Chapter Thirteen: New Tools and New Hope
We did not choose the conditions of our own birth.
We were born at a time after humans had lived on this world for a very long time. These people made certain decisions, built certain structures, and made certain discoveries. Many of these discoveries were truly wonderful and had great potential for making the world a better place for humans to live.
Let’s consider an important example: In 1905 Albert Einstein, figured out that energy and matter were two different forms of the same thing. He wrote two papers on this issue, one that made him famous because it had enormous military applications (eventually leading to nuclear weapons) and another that wasn’t very widely known but had incredible potential for making the world a better place. This second paper explained that energy from sunlight could be changed directly into mass, converting itself from pure energy with no mass into a particle (now called a ‘photon’) which had enough mass to push electrons through wire with great force.
‘Moving electrons’ is the definition of ‘electricity.’
Einstein’s lesser known paper explains that it is possible to turn the most abundant energy source available to us here on Earth—sunlight—into electricity. We can then use that electricity to power appliances, lights, air conditioners, heaters, factories that make anything (including more photoelectric devices to make even more electricity) trains, cars, and anything else that works off of electricity. (Here is a to the complete text of Einstein’s ‘The Emission and Transformation of Light,’ more commonly called ‘The Photoelectric Effect.’)
Several decades after Einstein described these things, military contractors working for the United States government were looking for a power source for satellites to spy on enemies and potentially direct weapons in remote parts of the world to targets. Einstein’s paper showed them that it was possible to use sunlight to generate electricity. They applied for funding and, because their work had critical military applications, they got it. After pouring immense amounts of capital into the project, they discovered ways to make photoelectric devices.
The devices themselves are extremely simple. To the amazing good fortune of the human race, they use the single most abundant mineral on Earth—silicon—which in its compound form makes up an amazing 87% of all of the part of the Earth we can get to. (Rocks, sand, and dirt are all made mostly of silicon dioxide.)
Once they discovered the process, the rest was simple, and now anyone can buy solar photoelectric devices just about anywhere. Since these devices use the most abundant material on Earth, they can be made extremely cheaply. (In fact, many new processes that drive down the costs have been quashed by aggressive action by the groups that profit extracting and selling fossil fuels. See this for more information.)
Einstein’s work showed that light could be changed into electricity. Electricity could then be converted into light again, if desired. Scientists soon figured out how to make this happen, using the exact same minerals needed to turn light into electricity, creating LEDs (light emitting diodes) that are far more efficient than any other light sources and are now the primary light source for both commercial and residential lighting, television screens, computer screens, phone screens, and thousands of other types of devices.
The same raw material—literally the most abundant material on this planet—can be used to channel and direct electrons in ways that allow us to ‘compute’ things: it can be made into information processors and storage devices. Now, these devices are so cheap information that once required enormous libraries can be put onto a card the size of a postage stamp that can be purchased with money that amounts to only about an hour of an ordinary workers’ wages. Factories churn out these devices by the millions each day and they are so cheap that people in the poorest countries now carry more computing power with them (in the form of smart telephones) than were used to do the calculations needed to send men to the moon and back. They can communicate with people on the other side of the world in real time, take pictures and videos that are far better than any that even existed a few generations ago and send them anywhere, they can look up any information they want to know and have it at their fingertips instantly.
These incredible discoveries would almost certainly NOT have ever come to exist if not for the military realities of the societies that existed in the world at the time they were made. Einstein would almost certainly never have been noticed if not for the fact that another of the two ideas he had about converting energy and mass back and forth didn’t have incredible military applications, including showing it was now possible to a single bomb that would be capable of destroying an entire city and killing millions of people in a matter of seconds. (Einstein was a clerk at a government office when he made his discoveries; few people pay any real attention to people in such positions unless they say something that attracts the attention of someone looking for their ideas, and the only people looking with the power to make things happen were the military contractors who search through journals in all fields looking for anything capable of helping them kill large numbers of people and destroy enormous areas more efficiently.) Military contractors built the first photoelectric devices. Military contractors built the computers. Military contractors built the first links in the internet. (We will look at how this came to pass later in the chapter.) All of this research was fantastically expensive and would almost certainly not have been undertaken if it hadn’t been for militarily realities.
As we have seen, many other important discoveries and inventions came to pass as a result of military necessity. For the 99.8% of history before nations existed, people made only tiny amounts of metals and didn’t work very hard to figure out how to make them. Once people started forming nations and began organizing the economies of each nations to make war on other nations, military planners had vast budgets to use to help them find ways to gain advantages in the wars. They were willing to pay whatever it cost to get high quality metals and people soon discovered ways to make many metals, including steel. Steel makes such fantastic weapons that militaries were wiling to pay whatever it cost to get as much of it as they could. People who could make large amounts of steel efficiently could get rich beyond the dreams of Midas. They looked for ways to turn the super-abundant iron that is all around us into this very valuable product. (About 5% of the Earth’s crust and 80% of the Earth’s core is iron). They found them. Now, giant factories—many of which are automated and turn out this extremely useful product with no significant amounts of human labor—create billions of tons of steel each year. It is made so easily and cheaply in these giant mills that a pound of high quality steel costs less today than a pound of grass. (Steel sells for about 20 cents per pound. Baled grass—used to feed horses and cattle—costs about 30 cents a pound where I live.)
The iron used to make steel is so abundant that would never even come close to running low no matter how much we use. Since it is 100% recyclable, and can be recycled as many times as desired, we can use as much of it as we want and never run out. (If a car is no longer needed, it can be melted down into new steel and cast into the parts for a new car, which can then be assembled by robots. Literally, an old car, or old steel of any kind, can be transformed into a brand new car whenever needed.) We now have so much steel, and it is so cheap, that we build truly incredible structures out of it, including tracks and bridges for trains, and trains themselves, that can move thousands of tons of cargo across continents in a few days, planes that can fly people across continents in hours, and giant residential skyscrapers that allow people to live in the way that poets often depict ‘heaven,’ high in the sky with all manner of luxuries (nearly all of which include some steel in their contraction) at their disposal. We use so many tools made out of steel that one would never be able to describe them all.
They allow us to have planes that can move people across continents in a matter of a few hours, move thousands of tons of cargo from the places it is needed to the places it is abundant, and 4 wheel drive vehicles that can take us just about anywhere humans can go in comfort and style.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the advantages that have come to the human race as a result of military realities. Military realities have also led to the creation of nuclear bombs, which are capable of destroying the human race in a matter of seconds.
Again, we did not choose the conditions of our birth.
We happened to have been born into societies that divide the planet with invisible lines into ‘nations’ and put these nations against each other using the most dangerous devices that humans can create. We all know that, given time, these weapons will be used, the human race will cease to exist, and everything that we have ever done or thought in our history will become irrelevant. People in the past set things up a certain way and made certain decisions. These decisions led to fantastic discoveries of processes and things that can make life better for humans than ever before. Unfortunately, the people in the past also made decisions that make it extremely likely that we will not survive to enjoy the benefits of these discoveries because some of the decisions people in the past have made have literally placed us at the brink of our own extinction.
Turning Shit into Wealth
People who know me say that I am extremely lucky.
A friend once put it very graphically: he said ‘you could fall into a pile of shit and come out smelling like a rose.’
But I am not lucky. I have tested the ‘you must just be luckier than most people theory’ at casinos and found it isn’t true. My odds are no better than anyone else’s. After a few tests, I realized that the laws of probability and chance worked exactly the same for me as for other people. The difference appears to be the way I think about things. I want to understand all aspects of a situation. When something happens to me that other people would instinctively say is ‘bad’ and would induce them to immediately try to get away from, I look for ways I can turn it to my advantage. Fertilizer is made of shit and people pay good money for fertilizer. If I fall into a pile of shit, I am basically falling into a pile of money. All I need to do is figure out how to best take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.
We—the members of the human race—have basically fallen into a pile of shit.
How does that information make you feel?
Do you think ‘that is horrible, how do we get out’ or do you think ‘how can we take advantage of the wonderful opportunities this brings us?’
About 6,000 years ago, people in one part of the world made certain decisions about important realities of existence. This put us onto a path that led to the world being cut into entities called ‘nations’ with imaginary lines called ‘borders.’ The nations were essentially independent entities that had total control over (sovereignty over) the land they claimed was theirs.
The land created value. The more land they had, the more value they had. The people who came to positions of authority in the nations wanted more land. They looked for the best ways to get land. They found that they could ‘conquer’ land using military force. (Conquering land doesn’t alter the land or change the nature of the people on it, it only moves the imaginary lines that separate different ‘nations.’) Other nations had to defend the land they claimed was theirs. If they couldn’t do this, nothing else that they did mattered, because the land would be conquered by another nation.
Military necessity became the most important reality of existence. It was more important than compliance with the laws of nature (nations have enacted rules that allow the destruction of nature to gain military benefits). It became more important than morality of any kind. (Wars are little more than organized mass murder and destruction of lives and property. Any reasonable moral code would discourage such acts. To be successful in war, people must be able to ignore these moral codes or twist them to make these acts appear to be moral.) It became more important than even existence itself (many nations now have the ability to destroy the entire planet and are aggressively working on new better weapons; clearly they would not do this if the existence of the human race had priority over the military interests of nations.)
This is the pile of shit we fell into.
How can this be a good thing?
Military realities have forced governments to create many structures that allow the people of the world to control important variables of existence that we could not control before these structures existed. Governments of nations have no choice but to allow these structures to exist. In fact, in many ways, some of these structures are above governments and can make governments do things that the people who created the governments tried their best to prevent anyone from ever being able to do. Military necessity requires that these structures exist. Two of the most important such structures are a particular type of corporation that has the power to control governments and force them to accept humanitarian change (through the same mechanisms that all corporations use to control governments and force them to accept change) and the amazing tool that allows us to communicate with each other through channels that the governments of the world can’t control or censor. Let’s consider corporations first:
Governments must react to military necessity, even if they realize their reactions will grant power and authority to people that the governments would prefer to not have power and authority. Washington, Jefferson, Adams, and the others who had decided to take control of the administrative apparatus in North America, in the event they named ‘the revolutionary war,’ were forced to create organizations with immense power, in order to have any chance of defeating the British in their war. They needed corporations with forever rights, which could do anything they wanted without the owners having any personal liability, with the ability to manipulate governments and make the governments do what they corporations wanted.
Once these new kinds of corporations existed, they were autonomous. They could act on their own initiative and use their power for whatever they wanted.
The new corporations were created to be military tools: they were designed to help create new and better killing tools, and to extract resources faster than ever before, so that the people who had these corporations could kill more efficiently and faster than their adversaries. They were created, and ultimately spread to the world, because of military necessity.
But once the tools existed, they were beyond the control of their creators.
It was not possible for their creators to prevent them from being used for other purposes, even if these other purposes were the opposite of the one intended. For example, if someone wanted to create a corporation that was designed to do the opposite of kill and destroy, and make killing and destruction less likely or even, eventually, impossible, this was now possible. The new corporation may actually want to accomplish humanitarian goals. It may then use the very same structures created to make destruction and war easier to help accomplish its humanitarian goals. It may create giant lobbying organizations—the same types of organizations that military corporations use to help make war more likely—to spread humanitarian ideals. There are many such corporations in the world today. Let’s consider one of the most important, which happens to also be the largest corporation of any type on planet Earth today:
Global Humanitarian Corporations
If we rate corporations them by number of employees, man-hours worked, and international presence, the largest corporation in existence as I write this is dedicated to humanitarian goals. The International Red Cross and Geneva Convention, with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, is a non-governmental humanitarian organization (NGHO). This organization was organized as a corporation under the corporate laws of the nation of Switzerland. It has opened a total of 196 individual separate corporations under the laws of 196 of the world’s nations and operates them for the same principles as the mother corporation in Switzerland. This company has the largest lobbying system in the world, with lobbies in every nation on Earth. It has 98 million workers, including employees and volunteers, who work either for the international corporation, or one of 196 separate national corporations. It takes full advantage of all of the special privileges granted to corporations in the early 1800s, and could not exist or operate as it does now if the corporate structures that Washington, Jefferson, and Adams, and the other corporate benefactors had not given corporations the rights they gave them.
The International Red Cross (IRC) and its national ‘chapters,’ as it calls its national corporations, has an agenda. It uses all of the tools and powers it has at its disposal to advance its agenda. One of its agenda is a global treaty called This document puts severe limits on the things national armies and governments can do during war, and requires them to respect certain rights. Of course, governments don’t want limits on their ability to act during war and don’t want outside agencies to have the ability to force them to respect human rights. The IRC has used its massive lobbying administration, one of the largest on the Earth, including programs that coordinate local ‘grass roots’ pressure on governments, to get all 196 nations to ratify the first protocol, and is lobbying hard for additional restrictions on acts of war and additional protections of human rights through later protocols.
The IRC is not unique. There are literally thousands of other corporations that are non-governmental humanitarian organizations (either ‘NGHOs’ or just ‘NGOs’; here is a link to a list of roughly 1,800 of the largest of such corporations).
These corporations do things that governments claim to do but generally don’t really do: they help people.
The IRC does some wonderful work. It has saved my life and saved the lives of many people I know (this is described below), and brought about real changes in many areas of society.
But it does not do what it was intended to do, when it was originally formed.
The person who formed the IRC, Henri Durant, actually had a different purpose in mind for the organization: He wanted to use it to create something called a ‘community of humankind,’ which would bring together the people of the world and give them a forum separate from their governments. He didn’t want to wait for wars to happen and then bury the dead and patch up the survivors, he wanted to create an organization that the human race could use to transfer power from the nations of the world to the people of the world, thereby reducing and ultimately eliminating the idea of ‘sovereign nations,’ and eliminating the most important structural forces that actually lead to war.
In the mid 1800s, Henri Durant realized that the world had changed.
The members of the human race were longer simply helpless victims of the actions of governments, with no ability to do anything to alter their conditions. New tools had been created. These new tools could be used to manipulate the entities called ‘nations’ and ‘governments’ to make them meet the needs of the human race. He worked almost his entire adult life on this and, as you will see below, he almost succeeded.
Unfortunately ‘almost succeeding’ at changing the world is like almost getting the winning lottery numbers: it doesn’t count. His goal was thwarted, as you will see shortly, because of firmly held beliefs of other people that worked on the same project. (The basic problem was this: One of the other people involved with the organization believed that God had created the idea of nations and created the condition called ‘war.’ Since God created it, God must intend for it to happen, and it is an offense against God to take steps that may realistically end this condition. To prevent this offense against God, the nature of the organization was changed. Details follow below.) The fact that this one person failed does not mean the goal can’t be reached. It doesn’t mean that everyone who tries the same thing in the future must necessarily fail. He was ahead of his time. Times have changed. The beliefs that prevented his success are no longer held by the majority of the people of the world, and many prominent people now look on these beliefs as silly. Perhaps someone else, armed with the full knowledge of the reason for failure of past attempts, and with additional tools that time has made available, may be able to succeed.
This book is about the historical events that shaped human societies, and created the structures that exist today. We can’t fully understand our societies without understanding the power that the tools that were original created for war can have to alter society. The events that led to the formation of the International Red Cross, and the events that prevented Durant’s vision from becoming reality, are a key part of the story.
Memories of Solferino
In June of 1859, Henri Durant, a French merchant, was traveling through Italy to meet with Napoleon III, the Emperor of France. Durant had a mercantile reason for the trip: After France conquered Algeria in 1847, the French government began selling land in Algeria to raise money for wars in other areas. Durant had purchased some of this land. The Algerian authorities accepted that he owned the land, but they had refused to accept that he owned a critical right that his title granted, the water rights.
Algeria was an occupied territory.
Under accepted rules of warfare, Algerian authorities were required to follow the rules of the occupying nation, and give Durant all of the rights he had purchased. To refuse was an act of defiance against the occupiers and an act of war. The Algerian authorities would not let Durant have the water rights. After exhausting all administrative avenues, Durant sued the Algerian officials in French courts. The courts agreed he had the rights, but they didn’t have any authority to enforce the ruling, because Algeria was a foreign country. Only the military could enforce the ruling. Durant took his case to several military officials but they didn’t have enough troops to help him. Durant was told that, if he could get the commander in chief to authorize more troops, he would get his water rights. He would have to convince Napoleon to help him.
Napoleon was not in France at the time. He was leading his military in a war against Austria. The battlefield was northern Italy. Durant traveled directly to the battlefield. He arrived at the village of Solferino, Italy on June 24, 1859. The armies had just fought a battle there and, when the Austrian army retreated, the French army followed them, leaving the dead and wounded soldiers on both sides, together with a large number of dead and wounded civilians, to rot and bake in the hot summer sun.
This event changed Durant’s perspective and his mission in life.
He felt he had to do something about the horrible consequences of war, and decided to create an organization to do something about it. Here are some excerpts from Durant’s book about the experience:
I was a mere tourist with no part whatever in this great conflict; but it was my rare privilege, through an unusual train of circumstances, to witness the moving scenes that I have resolved to describe. In these pages I give only my personal impressions; so my readers should not look here for specific details, nor for information on strategic matters; these things have their place in other writings. On that memorable twenty-fourth of June , more than 300,000 men stood facing each other; the battle line was five leagues long, and the fighting continued for more than fifteen hours.
Here is a hand-to-hand struggle in all its horror and frightfulness; Austrians and Allies trampling each other under foot, killing one another on piles of bleeding corpses, felling their enemies with their rifle butts, crushing skulls, ripping bellies open with saber and bayonet. No quarter is given; it is a sheer butchery; a struggle between savage beasts, maddened with blood and fury. Even the wounded fight to the last gasp. When they have no weapon left, they seize their enemies by the throat and tear them with their teeth.
The stillness of the night was broken by groans, by stifled sighs of anguish and suffering. Heart-rending voices kept calling for help. Who could ever describe the agonies of that fearful night! When the sun came up on the twenty-fifth, it disclosed the most dreadful sights imaginable. Bodies of men and horses covered the battlefield; corpses were strewn over roads, ditches, ravines, thickets and fields; the approaches of Solferino were literally thick with dead. The fields were devastated, wheat and corn lying flat on the ground, fences broken, orchards ruined; here and there were pools of blood. The villages were deserted and bore the scars left by musket shots, bombs, rockets, grenades and shells. Walls were broken down and pierced with gaps where cannonballs had crushed through them. Houses were riddled with holes, shattered and ruined, and their inhabitants, who had been in hiding, crouching in cellars without light or food for nearly twenty hours, were beginning to crawl out, looking stunned by the terrors they had endured. All around Solferino, and especially in the village cemetery, the ground was littered with guns, knapsacks, cartridge-boxes, mess tins, helmets, shakoes, fatigue-caps, belts, equipment of every kind, remnants of blood-stained clothing and piles of broken weapons. The poor wounded men that were being picked up all day long were ghastly pale and exhausted. Some, who had been the most badly hurt, had a stupefied look as though they could not grasp what was said to them; they stared at one out of haggard eyes, but their apparent prostration did not prevent them from feeling their pain. Others were anxious and excited by nervous strain and shaken by spasmodic trembling. Some, who had gaping wounds already beginning to show infection, were almost crazed with suffering. They begged to be put out of their misery, and writhed with faces distorted in the grip of the death struggle. There were poor fellows who had not only been hit by bullets or knocked down by shell splinters, but whose arms and legs had been broken by artillery wheels passing over them. The impact of a cylindrical bullet shatters bones into a thousand pieces, and wounds of this kind are always very serious. Shell splinters and conical bullets also cause agonizingly painful fractures, and often frightful internal injuries. All kinds of splinters, pieces of bone, scraps of clothing, equipment or footgear, dirt or pieces of lead, often aggravate the severity of a wound and double the suffering that must be borne.
Durant’s description of the horrors of the battlefield and the heroic efforts the volunteers around him mounted to try to ease the pain of the wounded goes on for many pages.
Then he gets to his point:
He talks about his idea, the idea of forming an organization that would eventually become the largest corporation the world had ever seen, with offices in every nation of the world and more employees than most nations have people:
But why have I told of all these scenes of pain and distress, and perhaps aroused painful emotions in my readers?
Why have I lingered with seeming complacency over lamentable pictures, tracing their details with what may appear desperate fidelity?
It is a natural question.
Perhaps I might answer it by another:
Would it not be possible, in time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies for the purpose of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?
Societies of this kind, once formed and their permanent existence assured, would naturally remain inactive in peacetime. But they would be always organized and ready for the possibility of war. They would have not only to secure the goodwill of the authorities of the countries in which they had been formed, but also, in case of war, to solicit from the rulers of the belligerent states authorization and facilities enabling them to do effective work.
The International Red Cross and Geneva Convention
Durant had lived in Geneva, Switzerland earlier in his life and knew people there. He decided to promote his idea in Geneva. There, he met a wealthy businessman and philanthropist named ‘Gustave Moynier.’ Moynier was interested in the project and they decided to join forces to try to make the ‘society’ that Durant advocated a reality.
Moynier had a team of attorneys on retainer. They needed a ‘vessel’ to hold this new ‘society’ they were creating, and the lawyers created a corporation that was eventually named ‘The International Red Cross and Geneva Convention.’
They incorporated this organization in 1863.
It was one of the ‘privileged’ corporations, existing under the new rules that Washington, Jefferson, and Adams had created in the western hemisphere, which had quickly spread to the eastern hemisphere. This means it had no termination date on its charter and was designed to last for as long as the founders wanted it to last (which was forever). Over the years, the Geneva office has formed corporations in 185 nations of the world and is now a collection of 186 corporations, one in each of the 185 nations of the world and the holding company that owns the 185 national companies and is headquartered in Geneva. The company’s website says it has about 98 million employees, many of whom work for the company as volunteers. For references, this is far more than any army in the world has, far more than any national government in the world has, and far more than any private for-profit company in the world has working for them. Based on its public figures, the Red Cross is the largest organization of any kind on the planet Earth.
What is its mission?
This is from the corporation’s website:
The international Red Cross and Red Crescent network is the largest humanitarian network in the world with a presence and activities in almost every country. The network is made up of all the national and international organizations around the world that are allowed to use the Red Cross or Red Crescent emblem. It also represents all the activities they undertake to relieve human suffering throughout the world.
The global network is unified and guided by seven Fundamental Principles: humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality. All Red Cross and Red Crescent activities have one central purpose: to help those who suffer, without discrimination, whether during conflict, in response to natural or man-made disasters, or due to conditions of chronic poverty.
The three parts of the global Red Cross network are the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the more than 185 national societies.
The International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the national societies are independent bodies. Each has its own individual status and exercises no authority over the others.
The highest decision-making body of the global network is the International Conference which meets every four years to ensure unity in the work of the international network and to discuss and act upon humanitarian issues of common interest. Delegates to the International Conference are members of the ICRC the IFRC, national societies and representatives from signatories to the Geneva Convention.
A large percentage of the world’s ‘privileged’ corporations have lobbying arms designed to manipulate legislation to their benefit. The Red Cross is no exception. It wants certain things and actively lobbies for its policies. One of Durant and Moynier’s first projects was the creation of a global treaty designed to limit the damage and destruction of war, called the Geneva Convention. The treaty required the signing governments to conform to certain standards and not do certain things that nations typically did during times of war, like use chemical and biological weapons, torture prisoners, bomb civilian hospitals (which could treat soldiers if they existed), and hold prisoners without notifying their families that they were in captivity.
Many military planners did not want to sign this treaty, because it would limit their ability to conduct war. Durant and Moynier’s corporation created lobbying organizations to try to get governments to agree to these terms. In many cases, even with lobbyists working full time, governments would not agree to the terms. Durant and Moynier’s corporation then brought in media experts to persuade the people of the nation to put additional pressure on their government, to get them to sign the treaty. The lobbying efforts have been very successful and, to date, the Geneva conventions have been accepted by (all of them).
Are Corporations Evil? Part Two
The Red Cross is a corporation.
I have had personal experiences with the Red Cross and it has saved my life, saved lives of my loved ones, and helped people I care about on many occasions. I want to give a few examples:
I was born with hemolytic disease of the newborn, a disease that requires a complete blood transfusion within hours of birth or the baby will die. Thanks to the Red Cross, the blood was available, and I survived. I would not have lived 24 hours without the Red Cross.
In 1983 I was in Tucson when hurricane Octave dropped 6 feet of water, destroying every bridge in town, washing out many of the roads, and cutting the utilities for, in many cases, weeks. I was driving when the road in front of me disappeared in a rush of water. I was stuck in an unfamiliar place, with no way to get anywhere.
But I saw the white tent with the Red Cross on it.
They had blankets, cots, fresh water to drink, and meals to eat, and doctors to help the wounded.
In its paper ‘The Tucson Flood of 1983,’ The Natural Research Council and the Committee on Natural Disasters points out that neither the Federal government, the state government, the county government, nor the city government had prepared for the flood. There were no contingency plans in place and the governments didn’t play any significant role in relief effort. They didn’t even activate the emergency broadcast system to notify the people that the disaster was coming or tell them what to do after it came, which was why many people, like me, had been trapped by the rushing waters.
The governments had no idea what to do. We have seen, throughout this book, that governments have other priorities. It is not their job to worry about disasters (that is what the Red Cross is for!).
The International Red Cross has teams of analysts who watch the weather all over the world looking for events like this. Their teams identify the potential for disaster and notified the governments to prepare. (Just as they did in other famous cases, like hurricane Katrina, the governments ignored the warnings; for political reasons, they often refuse to cooperate with the Red Cross, leaving their people without assistance of any kind.) The people of the Red Cross have dealt with all kinds of disasters; they have teams of dedicated experts in place who make plans and get ready to deal with problems, wherever in the world they happen. Their response teams were already in Tucson setting up relief facilities before the local government even realized a disaster was coming.
In 1996, my aunt was driving in Mexico late at night. She was going 70 miles per hour and fell asleep at the wheel. Her car ran into the median and rolled several times. The top half of the car was torn completely off, and the accident tore off half of her skull, exposing her brain, and breaking both of her arms and one of her legs.
Who helps people like this?
If you travel in Mexico, you will see volunteers collecting coins at all of the speed bumps built to slow down traffic before pedestrian crossings (called ‘topes’). The money collected, together with additional contributions from the international community, goes to buy ambulances and build networks of clinics. After my aunt crashed, people saw the wreck and notified the Red Cross. The nearest clinic sent out an ambulance, which brought her to a place where she could be treated. The volunteers at the clinic stabilized her and called me; I came down from Tucson to get her to a hospital.
She never got a bill.
They didn’t ask if she had the ability to pay.
Eventually she recovered fully from her injuries.
Without the Red Cross, what would have happened?
Perhaps passers by would have wanted to help, but what could they do?
Maybe they would have been able to get her to one of the peasant shacks along the side of the road where she may have had a little contaminated water to drink while she died, but not much else.
I had relatives whose homes were destroyed by hurricane Katrina. They told me that they were impressed by the government response: it put up big tents with red crosses on them, gave them clothing, water, food, and a place to stay.
I didn’t have the heart to tell them that the government wasn’t involved in this: a corporation did it all.
This corporation had nothing to do with the government of any nation on Earth. It was not created by any government, it was not run by any government, it was not funded by any government, and it was not under the control of any government. In fact, the government of her nation (and state, and county, and city) had initially , for political reasons, and actively worked to prevent the people affected by the disaster from getting the care and assistance they needed.
You can go through disaster after disaster.
In prisoner of war camps, the Red Cross sends packages to the prisoners, it helps prisoners get letters to their loved ones, and it provides medical care which is often the only care the prisoners are likely to get. Although Earnest Hemmingway likes to portray himself as a freedom fighter who volunteered to fight the fascists in World War one, the truth is that , and was not a fighter at all. He was an ambulance driver, one of many unpaid people who picked up wounded from the battlefield, provided emergency treatment to stabilize them, and brought them to Red Cross hospitals (again, not run by any government) for the only care they would receive. When nuclear power plants melt down and governments work to prevent the public from panicking (which would happen if they had correct information) the Red Cross sends people with potassium iodide tablets (the best prevention for cancer from people with large doses of radiation) and educates the people to the dangers, to the extent they are allowed to do so by the governments of the nations where the meltdowns occurred.
It is simply not true that governments are the only tools that humans can use to deal with global problems. History tells us that it is not true. In fact, history tells us that the new ‘privileged corporations’ are far more effective at helping the members of the human race meet common needs than global governments.
What Might Have Happened?
Volume Two of this set of books, Possible Societies, explains the way the mechanical structures of human societies function. It shows that, if we understand these structures, we can use tools that are already at our disposal in many cases to manipulate these structures to alter the nature of our societies. The Red Cross shows us that it is possible to use the tools called ‘corporations’ (particularly the ‘privileged corporations’ that came to exist after the United States of America was formed) to carry out global change.
In fact, the Red Cross was initially formed to do exactly what I will propose: create a forum for the human race which could be used to bring all members of our race together in a common structure that operated independently of the governments and nations of the world. If not for some personality conflicts, the Red Cross would have done far, far more than it has done to date:
The Red Cross was formed as a collaborative effort between two men, Henri Durant and Gustave Moynier.
The two men had entirely different visions and entirely different ideas about what the organization should be designed to do:
Durant wanted to create a comprehensive organization that would do much more than patch up people and provide relief after disasters. He wanted to create an organization that would empower the people of the world. They would be able to use the corporation as a tool to allow them to work together, outside of the auspices of their governments, and then eventually use its lobbying power to make the governments of the world conform to standards that the human race (working through the corporation) had created.
Moynier had a different goal.
Moynier was a deeply religious man who believed that God had created the world as it was.
Any attempt to change the fundamental realities of this society would go against the wishes of the Creator of existence, and were morally wrong. Our job is to accept the basics of reality and do our best to do good, in spite of the horrible forces that surround us. Moynier thought it was wrong to try to change the way the world works and would not allow Durant to put his policies into effect. The best we could do, Moynier thought, was to accept the reality of war, wait for wars to go through an area, and try to build up some karmic credits by burying the dead and providing aid to the mutilated.
Durant fought with Moynier over the goals of the International Red Cross for the next 15 years.
Durant was the president of the company; Moynier was the chairman of the board.
Durant made his proposals but the board of directors, under Moynier’s control, rejected them.
The tensions increased over the years. By the mid 1860s, the two men were no longer talking to each other. Finally, Durant decided to take the case to court: It was his idea and his company. He had a vision for it and Moynier was getting in the way. The courts would force Moynier to either accept Durant’s ideas, or remove himself from the company.
But Moynier did not give in easily. He fought back. An old saying among attorneys goes: ‘court is a place where attorneys fight over which of their clients has the most money.’ The two men both neglected their personal affairs to come up with money to pay their lawyers.
In 1868, Durant ran out of money. He had lost his home, his businesses, and everything he owned. His financial backers decided he was a lost cause and stopped sending him money. Finally, in July of that year, Durant had to file for protection under the bankruptcy laws. He was dead broke.
Moynier took advantage of this. He called a special meeting of the board of directors. He told the directors that Durant was incompetent: he couldn’t even manage his personal finances. How could they trust him to manage the huge company that the Red Cross had become? For the good of the company, Durant had to go. The board listened and fired Durant. He was broke and unemployed. He had not changed his life goal, he just lost the ability to work for it. People who had ideas for new humanitarian organizations came to him, and he supplied some of the intellectual muscle behind several important organizations that exist in the world today, but because of his reputation, he could only work behind the scenes.
The Wikapedia post for Durant describes his life after being fired from the Red Cross this way:
Durant moved to Paris, where he lived in meager conditions but he continued to pursue his humanitarian ideas and plans.
During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), he founded the Common Relief Society (Allgemeine Fürsorgegesellschaft) and soon after the Common Alliance for Order and Civilization (Allgemeine Allianz für Ordnung und Zivilisation). He argued for disarmament negotiations and for the erection of an international court to mediate international conflicts. Later he worked for the creation of a world library, an idea which had echoes in future projects such as UNESCO.
In his continued pursuit and advocacy of his ideas, he further neglected his personal situation and income, falling further in debt and being shunned by his acquaintances. He lived in poverty and moved to Heiden in 1887.
In 1901, a newspaper reporter met Durant, who was then living in a lower-class rooming house in Heiden. The reporter wrote a story on Durant which came to the notice of the newly-formed Nobel Prize committee. Alfred Nobel’s will had indicated that a special prize, called the Peace Prize, should go to a person who had best enhanced the ‘brotherhood of people,’ and done something notable to create world peace. No one had done more to this end than Durant.
His effort hadn’t worked, but he had tried and done everything he could to make it work.
Wikapedia says of his death:
He died on 30 October 1910, and his final words were "Where has humanity gone?" He outlived his nemesis Moynier by just two months. Despite the International Red Cross’s congratulations at the bestowal of the Nobel Prize, the two rivals never reached a reconciliation and none of the prize money went to the Red Cross.
We might speculate how the world would have looked today if certain things had happened a tiny bit differently in history.
For example, what if Alexander the Great had survived his assassination attempt?
What if he had had time to live a normal lifespan, and had had time to finish putting his intellect-based society into place?
People today would look back at the period when people formed ‘nations’ (the period from 4000 BC to the time Alexander’s society was completed) as a primitive time, when the people who ran human societies had no idea what they were doing. Perhaps, if Alexander had lived long enough to complete his work, people today (having eliminated the idea of nations and the problems accepting this idea creates) might think of our race as more evolved than the human race was when it accepted the idea of ‘sovereign nations’ and other primitive beliefs, superstitions, and illogical principles.
We might also speculate about what the world would look like of Moynier had been willing to listen to Durant’s ideas. What if Moynier’s parents had not raised him to believe that an invisible Superbeing in the sky created everything? What if he and Durant had worked together instead of fighting each other for the first 15 years the Red Cross existed?
Perhaps nothing would have come of it and the world would be no different than it is. Perhaps the idea would have been seen as too far out and been rejected.
But perhaps we would have a 150 year head start on forming an organization that will work to bring the entire human race together. Perhaps three would already be a forum the entire human race could use to meet their common needs that is not related in any way to the idea of ‘nations.’
Perhaps, rather than using their lobbying power to get governments to sign accords promising not to use chemical weapons in war, they would have agreed to terms that would eliminate borders entirely and eventually eliminate the idea of sovereignty entirely.
Throughout this book, I have tried to show that the societies that dominated the world for the long history of the human race were built mostly on beliefs and unprovable opinions. Certain people stood apart from the believers and had their own visions. Socrates tried to educate people that it is not immoral or heretical to use logic and reason on society, and accept that societies built on the idea of nations (which he called ‘republics’) could not meet the needs of the human race. He failed to create a general awareness of this truth. In fact, his ideas angered people so much they had Socrates put to death.
But the fact that Socrates failed doesn’t mean that the entire rest of the human race should give up on this mission.
It doesn’t mean any attempt to educate the people must fail.
Many activities in human history that eventually succeeded failed with early attempts. We can keep trying. If people continue to try, we have a chance at succeeding. The only sure way to make sure we fail is to decide we are doomed before we begin, and refuse to try.
Durant had a vision. He really did do wonderful things, probably doing more to prevent or mitigate human hardship than any human being ever had done in history.
He considered himself a failure, however.
He had failed at what he was really trying to do.
His failure is just the failure of one person. There are 7.5 billion people alive as I write this. It is not wrong for us to try again. Perhaps the conditions have changed to the point where the roadblocks that stood in Durant’s way some 160 years ago have been whittled down and can now be overcome. Perhaps there is one or more of these 7.5 million who is even more intelligent than Durant, or has more skills, talents, or other resources.
Perhaps it may be you.
How can you say for sure it is not you, unless you try?
Why The Internet Became Necessary and Had To Be Created
Governments must respond to military necessity. Sometimes, military necessity forces them to do things that they otherwise would not do. We have seen this before in history: when people discovered how to make steel, militaries had to have it. It takes a lot of people who come together in one spot to make steel. It takes a city.
The people in the city must have freedoms to engage in the business enterprises needed to cut down forests (to get wood for charcoal, needed to smelt steel), and to mine iron, build refineries, foundries, and weapons factories. They would have to be given freedom to learn the necessary skills. In order to make sure they remained ahead of enemies, they must have the ability to get information about other areas, and have some sort of schools and research facilities. The people who made the steel would have to make enough incomes to support themselves and raise families; some of them would have leisure and use this leisure to analyze the way the world worked.
Some of them may decide they didn’t like the feudal system or even the general organization of society. They may decide they want to organize themselves, a different way, and change the existing order. It is dangerous for the warlord/kings to allow cities to exist. But they had no choice.
After several thousand years, with no significant military advances, the warlord/kings had gained control of their realms. In Europe, they had created a theocracy, with no books allowed, no education allowed, no activities or organizations that might potentially threaten the existing order allowed.
Then came gunpowder.
The church-run governments clearly didn’t want to allow people to have educations. (If they did, they would have allowed educations before military necessity forced them to do this.) They didn’t want to allow books, open discourse of ideas, or free enterprise. But they had no choice. They had to react to military necessity.
In very recent history, a new military necessity has forced governments to grant people more freedom to information than ever before. It has forced governments to allow true ‘freedom of speech,’ in that governments can no longer effectively prevent information from getting to the people. It has forced governments to allow open communication between people all over the world, allowing people to see that all people everywhere are basically the same. Being born on the wrong side of an imaginary line does not make people different.
Ironically, this new tool, the d, was originally created by military organizations; it initial purpose was to allow them to fight prolonged nuclear wars. It was created to allow mass murder and destruction on a scale that people who lived only a century ago would not even have been able to imagine was possible. But, again, once the tool exists, it doesn’t have to be used only for its intended use. We, the members of the human race and inhabitants of the planet Earth, can take advantage of this tool and use it for any purpose we want.
This book is about the way the structures of the societies we were born into came to exist. We can’t really understand all of these structures without understanding how and why the internet came to exist, and the incredible hope this tool should bring to anyone who cares about the human condition.
Let’s start at the beginning:
The History of the Internet
On February 11, 1939, the German periodical published a one-page article that changed the world in many very significant ways. The article was called ‘Disintegration of Uranium by Neutrons: a New Type of Nuclear Reaction’ by the Austrian physicist and her nephew, . The article suggested, for the first time, that atomic nuclei may be split ‘like a droplet of water,’ releasing fabulous amounts of energy.
Here is the relevant text of the article:
On bombarding uranium with neutrons, Fermi found that at least four radioactive substances were produced.
At first sight, this result seems very hard to understand. The formation of elements this way has been considered before, but was always rejected for physical reasons, so long as the chemical evidence was not entirely clear cut. However, new ideas about the behavior of heavy nuclei suggest an entirely different picture of these new disintegration processes. On account of their close packing and strong energy exchange, the particles in a heavy nucleus would be expected to move in a collective way which has some resemblance to the movement of a liquid drop. If the movement is made sufficiently violent by adding energy, such a drop may divide itself into two smaller drops.
These two nuclei will repel each other and should gain a total kinetic energy of c. 200 Mev., as calculated from nuclear radius and charge.
Meitner was saying it would be possible to cause the nuclei of atoms to split. If this happened, energy would be released. She gave information needed to calculate the amount of energy that would released. It was immense. Far beyond any energy release of an ordinary chemical reaction.
Albert Einstein had recently moved to the United States. At the time, the United States didn’t have any significant expertise in the kind of physics that Meitner understood, and Einstein appears to be one of the few (the only one, as far as I could see) who realized how important this discovery was. In August of 1939, Einstein wrote a letter to Franklin Roosevelt, the President of the United States. He warned that the United States would have to start learning about physics, and fast. Here is the relevant information from his letter:
In the course of the last four months it has been made probable that it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future.
This new phenomenon would also lead to the construction of bombs, and it is conceivable that extremely powerful bombs of a new type may thus be constructed. A single bomb of this type, carried by boat and exploded in a port, might very well destroy the whole port together with some of the surrounding territory.
At the time, the United States was still a pretty backward nation scientifically. Although its corporations produced the best conventional weapons in the world, its people were restrained by laws like the that prohibited teaching certain aspects of science. As Meitner herself pointed out in her research documents, no United States physicists, other than Einstein, even had the background to understand the concept of ‘uranium disintegration.’
This changed very rapidly.
The very same day Roosevelt got Einstein’s letter, he formed the which immediately hired the Hungarian physicists , , and , to begin work on creating a bomb. The committee wanted to recruit Meitner for the project, but she was rejected as a potential pacifist, which made her a security risk. Einstein was also rejected, for the same reason. (In fact, Roosevelt had good cause to reject Einstein, as he almost certainly would have done his best to keep the bomb from existing, see sidebar for more information.)
On 6 July 1945, the scientists had a bomb ready to try; they tested it and it worked as expected.
It took them another month to put together two additional bombs. Exactly a month after the concept had been proven, they used the second bomb to destroy the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing an estimated 166,000 people. Three days later, on August 9, the military used a third bomb to destroy the city of Nagasaki, killing another estimated 90,000 people.
The next day Emperor Hirohito ordered his top military commander to surrender.
The Electromagnetic Pulse
Under internationally recognized rules and standards of war, anything that had belonged to Japan before now belonged to the United States. The United States government could take whatever it wanted. The United States government took a lot of land from Japan. This included roughly 3 million square miles (an area slightly smaller than the continental United States) in the Pacific Ocean, which was named ‘United Nations Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands,’ and was administered by the United States military. The Trust Territory had about 2,100 islands which were hope to roughly 150,000 people. These islands were some of the most remote lands on Earth. The United States government had developed the nuclear bomb very quickly, and without much regard to safety. It had accumulated vast amounts of very dangerous nuclear waste and needed a place to put it. The military decided that one of the islands it had taken from Japan, Elugelab, was the best place to dump it. The island was turned into a nuclear waste disposal site.
In 1952, United States military scientists realized they could build a bomb that was so powerful it would make the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem like firecrackers by comparison. The new bomb might potentially destroy a very large part of the planet Earth. To minimize the possibility of destroying anything in the United States, they wanted to test the bomb as far away from the nation as possible. Elugelab was ideal, for the same reason that it was ideal for the disposal of nuclear waste.
The government called the test bomb was ‘Ivy Mike.’ It was the first ‘two stage nuclear device,’ or the first ‘hydrogen’ bomb.
The test took place on November 2, 1952. The scientists had an estimate of the damage the bomb would do. They expected it to produce a very large crater on the island, and set up instruments on the island far away from the test site to measure the destructive power of the bomb. The bomb turned out to be far more powerful than they had anticipated and blew the entire island off the face of the planet (it no longer exists). It also vaporized several ships that were at sea with instruments (and presumably crews) to measure the blast impact. Because the bomb destroyed all of the instruments designed to test its power, the scientists didn’t have any idea how powerful the bomb really was.
They eventually realized that the additional explosive power came from something called an ‘electromagnetic pulse’ or EMP. This pulse altered the nature of matter close to the bomb, causing normally benign elements to take part in the nuclear explosion. Of course, the government immediately started to work to find new military uses of the EMP.
They found that the EMP had done more than vaporize the island. It disrupted communications thousands of miles away and destroyed many communications devices in Hawaii, the nearest land with any kind of electrical or electronic devices. Military planners thought that they might want to create electromagnetic pulses intentionally, to disrupt enemy communications. If they could blow up a bomb in outer space, it wouldn’t do any damage here on Earth but may send an EMP that would wipe out communications on half of the world.
They didn’t have the technology to send nuclear bombs (or anything else for that matter) into space as of the 1950s, so they couldn’t test this theory until 1962. On July 8, 1962, the United States government sent the first large payload ever into outer space. This payload was a thermonuclear device called ‘Starfish Prime.’ was a specifically constructed three-stage hydrogen bomb with a yield of 1,400,000 tons of TNT; it was exploded 250 miles over the South Pacific at three seconds after midnight Honolulu time on July 9, 1962. A reporter some 1,400 miles away describes the event:
At Kwajalein, 1,400 miles to the west, a brilliant white flash burned through the clouds rapidly changing to an expanding green ball of irradiance extending into the clear sky above the overcast. From its surface extruded great white fingers, resembling cirro-stratus clouds, which rose to 40 degrees above the horizon in sweeping arcs turning downward toward the poles and disappearing in seconds to be replaced by spectacular concentric cirrus like rings moving out from the blast at tremendous initial velocity, finally stopping when the outermost ring was 50 degrees overhead. They did not disappear but persisted in a state of frozen stillness.
All this occurred, I would judge, within 45 seconds.
As the greenish light turned to purple and began to fade at the point of burst, a bright red glow began to develop on the horizon at a direction 50 degrees north of east and simultaneously 50 degrees south of east expanding inward and upward until the whole eastern sky was a dull burning red semicircle 100 degrees north to south and halfway to the zenith obliterating some of the lesser stars. This condition, interspersed with tremendous white rainbows, persisted no less than seven minutes.
Although the technical results of the test are still classified, it clearly had an effect on communications.
October 22, 1962 Russian military planners detonated an EMP device called ‘,’ a hydrogen bomb with a yield of 300,000 tons of TNT, 200 miles over Kazakhstan. An Article in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineering (‘Response of Long Lines to Nuclear High-Altitude Electromagnetic Pulse IEEE Transactions on Electromagnetic Compatibility’) describes the result:
The EMP from Test 184 knocked out a major 570 kilometer long overhead telephone line by inducing currents of 1500 to 3400 amperes in the line. The line was separated into several sub-lines connected by repeater stations, each repeater station was 40 to 80 kilometers apart, with most being closer to 80 km. There were numerous gas-filled overvoltage protectors and fuses along the telephone line. All of the overvoltage protectors fired, and all of the fuses on the line were blown.
The EMP from Test 184 also damaged radios at about 600 kilometers (360 miles) from the detonation, knocked out a radar about 1000 kilometers (600 miles) from the nuclear explosion, and caused a fire that destroyed a power plant at Қарағанды [Karaganda], Kazakhstan.
The high-altitude nuclear weapon-generated electromagnetic pulse (EMP) is one of a small number of threats that has the potential to result in defeat of our military forces. The damage level could be sufficient to be catastrophic to the Nation, and our current vulnerability invites attack. Briefly, a single nuclear weapon exploded at high altitude above the United States will interact with the Earth’s atmosphere, ionosphere, and magnetic field to produce an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) radiating down to the Earth and additionally create electrical currents in the Earth.
The Russian test showed conclusively that any conventional communication system could be totally destroyed with a single bomb of the correct type, exploded in the correct way. Military planners in nuclear states realized that they wouldn’t be able to retaliate against nuclear attacks if this happened.
The problem is that the communication systems as of the 1960s used a single wired connection to send each message. If this single connection is damaged, communication stops. In critical cases, the government had redundant communication systems, with two or sometimes even three backups to get the information through in case the primary line is cut. But an EMP bomb could potentially wipe out all three of these lines at the same time, ending communication entirely. Military planners realized that, if they were to be able to continue to fight a nuclear war after the first bomb goes off, they would need an entirely new type of communication system. This new system would have to work in a way that would allow messages to get through by multiple pathways that go in many different directions and use many different ‘architectures’ or designs. That way, even if a large percentage of the pathways were destroyed, the messages would still get through and the nuclear war could continue.
Within days after the Russian test, the United States government formed the or ‘DARPA’ to find a new communication system. Researchers there came up with a solution called ‘packet switching.’ This system involves breaking messages down into ‘packets’ of fixed size and sending them to their destination through multiple pathways. If one expected pathway should no longer exist and a packet can’t get where it wants to go that way, the packet remains in the system, going down path after path until it can find a path that gets it to its destination. As long as there are any paths left, all packets will eventually get where they need to go. Once all of the packets have arrived, a computer reassembles the message and it can be read.
Why The Government that Created the Internet Can’t Censor It
A great many scientists came together for the project. One of these scientists, Robert Kahn, realized that the system would only be reliable if it had something he called an ‘open architecture’ and if it didn’t have any central control mechanism. Here is the basic idea:
The Internet as we now know it embodies a key underlying technical idea, namely that of open architecture networking. In this approach, the choice of any individual network technology was not dictated by a particular network architecture but rather could be selected freely by a provider and made to interwork with the other networks through a meta-level "Internetworking Architecture".
In an open-architecture network, the individual networks may be separately designed and developed and each may have its own unique interface which it may offer to users and/or other providers. including other Internet providers. Each network can be designed in accordance with the specific environment and user requirements of that network. There are generally no constraints on the types of networks that can be included or on their geographic scope, although certain pragmatic considerations will dictate what makes sense to offer.
The idea of open-architecture networking was first introduced by Kahn shortly after having arrived at DARPA in 1972. Four ground rules were critical to Bob Kahn’s early thinking:
1. Each distinct network would have to stand on its own and no internal changes could be required to any such network to connect it to the Internet.
2. Communications would be on a best effort basis. If a packet didn’t make it to the final destination, it would shortly be retransmitted from the source.
3. Black boxes would be used to connect the networks; these would later be called gateways and routers. There would be no information retained by the gateways about the individual flows of packets passing through them, thereby keeping them simple and avoiding complicated adaptation and recovery from various failure modes.
4. There would be no global control at the operations level.
There are two key points:
First the new communication system would not be built by the military itself. The military would set up the initial system and connections but, once they existed, anyone would be able to expand on it. They would do this using any kind of computing network they wanted to build, with no limits to the kinds of connections they made to it. Each connection would be entirely separate. Even if enemies were able to figure out how to destroy one kind of connection, the other connections would work entirely differently and continue to operate. Over the years, many different types of connections have been made to the network, all of which work in different ways (‘designed in accordance with the specific environment and user requirements’).
Second, there would be no global control.
That means that, once the military created an internet, it wouldn’t be able to control it.
The internet would be like Frankenstein’s monster: Once it existed, it would be autonomous.
If people used it for things the government didn’t like the government wouldn’t be able to do anything about it.
Of course, governments don’t like to create things that empower the people. But planners at DARPA realized they had no choice. The communication system would only be reliable if it met the standards that Bob Kahn had set. They would not be able to carry on a nuclear war without a communication system and, to be reliable; it would have to meet the standards.
The government had no choice.
It had to create this system.
In 1965, DARPA scientists made the first internet connection between two computers, one at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., and the other at the University of California in Berkeley.
The system worked. In 1970, scientists developed a ‘host to host’ protocol that allowed computers to ‘talk to’ each other. This allowed computers to form connections on their own, without the need for human input. Computers could then make and break connections as necessary to get information through, without any need for humans to be involved.
The system would be more secure if it had more connections. The military needed people all over the world to develop connections, so it obviously couldn’t keep the system secret. In 1972, Bob Kahn made the new system public, together with the first application, an email program that would transmit, store, send, and allow replies to messages. He called the system ARPANET (after the acronym for the military organization that developed it). In the 1970s, military contractors were connected to the system and starting in the 1980s, university researchers gained access to it. In 1988 the system was opened to commercialization and non-military corporations began making their own connections.
The original ARPANET grew into the Internet. Internet was based on the idea that there would be multiple independent networks of rather arbitrary design, beginning with the ARPANET as the pioneering packet switching network, but soon to include packet satellite networks, ground-based packet radio networks and other networks.
The system was designed to be impossible to disrupt:
If it were possible to disrupt communications, enemies would figure out how to do this and take advantage of it. If this were possible, the internet wouldn’t be able to do what it was designed to do, allow communication needed to conduct a nuclear war over time. The ‘open architecture’ protected it both from enemies and from the government that created it.
Has it worked?
If you look on the internet, you will find a great deal of information that proves it has. Various sites have leaked information that is very damaging to the image the United States tries to project. For example, you can watch videos taken from United States helicopter gunships while they were machine-gunning unarmed civilians in the streets (with the pilots protesting the orders and being threatened with court marshals if they violate them). You can see photos and watch videos taken of the United States military massacring children and committing other acts that any sane person would call ‘crimes against humanity,’ also under orders from higher-ups. Recent disclosures on the internet include documents from the United States National Security agency that tell that the agency is involved in warrantless surveillance (and therefore illegal surveillance) of hundreds of millions of civilians who are not under investigation for any crime, and that the NSA and other United States government organizations have the ability to turn on the microphones and cameras on cell phones, webcams, and laptop computers (even if the devices are turned off) to listen in and watch conversations that people expect to be private. One site the government would very much like to shut down is Wikileaks.com, which makes available copies of hundreds of thousands of confidential government documents, many of which reveal that high government officials have lied and fabricated evidence in order to start otherwise unnecessary wars, that they frequently violate or ignore formal agreements, both verbal and written promises, and even the constitution that they are supposed to be upholding, to complete clandestine projects (many of which they have denied exist). If the government could take down this information and make it unavailable, it would do so. The fact that it has not taken down this information is evidence that it doesn’t have the ability to do it. It tells us that the web works for what the government is trying to do with it: create an information and communication system that can’t be destroyed by any entity, even itself.
This tells us something very important:
There is one thing that forces governments to implement changes that allow science, open-minded research, and free transfer of ideas: military necessity.
It is hard to find much that is good to say about nuclear weapons and a great many people wish they had never been invented. But nuclear weapons have forced governments to do something that they almost certainly would never have done otherwise: they have forced governments around the world to allow people to true and correct information about our past, present, and future. People around the world that have access to historical documents are putting them on the web and making them searchable. Anyone with a computer and connection can go through them and sort out realities of history that conflict entirely with the political messages that governments try to pound into children’s minds in history classes. If people can find out the truth about the past, they can put together the truth about the present. They can work out capabilities of the human race, by going through past records to see what we have really accomplished in the past.
They can see that we really are capable of more than we have yet achieved.
They can see that there are various different roads that head into the future, and we have many choices.
Our ancestors put us on a road. The people who lived on Earth in the past put together ‘modes of existence’ or societies built on the principle that unlimited (sovereign) rights to the world are ownable. They built networks of rules, laws, social conventions, taboos, and indoctrination systems to try to force us onto the same road.
It is not the only road that leads to the future.
Volume Two of this series, Possible Societies, shows that there are many different ways that humans can organize their ‘modes of existence’ or societies. Some of them are based on intellect, reason, logic, science, and the incredible mental capabilities that humans are beginning to discover that they have. If we understand all of these options, we will understand the different possible worlds that lie in our future. If we have a science of society that is designed to study these options, we can have experts devote their lives to figuring out which modes of existence work best, and figuring out roads to get from where we are now to modes of existence or societies that can truly meet the needs of the human race.
Volume One, the book you are reading now, is designed to instill a certain thought in the minds of as many people as possible: It is worth the effort to build such a science.
It is worth the time, money, and talent to figure out what we can do and where we can go while we still have time to choose which road to go down.
The book ‘Possible Societies’ is my attempt to lay a foundation that, I hope, can support a science of society. I want as many people as possible to read it. Perhaps, if you do read it—with enough dedication and interest to really understand its message—you will come to believe what I now believe: the societies we were born into cannot meet the needs of the human race. If we keep them much longer (where ‘much longer’ means a mere 150-200 years longer), our chances of survival are slim to none. However, there are a great many ways that intelligent beings can structure their existence. Many of these options create incentives that lead to growth, advancement of technology, progress, and prosperity that is sustainable indefinitely into the future. There are roads that go from ‘where we are now’ to these better ‘modes of existence.’
This chapter has dealt with two recent historical events. The first is the use of the new privileged corporations as tools to help advance the interests of the human race as a whole. We know that it is possible to use the new type of corporations to do many things that many people tend to believe are impossible, including bringing the entire human race together for a common project and make governments accept standards that are in the long-term interests of the human race as a whole, rather than in the selfish interests of individual nations. We know this is possible because it is happening.
The second is the miracle of the internet. We get this miracle from an unlikely and ironic source, nuclear war planners. As you have seen throughout this book, war planning has to take priority over anything else in the societies we were born into. Governments want to control their people, keep them in the dark, and prevent them from learning certain truths and realities. They want people to really believe that others born on the ‘wrong’ side of an imaginary line are horrible, heinous monsters who have no regard for anything that decent people care about, so that the people will support the separation of the world into ‘nations’ and the violent and inhuman conflicts needed to keep these divisions in place. But once the EMP bombs were discovered, war planners had no choice but to create such a forum. Nuclear wars could simply not be carried out without an internet that was designed to be impossible to censor. Perhaps the reason this miracle was created is abhorrent, but that doesn’t make it any less of a miracle.
You and I were born into what Chinese philosophers call ‘interesting times.’
There is a lot going on. When we were born, the human race was already firmly set going down a certain road, a road that clearly leads to extinction. The system already had education systems designed to make us believe that this is the only road that goes into the future, and we must follow it just as past generations did. The people who built this system designed it so that the path of least resistance for each of us as individuals is to conform, to play a part in this system and move our race further down this very same road, while training the next generation to do the same.
But the interesting part is that we are in a position to change this. We have the tools. We have intelligence, access to information, and knowledge about the past, present, and possible futures that people have never had in the past. The destiny of the world is not in the hands of past generations, it is in our hands.