Building a better world
sounds like such a lofty venture. However, if we add the words "one
step at a time," it presents a different perspective. It becomes clear
that the fundamental reason for planning and forecasting is always "to
build a better world" even if only one step at a time. If not to make a
better world, why would anyone want to make any change? Thus, we are all
participants in creating a better world as soon we decide to make a
The following dialogue
takes place between Ellie and the Alien in Carl Sagan’s Book “Contact.”
Ellie is an astronomer who discovers a radio message from an alien
civilization. The message contains instructions on how to create a
machine. The machine is built. In it Ellie and 4 others travel via a
galactic transportation system to a station near the center of the
galaxy. There they learn of an intergalactic civilization that has
existed for hundreds of millions of years.
“Don’t think of us as some interstellar sheriff gunning down outlaw
civilizations. Think of us more as the Office of the Galactic Census.
We collect information. I know you think nobody has anything to learn
from you because you’re technologically so backward. But there are
other merits to a civilization.”
music. Lovingkindness. (I like that word.) Dreams. Humans are very
good at dreaming, although you would never know it from your
television. There are cultures all over the Galaxy that trade dreams.”
operate an interstellar cultural exchange? That’s what this is all
about? You don’t care if some rapacious, bloodthirsty civilization
develops interstellar spaceflight?”
said we admire lovingkindness.”
the Nazis had taken over the world, our world, and then developed
interstellar spaceflight, wouldn’t you have stepped in?”
“You’d be surprised how rarely something like that happens. In the long
run, the aggressive civilizations destroy themselves, almost always.
It’s their nature. They can’t help it. In such a case, our job would
be to leave them alone. To make sure that no one bothers them. To let
them work out their own destiny.”
“Then why didn’t you leave us alone? I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m
only curious as to how the Office of the Galactic Census works. The
first thing you picked up from us was that Hitler broadcast. Why did
you make contact?”
picture was, of course, alarming. We could tell you were in deep
trouble. But the music told us something else. The Beethoven told us
there was hope. Marginal cases are our specialty. We thought you could
use a little help. Really, we can offer only a little. You
understand. There are certain limits imposed by causality.”
had crouched down, running his hands through the water, and was now
drying them on his pants.
“Last night, we looked inside you. All five of you. There’s a lot in
there: feelings, memories, instincts, learned behavior, insights,
madness, dreams, and loves. Love is very important. You’re an
in one night’s work?” She was taunting him a little.
had to hurry. We have a pretty tight schedule.”
is something about to . . . “
it’s just that if we don’t engineer a consistent causality, it’ll work
itself out on its own. Then it’s almost always worse.”
had no idea what he meant.
. . .
want to know what you think of us,” she said shortly, “what you really
did not hesitate for a moment. “All right. I think it’s amazing that
you’ve done as well as you have. You’ve got hardly any theory of social
organization, astonishingly backward economic systems, no grasp of the
machinery of historical prediction, and very little knowledge about
yourselves. Considering how fast your world is changing, it’s amazing
you haven’t blown yourselves to bits by now. That’s why we don’t want
to write you off just yet. You humans have a certain talent for
adaptability – at least in the short term.”
“That’s the issue, isn’t it?”
“That’s one issue. You can see that, after a while, the civilizations
with only short-term perspectives just aren’t around. They work out
their destinies also.”
wanted to ask how he honestly felt about humans. Curiosity?
Compassion? No feelings whatever, just all in a day’s work? In his
heart of hearts – or whatever equivalent internal organs he possessed –
did he think of her as she thought of . . . an ant? But she could not
bring herself to ask the question. She was too much afraid of the
Contact, Carl Sagan, pgs. 358-360
Within this text I
present a theory of Social Organization and the means to develop the
machinery of historical prediction. My intent is to identify what
we need to do in order to develop a long term perspective so that
humanity will be around for the long term. I offer no master plan.
In fact my theory and simulations indicate that such a plan cannot
exist. There is no new world order that will insure survivability.
The solution is to be found in how we, as individuals, make decisions
and in the design of
the myriad of organizations, small and large, that make up our
civilization. The theory presented here can be applied at the highest
level of organization, but its application at the lower levels is far more
I am very aware of the
long history of failures to create a theory of society. I shall not
take the time to analyze those failures and identify how my approach is
significantly different. I will simply state that I have taken a
significantly different approach; a road not previously traveled.
In this approach I may have devised one or two new and useful steps, but
for the most part my effort has been to combine the work of others into a quantifiable and
verifiable theory of society. I, of course, identify them and their
contributions within the text. It is the work of these individuals that
represents the significant advance in our understanding of organization
behavior that leads to the Theory of Society.
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(C) 2005-2014 Wayne M. Angel.
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