Open access journals — such as the Public Library of Science, the “Frontiers in” journals, journals published via Biomed Central, and many more illustrated above, highlight the openness of information of all types in the west. More
Open access journals make the latest advances in research and scholarly thought freely available to the public via the internet. They are but one sign of the open flow of information in the western world, which helps to form the foundation of innovation that has typified the western world for hundreds of years now.
Closed societies such as China, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and their allies, have difficulty producing a steady groundswell of meaningful innovation due to the way that all forms of information — including the internet — are walled off and blacked out. For that reason, such shuttered societies must steal a large part of the technology which allows them to pretend to be “modern” or “great world powers.” Example:
The intellectual degradation caused by the Putin government’s shift of resources from society to the military continues apace. Moscow libraries have announced that they cannot afford to subscribe to most of the newspapers and journals they had been getting (ng.ru/regions/2016-02-04/5_biblio.html). And a study of citations shows that Russia is rapidly falling out of a leadership position in many branches of science (chaskor.ru/article/rossiya_poka_eshche_zametna_na_nauchnoj_karte_mira_39966). __ Baker’s Dozen
Information has been available in a relatively open manner in the west — off and on — for millenia. Libraries open to the public date back to the Roman Empire, were revived in 15th century Italy, and became numerous in 19th century Europe and the Anglosphere. In this way, information was distributed widely and relatively freely, helping to support the explosive growth of science and innovation in Europe and the Anglosphere over the past two and a half centuries.
The superiority of Europe in human accomplishment throughout recent history is amply illustrated in Charles Murray’s free online PDF e-book “Human Accomplishment”. Much of this achievement was made possible by the wide and relatively open sharing of information between the men and societies who advanced the state of human knowledge.
Despite the best efforts of Stalin, Hitler, the Kaiser, and other puffed up tyrants of the Russian and Germanic worlds, Europe and the Anglosphere survived to create and spearhead the modern technologies of information science, nanotech, biotech, robotics, nuclear energy, cognitive science, additive manufacturing, and other disruptive technologies and tools of the modern era.
It was the bewildering explosion of innovation and relative prosperity in western societies that — combined with low oil prices — helped to destroy the impoverished, backward, and tyrannical USSR in 1991. Similar disparities appear to be having the same type of effect on a tyrannical Russia of today — now that Russia’s leader has built a new wall of isolation around the backward state.
Western Openness, Generosity, and Freedoms Are a Double-Edged Sword
Information sources linked above illustrate how free and ready access to information in the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, helped to spur the technological and industrial innovations in the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries. Renaissance and enlightenment thinkers were not reluctant to use ancient information from Greek, Hindu, and Roman cultures — some of which was safeguarded and built upon by scholars working within Islamic areas of dominance. Others were kept safe by Christian monks around Europe and the middle east until western scholars were ready to deal with the ancient and often heretical knowledge.
Western political freedoms grew up alongside western openness to information. As western prosperity grew, a uniquely western generosity developed which led to many political changes — welfare systems, state-sponsored medical care, public education, etc. Over time, western generosity began to open itself to overseas nations, with foreign aide programmes, liberalised immigration for refugees from primitive countries, and other policies which appear now to be at least partially counter-productive to all concerned.
First to Render Aide in Disasters, and Most Generous
When disasters strike worldwide, it is expected that the western powers will be first and most generous in providing aide. Sometimes the aide is provided through international organisations such as the United Nations, International relief funds, NGOs, etc. but the source and financing of the aide ultimately tend to come from western nations. Charitable giving — both private and public — is most prominent in western nations and virtually absent in more closed societies.
It is not clear whether the “good intentions” of many of the more prosperous populations of the west derive largely from (dying) religious traditions, or whether genetic factors are equally responsible. Certainly the genetic complement of western populations is partially responsible for the levels of human IQ that support high tech infrastructures that are necessary for modern prosperity.
Clearly modern western nations need to find a wiser set of policies that do not invite the barbarians in the gates to rape and pillage, and destroy all the hard-won gains over the past centuries. At the same time, they need to be open to the knowledge and wisdom that may be found elsewhere in the world — both in abstract and embodied form.
We are living in insanely interesting times, where unbelievably disruptive innovations are coming into existence under governments whose policies have become both frivolous and suicidal in many cases.
Clearly we are in need of “shadow organising principles” and stealthy forces of resilience and anti-fragility, to provide alternatives to the disgustingly absurd and self-destructive policy directions being taken by many governments in Europe and the Anglosphere at this time.
Hope for the best? Sure. But when we say “prepare for the worst,” we mean a lot more than you think we mean.
It is never too late (or early) to have a Dangerous Childhood.
Other Open Sources of Advanced Information in the West Beyond Physical Libraries
Open Education Consortium Liberated higher education
Open Culture Online courses, degrees, movies, art etc.
http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm Online courses free from MIT
http://als.csuprojects.org/free_online_courses Broad survey on free online courses and materials
Other Open Information Online
Archive.org Vast storehouse of online information
Open Library Borrow and read books free online
Wikipedia Big and growing bigger — user edited and generated
Sources for free online books Build your home e-library now before TSHTF 😉
Much more is freely available to anyone with an internet connection. Can you imagine if the internet had been invented and first built in a world dominated by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Cuba, or one of the other slave-states? Things would be quite different in terms of information availability to ordinary persons.