By Robert Anton Wilson
from Future Life, #26, May 1981
The publication of R. Buckminster Fuller’s new book, Critical Path, is an event of historical importance, because the survival of humanity might – just might – depend on how many people read and understand what Dr. Fuller has to say.
Everybody knows that we are walking a tightrope over an abyss; that the arms race, for instance, will either bankrupt us, if we continue it indefinitely, or incinerate us, if we end it the only obvious way, by “jumping them before they jump us.” Everybody knows that if either Russia or the U.S. launches its nuclear missiles, the other side will have 20 minutes (thanks to satellite surveillance) to fire back every thing they’ve got before they’re even hit. And yet, in this no-win situation, we seem trapped. Having gotten into this highly lethal game, we don’t know how to get out. We drift and stagger blindly toward Doomsday, wondering why God or history played such a dirty trick on us.
According to Dr. Fuller, this rendezvous with apocalypse only seems inevitable, because 99 percent of the human race believes things that simply are not so. We believe, for instance, that there aren’t enough resources (matter and energy) to go around; that every group has to plot and scheme like Machiavellians to outwit every other group and get enough to survive; that this plotting and scheming is inescapable (even though obviously ever-more-dangerous-to-all) because any group that stops plotting and scheming will be jumped and plundered by one or all of the others.
Bucky Fuller roundly asserts that this whole eat-or-be-eaten philosophy (which is the unspoken belief system guiding all governments, capitalist and communist) is not partly but totally wrong. The initial assumption is invalid, and every single conclusion drawn from that assumption is therefore unreal. We have created the abyss by misunderstanding the nature of the physical universe.
There is more than enough to go around, Fuller insists. Every “tough, pragmatic, strategic” plot and scheme based on the assumption that there isn’t enough to go around is fictitious.
“It no longer has to be me or you,” Fuller asserts. “Selfishness is unnecessary and henceforth unrationalizable as mandated by survival.” Machiavelli is obsolete; we now have more to gain by cooperating than by plotting how to plunder each other.
Does this sound too good to be true? It should be remembered that Bucky Fuller is not some idealistic youth left over from the ’60s. At the age of 85, he has nearly 70 years experience as inventor, thinker, Naval officer, architect, executive and consultant to corporations and governments. He has time and again proven that his most controversial ideas are practical and workable.
And the Claim that there is abundance for all isn’t Bucky’s alone; it is backed up by more than 20 years of the “World Game,” a computer simulation of energy-resources problems in which he has collaborated with literally thousands of other scientists and technicians. Fuller gives specific, detailed plans to implement each claim he makes (and further details are given in a companion volume, Ho-Ping: Food for Everyone by World Game associate Medard Gabel).
The strategy of scheming and plotting to get the jump on the other guy, then, is not “pragmatic,” not “realistic,” not a “necessary evil.” It is a totally unnecessary evil, continued only because (as Fuller keeps repeating) 99 percent of the human race does not know the facts about the energy available on this planet.
In the last ten years, according to Fuller, humanity crossed an evolutionary threshold, unnoted by anybody except a few scientists connected with the WorId Game. We have arrived at the position where we know how to give everybody on the planet enough matter and energy to make them, in terms of money, all as rich as David Rockefeller.
There is not only enough for all; there is abundance for all. And we are still plotting and scheming to bully each other out of nickels and dimes, comparatively speaking.
At this time when (after thousands of years of invention and discovery) real scarcity has at last been vanquished, we are maintaining artificial scarcity because of sheer ignorance. “Technologically,” Fuller writes, “we now have four billion billionaires onboard Spaceship Earth who are entirely unaware of their good fortune. Unbeknownst to them, their legacy is being held in probate by general ignorance, fear [and] selfishness. ”
In short, humanity has already achieved, technically, the total success all Utopians ever dreamed of; our problems now are entirely due to wrong thinking. We are in the tragic-comic predicament of two crazed men dying of thirst, fighting over a teaspoon of water in the middle of a rainstorm. We cannot see the rainstorm because we are hypnotized by emergency-reflexes fixated on the teaspoon.
(Specifically, Fuller indicates, for instance, that investment in nuclear energy has made our corporate elite unwilling to see, hear, think or know anything about the much safer, cheaper and more abundant energy available by utilizing solar power to the utmost and interconnecting our electrical networks worldwide.)
Of course, it is impossible to review adequately a book like Critical Path, in which every word in its 448 pages has been carefully chosen by a mind of genius to convey maximum information with maximum precision. All I can add is that, while I got my review copy free, I intend to buy ten more copies of Critical Path and send them to ten of the most intelligent people I know.
Our future depends on how many people understand what Fuller is saying.
Robert Anton Wilson, PhD, is a director of the Institute for the Study of the Human Future in Berkeley, Cal., and the author of several science-fiction novels including Illuminatus (with Robert Shea) and the Schrödinger’s Cat trilogy.