole Earth Movement:
What does it mean? One version of its intended meaning is that a united world [()] is better than [>] a divided world [)(]. Encourage those who agree with that sentiment to draw it in the sand, wear it on a button, stick it on a bumper, put it on a T-shirt, and include it in email messages.
Next, armed with all the facts and a powerful message, launch the fiercest public relations, promotion, publicity and proselytizing campaign the world has ever seen. Let it be known that − beyond the shadow of a doubt − under the proposed economic system there will no longer be cause for economic anxiety. No one will lose their home. Everyone will have enough to eat. No one will die of malaria. Everyone will have clean and safe water to drink and air to breathe. And so on, through the whole list of life’s necessities.
By now we will have developed the project’s virtual world in cyberspace, using Geographic Information System software, and made it available to the public for inspection via the Internet in much the same way that Google Earth is available to the public. They can zoom in anywhere on the globe for a closer look at local conditions or pull back for the larger picture. In this way the world can follow the design project’s progress, as Fuller imagined.
And by now we will have also developed an avatar program with which individuals can represent themselves while exploring their possible roles in the new economy. The beauty of the Whole Earth Design Project and the key to its success is that each individual’s participation will be discussed and agreed upon and then foreshadowed in the project’s virtual world.
Thus, the new society will be collectively designed in cyberspace before being recreated in the real world, having had all the details, including each individual’s role, worked out agreeably in advance. There will be much exciting and rewarding work to do during the one-off period of global reconstruction to bring everyone up to a humane standard of living. Thereafter, there will suddenly be so little work that for many adjusting to a life of leisure may prove to be the greater challenge.
When finally the vast majority of the population − 99 percent? − has signed on to the program, we will set a date, have a fantastic planetary celebration, and then get to work. There’s an entire planet that needs healing and a whole new world of possibilities ready to be explored.
Thus, we will have produced what the Beatles wanted to see, that is, a plan for a solution that would result in a world-changing (r)evolution. Dare we call it love?
Bertrand Russell said, “The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.”
I believe the WEDP meets that challenge. I invite you to join in its launch by participating as a volunteer journalist/researcher in one of the ten Stage I surveys that will lay the foundation for the great coming together, the advent of the coming global coalescence.
Meanwhile, click here to gain free access to the book that articulates the social philosophy that serves as the basis for the WEDP: “THE COMING GLOBAL COALESCENCE – How Powerful Evolutionary Forces Are Transforming Seven Billion Individuals Into a Single Harmonious Social Organism.”