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Zeitgeist: Moving Forward

In episode 245 of the C-Realm Podcast, Eric Boyd and I discussed our responses to the new Peter Joseph film, Zeitgeist: Moving Forward. Some listeners thought we missed the filmmaker's point and asked that we listen to the following podcast:


I have not yet heard the podcast, but I sent the link to Eric, and he responded with:

I listened to it, and I don't think we missed his point at all.  He's still hammering on how 'technical evaluation' and 'removal of humans' from decision making is what makes his new vision different from the older socialistic ways of organizing the world that he is often compared to.  I still think that just adding a fancy mainframe to centralized control doesn't make it better, in fact it clearly makes it worse, in my opinion, precisely because you're trying to remove real human debate and decision from the system.

But he does say at one point that as long as money is part of the system, then centralization is a really bad idea.  It's just not at all clear to me how he intends to remove money from the system.  His thoughts about how humans would have to behave before they would be allowed into the new system (listen to minute 78 onwards) are totally eye-opening.  The man does not understand human nature, especially not our status-seeking behavior...


my notes on the zeitgeist podcast:
Good questions at 30-33
minute 45 - centralization: system is "open source", but again he falls back on "technical evaluation" and "removal of humans"
minute 78 - talk about how we would get into the city.  Clearly shows how he's completely missed an important part of human nature: STATUS SEEKING.  Same thing at minute 82 ("why would even someone want to have clothing that isn't the maximum efficiency").  He's clueless.  We have all the options he says that we don't have - mostly because it's so hard to say exactly what would satisfy his preferences, these things are not as "scientific" as he seems to think they are, see for instance all the trouble with life-cycle-analysis LCA work.
minute 93 - some good comments about the dangers of centralized planning in a money economy

Also, here's some notes I have jotted down about what I'd do with the platform that he has, i.e. how I would work to change the system

I'd really like to present my own picture of how we can get from where we are (corporate feudalism, globalization, military/industrial complex, financial and ecological overshoot) to where we want to be (earth friendly, technologically mature, humanistic equality).

 - move towards humanistic equality:
   - progressive taxation
   - death tax
   - end war on drugs; greatly reduce prison population
   - stop subsidizing the status-quo elite (agribusiness, fossil fuels, etc)
   - reduce military spending as fast as possible
   - universal health care
 - move towards technological maturity
   - start having real discussions about technology in our society
   - analogy to how an ecology evolves from bare field to mature forest
   - society-wide recognition & treatment of future shock
   - increase transparency of products & their production, disposal, etc.
   - direction: *meaningful* careers for all: importance of education...
 - move towards earth friendly
   - reduce global warming emissions
   - protect natural habitats
   - reduce our footprint
   - cyclic, renewable material economy

"science, nature and technology vs religion, politics and money" - it's not an either or.  Politics and money are the mechanisms that our society uses to regulate the other things.  We get to *decide*, using politics and money, how our resources are spent.  So the above is a list of things that we should use our decision mechanisms to support.
I asked Eric if I could post his response. He answered:

Go ahead and post.  Obvious my notes at the end are super preliminary, but I think it's fairly obvious from their form that that's true, so people can take them for what they are worth.


( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 25th, 2011 12:50 am (UTC)
A simple question...
I haven't watched the third Zeitgeist, and after watching the first two I'm not sure I'd bother wasting my time. I'd rather listen to your podcast review of it (and I did).

So what I'd like to know is: who programs the central computers with the rules they will require to make the decisions?

Feb. 28th, 2011 08:44 pm (UTC)
I found the idolatry of scientism rather repugnant. In making the film they clearly didn't have enough input from philosophers or sociologists.
Mar. 4th, 2011 09:37 pm (UTC)
Future shock?
Did you have an episode where you talked about future shock?
Mar. 4th, 2011 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Future shock?
Not a whole episode, but I think it came up in my conversation with Dave Jacke.
Dim Bygone
Mar. 18th, 2011 05:35 am (UTC)
I whole-heartedly give you guys some back-up. You're spot on Eric. I thought all of the info as per addictions was very good. However, I've been loosely following Gabor Mate for a while (He's from my neck o tha woods), and these themes of equating our technological and resource requirements to addictions are well-trodden, and quite valid.

Then after the whole bit about a centralized computer system I switched it off. I think that his vision of a centralized computer system running everything would end up very similar to what we have now. An intelligence forcing its idea of how I should run my life from a distance. It made me think of scenes from Dr. Zhivago as he gets back from the war and he's told he has to share his house with the neighbourhood, and ends up cold and homeless.

These sorts of centralized schemes have been tried many times before, and they have never cultivated very pleasant realities for the human beings they are supposed to serve. This always leads to inevitable failure, collapse, revolution, etc. In permaculture, any system that doesn't take the resident humans emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical needs into account is considered unsustainable.

We need exactly what McLuhan predicted, LESS centralization. Which counter to the film-maker's points, seem like the most efficient way to use resources to me. The only reason to ever require a centrally organized scheme is for luxury, so that you can get california fruit in canada in january, exotic hardwood furniture, and japanese electronics. Beyond that nature provides everything we NEED right under our noses.

And I think McLuhan is right, that technology is what drives all of this evolution, not us. Electricity is a decentralizing agent, digital information processing in inherently anarchistic as I see it, not hierarchical. So if we are to be in line with our own technology (for which I suppose we have no choice, as they are our bodily extensions), these kinds of permacultural, decentralized, and interconnected social and technical organizations will become the sane, natural, and only realistic choice as Moore's law digs its heels in. What we are living through now is just the last throes of mechanical inertia as it gives way to the full flowering of the digital revolution.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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