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The Zeitgeist Movement
London, UK / July 25th 2009
The title of the presentation is "Where are we now?"
In my experience so far in attempting to promote the ideas
of the movement and the Venus Project, I find about 95% of the critics
tend to ignore the current state of affairs.
And in a detached manner, they simply criticize the abstracts
of what our proposed resolutions are
without ever reflecting on the train of thought
that was employed to reach those solutions.
So in response to this, I decided to simply focus on the information
which will, at a minimum, at least further compound the dire need
to get away from our current social practices
while also showing the logic that the Venus Project employs
to arrive at the conclusions and ideas that they do.
We're not just making things up. Jacque Fresco didn't just
creatively come up with ideas. He has a pivotal train of thought
and it has a near empirical basis.
First there's going to be an overview
of the movement, the tenets of the Venus Project.
In Part 1 we're going to elaborate even more
on the nature of our world monetary system and its consequences
while in Part 2 we will take a larger step back and consider the human condition
its cultivation and the effects of the social system at large.
Before I begin, please note that it was recommended
in the emails sent out that people read the Orientation Guide
or the Activist Video because
basically I'm going to move very quickly through a lot of this information
on the assumption that a lot of you are already familiar with some of it.
If you're not, don't be surprised if some things come as extremely foreign.
This lecture is actually part of two lectures.
The second lecture will be given sometime in the future to deal with the other section.
As you'll see, I deal with the first part
of the idea which is the fact that our social system is corrupt
and the second section is what the solutions are. We're not going to talk
about solutions specifically right now. We're going to talk about
the reasoning behind it.
The term "Zeitgeist" is defined as the intellectual
moral, cultural climate of an era.
The term "Movement" simply implies motion or change.
Therefore, the Zeitgeist Movement is an organization that urges change
in the dominant, intellectual, moral and cultural climate of the time
specifically to values and practices which would better serve
the well-being of the whole of humanity, regardless of race
religion, creed or any other form of contrived social status.
The Zeitgeist Movement in function exists as a communicative representation
of an organization called The Venus Project
which is essentially a conceptual and technological set of ideas
which constitutes the life-long work of industrial designer
and social engineer, Jacque Fresco.
Mr Fresco, along with his associate Roxanne Meadows, have been working
for decades to establish the technical methods and educational imperatives
which can transition society away from its current cycles of war
perpetual poverty and pervasive corruption
into an improved social design based on environmental alignment
practicality, peak efficiency, and most critically
a heightened standard of living, personal freedom and well-being
for not just one nation or class, but for the entire human family.
The ultimate materialization of these ideas
is in the form of a new social design
updated to present-day knowledge. And the design can be termed
a "Resource-Based Economy" (RBE).
In the words of Mr. Fresco
"We call for a straight forward redesign of our culture
in which the age-old inadequacies of war, poverty, hunger, debt
and unnecessary human suffering are viewed as not only avoidable
but also as totally unacceptable.
Anything less simply results in a continuation
of the same catalog of problems inherent in the present system.
In summary, a Resource-Based Economy utilizes resources rather than commerce.
All goods and services are available without the use of currency
credit, barter, or any form of debt or servitude.
The aim of this new social design is to free humanity
from the repetitive, mundane and arbitrary occupational roles
which hold no true relevance to social development
while also encouraging a new incentive system
that is focused on self-fulfillment, education
social awareness and creativity, as opposed
to the contrived, shallow, self-interested, corruption generating goals
of wealth, property and power which are dominant today.
The enabling foundation of this concept is the realization
that through the intelligent management of the earth's resources
along with the liberal application of modern technology and science
we have the ability to create a near global abundance on this planet
and thus escape the detrimental consequences generated
by the real and artificial scarcity and waste which is dominant today.
This reality can provably create a high quality of life for
the entire world population many times over.
The Venus Project takes into account something which has been long lost
in our modern, financially driven world
the fundamental building blocks of society
and the basic understandings required to maintain a person's emotional
intellectual and physical well-being.
All social systems regardless of political philosophy, religious beliefs
or social customs ultimately depend upon natural resources
as the initial step towards social functionality.
Concurrently, society itself is a culture machine.
In other words, it's a natural consequence
for a culture to support the values integral to the dominant institutions
of that society, regardless of the benefit of those values.
In other words, a society reaps what it sows.
If your society's foundation inherently supports self-interest
elitism, greed and dishonesty
then no one should ever be surprised when certain members of society
continuously fall into the extremity of murder
financial corruption or indifferent, selfish gain.
In other words, society is not only a product of the sum of its members values
paradoxically, it's also a generator of them for each new generation.
It should be no wonder that government perpetuates
nationalistic and patriotic values.
If they didn't, people might not support the state agendas or their wars.
It should be no wonder that the Catholic church perpetuates the idea
that humans are born into sin
otherwise, people might not show up to be saved.
And it should be no wonder
every major city on this planet is cloaked with corporate advertising
working to force materialism and inadequacy. Why?
Because otherwise, some people might just be happy with what they have
and not contribute to the profit and perpetuation
of a corporation or an economy.
Regardless, when it comes to cultural influence, nothing can hold a candle
to the vast psychological implications that have developed
due to the system of monetary finance.
Money, contrary to the attitudes of most of the world's populations today
is not a natural resource, nor does it represent resources.
In fact, by our standards of logic, money is only functionally relevant
in society, when natural resources
and the mechanisms of creation are scarce.
And thus, a system has emerged where people are given value
for their skills in exchange for their servitude
which can thus be used as a medium of exchange
for those supposed scarce resources.
Sadly, the culture is now fully indoctrinated into this frame of reference
and, like the rising sun, most could not even consider
any other possibility for our social functionality.
In fact, some have even redefined the relevance of money itself
by being conditioned to think that money represents choice.
That money somehow has something to do with democracy.
And the greatest illusion, that the monetary structure is a tool of liberty.
While money has indeed served
a positive role overall on the course of our social evolution.
Adaptation and change and improvement is still unstoppable.
The fact is, most of the original problems, which require the development
of the economic system we see today, are no longer pressing
due to the dramatic advancement of science and technology.
We now have the means to move in to a new paradigm
one where the negative by-products of our current social establishment
such as perpetual war, human exploitation, poverty
and environmental destruction are no longer tolerable.
What is advocated here is merely a next step in our social evolution
as dictated not by a person or group's opinion
but by statistics, trends, basic inference and extrapolation
all deduced by the scientific method.
Unfortunately, regardless of how logical, clear and obvious
new ideas may seem, the public still remains
on average...tremendous fear of any form of social change.
This is largely due to propaganda indoctrination
which has been pushed upon them by the established powers
which of course prefer the maintain their power.
These institutions range from religious organizations, to government, to business.
In fact, it really isn't the technical understandings
and implementations of the physical attributes
that comprise the Resource-Based Economy which is the problem.
We know we can do it, technically. We know it can happen.
The analysis has been extrapolated.
It is the outdated cultural values, such a testy subject.
The cultural values and the education barriers of our conditioned culture
is the most difficult aspect to consider
and that's one of the reasons I'm approaching this presentation as I have
because I want people to understand that we have to move somewhere.
This is where the Zeitgeist movement comes in!
We are not here to tell people what to think or believe.
We're here to spread statistical information
and socially positive value identifications
in hope of bringing people into an awareness
of the incredibly positive possibilities the future can hold.
Once these understandings are fully realized
I think most people will never be able to look at the world
in the same way again, and the problems we find as commonplace today
will become simply unacceptable, motivating change.
There are countless well-intentioned people
in activist organizations out there, and they keep popping up like weeds.
It's incredible to me how many of these there are
all admirable and amazing, and they're yelling at the top of their lungs
about the rampant problems and injustices in our world.
Yet, as you tend to find, very few actually offer any solutions whatsoever.
Those that do offer solutions, however, always frame those solutions
within the context of the current established system.
Very little regard seems to be given to the root structure
of our social design.
The Venus Project and hence the Zeitgeist Movement is different.
Our fundamental focus is finding
the foundational sources of our social problems
and working from that lowest common denominator to create solutions.
And when it comes to social corruption, poverty, environmental disregard
human exploitation, and most personal and social turmoil in the world today
an important realization is that most of these problems are not the result
of some particular company, some nefarious elite group
or some government legislation.
These are symptoms of the foundational problems.
And this is the ultimate realization when it comes to
how you look at the problems of the world today.
There is a massive superstitious basis out there:
It's us against them. That is
extremely poisonous to the development
because people are constantly looking for someone else to blame
when it's really themselves because they continue to perpetuate
the system that creates these things.
The real issue is human behavior.
And human behavior which will be addressed in this presentation specifically
is largely created and reinforced by the social patterns required for survival
as necessitated by the social system of a period.
We are products of our society, and the fact is
it is very foundation of our socio-economic system
and environmental condition which has created
the sick culture you see around you.
Our current system is based almost exclusively upon human exploitation
resource abuse and abundant waste.
It is simply what our system does.
As far as the infamous "they"
it is simply another social distortion
culminated and reinforced by our environment.
There is no singular "they".
In Zeitgeist I, I described "the men behind the curtain"
to the effect of a specific niche of economics
the ones that control most government policy, and those are the banks.
Banks have been running things forever
but that is still a product. These are still human beings.
We are dealing with negative tendencies.
The "they" syndrome is absolutely obsolete
and next time you hear anybody talking about "they"
please try to correct them. It's a religious mentality:
dualities, good and evil.
The bottom line is that we can spend the rest of our existences
stomping on the ants that mysteriously wander out from underneath the refrigerator
setting traps or laws
or we can get rid of the spoiled food behind it
which is causing the infestation to begin with.
This leads us to Part I: Monetary Dynamics and Its Consequences.
Here's an email I received from a PhD in economics
soon after the release of Zeitgeist Addendum.
"Dear Filmmakers, my son presented me
the first half of your film last weekend and asked me my opinion
on the opening section about the Fractional Reserve lending practices.
I'm a PhD certified economist of 12 years and teach macro-economics.
While I always was cognizant of the creation of money
and the sale of government bonds, I had never stepped back far enough
to see the larger issue your film presented.
I find it tremendously disturbing that the creation of value through debt
is indeed by all formal logic, an imposed condition of deficiency
and an instigator of public servitude.
I'm not sure what shocked me more
the fact that this is true, or the fact that after the many years of education
I have on the subject of economics this reality never even occurred to me."
While it seems counter intuitive to think that a person who should
by all social standards be an expert in a given field
due to their awards and credentials
very often especially in the purely intellectual arena
such exposure to set established curriculum
can really hinder someone's openness in a very powerful way.
You become cognitively blocked from new ideas and realizations
which, if you're outside of the existing framework that you understand
then you have no chance of even realizing it.
It has restricted your perception.
Jacque Fresco, who dropped out of school at the age of 14
has a great example regarding this perceptual point.
During the time that the Wright brothers were building a machine that could fly
expert physicists and engineers were busy writing books
about how it was impossible for man to ever fly in any meaningful way.
Apparently, the Wright brothers, who were bicycle mechanics
didn't read those books.
In other words, creativity will always serve you better than just book smarts.
With that in mind, let's step back and pose a very simple question
about the economic structure we all live in.
What are the lowest common denominators
required to perpetuate a market economy?
(1) Human labor must be sold as a commodity in the open market.
Outside of investment and inheritance nearly all money is obtained
through income, and income is derived from wages or profit
in some form of employment.
Therefore, there must always exist a demand for jobs
or the economy cannot operate.
(2) Money must be continuously transferred
from one party to another in order to sustain so-called economic growth.
This is done through constant or cyclical consumption
by virtually everyone in society.
Jobs are entirely contingent upon demand for production in some form.
If there's no demand for goods and services
there will be no demand for labor
and hence financial circulation would stop.
Needless to say these two aspects of the system
which are intimately connected, are absolutely paramount
to the functionality of the financial system.
If either one of them were substantially hindered
the integrity of the economy would be seriously compromised
or possibly be made entirely obsolete.
So given this reality
let's now hypothetically consider some variables
which could put these mechanisms in jeopardy.
In the first point, labor [is] sold as a commodity in exchange for money.
What if the human labor market became unnecessary
for the production of goods and services?
More specifically, what if automation technology and artificial intelligence
became advanced enough to allow for the replacement of perhaps
40%, 50%, 60% of the human labor force?
At what point would such displacement, less employment
be considered too much for the system's integrity
and put it into question?
As far as the second point, the need for cyclical consumption
what if conditions arose where the circulation of money was severely stifled?
In other words, what if people simply did not
need to continually buy things?
What if, hypothetically, it was discovered that through
optimized techniques and resource management design and production
the most commonly purchased goods could either be made obsolete
by larger order renovations
or could have such extreme product efficiency
longevity, and near maintenance-free durability
that most items could last a lifetime without replacement or major repair.
Of course, this exact idea couldn't be applied to perishable items
such as food, but following the same train of thought
what if the cultivation and production of food was in such ease and abundance
through technology, obviously, that the supply and demand equation
made the value of such items utterly negligible.
To put these points in a different way, let's consider the classic economic
concept of "theory of value".
Everything in society, theoretically, is given a value
based on two considerations.
The scarcity or availability of the materials used
and the amount of human labor required to produce a good or service.
If material scarcity, both in terms of resource availability
and quality was not the issue
and human labor was not required to create a good or administer a service
then there would technically be no value.
As most of you in this room probably already understand
one of the greatest realizations of Jacque Fresco and the Venus Project
which should be one of the greatest realizations
for the whole of humanity at this point in time
is that neither of the scenarios presented are hypothetical.
Human beings are indeed being replaced
[or] becoming obsolete in the labor force
due to advancements in production technology.
Likewise, powerful new design advancements in production efficiency
and resource management reveal the profound possibility
of relative global abundance and peek product efficiency.
This can be proven through statistical analysis
and the inferential extrapolation of historical trends.
Obviously the corporations aren't out there telling you this.
You have to dig much deeper to find this information.
When it comes to production automation capabilities, today specifically
the first thing to consider is a statistical evaluation
of a phenomenon called technological unemployment.
Technological unemployment, which is the unemployment
caused by the use of machines as vehicles of labor
has continually and systematically forced relevant numbers of people
out of every single new emerging sector for the past 300 years.
Our current employment market is basically broken into three sectors:
Agriculture (including mining and fishing)
Manufacturing (tangible goods) and Service (intangible goods).
As a near universal social progression
all societies tend to follow the same developmental path
which takes them from a reliance on agriculture and extraction
towards the development of manufacturing, which is automobiles
textiles, ship building, steel
and finally towards a more service-based system.
Naturally, the only reason some countries are farther behind
in this process than others has to do with the affordability
of the technology required to make it move to the next level.
It's irrespective of social system or political disposition
as a scientific progression.
Let's consider this phenomenon using the United States as a proxy.
The United States is where a lot of my data comes from
but please note that this can be applied to any economy.
In 1860, 60% of Americans worked in the agricultural sector.
However today, due to advancements in machinery and automation, less than 1% [do].
Fortunately those technological advancements also gave a rise
to an emerging Industrial Revolution
and by 1950, 33% were employed in the factory-based manufacturing sector.
As of now, due to continual advancements in machine automation
it is less than 8%.
So considering that only roughly 9%...
(there's probably a few percent leeway depending on the analysis you use)
There's only 9% of Americans working in agriculture and manufacturing now.
Where did everybody else go? [They went to] the service sector.
The only thing that has saved the US labor market after the technological renovation
of the agricultural and manufacturing sectors is flight to the service industry.
From 1950 to 2002
US employment in the service sector went from 59% to 82%.
The service sector is the dominant employer of Americans today
along with all industrialized countries.
Of course, this begs the question:
Is this sector insusceptible to the wrath of technological unemployment?
Of course [it is] not.
With the advent and increasing of versatile computer technologies
we are seeing job displacement once again. This time in all service industries.
The replacement of tellers and cashiers with kiosks
the use of automated voice systems for phone service...
The Internet has completely redefined retail
not to mention full kiosk systems in physical market places
advanced food-prep machines, and even research done by automation these days.
As economist Steven Roach has warned "The service sector has lost
its role as America's unbridled engine of job creation."
As a unique example, in Germany, the first completely automated restaurant
is in operation. It uses kiosks for ordering and payment.
The food is served by a fully mechanized system.
There is zero wait staff.
There's no reason that this idea
could not be done with every single eating establishment in the world.
In fact, if one was to think creatively about the application of technology...
In isolation, you see pockets of things
where you see a news report about a certain technology
that can do certain things. If you were to apply those creatively
I don't see how 90% of the entire service industry
couldn't be wiped out tomorrow.
The only reason it hasn't been done is because the focus of society
is backwards when it comes to social progress.
To illustrate this point more so
let's stop thinking about technology in terms of unemployment
and consider it from the angle of productivity.
The most incredible relationship of all of this
is that the more technological unemployment increases
the more productive things become.
In the G-7 advanced industrialized countries
employment in manufacturing has been dropping
but manufacturing output has been rising. Here's the chart.
I think it's quite profound.
I love this:
"The truth is that the US manufacturing is doing quite well
in every way except the number of people it employs.
Furthermore, a few economists would judge the health or sickness
of any industry based solely on employment.
By that standard, agriculture has been the sickest industry of all
for decades because employment has declined.
Although farm productivity rose dramatically in the past century.
Industrial health is better measured by output
productivity, profitability and wages."
The person is completely forgetting one universal thing:
If human laborers are displaced, they cannot obtain purchasing power.
If they cannot obtain purchasing power they cannot
fuel the economy by consumption.
On that level it doesn't matter how productive we are.
No one can buy anything.
The phenomenon has been termed by some theorists as
"the contradiction of capitalism"
for not only is the obsolescence of the human labor force
the obsolescence of the consumer
the high level of output generated by technological efficiency
makes the corporate motivation to pursue such advanced means very strong.
Even though it is economically self-defeating over time.
In other words, regardless of the level of productivity
if people don't have jobs, they can't buy anything.
This very fact alone that productivity is inverse to employment
in all sectors, should be enough to want
a deliberate shift from the focus of human labor to a system
where technology is given the highest priority.
The system is literally denying peak production.
In a world where one billion are starving
I think that's extremely despotic
and this brings us to one of the most profound points of this talk:
the social intent.
Should the focus of society be to create and preserve jobs
or should the focus of society be to maximize production
and create abundance?
It is either one direction or the other. You can't have both.
Sadly, what you are seeing in the world today is
the deliberate withholding of social efficiency
for the sake of preserving the status quo.
I say that again because I want you guys to use that:
The deliberate withholding of social efficiency
is what our system does.
The main reason outside of employment pressures that you do not see
technology being liberally used for all purposes imaginable
including the generation of food, energy and material abundance
is because our financial system is based entirely
on perpetuation of scarcity and inefficiency.
Why? Because it is most self-preserving and profitable.
If a company makes a car that can last 60 years
without service and also runs
without the need of perpetual refueling for battery power
the after-market value of that car is virtually zero
and billions of dollars would be lost over time
due to the now obsolete consumer, all in auto-service market industry.
This could happen right now, again. Why doesn't it?
Because the economic system literally couldn't work
if it shifted its focus towards optimum efficiency.
Our entire system in an economic sense is based on constriction.
Scarcity and inefficiencies are the movers of money.
The more there is of any one resource, the less you can charge for it.
The more problems there are, the more opportunities
there are to make money. This reality is a social disease
for people can actually gain off the misery of others
and the destruction of the environment. It's called a moral hazard
in the insurance industry. The whole system is moral hazard.
Efficiency, abundance and sustainability are enemies
of our economic structure for they are inverse to the mechanics
required to perpetuate consumption.
This is profoundly critical to understand for once you put this together
you begin to see that the one billion people
currently starving on this planet
the endless slums of the poor, and all the horrors
in the culture due to poverty and depravity are not natural phenomena
due to some natural human order or lack of earthly resources.
They are products of the creation, perpetuation
and preservation of artificial scarcity and inefficiency.
To add insult to injury, this scarcity is not only perpetuated
in the markets of consumer goods and services
but also manifests in a way which influences
the behavior of the whole of society
through making sure that even money itself
is perpetually limited in supply.
As denoted in Zeitgeist Addendum, the Central Banks of the world
almost all create money out of debt, through loans.
These loans are produced with interest
yet only the principal is created in the money supply
creating a perpetual deficit in supply.
The debts generated by these loans
serve as virtual prison cells for the average citizen
keeping them willing to work off their debt
putting them in a perpetual state of obligation.
There's a word for that. It's called slavery, debt slavery.
The money isn't real. The interest sure isn't real.
The debt is not real. The whole thing is an illusion.
The whole world today is now stuck in the illusion
that there isn't enough money to do this or that.
98% of the countries in the world
are actually in debt to other countries and banks.
As of 2009, it's been confirmed that the world
is in a state of recession, which basically means
massive monetary contraction.
In other words, the whole world is somehow short on cash.
Am I the only one who finds this absolutely unbelievable?
This stupidity is not only unbelievable, it's deadly.
The market and financial system as we know it
is diametrically opposed to development of peak efficiency
in order to perpetuate profit in the established order.
What is peak efficiency?
The highest form of technical efficiency known at a time.
Not the highest form of efficiency that is affordable
but the highest form of efficiency that is actually possible.
The question has never been "Do we have the money?"
The question has always been "Do we have the resources
and technical understandings to make it happen?"
That is all that has ever mattered.
Now, given all of this
it's easy to see how the public today finds it difficult
to assume that technology can provide abundance and peak efficiency
for there's very little in their day-to-day life that clearly illustrates this point.
Everything around them reinforces the idea
that scarcity in the world today is a natural problem.
Why? Because the pursuit of profit by industry always inherently limits
the quality of design for the sake of monetary preservation.
If a company wants to be competitive in the marketplace
they must find a balance between quality and cost
invariably denying quality.
It is impossible for a company to produce a product
with peak efficiency by the very nature of the game.
It would be too expensive to afford.
This is one reason why there is so much unhealthy food
and trash goods in our system.
When you consider the majority of people in society today
our lower middle class and below, you realize that the corporations
must reduce their production costs to meet the terms
of the affordability of the predominant demographic of the culture.
I live in Brooklyn, New York, in an area that is very very poor.
Within a six-block radius of my apartment
there are five of these 99-cent stores.
These are stores which sell products from the cheapest possible materials
and lowest possible efficiency that could ever be manufactured.
It's junk! Stuff that should have never been created to begin with.
Why is it there?
Because the people can't afford anything else.
Why can't they afford anything else? Because the market system also creates
and perpetuates social stratification
and the poor must exist in order for the rich to exist.
Therefore, the level of product efficiency today
is artificially and directly proportional
to the purchasing power of a target demographic.
Therefore, generally speaking, one's perception of quality
is often only as good as their socio-economic status.
The quality of goods are stratified, just as the social classes are.
The result is outrageous amounts of resource waste.
In the world that claims to be growing more and more concerned
about environmental issues, resource supplies
man-made atmospheric changes and pollution, I find it fascinating
that no one is talking about the most consistent destroyer of ecology
and the most continuous waster of natural resources there is:
the pursuit of profit.
Capitalism is based on the free-pursuit of profit
by whatever means necessary.
I was in a cab coming here and the cab-driver made a great comment.
He was describing something along the lines of business he was conducting.
He said "Yeah, there's no friends in business."
And he's absolutely right. I'm going to be using that one too.
Capitalism is based entirely on the free pursuit of profit
by whatever means necessary. It is a gaming strategy
and nothing more. The irresponsibility it enables
by its central philosophy of self-interest is profound.
And while there are many angles at this, let's stay with the point at hand:
The deliberate production of inferior products.
Think about it. It is as environmentally illogical as it can be.
There is no reason to ever create a product that is deliberately low in efficiency.
This simply means faster break down, faster obsolescence
more duplicate production and many times more waste and pollution
than would be required if the goal was to simply optimize products
based on the most current technological awareness of the day.
And this leads us to the final topic of this section: Market Mythology.
So far we've talked about the structural mechanics of the system
pointing out the inherent contradictions and problems.
As of now, through the overpowering growth in science and technology
the monetary system can be considered structurally obsolete
serving only as a paralyzing hindrance of social progress
not to mention a destroyer of trust, human trust in the environment.
That's a whole different topic in and of itself.
Unfortunately, the social indoctrination within the market system
has created a mentality which blindly supports the social dogma
regardless of what we have touched upon.
The identity relationships are simply too strong.
In many ways, it's like a religion. Taking away the belief
in the market system is like taking away someone's belief in God
for it challenges who they are.
When you're a little kid, you pull on your mother's pants.
You want candy and she might say: "No, we can't afford that".
It's this instant indoctrination of the monetary system
from the earliest form of life because obviously
your parents are always struggling to a certain degree.
It becomes absolutely built in to your psychology
not to mention that those that have successfully acquired
a great deal of wealth...
They will almost always be inclined to tell you that "the system is great".
That's just the nature of behavioral reinforcement.
The three most dominant of these psychological indoctrinations
that I want to talk about are the notions of property
incentive and associations with freedom of choice.
Starting with property:
The capitalist economy is founded on the very idea of exchanging property
in the markets. Even your labor is a form of property in a sense.
The world that we know is so bound up in the process of buying and selling
that most of us can't imagine any other way of functioning human affairs.
Property is often associated with so-called "rights" as well.
We use a legal system to protect our property
and if anyone interferes with what is mine
their freedom can possibly be taken away.
In fact, there's even an entire industry which is there to tell you
what the best property there is to own. It's called advertising, of course.
Yet, with all of this obsession over property, very few ask the question:
"Why do we have property to begin with?"
The answer is simple: It's scarcity.
Property is an outgrowth of scarcity.
The farther we go back in time the more difficult and time-consuming it was
for people to create tools or extract a resource.
They, in turn, protected it because it had an immense value relative
to the labor entailed along with the possible scarcity associated.
People claim ownership because it is a legal form of protection.
Property is not an American or free-enterprise or capitalist idea.
It is an ancient mental perspective necessitated from generations of scarcity.
If there isn't scarcity, rationale for property
becomes an irrelevant issue.
Let's move on to the idea of incentive.
As the theory goes, the need profit provides a person or organization
with a motivation to work on new ideas and products
that would sell on the market place.
In other words, the assumption is that if technology replaced humans
in the workforce and abundance could be created
then people would just have no motivation to do anything socially relevant.
"No monetary incentive, no progress" is the idea.
There are two glaring issues with this assumption:
The first is that it's entirely based on projected values
and the values are almost entirely based on culture.
Nikola Tesla, Louis Pasteur, Charles Darwin, and The Wright Brothers
Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton did not make their massive contributions
to society because of material self-interest.
Did Martin Luther King walk down the street in Birmingham, Alabama
while a bunch of racists threw rocks at his head
because he was on his way to cash a check?
If the incentive motivation theory held true
then you would see no volunteerism in the world today.
Amazingly, in the 1992 US Gallup Poll, it was found that more than 50%
of American adults volunteered time with no pay for social causes
on an average of 4.2 hours a week
for a total of 20.5 billion hours a year.
This is pretty amazing, especially with a lack of social capital
in a place like the United States which is the most powerful free-market
country there is. The ideology is the most ingrained.
I find that to be pretty incredible.
Even with the sickness of self-interest, generated by the monetary system
even with this sickness, humans still strive to help each other
and give to society without reward.
What's even more amazing is that the poor and the middle class
are more likely to volunteer than the wealthy.
Think about that. These are the people that have the least amount of money.
It makes you understand the cultural and psychological nuances
that are created: The more money you get, the more diseased
you might possibly become. It's a fascinating phenomenon.
The second thing to consider is that while it is true
that useful inventions and methods do come
from the motivation for personal gain, the intent behind those creations
has nothing to do with human or social concern
for the incentive goal is not to improve humanity but to make money.
There is a massive disconnect, and as we have denoted thoroughly
the very means by which money is obtained in our system
is counter to social progress fundamentally
for it is based on the deliberate withholding of efficiency.
And, by the way, I haven't even addressed the traditional corruption
that we see occurring on a daily basis based and derived
from this incentive for income which spreads like a malignant cancer
of an indifferent self-interest
from product dishonesty, murder, fraud, theft, slave labor
outsourcing, price fixing, monopolistic collusion, redundant waste
environmental exploitation, illegal taxation
institutional theft, societal indifference, imposed psychological distortions
or advertising, and of course, the sickest monetary incentive
ever created, war!
That is the reality of the monetary incentive.
And the final myth for now: The Freedom of Choice.
The free market is very persuasive for most people
because it appears that the possibilities are endless
and that they, the individuals, have limitless choices.
People witness the vast stratification of goods and services
portrayed by the media and advertising and think that since
the options just exist in abstraction
it has some form of relevance to the freedom of the individual.
They can walk into a store and choose between 25 kinds of detergent
and 75 kinds of sugar-coated cereal
yet they turn a blind eye with the fact that their lives are managed by
on average, two political parties.
They pay no attention to the reality that 40%
of the world's wealth is owned by 1% of the population
and thus 99% of the world's people will never obtain
the luxuries afforded by the 1%.
More specifically, everyone seems oblivious to the reality
that nearly every day of your life, you are forced by the obligation
of mere survival and, of course, debt which is imposed
into a private dictatorship
where most of your decisions are controlled by those on the next
artificially created hierarchical degree
the next larger hierarchical degree.
It's amazing to me when you talk to economists
and they say "Well, people have a choice of where they work."
They only have a choice of where they work within a specific frame
that is allowable based on their demographic of education.
And of course, there's so many friend orientations in business.
Their ultimate fantasy is that anyone can be a President in the United States.
This is something that has been perpetuated.
These are groups that perpetuate themselves: elitism.
Elitism works in the same way in the corporate world.
You are absolutely restricted.
You have no freedom because you are forced to do the work as it is.
It's amazing to me and I get this argument a lot from high-end economists.
They say "You have freedom of choice. You can choose where you work".
No, you really can't.
When you get out of college there's this wall of jobs.
You can find your slot. And that's about it. That's your choice.
It's preset choice.
So I ask you: What freedoms are we talking about?
You are only as free as your purchasing power will allow you to be.
And the statistics have proven that the socio-economic rank you are born into
tends to persist for the rest of your life.
If you are born poor, you will likely remain poor.
Why? Because all the odds are against you.
If you are rich, you will likely remain rich. Why?
Because all the odds are in favor. It is the nature of the system.
For example, if you have one million dollars and put it into a CD
at 5% interest you are going to generate 50,000 dollars a year
simply for that deposit. You are making money off money itself:
paper being made on top of paper, nothing more.
No invention. No contribution to society. No nothing.
That being denoted, if you were lower to middle class
who is limited in funds and must get interest-based loans
to buy your home or use credit cards
then you are paying interest into the bank
which the bank is then using, in theory, to pay the person's return
with the 5% CD.
Not only is this equation outrageously offensive due to the use of usury
or interest to "steal from the poor and give to the rich"
but also perpetuates class-stratification by its very design:
keeping the lower classes poor, under the constant burden of debt
and servitude, while keeping the upper classes rich
with the means to simply turn excess money into more money.
The very idea that you can take money and turn it into more money
is absolutely hilarious
and corrupt.
Likewise, it should be no surprise
that the world is run by cartels and government collusion
for competition is based on nothing more than a gaming strategy
as we have said. In other words, competition breeds corruption.
It's another one of those economist things where they say
"Oh, the free-market used to be great, but something happened
and now we have all these cartels." No.
Monopoly is the final stage of success in a competitive environment.
It is incredible how people don't realize this.
It doesn't matter how much legislation you have to combat
sector or industry dominance. It will keep occurring.
Even more powerfully, government coercion
by big business is also unstoppable.
It is a natural progression of market strategy
to get government on your side.
In fact, the true propensity of our world economic system
continually, year by year, approaches one thing
fascism. Or more specifically, inverted fascism.
This is the condition where corporations covertly control government policy.
This is the natural gravitation.
So, as time continues to move forward and you keep looking back
it seems like things always get worse. And they do.
And this leads me to Part 2: Culture and the Bio-Social Imperative.
This is a detour now. I hope that first section...
If you have any questions, keep them in mind, as we go to the Q&A.
In this section we're going to address some issues
regarding our physical and social selves.
This is very relevant to me, and I think very relevant to the whole argument
and unfortunately most never think of this subject at all.
In order for us to consider routes of social change
we must also have a clear understanding of conditioning
our biology, and our relationship to the environment.
As denoted before, when it comes to the pursuits of social change
the most profound hurdle is overcoming the traditional ideology
identifications and dogmas, which have been set in stone as final
by the established culture.
Of these ideas, a consistent one that comes up
has to do with the conclusion that the human being is a rigid
fixed nature, whereas certain behaviors are simply immutable.
Therefore, as the logic goes, social structures are locked into a set pattern
which cannot be overcome due to the very nature of the species.
In order to address this claim we need to first consider the ramifications
of culture itself.
The word culture, in a social sense, is defined as a set of shared attributes
values, goals and practices
that characterizes an institution, organization or group.
The most obvious, yet often overlooked example of the mechanics of culture
is the fact that we are provably shaped by the sort of society we live in.
The language we use, the gaming strategies you execute for survival
the perception of beauty you lust for, the familial patterns
and traditions that you perpetuate and the deeply held theology:
myths and urban legends that define your broadest view
are all examples of the qualities you might absorb
arbitrarily, in the culture you have been born into.
In fact, if you dig deeper, you find
that there's really nothing that we cognitively think and believe
which isn't first presented to us in some environmental form.
An insulted man who pulls out a gun and shoots somebody had to learn
at some point of his life, what a gun was, how to pull the trigger
along with what he was to find insulting to begin with.
Every word that I'm saying has been learned one way or another.
Every concept relayed is a collective accumulation of experience.
A Chinese baby taken at the birth and raised in a British family in England
will develop the language, dialect, mannerisms
traditions and accent of the British culture.
Needless to say, it is obvious the profound effect the environment has on behavior.
But that's only part of the equation
for we are obviously biologically defined as well.
Doesn't matter how much time I try to condition a cat
to learn to speak English, it simply can't.
Simply due to limitations of its evolutionarily derived biological state.
Those limitations are basically defined by genes.
Genes are a fairly recent discovery and there's been a great deal of speculation
as to the spectrum that genes hold.
The spectrum of relevance that genes hold.
The most contentious is in the realm of behavioral biology.
This is a field dedicated to understanding how genetics influences behavior.
The idea that genetics are the possible source of various behaviors
became popular in about the 19th century.
One of the first pursuits that emerged was the idea
that the aberrancies of the human behavior, such as criminality
could be explained by the person's genes. The old "criminal gene" idea.
Sickly enough, even eugenics operations in the form of sterilization
took place many years ago in an attempt to rid society
of "criminals, idiots, imbeciles, and rapists".
The implications is that certain people are naturally
"bad people" due to their genetics.
You see this rhetoric everywhere. Someone might say "He has bad blood."
or "She's just a evil person."
As an aside, I find it fascinating that this simplistic
social fall back to explain a person's behavior
is in full accord with the primitive superstitious duality postulated
by nearly all established religions: Good and Evil.
The gene in this case has replaced
the satanic demon that once possessed the person
and thus the person has no control over their evil actions.
In other words, they are slaves to their genes.
As research has progressed, it has been found that genes do nothing at the sort.
Genes are stretches of DNA that produce proteins
which, of course, are vital to the operation of the brain
the nervous system and the whole body.
However, they are not autonomous initiators of commands.
They do not cause behaviors in any real sense of the idea.
In the words of professor of biology and neurology at Stanford University
a well-known anthropologist as well, Dr. Robert Sapolsky
"Genes are rarely about inevitability especially when it comes to humans
the brain and behavior. They're about vulnerability
propensities and tendencies."
As it turns out, the determining factor of genetic propensities
particularly in the realm of behavior is the environment
that the organism resides in.
For example, recent research has shown that a gene could exist for depression.
However, just because you have that gene
does not mean you're going to get depressed.
It takes some form of dramatic environmental stress
to trigger the genetic response such as a sudden death of a loved one
or something very severe.
In other words, the environment triggers the existing genetic propensity.
Even with the genetic predisposition to particular illness
there's no guarantee you're going to get it.
A chair with a broken leg is not dangerous if you never sit on it.
As a variation of this, it is interesting to know
how the environment even affects broad physiological attributes
a realm traditionally left for the genetic side of the nature and nurture debate.
A study was done a few years ago at the Miami School of Medicine
with premature infants in neonatology wards
where they decided to simply touch a section of the infants in the wards.
a few times a day, while the other section was not touched.
All feeding patterns remained alike, everything else equal.
As it turned out, the infants that were touched grew 50% faster
and were noticeably more healthy.
They were released from the hospital a week early.
When compared months later, these same kids showed better health
and agility than those that were not touched. It's incredible.
It's a dramatic finding on many levels, for it shows
that the genetically prescribed growth hormone release
can be profoundly influenced by a simple
and subtle environmental experience.
Further more, the environment can not only trigger genetic propensities
or influence their extent, it can over-ride them to a certain degree.
A couple of years ago, another study was done in Princeton University
where scientists were able to genetically engineer mice
removing a key gene relevant to their neurotransmitter system
selectively targeting learning and memory.
As a result, the cultivated mice were poor
at various memory and learning exercises.
They had trouble recognizing simple objects.
Their accuracy of smell was poor and they were unable to learn well
in many ways which otherwise would be normal to an average mouse.
Once their disability was confirmed and established
the scientists then put the cognitively dim mice as adults
in an enriched, stimulating environment.
And over time it was found that many of the genetically engineered
learning disabilities were actually overcome by the simple exposure
to an intellectually nurturing environment.
In other words, the environment is actually able to re-establish
neurological pathways that seemed not to exist.
Again, this is a powerful testament to the power of the environment
when it comes to brain and hence behavior.
We're perpetually molded and shaped by what's around us
and it has an extremely direct effect on our genes
our genes and what might be inherent to us. It's very important.
The reason this is being brought up is to illustrate the fact
that our environment is provably the most important determinant
in our functionality.
Nurture, in many ways, dictates nature.
On many levels, ranging from behavior to psychology, excuse me, to physiology.
(psychology wouldn't have a relevance) but to physiology
and health. Consequently, it is incorrect to think
that the human being is a slave to his biology.
Especially when it comes to his or her actions.
This is a powerful myth which needs to be dispelled and debunked
for when we realize the importance of our environment
we'll be much more prone to changing it. That's why I'm talking about this.
In isolation, it might seem that these are abstractions
but we have to learn that biologically, we are only as relevant
as the environment which interacts with our biology.
However, as one final example worth considering
which, from my perspective, summarizes the overwhelming power
and relevance of our environmental culture we're exposed to
let's consider the implications of feral children.
A feral child is a human child which has lived
isolated from human contact from a very young age.
Isolated from society or human society.
Historical examples of this range from children
that have been locked in rooms by their parents for years
to children who have been abandoned in the wild and raised, so to speak
by animals.
This is Genie. She was discovered in 1970
having been locked in a single room virtually alone for ten years.
When they found her at 13 years old, she could barely understand language
and she knew only a few words. She was 54 inches tall.
Her eyes could not focus beyond 12 feet
and she walked in an awkward, hunched manner
and she could not chew solid food.
Once rescued, psychologists and scientists immediately began working
to rehabilitate Genie, creating a nurturing environment
and she quickly began to overcome a great amount of the problems
that she had had, but due to the severe mental scars
that she went through, something very specific stuck out
which has a specific relevance to the point I'm trying to make
and that was her inability to learn language.
While humans obviously have a genetic predisposition for language
it is cases like this that show how the environment does not...
If the environment does not engage those propensities
at a certain point in time
then those language capabilities will not form.
It requires the environment to stimulate the effect.
That's a very important thing, and I may keep reiterating that.
This young girl was rescued in May of this year in Russia.
She was locked in a room with dogs and cats for several years
causing her to behave like an animal. She could not speak.
She lapped up her food, drank with her tongue and she walked on all fours.
She was five years old when they found her, but her physical size was only
that of a two-year old.
This is fascinating, apart from being horrific.
It's the fact that feral children can pick up and imitate things
in their environment that to us would seem absolutely unhuman.
This is a girl named Oxana Malaya.
She was also extremely neglected and ended up
spending the majority of her childhood between the ages of 3 and 8
5 years living with dogs in the back of the family home.
She actually slept in the kennel with the dogs for 5 years
and when rescued, she had adopted incredible canine mannerisms
including barking, a higher than average sense of smell and hearing.
She ate raw meat. She walked on all fours and knew virtually no language.
It is sociological examples like this that should really make one step back
and question the lowest common denominator
of what is supposed to be "human nature".
Please understand that there is no denial
that we human beings are "wired" in a particular way.
However, the fact is we obviously, especially at a young age
have an incredible ability to adapt to our environment.
We are exceptionally malleable
and as studies have shown, we'll adapt based on what is supported
and reinforced by the social condition we inhabit.
If the known propensities of human beings such as walking upright
learning language and the like are not triggered
and supported by the environment, then they might not manifest.
Therefore again, the human being is very much a cultivated organism.
The quality of a person's health and behaviors
really comes down to the quality of the environment
culture and social influences they are exposed to.
This is critical that society fully understand this and adjust accordingly.
It should be no wonder the world we live in
when we examine the system, the environment that creates us.
And this is the point:
We, as so-called individuals
are running composites of our life experiences.
We are walking expressions and cultivations of the environments
we have passed through up until this very moment.
And when it comes to survival, only those behavioral attributes
that have served a function in your environment
are reinforced and made dominant.
Once you understand this, the corrupt world around you
suddenly makes perfect sense.
Human beings are not inherently greedy
or inherently competitive or inherently corrupt.
It is the social system. It's the environment that creates us.
Just as a young girl will choose to walk on all fours
and bark because that's what the environment makes similar to her
we become corrupt, and we become self-interested
because that's what our culture has created and put upon us.
The social imperative that emerges on all of this in the long run
is that there is a great deal of care which needs to be taken
in regard to our social environment.
We must alter the system in such a way so it does not create
support or reinforce those behaviors which are socially harmful.
And that's what social design is about.
It's interesting to point out
and this takes me to a sub-section of this:
It's interesting to point out that competition and hierarchy
which seem dominant today
have not been the dominant ethos of human society
for the majority of our time on this planet.
Before the agricultural or neolithic revolution
which occurred about 10,000 years ago, hunter-gatherer societies
actually had a non-hierarchical, egalitarian social structure.
The social values were based essentially on equality
altruism, sharing and literally forbid
upstartism, dominance, aggression and egoism.
We know this because of the anthropological research that has been done
on remaining hunter-gatherer societies over the course of the past century.
I find this fascinating, that for the bulk of our existences
as the human species, 99% of our societies have been virtually
non-hierarchical, non-materialistic.
They have had the wisdom to appreciate a minimalist affluence
as opposed to the dominance-driven, excessive
and unsatisfied culture we see today.
Regardless, this historical reality puts into question
the notion that social hierarchy is a natural human tendency.
What it is, is a social condition that has been created.
In the view of Robert Sapolsky:
"Hunter-gatherers have thousands of wild sources of food to subsist on.
Agriculture changed all of that
generating an overwhelming reliance on a few dozen food sources.
Agriculture allowed for the stockpiling of surplus resources
and thus, inevitably, the unequal stockpiling of them
stratification of society and the invention of classes.
Thus it has also allowed for the invention of poverty."
The core basis of social hierarchy
is real, or perceived, scarcity.
Social hierarchy is a formalized system of inequality
which serves as a substitute for perpetual conflict
over scarce resources.
In view of our Western society which, as we have denoted
works to literally preserve scarcity
it's easy to see how our social classes are perpetuated unnecessarily.
But the problem doesn't stop there. Another consequence
which is very new, has to do with the chain of causality.
One that affects everyone of us in a way that is almost hidden
and that is to do with the effect it has on our health.
Studies have shown that people of higher socio-economic status
live longer, enjoy better health and suffer less from disability
while those of lower socio-economic classes die younger
and suffer the largest burden of disease and disability.
This most often comes in the form of a gradient meaning that
from the highest upper classes, straight down the lowest bottom classes
each successive step up or down the socio-economic ladder
constitutes a respective quality change in a person's health on average.
On the surface this would seem absolutely logical, right? Just makes sense.
In the sense, lower classes often have poor diets due to lack of purchasing power.
They're more prone to live in polluted areas.
They are more likely to get sub-par health care
and due to lack of education, they might not take care of themselves
in the best way.
Now, while these attributes are obviously relevant to health
new studies have shown that there is something else going on
that is contributing to the increasingly poor health
and disease propensities of people
the lower they go in the social hierarchy.
One of the most documented studies that has been done on this issue
has been called "The Whitehouse Studies", done here in London
at the University College of London.
Using the British Civil Service system as a subject group.
They found that the gradient of health quality in industrialized societies
is not simply a manner of poor health
for the disadvantaged and good health for everyone else.
Something else was happening.
Remember this is the UK where health care is socialized
and theoretically you have equal health care.
They also found there is a social distribution of disease
meaning that as you went from the top of the socio-economic status
to the bottom, the types of the diseases people would get
would change on average, but they'd be linked.
For example: The lowest rungs of the hierarchy had a 4-fold increase
of heart disease-based mortality, compared to the highest rungs.
I think if I remember correctly, the highest ones were things like melanoma.
You know, people sitting on their yachts
which I thought was quite amusing.
Regardless, this is the pattern and to a certain degree.
It's irrespective of health care, keep this in mind.
Disease is being generated irrespective of socialized health care.
Even in a country with universal health care, the worse
a person's financial status, the lower they are in the social hierarchy
the worse their health appears to be getting.
Why is this? As it turns out
psychological stress
generated from social inequality.
Not the by-products of inequality such as poor nutrition
health care resources or education for a person's health, but inequality itself:
psychological subordination.
Concurrent research, done by Richard Wilkinson at the University of Nottingham
found that the more income inequality there is in a society
the worse the gradient of health and mortality rates.
This is irrespective of absolute income
and again it has nothing to do with health care or nutrition.
Evidently, the more income inequality that exists in a society
or in other words, the more stratified a society is
the more money that's divided between the culture
the more health problems that occur in the upper
and lower classes together. It isn't about money in and of itself.
It's about the psychological ramifications, the psychological stress
or "psychosocial stress" generated by the social hierarchy itself.
Not to mention as an aside
it is also well documented that the more income inequality
that exists, the more crime.
Assault, robbery, murder are probable.
Not the more poverty and deprivation
that causes this, the more inequality.
Does everyone understand that? It's a very interesting point.
This is easy to exemplify, for the United States
which has the largest income gap on the planet
also has the largest crime rate in the world
the largest prison population in the world and amusingly
we're also the most aggressive and armed nation in the world.
Go figure!
The bottom line is that when it comes to the comparison of hierarchy
to egalitarianism, in other words, people being equal
or people being stratified, egalitarianism or equality
when it comes to psychologically stress-driven health
trumps stratification
for the whole of society from crime to disease rates.
In conclusion to this section, I hope I've made this relatively clear.
It's a really important point when you think about it.
Not only are social classes modern inventions of human society
social classes are scientifically proven
to be detrimental to the health of everybody
by the very construct of its creation.
I think, in conclusion of this formal presentation
that that is one of the most incredibly compelling motivations to seek alternatives.
The very fabric of the larger order of society
is intrinsically and provably, unhealthy.
And, coupled with everything else that we've talked about
I think that adds a tremendous weight to moving forward into something new.
www.thezeitgeistmovement.com
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Peter Joseph - Where are we now? - London 2009-07-25

1334 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on July 23, 2017
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