Oliver L. Reiser
Quick overview and appreciation by the chapter:
This book long predates the current conventional wisdom (which is constantly forgotten from the times of Aristotle et al) to wit, that we have to develop our ideo-cultural consciousness concurrently with our political-economic-technological advances. The author advances a future world in which language barriers are not an issue, but the sucking chest wound in the human species is the lack of what the author calls, in capital letters, the GREAT VISION. As I go through this chapter (heavy on scientific humanism), I am constantly reminded of the long-standing lament by E. O. Wilson that the sciences lack access to the humanities, and the emerging reconciliation between the sciences and religions.
II. The Mental Foetus
Great chapter that mocks all the emphasis on planning (both marxist and capitalism) while exploring the urgent need for the psychic unification of humanity. What this really boils down to is achieving (the title of one of my books), human moral and intellectual access to all information in all languages all the time, from which they can derive “win-win” or non-zero solutions–what Buckminster Fuller called “a world that works for all.”
III. Morphogenetic Fields of Force
This chapter gets into metaphysics and ethics and some would also say extra-terrestial and paranormal communications. The author is quickly into the fourth dimension, calling it insufficient to explain or understand the known unknowns and I am reminded of the books on time and energy, God and science, nature and soul. Then some math equations that I ignore, being an idiot in that domain. He concludes that true freedom arises from an expansion of consciousness and vision, and I am reminded of Will and Ariel Durant and “the only real revolution is in the mind of man.
IV. Social Embryology and Extra-Sensory Perception
Although the author talks in terms of paranormal, while I really take away here is that all he has predicted is now visible in the Collective Intelligence, Evolutionary Activism, and Wealth of Networks. This is where “memes” come in, as well as plants that can use cellphones (dehydration triggers text message). This is for me the most difficult chapter, and also the one that bears rereading more than once. The intersection of psychology and neurology are found here, as well as the concepts that EVERYTHING is alive and can communicate. The chapter concludes with thoughts on intersection and collaboration among western and eastern philosophies, and the emergence of planetary brainwaves. Personally I think about a World Brain and Global Game in which everyone shares access to “true cost” information and the options are visible to everyone–no more secrets in the public domain.
V. The Birthing of the World Brain
QUOTE (186): “This World Brain will be elaborated as the specific social organ for mobilizing energies, unifying programs, and providikng the means whereby subjective good will is integrated with objectified social intelligence to the end that we attain a planetary wisdom of mankind.”
I find this chapter totally absorbing, having devoted the last decade to this topic, and I find enormous–almost sadly prophetic–coincidence between what this chapter recommends as priorities, and the findings of the UN High Level Commission as reported out in A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges and Change.
I strongly recommend this book–and this chapter–as an example of how much we have known–and lost, forgotten, or subverted–in the half century since the author shared his own wisdom.
VI. Cephalization and Social Reform
I had to look up “Cephalization.” Here is what Wikipedia opens with: Cephalization is considered an evolutionary trend, whereby nervous tissue, over many generations, becomes concentrated toward one end of an organism. This process eventually produces a head region with sensory organs.
We have–in my view–everything we need today to carry out the author's 1946 vision. With SMS, real-time twitter as an intellegence tool, and so many other pieces of the puzzle falling into place,
VII. The World Brain in Action: An Institute of Scientific Humanism
The last chapter is short and chilling. The author anticipates international cartel fascism, and I immediately think of Matt Taibbi's Griftopia: Bubble Machines, Vampire Squids, and the Long Con That Is Breaking America–transnational criminals are the LEAST of our problems, Wall Street–Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Citibank–and the governments they have corrupted and the spies they have bought to do evil in their name: these are the face of international fascism. We have one defense: the Crowd.
In many ways the book reminds me of Richard Falk (who is still with us and helping the UN when they don't shut their minds down). The author is clear cut in articulating, in 1946, that we have until 2050 to get our act together, or there will not be much we can do to recover from the cascade of cummulative catastrophic events.
The Appendix is entitled the Social Implications of the Atomic Bomb. Chapter VI (Cephalization and Social Reform) is actually a typology of lines of inquiry that is quite interesting, comparing concepts and values of old democracy with the same categories under a planetary democracy.
This is a solid two hour read–more if you want to be very reflective and go back and forth. What the author does not cover is the fragmentation of knowledge and the loss of integrity across all eight tribes of intelligence (academia, civil society, commerce, government, law enforcement, media, military, non-profit). We have created some enormous barriers with the industrialization of academia, agriculture, justice, and all else. We have devalued the human brain, which is vastly more powerful than all the National Security Agency (NSA) computers combined. We begin now the long road back to what Kirkpatrick Sale calls “Human Scale.”