The Beatles and the Whole Earth Design Project
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?