Whole Earth Catalogue—50 years!

Apollo 8 photo, Stewart Brand’s ability to tune in.


Yes, it was a turning point for our sense of “space ship earth” as Buckminster Fuller called our dot in space. Bucky was heavily featured in the catalogue.

It was a turning point for me, I turned 24 that year and was ready to soak up this new ethos.  


Our Bodies, Ourselves 

Communal living 

I have the WEC to thank for the creation of Chippenham.

And I got the inspiration for Four Avenues School from the catalogue.


Now a closer look!

See the subtitle.

Access to tools. 

That was inspired but sadly twisted.  What if there had been no McCarthy era?  What is marxism had not been brutally suppressed.  What if marxism had not been confused with the bastardisation by Stalinism? What if Timothy Leary had advocated to tune in and organise!

Access to tools would have had the same meaning as ownership of the means of production.

We would not be accessing shovels and pumps and video cameras.  The real tools are the technical and social processes that create things. The tools that make the tools.

So Stuart was onto something, but it was a strange mixture of hope and despair as the ethos of individualism and personal solutions predominated even as the earth was envisioned whole.  It was not the guide to saving the planet that it might have been.

The wisdom on the inside cover: We are as gods and might as well get good at it. So grand in its vision! So sad to think of us trying to grow veggies in our back yard as a revolutionary act.

Imagine if the ethos of love and care that was lavished onto the beauty of chisels and rolling pins was turned to re-imagining the globalising means of production.  That too is a wondrous but twisted creation. Imagine if we could collaborate for our social product to be for the people and not for profit. Imagine if distribution of the product of those tools was equal. Imagine if the state, was also re-imagined as the servant of the people instead of the servant of the rich.

Lets visualise the tools on the planet… all those processes, manufacturing and media, design, health, education, distribution.  Yes it would be great if we had true access!

Access to tools!


One Reply to “Whole Earth Catalogue—50 years!”

  1. Wow! I have had to wait till after Boxing Day 2018 to discover that in 1968 there was a such a thing as a whole earth catalogue. Though I did hear of your alternative school and commune during the last millennium. Though as in this case from you. 1968 was notable for me for Niue’s hurricane in March, Wellington’s version with the Waihine disaster in April. Travelling with three small children by ship Wellington to Southampton.. My daughter seeing a nun who actually flew on TV. After three and a half years of nil TV with another four and a half to follow. I was reintroduced to Beatles who I hadn’t heard since ‘65. But now Rubber Soul and the Sergeant. I identified myself as a Christian Agnostic, and had my appendix oh and my wife announced a six month “separation” with uncertainty as to what would follow. But I did not learn a Whole Earth Catalogue was published. 50 years lost to ignorance.

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