Throughout this book I have tried to paint a picture of history that is wider, longer, more diverse, and more fruitful than the pictures of human history that schools teach and that most people accept.
We have not just been here a few thousand years; we have been on this world for millions of years. We have had organized our existence many different ways in the time we have been here. We have done a lot and this tells us we are capable of a lot.
You and I were born into societies organized around very dangerous, violent, and destructive principles. But we are not locked into these societies. We have great capabilities. Humans are capable of living differently. We know this is true because humans have lived differently.
If the capabilities of humans are greater than the people who teach us how the world works today, we may wonder exactly how great the capabilities of the human race really are. What could we do if we put all of the enormous power of our intellect behind our efforts? What lies in the future for the human race? A certain path through circumstances has brought us to the point where we are now. From here, there is not just one path, but a multitude of paths. We—the current members of the human race—are in a position to choose which path to go down.
Which path should we choose?
A logical way to start would be to use the best tools that we have at our disposal (including our incredible intellectual skills) to figure out where the paths into the future may eventually lead. What kind of existence is the human race capable of? What kinds of ‘societies’ are possible? We may work to create a ‘science of society,’ one that analyzes the capabilities of our race in the same way that scientists now analyze the paths of intercontinental ballistic missiles or the destructive power of weapons that have not yet been built. Once we understand what societies are possible, we may create a forum to discuss the issues, using the two great tools described in the last chapter: a ‘global humanitarian corporation’ (GHC) similar to thousands of other GHCs that already exist can act as the medium to facilitate the forum. People who are interested in this topic can participate through the mediums the GHC sets up, which may be structured to provide venues for everyone who wants to participate in the discussions. We may then decide as a group which of the myriad of paths that are open into the future we wish to take. The scientists in the ‘science of society’ field may figure out the different choices that need to be made to ‘steer’ our existence down the intended path and submit the plan to the people for a vote. If approved, we can head down that path.
A Short Overview of Human History
The Earth formed 4.683 billion years ago out of gasses left over from a previous galactic event. The first scientific evidence we have of living things here goes back 3.6 billion years.
These first living things were very simple.
Over time, more and more living things came to exist. DNA evidence indicates that these more complicated living things did not come to exist from separate acts of creation, but are descendents of the simpler organisms, indicating that a process of evolution took place. Evolution favors more capable living things and eventually living things with great capabilities came to exist, in the family that scientists now call ‘primates.’ The first scientific evidence of primates goes back 46 million years. Primates have greater mental abilities than those of any other Earth animals, and are the only animals known to make tools.
Different primates have different abilities to make tools. The ability to make and use tools must confer great advantages on beings with this ability, because primates with higher and higher capabilities came to exist over the next 42.7 million years. The first evidence of complex tools (tools with many components, made separately and then assembled) goes back to the time of the first evidence of human beings (human remains), to about 3.3 million years ago.
This is when human history starts.
The ability to make complex tools implies a very high level of intellect. This intellect gives humans abilities that no other Earth animals can match. When we arrive in a given area, we can figure out what foods that area produces. When we first arrive, other animals will, of course, already be taking advantage of this food. But we can use our intellectual abilities to figure out how to collect the food before animals can get to it, store it in an animal-proof enclosure, and use it for our benefit. Everywhere we went, we had this ability. We could take whatever the land produced or contained and use it for our benefit. This allowed us to feed our children, even when other animals could not. With plentiful food and other necessities, children could grow up to be healthy and have children of their own. The human population could grow.
When our population in a certain area got higher than the number the land could support, we could spread out into new areas. We found the first evidence of humans in Africa, a continent that is connected to two other massive continents (Europe and Asia). This collection of continents can support a vast population: even with the most primitive methods imaginable, it could provide food and other necessities for a billion people.
If we use mathematics (rather than religion or beliefs) to calculate the number of people who were born, lived, and died prior to 3.294 million years ago, we would have to conclude that the number would have to be trillions of people, far more than have lived in the last 6,000 years.
The First Societies
How did these people live?
The evidence we have indicates they lived in societies based on respect for nature and the belief that nature is the source of all things humans need and want: natural law societies. Societies built on natural law have incentives that reward good stewardship of the land. We know that the people who lived for this immense time kept the land healthy and did not destroy it. Natural law societies don’t have forces that push people to divide land into nations with walls or borders. We know that people did not do this prior to 6,000 years ago.
Societies built on natural law don’t have incentives that push people to make large investments or build large production facilities capable of producing things cheaply and efficiently. They don’t have inherent incentives that reward people who create new technologies. We have no evidence of any significant improvements in technology or production abilities that go back more than 6,000 years. We also have evidence of Western Hemisphere societies, which are known to have existed for at least 50,000 years, and which we could not deeply study until very recently. These people had natural law societies. This evidence, and a great deal more, supports the conclusion that people had natural law societies for the first 3.286 million years humans lived on the Earth, and more than 99.99% of all the people who ever lived on Earth were born into such societies, were educated in them, met their mates in them, had their children and educated them in the ways of these societies, and then left this world without knowing that any other modes of existence were even possible.
People born into and educated in such societies must have lived in such close harmony with the land that, after they were gone, nothing much would remain to testify to their existence except their bones, the components of their tools that were durable and did not decompose, and perhaps a little of their artwork which happened to have been made in caves and could therefore be preserved over time. This must be true because it makes up basically all of the evidence we have to indicate that they existed at all.
Eventually, the pressure of population pushed a group so far that its members decided to abandon the principles of natural law. They decided to accept that the planet we live on is just one more thing that human beings can own. They either divided the land they lived on in some way or accepted that someone or some group owned it. The owners created rules to protect their (claimed) rights to land and either convinced or forced the group as a whole to accept these rules. Societies that accept ownability of land naturally divide the people into two ‘classes,’ the owners and non-owners. Owners of bountiful land can hire people to collect the things the land produces and live quite well without working.
Owners have incentives to figure out how to make weapons and hire people so they can ‘take’ land inhabited by people with natural law societies. In time, some will react to these incentives and start to ‘take’ land. More land means more to spend on armies and weapons, and great advantages in the land grabs. People will compete to take land as quickly as they can. The new ownership-based societies will grow like cancers grow: they will send out tendrils into healthy areas, set up forts in these areas, extract whatever resources are needed to build more weapons, and expand their development until they can’t grow anymore. This expansion can happen very quickly and entire continents can be converted from natural law societies to societies built on ownability in a matter of a few hundred years.
The people in natural law societies will not have advanced weapons or a social structure that allows them to have full-time soldiers. They will be relatively easy to defeat. Once all of the natural law societies are gone, the ownability-based systems will start to fight each other to gain more land.
On Earth, we call each group that claims a certain part of the planet belongs to them a ‘nation.’ The rulers of each nation will start to organize their ‘nations’ for defense against aggressive nations. Often, the best defense is a good offense, so they will also develop offensive capabilities. If they have these capabilities, they have incentives to use them. (It seems like a waste of money to spend on something that will never be used.) Wars will become a constant part of existence. This became the reality of half of the planet Earth, the part called the ‘Eastern Hemisphere,’ about 5,000 years ago. (The rest of the planet still had natural law societies.)
The military commanders will hire researchers to find new and better ways to kill other people and destroy property. Eventually, the researchers will discover that the reddish-orange dirt and rocks they see around them contain a metal, iron. By itself, iron is not very hard, but if worked properly, it becomes one of the hardest and strongest metals known: steel. Eventually someone will figure out how to make steel.
Armies with weapons made of steel will have fantastic military advantages over nations that don’t have these weapons. On Earth, the oldest steel weapons appeared about 2,000 BCby the calendar we use. Once one military has steel weapons, the other militaries must get them too or they will be conquered by the better-equipped armies. Steel use will spread.
A lot of people have to come together in one place to make steel. Wood doesn’t burn hot enough to ‘smelt’ the metal out of the ore; charcoal is needed. Armies of loggers must work tirelessly to cut down the hardwood forests to make the needed charcoal. Large numbers of charcoal makers must work to turn the hardwood into charcoal, and teamsters with wagons and oxen must work around the clock to haul the charcoal to the smelting facilities. Smelters require large numbers of people for construction, maintenance, and repairs; foundries require additional workers, the weapons manufacturing mills require many workers. The operations will require salespersons, finance experts, bankers, lenders, and a great many people with other skills. Everyone will need housing and food leading to the need for people to build homes, stores, and restaurants.
The rulers of the feudal states may not want to allow these people to come together in one place, because they pose a threat to the system. But the rulers don’t have any choice: they need the weapons that can only be produced in cities, so they need to allow cities to exist. Eventually, the land will transform in a way that leads to cities spaced at regular intervals among feudal agricultural states.
Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Alexander
Socrates was born into one of the cities about 2,400 years ago.
He looked around him and realized that the system he lived in fed off of war and destruction, things that didn’t advance the human race toward a better future. He realized that the system was not built on logic and reason, but on beliefs. He said that the system he was born into could not meet the needs of the human race (couldn’t have δικαιοσύνη) and we would have to reevaluate human existence if we wanted to ever have such societies.
The cities had more jobs and better lives for everyone when wars were ongoing; everyone knew that the cities functioned better in times of war than in times of peace. Athens was aligned with several feudal states in wars against the Spartans and Persians, both of which had been depicted as evil monsters trying to destroy everything decent about the world. Socrates was criticizing the society built on the idea of political units owning parts of planets. He was telling people that these societies were responsible for truly horrible things. If people listened, his message could hurt morale and cause the evil ones to win and gain control of the land.
They had Socrates arrested, tried, and executed. But some people understood his message and believed it provided great hope for the human race. They didn’t want the message to die with the messenger. Plato created a school to teach Socrates’ message and this school attracted some of the finest minds in the area. The most noted scholar to attend Plato’s school was the brilliant Aristotle. Aristotle gained a great reputation and King Phillip of Macedonia, looking for the best teacher he could find for his son Alexander, hired Aristotle for this job.
Alexander was nearly as brilliant as his teacher. Together, the two worked out basic principles of intellect-based societies. When Alexander gained power, he started to put these new ideas into practice. He didn’t ‘take over’ land, at least not in the traditional sense, he merely gave people a better existence. Word got around and people clamored to join his system. In some cases, rulers resisted this transition but, with the virtually unanimous support of the people, all Alexander had to do was provide some military advisors and equipment, and the people would gain control of their own kingdom and join it to Alexander’s. His empire became the most prosperous, fastest-growing, freest, and largest that had ever existed.
Unfortunately, when the people got power and wealth, the kings and rulers lost it. Some of the rulers realized that they could stop the transition by killing Alexander and arranged for his assassination. When Alexander died, the old system came back quickly.
The Unholy and Holy Roman Empires
The warriors kept fighting. The walled cities kept playing the feudal societies against each other to keep the wars going and demand for weapons high. One military commander, Gaius Julius, studied the successes of Alexander and realized that he could take land by organizing society so that the people gained benefits when they joined his system. He didn’t understand Alexander’s entire model, but understood enough to make him very dangerous. He used his talents to gain more and more land and build larger and larger armies. He eventually gained enough military power to take over the giant city-state of Rome and add it to his empire. Once he had unified the feudal system with the city, he was able to build a system that operated more or less smoothly to send food to cities, keep cities producing weapons, and allow more and more conquests.
This system was still of the type that Socrates had called a Πολιτεία: it accepted that groups of people can get together and call their groups ‘nations.’ Then, acting as nations, they had unlimited rights (sovereignty) over a certain defined part of the planet. But it was a new kind of sovereignty society in that it combined the resources of agricultural land and industry of the cities in an organized way. The system was designed to keep the industry in the city working smoothly so the war machine could grow to enormous size.
Such a system can work very well as long as war is a perpetual affair. The war creates huge numbers of jobs, both as weapon makers, providers to weapon makers, soldiers, and suppliers to the armies. If ever the system doesn’t produce enough jobs for the working-class population, leading to unemployment that might cut demand and destroy the system, the leaders can reduce the working-class population by setting up futile battles where thousands of working-age men are killed. Fewer working-class people alive means fewer looking for work and lower unemployment.
By keeping unemployment low, the government can keep wages high. As long as workers have a lot to spend, they can buy more and better housing, more and better food, and more and better consumer goods of all kinds. This creates large numbers of jobs providing the secondary (consumer) economy.
For hundreds of years, the wars were constant.
Then disaster came: peace arrived.
Industrial sovereignties simply can’t handle peace.
Millions of soldiers lost their jobs. They weren’t needed anymore. The weapons factories closed, laying off their workers. The factories stopped buying steel, forcing the foundries to close. The foundries no longer needed iron and the smelters closed, they stopped buying charcoal and ore, so hundreds of thousands of charcoal makers and teamsters lost their jobs. The mines closed and all of the people who worked in all of these fields lost their incomes and began to starve. They couldn’t afford food and stopped buying food; the farmers couldn’t sell their food and couldn’t make their costs. Eventually their creditors shut them down and boarded up the farms, leading to a dust bowl when large portions of the Earth simply blew away. The economies of the cities depended entirely on industry and when industry left, the cities collapsed.
This was the situation that was in effect when Constantine came to power in 320 AD (by the calendar he created). Constantine thought anything was preferable. He realized that industrial sovereignties were not workable systems and decided to destroy them. He ordered all books burned and all knowledge forgotten or destroyed. All power was turned over to a church, to be called the Catholic Church, which would work aggressively to prevent progress and the resurgence of technology and industry.
The unholy Roman Empire became the Holy Roman Empire.
Knowledge was illegal. Those trying to gain it were punished by death.
We now refer to the period that followed as ‘the Dark Ages.’
Chinese scientists invented the first workable explosive, gunpowder, in the late eleventh century. Persian weapon makers began to build workable cannons, bombs, rockets, and grenades in the late 12th century and began an assault on the Christian world at that time. The Christians, with their primitive weaponry, couldn’t defend themselves. Church leaders realized they would have to reopen their systems to learning; they had no choice.
They reversed their policy very abruptly: now, education was considered good and godly. Thousands of schools opened within a few years after the policy change, and, with generous church support, some of the finest universities the world had ever seen were created. Not everyone had destroyed their books as the church had required and, as soon as people were allowed to learn to read again, the old knowledge resurfaced quickly. The Italian Toscanelli built a large library of pre-Christian books and, using the information in these books, created a map of the world based on the idea that the world is round. That meant it was possible to get to the east by sailing far enough to the west. This map found its way into the hands of Christopher Columbus, who used it to obtain funding to find a route to India going west. He discovered a large island in the Caribbean Sea where people still had natural law societies. The conquest started just as soon as he could return home to Spain, and then come back to the New World with modern weaponry.
The people with natural law societies couldn’t defend themselves against the invaders. Mile by mile, the invaders took land and sold it. The competition for land was almost unimaginable in its fervor and people developed new tools to help them gain advantages in these wars. In 1600, the first ‘joint stock’ corporations came to exist. These corporations could raise far more money and build far better facilities than had ever existed before, giving fantastic advantages to the nations that had them. Within a century, the tiny nation that found the best way to utilize corporations, England, became the most powerful nation on Earth with a global empire where it was said the sun never set.
In the 1700s, some people in British colonies found a way to make corporations even more powerful and capable. They would make corporations perpetual, turn them into ‘persons’ under the law and give them guaranteed rights. Corporate persons would be granted control over the governments (by giving them the freedom to ‘lobby’ and to support the candidates of their choice), giving the owners total immunity from anything the corporations did or any damage the corporations caused. The new corporations could build facilities far beyond anything that had existed in the past. They began to make discoveries about ways to turn the resources of the world into goods with various uses. Of course, they concentrated on the most profitable operations, which involved weaponry. Nations would pay whatever they had to pay for the most advanced weapons, because they had to have them to defend themselves. But their discoveries also found uses that benefited the people and improved their quality of life.
The new corporations were essentially beyond the control of governments. If a government gave the managers of a corporation problems, they could simply move their corporation to another country, and keep operating it as before. People took advantage of this to play governments against each other, forcing them to meet the needs of the corporations. Some people who formed corporations wanted to use these tools for something other than profit: they wanted to use them as tools to advance the interests of the human race. Many people made various attempts at this, proving that it could be done. (Perhaps, if they had Aristotle to teach them how to build intellect-based societies, or they had a ‘science of societies’ to help them figure out how different ‘modes of existence’ worked, they could use this tool to build one, using the tools of these new corporations to make governments cooperate.)
In the 1960s, military commanders realized they couldn’t fight a nuclear war without reliable communication, and nuclear bombs would wipe out ‘conventional’ communication channels. They needed to create a new communication system that operated under as many different protocols as possible, to make it as difficult as possible to disrupt. They created the Internet. They realized that, if enemies couldn’t disrupt the new system, the governments that created it wouldn’t be able to interrupt it either. This involved huge risks: the people of the world (including the people of nations they called ‘enemies’) would be able to communicate with each other freely. They would be able to get access to information that had never been available before and would learn that much of what they had been raised to call ‘history’ was actually political propaganda. They may then take advantage of tools that were beyond government control (like the humanitarian corporations) to alter the order of society in ways that created true equality, liberty, justice, freedom, and even a true democracy.
This was a very big risk for governments. They know that the majority of the people are harmed by the system as it works. They would prefer that the people remain ignorant and out of touch with those the governments want them to believe are somehow different than they are.
But they had no choice.
The new realities of war made unbreakable communication systems essential. To create these systems, the governments had to allow an open architecture, so that many different people would develop many different protocols for connections. Since the connections all worked in different ways, enemies couldn’t destroy enough of them to shut down communications, and nuclear powers could communicate and respond to nuclear attacks. It was a big risk, but the only option they had, so they accepted the risk. We may hope that historians born many centuries in the future will find this ironic. The need to make war ultimately provided tools that the human race could use to work together and eliminate the basic forces that cause humans to divide into ‘sovereignty nations,’ thereby eliminating war.
This book is one book in a series of books about important realities of existence and the things that we can do to move ourselves to a better world. The next book in the series, Preventing Extinction, explains a new approach to the analysis of the human condition. Rather than starting with ‘what we have now’ and complaining about the things that ‘they’ (the mysterious ‘they’ who supposedly love us all and are going to fix everything for us if we just tell them what to fix) should ‘do something about,’ it starts from scratch. It starts with a basic reality of human existence—our needs for food and other physical items over time to sustain our bodies—and the way human beings must act if we are to meet our needs and survive. It shows what is possible, given the advantages and disadvantages that humans have that other animals do not have.
We can structure our existence various ways. Each different option leads to different incentives. If we understand the way these different modes of existence create incentives, and we understand the fact that humans must respond to incentives in order to stay alive, we have all the information we need to analyze human options for societies scientifically. We can understand how each different choice that humans may make about the basic realities of their existence will affect the evolution and progress of our race into the future.
We did not choose the conditions of our birth. We happened to have been born into societies based on beliefs that people held in the past about the intentions of an invisible all-powerful superbeing they believed lived in the sky. They believed that this superbeing wanted the world owned by whoever had the strength and power to take control of it. They ‘conquered’ land and became its ‘owners.’ They then built networks of rules and laws and created armies, police forces, prisons, and death camps as tools to help them force others to respect the rights they claimed they had. You and I did not create this system: it was already in place before anyone now alive was born.
Although we did not choose the conditions of our birth, we are now grown up and we are in charge. The human race is the dominant race of beings on this planet. (I know the people who designed our societies originally and run them now don’t believe this, but science, logic, and forensic evidence tells us it is true.) If we accept this reality, we will naturally also accept that we have both the ability and right to think about the different ways human societies can work, so we can figure out how to proceed from here. Preventing Extinction is the second step in the process: it is designed for people willing to accept that the human race is in charge of its destiny and want to understand the choices we have.
I want very much for as many people as possible to read Preventing Extinction and understand its message.
I hope to create a kind of passion in readers that inspires a real interest in the idea of creating a science of society. I hope it will inspire readers to both build on the work in Preventing Extinction and to find and correct any inaccuracies they see so that, eventually, we will have a science capable of moving us toward a future of our desire.