My recollection of a conversation with Bucky.
Once upon a reality, when I was twelve, R. Buckminster Fuller explained to me...
The Great Pirates, the traders and sea dwellers who needed men organized on land to expedite their trading created monarchies.
Pirates were inherently outlaws. Pirates lived outside the system. The only laws that could, and did, rule them were natural laws.
Pirates battled with one another to see who was going to control the vast sea routes and, eventually, the world. Their battles took place out of sight of land dwellers and the keepers of written history. The losers generally went to the bottom of the sea. Those who stayed on top of the waters, and prospered, did so because of their comprehensive abilities. They were the antithesis of specialists.
Pirates were applied scientists. The wider and more long-distanced their anticipatory strategy, the more successful they usually were. Experience proved that multiple ships could outmaneuver one ship. So pirates created navies.
Bucky pointed out that historians maintain that countries created navies—only countries had the infrastructure to build and sustain navies. But, that’s what our history tells us. But, history is simply a story agreed upon.
Bucky maintained that pirates created countries. Western civilization didn’t just spring up simultaneously along different coasts. Trade prompted the development of countries. People were trading via shipping routes. Businessmen. Pirates. Pirates created foci of power. To consistently sustain a navy, pirates had to control mines, forests, and lands to build the ships and establish the industries essential to building, supplying, and maintaining their navy. The pirates went to the various lands where they either acquired or sold goods, and picked the strongest man there to be the pirate’s local headman. The chosen man became the pirate's general manager of the local realm.
If the chosen man in a given land had not already done so, the pirate told him to proclaim himself king. But this king was a stooge to commerce. His sole job was to maintain order on behalf of the pirates. Order was most easily maintained by having the local king proclaim that he was the headman of all men, the god-ordained ruler on earth. The locals weren’t traveling, so they saw no disparity. The pirates gave their stooge-kings secret lines of supplies that provided everything they needed to enforce their sovereign claim. The more massively bejeweled the king's gold crown, and the more visible his court and castle, the less visible was his pirate master.
Masters had to sleep occasionally, and therefore found it necessary to surround themselves with super-loyal, muscular, but dumb-as-shit, illiterates, who couldn’t see, nor savvy, their masters' strategies. There was great safety in the stupidity of these henchmen. The great pirates realized that the only people who could possibly contrive to displace them were the truly bright people.
Secrecy was the pirate’s strongest defense. If the other powerful pirates didn’t know where you were going, when you’d gone, or when you were coming back, they wouldn’t know how to waylay you. If anyone knew when you were coming home, small-timers could come out in small boats and waylay you in the dark and take you over, just before you got home tiredly after a two-year treasure-harvesting voyage. Hijacking and second-rate piracy became a popular activity around the world's shores and harbors. So, secrecy became the essence of the lives of the successful pirates. That’s why so little is known of these pirates.
These great pirates said to all their kings, statesmen who were functionally only lieutenants, "Any time bright young people show up, I'd like to know about it, because we need bright men." So, each time the pirate came into port, the local king would mention that he had some bright, young men whose capabilities and thinking shone out in the community. The great pirates would say to the king, "All right, you summon them and deal with them as follows: As each young man is brought forward you say to him, 'Young man, you are very bright. I'm going to assign you to a great history tutor, and, in due course, if you study well and learn enough, I'm going to make you my Royal Historian, but you've got to pass many examinations given to you by me and your teacher.'" And when the next bright boy was brought before him, the king was to say, "I'm going to make you my Royal Treasurer," and so forth. Then the pirate said to the king, "You will finally say to all of them: 'But each of you must mind your own business or off go your heads. I'm the only one who minds everybody's business.'"
And this is the way schools began, as royal tutorial schools. And, it’s the way specialization began. It is our current form of education. Academic education equals specialization. Exclusively, the great pirates retain comprehensive knowledge. Exclusively the great pirates, known today as businessmen, enjoy knowledge of the world through its resources.
Bucky emphasized that this is not a metaphor or some kind of syllogism and that he was not being facetious. He held the pirate story as a more accurate history than found in traditional textbooks.
This was the beginning of schools and colleges, and the beginning of intellectual specialization. The development of the bright ones into specialists gave the king very great brain power, and made him and his kingdom the most powerful in the land and, therefore, secretly and greatly advantaged his patron pirate in world competition with the other great pirates.
The power rested not with the power figureheads, the kings, but with the men behind the kings, the great pirates. Just as today, a corporate president may be the king, but the power is in the hands of the board of directors—the ones never charged with corporate crimes.
Bucky saw our current world order as derived from deception and maintained through deception. Bucky’s key criticism of this deception is a perpetuated fallacy of scarcity. Scarcity is required to maintain the tension required for competition. It is intrinsic to the divide and conquer master strategy. However, most people are blind to the connection between competition and the divide and conquer strategy.
In 1980, R. Buckminster Fuller spent two days explaining his perception of reality to me and two other kids for Richard Brenneman’s book, Fuller’s Earth: A Day With Bucky And The Kids. Bucky found us deeply programmed and conditioned by society. He wanted to pursue the origins of specialization into deep history, hoping thereby to correct or eliminate our “normal” concepts. Bucky stated that misconceptions were intentionally perpetuated as a form of control over the masses. That it is naïve to think that certain misconceptions have not been intentionally held in place by local governments. This think piece, The Great Pirates, is an attempt to pass along a little of what he gave me.
For a Fuller version of this story, please see Operating Manual Spaceship Earth or my novel http://PokerWithoutCards.com. I’m working on my follow-up novel called Magic Without Cards. Not done yet. Planning on launching 9/19/10 Speak Like A Pirate Day. I don’t have a specific agenda for inviting you into these ideas. Please pardon me if I appear like I’m foisting Buckiness on you. Thank you Ralph for consuming this Think Piece. Now, may we all think peace?