Fuller argued that political revolution would never "deliver the goods" for that portion of humanity which lives in poverty. In the 1960s, in books like Utopia Or Oblivion, Fuller gave an (unaccounted for) figure of 44% of humanity as living with relatively adequate means.
Ignoring political dimensions, Fuller proposed that as we are at the moment operating at an overall mechanical efficiency of only 4%, if we increased this to only 12% we could take care of everybody. This would require a design revolution which, Fuller says, necessarily entails a world revolution, because industrialization "consists inherently in world- around integration of all resources" (Utopia Or Oblivion, p.291).
In Critical Path (p.l99) he writes that
"the success of all humanity can be accomplished only by a terrestrially comprehensive, technologically competent, design revolution. This revolution must develop artifacts where energy-use efficiency not only occasions the artifacts' spontaneous adoption by humanity, but also occasions the inadvertent, unregretted abandonment and permanent obsolescence of socially and economically undesirable viewpoints, customs and practices."
In 1926, Le Corbusier concluded his book Urbanisme with the words:
"Things are not revolutionized by making revolutions. The real revolution lies in the solution of existing problems".
Knowingly or not, Fuller echoed this idea.
One of his projects in this direction is the World Electric Power Grid.
Fuller's attitude towards political revolution (and politics in general) can be seen to be one of extreme scepticism. Of course, many of his own schemes have routinely met with scepticism, partly with reference to the question of scarcity of resources.
Part of Fuller's answer to this is given by his concept of ephemeralization. A big part of the obstacle to any beneficent revolution is militarization, and yet its own statistics hint at the huge potential that could be realized: in 1990 a UN report suggested that the deprived children of the world could be given adequate health care and education as a cost of about $20 000 million per year.
This may seem a large bill, but it is equivalent to about ten days-worth of global arms expenditure. Gifford (1990, p.170), gives a figure for arms spending of $900 billion a year, which is equal to $1.7 million per minute. Jay Baldwin, six years later, quotes the World Game Institute's figure of $1 trillion per year.
See also Reform The Environment.
THE FULLER MAP
© Paul Taylor 2001