For me, one of our major un-necessary problems is our dependence on the verb "to work" and the noun "worker". This causes great psychological, political, and sociological pain and confusion. In essence the word means to use, spend or burn-up energy and the noun indicates someone doing this spending.
But this verb does not state whether this energy is being used joyfully or painfully. This is a key question. This is why i believe we have a solvable and un-necessary problem. It is in fact a non-problem. We demand too much of this verb. It cannot serve two masters: joy and pain. I contend that it is this confusion which is largely responsible for global (and personal) frustration and anxiety.
If I tell you that I "worked" all day in the garden, you will not know how to react to this news. This verb causes more confusion than elucidation. Usually our voice, our intonation, or facial expressions will tell you how we really feel about what we have been doing. If i report that i have "worked" all night at my office you wll probably express concern and even commiserate with me. Yet if I enjoyed what I was doing, if I was so excited with the job at hand that i did not notice the arrival of dawn, your offering condolences would be out of order, inappropriate. But your response is appropriate to my verb usage.
It is my conntention that we need another verb and quickly. New concepts create new words and new words create new consiousness.
To honor Buckminster Fuller, who, for me, epitomizes joyful energy spending, I suggest we create the verb "to fuller", the noun "a fuller", and the adjectives "fuller" and "fullering". Ironically he seems to have anticipated even this. One of his books is entitled: _I Seem to Be a Verb_.
A "worker", then, is someone who burns-up energy painfully, and "fullers" are those who enjoy what they are doing.
Personally I have fullered all my life. It describes a positive, learning attitude to any activity, to any endeavour.
Do you enjoy what you do? Is the paymeant the doing of it or are you doing it only to earn money? This is another important difference between fullering and working.
I attempt to undertake everything I do because the thing itself interests me. I can learn from it or the doing of it produces something meaningful or valuebal for me or for society. Or it is fun, exciting, enables me to meet people, or any of a dozen reasons or more. Sometimes some of these undertakings produce financial or other benefits. This is I get paid with money or another currency for my energy, my time, my skill. This is always a pleasant surprise! It is like being paid twice. The doing of it was one payment allready.
I fullered one summer as a ditch-digger in South America. I was a teen-ager. I enjoyed the sun, the physical exertion, the camaraderie of the other fellows. It was fun. I knew that I did not have to do this the rest of my life. I could quit. This is another major difference between fullering and working. With fullering one knows one can stop. With work, one feels trapped, compelled to continue against one's will.
At the moment I am involved in a number of projects. I never think of them as jobs or as "my work". I teach at the University of Paris. I am editing a series of travel books and am attempting to produce a movie. I help administrate a small publishing company. I help co-ordinate a video group based in Amsterdam and Paris. From time to time i produce magazine and newspaper articles and involve myself with other delightful projects. Only the university provides a regular source of income. Yet i would gladly teach without payment. And as I often tell my students and colleagues - to their surprise - if I had plenty of money, I would pay for the right to teach. It, too, is fullering! None of theese activities can be classified as work for me. There are no clocks to punch, no overtime payments, no union, no pressures, no pain. I enjoy them all.
"Workers of the world, unite!" OK, well and good, but the way I see it, this isn't our goal. Because in one sense we are all "workers" - in that all of us spend energy doing something no matter who we are or what we do. Some of us enjoy what we do and some of us don't. I feel that our goal must be to eliminate work as such and try to foster fullering everywhere. If work equals pain and fullering brings joy, then we are mad to wish to unite workers or even to think in worker/boss categories. This is a nineteenth century concept. In the second half of the twentieth century we need to develop new concepts, new language, new goals for our time.
It is just possible the street-sweeper is now the fuller and the bank manager is now the worker. It depends upon who is happier at what they are doing. Our stereotype thinking would suggest that the converse is so. But let's ask a street-sweeper, let's talk with a bank manager. We discover that this particular street-sweeper enjoys his action making an immediate impression (ie a cleaner street). We discover that this particular bank manager is not happy. He dislikes dealing with accounts, feels frustrated and trapped, and would prefer to have an outdoor job. OK maybe this is far-fetched, but it is a possibility. We cannot know until we ask.
How many lawyers, taxi drivers, home-makers, waiters and waitresses, carpentars, airline pilots, journalists, politicians, school teachers, doctors, students, farmers, human beings are unhappy with what they do? How many are unhappy? This is the question. We must ask those who are happy, why they are happy and those who are unhappy, why they are unhappy. Then, and only then, will we be getting somewhere. We will begin to deal with some of the real problems on Earth.
We now have a language tool with which to undertake this voyage. We can begin to understand, to transform, and to utilize this information.
Perhaps for years to come there will be jobs that can only be described as work. Jobs that no one will wish to do, that will have no redeeming features, that will not attract fullers. But society needs that theese jobs be done. Say, for the sake of our discussion, that garbage collecting is one of such jobs. We, as a society, have not yet evolved to the situation where me no longer make garbage. We litter, we fail to recycle. We require someone to pick-up after us. We require garbage-collectors. In this case let us share the work. Let us each give six months or a year of our life to the community. It would mean that no one person would have to spend their entire life garbage-collecting. Some kind of civic service is called for. This is one solution until we are able to solve it in some other matter. Maybe we can never solve this work problem. I think we can. I think we can solve them all. I am an optomist. Of course if no one left a mess, if everyone picked up litter when-ever/wherever they saw some, the need for garbage-collectors would dissapear immediately. Alas we have not yet developed a sense of social responsibility yet.
Many people, no, in California share their jobs. One secratary "works" in the morning, another in the afternoon, or one is one week at the office, another the following week, and so on. There is no unemployment problem as such. Newspaper headlines confuse the issue. It is simply a question of supply and demand and our ability to organize our time, money, energy. It is simply a matter of sharing. The unemployment figures would drop immediately if people shared their jobs with others.
Why must one person spend eight hours a day, five days a week, four weeks a month when this job could be transformed into something approaching fullering if it were shared. A painful job shared with others becomes less painful. It is only habit and latent Puritanism that keeps our noses to the grindstones.
If one is fullering one hates to stop, give it up, or share it. But if one is working, one longs to stop, give it up, or to share it.
Once upon a time it required most of our energy to survive. We had to constantly seek shelter, food, heat, and defense from our many enemies. Today our survival requires very little of our personal energy output. We have moved to a situation where our survival as a society requires us to work less and less. I suggest that this calls for a celebration. This is, truly, good news!
Now instead of beling hunters and fishers, we are MOVERS OF INFORMATION. We research it, teach it, sell it, transmit it, store it, consume it. Have you ever pause dto ponder how many people are involved with production, distribution, and consumption of information? I suspect it is a large figure, perhaps as much as 60% of our total human activity. And it is growing all the time.
We have a situation now where everyone can be a poet, a teacher, a film-maker, a painter, a dancer, a student, a journalist, a philosopher, etc., and all at the same time. Yes, we can be all of theese things and more at the same time.
We have a situation where more and more of us can stop working and being doing what we like doing. So let's relax, take it easy, stop worrying and begin to see what we can do to make our life on this planet more meaningful, more enjoyable, and more fun for everyone.
We pay people now for not working and we call it unemployment money or the dole. We are all made to feel guilty and ashamed in the giving and the accepting of this money. We give this money painfully, negatively. Instead let us give it with joy, with generosity. It is called "Guaranteed National Income" and let us be pleased that a machine has freed another individual to fuller.
AUTOMATION MEANS APPROACHING FULL UNEMPLOYMENT.
AUTOMATION MEANS APPROACHING FULL UNEMPLOYMENT.
AUTOMATION MEANS APPROACHING FULL UNEMPLOYMENT.
Most people will be able to live out the life of the person they were born to be, the only such person who will ever live. They will no longer need to prove to themselves or Society "a right to live"...
Let us replace the "work ethic" with the "life ethic". This kids in the 60's were correct to shout to the world: "Do your own thing!" You might not approve of the rhetoric, but you cannot disapprove the philosophy. If everyone were happy "doing their own thing", we would have a fuller's society.
Our newspapers and our politicians demand that more jobs be created but they all fail to realize that automation and technology is daily eliminating work. But we have put ourselves in a number of traps that we seem incapable of escaping.
Our biggest trap is dogma and dogmatism. The concept of political Left or Right is too rigid. For some time I have considered theese two political labels to be almost meaningless. They are both so full of emotional fuel they destroy any chance of building an exchange. They encourage sloganeering and posturing, the replace solutions with slogans.
Michael Zwering touches this issue in his book, _The Case for the Balkanization of Practically Everyone_ (Wildwood House, London). He feels the essential problem is small vs big - not Left vs Right. I agree with this and add Sensitivity vs Insensitivity, Openness vs Closedness, Caring vs Non-caring, and of course, Fullering vs Working.
We need to move away from the so-called dialetic and polarization to a middle ground, to consensus, to compromise. One of the strengths of the global ecological movement is their instinctive understanding of this.
Today in the world we have many ideologies, all hysterically proclaiming their rightness, their virtue and saying that the others are fools, charlatans, or worse. No one has a monopoly on th etruth because there is no truth. Ideas are in constant evolution. Why do we not accept this? Why are we so obsessed with being "right"?
I believe that we can solve our problems, right wrongs, resolve injustices without resorting to dogmatism. In fact, it is only by moving away from dogmatism that we can accomodate everyone's ideas and ideals. Dogmatism usually leads to frustration, of inarticulateness, of desperation, of fanaticism, and of our refusal to let everyone have their say.
How can we encourage the individual to create, to explore, to be free and at the same time not allow this personal freedom to run amuck? We need to foster a sense of social and ecological responsibility - as individuals and as a global society. We need the ideas and ideals from the socialist, the communist, and the capitalist communities of the world. We cannot afford to indulge in our self-reighteousnes, our dogmatic ideologies, our sense of helplessness. We can, each and everyone of us, begin to create the kind of world we wish to be a part of right now.
Communists, socialists, and capitalists all agree that "capital" is money and credit. But they all seem to overlook that evergy and intelligence is also capital. With evergy and intelligence alone, we can build, create, forge, do, act.
Money evolved as a system to replace bartering in order to facilitate and to speed up our flow of exchanges. Alas money implies scarcity. If there were enough for everyone, we would not have to resort to buying and selling. But we have little or no confidence in our ability to evolve to another level, to another system.
Money can buy energy, but energy exists independently of money. Money is simply one way we have of limiting how much energy there is to produce or to do something. Let us stop thinking that money and energy are the same things. Energy is. We all produce it. So does the wind, the sun, horses, water, and machines.
Most people use their money/energy foolishly, self-indulgently. Not enough people have a highly developed sense of social inter-dependence.
Some people now think that there is enough for everyone but we must share, conserve, care for what we have, and learn to recycle. I am one of those people.
Yet we have people with too much and others with too little.
For me, all expenisve automobiles are a sad example of this. They are vulgar symbols for an obscene concern for self, for personal comfort, for so-called status. It says to the world that the owner is not concerned for others. Many may go hungry or without shelter but the Rolls-owner has a padded seat for his or her ass and a hood ornament to indicate his or her class.
We must begin to define our "need levels" - as individuals and as a global society. Our "needs" should not rise in a direct ratio to our ability to produce.
If no one had to worry about basic needs - food, clothing, shelter - we would all be under less pressure, less pain, less anxiety. It would allow everyone to be more gracious, more open, more generous.
We would be on our way to building a happier world. I feel that we can begin now by respecting people for their humanness. Everyone needs respect, craves it, cries out for it, yet we give it grudgingly.
My big objection to communism is their suppression of individual and individual initiative. They thwart the creative spirit. The ability to initiate, to experiment freely is an extremely important undertaking for everyone's good.
Both communism and socialism seem to presume that no one ever likes what they are doing and that the individual can be fully compensated with capital alone.
My objection to free enterprise capitalism is its disregard for anyone who falls by the wayside and the pursuit of profit for its own sake. Ironically both communism and capitalism are "capitalistic". Communism pretends otherwise, but it is simply "state capitalism" and as such is more bureaucratic and less efficient.
Western capitalism, once fairly accurately described as free enterprise capitalism, is now partly socialised in that the government plays a major role as a regulator and patron.
Perhaps some kind of non-dogmatic mixed economy is what we need. That is, the best of all worlds, all systems. There must be very little real difference for the so-called "worker" no matter what system he or she is working under. All economic systems to date seem to be obsessed with the "work ethic".
If everyone fullered, everyone would be happier no matter what the system.
Until now it has been difficult to know who is a "worker" and who is a "fuller". We, patronisingly, assume that manual laborers (the blue collars) hate their jobs and that the so-called professional classes (the white collars) like theirs. What is probably nearer the case is that some people from each category like what they are doing and some don't.
We need to know why some people like what they are doing and why others don't. Many hate what they do because of their sense of being trapped, of not being able to escape. Others find their job has no relevance, no meaning. Many are destroyed by routine, by repetition, by a lack of personal interaction with others. There are many reasons why people are unhappy.
Yet when one does what one wants, it can be driving a taxi or building a house, one does not feel trapped, frustrated, or commited to meaningless activity.
Let us be more fluid, less rigid, in letting people have more different kinds of experience. Let us have specialists by all means, but let us also have generalists. Generalists are those people who can flow into many areas and activities.
If our society has a fullering attitude, we would be more open to change, to experiment. Fullers are happy doing what they are doing. They never wish to retire, because anything you like to do isnt tiresome.
I think that we can achieve this. Let us recognize the difference between work and fullering, let us learn to utilize our automation and technological advances, let us learn to develop our free fuels (sun, wind, and water), let us adopt a less hysterical attitude to unemployment and unemployment payments, and, finally let us learn to deal with each other with mutual respect.
Each person also must learn self-respect. If I like what I am doing and if what I am doing is causing no one else pain, I deserve your respect because I am a part of this madness called humanity. We must start respecting people for themselves, for their humanity and not for what they are or what they control. For far too long we have respected power and position more than usefulness or humanity.
"Hellos" not only for the boss, and apples not only for the teacher, but now "hellos", apples, and smiles for everyone - street-sweeper to sweet-seller. This book is a plea for more humility, for more sensitivity, for more consideration of the other person's right to be. Let us have an end to dogma, an end to confrontation, politics and violence.
Buckminster Fuller raises an interesting point: "The most important fact about Spaceship Earth: An instruction book that didnt come with is." We have no book of rules. We have no operating manual. No one is right. No one is wrong. We are all groping in the dark. We are all trying to make sense out of it all. Let us listen to each other. Let us stop being ruled by dogma, power, brute force, greed. Enough is enough.
One thousand people can combine their energy to bring in the crops from a field. Through intelligence and technology, twenty people can now bring in the same crops. One can only say that the 980 individuals are now free to fuller or that they have swollen the unemployment rolls. If the machines used to free these 980 people get their energy from the sun, wind or water (and ultimately there is no other source), everyone is richer.
Studs Terkel has edited a book entitled _Working_. In it people talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do. It contains a great deal of humanity and a lot of unnecessary sadness, waste, and frustration. Let us make another collection of human voices, but this time a collection of people who will realate what they do and why they are happy doing it. It will only contain good news. Maybe then we can begin to learn something about ourselves and our society by comparing the two collections.
To find out how many of you are fullering out there and to encourage fullering generally, I seek your help and support. Answer the following questions:
1) Who are you?
2) What do you do?
3) Why do you do it?
4) Is it meaningful, fun etc.? Why?
5) What (in every sense) are the rewards?
6) What do you do in your "spare" time?
7) Do you want to retire? Why? Why not?
8) What can we do to eliminate or to share work?
9) What can we do to further fullering?
Please return your answers to me. Alas, we do not have much time to spare.
To: Jim HAYNES, Atelier A2, 83, rue de la Tombe-Issoire, 75014 Paris.
I am a fuller and i have been fullering for... years. I enclose my answers to you questionnaire and will allow you to use them in your proposed book on fullering. This idea is...
SOME FULLERISTIC IDEAS
Why put a little idea into a big book - one that few people will ever read anyway?
Why not put a big idea into a little book - one that everyone might read, digest, ponder, and act upon?
"Equal income? No. People with beastly jobs should be paid a great deal more than anyone else."
"Take away the power lines and the machinery from America, Russia, and all the world's industrialised countries - and within six months more than two billion people will, swiftly and painfully, starve to death.
Take away the politicians and dispatch them in a rocket to the sun - and suffering on the Earth from starvation and disease will not increase if the energy networks, industrial machinery, routine production and distribution personnel are maintained."
"Technology providing more and more goods from fewer and fewer resources could guarantee that all men and women would survive. It is very logical that man should fight to the death when he thinks there's not enough to go around. In a fire, he loses all reason, goes mad, and tramples his fellow men to death as he competes for air. It is also very logical that man won't fight when he knows there is enough to go around. It is logical. It is logical. It is logical".
Circumnavigation of Earth -
Wooden sailing ship - 3 years
Steel beam ship - 3 weeks
Aluminum airplane - 3 days
Metal-structured rocket capsule - 90 minutes
There is more and more evidence that world society is about to discover the intrinsic value of ideas.
Marshal Mc Luhan has observed that automation is not a continuation of the industrial revolution, or merely hastening things a bit. It is not just more of the same, faster. Automation is a new evolutionary devolpment, a totally new way of thinking and living with our nerves outside us as an information environment. The speed, capacity, and universality of computers are fostering a richness, diversity, and individuality that is altering man's own image of himself and the forms and shapes of his social institutions.
Spaceship Earth is fueled by a radiation power plant, the Sun. Because the universe is entropic, Earth's evolution is ineluctable.
A problem adequately stated is a problem well on its way to being solved.
EPHEMERALIZATION: the process of doing more with less. Ephemeralization: one Telstar - weighing only 500 pounds - out performing 75.000 tons of transocean copper cable. Ephemeralization has flourished in different systems, for it is independent of political ideology. Automation, initialed by the mass production of electronics, has generated an awareness of the signifigance of ephemeralization.
Real wealth is indestructible and without practical limit. It can be neither created nor lost - and it leaves on system only to join another - the law of Conservation of Energy. Real wealth is not gold. Real wealth is knowing what to do with energy.
Man's intellect has the ability to tap the cosmic resources of energy and make them work for him.
Industrialization, not socialism, produced Russia. Industrialization is compatible with all political systems. Our major technological reasearch and development programs are financed by government. We, in effect, are living in a partially socialized system.
When people discard the notion that ownership is important, they will not be burdened with posessions. The less we own, the greater our mobility. Possesion of most things will seem as illogical as owning a telephone.
We should be able to afford to send everyone back to school, or to send them fishing if that is where they wish to go. A great many people bent on learning, on finding out something new, should greatly increase the common wealth. Those hooked on fishing may inadvertantly make a great contribution by just taking it easy. They may even discover a better way to fish.
A transistorized electronic computer can - in one minute - print out the solution to a problem that a decade ago would have taken two years to solve if every educated person on earth worked full time on the calculation. The computer's impartial solutions are acceptable to those who suspect the counsel of long-haired, eggheaded specialists.
Because wealth is energy, people everywhere will be rich in power when integrated world-wide industrial networks are established. A world-wide electrical network linking the day and night hemispheres would result in staggering economic gains. As Vladivostok sleeps, Con Edisonovitch's current would be channeled to California. Industry works best as a world system. Newly emerging nations must realize that their independence depends on their participation in world industrialization.
There is only one revolution tolerable to all men, all societies, all political systems: Revolution by design and invention. Every nation welcomed the transistor. All the world, properly informed of the significance of the design and invention revolution, would welcome it. Science, not politics, centralizes society. The telegraph wire communized the world.
Americans fear automation. Many are afraid that automation will mean full-scale unemployment and little or no individual purchasing power. A study of the applications of automation reveals it can vastly increase goods and services - such prodigious wealth, in fact, that "the rank and file" will demand automation. Most people will be able to "do their own thing" all the time on highly paid "research" fellowships. They no longer will need to prove "a right to live."
All the above "Fullerisms" are taken from _I Seem to Be a Verb_ by R. Buckminster Fuller with Jerome Agel and Quentin Fiore. (Bantam Books, New York)