The reaffirmation of freedom as the road to prosperity is only an important first step. We need a road map in order to find our way. The next three sections present a draft for such a road map by developing more specific understandings concerning the divergent roads we have been traveling and then offering suggestions which I feel provide a more direct road to prosperity based on the principles of freedom. I view this draft road map not as final product but as a catalyst to reawaken the innovative talents of the American people.
One of the most fundamental principles of existence is that there is always a better way. The limits we place on solutions to our social problems are of our own making, because there are no physical limits to creativity. The genesis of our misperception of limits lies in the axiom that "politics is the art of the possible". The process of social innovation is always thwarted by special interests who stand to loose favored treatment with a new system. However neither the opposition of special interests not the apparent absence of a better road justify discontinuing our search for one. In a free society where the rules of society respond to the democratic expression of the people, all things are possible.
A road map to prosperity is of little use if the American people do not control the direction of the car. If the chauffeurs we hire all keep taking us on divergent roads, we need to change their employment contract to make them more responsive to the American people. It also wouldn't hurt for the American people to take the wheel occasionally just to show the chauffeurs and their advisors we still know how to drive.
This book seeks to broaden the theory of evolution with the understanding that biological, sociological and political structures are all part of the same evolutionary continuum as cells seek to form more efficient living power structures to enhance their survival and prosperity. While each of these stages has its own unique features, they share both a common objective and a great many common features. These three levels of evolution are often highly interrelated and can not be properly understood if they are analyzed separately as is often the practice.
The evolution of life on Earth has been a process of increasingly complex and fractured competitive interactions. This process began a billion years ago when altruism permitted the aggregation of cells to form biological power structures that were better able to compete for survival and prosperity. This process continued with the aggregation of biological power structures to form a vast array of competing species often organized into social power structures. Mankind carried this process further with the creation of complex competing political power structures within our own species. Whenever the process of competition was positively directed, the fittest prospered most, but the overall prosperity of life improved. However when the process of competition was negatively directed, the fittest survived, but often nobody prospered.
The fourth stage of evolution which I have called "Enlightenment" brings the process of evolution full circle. Enlightenment seeks to promote a greater sense of altruism first within the human community. This is in tune with most of the world's religions. The imagery of the Fatherhood of God has the positive effect of promoting the Brotherhood of Man. Enlightenment offers the understanding that all mankind and in fact all life on Earth are one body whose prosperity depends on the enlightened actions of all its members.
Enlightenment espouses individual liberty as the best prosperity enhancing strategy for humanity. Enlightenment supports return based on output "As ye sow so shall ye reap" because return is the incentive for both motivation and ability improvements through education, investment and innovation which are the keys to prosperity. Enlightenment supports free competition, because competition is the judge and jury for new innovations. Under enlightenment each individual is entitled only to what he or she produces. This free or theftless competition allows each person to seek individual prosperity while also promoting the overall prosperity of humanity.
The one body concept of enlightenment requires each member to help the others achieve to the best of their ability. If successful this seemingly altruistic effort increases competition for available resources. However for intelligent life the controlling limit on prosperity is the total ability and motivation of the whole body. The rising tide of prosperity resulting from increased ability lifts all boats in proportion to their contribution.
The one body concept is tempered by the understanding that while we can help someone today, in the long term all we can ever do is help that person to help themselves by improving their ability and enhancing their motivation. Long term welfare is simply an unearned transfer of wealth that ultimately demotivates both the giver and the recipient.
Enlightenment rejects compulsory communalism which is just a form of theft from those who produce more by those who produce less. Under subsistence conditions communalism provides greater short term survival for those whose output is insufficient to survive while not significantly demotivating those who produce more (because their net output is still at a subsistence level). However when living standards rise above a subsistence level, communalism reduces the motivation of both those of higher and lower motivation and discourages everyone from efforts to improve their ability.
Enlightenment includes the understanding that liberty is much more than the best route to prosperity; Liberty is the essence of life, because an important part of the meaning of intelligent life is self directed accomplishment. Clearly accomplishment is essential for a meaningful existence, but this accomplishment is hollow if most of the decisions that directed it were made by others. While there must be a tradeoff between accomplishment and self direction, the objective of parents and society in general should be to allow individuals the maximum amount of self direction even if others could make more prosperous decisions for them. The resulting mistakes are part of the processes of learning and growth both for individuals and for society as a whole. Political systems which deprive human beings of the opportunity to direct their own lives deprive those individuals of an essential part of life. With this understanding even well meaning social paternalism which deprives individuals of the ability to direct their lives comes very close to murder.
The unity of life does not repeal the need for competition and competition's most beneficial consequence namely survival of the fittest. The process of enlightenment seeks not to prevent competition, but to include the overall impact of alternative actions in the competitive decision making process.
The dominant role of humanity gives our species the responsibility for making decisions that affect the prosperity of all living power structures on Earth. This includes decisions that affect human social and political power structures which will be discussed in following chapters. There will always be limited resources which require tradeoffs and decisions. Hopefully the contribution of enlightenment is a broader perspective for making these decisions and choices. We can not avoid this responsibility for making choices because the decision not to choose is also a choice and usually not a very enlightened one.
Throughout the evolution of life on earth, living power structures have sought prosperity through biological and social innovation. When these innovations gave one species a decisive advantage, that species expanded often resulting in wide spread extinctions of competing species. This disruption in the natural ecosystem often impacted the dominant species as well. Eventually a new balance was restored as all species found a new stable operating point. This analogy to the dynamic response of a physical system is fundamentally accurate, because life is simply a complex interaction of living and natural chemical and physical processes. The beautiful harmony of nature is not the result of conscious design by the multitude of living power structures that comprise it, but the result of evolved patterns of biological and social interaction that were mutually beneficial (i.e. survival of the fittest on a global scale).
Even before the development of modern technology, the evolution of humanity was responsible for profound disruptions to the body of life on Earth. Mankind's first invasion of North America from Asia is linked with the wide spread extinction of many species of animals including the horse. The extinction of the horse and other native species limited the prosperity of these first Americans. Eventually a new balance was restored and native Americans evolved behavior patterns more in harmony with their environment. Ironically the horse migrated to Asia and was a major factor in the rise of Western civilization. When Europeans began the second human invasion of North America in the 16th century, the horse was an important factor in their successful conquest. The escape of horses from the Spanish reintroduced wild horses to North America and permitted the plains Indians to enjoy almost 200 years of enhanced prosperity as horsemen until European settlers finally overran their civilization.
The recent exponential rise of human prosperity through social and technical innovations is creating a serious ecological imbalance on Earth similar to but probably more extreme and more sudden than any previous imbalance due to past biological innovations. The fundamental challenge that humanity faces is to use our intelligence to make enlightened decisions that will both promote human prosperity and control the impact of mankind on Earth's environment. If we fail to use our intelligence and make misdirected decisions or no decisions, we will prolong and exaggerate this ecological disruption. Returning to a less advanced existence is not the road to prosperity. Banning all pesticides so less food is available and more people starve will promote neither human prosperity nor Earth's ecology. Destroying all the small pox vaccine so millions of people die of disease will not be beneficial either. Technology is the primary source of our future prosperity, but the crudeness of our emerging technology and our unenlightened use of technology are major causes of Earth's present ecological imbalance.
The unrestrained expansion of humanity is the greatest current threat to the body of life on Earth. All mankind's problems of pollution, urban congestion and environmental damage are driven by the explosive increase in human population and by the desire of all the world's people for prosperity. Mankind faces an unavoidable tradeoff between the quantity of human life and the quality of both human life and all other life on Earth. Technology has provided us with both the means to significantly reduce the death rate and with means to similarly reduce our birth rate. The issue of human population control is so controversial, because our basic survival instinct resists any efforts to reduce our rate of procreation. In America the opposition of some groups to any form of population control has prevented America from playing a leadership role in the vital area of world population control. Our prosperity and the prosperity of the body of life on Earth depend on enlightened decisions to regulate the growth of our species.
3.1 RECOMMENDATION: SUPPORT BIRTH CONTROL TECHNOLOGY AND ITS VOLUNTARY WORLDWIDE APPLICATION
a) Support development and world wide application of technology that permits people to voluntarily control family size.
b) Support revisions to both domestic and foreign policies that currently encourage large families. These policies include tax benefits, welfare benefits, foreign aid and other incentives.
The command and control structure of all biological organisms is based both on absolute central authority and complete altruism between the cells. In human society this biological model would be a beneficial dictatorship represented by the upper right hand corner of the command and control map. Unfortunately no human society has ever achieved complete altruism and most early civilizations were cursed by tyrannical leaders who approached despotic dictatorships represented by the lower right hand corner of the map. When these civilizations collapsed, the society fell into a state of anarchy (as represented by the lower left corner of the map) with no central authority and very little feeling of altruism among the members of the society. The goal of enlightened power structures is to achieve both a high degree of altruism and a high degree of self-reliance which minimizes the need for central control. This enlightened ideal is represented by the upper left corner of the map.
The degree of central authority correlates well with the balance between order and innovation in society. Societies with strong central control are inherently more orderly because the central authority provides clearer direction of activity. However societies with more individual authority are inherently more innovative because the diversity of many individuals empowered to act provides the society with many more options for social and technical innovation. For the same degree of altruism, more orderly societies have an advantage in producing today's prosperity, but more innovative societies have an advantage at improving their ability to produce tomorrow's prosperity.
By definition the degree of altruism inversely correlates with the amount of theft in society. Societies with a strong sense of altruism have a strong sense of "one bodiness" and common purpose which discourages theft. Conversely societies with a low sense of altruism have a weak sense of common purpose which encourages theft among their members. The degree of central authority determines the type of theft that occurs. With a strong central authority, the theft in society is mostly "legalized theft" by the members of the central authority. Conversely societies with a weak central authority primarily experience "criminal theft" between the members of the society.
While stable societies have existed over a wide range of conditions, there seems to be a main sequence similar to a star map. This main sequence seems to run from lower middle left to upper middle right. Stable societies with more individual authority tend to be less altruistic and therefore less orderly but more innovative. Conversely stable societies with a stronger central government tend to be more altruistic and therefore more orderly and less innovative. Over the course of human history, the main sequence line has been moving away from the despotic dictatorships of early civilizations toward more enlightened societies based on individual initiative, human liberty and respect for the rights of others. I can not emphasize too strongly that an enlightened society is a not a communalist society. While compassion is a fundamental characteristic of enlightenment, so is free competition and a system of rewards based on "as ye sow so shall ye reap" that promotes motivation and successful innovation.
The path toward enlightenment has been full of frequent minor regressions and occasional major regressions. These regressions begin as movements away from individual freedom toward more central control. As this process continues altruism begins to decrease both because the leadership is more despotic and because the people become less altruistic towards each other. This reduction in altruism leads to increases in both legalized and illegal theft in the society.
Social recovery from command and control regressions can follow two scenarios. In the first scenario, the society institutes voluntary reforms to reduce the level of theft and in so doing retraces its steps toward the stable operating point. America's recovery from the Great Depression and Teddy Roosevelt's successful trust busting a generation earlier are examples of this path to social recovery. In the second scenario the society falls into revolution. Revolution is preceded by a rapid drop in altruism. As an example the American Civil War was preceded in the 1830's and the 1840's by a gradual loss of altruism between the North and the South. However the John Brown raid in 1859 and the election of Lincoln in 1860 caused a rapid drop in altruism that led to session and civil war. Revolution can follow two paths. In the first path the revolution is followed by a reduction in central authority, the institution of social changes, the slow recovery of altruism and the eventual painful recovery to a stable operating point. However if the prerevolutionary drop in altruism is followed by an increase in central authority, the society can fall into the black hole of despotism. This is the path followed by Russia in the 1920's and by Germany in the 1930's.
American society is currently experiencing a major regression from stable operation. This regression is the result of several concurrent changes. First our society has been experiencing a real loss in liberty due to encroaching central authority together with a significant increase in both legalized and illegal theft. Second this regression in liberty is accentuated by a movement of the American spirit towards the ideal of a higher level of enlightenment. The socially unifying effects of the "Cold War" threat have both permitted this encroachment of central authority and increased the tolerance of the American people for the resulting increase in legalized theft. However the sudden demise of the "Cold War" has removed the altruistic incentive of an external threat and significantly reduced the tolerance of the American people for the magnitude of our society's command and control regression from stable operation.
The social tensions posed by America's command and control regression are both a real threat and a golden opportunity for American prosperity. They are a threat because failure to decisively reverse the level of theft in our society could lead to a period of severe social unrest and economic hardship. However American history is full of periods of crisis leading to positive changes and social renewal. Our present situation offers the opportunity for social innovations that will restore freedom to our society and propel our nation toward an American Renaissance.
The discussion of command and control would not be complete without revisiting the issue of order and disorder in human society. As discussed in the first section all power structures must provide both order for today's prosperity and disorder to permit innovation for tomorrow's prosperity. Throughout history human societies have selected different tradeoffs between order and disorder in their search for prosperity. In general western societies have emphasized individualism and innovation at the expense of order. These western societies tend to be located at the left end of the command and control sequence in figure 3-1. "Eastern" societies on the other hand usually emphasize group conformity and tend to be located at the right end of the sequence. As a young boy I remember watching the movie "Alexander the Great". In the battle scene against Darius of Persia, Alexander tells his troops that if he were to fall in battle, his lieutenants would quickly assume command (Greek individualism), but that the Persians were like a snake (strong central authority) which dies if its head is cut off. Therefore he exhorts his troops to "kill Darius" and sends his outnumbered troops against the center of the Persian line. Darius flees and the battle becomes a rout. While Hollywood romanticized the movie, this historical event is an excellent example of the many clashes between more orderly "Eastern" societies and more innovative "Western" societies which for most of human history has led to a predominance of western societies in world affairs.
The historical reversals in the western vs eastern contest for supremacy are worth further assessment. The rise of China resulted in a civilization far more culturally and technically advanced than contemporary western civilizations. The combination of a more disciplined society and a superior technology led to a rapid advance of Chinese civilization. However the rigid central authority of Chinese society suppressed further innovations and allowed western civilizations to catch up and surpass China. The rise of Islam several thousand years later repeated this process. The birth of Islam was accompanied by a burst of social and technical innovations that resulted in significant advances in architecture, literature, mathematics and metallurgy. These innovations and superior discipline fueled the expansion of Islam and almost led to the fall of western civilization. However again the effects of rigid central control truncated the innovative process and allowed the more disorderly but more innovative western societies to catch up.
The United States and Japan are excellent case studies of the choices and consequences of different degrees of altruism and authority. Japan has always been a very disciplined society with strong local authority and strong loyalty to the local ruler. As Japan became united several hundred years ago, a strong common bond developed together with a strong central government under the emperor or at least under the mantel of his authority. Just like in China many years earlier, Japan rejected foreign influences and became a relatively static society with comparatively little social or technical innovation.
The "Opening of Japan" by Commodore Perry (USN) led to a complete reversal of Japan's attitude toward technology and initiated the birth of modern Japan. While the Japanese wished to retain their social structure, they recognized the need to evaluate new technologies and to adopt those that proved beneficial. Within half a century Japan built a modern Navy that defeated the Russian Black Fleet. This gained for Japan the respect of the western powers. Japan's adoption of modern technology was in dramatic contrast to China which retained a "middle kingdom" mentality (which we now call "Not Invented Here") and wallowed in a medieval culture. China easily fell prey to western colonialism and within a few years of the Japanese naval victory the Chinese suffered a humiliating defeat in the Boxer rebellion.
In Japan the early part of the 20th century saw both a return to rigid authoritarian control and the incorporation of modern technical innovations (e.g. the airplane and the aircraft carrier) into the military. The early phases of the Second World War saw the continued use of innovative technology and techniques such as the use of carrier launched torpedo bombers at Pearl Harbor. The mortal struggle that followed showed the response of both societies to the pressures of war. The already orderly Japanese society achieved an even greater degree of discipline. However even more remarkably the war changed American society from the frivolity of the roaring 20's and the disorder of the depression to a focused and relatively disciplined society. While the Japanese retained the edge in discipline, America won the war with innovation. America entered the war with technically inferior equipment, but within a few years innovations in both equipment and tactics led to superiority in both areas. Social innovations like "Rosy the riveter" (which put women on the production lines) helped fuel the production miracle in a manner that was impossible for Japanese society to emulate. In the fall of 1945 the war was headed toward the invasion of Japan and a struggle estimated to cost over a million American casualties and many times that many Japanese. The horror of the atomic explosions ended the war and provided the ultimate victory of innovation over order.
Japan's rise from the ashes of defeat to a position of world leadership has been the result of both the discipline of the Japanese people and their willingness to innovate. The introduction of democratic government provided Japan with the most powerful social innovation of western civilization. Democratic government and a willingness of the Japanese to evaluate and adopt new ideas made Japan a fertile climate for technical innovation. First Japanese industry adopted American quality control technology while American industry did not. Then Japanese industry adopted the transistor for consumer electronics while American industry tried to protect their investment in vacuum tubes.
Japan's ability to retain the productive efficiency of a orderly society while still vigorously pursuing technical innovations has created an engine for progress and prosperity that presents a formidable economic challenge for world leadership. As shown in Figure 3-1, this achievement has enabled Japan to rise above the main sequence curve on the path to prosperity and enlightenment. While prosperity requires order, we will never out compete the Japanese on the basis of order and discipline. America's strength and I believe inherent superiority is our diversity and ability to innovate. However America's recovery and ultimate Renaissance requires the removal of feudal theft from our society which demotivates productive effort and blocks both technical and social innovations.
Since I wrote Roadmap in 1992 there has been a significant reversal in the relative fortunes of Japan and the United States that deserves further comment. My perception as shown on figure 3-1 is that this reversal reflects both positive improvement in America's position and a more significant reversal in Japan's position over the last five years.
The improvements in America's position have been due to a series of technical and social innovations that have enhanced America's economic prosperity and which are slowly helping promote American altruism through a more cohesive society. The clearest examples of American technical innovation are in the areas of electronics and computers where hardware advances like INTEL's microprocessors and system advances like digital HDTV have significantly improved America's competitive position.
Decades of political stagnation by the two major parties fueled increasing political disenchantment among the American electorate. This situation both supported the emergence of major third party forces like UWSA and the Reform Party led by Ross Perot and led political leaders of both major parties to finally support real political reform efforts. Over the last five years there has been real political movement in the areas of balancing the federal budget, reducing the size of government and reforming welfare. There are further beginnings of reform in the areas of education, criminal justice, taxes, social security, immigration and even strong talk of reforming the special interest/money influence system that is thoroughly corrupting the process of government. While much more needs to be done, the willingness of political leaders to even discuss these "third rail" topics is a sign of progress. However successful completion of these reform efforts will require perseverance by the American people to apply sustained pressure on elected official.
Let me suggest that an important factor driving the current bear market in the Japanese economy is a reduction in their "spirit of innovation". The spirit of innovation involves the ability of individuals and societies to redirect their efforts to respond both to changes in actual conditions and to new perceptions on more ideal approaches. This spirit runs counter to the "Eastern" preference for social order that teaches "the nail that sticks up gets hit". As discussed earlier in this section, the "opening of Japan" sparked the spirit of innovation that modernized Japan. However the success of that effort led to a restoration of "middle kingdom" mentality and the misguided military conquests that precipitated World War II. The humiliation of defeat once again permitted an openness to innovation which powered the dramatic rise of post-war Japan. Once again the success of that effort has led to overconfidence as evidenced by the real estate speculation of the 1980s and the fixation on analog HDTV. Japan also faces some significant social problems including fully utilizing the talents of women in Japanese society. However if this situation rekindles the spirit of innovation among the Japanese people, then the present economic plateau may only be the staging ground for the third Japanese economic bull market of the modern era.
America's strength continues to lie in maximizing the creative abilities of our people. While the size of government is shrinking, the size of America's corporations is growing as is the concentration of wealth and power. Unfortunately these conditions favor an entrenched bureaucratic status quo mentality. American prosperity in the 21st century will require reforms that decentralize wealth and economic power to restore a greater measure of political liberty and economic freedom to the American people. These reforms that politically and economically empower individual American citizens are essential to fully unleash the "spirit of American innovation" which is the engine of American prosperity.