SIR GEOFFREY VICKERS*
Member of the National Coal Board
I am going to enquire what part communication plays in the economic process by which we live.
Professor Young in his Reith lectures† said that our success as a species is due to the fact that we have learned to co-operate much better 'than the other animals and that this is largely because we have learned to communicate in words. It is this, he said, which has enabled us to spread and multiply as we have done. He was clearly using the word 'co-operation' in a wide sense to include all the obscure processes by which we co-ordinate the division of our labour and which I understand by the economic process. But 'co-operation' is often used in a narrower sense, as the antithesis to conflict or as the antithesis to competition and I shall reserve its use for this narrower sense, because I believe that conflict, competition and co-operation (in this narrower sense) are three distinguishable modes of human interaction and that they all play a part in co-ordinating that division of labour which has paid mankind such striking dividends. All three are mediated by communication, though in different degrees.
I believe that we are becoming dependent on forms of co-ordination which make increasing demands on communication; and that communication is thus becoming one of the major limiting factors which determine whether we survive at anything like our present____________________