Sunday, June 26, 2011

Response to JacobSpinney's Response

To give a quick recap, in response to The Venus Project Challenge, JacobSpinney delivered a series of critiques regarding the Resource Based Economic model. I gave a series of replies, and here is his additional response to those, which I am finally getting around to addressing:

Jacob's Response (April 2011):

Please note that I am already buried in videos that I had planned on making, which ironically, could have and probably would have addressed at least some of the arguments and misconceptions that I've been going back and forth with in responses. So rather than get too continuously caught up, I'll try to cover here what I feel are the major points, and hopefully move on with the more recently broadened aims of The Zeitgeist Movement. =)

The first point I want to address is our miscommunication on fiat currency vs. the market system itself.
Peter tried to explain how the points made against fiat currency in defense of the market system are irrelevant to the arguments put forth in Zeitgeist Moving Forward. Jacob says "this is simply untrue," and continues to explain how governments and fiat currency are the enemy. I understand, and agree on many levels. However, there is one entirely separate fundamental point that I believe we are continuously talking passed each other on, that still makes the issues of fiat currency irrelevant. With regard to the market itself, Jacob maintains the position of:

1) There is no coercion in a
true free market, that is, one without fiat currency and government regulations. Essentially, "everybody wins," or else the exchange(s) would NOT have taken place. It is completely voluntary.

While I agree that this is sometimes the case, I
fundamentally disagree with the oversimplified notion that it is always the case, from the position of:

2) Of course the exchange "voluntarily" took place, if that person's choice was to either exchange (labor, sex, etc.) or
starve! That doesn't make the exchange "fair," which brings us to exploitation, and thus coercion. In other words, simply stating that "both parties turned out better off," does not address the fact that "better off," in many cases, simply means... "not dead." Sure, everybody wins, if you want to consider that "winning." To argue that "this simply wouldn't happen in a free market because wealth would be distributed more equally," is again, irrelevant because there is nothing in the market system that guarantees anyone an equal opportunity to acquire such wealth, so members of society are still ultimately gambling for their necessities of life.

Jacob only looks at one side of the story in his example. He carves the branch into a statue and trades with you. He asks, "just because I traded my statue for something I value
more than it, does that make it coercion?" No, I agree with this. "Instead," he says, "if you simply take my statue, without contributing or giving anything in return, then it is you who are coercing me." Granted. However, these cookie-cutter examples of "voluntary exchanges" between the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker simply do not pan out in the real world! At least not anymore. So it is NOT okay for me to take his statue, and give him nothing in return. Agreed. But it IS okay for people who are born into this world, without a choice, to be denied access to resources, until they have proven that they are valuable to those who are already in control of resources?
So then at what point is it coercion? Is it considered voluntary as long as "something" is given in return, even if it's just one penny - and that person accepts it because they are in a position where they simply have no choice but to accept whatever they can get? No, you're not holding a gun to anyone's head to make that trade, at least not literally. In the real world, the "gun" is simply the lack of food and shelter. I've never advocated a system where anyone just mooches off of the fruits of anyone or everyone else's labor, and I'll admit that in the past, the free market was the best way to avoid that scenario. But the world is changing, and in still trying to avoid that scenario, we have resorted to the opposite extreme. Where people who can very easily own property or the means of production required for one's survival and/or standard of living, can coerce people into making exchanges that they otherwise would not reasonably make. The fact of the matter is, we have reached a state of technology where we can provide those basic needs to every man, woman, and child on earth without the need for human labor, and if that means that such a person could, instead of wasting his life away working at McDonald's to survive, be provided with food, shelter, and education, and spend all day reading, learning, exploring, and maybe even become an expert in a field that finds a solution to one of our current or future problems, such as a disease, then I'm all for it. Even if it means he'll be a musician, or an artist... if it means that he has no reason to steal from or hurt someone else, including me, and no one had to "pay out of pocket" to provide him with those things, then I'm all for it. At the end of the day, we are all safer and more secure in our endeavors when everyone is taken care of. I realize that this has not always been an economic possibility, but it is now. For information on how this is possible, please visit:

No, the solution - I agree - is not to "coerce" people into changing their values and/or joining the Resource Based Economy, but to continue making people
aware of these possibilities, as such awareness gives people the choice of being willing to participate and work towards it. That's it. This is not to say that market interactions, people and communities voluntarily exchanging with each other, becoming self-sufficient and digging ourselves out of this hole, could not pave the way to a Resource Based Economy, whilst contributing to commonly held knowledge and resources. But I do think that to ignore that the RBE is even a possibility, to just conclude that the free market is optimum efficiency, and that currency is the ultimate crown achievement of mankind, would be kidding ourselves.

In terms of all values being subjective, it was a verbal error on my part to say that there are "objective values," which is almost an oxymoron. What I mean to say, is that not all values are
equal, as some values are, in fact, dependent on other values. In other words, if you value spending time with your Mom, then you cannot claim that you don't value your Mom's life. If you value playing with your dog, then you cannot claim that you don't at all value your dog's health, or his ability to play. So yes, one can certainly choose not to value subsistence, so long as they admittedly renounce all other supposed values for which subsistence is required. However, a value must be chosen, and acknowledged as such, in order for any voluntary action towards it to occur, thus if one denies, or is unaware of, the relationship between their supposed values, and the life that makes those values possible, then it is only a matter of time before neither can be satisfied. It's that simple -- and verbally masturbating over the difference between an 'is' and an 'ought' doesn't change that. Of course, philosophically speaking, an 'is' does not equal an 'ought,' and an 'ought' cannot be derived from an 'is' in and of itself. However, I would think that the goal of these discussions regarding a new social system, whether it be the free market or a Resource Based Economy, is to continue human life on this planet at all, let alone in an optimal way. In that, I assume we value life, and am therefore speaking in terms of those who value life. Otherwise, if all values are equally subjective, and the world "is the way it is," not necessarily meaning that we "ought" to do anything about it, then why are we even having this discussion? In that case, I'll have to put a disclaimer on my Channel, and on my videos, explaining that they are geared towards those who are interested in continuing life on this planet, and not intended for those who are suicidal. So let's ask ourselves: What kind of society do we want to live in?

A) The water is boiling. The man is observing the boiling water. Although I cannot derive an 'ought' from an 'is' in and of itself, I value life, and the life of that other person, so I will use the tools I am given to determine the most optimal path of meeting those values. By using science to determine the fact that boiling water would indeed cause significant injury or death to a living, conscious being, I arrive at the notion that I "ought not" to pour the boiling water on him or on myself. See Sam Harris' presentation on how Science Can Answer Moral Questions.

B) The water is boiling. The man is observing the boiling water. You cannot derive an "ought" from an "is," and therefore, whether or not I "ought to" scald the hell out of that innocent man who is observing the boiling water, is merely a toss-up of various possibilities. Whether or not I value his life is irrelevant, as science cannot answer moral questions.

I'm going to go with A, but good luck with B if you decide to go that route.

When Peter says "
it has nothing to do with anything on a physical or tangible level," he is talking about the
use of prices for supposed efficient resource allocation; he is not referring to "resource allocation" in general, which obviously does have very much to do with things on a physical, tangible level. When he says "the market and its sense of efficiency
assumes that the public knows what the hell they're doing," Jacob responds "it makes no such assumption." I rest my case. Peter was pointing out that our relying on the free market system for all decisions is giving it the benefit of the doubt, assuming that it accounts for scientific efficiency, as in the state of ecology, sustainability, the well-being of plant and animal life, etc. - since no one would dare rely on an economic system that doesn't take that into account. Right? No, apparently not. Jacob argues that "economics says nothing of values. It merely shines light on how to best achieve whatever those values might be." This is forfeiting the benefit of the doubt, and blatantly admitting that the free market system may very well ignore the aforementioned factors, and does not assume scientific efficiency, or sustainability, but simply that it is the most economically efficient way to satisfy individual consumer preferences - regardless of how sustainable or scientifically efficient those preferences may be. So in essence, this says that our values are independent, and the economic system is simply what we use, or rather, the interactions we engage in, to efficiently meet those values; therefore, it's the values that need to change, not the economic system. This completely ignores the fact that the values themselves are indeed influenced by the conditions of the economic system in question, due to adaptive preferences, and valuation neglect. So we do, in fact, need to change the economic system, if we expect to successfully change the values.

When I am talking about production costs, I am (obviously) not referring to "cost" in terms of price. I am referring to the total cost in terms of outlay or expenditure of time, energy, raw materials, etc. required to produce a given product. I understand that without prices, the "total resource cost" of 500 liters of oil is figuratively the same as 500L of water, or 500L of apple juice, in terms of marginal utility, because 'how much of which' should actually be used, and what it should actually be used
for, is ultimately determined by the subjective valuations of the consumers, taking all of that into account. What this argument ignores, again, is that as I stated in the 3rd video, this is not how "costs" would be ultimately calculated in the RBE - as the free market admittedly measures such costs solely on the subjective utility of the consumers, which cannot, in and of itself, serve as an accurate prognosis for sustainability or well-being. For this, we need to look at the capabilities approach that challenges utilitarianism, on the grounds that although people want to be happy, it may overlook the things we truly value, as well as fundamental inequalities. In fact, according to a Human Development Report nearly 20 years ago, "the basic objective of development to create an enabling environment for people to live long, healthy, and creative lives is often lost in the immediate concern for the accumulation of commodities and financial wealth." This groundbreaking approach was overlooked in the entire ~54 minute response, which instead heavily reiterated "marginal utility," in more detail.

As we know, the RBE does not use monetary prices to measure the costs of resources, but that
does not mean that oil, water, and apple juice therefore have, figuratively, the same "cost." Why? Because in a dynamic system like the RBE we would have a global database of information on all available resources, and accurate calculations as to what various products or services those resources can possibly be used for, both alone, and in combination with each other, so that we are able to determine how to most efficiently (scientifically) produce a variety of goods and services that do indeed meet the expressed individual preferences of consumers, while still taking into account the opportunities that may be gained or lost in the process. We would be able to accurately consider all available parameters and compare the various possibilities of what can be done, to what people actually want and need. In other words, we would not simply produce "the most scientifically efficient widget" using whatever possible combination of resources we have, without taking the production of anything else into account, and then say "oops, we didn't leave enough over for the other widget(s)." Determining which, or how many, resources to use for one product or service versus another, would factor in the intended functionality of the item, how many people would need it, how long it needs to last, etc. As peoples' needs and preferences change, their inputs change, consumption changes, information changes, and we adjust accordingly. It's not really that complicated - once we consider the current state of technology. In other words, it combines scientific efficiency WITH economic efficiency; it does not sacrifice economic efficiency, in favor of scientific fascism. Even though, at the end of the day, we would be consuming goods at a figurative cost of "zero" to the consumer, it is possible to continue efficiently satisfying individual needs AND preferences because we are maximizing the fruits of the aforementioned scientific efficiency, allowing us to create a relative state of abundance. Meaning, if we produce things in a more scientifically efficient and less wasteful manner, we can then afford to actually produce more of what people actually want and need, and reach true economic efficiency.

In response to the claim that producing the most efficient and sustainable products would be either too expensive for the company to make, or too expensive for the customer to buy, Jacob gives the example of a dent-proof, water-proof, shock resistant iPod that would cost $200 instead of $100. In other words, it's the customer's choice. Yes, well, I'm not talking about an ipod that would cost "$200.00." As cute as that sounds, I'm talking about one that might cost TWO THOUSAND dollars, or more. Now apply that to every product a person uses. When we're talking about a wide range of appliances and electronics that serve multiple functions, boast the
most advanced features that are technologically possible to-date (usually unheard of by us common-folk), are extremely durable, customizable, easily upgradeable, and sustainable... it's not going to cost $200.00. Period. Of course, one might ask why we should make "two thousand dollar" iPods for everyone when we don't need to, and people might prefer to be able to choose where such efficiency is applied. Perhaps on a TV, or a vehicle, or... some other device. The answer is, because we can! In the Resource Based Economy, it's not about having to choose where you want efficiency and where you don't. We can produce everything efficiently because we no longer have to produce various "affordable" models, ranging from "cheap" to "expensive," and this means much less redundancy and waste. Less redundancy and waste means we have more resources available, that would otherwise be sitting in a landfill, to continue to produce things efficiently. People only need to choose a less efficient or sustainable product when they are taking their own finances into account, and the fact that purchasing an efficient iPod would mean a less efficient something else, or vice versa.

Jacob tries to argue that if we relied solely on scientific efficiency, such as the bare biological requirements for human survival, then "the computer" would produce, for example, a mostly-potato diet, and rotating bunk-beds to "efficiently" provide sleeping quarters. (Perhaps. If we were using
Windows '98 to allocate resources...) This is either a ludicrous exaggeration to make a point, meaning he doesn't actually think that, or it is a clear and dangerous sign that society has become so far detached from genuine science for social concern, that we cannot even fathom "scientific efficiency" co-existing with personal preferences. First, I need to clarify that far too much emphasis is being placed on "the central computer," as if there is only one "i-Robot" computer arbitrarily making all decisions. No. While a network of systems and various infrastructures such as the routing of energy, water, sewage, etc. would be automated, as in many ways they are now, the "central" database of information and decision-making processes is merely a tool. In terms of production and distribution, we, the members of society, are the ones inputting ideas, inventions, design improvements, requests, etc. As such, "the computer" does not just arbitrarily "decide" to produce potatoes based on biological dietary needs, simply "keeping humans alive" as if on a feeding tube. As I also mentioned in my 3rd video, which was either ignored, or completely misconstrued, we would use the scientific method to determine the most efficient way to meet peoples' needs AND PREFERENCES. The "potato and bunk-bed" example conveniently glosses over the "preferences" part of that statement. If we would like to eat certain foods (strawberries, bread, corn, fish, etc.), we can still use the scientific method to determine the most "scientifically efficient" way (vertical farm, flat farm, where to build, etc.) to produce the food(s) in question, and thus still satisfy consumer preferences "efficiently" in an economic sense. If one would like to live in a certain kind of house, or sleep in a certain kind of bed, we can use the scientific method to determine how to most efficiently produce such a house, or such a bed, and out of what materials. Bear in mind that "engineering" and "biology" are not the only fields of "science" that we have to go by. It is probably not mentally (or physically) healthy to gag on mostly potatoes and/or sleep on rotating bunk-beds like Marines in barracks with minimal comfort, privacy, etc. All of these things need to be, and would be, taken into account. The RBE is applying the scientific method for social concern, not the scientific method for "only biological survival concern." The scientific method simply helps us figure out the most optimal ways to meet individual preferences, and simultaneously helps to ensure that our survival needs are not in short or long-term jeopardy.

While Jacob does re-explain how monopolies and cartels could not form, or at least could not last, the point that is ultimately still left unaddressed is: The fact that they won't "last" does not solve the conditions endured during the time of their existence, however long that may be, which could be completely avoided in a Resource Based Economy - to which the only response still seems to be "it can't possibly last long." Thus, the fundamental difference between what Jacob advocates, and what I advocate can theoretically be summed up in just one passive statement: "Of course there will always be fly-by-night fraudsters that are more than happy to steal your money, which is why it's a good idea to only do business with reputable companies..." Since when did this become an acceptable reality? The free market apparently has all of these long and drawn out "safeguards" against abuse. Granted, there is still an incentive for abuse, but don't worry; there are safeguards. "Don't worry. Competition will be looking over each other's shoulder." "Don't worry, their incentive to generate future profits, or their fear of a class-action lawsuit, will discourage them from continuing to sell a faulty product." "Don't worry. The transportation systems could be built, maintained, and profit shared by community members to prevent price gouging." Don't worry, without governmental regulation to enforce intellectual property, someone will eventually figure out the secret to the ever-lasting gadget... eventually." Screw that. We're done with so-called safeguards. I say, instead of "competition looking over each other's shoulders," let's look out for each other from the get-go, and have each other's back, removing the need for any such safeguards, and eliminating one of the primary causes of stress and anxiety. (Funny how we do the exact opposite, and then wonder why there's so much crime and mayhem.) Instead of relying on the pursuit of profit, or one's "fear" of a class-action lawsuit, let's all do right by each other because there is no incentive to do otherwise. Instead of relying on the notion that someone will eventually "figure out" the everlasting gadget and market it, let's just share the everlasting gadget with each other to begin with, now that we have the technological ability to design an infrastructure that allows us to do so. The game was fun while it lasted, but life's too short for the burden of relying on the rules of the game, and the supposed safeguards against abuse, especially when such reliance is no longer even necessary. It's time to move on. How one cannot see the logic in voluntarily moving towards a system where one simply does not have the incentive to BE a "fly-by-night fraudster," I'll admit, is positively beyond me, short of attributing it to a fascination or "thrill" of the game itself, regardless of its consequences. I will end with a reminder that despite our fundamental disagreements, The Venus Project is not based on force or coercion, but is an open invitation for those who are ready to proactively cooperate in using the scientific method for social concern, rather than using a free enterprise system where we all compete with each other for access to the necessities of life... for social concern...? O.o

Jacob's original criticisms (Feb-Mar 2011):
Voluntaryist Thoughts on Zeitgeist Moving Forward
Why Central Planning CANNOT Work
Economics 101 for The Venus Project: Marginal Utility

My first Responses (Mar 2011):
[1.1] Response to Jacob Spinney - Zeitgeist Moving Forward
[1.2] Response to Jacob Spinney - Zeitgeist Moving Forward
[2.1] Response to Jacob Spinney - Objective Human Needs
[2.2] Response to Jacob Spinney - Objective Human Needs
[3] RBE 101 - A New Value System


Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Zeitgeist Movement: Cancel Your Membership. Renew Your Leadership.

For those of you who have been following The Venus Project Challenge on YouTube, you may have noticed that I rarely do Video Responses. One of the reasons for this, is that it would take an insurmountable amount of time and patience to respond to everyone, especially if it's actually going to serve a worthwhile purpose - that is, to answer valid questions, correct any disinformation, and try to get people to understand - rather than just to "retaliate" against naysayers. In some cases the disinformation is just so obscure that it is not even worth refuting, and we can only hope that anyone with half a brain, that's new to the Movement, won't be bothered with it. In those cases, I feel it's a more productive use of my time to just keep making new videos addressing legitimate concerns.

However, in light of my very first Video Response, I was asked to share my thoughts and ideas for promoting the virtues of patience and understanding in our overall responses.

First, I'd like to mention that in his Video Response to TheLegalImmigrant05, Neanderthalcouzin became my role model for exhibiting the patience it takes to articulate the tenets of a Resource-Based Economy, even in response to what most of us would consider an infuriating, or perhaps laughable, objection.

However, the reason I decided to finally do a Video Response is because I knew exactly where this certain naysayer, amongst others, was coming from. This was another person with severe misunderstandings who, understandably, had been told to "do more research." Unfortunately, that response doesn't work, and I'm beginning to find that it's counterproductive. It's lazy. It's often a valid criticism, and perfectly good advice, but in order for it to have any meaning or any effect, it has to come with an explanation. Granted, the person in question is presumably "lazy" for not doing the research, but we are supposed to be the leaders here. If you know how to counter the arguments made against The Venus Project, then do so on your own. Explain it in your own words as best as you can, and list the sources yourself. (i.e. links, articles, videos etc.) That's the best you can do. If they don't acknowledge your answer(s), then that's on them, but at least they can't accuse you of being dogmatic and avoiding the question(s).

When we come across those who blatantly misconstrue the fundamentals of a Resource-Based Economy, they have either A) Done the research and still don't get it, or B) Haven't, and probably are not going to do the research, at least not without you holding their hand. Therefore, the canned response of telling someone to "do more research," just sounds like a cop-out answer to cover up the fact that you, yourself cannot explain it properly. They get the sense that we think we are just "so enlightened that we cannot be bothered with such silly questions or objections," and this hurts the Movement. I say call their bluff, and answer the damn question or objection, right then and there. Don't rely on other people or other writings to do it.

To be quite honest, I think this Movement would already be light-years ahead if every single member took it upon themselves, in every situation, to answer every question or concern to the best of their ability. (Of course we have to use our own judgement and know where to draw the line between answering legitimate questions and responding to endless trolling...) But the point is, we're getting into dangerous territory if we hear a question or concern that we genuinely can't answer, and just argue anyway because we believe so strongly in The Venus Project. If you don't know the answer, find it. We don't need to rely strictly on TVP or TZM materials; there are plenty of sources out there. This level of knowledge and participation would ultimately require, and therefore naturally develop, a more thorough understanding of the material within the organization itself, rather than just regurgitation, and as a result it would accurately portray us as the much more mature and intellectual Movement that we are, as opposed to the accused "cult."

It is absolutely critical that if we are going to suggest to someone that they do more research, we take it upon ourselves to back it up.


"I disagree that humans are naturally greedy, or that they naturally prefer competition. X and Y studies show that we are naturally wired for empathy and cooperation, but this has been stifled due to scarcity. Look at these [sources: links, articles, videos, etc.] and tell me what you think. Also, can you point me to some studies that show humans are naturally selfish?"

Not "clearly you need to do more research."


"Actually, I think you have misunderstood the economic structure of a RBE. It is not the same as using 'money, gold, silver, or bananas,' because there is an element of abundance involved. Therefore, trade and private 'property' are not necessary. I think you will find that [this] segment of Peter Joseph's lecture explains this quite well, at -:--. Here are some other [sources: links, videos, etc.] that explain it as well. What do you think of what Jacque said about a systems approach in the last paragraph?"

Not "if you think a RBE is the same as a monetary system, you obviously haven't done any research."

I feel that this is a powerful approach for at least two reasons: 1) It genuinely answers the question(s) and/or concern(s), if the person is genuinely asking, and it opens a new line of discussion. 2) If they're not genuinely asking and just being an argumentative douche, you will immediately be able to tell when they respond with something like "Human desire will always be unlimited," or "It doesn't matter how you organize the system because central or planned economies always fail," without addressing a single one of your statements or sources, in which case you don't need to waste your time. (See the video below for clarification on the difference between #1 and #2.) It's a win-win situation; you either A) Answer the question satisfactorily and continue the discussion, or B) Patiently and intelligently determine that the person does not actually want to hear the answer. In contrast, when you simply lead with "do more research," you skip both A and B, and end up with C) Not answering the question - which gives them an easy out, that you don't know wtf you're talking about.

In short, I think the more knowledge you have, the more patience you have. It's frustrating not to be able to answer questions and objections, especially when you know there's an answer, but maybe you can't formulate it well. (i.e. You know you heard Peter say it somewhere, but you don't know where, and you can't remember exactly what he said.) That doesn't work. Learn it yourself. Otherwise it becomes a dangerous crutch to say "do research," and it's very easy to get angry and impatient with people. On the other hand, it's very liberating to be able to effectively address objections, as in Neanderthalcouzin's response. At the very least, it reinforces your own understanding, even if no one's listening. I always try to respond to people with open-ended answers - an explanation, followed by a question which encourages them to either elaborate on, or at least question, the legitimacy of their position. Even in the Challenge when I refer people to the FAQ, I still try to point them to specific ones, and ask them what they think of it. I try not to assume that that's the answer, and that's the end of it. We often get so used to hearing the same old objections that we might be too quick to tell someone to "do more research," or "read the FAQ." Careful. Make sure that that's actually what needs to happen, and on top of that, don't be afraid to offer your help.

If we expect to see any kind of realistic change in society, we owe it to ourselves to become subject matter experts in the methodology that will bring this change about. This way, the next time someone asks if you're a "member" of The Zeitgeist Movement, you can confidently say "No... I am The Zeitgeist Movement."
(Added January 6, 2011)


Friday, June 18, 2010

Frequently Asked "Frequently Asked Questions"

I was going to title this post Frequently Asked Questions That People Seem to Think They Are The First Ones to Ask and Say "Ah Ha!" When Asking, but that title was too long. Thankfully, The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement websites have their own lists of Frequently Asked Questions, but you would [probably not] be amazed at the repeated questions or "objections" I get in response to The Venus Project Challenge, so I've decided to make a separate list for quick reference, as well as point out frequently used sources that are not found in the FAQ alone. I find myself referring askers to specific video segments, additional websites, etc. so keeping an organized log of this would be useful. In the meantime, I just want to point some of them out here. As I mentioned when I introduced the Challenge, it's helpful to read the entire FAQ&A from top to bottom. Now it's getting to a point where I'm passively memorizing the FAQ numbers and video timestamps associated with certain subjects or questions asked, due to referring to them repeatedly, so I would like to share my supernatural powers with you (lol).

A common misconception when someone is referred to the FAQ, is that they assume we regard it as "The Holy Bible," and its answers are true, correct, and the final word. (Perhaps the Bible was a bad metaphor ;) In other words, "if the FAQ does not answer my question entirely, then the information is insufficient; therefore the entire concept is insufficient; it is baseless." This is not the case; the information presented on the website is true and correct, but it does not remotely cover the entire concept, nor is it intended to be "the final word." The FAQ is simply a convenient way to get people up to speed quickly, and then continue the discussion from there, without having to explain everything from scratch. I'll start with the basics; there may be more answers that apply than just the numbers I've listed here, but these are the ones that "stick out," in my opinion:

Questions related to "incentive," and what people are supposed to do all day
FAQ: 70, 71, 77, 49
Video: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (Purpose Motive vs. Profit Motive)

Let's take it a step further and assume that even after everything we understand about genuine human behavior, curiosity, and the desire to excel, some people are still "lazy" in an abundant and free society... The Venus Project is still a better alternative than falsely perpetuating scarcity and unnecessary labor & resource usage, for the sole purpose of, and poor attempt at, producing "incentive."

"But what about all the 'slackers' who will consume without giving back? The answer is just, 'So what?' Why not have pity on such people who are stuck in such an embarrassingly juvenile state of mind? My mom, a hard worker, dreamed of being a slacker in a big house with servants. You know where she found her dream? A nursing home. :-( So, be careful what you wish for, slacker wannabees. :-) If a few can supply the many, then, so what of the slackers? Who cares? Why build a whole mythology around slackers? And surprisingly, there may be less slackers than one might expect, because when you have the freedom to make things your way, without a "boss", there is often a lot of fun to be had in making things. Just look at all the kids making free music for the internet these days. Or people writing web pages. :-)"
-- Paul D. Fernhout, Post-Scarcity Princeton

Questions regarding social change, and "nature vs. nurture"
FAQ: 60, 79, 84
Video: "Where Are We Now" (Part 2: Culture and the Bio-social Imperative) by Peter Joseph
Article: Bees reveal nature-nurture secrets -

Resistance of the elite
FAQ: 8, 67

Fear of technology, or our dependence on technology leading to social decay (i.e. Wall-E)
FAQ: 53, 68, 73, 74
Video: "Where Are We Going" (RBE: Research, Contributions, and Decisions) by Peter Joseph

TVP goals, productivity, abundance, and true prosperity vs. "Communism"
FAQ: 54-57

Define "high standard of living."
FAQ: 10, 63, 76

Sounds good, but without prisons or police, what do we do when someone actually is bad?
FAQ: 80-84, 59
Essay: Shame, Guilt, and Violence - by James Gilligan

"[Dr. Gilligan] argues that traditional approaches to violence prevention, which emphasise punishment, actually make violence worse; and the more severe the punishment, the worse the violence grows. Violence is more likely where there is a culture of shame. Key risk factors for shame include rigid gender role stereotyping, with resulting distorted views of what is to be “masculine” or “feminine,” and entrenched social hierarchies, based on inequalities of opportunity, income, and hope... [He] concludes that we can reduce violence by reducing social inequality and other stigmata of shame. We should also stop putting people in prison except in those cases where people need a type of therapeutic restraint for the protection of others. If we do this, we should provide therapy and education for violent offenders, rather than deprivation, isolation, and more shame." -- Dr. Gwen Adshead, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, on Dr. Gilligan's book Preventing Violence

Questions regarding jealousy, emotions, etc.
FAQ: 83, 105

Cybernated decision-making / How would resources be distributed equitably?
FAQ: 52
Video: "Where Are We Going" (Part 2: Project Earth) by Peter Joseph

TVP is Utopian
FAQ: 99
Video: Jacque Fresco "No Utopia"
Video: The Empathic Civilization

In case anyone's questioning the validity of constantly using Peter Joseph's lectures as a source, he is not the only "source" of information in the lecture itself, which is why I use them. He presents other sources and studies within the slides, which can then be further researched of one's own accord. This is simply a convenient way of putting several sources in one place.

Now here are some TVPC FAQ's that I don't think are specifically addressed, or addressed in detail, in the VP FAQ:

Why are you "waiting" for a collapse to implement a resource-based economy? Wouldn't it make more sense to start doing something about it now? I disagree that you should wait for complete chaos; that's just nonsensical.

I agree. We're not waiting for a collapse; we're waiting for enough people to cooperate. Meanwhile, the majority of people are "waiting for a collapse" before they'll lift a finger. That's the problem. It is not that we want to wait for a collapse; it is that unfortunately we'll probably have to, because of social and cultural lag.
Video: Roxanne explains that this will be harder to do if everyone waits until a collapse, or marshall law (at 10:10)

How do we determine who lives where, and whether they get to live in isolated houses or in apartment communities?
Video: Jacque Fresco explains the logic behind his circular city designs, and the advantages and disadvantages of houses vs. apartments, etc. (at 3:15)
FAQ's 28, 44, and 45 also address housing.

How can you "educate" people into population control? You would have to "force" your education onto them, to prevent them from having too many kids.

We're not into "population control." Balancing the population with the earth's carrying capacity will become a natural part of the educational process, once the educational system becomes relevant rather than obscure. I made this analogy for someone who claimed that we would need "forced education" to "convince" people not have too many babies: We do not "force" education about safety; it is a natural part of the educational process when children learn not to play with fire because it's dangerous. As such, people become aware, not convinced, of how not to burn themselves or burn their own house down. The same type of awareness can be incorporated into learning about our earth's operations and carrying capacity, and how not to over-populate our own city or planet into a situation of starvation or inadequate housing. Not to mention, through education, having children would not be based on religious ideologies or cultural preferences, but rather, responsible decision-making and direct correlation to your life's goals. In addition, birth control and healthcare would be available to everyone.

More on this here: What about the problem of population growth in a RBE?

"In an RBE system, there is no free trade, no free market to prove a product's worth based on individual needs/desires, just production/distribution, based on the "system's" algorithms ability to determine what people want to consume... I don't believe it can predict everyone's individual needs, that's why centralized systems always fail, there's no better product test than a free market."

I think some people may be mistakenly under the impression that TVP is going to allocate nothing but prefabricated products based on "demand," when that's actually not the case. Once resources have been accounted for, the resources & tools themselves can be allocated to distribution centers for people to see different examples, demos, and even customize or build their own products. This is the idea behind open-source design. As such, the computer system wouldn't have to "know" what people want to consume, but what materials were required & most efficient for a particular line of products. In an RBE, people would have access to raw materials anyway, so if that is one's field of interest, one could develop models and designs as their contribution to society.

Interestingly enough, after answering this question, I stumbled upon this entry regarding the technological approach to post-scarcity, at

"Technology, when invented, is not spread for the good of mankind, but kept artificially scarce by patents, corporate secrecy, limited runs and planned obsolescence. This is motivated by the monetary sytem. The post-scarcity solution is to post designs of machines publicly on the Internet so that anyone with access to fabrication equipment can make them from raw materials... In a situation of decentralized fabrication and free and open-source design, once a design is posted on the Internet, it can be reproduced around the world by anyone who needs it."

From FAQ 76:
"All raw materials for the manufacture of these products can be transported directly to the manufacturing facilities by automated transportation "sequences" such as boats, monorails, mag-lev trains, pipelines, and pneumatic tubes. An automated inventory system would be connected to both the distribution centers and the manufacturing facilities, thus coordinating production to meet demand and providing a constant evaluation of preferences and consumption. In this way a balanced-load economy can be maintained. Shortages, over-runs, and waste could be eliminated."

Even if the RBE takes care of most crime or aberrant behavior, we would still have to have some type of judicial system. How would we settle personal disputes?

I struggled with the "no laws" thing myself, but I realized we must analyze what kinds of civil disputes we'd be having, in order to assume that laws & courts can even resolve them in the first place. In the resource-based economy, we could not be "jealous" of property because we will not "own" property. (Yes, we will have houses & such, but without monetary limitations, you can have the same one as anyone else.) You can have the same occupation, interests, or hobbies as anyone else. What is there to be jealous of that you cannot get for yourself? People. One could be jealous of someone else's girlfriend, boyfriend, husband, wife, or even friend, I suppose. In which case, what can the courts do about it? I've given these issues much thought, and unfortunately I feel this is where we must "take the diaper off" and truly allow ourselves to develop socially in the way we relate to one another, instead of depending on laws and courts to tell us what's right & what's wrong. In a system with no money, who would pay the court staff (lawyers, etc.)? Who would want that role in a resource-based-economy? Perhaps the cybernated system could randomly choose individuals to settle the dispute, but then we are getting right back into "people having the power to make decisions over one another." Without police, who would enforce the decision of such courts, should someone disagree or refuse to obey? Does this mean we have to keep jails as well? It's all connected, and unfortunately it seems that if we keep one piece, we must keep it all. This subject is briefly touched on in FAQ #83: "What about crimes of jealousy?" but there is no "one" solution; I agree. It is a very complex issue, and I believe laws will have to slowly render themselves obsolete over a long period of time, as our behavior changes. The best example I can give at the moment is that of the Gaviotans in Columbia, South America. Gaviotas is a village of about 200 people that uses renewable energy sources and farms organically. They live amongst free housing, free food, and free education, and have had no weapons, prisons, police, or government for over 30 years. If an eco-village can live without law enforcement, then advanced sustainable cities of people enjoying the highest standard of living possible can certainly do so as well.

Why does TVP propose synthetic proteins?
(Addressed in FAQ 95)
The Venus Project does not necessarily advocate this, but it is mentioned because it would be an option based on personal preference. It is not that we have to do this in order to achieve a resource-based-economy, just that we could - the technology would be available. Consider that in an RBE, where there are no monetary boundaries to incentivize corporations & health departments to cut corners, food production would not be anything like it is today. More importantly, the approach of TVP is to always apply the scientific method for human concern. The first step of the Scientific Method is to ask a question, so if the question is "How can we produce an abundant amount of healthy food for the earth's population?" the answer would not be to use methods that are proven to cause health defects, unlike today, when health is often second to profit. By using the scientific method for human concern rather than financial concern we would always find solutions that do not compromise our health, even if that means sticking to 100% natural food production. In TVP, we would be able to dramatically increase the amount of genuine research that goes into this.

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For now, this summarizes some of what I've encountered most frequently in response to The Venus Project Challenge. I may add to this in the future, as I am reminded of common Q&A's, and as I acquire more frequently used sources. In the meantime, I hope this will help answer some questions for both veterans and newcomers, and maybe make finding some of the information a bit more convenient. On a side note, I've also re-organized my YouTube channel from hundreds of random Favorites into categorized Playlists, so people can find information more easily, depending on the subject being discussed.


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Venus Project versus Other Social Systems

Remember that Sesame Street song, “One of These Things (Is Not Like The Others)?” Well, as many of you may know, the argument or notion that The Venus Project or a Resource-Based Economy (RBE) is the same, or similar, to Communism tends to keep popping up. Although we’ve continuously addressed this misunderstanding with explanations as to how and why it’s monumentally different, the confusion continues. It came to my attention to write a blog on this subject when a fellow YouTuber simply asked if I think Jacque Fresco has influences from Peter Kropotkin, a late 19th Centry anarcho-communist, which I will get into later. First I want to start by highlighting some points from one of my prior drawn-out discussions with another user on this subject, which I think in fact summarizes what the “Communism” argument boils down to.

The first problem is that there are various definitions and understandings, mainly two, of the word communism. The first is fairly simple: 1 a : a theory advocating elimination of private property b : a system in which goods are owned in common and are available to all as needed. I think it is fair to say that an RBE does aim to accomplish that in some form, but it is not the premise of The Venus Project. In other words, it is not our goal to simply eliminate private property, and make goods equally available to all so that we, or our future generations, can simply enjoy some form of equal access. It is instead our goal to accomplish many other things, such as surpassing cultural and religious conflicts, eliminating wars over scarcity of resources, ending the exploitation of, and damage to, the earth and its resources catalyzed by the pursuit of profit, establishing clean and sustainable energy systems, improving education, reducing aberrant behavior and crime, etc. It just so happens that “eliminating private property,” and “making goods equally available to all,” are required in order to accomplish those things. To clarify, here are some of the core characteristics of a Resource-Based Economy, as outlined in The Zeitgeist Movement knowledge base:

1) No money or market system.
2) Automation to replace labor in every occupation possible.
3) Technological Unification of the planet in a systems approach.
4) No property - Universal Access.
5) Self-contained/Sustainable/Streamlined City Systems.
6) Science as the methodology for all social decisions, including the approach to problems regarding aberrant human behavior (or what we refer to today as "crime").

Number four alone, which could be described as “communism,” is a necessary ingredient, but not the ultimate goal or the entire premise. Some might argue that it makes no difference whether it’s one factor or the whole concept, because number four is necessary and therefore implied in every other ingredient. However, this difference between a ‘factor’ and a ‘foundational concept’ later proves to be a very important distinction between The Venus Project and other social systems, so keep it in mind.

The second definition is slightly more complex, and often capitalized as Communism: 2 (capitalized) a : a doctrine based on revolutionary Marxian socialism and Marxism-Leninism that was the official ideology of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics b : a totalitarian system of government in which a single authoritarian party controls state-owned means of production c : a final stage of society in Marxist theory in which the state has withered away and economic goods are distributed equitably.

During the discussion, I’d explained that an RBE proposes no form of government, much less a totalitarian government that controls all property and means of production, so it is obviously not the same as Communism. The opposing argument was that the second definition (mainly a and b) is more accurately Socialism, not in fact Communism as it were originally intended, and as such, there has never really been true Communism. I argued that if Communism has only ever been attempted by means of Socialism, then it is still not the same as an RBE, since that is not our intention or goal. Still, the opposition maintained that since an RBE does ultimately regard resources as the “common heritage of all,” it is still the same as Communism, regardless of whether the premise or methodology is different, as long as the end result is the same – equal access to all goods.

The final opposing argument, in this particular case, was that Venus Project supporters should just admit that it is Communism, and that we prefer not to call it that, due to the negative associations with its history, and its resulting tendency to fall on deafening ears. This argument further concluded that anyone who’s read The Communist Manifesto should not have a problem with this, and would understand the difference between true Communism, and the distorted definition throughout history by means of Socialism.

This is where the difference between an RBE and Communism becomes even more evident. While I admit that I haven’t read The Communist Manifesto, I’ve read much about it and what it covers, and I’ve read other materials regarding the origins and history of Communism. The Manifesto confirms that Communism was based on class struggles, the idea that societies could only evolve through conflict. This concept is in large part described as Dialectical Materialism, which is in fact the opposite of what The Venus Project advocates - that societies and humanity as a whole will evolve through cooperation - eliminating conflict and most of its causes.

The rebuttal was that, although Communism was indeed based on class struggles, in the end, classes disappear, which is also the result of a resource-based economy. Of course, my response was that “classes disappearing through conflict or struggle” is not remotely the same as “voluntarily transcending artificial boundaries and working together,” thereby peacefully and effectively dissolving any class distinctions. So far, no one has refuted my response, or answered my question as to how one can legitimately consider The Venus Project an extension of “Communism,” and its idea of class struggles.

Regarding the question of whether Fresco’s work has Kropotkinian influences, I couldn’t say without asking Fresco himself. In any case, I am researching the issue on my own, and so far I have found some of Kropotkin’s studies to involve similar philosophies, such as the idea of cooperation as a survival mechanism, rather than competition. From what I can tell, much of this was based on the study of species in general, and not so much the social engineering aspect regarding humans, and the need to elevate all to their highest intellectual, emotional, psychological, and physical potential. He also proposed an economic system of mutual exchanges, which aimed to eventually abolish money or tokens in exchange for goods and services. However, the system focused on local production and the self-sufficiency of each country, without any apparent means to inventory, or equally allocate, all resources efficiently, and obviously no means to automate nearly all labor. There is a large enough gap in the time period to suggest that this was due to the lack of necessary technology, but even so, I have not yet located an understanding similar to that of The Venus Project, which states that: “All social systems, regardless of political philosophy, religious beliefs, or social customs, ultimately depend on natural resources like clean air and water, arable land, and the technology and personnel to maintain a high standard of living. This can be accomplished through the humane application of science and technology using a global systems approach.”

In conclusion, it seems that most comparisons between The Venus Project (or an RBE) and other social systems rely heavily on the simplistic and unjustifiable notion that “it doesn’t matter if there are differences in the premises, differences in methods of implementation, or if some of the goals may vary; as long as the intended result is the same, it is the same social system. In other words, “an RBE is the same as Communism because it aims to eliminate private property.” “An RBE is the same as Anarchism because it aims to eliminate government.” “An RBE is the same as Technocracy because it uses science and technology to make decisions.” “Never mind the differences; the end result is the same.” This is like saying that “borrowing a book from the library or doing research online, learning about how to grow and manage your own garden or vineyard, investing in the tools, time, and energy to set it up, and eventually enjoying homegrown fruit, vegetables, or wine” is the same as “stealing fruit, vegetables, or wine, by any means necessary” because the end goal is the same - to enjoy fruit, vegetables, and wine, free of charge. I think we can all agree that that is a ludicrous comparison and conclusion. In the latter example, the person hasn’t learned anything of value, the person has also deprived someone else of their fruit, vegetables, or wine, and the person cannot sustain the goods and would therefore have to continue stealing them. The Venus Project has invested a great amount of time, energy, and effort into making sure that the methodology is not only viable, but in everyone’s best interest, and that the combined outcomes are in fact a global-resource-based economy, in which all resources are regarded as the common heritage of all the earth’s people, in which there is no need for a government, and in which science and technology are used to arrive at decisions. The fact that we have not yet accomplished all of those combined things as a globe, proves that no other past, present, or future social system can be compared to The Venus Project and what it aims to achieve.