Chapter Twelve Preventing Extinction
WE, THE MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RACE, did not choose the circumstances of our birth.
We didn’t choose the time to be born, the place of our birth on this particular world, or even the planet on which we would be born. We didn’t choose the type of society that would be in place when we came to this planet. The people who came before us have put into place a very dangerous and destructive system.
What if we don’t like it?
What if we want something else?
What steps can we take to move to a different system?
I claim that humans are amazingly capable beings. We have the capability to organize our existence in many different ways. If we find ourselves in a situation that we don’t like, we have the ability to form a kind of mental picture of this situation and imagine the different situations we could be in. We can use our intellects to create a kind of mental model of a system of organizational structures that are capable of meeting our needs. We can figure out other possible societies, figure out how sane and healthy societies operate, and then determine the exact structural differences between ‘sane and healthy societies’ and the societies that we have inherited from past generations.
Once we know these things, we can figure out the minimum necessary changes to cause the societies we inherited to evolve in a steady and measured way to a sane and healthy society. Then, we can figure out all of the tools we have at our disposal to make this happen. Is there any new technology we may use? Are there aspects of the system that we have now that we can turn around and use to our advantage? Have other people tried something similar? If so, we can go over their work, figure out how it worked out, find out where they made progress, and what obstacles they faced. If they made progress in certain areas, we will know what works. If they hit obstacles, we will know what obstacles we will face and can figure out ways to get over or get around them. If a certain event stopped their progress before their changes were in place, can we set up something to carry on from where they finished? Are we in a position to use structures that they couldn’t even consider, perhaps because they didn’t have the technological ability to conduct global forums and elections? What, exactly can we do: what can we show is possible, not just for the ending system, but for the transitional system that takes us from the ‘the primitive and dangerous societies we inherited from past generations’ to ‘sound, safe, sane, and healthy societies that move the human race toward a better existence?’
I know that the idea of creating a system where the entities called ‘countries’ are not the highest entities in existence is hard for people raised in societies divided into countries to accept. They see that the entities called ‘countries’ have created training systems to get children to believe, not only that countries are real things, but that they are the most important things in existence. They need people to be willing to fight and kill, at the risk of their own lives, to protect these entities. They need people to be fanatical and emotional when they are thinking about the entities called ‘countries,’ and need to get their minds to accept doublethink and refuse to even think about the idea of countries logically. The countries use very well-developed training methods to create this mindset and they are very successful: a very high percentage of the people of the world adopt the mindset and stand ready to lynch any who may say anything that might cast even the slightest bid of doubt on the worthiness of the particular country where they were educated.
But we control our own minds. What if we want to use logic and reason in this area? If we want to do this, we can do it.
Logic tells us that these strange entities we were raised to call ‘countries’ are imaginary entities. If the people of the world stopped believing in them tomorrow, they would simply not mean anything anymore. An entity that would cease to exist if people stopped believing in it is not a real thing. It is a figment of the imagination of the people who believe in it. It is nothing at all to the people who don’t believe in it.
What is real?
This is reality: we live on a planet that is, as far as we know, the only planet in this solar system that can support advanced life. We are about 25 trillion miles from the next closest star system; if we wanted to travel there at the fastest speed ever attained by a rocket, we would need 17,296 years. This means that, for practical purposes, we are alone. This is our existence, this little planet.
We are the dominant species on this planet. This means we are in charge of our destiny. If we want something to happen, and some other species on this planet doesn’t want it to happen, the members of the other species can’t stop us. If we want a clean, safe, healthy, harmonious world, we are the only ones who can prevent this from happening.
The only really hard part of this kind of transition is to attain the right state of mind. We have to really understand that we are still primitive in important ways. Our minds can be influenced to accept the existence of imaginary entities, to believe they are real, to worship these imaginary entities, to refuse to listen to any who claim that they aren’t real things, and to fight, kill, and even give our own lives to protect and defend these imaginary entities. We have to accept that we have this weakness. We have to use the tools at our disposal to fight it.
Orwell talked a lot about the idea of doublethink. He claimed that we are raised and trained to split our minds into two parts. One part accepts the emotional rhetoric that comes from the people who trained us as children that claims that the world is naturally divided into the entities that have conflicting interests and we must devote our lives to defending and protecting the particular entity (country) of our birth. This doesn’t make sense, so we can’t let logic ever even venture near these beliefs. We need to build a wall to separate this part of our minds from the logical parts. We must react emotionally to any who propose we break down this wall: they are enemies and we must treat them as such. Socrates tried to break down the wall; he was an enemy and was put to death. Sir Thomas More tried to break down the wall and get people to examine societies logically. He was an enemy and was also put to death. John Lennon of the Beatles asked us to examine the wall, think about the world logically, and imagine a world with no countries. The state had trained its citizens well: Lennon’s killer, Mark David Chapman, said at his trial that he believed he was acting properly to kill Lennon. Lennon was making young people think about things that they weren’t supposed to think about: he had to be stopped.
The really hard part is to break down this wall and allow our minds to use logic and reason on everything. If we can do this, we will see that there are many paths we can take into the future. Some of them lead to a clean, safe, peaceful, harmonious, and healthy global situation. Others lead to extinction. Logic tells us that we are in charge of our world. We can understand sound systems. We can put together plans to make the transition to sound systems. We can use modern tools to arrange global forums and elections to determine what the people want. Then, if the majority of the people of the world want to nudge us off of the path that we are now on, allowing us to get onto a better path, we can make this happen.
The back cover of this book shows an illustration I call a ‘Road Map of Possible Societies.’ It has a ‘place where we are.’ This is represented by the center of the bottom line. The bottom line represents societies built on sovereign (100%) ownability of land and other parts of the planet. We clearly live in societies in this category: every nation on the Earth currently claims sovereignty over some part of the world.
We are close to the middle of this line. On the road map, the vertical axis represents the degree of ownability we have, a measure of the relationship that we have with the world. One hundred percent ownability is an extreme, at the extreme bottom of the chart. (The other extreme, 0% ownability, is at the other extreme, the top line marked ‘natural law societies here.’)
The horizontals axis represents different degrees of authoritarianism, a measure of the relationship that people have with the other people on the planet. We can measure this by the percentage of total wealth that is under the direct control of the bodies we call ‘governments.’ Governments are, by definition, bodies that can control the people; they are authoritarian bodies. (They may be benevolent, in some cases, and use their power for the good of their people, but that doesn’t change the fact that the governments make the decisions and the people must accept them.) One way to measure the degree of authoritarianism would be by the share of total wealth produced each year that is under the control of the governments. Most governments publish this figure as the ‘percentage of GDP controlled by the government sector,’ and various bodies such as the United States CIA go over the figures to standardize them, creating charts of ‘percentage of GDP controlled by the government’ in various countries that use consistent measurement standards. (You can find these charts on the CIA’s website.) Although there are some minor differences, the appropriate figure for the great bulk of the world’s countries is right around 50%. If we think of systems all the way toward the left side of the chart as ‘100% authoritarian’ and systems all the way to the right as ‘0% authoritarian,’ the systems now in place on Earth are close to the center.
If you are trying to plan a voyage and have a map, it makes sense to start with what you know. You want to know, at the very least, where you are now and where you want to go.
Where do we want to go?
The companion book to this one, Possible Societies (available for free on PossibleSocieites.com), shows that there are a great many societies that meet the minimum standards we need to meet the needs of the human race. (On the Road Map, above the line marked ‘minimally sustainable societies on this line,’ about three quarters of the way down the chart, and the line marked ‘minimally progressive societies on this line’ about a fourth of the way down from the top, meet the minimum standards needed to create a stable, sound, and prosperous society. There are a lot of options, all with different characteristics.)
I need an example of an ‘intended destination society’ in order to explain a journey. I will pick, for this intended destination, the system on the far right of the middle line of the road map. This line is marked ‘socratic societies on this line.’
All societies on the horizontal line in the middle of the chart are socratics. Differences between them involve the different levels of governments. Socratics with large governments are toward the left, those with smaller governments are toward the right, and those with moderate sized governments are toward the center. There are some societies that absolutely need very powerful governments; they can’t function without them.
Socratics work in ways that can allow them to operate with very small governments or, if desired, no governments at all. (They need service providers of course, but service providers are not the same thing as governments.) In other words, governments are optional in socratic societies. If a group of people have a socratic, they may have needs that they can meet better by creating organizations with the authority and ability to govern them. If they choose to form a government, they may give it any degree of power, from 0% to 100%. (We saw this in the last chapter: if everyone in the society believed that the government was a wonderful idea, and we all cast all of our votes for distribution of the bounty to the ‘Government Discretionary Fund,’ the government would have all the money and all the power.)
Although socratic societies can have governments and the people may want to leave certain very unpleasant decisions to bodies with the authority to act without involvement of the people, I think it is easier to understand conversion to a system if we change to the simplest possible socratic system first, one with no government; then, after we have this system, we can add in complexities like governments later. This should be an easy socratic society to understand because our simple system in Pastland is in this category; it has no body with the authority to govern us (it does, of course, have many service providers).
If you are planning a trip, once you have picked your starting place and your destination, you must plan a route. You often have a lot of choices. Perhaps there is a short route that takes you from where you are to where you want to go but requires you to deal with serious obstacles, say very high mountains, perhaps through a labyrinth of narrow and dangerous roads, or perhaps through a crime-infested neighborhood that you want to avoid. You may plan a trip to avoid the areas you want to avoid, adding a lot of distance to your trip. You may also see that you can take a different route that, although it is longer and will take more time, will get rid of a lot of stresses that you would otherwise have to face if you go by the shorter route.
We will see that there are several different ways to get from ‘where we are now’ to the ‘destination society’ identified above. Sometimes, when you are planning a trip, you can talk to people who have made the same trip before. You can figure out what they did and how they dealt with the obstacles in their way. You might talk to several people and get several ideas. Then, you may decide to copy one of routes others have taken, or you may decide to mix and match, putting together the best of the routes you know are possible (because other people have taken them) and adding in some features that they didn’t try. Or, you may simply ignore their advice and head out on your own.
I will explain two different methods to get from the societies that we inherited to sound and healthy societies. I want to explain these approaches first and then go into more detail with each option. We will see, shortly, that both of these approaches have been tried already. The people who tried them did not succeed, but we shouldn’t expect every attempt to solve such a complicated problem to succeed. The people who tried these things went a long way but, eventually, they ended up with specific difficulties they couldn’t solve. We will see that we now have far better tools than either of these people, so the problems that stopped them wouldn’t be very likely to stop us now.
Let look at the two approaches first:
1.We can change from one society to another by creating a global non-governmental’ organization or NGO. An NGO is a special type of corporation that is not affiliated with any government and is never intended to be a government, does not operate for profit, and is designed for humanitarian purposes.
This NGO will take advantage of various tools (discussed later) to create a body of cash flow-generating properties that are controlled by socratic leasehold ownership. The leasehold owners of these properties will operate them as discussed in the examples above for Pastland. They will make their leasehold payments into a special fund that will be used as determined in global elections by the people of the planet Earth, just as discussed in the example above.
Such a system will necessarily start out small. The non-governmental organization (NGO) will start out not existing, come to exist, and then grow. There will be a ‘first property’ in the system. Then a second and third. When the system only has a few properties, only a small amount of money will go into the fund that is under the control of the human race. If the human race has only a small amount of wealth, we have only a small amount of power.
But a ‘small amount of wealth’ and a ‘small amount of power’ for the human race puts us in an entirely different position than we are in if we have no common wealth and no common power. As we will see shortly, people have used NGOs in the past to solve social problems and all existing NGOs started out very small. But some of them did truly incredible things and, today, some of the largest organizations on Earth are NGOs. (The example below involves NGOs built by a man named ‘Henri Dunant’ that include the International Red Cross, the Geneva Convention, the World Court, and dozens of others that have enormous impacts on the world around us.)
The larger the NGO gets, the more power the human race will have and, if it grows as some organizations in this category have grown in the past, it will have enough power to be able to have very significant impacts on society within a few decades. The second option describes how to use an existing ‘country’ of the world as a vessel to create a kind of starter socratic society in a certain part of the world. It then basically offers membership to this ‘country’ to any members of any other country who wish to break away from their country and join, or entire countries that are able to convince their leaders to join.
We will see that this particular approach is not entirely new either. Some 2,200 years ago, Alexander the Great, building on ideas about societal change that had been worked out by Socrates and refined by Plato and Aristotle, tried to do something very similar. If we examine his efforts, we will see that he was well on his way to success when he was assassinated. Since he had only been working on this project for 13 years (he gained power at age 20 and was assassinated at age 33), his amazing success shows us that this approach can work. Of course, Alexander didn’t understand the power that his opponents had (the people who killed him obviously wanted the old system to be brought back and were able to do this). But we can learn from his successes, and the successes of others who have tried to change the world, we can plan an approach with an extremely high likelihood of success.
The rest of this chapter goes over one of many attempts to help bring the human race together, empower us and give us a share of the wealth of the world that we can use to help us, the members of the human race, meet our needs, and give us tools that we can use to create systems that can be the foundation for healthy societies, using the kind of organization called an ‘NGO.’
The Creator of the World Bank, the Geneva Convention, The International Court of Justice, the Common Alliance for Order and Civilization, and the International Red Cross: Henri Dunant (Showing that One Person REALLY Can Make A Difference).
First a little summary, then the details:
In 1869, a businessman named ‘Henri Dunant’ got a chance to witness the effects of war firsthand.
He was horrified.
He saw that the effects of wars were getting worse with each war, as new technology allowed more and more destructive technology to be used. He realized that the governments of the countries behind the wars had no interest in limiting the effects of the wars and, in fact, worked hard to make the wars as horrific as they could make them.
He couldn’t hope to limit the effects of war by appealing to the governments of nations that were fighting the wars, begging them to stop doing such horrible things. People had been trying this for all of history and wars kept getting more dangerous and destructive with each passing year.
Dunant realized that, if we ever want to make a serious dent in the problem of war, we need to have some sort of system that would work independently of nations and governments. He eventually created the largest NGO (non-governmental organization) and largest humanitarian organization the world has ever seen. Later, he was subjected to a series of lawsuits designed to prevent the organization he had created from accomplishing anything meaningful; these legal actions bankrupted Dunant and forced him to leave the organization he had created. Even though he was broke, he kept working for a better world and created a series of organizations that still have a profound impact on the way the world works.
Dunant wanted to change the world in a meaningful way. Some would say that he succeeded as the organizations he created certainly helped a lot of people. But he considered himself to be an abject failure because he really thought he could change the nature of society and the people he dealt with wanted something else entirely. He was a bitter and disenchanted old man, destitute and not even able to afford his own apartment when he was informed that he had won the first ever Nobel Peace Prize, which carried with it a reward of about $1 million. He was so disenchanted by the results of his life work that he decided not to give a single dime of this money to any of the organizations he had created, because none of them did the things he wanted them to do.
I want to give a brief description of what Dunant did, why he did it, and more importantly HOW he did it, so you can see what we have to work with, what systems really can work and how well they can work if they are put together right, and why people will fight against changes (and did in fact, fight against changes) that would change the very nature of human societies, even if they personally believe these changes should be made and want them to be made.
A Memory of Solfierno
In 1859, Henri Dunant was traveling from Morocco, on the North side of Africa, to Southern France on a business trip. He traveled through a small town called Solfierno, Italy, on the 25th of June, a day after the French and Austrian armies had fought a major battle there.
The two armies had moved out in such a hurry that they hadn’t had a chance to bury their dead or even gather and treat their wounded. The battlefield was strewn with dead bodies and wounded soldiers, most of them in horrible misery. Most of the town itself had been destroyed in the fighting. The citizenry that survived were dazed and confused. They had no idea what to do.
It was hot. The wounded who were able to do so had crawled to the available wells and water supplies. They couldn’t move from these areas and many died there. As a result, the wells and other water supplies were all contaminated. The water couldn’t be used for drinking or even for cleaning wounds. The armies had ravaged the village, taking all the food and medicine with them when they left. All major buildings had been destroyed so there wasn’t any place to treat the wounded, even if they had had water and medicine. Vultures and other carrion picked at the bodies, including bodies of people who were still living but didn’t have the strength to fight them off. It was a scene of unimaginable horror.
Dunant wrote a book called ‘Memories of Solfierno’ about the experience. In the last chapter of the book, he calls for the creation of an organization to try to provide prevent this kind of thing from happening, if possible, and to provide humanitarian assistance to areas affected if there were no way to prevent them:
On certain special occasion, as, for example, when princes of the military art belonging to different nationalities meet, would it not be desirable that they should take advantage of this congress to formulate some international principle, sanctioned by a Convention inviolate in character, which, once agreed upon and ratified, might constitute the basis for societies for the relief of the wounded in the different European countries?
Humanity and civilization call imperiously for such an organization. It seems as if the matter is one of actual duty, and that in carrying it out the cooperation of every man of influence, and the good wishes at least of every decent person can be relied upon with assurance. Is there in the world a prince or a monarch who would decline to support the proposed societies, happy to be able to give full assurance to his soldiers that they will be at once properly cared for if they should be wounded?
Is there any Government that would hesitate to give its patronage to a group endeavoring in this manner to preserve the lives of useful citizens, for assuredly the soldier who receives a bullet in the defense of his country deserves all that country’s solicitude? Is there a single officer, a single general, considering his troops as “his boys,” who would not be anxious to facilitate the work of volunteer helpers? Is there a military commissary, or a military doctor, who would not be grateful for the assistance of a detachment of intelligent people, wisely and properly commanded and tactful in their work?
Last of all—in an age when we hear so much of progress and civilization—is it not a matter of urgency, since unhappily we cannot always avoid wars, to press forward in a human and truly civilized spirit the attempt to prevent, or at least to alleviate, the horrors of war?
The practical execution of this proposal, on a large scale, would certainly call for somewhat considerable funds, but there would never be difficulty about the necessary money. In wartime, all and sundry would hasten to give their contributions or bring their mite in response to the committee’s appeals. There is no coldness or indifference among the public when the country’s sons are fighting. After all, the blood that is being spilled in battle is the same that runs in the veins of the whole nation.
It must not be thought, therefore, that there is any danger of the enterprise being checked by obstacles of this kind. It is not there that the difficulty lies. The whole problem lies in serious preparation for work of this kind, and in the actual formation of the proposed societies.
Dunant’s book attracted the attention of a group of very wealthy people in Geneva, Switzerland. They worked together with Dunant to form the organization that is now called the ‘International Red Cross and Geneva Convention.’ This organization is now a global corporation; it is not affiliated with any government of the world and provides various services and assistance to all of the members of the human race who need it, regardless of their country of origin.
It is a corporation or, more specifically, a network of corporations. The heart of the organization is the corporate offices in Geneva; it has subsidiary corporations that operate in every country and unincorporated area of the world. They work together with the headquarters to coordinate activities in areas of need.
Dunant didn’t have any real ideas about funding this organization. It is now funded entirely through donations and endowments. He hadn’t worked out all of the principles needed to build a healthy society, but he had figured out some of the critical defects in the societies that we have now and found ways to deal with these defects. He realized that, to have a healthy society, we must go beyond nations. We must form an organization with no allegiance to any country of the world, one dedicated to giving rights to all human beings.
Almost everyone in the world knows about this organization. It does good work and they know it. Because this organization exists, they know that if they want to do something of a truly humanitarian nature or give to a cause that will advance the interests of the entire human race, they can work for or give to the Red Cross. It is the largest charity on Earth. It is the largest corporation on Earth. It is the largest NGO on Earth. It has more than 100 million workers, some of whom are paid, and some are volunteers, making it the largest organization of any kind on Earth.
This is from the website of the International Red Cross:
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.
Why Dunant’s Efforts Failed
Dunant had a very wide vision for the organization that he created. He didn’t want to just wait for wars or disasters to come along, and then provide medical care and burial services to those affected. He wanted to take active steps to empower the human race and create an organization that would be a higher authority than the governments of the countries that were fighting each other.
He wanted to use moral pressure from the masses to get the people in governments to agree to binding accords to take their disputes to a global non-partisan organization, one operated to advance the interests of the human race as a whole without any allegiance to any nation, and agree to accept its rulings. He wanted to limit and restrict the power and authority of governments, transferring some of the rights of governments to bodies that weren’t governments and had the interests of the human race in mind.
Unfortunately, Dunant was not rich. He didn’t have the money or connections to build the organization he had in mind by himself. So, he had to take in others. The group in Geneva included some very rich and powerful people. They had the ability to build the organization he wanted. Unfortunately, they were highly religious people and had some religious objections to Dunant’s ideas.
Dunant was not religious. He was, in fact, openly atheist. All of the members of the board of directors of the corporation were devout practitioners of a branch of Christianity called ‘Calvinism.’ Calvinists raise their children to believe that the words of the Bible are literally true. The first five books of the Bible are considered to represent the word and will of the all-powerful creator of existence.
These books are very clear: God created the ‘nations of the world.’ God gave these nations their power. God defined the borders of the first nations. God initiated the conflicts that led to wars over land. The Bible is very clear. God is behind all this. God wants all this to happen. The Bible shows clearly that, once the wars take place, God accepts the results of the wars. If the winners claim land, according to the principles of international law (which God must accept, or they wouldn’t exist), the winners are the new owners of the land. It belongs to them with the full consent and approval of the creator of existence.
The name of this philosophy is ‘manifest destiny.’ It holds that God has a destiny in mind for every part of the world. He makes this destiny manifest, or obvious, by arranging for the groups that want to own each part of the world to have wars; God then grants victory to the specific group that God wants to own the land. Under this principle, nations that win land in wars own it by divine right. God wants them to have it. This principle was openly used in the Western Hemisphere to rationalize the genocide of the native people; the conquerors claimed that the wars were a part of God’s plan. They didn’t just have the right, but rather they had the religious obligation to remove the inferior races from the land that God clearly wanted them to have. If they didn’t participate in the wars, they were showing a lack of faith and would be punished for eternity in the afterlife. This same philosophy extends to groups fighting over land in Europe and everywhere else in the world. God is in charge of everything. Nothing happens without God’s knowledge and approval.
Calvinists accept the words of the old testament as the canonical texts. They are the foundational principles of their religion. Dunant was suggesting that they try to interfere. He was suggesting that humans were in control of war. He was suggesting that, if we worked together, we could end war. This went against the canonical texts of their faith. What Dunant wanted to do went against the will of God. It claimed that we had power to do things that only God controlled. They couldn’t accept his foundational ideas and continue to accept the articles of their faith.
They could accept the details, however. Their religion also accepted the words of the New Testament, which tells of the benevolent and humanitarian principles of the son of God, Jesus. In their religion, the son of God clearly believes that his Father’s cruelty is excessive. He wants to moderate it and give people a path to salvation. He also wants to give relief to people suffering from the wars and other disasters that God brings and therefore God wants. The Calvinists believed it was wrong to try to interfere in the foundational forces. We have to leave the foundation of society in place. Wars have to continue. We must not even try to stop them: that would show a lack of faith and reflect the ultimate heresy, a belief that humans control things that the holy books portray as the exclusive domain of the Creator. But we can come through, after the wars or disasters, and try to ease the pain and misery of those affected.
Dunant was the only atheist there. The others were devout Christians. They wanted to make it clear that this was a religious organization, designed to promote kindness in the name of Jesus, so they made its symbol the same as that of the Christian religion itself, the cross, and called the organization the ‘Red Cross.’
Dunant proposed to build a wide-reaching organization that would work to help move toward a world where nations no longer fought over which nation owned each part of the world. But the others on the board of directors didn’t want to go this far. They had a far more limited role in mind for the organization. At first, Dunant went along. Better to have a very limited and small-scale organization than nothing at all. But as time passed, he started to push. He wanted to expand the role of the organization. He didn’t want to create a Christian organization, he wanted to create a humanitarian organization.
As time passed, the conflicts between Dunant and the other members of the board of directors grew. By 1865, the two sides had come to an impasse: Dunant would not back down on his vision for the organization, and the other board members would not back down on their visions.
Dunant had certain authority under the bylaws of the corporation. He could force his views through the board, even against a 4-1 opposition. In 1866, the board filed suit in the courts of Switzerland to strip Dunant of these powers.
Dunant was not rich and could not afford to pay attorneys to help him preserve his rights. His opponents knew this. They probably thought Dunant would realize he was beat, back down, and do things their way. But if he didn’t do this, they knew they would still win: they could ruin him financially by forcing him to pay never-ending legal fees to defend himself.
Dunant didn’t react as expected: he sold everything he owned and used all the money to hire attorneys to fight the other board members. He kept fighting until April of 1867, when he could no longer pay his bills and was forced to declare bankruptcy. By this time, the other board members were vindictive. They wanted more than to have Dunant back down, they wanted him gone. They found a way to do this: when people declare bankruptcy, they have to declare all of their assets in official court filings. If they don’t declare everything, they have committed fraud. Most people in this situation miss something. The other board members hired private investigators and found a few minor possessions that Dunant hadn’t declared. They had him charged with bankruptcy fraud. Dunant—still the legal president and chairman of the board of the International Red Cross—was tried and convicted.
Now he was a criminal. The bylaws of the company allowed the rest of the board members to fire him. Dunant was removed from the organization he had created. I am never going to say that the Red Cross doesn’t do wonderful work. I would not be alive if not for them: I was born with a disease called ‘hemolytic disease of the newborn’ and needed a compete transfusion within hours of my birth. The blood came from the Red Cross. I have had family members saved by Red Cross ambulances and take shelter at Red Cross facilities. Whenever I donate to a charity, I make it the Red Cross. It does truly fantastic things.
Over the years, the Red Cross has lost its fanatical religious leaning. Recently, the organization changed its name: the cross is seen as the symbol of Christianity and billions of people of the world think of Christians as heretics and consider them to be very bad people, using their religion to rationalize truly horrible behaviors. The organization has even changed its name to make it clear it is not intended to be an enemy of the Islamic people (as many people in these religions consider Christians to be) and now calls itself the ‘Red Cross and Red Crescent.’ This organization is now, by many measures, the largest organization of any kind on Earth, with more than 100 million people working for it either as paid workers or volunteers, and facilities in every country and disputed area on the planet.
But the company has never really taken on the role that Dunant envisioned for it. It still focuses on waiting until disasters happen, and then helping. We need this, of course; the world would be a far worse place without the Red Cross. But this organization does not play the role that Dunant envisioned for it. We can get some general idea what he had in mind after he was booted out of the Red Cross and created other global humanitarian organizations.
The rest of the story
Dunant was basically broke after the lawsuits with the Red Cross. But he had met people who shared his vision, so he was able to form other organizations. During the Franco-Prussian War (1870–1871), he founded the Common Relief Society (Allgemeine Fürsorgegesellschaft) and soon after, he founded the Common Alliance for Order and Civilization (Allgemeine Allianz für Ordnung und Zivilisation).
He helped create an international court to mediate international conflicts; this grew into the ‘International Court of Justice’ (sometimes called ‘The World Court’). He led the effort to create a world library, an idea that eventually led to the creation of UNESCO.
Eventually, he just didn’t have any more to give. He had spent everything he had, devoted his life to the cause of societal change, and still believed that he had failed. All of the organizations that he created passed to other leaders, none of whom had his grand vision. Although he had worked to create a great many organizations, none of them had had the impact he felt they deserved, and he believed that none had changed the world in any meaningful way. Nations were just as powerful as ever in 1892, when he gave up. War was just as pervasive and destructive as ever. The human race was just as powerless to get what it needed as ever.
He was broke and had no following or believers to carry on his work. He retired to a tiny rooming house in Heiden, Switzerland and faded from the world scene, as if he had never existed.
One day a journalist from a local newspaper found out that a person who had once been famous and important was in his town. The journalist was looking for a story and visited and interviewed Dunant. The story explained all of the contributions he had made to the progress of the human race. The story was picked up by larger publications and reprinted several times.
At the time, the members of the Nobel Committee in Sweden were meeting to try to decide who to give the first ever Peace Prize. The members saw the article. They thought Dunant would be a good candidate. The committee eventually granted the prize to Dunant.
The prize came with a 150,782 Kroner cash reward, roughly equivalent to $1 million in United States money. When he got the money, he was on his deathbed. He was bitter and believed that nothing he had done had worked out the way he wanted. He decided to make a statement with his final will and ordered that the entire prize go to his landlady at his rooming house. None of it went to any of the humanitarian organizations he had created.
The largest of the organizations he built is now called the International Red Cross and Red Crescent. This organization did not do what Dunant had hoped it would do, but it did have incredible success and had a meaningful impact on several areas of human existence. It is now, by many measures, the largest corporation on the planet, the largest NGO and, for that matter, the largest organization of any kind on planet Earth.
Dunant’s effort showed that if people feel they can really make a difference they will volunteer their time, their skills, their talents, their efforts and, of course, their money. Dunant may have considered his efforts to have been a failure, but the results have showed that his faith in humanity was justified. If people were given a chance to do something good on a global scale, they would step forward and help.
I have stressed, over and over in this book, that the key to preventing extinction is allowing ourselves to fully accept logical analysis of societies in our minds. If we fully accept this, we will realize that we, the members of the human race, really are incredibly capable beings. We are capable of organizing the realities of our existence in ways that can allow us to meet our needs without destroying ourselves and our world. We are capable of building sound, sane, and healthy human societies.
If we can accept this, we can see that there are most definitely steps that we can take to move toward healthy societies. We can take advantage of the kind of organization that Dunant set up to make this happen.
Imagine that there was an NGO that accepted endowments and used this income to purchase freeholds on cash flow-generating properties all around the world. It then sold leaseholds on these properties, in part to protect them and in part to generate revenue for the benefit of the human race. So we have a name to refer to this organization, let’s call it the ‘Community of Humankind,’ or the COH.
The COH will buy the properties or accept them as endowments; the organization will then create a package of rights to the property that will be available for purchase. People will be able to buy the right to use the property privately, to collect the flows of value it produces over time, and to improve it in ways that make it more productive, provided they don’t do things that harm it. They will be able to own these rights in exchange for a payment that will transfer part of the bounty/free cash flows the properties generate to the human race.
Once the property is under the control of the COH, certain rights to that property will never be offered for sale again. No one will ever be able to buy a freehold on the property. No one will ever be able to buy and own the rights to destroy the land, harm it, or pollute it. The payments that are made to the human race are not owned by anyone, not even the human race. These flows of value will be considered to be gifts from the planet Earth to its inhabitants. The human race, as the dominant species on the planet, will decide what happens to these gifts on behalf of all the inhabitants of the world.
Why Would Anyone Want To Endow An Organization Like The Community of Humankind?
Many people who have cared for and improved permanently productive properties over their lifetimes feel a great attachment to those properties. They love them. My uncle Tony owned a cattle ranch in Montana. His parents had homesteaded it; he had been born in the house on the ranch and had grown up there. His parents ran it until they passed away, then Tony took over. He had inherited a half-interest in the ranch with his brother owning the other half; the brother had no interest in ranching and Tony bought him out and owned the land for the rest of his life.
It was his ranch.
He knew every single inch of it; he had dug every hole for fences or wells, he had built the corrals and other buildings with his own hands.
The ranch didn’t make a lot of money, so Tony never lived well. However, the land is in an area rich with coal and, in the 1970s, coal companies came in and started making offers on the property. They offered him so much money that, if he had simply accepted one of the offers, then had taken the money and invested it to collect returns, he could have lived like a king for the rest of his life.
He turned them down.
He loved the land.
He knew that, if a coal company got the land, it would immediately bring in equipment to clear off the topsoil so it could begin strip mining. The house where he was born, his barn, and workshop were close to the watershed and would be bulldozed, probably the very first day. The mining activities would contaminate the land and, when the coal company was finished, it would probably simply abandon the land, to leave the government to clean up the mess.
He didn’t sell.
I was at the ranch several times when buyers from the coal companies came over to try to see if they could get him to change his mind. He told me they would only rape the land he loved so much for profit. He didn’t want them to get the land, ever.
When he got cancer, he used all of his savings to try to make sure that the ranch wouldn’t go to the coal companies after his death. He hired an attorney to draft a will that put together a plan they thought would work. The lawyers created a trust and Tony then transferred the land to the trust. The trust had a set of rules designed to prevent the land from ever being sold.
When Tony died, several heirs inherited shares in the trust. The coal companies contacted them. Do they want to sell? They wanted to sell, of course. None of the heirs had any interest in living out in the middle of nowhere, to operate a cattle ranch that could barely generate enough income to keep them from being hungry.
But what about the trust?
Doesn’t that prevent them from selling?
The coal company said their lawyers were far better than the lawyers Tony had hired. The trust wouldn’t be a problem. A few papers were filed, and the trust was dissolved; the children signed the documents and the heavy equipment moved in. The land is now a devastated mess that no one would ever want to use for anything.
In fact, a great many people love whatever part of the world they have lived on and cared for. They want it protected.
But most people who inherit property feel differently. They already have their own lives by the time their relatives pass away. They only see the inheritance as a burden, something to be turned into cash as rapidly as possible.
Often, it is very complicated and expensive to turn the land into money; the estate often has to go through probate, there are arguments about the best way to get rid of it, and it can often take years. No matter what happens, the people who wanted to protect the land normally don’t have any way to make this happen. The land will be sold to the highest bidder. If the high bidder is a coal company, or a logging company, or a toxic waste disposal company, the land will be harmed.
What if there were a way for people who had worked to accumulate property, devoted their sweat and stress to making it nice, and truly loved their land, to set up a system where the land would benefit the entire human race for the rest of time? A great deal of the land in this world is threatened: resource companies want anything that hasn’t yet been destroyed so they can begin destroying it. What if there were a way for people with land that they loved to be absolutely sure it would never be destroyed with the benefits it brought to the human race in the future being just an added bonus?
A great many people in the world today have created innovations that have brought them into control of companies that generate million of dollars a year in free cash flows and could be sold for hundreds of millions or, in some cases, billions of dollars. A lot of these people don’t want to simply leave their children with a huge pile of stock certificates that they could sell for cash and then live lives of meaningless leisure with endless money at their disposal. They want their children to have something of course, but what good does it do to give them more than a few million?
The people who have built up these companies want to do something meaningful with their wealth.
What options do they have in the world today?
Most of these people go a simple route. They simply sell the stock for cash themselves and use the money to create a foundation. The foundation then accepts applications for people who want to do good things, and then makes grants. There are many of these foundations.
It is true that these foundations do good things. The diseased societies we live in create horror and misery in immense measure. There are always people who need new legs after having the old ones blown off by land mines, need seeing eye dogs after having been exposed to phosphorous weapons, need chemotherapy due to cancer caused by exposure to carcinogens in the smoke from coal fired plants, and need special education for their children due to mercury (emitted when any fossil fuel is burned, mercury prevents brain development and causes autism). There is always going to be toxic pollution, runoff from mines that lead to landslides that destroy homes, and there will always be climate change-related fires and hurricanes that destroy entire communities.
But these problems are not the disease itself; they are only symptoms of the underlying disease.
As long as the disease is in place, the symptoms will continue. If you build and give a thousand artificial limbs to land mine victims today, you will have to build and give away another thousand tomorrow, and each day after that, and no matter what you do, you won’t ever solve anything.
I am not saying this is not a good thing to do, only that it is like giving cough medicine to people with tuberculosis. It treats the symptom but ignores the disease. It isn’t going to change conditions on this world, no matter how much money goes to help the people suffering.
But what if you know there is a cure to the underlying disease?
Do you want to keep giving cough drops to people who are going to suffer for the rest of their lives and die a horrible death, while almost certainly infecting their loved ones before they go? Or would you prefer to give them the antibiotics and allow them and their loved ones to live long and happy lives?
In time, people will see that they can make a real difference in the world in several ways by working with the Community of Humankind. Just as you can now volunteer for the Red Cross, no matter where in the world you live, you could volunteer to work for the Community of Humankind.
People will see that the income of the human race depends on the number of properties that are ‘in the system’ and the productivity of the properties. If you want to increase the wealth that goes to the human race and make some money yourself as you do this, you can buy a leasehold on one of the properties in the system, improve it, and then resell the leasehold to make a gain on the sale. The leasehold payment will automatically go up (it is always 20% of the price that the buyer paid for the leasehold; if you sell for more than you paid, the income of the human race automatically goes up).
If you have a property that you love, and don’t want it destroyed, you can go to a website and fill out a simple form, get it notarized, and send it in to be filed. When you are gone and your estate is settled, the property will go to the Community of Humankind which will then sell the leasehold as you specified. It will give the proceeds of the sale to whoever you request. (If you want your children to get the money, they will get it.)
The income from that property from then until the end of time will benefit the human race. The leasehold will be sold under the rules of the Community of Humankind which will require special permission for any ‘potentially destructive use.’ The permission must be granted by a board of representatives elected by the human race. If you buy a leasehold, the human race will be your landlord. If you want to destroy, you have to get permission from your landlord.
The money that flows into the account of the Community of Humankind will represent a part of the bounty of the world. We live on an incredibly bountiful world. It produces enormous wealth. Why can’t at least some of this wealth benefit the human race as a whole?
Once the system is up and running, anyone on Earth can log on and register to vote. (There will be a system to verify that you are a human, not a robot, and not already registered.) Once registered, you can vote on what happens to the money in the fund and your votes count the same as those of all other voters.
If there is a tsunami, with enormous damage, you might log on and vote for some money to go to the organizations that are helping with the disaster. (The Red Cross helps with this so, if you want, you can send money from the fund that belongs to the Community of Humankind to the Red Cross.) If there is an epidemic and you want to help, you can do so through this venue. If you want to help build schools, or provide medical care, you can vote for this.
At first, with only a small amount of money coming into the system, your vote won’t represent a whole lot of money. (This system will work like the one in Chapter 11, that discussed ‘Government in a Socratic.’ The money value of each vote depends on the amount of money in the fund and the number of votes cast.)
But some effect is better than no effect.
One option that you can choose is to vote to transfer money to ‘the basic income fund.’ Money in this fund will be divided among all registered voters. If you are a registered voter, you will get a share of this in cash through an electronic transfer.
You don’t have to contribute anything to have the right to vote. You merely have to be a human being. But you can contribute if you want to do this. Over time, people will realize that this is a unique charity. It doesn’t give money to causes that some executives sitting in an office support and you don’t have to take the risk that some of the money will find its way into the pocket of a bureaucrat and not benefit anyone but the person manipulating the charity. The computer will give a full account of every transaction in the fund. You will know how much went into the fund and the exact amounts transferred out, to the penny.
Hopefully, the ability to vote and determine what happens to the money will pull people in and let them know that there really is a charity that will do things that can make a difference in the world. Then, when they are in a position to help, they will start to help out themselves.
A large percentage of the world’s people wind up owning property at some point in their lives. It is a way to feel a part of the world you really can’t have any other way. They will grow attached to their little part of the world. They will care about it and want it to be protected. The Community of Humankind will mainly be looking for endowments of bountiful land and corporations, not cash. Cash gets spent and is gone. The bountiful land and the machines of the corporations keep on producing value and wealth, day after day, and this continuing flow of wealth from the land can benefit the entire human race for the rest of time.
From personal experience, I think that one of really critical things the world lacks today is a way for people who have built something to protect it and use it as a tool to do something good. I know a lot of people who were just sick about the idea of having to give property to their kids when they knew the kids would just dump it on the market to get money, without any regard for the features of the property that can produce value and the unique features they put into it. They were even more sick about the idea of the disposal itself, the kids fighting, attorneys struggling to get their piece of the pie, and the governments standing with their hands out waiting to take a large part, perhaps most of the value of the property.
What if there were a way that people could fill out a simple form and know that they would be doing something that would have real and measurable benefits to the entire human race, and that would ultimately create conditions that lead to a sustainable, prosperous, and peaceful planet? What if they could know the exact consequences of their decision and know exactly what would happen to the property after they were gone? What if they could make rules designed to protect the land and know for a fact that these rules would be enforced?
As the endowments grow, the power of the human race would grow. As of 2020, the human race is basically powerless; we have no voice and no way to make our desires known. There are a great many things that the governments of the world want to do that harm the human race and that the human race, if it had a voice and could make a difference, would not accept. For example, we, the people of the planet Earth, clearly do NOT benefit by having trillions of dollars worth of wealth each year allocated to tools of mass murder and destruction. War is not a good thing for the people of the planet taken as a whole, particularly in times when the next war could destroy the planet.
The decision-makers of the nations of the world clearly want the weapons and want the wars; otherwise, the money would not go to weapons and wars. The interests of the human race clearly differ from the interests of rulers of nations. In our world today (without any organization like the Community of Humankind), our desires and needs don’t matter; we don’t have any voice or power.
We, the members of the human race, benefit from a clean safe environment; this is what we want and if we could make the decisions collectively, this is what we would have. Of course, we don’t make the decisions collectively. We don’t even have a voice in the decisions. (No nation on Earth holds global forums to determine what the human race wants and then models its environmental policies to the desires of the human race. No nation even holds non-binding opinion polls on the matter or gives the human race any voice at all.) The decision-makers of the nations of the world clearly want to encourage activities that cause great harm to the planet. This must be true, or they wouldn’t be doing these things. Again, our interests don’t matter, because we have no voice at all: zero.
At first, the voice of the people won’t be very loud, because there won’t be much money behind it. But if the system described above finds a place in the world, we will have a voice.
People will make endowments that can be used to purchase new properties and add them to the system. They can endow the Community of Humankind with properties, increasing the inventory of properties that benefit the human race. They can allocate some of the yearly revenue of the human race to the purchase of additional properties to add to the system. They can personally buy leaseholds on real estate and corporations, make further improvements that drive up the amount of value these properties produce, and then sell for profits, leading to gains for them and higher incomes for the human race in the future. Over time, the human race will have a greater and greater voice and more and more power.
At some point, the human race will be powerful enough to begin to have real influence on the governments of the world. We might start like all other corporations and build a lobbying arm. The lobbying arm will work to influence legislation that brings the principles of the nations into closer alignment with the interests of the human race as a whole. Nearly all large corporations, including NGOs like the International Red Cross and Geneva Convention, monitor political events to determine when the political climate is changing. Many have political action committees that work hard to prevent unfavorable political change. The Community of Humankind can do these things too.
If the system works out, there will come a time when the governments of the nations of the world have to consider the needs and desires of the human race before they make policy.
Perhaps the governments may start to find that the only things they do that the people of the world—and even the people of their own countries—want them to do is provide services. Perhaps the people don’t want to be ‘controlled’ or ‘governed.’ They only want parks, schools, libraries, consistent reasonable rules (that are submitted to the people for approval), and courts to make sure the rules are enforced fairly and uniformly. Perhaps people may run for office on the platform of changing the very nature of the administrative systems.
Perhaps there will come a time when people will start to ask, ‘Do we really need governments?’ In societies where the world is divided into political entities that are sovereign and use force to prevent wealth from one nation from benefiting another, governments are clearly necessary. But as time passes and more of the wealth of the world goes to the human race as a whole, the very idea of using force to prevent the rest of the wealth of nations from benefiting the people of the world will start to seem more and more silly.
There may come a time when the flows of value to the Community of Humankind are such that the Community of Humankind can provide the services (perhaps paying agencies of the entities that used to be called ‘governments’ to provide the services that were once funded by internal taxes), out of the flows of free value from the land and corporations. Perhaps, some countries will realize that they don’t really need taxes to provide services (the human race pays for them) so they don’t really need taxes.
The socratic global system is a majority rule system. We live on a very bountiful world. The great majority of the wealth produced is a part of the bounty of the world. In the socratic society, the great majority of this wealth (roughly 83⅓% of it) goes to the human race, through a totally automatic process. Whoever controls the wealth of the world controls the world and, in the socratic society, the human race controls the world. We decide what happens on Earth.
Perhaps, given time, this system can make a gradual, smooth, non-traumatic transition to a socratic society—or some other kind of society that is inherently healthy—because this is what the people of the planet Earth want to happen.