Buckminster Fuller on the Differences Between Class One and Class Two Cultural and Social Evolution

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an excerpt from Critical Path by Bucky Fuller:

“Class-one evolution had human fathers and mothers for multimillions of years serving as the memory-bank authority that showed children what they could safely eat and how to communicate. The parents told the children what they could or could not do to get along with the “system” into which they were born. The parents told the children what they should or should not believe. To history’s children the parents were “the authority.”

The myriad esoteric, illiterate ways in which the parents communicated to their children were parroted by the children. Thus were esoteric dialects proliferated until their many progressive deviations multiplied the many initially different world languages. It was class-one evolution that in the mid-1920s disclosed to the world’s children and their parents that the voice coming over the radIto had more up-to-the-minute information regarding many more subjects than had the parents. The parents did not tell the children that the radio people had more authoritative information—it was self-evident to the children, who witnessed their parents running next door to the neighbors to tell them what the radio people had just told them.

The people who were selected as broadcasters by the radio stations were selected for the “commonality of their diction” in contradistinction to the millions of esoteric jargons with which the parents had communicated.

The radio people were also picked for the size and richness of their vocabularies and the facility with which they drew upon such conventionalized vocabularies.

Because it was self-evident to the children that the radio people were greater authorities than their parents, the children now emulated the diction and vocabularies of the radio people. Not to be belittled in their children’s estimation, the parents learned the commonly accepted radio people’s pronunciation of an ever-enlarging conventional vocabulary. Within half a century (two human generations) this completely altered and improved the world’s languages.

The speed of sound is approximately 700 miles per hour. The speed of light is 700 million miles per hour. Sound can travel only in conducting mediums—for instance, in the Earth’s atmosphere. Electromagnetic radiation can travel indefinitely through Universe. The amount of information humans can acquire visually is a millionfold greater in range, speed, and meaning than is the information they acquire aurally.

The university and college students who became the first to make world news as dissidents in 1965 and 1966 were born in the years TV came into the American home. The class of ‘66ers were the first human beings to be raised by the “third parent,” whose TV voice and TV presence were often heard and felt by the children much more than those of the two blood parents. TV daily briefed them visually—ergo, vividly—on the world around news, regarding the world’s continual aches, pains, disasters, Olympic triumphs, etc.

The young were saying, ‘I know that Dad and Mom love me to pieces, and I love them to pieces, but they don’t know what it’s all about. They come home from the office or golf links or hairdressers and sit down to beer and small talk or ‘sitcoms.’ They have nothing to do with our going to Vietnam.

They have nothing to do with our going to the Moon. They have nothing to do with anything except earning a living—and spending it on TV advertised goods. The whole world is in great trouble. My compassion is for all the people anywhere who are in trouble. Since the older people don’t seem to know what is going on and are too preoccupied with irrelevancies, I and my contemporaries must do our own thinking and find out what needs to be done to make the world work.’

As we wrote in the opening lines of our ‘Self-Disciplines,’ Chapter 4, up to the time of the radio the older people were always saying to the young, ‘Never mind what you think. Listen. We are trying to teach you.’

With the TV making it clear to the young that the parents did not know much about anything and were not ‘the authority,’ the young, responding to intuition, said to themselves, ‘I am going to have to do my own thinking and take my own actions.’ Nonetheless, they were utterly unskilled in world affairs, highly idealistic, and easily exploitable.

The abrupt, spontaneous historical events on the Berkley campus of the University of California and elsewhere occasioned youth’s discarding forever the authority of their elders. The Class of 1966 shocked the world by saying that it felt no special loyalty to its families, its university, its state, or its nation. The youth of the Class of 1966 were thought by the oldsters to be shockingly immoral and lacking in idealism. Not so!

They were as idealistic and full of compassion as any child has ever been, but their loyalty was to all humanity. They were no longer the victims of local class or racial bias. Their idealism was at first skillfully exploited by the psycho-guerrilla warfaring of the communist-capitalist secret operations. “

Fuller goes on to explain how the invention of the computer and many additional technological discoveries have inadvertently advanced social evolution without the conscious intervention of any human beings.

Here is another excerpt. It explains how class-one and class-two evolution are related. Class-one evolution contains class-two which flows from conscious human intentions.

“Occurring after millions of years of absolute unquestioned caring for the young by the authority of the elders, this metaphysical cutoff—like its physical counterpart, the cutting of umbilical cord after the child is born and has access to its own oxygen—occurred when humanity had acquired enough relevantly critical information to be able to proceed on its own initiatives divested of the many misinterpretations by the elders as to the significance of total information. This cut-off experience is typical of all class-one evolution, which is always transcendental to all class-two evolution—to human planning, contriving, manipulation, or corruption.

Also typical of class-one evolution are the two trends we have mentioned so many times in previous chapters— the invisible chemical, metallurgical, and electronic production of ever-more-efficient and satisfyingly effective performance with the investment of ever-less weight and volume of materials per unit function formed or performed—i.e., ephemeralization — accomplished within ever-less increments of time—acceleration.

These coordinate class-one evolutionary trendings, which have been manifest for three quarters of a century, are as yet unrecognized by any world economists, heads of state, or business leaders. Though there is a popular intuition that acceleration may be in evidence, it is not officially heeded. Individuals amongst political and business leaders are often aware of changing conditions, such as that which makes suddenly available a pocket calculator or a quartz watch. They do not comprehend that these individual ‘goodies’ are parts of overall ephemeralization and acceleration trending that, within only three quarters of a century, has converted those enjoying an adequate and pleasing standard of living from less than 1 percent of all humanity in 1900 to 60 percent of all humanity in 1980, the latter enjoying an even higher standard of living than had been enjoyed before 1900 by any of the world’s kings or financial potentates of all history. Class-one evolution alone accounts for the doubling within this century of the life ‘expectancy’ of that 60 percent of all humanity which, by 1980, has had its standard of living so spectacularly advanced."

(fb thread, September 2019)