Today, we finish the story of modern humanity written in 1981 by Buckminster Fuller. My annotations will be italicized and demarcated with an asterisk. This is the eight post of the Human History Series.
R. Buckminster Fuller
As of 1980, the Russians have now attained so commanding a lead in the killingry poker game that even the U.S.A. president concedes that it would take the U.S.A. a minimum of ten years to restrategy itself so that it could in any way cope with the Russians’ conventional naval supremacy and its vastly greater numbers of modernly armed divisions of world-around warfaring capabilities.
*Fuller’s description of the human condition in 1980 was insightful and accurate. He was very afraid for the human species. If the Soviet Union’s military had decided to call the Americans’ bluff, it appeared they had the military power to control the Earth. The only way American could have stopped them was with nuclear weapons. This would have risked Armageddon.
The newly elected American President Ronald Reagan was in full agreement with this assessment and his first act upon taking office was to massively increase military spending in order to catch up with the Soviets. This action further increased tensions between the Americans and the Soviets already escalating because of the Soviet-Afghan War.
Fuller would die before seeing how humanity would escape from what Fuller would have called WW IV. What did happen?
The following explanation is from the Microsoft 97 Encarta Encyclopedia:
On December 25, 1979, Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan. They quickly won control of Kabul and other important centers. The Soviets executed Amin the then President of Afghanistan on December 27 and installed the pro-Soviet Babrak Karmal as president.
Karmal denounced Amin’s repressive policies and promised to combine social and economic reform with respect for Islam and for Afghan traditions. But the government, dependent on Soviet military forces, was unpopular, and the rebellion intensified. During the next few years about 3 million war refugees fled to Pakistan and 1.5 million fled to Iran. Many refugees also moved from the countryside to Kabul. The antigovernment guerrilla forces included dozens of factions. They operated from bases around Peshawar, Pakistan, and, to a lesser extent, in Iran. They were sustained by weapons and money from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and China. By the mid-1980s the United States was spending hundreds of millions of dollars each year to aid Afghan rebels based in Pakistan.
During the 1980s Soviet forces increasingly bore the brunt of the fighting. By 1986 about 118,000 Soviet troops and 50,000 Afghan government troops were facing perhaps 130,000 guerrillas. Although the Soviet troops used modern equipment, including tanks and bombers, the guerrillas were also well armed, and they had local support and operated more effectively in familiar mountainous terrain. In 1986 the United States began supplying the rebels with Stinger missiles able to shoot down Soviet armored helicopters.
*In 1980, Fuller believed humanity was at a evolutionary cusp with as little as ten years to embrace a synergic alternative. He died three years later never to know that humanity would be given a reprieve by a man named Gorbachev. Again from Encarta.
The effects of the war on Afghanistan were devastating. Half of the population was displaced inside the country, forced to migrate outside the country, wounded, or killed. Estimates of combat fatalities range between 700,000 and 1.3 million people. With the school system largely destroyed, industrialization severely restricted, and large irrigation projects badly damaged, the economy of the country was crippled. The effects were little better on the moral and confidence of the Soviet people.
When Mikhail Gorbachev became the Soviet leader in 1985, he gave high priority to getting Soviet troops out of the costly, unpopular, unwinnable war in Afghanistan. In May 1988 Afghanistan, Pakistan, the USSR, and the United States signed agreements providing for an end to foreign intervention in Afghanistan, and the USSR began withdrawing its forces. The Soviet withdrawal was completed in February 1989.
At home Gorbachev sought to reform Soviet society by introducing perestroika (Russian restructuring) of the economy and glasnost’ (Russian openness) in political and cultural affairs. He augmented the authority of the Soviet presidency and transferred power from the Communist Party to popularly elected legislatures in the union republics. In international affairs, he withdrew Soviet troops from Afghanistan, normalized relations with China, signed a series of arms control agreements with U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush, and cooperated with the U.S.-led effort to oust Iraq-a longtime Soviet ally-from Kuwait (Persian Gulf War). For helping to end the cold war and allowing former Soviet-bloc countries in Eastern Europe to oust their Communist regimes, Gorbachev was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October 1990.
In 1991, as the Soviet economy deteriorated, Gorbachev faced competing pressures from hard-line Communists, from free-market reformers, and from nationalists and secessionists seeking independence for their republics. The hard-liners, who included many top government officials, staged a coup in August, placing Gorbachev under house arrest, but within three days the reformers had restored Gorbachev to power. He immediately resigned as Communist Party general secretary, suspended party activities, and placed reformers in charge of the military and KGB. After allowing Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to become independent republics. Nationalist forces became stronger in the republics as the year went on. The USSR voted itself out of existence in December 1991, and Gorbachev resigned his position as president of the USSR.
*But despite his fears, Fuller writing eleven years earlier in 1980 was optimistic. We now return to the conclusion of Legally Piggily.
But, in fact, I have been studying and working anticipatorily throughout all those intervening fifty-three years, and I know what I am talking about. The world now has an option to become comprehensively and sustainingly successful–for all–and that is what this book (Critical Path) is about: How to do so … and do so expeditiously enough to succeed within the time limit. How to do so is implicit in the chapters that follow starting with the manner in which I came to discover the critical options and the individual self-disciplines that came naturally to disclose the grand strategy of human survival and successful functioning.
Fortunately, the Sun does not demand payment for all the energy that it delivers by radiation to Earth in the overall cosmic scheme, which is trying to make humanity a success despite our overwhelming ignorance and fear. The stars are trying to tell humanity to awake and prosper and to consciously assume the important cosmic responsibilities for which it was designed. Since realization and fulfillment of that responsibility involve evolutionary discovery by humanity of the cosmic stature of its mind and the inconsequentiality of its muscle, the planting of humans on Earth may not bear fruit.
When Universe is developing important functional interdependencies, she does not put all her embryos in the same proverbial basket, (or fiscus). So poor is the probability of self-discovery by humans of the infinite potential of the mind and the relative triviality of human musclepower (which is not even as capable as a grasshopper’s) great nature must have planted a myriad of human-function-equivalent seedlings on a myriad of planets. In order to succeed as local-in-Universe critical information-gatherers and local-in-universe problem-solvers in support of the integrity of eternally regenerative scenario Universe, the human-function equipment for local-in-universe information-gathering will be as variable as the varied environments in Universe. Rarely will they have the appearance of human organisms–such would be employed only under environmental conditions similar to those of planet Earth.
The first manifestation that humanity may make good on this planet will be the serious introduction of cosmic costing into the mainstream deliberations of Earthians.
Cosmic accounting completely eliminates the economic validity of bankruptcy accounting, except when humans make the mistake of trying to hoard or withdraw critical capital assets from production functioning. Withdrawal of capital assets is akin to attempting to withdraw one of the stars from the celestial system. Into what Universe, other than the cosmic totality, may the star be transferred? Every atom and electron is an essential part of the eternally regenerative ergo, totally inexhaustible (but always locally ebbing and flooding)–pulsative Universe.
Thus concluded Legally Piggily. Fuller went on in the remainder of his book Critical Path to describe how working together for all of humanity, we could make it. Fuller believed that, working together, we humans have the resources, science, and technology, to make the world work for everybody–for all six billion of us.
Fuller’s last public words for his fellow humans were spoken on February 14, 1983:
Human integrity is the uncompromising courage of self determining whether or not to take initiatives, support or cooperate with others in accord with All the truth and nothing but the truth as it is conceived by the divine mind always available in each individual.
Whether humanity is to continue and comprehensively prosper on Spaceship Earth depends entirely on the integrity of the human individuals and not on the political and economic systems.
The cosmic question has been asked—Are humans a worthwhile to universe invention?