“Bucky” didn’t get very far, or did he?

I was asking: How does Reform or Change Really Take Place? Psychoanalytic work, and work on organizations, change processes etc were at the centre of my professional life. My personal history contains history of science and philosophy, especially of scientific discovery. I believe that monetary reform is needed, and that the need for it is known and evidenced, but very little movement takes place.

The world seems to be repeating its dysfunctional history at present even while it is full of real resources and technological advance. The problem of a crazy dysfunctional monetary system seems to be unheeded in wider contexts, even though its history and problems are visible, and probably known. Is it that it is deemed impossible to resolve, as no-one is in a position to have effect on enough parts of the dysfunctional system? I came across Buckminster Fuller:

“In order to change an existing paradigm, you do not struggle to try and change the paradigmatic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete. That, in essence, is the higher service to which we are all called”.

[see also a documentary on Resource Based Economy, Thinking out Loud]

Then I found more quotes from ‘Bucky’ Fuller. I want to agree with all of them; but if they are indeed correct, why are we still dysfunctional? What is missing?

Evolution is integrating all of humanity…

Race between Education and Catastrophe…

Highly feasible to take care of all of humanity at a higher standard of living… everybody can enjoy the whole earth… by 1985…

Like many highly intelligent men, thoughtful scientists, believers in social justice, he tried to persuade all to see the vision he saw, the possibility of paradigm. His biographers say he did not fit anywhere. He did not fit in the systems or cultures around him.

The elementary principle of all deception is to attract the enemy’s attention to what you wish him to see and to distract his attention from what you so not wish him to see – [General Sir Archibald Wavel] The world’s power structures have always ‘divided to conquer’ and have always ‘kept divided to keep conquered.’ As a consequence the power structure has so divided humanity – not only into special function categories but into religious and language and color categories – that individual humans are now helplessly inarticulate in the face of the present crisis. They consider their political representation to be completely corrupted, therefore, they feel almost utterly helpless”
R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

“If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.”

The new favorable-to-humans environment constituted by the technological inventions and information must demonstrate that new inanimate technology could now accomplish what heretofore could not be accomplished by social reforms. I sought to reform the environment, not the humans. I determined never to try to persuade humanity to alter its customs and viewpoints.” In this declaration, we find Bucky’s thought that one way to help and change people for the better is not to try to change their thinking, but to change their environment for the better. The change will do the work of allowing others to find their own betterment of thought. He was suggesting that social reform does not always help people because their physical environment is so unimproved.

“Since the initial publication of the chart of the electromagnetic spectrum, humans have learned that what they can touch, smell, see, and hear is less than one-millionth of reality.”
I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing—a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process—an integral function of the universe.
I would never try to reform man—that’s much too difficult. What I would do was to try to modify the environment in such a way as to get man moving in preferred directions. … I must commit myself to reforming the environment and not man, being absolutely confident that if you give man the right environment, he will behave favorably.

And, many more, hence the following remarks from others writing about his work.

“Bucky was very clear that he felt there were two major areas of human endeavor that needed this prosperity understanding: politics and big business. Both of these fields are guilty in his mind of doing what is best for their personal goals rather than what is best for the well-being of all. I’m sure he would have acknowledged exceptions to this thought, but in general he felt human progress depended on these two areas changing their views on how to prosper. The welfare of others must become the driving motivation behind their efforts. Can you imagine politicians who always voted according to their inner guidance without any concern about what would get them reelected, or corporations that depended on the value of their product to boost sales without trying to sell people on why they have to buy it? There are many other selfmotivating problems that go with modern politics and big business.”
Phillip M. Pierson, Metaphysics of Buckminster Fuller: How to Let the Universe Work for You!

“The drifting of continents—now universally accepted as plate tectonics—is far too gradual for humans to perceive. The same is true for other highly significant phenomena. When Charles Darwin first proposed natural selection, he faced at least as much resistance as Wegener; although his theory explained myriad observations, nobody had actually seen finches evolving. Likewise, the effects of our own collective activity—such as climate change and loss of biodiversity—are almost invisible to us, because the impact spans the whole planet, growing over centuries. Like plate tectonics and evolution, the arrival of the Anthropocene epoch is not a human-scale phenomenon. Buckminster Fuller conceived the Geoscope as a tool to help humans attain a global perspective, to see worldwide events and to probe geological time. It was to be an instrument for scoping Earth’s patterns—an instrument of comprehensive anticipatory design science. And though it was never built adjacent to the United Nations, he always carried one in his head. In order to anticipate comprehensively, the present-day design scientist must do as he did. Design scientists must be sensitive to natural patterns of change and human patterns of activity, extrapolating from fragmentary evidence. In the Anthropocene, these patterns will be interrelated. And since human activity is the driving force, they not only can be observed but also can be impacted. However, patterns must be detected before they become settled, before the consequences are foregone conclusions. Unlike Wegener and Darwin, the design scientist cannot be passive. Jonathan Keats, You Belong to the Universe: Buckminster Fuller and the Future

Extract from from this last quote – human activity is the driving force

Analysis of human activity – not its effects, but its inner motivations – is at least one thing apparently missing from Bucky’s understanding, or from those who quote him. Many others also try to follow “the call to higher service” in monetary reform and in other ways, there are many websites and books proposing new models to make a better world. [One of the best is Joseph Beuys, that I drew on a few months ago when developing my own thinking.] Let the old become obsolete. If the root problem, the driving force is human activity, then what part of human are we going to make obsolete? Can this be done? I think not, so the path to reform is not just through the new modelling, nor is it through “changing the mindsets” which is something I have often said myself. It is both these, and also vigilance in feeling and paying attention to the “human” in all its aspects, and in all its contexts.

Thus the last quote from Bucky is the one that matters most.

I would never try to reform man—that’s much too difficult. What I would do was to try to modify the environment in such a way as to get man moving in preferred directions. … I must commit myself to reforming the environment and not man, being absolutely confident that if you give man the right environment, he will behave favorably.

[An aside – It is a pity he said “man” not human, of his time, he did not listen to female perspectives that ask that 100% of humanity be heard, the powerful and the weak, the brave and the cowardly, even the gender-certain and those of gender different from the accepted either/or norm. ]

However, the real pity is that he did not say: It is humans who create emotional as well as physical material environments, the humans and their environments are a complex ecological system. To develop, and change, we must find our way through and beyond a system that we are already in.

Those who assess physical and mental health now know, and say: “It is a public scandal that children who suffer adverse conditions are not offered the appropriate support”. For example, in one book, “The Body Keeps the Score” Bessel Van der Kolk draws on 30 years of experience to argue powerfully that trauma is one of the West’s most urgent public health issues. The list of its effects is long: on mental and physical health, employment, education, crime, relationships, domestic or family abuse, alcoholism, drug addiction. “We all want to live in a world that is safe, manageable… predictable, and victims remind us that this is not always the case,” says van der Kolk. When no one wants to hear about a person’s trauma, it finds a way to manifest in their body. From this body of knowledge, we now know that trauma may not be the major abuse that finds its way to a newspaper or a court of law, trauma can be invisible, a paradigmatic view of upbringing, that leads to states of mind that function by resisting change.

As Einstein said “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” and “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”

The Monetary System will only change by both establishing the ‘new model’ that can be believed, and by fighting the damage that has been done to all through the adherence to the ‘old model’. Doing either and both of these needs to heed the psychology of emotion, mind and cultural embeddedness, the nature of being human.


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