How can we split from WeaponWorld? That might seem like a simple problem in theory but well nigh unsolvable in practice. Our prior peace practices have been more or less lame. Given the depth of our weapons indoctrination, a present-day struggle for World Peace might seem naïve, impractical and illusory — in other words, “utopian.”
Let’s evaluate the faculties of a cat. Its senses feed its brain, its sensory input and muscular output operate in such fluid harmony that its graceful bearing is a delight to behold by anyone except its next prey.
Now let’s shift back to pre-industrial times. Only super-wealthy philosophers could dispose of enough spare time and instruction to condense the sparse data content of their day. If they craved exotic knowledge, they could wander the world at enormous expense and peril, and during a brief lifetime, come across rare wise men and records collections within a few hundred miles of home. If they wanted a ditch dug, they could order costly slaves to sweat it out over primitive tools.
The skills of that ancient philosopher had advanced somewhat beyond the cat’s — let’s say by thousands of times. Others had to obey his commands even beyond the range of his perception and control. Cats ignore such imperatives. Spoken and written commands, slaves and primitive tools multiplied the philosopher’s muscle power much more extensively than his mental power. He could maintain a balance of sorts, between muscle-power and brainpower, but this task would have become more and more uncertain.
A philosopher today can read and converse all her life that is somewhat longer. Enhanced transportation, communication, and memory devices supplement her skills. Thanks to these gadgets, she can sort vast sheaves of information with relative ease. All this input takes time, however; quite a lot of it compared to our slightly lengthened lifespans. And all too few of us are doing it. Though the human population has exploded, the competence of our philosophers has not kept pace. We keep mangling the same platitudes of antiquity, the way a cat would toy with its prey, awaiting its shock-coma to tear it to pieces.
Just as weapon cults once paralyzed private thought, our weapons ideologies freeze our mind today. When it comes to doing good and uprooting evil, we resemble track stars frozen in their cleats but anticipating a sudden burst of speed.
When it comes to muscle power, we’ve made real progress. As to brute mechanical strength, we can out-muscle most of those ancients by thousands of times. A brief day’s journey to the other side of the planet costs us less than two weeks’ average wage. We can hoist tons of building material two thousand feet in the air and even into orbit. From their perspective, only gods could contemplate deeds of strength we consider routine.
And our foremost developments are still those of war. Sitting behind a machine-gun today, any weakling could batter their triremes and elite armored phalanxes – the most brilliant expressions of their social and mechanical skill – into so much driftwood, scrap bronze and chopped meat.
Can you spot the imbalance here? The cat has a cat’s brain (x cerebral power) in a cat’s body (y muscular power). For all intents and purposes, x = y.
Our ancient philosopher could call on thousands of units of brainpower and a million of muscle power: x = ~1,000y. Currently, each of us disposes of a million units of brainpower (much more concentrated in memory aids and communications devices in addition to enhanced (?) education; about the same basic smarts) versus a trillion units of muscle power. x = 1,000,000y.
Assuming the cat’s faculties are in balance, our civilization acts like an elephant’s body under the control of a cockroach brain — or a fritzing network of seven billion miswired sub-brains in “control” of a deafening, globally motorized cacophony.
A beast endowed with such monstrous muscle mass compared to its tiny brain would sicken without knowing it, break bones while out on a stroll and starve to death at a farmer’s market. It couldn’t ward off the slightest threat. Unnoticed, its organs would glut or starve out. Give up and admit it: the whole world is built along those lines and reacts just that way.
Worse yet, its cockroach brain would be too preoccupied with momentous crises to address its underlying problem: the widening gap between its gnat-like brainpower and its Blue whale brawn.
Having solved one or two problems with convulsive violence, it is tempted to solve future ones with comparable applications of brutality if not more forceful ones. For a man equipped with a hammer and nothing more, every problem becomes a nail.
We refuse to fine-tune our Learning (nerve) networks to our mechanical (muscle) capabilities. Thus the balanced dialogue between a cat’s musculature and its nervous system degenerates into a Riot Act read at out loud by short-sighted elites perched at Olympian heights above the deafening mob crushed far below.
One solution might bear more promise: implant an elephant’s brain in the near-empty skull of the elephant — and watch it dance! Rewire the world for higher intelligence (another term corrupted by weapon mentality into its opposite: “corrosive military and corporate secrecy”). We’ll be amazed how much smarter we become, how many big problems shrink to smaller ones and how many smaller ones will disappear once we’ve rewired the planet to make us smarter.
“Intelligence”: another term perverted into its antonym by weapon mentality: “corrosive military and corporate secrets.”
To our utmost ability, we must harmonize the global dialogue between nervous input and muscular output. Tremendous efficiencies could emerge once new perceptual networks start overseeing large-scale (superhuman) activities. Such networks could improve beyond imagining our laughable standards of living.
What does this mean in plain English? Multiply a thousand-fold peaceable dialogs and reduce warlike talk proportionately. By puberty, grant almost every child on Earth a Master’s Degree in self-directed studies. Adapt to this task all the modern communications systems we've perfected for mutual slaughter. Multiply this new peace technology by thousands.
“The preferred militaristic way of utilizing the mass feeling of insecurity, is by raising a scare, preferably that of a threatened invasion and maintaining that a danger exists which none but expert generals can gauge. Since history is not written along such lines, it cannot be said how often the raising of such a scare has reason behind it. But it can be said that it is a permanent trick of any permanent military bureaucracy, early or late.” Alfred Vagts, A History of Militarism, Greenwich Editions, p. 341.
Weapon mentality claims dominance by crying wolf about massive threats that loom beyond the home membrane. The solution? Get rid of most of those membranes and substitute them with a single one that houses everyone. Fewer threats will endure if no battle elites remain eager to break in from the outside. Any remaining ones would become police problems calling for responses more thoughtful and less militaristic.
Constructive overheads instead of destructive ones — simply smarter and less clumsy. Do you follow?
How? Again, the key lies in communications. Where one telephone line exists, install a network. Where the mail comes once a week, once a day. Where public libraries already exist, double their funding and merge them into global information networks. Where they don’t exist, build superior ones.
Every nation’s government should sponsor a free web page that would translate any text to and from its native language. This would require selective translation and re-translation several times until the translation re-translated mirrored the original text. Otherwise, retranslate it in a different way.
Let us converse in peace like civilized beings instead of tearing at each other apart like dumb beasts. The worse the regional fighting, the greater the need to multiply its communications. In the meantime, ethnic and religious antagonists should be subdivided into separate states until they can resume their civilized habits.
Note the converse – replacing worthwhile media with monologue propaganda communiqués of lesser value – in populations rich and poor alike. American cities (if they’re big, rich and lucky enough) have only one daily newspaper in print whereas almost all of themm big and small, used to have several. Community radio broadcasters are hunted down like criminals or tangled up in red tape while corporate mega-casters consolidate their media monopoly thanks to federal giveaways. Access to overpriced computers shrinks for the poor even as the rich build up the Internet and prop up obsolete video networks with expensive, state-of-the-art broadband technologies. Well, “state-of-the-art” is a relative term. Given the rate of technological development, once you’ve built it, it’s already obsolete.
The Federal Communication Commission’s love affair with HDTV is a good example. Conversion to digital TV hardware and software will force prices to soar on both the broadcasting and receiving ends of the information pipeline. Independent and community TV broadcasters will go under. The quality of content will go down in favor of more and more insistent commercials. Only giant network corporations will stand to gain from this cultural decay. The problems of media monopoly by a few corporations and their opinion spinners will only worsen – their profits doubled and redoubled by surcharges to private subscribers of cable and satellite services, as well as those imposed on corporate advertisers – thanks to the FCC’s top-down imposition of a new-fangled technology that’s redundant, at least until overall content has been improved in proportion.
If we clog these high-tech media with nothing more than the promotional garbage we’ve grown accustomed to, every communication breakthrough will go to waste. Optimal communications systems would welcome the best content available, not just the latest broadcast hardware. Divergent opinions should be heard, serious reflection should outweigh conventional propaganda, eccentric ideas merit a fair hearing. How else can you expect progress? Cultural stagnation is guaranteed otherwise.
Every tribe and nation should gain access to political expression and self-determination. These rights should become inalienable, based on constitutional guarantees backed by overwhelming force and an irrefutable, global consensus. If we do not do this from a sense of fairness, we should do so to reduce negative fallouts from “revolutionary liberation movements” that no army can eradicate.
No weapon state merits sovereignty based on nothing more than its monopoly of local firepower. In this case as in most others, we should deliver justice — simply because it would be easier to administer in the long run, safer and more profitable than its denial for whatever reason.
We could establish Learning Casinos: lavish recreational facilities where game masters, programmers, graphic artists and contestants would gather to create and play video arcade games, virtual reality simulations, gambling, card and board games, theatrics and interactive simulations in forms transcending current understanding.
Those whose talent would be to produce these scenarios will find all the adulation and reward they seek — much the way painters of the Italian Renaissance did, playwrights of Shakespeare’s London, the classical music composers of Vienna and cinematographers during the 20th Century. For a preliminary sketch of these new games, see Marc Prensky’s book, Digital Game-Based Learning, McGraw-Hill, New York, 2001.
Social problems will be played-through for innovative solutions. Political simulations will familiarize voters with complex social issues. Learners will sign up for critical judgment scenarios — personal or sociological, mundane matters or those of life and death on micro, macro and cosmic scales of play.
According to a Chinese proverb, it takes ten thousand war dead to establish a general’s reputation. Contestants at these new Casinos will deepen their understanding at far lesser expense: their ruinous mistakes will only produce “paper” consequences. Virtual reality software and interactive videos will simulate a vast array of alternative probabilities. Outlandish social proposals will be gamed publicly to review their long-term outcomes in detail. Players will root out weaknesses, misconceptions, unintended consequences and miscreant loopholes. All those results will be matters of public record subject to scientific research.
Learner Casinos could run a “probability stock exchange” (first described in John Brunner’s The Shockwave Rider: one of many of his brilliant proposals included in Learner). There, as part of the world’s rewired neural network, contestants would predict social trends as a profitable spectator sport. Such Casinos may coordinate their activities with Learning Networks, World Militias, Renaissance Learning Centers and other Administrative functions: some suggested in this book and many more yet to come.
True prosperity is a pipe dream until everyone expects personal abundance and dependable security as a matter of course. The poor among us deserve a comfortable existence and the yearly income it would take. Honest folk should feel safer and more secure every day. After that, the most ambitious people may supplement that modicum by five to fifteen times (or perhaps more) without additional harm. Communal wealth could multiply indefinitely provided it were shared equitably.
Once global peace innovations surpass the value of prior weapons investment, the price of essentials will drop simultaneously. Great surpluses of capital will be left over, with which to turn the Solar System into a giant industrial/technological/science park and the Earth into Eden: the ideal setting in which to learn to dance.