The Words of the Carlson Family

National Development

Paul Carlson
January, 2000

This month we’ll begin a new series of four articles, each dealing with a different aspect of human society and its future. In this first installment we’ll look mainly at ‘external’ technological development. The ultimate fate of nations will be addressed in the fourth article.

Because the vast majority of people identify themselves by nationality, we’ll focus mainly on the ‘national level.’ Such governments hold the bulk of world power, and despite ideals of a unified world, nations will be around for a while yet.


The Principle agrees with secular historians that organized nations (originally ‘city states’) were a primary step on the road to civilization.

Secure borders, a common language*, and a healthy traditional culture are key components of a harmonious nation. Lose any of these and you eventually lose the nation itself. Successful conquerors always move to erase or override them. Equitable laws are another necessity, for without them governments cannot be stable. [*Unless you happen to be Switzerland.]

Historically, some of the original city-states attained a high level of development, with skilled craftsmen, civic arts, and indoor plumbing. Each reached a certain level, but eventually declined. A few, such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, contributed much to later nations.


Today, nations continue to rise and fall. In 1997 Bill Clinton stated, "The nation-state is declining, outmoded." He wondered aloud, "What will the New World Order be like?" Under his humanistic leadership, the United States has become one of the only nations in history to begin voluntarily trashing itself.

Upon independence, the majority of former Soviet states were drained of money and motivation, and now they’re mired in debt and unemployment. To break out they’ll have to ditch their class and ethnic divisions; also their stagnant, non-work ethic.

Many Third World countries barely manage to survive, much less progress, and are classed as "developing nations." How can these nations get ahead? Time and resources are not the only factors.

Mexico resents the USA for its wealth, even while helping themselves to as much of it as they can get. Yet Mexico had a full century to develop before North America’s British colonies—much less the USA—even existed.

Many Latin American nations are rich in resources, but for spiritual and social reasons they’ve hardly made good use of them. Brazil, with millions of acres of fertile soil, is a net food importer. Their primitive slash-and-burn practices are turning the lush Amazon into waste land.

India, Egypt (and others nearby) are quite poor, despite having thousands of years in which to develop. Their British (and French) colonial administrations ‘gave them a leg up,’ but the vast majority of their people haven’t fared well.

This isn’t entirely their government’s fault. It’s well known (if not ‘pc’ to say it) that many peasants will only do enough work to get along; double their pay and they’ll start showing up only half as often! This was confirmed by an elderly friend of this author, a former Central American plantation owner.

On the other hand, some nations are trying too hard to develop. Albania fell into chaos after several popular, government-sanctioned ‘pyramid scheme’ investments collapsed.

Mainland China is permitting rampant exploitation (including slave labor), and severe pollution, in a headlong drive to build up their industries.

Red China will never attain its goals without allowing their people religious (and political) freedom, as most of their Asian neighbors have lately managed. China will eventually have to crack down on technology also, if they want to keep their citizens leashed . . .


Economists have documented a lack of ‘drive’ in older societies, which prevented their overall progress. For example, in medieval times, the Catholic Church taught that the very idea of ‘personal gain’ was sinful. This was one reason European Jews originally got into banking.

Also, no member of a Craftsman’s Guild was allowed (and rarely tried) to better the work of another. Those who did found their innovations resisted, often with violence.

In the past, every major town had a unique system of weights and measures, coined its own money, and charged local tolls and taxes. Commerce was risky and expensive.

Recently, historians have learned this was not a universal situation. The Roman Empire had wide-ranging merchants who operated under government standards and protection, and only minimal regulation. They were well-established as far east as India and west into Scotland, and may have reached China and Brazil.

Marxist historians, thinking Capitalism an exclusively modern phenomenon, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into acknowledging these discoveries . . .

During the Middle Ages, Imperial China almost equaled Rome’s reach, sending powerful, five-masted war junks all the way to India and the east coast of Africa. China grew inexorably in power—until they abruptly ‘pulled the plug’ on themselves!

Cumbersome regulations and sheer xenophobia strangled their growth. China (and its eager pupil Japan) soon got to the point where they had an Imperial supervisor keeping watch over every single skilled worker.

This history leads to some interesting ‘what ifs.’ Star Trek once depicted a never-fallen Roman Empire. Or imagine victorious Chinese war junks forcing Elizabethan England to cede a ‘Hong Kong’ at the mouth of the Thames River.


Over many centuries Rome and China invented numerous clever devices, but failed to take full advantage of them. Archimedes built a spinning steam turbine over two thousand years ago, but nothing came of the idea until Europe’s Industrial Revolution. The British first encountered military rockets while conquering India, but it took Germany to build the V2, and America the Saturn 5.

The difference between clever gadgetry and true science is more philosophical than technical. Paganism, with its dark forces to placate, prevented any real grasp of scientific laws. Caste societies, with their social straightjackets, throttled most innovations in their cradles.

Monotheism with its coherent universe, democracy with its nouveau riche, and free enterprise with its competing-yet-cooperating innovators, together gave birth to our modern world.

Some scholars and politicians still don’t appreciate free enterprise, including Russian hard liners, many Third World leaders, and most American economics professors. These socialists have yet to grasp Adam Smith’s insight: the ‘invisible hand’ that guides a flourishing economy better than any central planner.

Free enterprise isn’t always the rule in America. We have our own monopolies, and Microsoft may be broken up like Ma Bell was, or rapacious Standard Oil a century ago.

Meanwhile, ever-larger mergers are taking place, and now the banks may get into providing stocks and insurance. (Talk about "putting all your eggs in one basket!")

The Future

Several years ago this author visited a small town in far northern California, and observed its city seal: a montage of locomotives, schools, and industry, with the motto ‘Partners in Progress.’ It seemed somehow quaint, as if the banes of pollution and overpopulation had never clouded their thoughts. (Given the scenic locale, they wouldn’t have clouded mine either!)

No nation until America ever supported such a burgeoning host of ‘Futurists.’ Universities, government agencies, and corporations all employ well-paid prognosticators, and several have become best selling authors. (Read B. Fuller, Toffler, Naisbitt, etc.)

Predicting the future isn’t easy. Corporations now do ‘multiple scenario planning’ instead of making a single annual plan, because rapidly shifting conditions can make any sort of plan obsolete. Hundreds of high-tech startups, and even old timers such as Lotus and Wang, have come to grief on those shifting shoals. Losing-side companies have poured millions of dollars into Betamax videos, 8-Track tapes, and their newer equivalents.

The future sometimes develops in unexpected ways.

Alexander Graham Bell was actually working on a ‘musical telegraph’ when he discovered that his device would also carry speech.

Arthur C. Clarke envisioned geosynchronous communications satellites right after World War Two, but he thought they would be large, inhabited space stations—so that their crews could store and change huge quantities of vacuum tubes.

Apple Computer started in a humble garage, and has flourished despite endless pronouncements of its death. The MP3 audio standard emerged from the informal ‘geek’ community to rock the very foundations of the music industry.

The Ideal

Our movement, through several high-tech companies and international charities, is now working to share advanced techniques with the Third World. For example, we’re trying to help Brazil attain even a tenth of the efficiency of Korean agriculture, not to mention of US industry.

The new personal hope, and visions of the Ideal, brought about by the Divine Principle, need not be upheld amidst mediocrity or squalor. Progress will soon benefit the entire world.

Next month we’ll look at law and the military; and their greatest challenges, dissent and conflict.

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