Now, my grandmother was a wonderful person. She taught me how to play the game Monopoly. She understood that the name of the game is to acquire. She would accumulate everything she could and eventually, she became the master of the board. And then she would always say the same thing to me. She would look at me and she would say: “One day, you’ll learn to play the game.”
One summer, I played Monopoly almost every day, all day long. And that summer, I learned to play the game. I came to understand the only way to win is to make a total commitment to acquisition. I came to understand that money and possessions- that’s the way that you keep score. And by the end of that summer, I was more ruthless than my grandmother. I was ready to bend the rules if I had to, to win that game. And I sat down with her to play that fall. I took everything she had. I watched her give her last dollar and quit in utter defeat. And then she had one more thing to teach me.
Then she said: “Now it all goes back in the box. All those houses and hotels. All the railroads and utility companies… All that property and all that wonderful money… Now it all goes back in the box. None of it was really yours. You got all heated up about it for a while. But it was around a long time before you sat down at the board and it will be here after you’re gone: players come, players go. Houses and cars… Titles and clothes… Even your body.”
Because the fact is that everything I clutch and consume and hoard is going to go back in the box and I’m going to lose it all. So you have to ask yourself when you finally get the ultimate promotion when you have made the ultimate purchase when you buy the ultimate home when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it… and the thrill wears off – and it will wear off – Then what?
How far do you have to walk down that road before you see where it leads? Surely you understand it will never be enough. So you have to ask yourself the question: What matters?
Gentle Machine Productions Presents
A Peter Joseph Film
“When I was a young man growing up in New York City I refused to pledge allegiance to the flag. Of course I was sent to the principal’s office. And he asked me, ‘Why don’t you want to pledge allegiance? Everybody does!’ I said, ‘Everybody once believed the Earth was flat but that doesn’t make it so.’ I explained that America owed everything it has to other cultures and other nations and that I would rather pledge allegiance to the Earth and everyone on it.
Needless to say it wasn’t long before I left school entirely and I set up a lab in my bedroom. There I began to learn about science and nature. I realized then that the universe is governed by laws and that the human being, along with society itself, was not exempt from these laws.
Then came the crash of 1929, which began what we now call “The Great Depression”. I found it difficult to understand why millions were out of work, homeless, starving, while all the factories were sitting there; the resources were unchanged. It was then that I realized that the rules of the economic game were inherently invalid. Shortly after, came World War II where various nations took turns systematically destroying each other. I later calculated that all the destruction and wasted resources spent on that war, could have easily provided for every human need on the planet.
Since that time I have watched humanity set the stage for its own extinction. I have watched as the precious finite resources are perpetually wasted and destroyed in the name of profit and free markets.
I have watched the social values of society be reduced into a base artificiality of materialism and mindless consumption.
And I have watched as the monetary powers control the political structure of supposedly free societies.
I’m 94 years old now. And I’m afraid my disposition is the same as it was 75 years ago. This shit’s got to go.”
Jacque Fresco – The Venus Project
ZEITGEIST: MOVING FORWARD
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -Margaret Mead”
Part 1: Human Nature
Dr Robert Sapolsky – Professor of Neurological Sciences, Stanford University: you’re a scientist, and somewhere along the way, hammered into your head is the inevitable “nature versus nurture” and that’s at least up there with Coke versus Pepsi or Greeks versus Trojans.
So, nature versus nurture: This, by now utterly over-simplifying view of where influences are- influences on how a cell deals with an energy crisis up to what makes us who we are on the most individualistic levels of personality. And what you’ve got is this complete false dichotomy built around nature as deterministic at the very bottom of all the causality of ‘life is DNA’ and the ‘code of codes’ and the Holy Grail, and everything is driven by it.
At the other end is a much more social science perspective which is: We are ‘social organisms’ and biology is for slime moulds; humans are free of biology.
Obviously both views are nonsense. What you see instead is that it is virtually impossible to understand how biology works outside of the context of environment.
One of the most crazy making, yet widespread and potentially dangerous notions is: “Oh, that behaviour is genetic.” Now what does that mean? It means all sorts of subtle stuff if you know modern biology, but for most people out there what it winds up meaning is: a deterministic view of life, one rooted in biology and genetics.
Genes equal things that can’t be changed. Genes, equal things that are inevitable and, that you might as well not waste resources trying to fix, might as well not put societal energies into trying to improve because it’s inevitable and it’s unchangeable. And that is sheer nonsense.
Dr Gabor Mate – Physician, Author Portland Society: It is widely thought that conditions like ADHD are genetically programmed, conditions like schizophrenia are genetically programmed.
The truth is the opposite. Nothing is genetically programmed. There are very rare diseases, a small handful, extremely sparsely represented in the population, that are truly genetically determined. Most complex conditions might have a predisposition that has a genetic component, but a predisposition is not the same as a predetermination.
The whole search for the source of diseases in the genome was doomed to failure before anybody even thought of it, because most diseases are not genetically predetermined. Heart disease, cancer, strokes, rheumatoid conditions, autoimmune conditions in general, mental health conditions, addictions – none of them are genetically determined.
Breast cancer, for example. Out of 100 women with breast cancer only seven will carry the breast cancer genes. 93 do not. And out of 100 women who do have the genes not all of them will get cancer.
Richard Wilkinson – Professor Emeritus of Social Epidemiology, University of Nottingham: Genes are not just things that make us behave in a particular way regardless of our environment. Genes give us different ways of responding to our environment. And in fact it looks as if some of the early childhood influences and the kind of child rearing, affect gene expression: actually turning on or off different genes to put you on a different developmental track which may suit the kind of world you’ve got to deal with.
Dr Gabor Mate: For example, a study done in Montreal with suicide victims looked at autopsies of the brains of these people. And it turned out that if a suicide victim (these are usually young adults) had been abused as children, the abuse actually caused a genetic change in the brain that was absent in the brains of people who had not been abused. That’s an epigenetic effect. “Epi” means on top of, so that the epigenetic influence is what happens environmentally to either activate or deactivate certain genes.
Dr. James Gilligan – Former Director of the centre for study of Violence, Harvard Medical School: In New Zealand, there was a study that was done in a town called Dunedin, in which a few thousand individuals were studied from birth into their 20s. What they found was that they could identify a genetic mutation – an abnormal gene, which did have some relation to the predisposition to commit violence, but only if the individual had also been subjected to severe child abuse.
In other words, children with this abnormal gene would be no more likely to be violent than anybody else, and in fact, they actually had a lower rate of violence than people with normal genes as long as they weren’t abused as children.
Dr Robert Sapolsky: Great additional example of the ways in which genes are not “be all – end all.” A fancy technique where you can take a specific gene out of a mouse. That mouse and its descendants will not have that gene. You have ”knocked out” that gene.
So there’s this one gene that encodes for a protein that has something to do with learning and memory. And with this fabulous demonstration you “knock out” that gene and you have a mouse that doesn’t learn as well. “Ooh! A genetic basis for intelligence!”
What was much less appreciated in that landmark study that got picked up by the media left and right, is take those genetically impaired mice and raise them in a much more enriched stimulating environment than your normal mice in a lab cage, and they completely overcame that deficit.
So, when one says in a contemporary sense that “Oh, this behaviour is genetic” to the extent that that’s even a valid sort of phrase to use, what you’re saying is: there is a genetic contribution to how this organism responds to environment; genes may influence the readiness with which an organism will deal with a certain environmental challenge. You know, that’s not the version most people have in their minds. And not to be too ‘soap-boxing’ but run with the old version of “It’s genetic!” and it’s not that far from the history of Eugenics and things of that sort. It’s a widespread misconception and it’s a potentially fairly dangerous one.
Dr. James Gilligan: One reason that the biological explanation for violence, one reason that hypothesis is potentially dangerous- it’s not just misleading it can really do harm – is because if you believe that, you could very easily say: “Well, there’s nothing we can do to change the predisposition people have to becoming violent. All we can do, if somebody becomes violent is punish them – lock them up or execute them, but we don’t need to worry about changing the social environment or the social preconditions that may lead people to become violent, because that’s irrelevant.”
Dr Gabor Mate: The genetic argument allows us the luxury of ignoring past and present historical and social factors. And in the words of Louis Men who wrote in the New Yorker, very astutely he said: “It’s all in the genes, an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Why should someone feel unhappy or engage in antisocial behaviour when that person is living in the freest and most prosperous nation on Earth? It can’t be the system. There must be a flaw in the wiring somewhere.”
Which is a good way of putting it. So, the genetic argument is simply a cop-, which allows us to ignore the social and economic and political factors that, in fact, underlie many troublesome behaviours.
Case Study: Addiction
Addictions are usually considered to be a drug-related issue. But looking at it more broadly, I define addiction as any behaviour that is associated with craving, with temporary relief and with long-term negative consequences along with an impairment of control over it, so that the person wishes to give it up or promises to do so but can’t follow through. And when you understand that, you see that there are many more addictions than simply those related to drugs.
There’s workaholism, addiction to shopping, to the Internet; to video games. There’s the addiction to power. People that have power but they want more and more; nothing is ever enough for them. Acquisition – corporations that must own more and more. The addiction to oil, or at least to the wealth and to the products made accessible to us by oil. Look at the negative consequences on the environment. We are destroying the very earth that we inhabit for the sake of that addiction.
Now, these addictions are far more devastating in their social consequences than the cocaine or heroin habits of my downtown Eastside patients. Yet, they are rewarded! And considered to be respectable.
The tobacco company executive that shows a higher profit will get a much bigger reward. He doesn’t face any negative consequences legally or otherwise. In fact he is a respected member of the board of several other corporations.
But, tobacco smoke related diseases kill 5 ½ million people around the world every year. In the United States they kill 400,000 people a year. And these people are addicted to what? To profit. To such a degree they are addicted, that they are actually in denial about the impact of their activities, which is typical for addicts – denial!
And that’s a respectable one. It’s respectable to be addicted to profit, no matter what the cost. So, what is acceptable and what is respectable is a highly arbitrary phenomenon in our society. And it seems like the greater the harm the more respectable the addiction.
There is a general myth that drugs, in themselves, are addictive. In fact, the war on drugs is predicated on the idea that if you interdict the source of drugs you can deal with addiction that way. Now, if you understand addiction in the broader sense we see that nothing in itself is addictive. No substance, no drug is by itself addictive and no behaviour is by itself addictive. Many people can go shopping without becoming shopaholics. Not everyone becomes a food addict. Not everyone who drinks a glass of wine becomes an alcoholic. So the real issue is: what makes people susceptible? Because it’s the combination of a susceptible individual and the potentially addictive substance, or behaviour, that makes for the full flowering of addiction.
In short, it’s not the drug that’s addictive, it’s the question of the susceptibility of the individual to being addicted to a particular substance or behaviour.
If we wish to understand what then makes some people susceptible we actually have to look at the life experience. The old idea – although it’s old but it’s still broadly held, that addictions are due to some genetic cause is simply scientifically untenable.
What the case is actually is that certain life experiences make people susceptible. Life experiences that not only shape the person’s personality and psychological needs but also their very brains in certain ways. And that process begins in utero.
It has been shown, for example, that if you stress mothers during pregnancy their children are more likely to have traits that predispose them to addictions. And that’s because development is shaped by the psychological and social environment. So the biology of human beings is very much affected by and programmed by the life experiences beginning in utero.
Dr Robert Sapolsky: Environment does not begin at birth. Environment begins as soon as you have an environment. As soon as you are a fetus, you are subject to whatever information is coming through mom’s circulations. Hormones, levels of nutrients…
A great landmark example of this is something called the Dutch Hongerwinter. In 1944, Nazis occupying Holland for a bunch of reasons, they decide to take all the food and divert it to Germany; for three months everybody there was starving. Tens of thousands of people starve to death.
What the Dutch hunger winter effect is: if you were a second or third trimester fetus during the starvation your body ‘learned’ something very unique during that time. As it turns out, second and third trimester is when your body is going about trying to learn about the environment: How menacing of a place is it out there? How plentiful? How much nutrients am I getting by way of mom’s circulation? Be a fetus, who was starving during that time and your body programs forever after to be really, really stingy with your sugar and fat and what you do is you store every bit of it.
Be a Dutch Hunger Winter fetus and half a century later, everything else being equal, you are more likely to have, high blood pressure, obesity or metabolic syndrome. That is environment coming in a very unexpected place.
Dr Gabor Mate: You can stress animals in the laboratory when they’re pregnant and their offspring will be more likely to use cocaine and alcohol as adults. You can stress human mothers. For example, in a British study women who were abused in pregnancy will have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol in their placenta at birth and their children are more likely to have conditions that predispose them to addictions by age 7 or 8. So in utero stress already prepares the gun for all kinds of mental health issues.
An Israeli study done on children born to mothers who were pregnant prior to the onset of the 1967 war… These women, of course, were very stressed and their offspring have a higher incidence of schizophrenia than the average cohort. So, there is plenty of evidence now that prenatal effects have a huge impact on the developing human being.
The point about human development and specifically human brain development is that it occurs mostly under the impact of the environment and mostly after birth.
Now, if you compare us to a horse which can run on the first day of life we see that we are very undeveloped. We can’t muster that much neurological coordination balance, muscle strength, visual acuity until a year and a half, two years of age. That’s because the brain development in the horse happens in the safety of the womb and in the human being, it has to happen after birth, and that has to do with simple evolutionary logic.
As the head gets larger, which is what makes us into human beings- the burgeoning of the forebrain is what creates the human species, actually. At the same time we walk on two legs, so our pelvis narrows to accommodate that. So now we have a narrower pelvis, a larger head – Bingo! We have to be born prematurely. And that means the brain development that in other animals occurs in utero, in us, occurs after birth and much of that under the impact of the environment.
The concept of Neural Darwinism simply means that the circuits that get the appropriate input from the environment will develop optimally and the ones that don’t will either not develop optimally or perhaps not at all. If you take a child with perfectly good eyes at birth and you put him in a dark room for five years he will be blind thereafter for the rest of his life because the circuits of vision require light waves for their development, and without that even the rudimentary circuits present and active at birth will atrophy and die and new ones will not develop.
There is a significant way in which early experiences shape adult behaviour, and even and especially early experiences for which there is no recall memory. It turns out that there are two kinds of memory: there is explicit memory, which is recall; this is when you can call back facts, details, episodes, circumstances. But the structure in the brain which is called the hippocampus, which encodes recall memory doesn’t even begin to develop fully until a year and a half and it is not fully developed until much later. Which is why hardly anybody has any recall memory prior to 18 months.
But there is another kind of memory which is called implicit memory, which is in fact, an emotional memory where the emotional impact and the interpretation the child makes of those emotional experiences are ingrained in the brain in the form of nerve circuits ready to fire without specific recall.
So to give you a clear example, people who are adopted have a lifelong sense of rejection very often. They can’t recall the adoption. They can’t recall the separation of the birth mother because there’s nothing there to recall with. But the emotional memory of separation and rejection is deeply embedded in their brains. Hence, they are much more likely to experience a sense of rejection and a great emotional upset when they perceive themselves as being rejected by other people. That’s not unique to people who are adopted but it is particularly strong in them because of this function of implicit memory.
People who are addicted, given all the research literature and in my experience, the hard-core addicts virtually were all significantly abused as children or suffered severe emotional loss. Their emotional or implicit memories are those of a world that’s not safe and not helpful, caregivers who were not to be trusted and relationships that are not safe enough to open up to vulnerably. And hence their responses tend to be to keep themselves separate from really intimate relationships; not to trust caregivers, doctors and other people who are trying to help them and generally see the world as an unsafe place.
And that is strictly a function of implicit memory which sometimes has to do with incidents they don’t even recall.
Infants who are born premature are often in incubators and various types of gadgetry and machinery for weeks and perhaps months. It’s now known that if these children are touched and stroked on the back for just 10 minutes a day, that promotes their brain development. So, human touch is essential for development and in fact, infants who are never picked up will actually die. That is how much of a fundamental need being held is to human beings.
In our society, there is an unfortunate tendency to tell parents not to pick up their kids, not to hold them, not to pick up babies who are crying for fear of spoiling them or to encourage them to sleep through the night- you don’t pick them up, which is just the opposite of what the child needs. And these children might go back to sleep because they give up and their brains just shut down as a way of defending against the vulnerability of being abandoned really by their parents. But their implicit memories will be that of the world that doesn’t give a damn.
Professor Richard Wilkinson: A lot of these differences are structured very early in life. In a way, the parental experience of adversity – how tough life is or how easy it is – is passed on to children, whether through maternal depression or parents being bad tempered with their kids because they have had a hard day or just being too tired at the end of the day. And these have very powerful effects programming children’s development, which we know a lot about now. But that early sensitivity isn’t just an evolutionary mistake. It exists again in many different species. Even in seedlings, there’s an early adaptive process to the kind of environment they are growing up in.
But for humans, the adaptation is to the quality of social relations. And so, early life: how nurturing, how much conflict, how much attention you get – is a taster of the kind of world you may be growing up in. Are you growing up in a world where you have to fight for what you can get, watch your back, fend for yourself, learn not to trust others? Or are you growing up in a society where you depend on reciprocity, mutuality, cooperation, where empathy is important, where your security depends on good relations with other people? And that needs a very different emotional and cognitive development.
And that’s what the early sensitivity is about. And parenting is almost- quite unconsciously- a system for passing on that experience to children, of the kind of world they are in.
Dr Gabor Mate: The great British child psychiatrist, D.W. Winnicott, said that fundamentally, two things can go wrong in childhood. One is when things happen that shouldn’t happen and then things that should happen but don’t. In the first category, is the traumatic and abusive and abandonment experiences of my downtown Eastside patients and of many addicts. That’s what shouldn’t happen but did.
But then there is the non-stressed, attuned, non-distracted attention of the parent that every child needs, that very often children don’t get. They’re not abused. They are not neglected and they’re not traumatized. But what should happen- the presence of the emotionally available nurturing parent- just is not available to them because of the stresses in our society and the parenting environment. The psychologist Allan Schore calls that “Proximal Abandonment” when the parent is physically present but emotionally absent.
Dr. James Gilligan: I have spent roughly the last 40 years of my life working with the most violent of people our society produces: murderers, rapists and so on. In an attempt to understand what causes this violence, I discovered that the most violent of the criminals in our prisons had themselves been victims of a degree of child abuse that was beyond the scale of what I ever thought of applying the term child abuse to. I had no idea of the depth of the depravity with which children in our society are all too often treated.
The most violent people I saw were themselves the survivors of their own attempted murder often at the hands of their parents or other people in their social environment or were the survivors of family members who had been killed- their closest family members- by other people.
Dr Gabor Mate: The Buddha argued that everything depends on everything else. He says ‘The one contains the many and the many contains the one. ‘That you can’t understand anything in isolation from its environment.’ The leaf contains the sun, the sky and the earth, obviously. This has now been shown to be true, of course all around and specifically when it comes to human development. The modern scientific term for it is the “bio-psycho-social” nature of human development, which says that the biology of human beings depends very much on their interaction with the social and psychological environment.
And specifically, the psychiatrist and researcher Daniel Siegel at the University of California, Los Angeles, UCLA has coined a phrase “Interpersonal Neurobiology”, which means to say that the way that our nervous system functions depends very much on our personal relationships: in the first place with the parenting caregivers, and in the second place with other important attachment figures in our lives and in the third place, with our entire culture. So that you can’t separate the neurological functioning of a human being from the environment in which he or she grew up in and continues to exist in.
And this is true throughout the life cycle. It’s particularly true when you are dependent and helpless when your brain is developing but it’s true even in adults and even at the end of life.
Professor Richard Wilkinson: Human beings have lived in almost every kind of society, from the most egalitarian- hunting and gathering societies seem to have been very egalitarian- for instance based on food sharing, gift exchange…
Dr Robert Sapolsky: Small bands of people living predominately off of foraging and a little bit of hunting, predominantly among people you have at the least, known your entire life if not surrounded by third cousins or closer, in a world in which there is a great deal of fluidity between different groups, in a world which there is not a whole lot in terms of material culture… this is how humans have spent most of their hominid history.
And, no surprise, that makes for a very different world. One of the things you get as a result of that is far less violence. Organized group violence is not something that occurred at that time of human history and that seems quite clear. So where did we go wrong?
Dr. James Gilligan: Violence is not universal. It is not symmetrically distributed throughout the human race. There is a huge variation in the amount of violence in different societies.
There are some societies that have virtually no violence. There are others that destroy themselves! Some of the Anabaptist religious groups that are complete strict pacifists like the Amish, the Mennonites, the Hutterites.
Among some of these groups, the Hutterites, there are no recorded cases of homicide. During our major wars, like World War II where people were being drafted they would refuse to serve in the military. They would go to prison rather than serve in the military.
In the Kibbutzim in Israel the level of violence is so low that the criminal courts there will often send violent offenders – people who have committed crimes- to live on the Kibbutzim in order to learn how to live a non-violent life. Because that’s the way people live there.
Dr Robert Sapolsky: So, we are amply shaped by society. Our societies, in the broader sense, including our theological, our metaphysical, our linguistic influences, etc., our societies help shape us as to whether or not we think life is basically about sin or about beauty; whether the afterlife will carry a price for how we live our lives or if it’s irrelevant.
In a broad sort of way, different large societies could be termed as individualistic or collectivist, and you get very different people and different mindsets and I suspect different brains coming along with that.
We, in America, are in one of the most individualistic of societies, with capitalism being a system that allows you to go higher and higher up a potential pyramid and the deal is that it comes with fewer and fewer safety nets.
By definition, the more stratified a society is, the fewer people you have as peers; the fewer people with whom you have symmetrical, reciprocal relationships and instead, all you have are differing spots and endless hierarchies. A world in which you have few reciprocal partners is a world with a lot less altruism.
So, this brings us to a total impossible juncture, which is to try to make sense in perspective science as to what that nature is of human nature. You know, on a certain level the nature of our nature is not to be particularly constrained by our nature. We come up with more social variability than any species out there. More systems of belief, of styles, of family structures, of ways of raising children. The capacity for variety that we have is extraordinary.
Dr Gabor Mate: In a society which is predicated on competition and really, very often, the ruthless exploitation of one human being by another – the profiteering off of other people’s problems and very often the creation of problems for the purpose of profiteering – the ruling ideology, will very often justify that behaviour by appeals to some fundamental and unalterable human nature.
So the myth in our society is that people are competitive by nature and that they are individualistic and that they’re selfish. The real reality is quite the opposite. We have certain human needs. The only way that you can talk about human nature concretely is by recognizing that there are certain human needs. We have a human need for companionship and for close contact, to be loved, to be attached to, to be accepted, to be seen, to be received for who we are. If those needs are met, we develop into people who are compassionate and cooperative and who have empathy for other people.
So… the opposite, that we often see in our society, is in fact, a distortion of human nature precisely because so few people have their needs met. So, yes you can talk about human nature but only in the sense of basic human needs that are instinctively evoked or I should say, certain human needs that lead to certain traits if they are met and a different set of traits if they are denied.
Narrator: So… when we recognize the fact that the human organism, which has a great deal of adaptive flexibility allowing us to survive in many different conditions, is also rigidly programmed for certain environmental requirements or human needs, a social imperative begins to emerge. Just as our bodies require physical nutrients, the human brain demands positive forms of environmental stimulus at all stages of development, while also needing to be protected from other negative forms of stimulus.
And if things that should happen, do not… or if things that shouldn’t happen, do… it is now apparent that the door can be opened for not only a cascade of mental and physical diseases but many detrimental human behaviours as well.
So, as we turn our perspective now outward and take account for the state of affairs today, we must ask the question: Is the condition we have created in the modern world actually supporting our health? Is the bedrock of our socioeconomic system acting as a positive force for human and social development and progress?
Or, is the foundational gravitation of our society actually going against the core evolutionary requirements needed to create and maintain our personal and social well-being?
Part II: Social Pathology
Dr John McMurtry – professor Emeritus university of Guelph: So, one might ask where did this all begin? what we have today… really a world in a state of cumulative collapse.
You get it started with John Locke. And John Locke introduces property. He has three provisos for just private right and property. And the three provisos are: There must be enough left over for others and that you must not let it spoil and that you, most of all, must mix your labour with it. It seems justified – you mix your labour with the world then you are entitled to the product. And as long as there’s enough left over for others and as long as it doesn’t spoil and you don’t allow anything to go to waste then that’s okay.
He spends a long time on his famous Treatises of Government and it’s since been the canonical text for economic and political and legal understanding. It is still the classic text that’s studied.
Well, after he gives the provisos and you’re almost thinking at the time whether you are for private property or not – he has given a very good and plausible and powerful defence of private property here. Well, he drops them! He drops them like that. Right in one sentence. He says: “Well, once the introduction of money came in by men’s tacit consent…” then it became and he doesn’t say – all the provisos are cancelled, or erased, but that’s what happens!
So, now we have not product and your property earned by your own labour, oh no- money buys labour now. There is no longer consideration whether there is enough left over for others; there is no longer consideration of whether it spoils, because he says money is like silver and gold and gold can’t spoil, therefore money can’t be responsible for waste, which is ridiculous. We are not talking about money and silver, we are talking about what its effects are. It’s one non sequitur after another. Just the most startling logical legerdemain that he gets away with here. But it fits the interests of capital owners.
Then Adam Smith comes along and what he adds, is the religion to this Locke started with ‘God made it all this way – this is God’s right… And now we get also with Smith saying ‘it’s not only God’s…’ Well, he’s not actually saying this but this is what’s happening philosophically, in principle – he’s saying that ‘it is not only a question of private property…’ That’s all now ‘presupposed’- It’s Given! And that there’s ‘money investors that buy labour’ – Given! There’s no limit to how much they can buy of other men’s labour, how much they can accumulate, how much ‘inequality’- that’s all given now. And so he comes along and what his big idea is- and again it’s just introduced in parentheses, in passing… You know, when people put out goods for sale, the supply – and other people buy them, the demand and so forth, how do we have supply equalling demand or demand equalling supply?
How can they come into equilibrium? And that is one of the central notions of economics, is how do they come into equilibrium. And he says: it’s the “Invisible Hand of the Market” that brings them into equilibrium. So, now we have “God is actually imminent”. He just didn’t give the rights to property and all its wherewithal and its “natural rights” regarding what Locke said, now we have the system itself AS “God”.
In fact, Smith says, when he talks and you’ll never find this quote, and you have to read the whole of the Inquiry into the Wealth of Nations to find it. He says: ‘the scantiness of subsistence sets limits to the reproduction of the poor and that nature can deal with this in no other way than elimination of their children.’
So he anticipated evolutionary theory in the worst sense… this is well before Darwin. And so he called them the ‘Race of Labourers’. So you can see: there was inherent racism built in here, there was an inherent life blindness to kill innumerable children. And he thought: ‘That’s the Invisible Hand making supply meet demand and demand meet supply.’ So, see- how wise “God” is? So you can see a lot of the really virulent life destructive, eco-genocidal things that are going on now have, in a way, a ‘thought gene’ back in Smith too.
Narrator: When we reflect on the original concept of the so-called free market capitalist system as initiated by early economic philosophers such as Adam Smith we see that the original intent of a “market” was based around real, tangible, life supporting goods for trade. Adam Smith never fathomed that the most profitable economic sector on the planet would eventually be in the arena of financial trading or so-called investment, where money itself is simply, gained by the movement of other money in an arbitrary game, which holds zero productive merit to society. Yet, regardless of Smith’s intent the door for such seemingly anomalous advents was left wide open by one fundamental tenet of this theory: Money is treated as a Commodity, in and of itself.
Today, in every economy of the world regardless of the social system they claim money is pursued for the sake of money and nothing else.
The underlying idea, which was mysteriously qualified by Adam Smith, with his religious declaration of the ‘Invisible Hand’, is that the narrow, self-interested pursuit of this fictional commodity will somehow magically manifest human and social well-being and progress.
The reality is that the monetary incentive ‘interest’ or what some have termed the “Money Sequence of Value” has now completely decoupled from the foundational ‘life interest’, which could be termed the “Life Sequence of Value”.
Dr John McMurtry: What has happened is that there is a complete confusion in economic doctrine between those two sequences. They think that the Money Sequence of Value delivers the Life Sequence of Value. And that’s why they say if more goods are sold, if GDPs rise and so forth… there would be more enhanced wellbeing and we could take the GDP as being our basic layer indicator of social health.
Well, there you see the confusion. It’s talking about Money Sequences of Value- that is, all the receipts and all the revenues that are derived from selling goods- and they’re confusing that with life reproduction. So, you have built right into this thing from the beginning a complete conflation of the money and life sequences of value. So, we are dealing with a kind of structured delusion, which becomes more and more deadly as the money sequence decouples from producing anything at all. So it’s a system disorder. And the system disorder seems to be fatal.
Welcome to the Machine
Narrator: In society today, you seldom hear anyone speak of the progress of their country or society in terms of their physical wellbeing, state of happiness, trust or social stability. Rather, the measures are presented to us through economic abstractions. We have the gross domestic product, the consumer price index, the value of the stock market, rates of inflation, and so on.
But does this tell us anything of real value as to the quality of peoples’ lives? No. All of these measures have to do with the money sequence itself and nothing more.
For example, the Gross Domestic Product of a country is a measure of the value of goods and services sold. This measure is claimed to correlate to the “standard of living” of a country’s people. In the United States health care accounted for over 17% of GDP in 2009 amounting to over $2.5 trillion spent, hence creating a positive effect on this economic measure. And, based on this logic it would be even better for the US economy, if health care services increased more so, perhaps to $3 trillion or 5 trillion, since that would create more growth, more jobs and hence boasted by economists as a rise in their country’s standard of living.
But- … wait a minute. What do health care services actually represent? Well, SICK AND DYING PEOPLE. That’s right: the more unhealthy people there are in America the better the economy. Now, that is not an exaggeration or a cynical perspective. In fact, if we step back far enough you will realize that the GDP not only doesn’t reflect real public or social health on any tangible level, it is, in fact, mostly a measure of industrial inefficiency and social degradation. And the more you see it rise, the worse things are becoming with respect to personal, social and environmental integrity.
Michael C. Ruppert – investigative Journalist: You have to create problems to create profit. There is no profit under the current paradigm in saving lives, putting balance on this planet, having justice and peace or anything else. There is just no profit there. There’s an old saying: ‘Pass a law and create a business.’ Whether you are creating a business for a lawyer or whatever. So, crime does create business just like destruction creates business in Haiti.
We have now roughly 2 million people incarcerated in this country (USA) and of those many are in prisons run by private corporations: Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut, who trade their stock on Wall Street based upon how many people are in jail. Now that’s sickness! But that is a reflection of what this economic paradigm calls for.
Narrator: So what exactly does this economic paradigm call for? What is it that keeps our economic system going? Consumption. Or more accurately – Cyclical Consumption. When we break down the foundation of classic market economics, we are left with a pattern of monetary exchange that simply cannot be allowed to stop or even substantially slowed if the society as we know it is to remain operational.
There are three main actors on the economic stage: the employee, the employer and the consumer. The employee sells labour to the employer for income. The employer sells its production services and hence goods, to the consumer for income. And the consumer, of course, is simply another role of the employer and employee, spending back into the system to enable the cyclical consumption to continue.
In other words, the global market system is based on the assumption that there will always be enough product demand in a society to move enough money around at a rate, which can keep the consumption process going. And the faster the rate of consumption the more so-called economic growth is assumed and so the machine goes…
But, hold on – I thought an economy was meant to, I don’t know… “Economize”? Doesn’t the very term have to do with preservation and efficiency and a reduction of waste? So how does our system, which demands consumption and the more the better, efficiently preserve or “Economize” at all? Well… it doesn’t.
The intent of the market system is, in fact, the exact opposite of what a real economy is supposed to do, which is efficiently and conservatively orient the materials for production and distribution of life supporting goods. We live on a finite planet with finite resources where, for example, the oil we utilize took millions of years to develop… where the minerals we use took billions of years to develop.
So…having a system that deliberately promotes the acceleration of consumption for the sake of so-called “economic growth” is pure eco-cidal insanity.
Dr John McMurtry: Absence of waste, that’s what efficiency is. Absence of waste? This system is more wasteful than all the other existing systems in the history of the planet. Every level of life organization and life system is in a state of crisis and challenge and decay or collapse. No peer-reviewed journal in the last 30 years will tell you anything different: that is that every life system is in decline as well as social programs… as well as our water access.
Try to name any means of life that isn’t threatened and endangered. You can’t. There really isn’t one and that’s very very despairing. But we haven’t even figured out the causal mechanism. We don’t want to face the causal mechanism. We just want to go on. You know that’s where insanity is where you keep doing the same thing over and over again even though it clearly doesn’t work. So you’re really dealing with not an economic system but I would go so far as to say an anti-economic system.
Narrator: There is an old saying that the competitive market model seeks to “create the best possible goods at the lowest possible prices”. This statement is essentially the incentive concept, which justifies market competition, based on the assumption, that the result is the production of higher quality goods.
If I was going to build myself a table from scratch I would naturally build it out of the best most durable materials possible, right? With the intent for it to last as long as possible. Why would I want to make something poor knowing I would have to eventually do it again and expend more materials and more energy?
Well, as rational as that may seem in the physical world, when it comes to the market world it is not only explicitly irrational it is not even an option. It is technically impossible to produce the best of anything if a company is to maintain a competitive edge and hence remain affordable to the consumer. Literally everything created and set for sale in the global economy is immediately inferior the moment it is produced, for it is a mathematical impossibility to make the most scientifically advanced efficient and strategically sustainable products.
This is due to the fact that the market system requires that “cost efficiency” or the need to reduce expenses exists at every stage of production. From the cost of labour to the cost of materials and packaging and so on.
This competitive strategy, of course, is to make sure the public buys their goods rather than from a competing producer, which is doing the exact same thing to also make their goods both competitive and affordable. This immutably wasteful consequence of the system could be termed “Intrinsic Obsolescence”.
However, this is only one part of a larger problem. A fundamental governing principle of market economics, one you will not find in any textbook by the way, is the following: “Nothing produced can be allowed to maintain a lifespan longer than what can be endured in order to continue cyclical consumption.”
In other words, it is critical that stuff break down, fail and expire within a certain amount of time. This is termed – “Planned obsolescence”. Planned obsolescence is the backbone of the underlying market strategy of every goods producing corporation in existence. While very few, of course would admit to such a strategy outright, what they do is mask it within the Intrinsic Obsolescence phenomenon just discussed, while often ignoring, or even suppressing new advents in technology, which might create a more sustainable, durable good.
So, if it wasn’t wasteful enough that the system inherently cannot allow the most durable and efficient goods to be produced, Planned Obsolescence deliberately recognizes that the longer any good is in operation the worse it is for sustaining cyclical consumption and hence the market system itself.
In other words, product sustainability is actually inverse to economic growth and hence there is a direct, reinforced incentive to make sure life spans are short of any given good produced. And, in fact, the system cannot operate any other way.
One glance at the sea of landfills now spreading across the world show the obsolescence reality. There are now billions of cheaply made cell phones, computers and other technology each full of precious, difficult to mine materials such as gold, coltan, copper, now rotting in vast piles usually due to the mere malfunction or obsolescence of small parts which, in a conservative society could likely be fixed or updated and the life of the good extended.
Unfortunately, as efficient as that may seem in our physical reality living on a finite planet with finite resources, it is explicitly inefficient with respect to the market.
To put it into a phrase: “Efficiency, Sustainability, and Preservation are the enemies of our economic system.”
Likewise, just as physical goods need to be constantly produced and reproduced regardless of their environmental impact, the service industry operates with an equal rationale. The fact is, there is no monetary benefit to resolving any problems, which are currently being serviced. At the end of the day, the last thing the medical establishment really wants is the curing of diseases such as cancer, which would eliminate countless jobs and trillions in revenue.
And since we are on the subject, crime and terrorism in this system are good! Well, at least economically. For it is employing police, generating high-value commodities for security, not to mention the value of prisons that are privately owned – for profit.
And how about war? The war industry in America is a huge driver of GDP – one of the most profitable industries- producing weapons of death and destruction. The favourite game of this industry is to blow things up and then go and rebuild them! For profit. We saw this with the windfall billion dollar contracts made from the Iraq war.
The bottom line is that socially negative attributes of society, have become positively rewarded ventures for industry. And any interest in problem resolution or environmental sustainability and conservation is intrinsically counter to economic sustainability.
And this is why every time you see the GDP rise in any country you are witnessing an increase in necessity whether real or contrived. And by definition, a necessity is rooted in inefficiency. Hence, increased necessity – means increased inefficiency.
Value System Disorder
Michael C. Ruppert: The American dream is based on rampant consumerism. It is based upon the fact that mainstream media and especially commercial advertising – all corporations who need this infinite growth- have convinced us or brainwashed most people in America and hence the world that we have to have X number of material possessions and the possibility of gaining infinitely more material possessions, in order to be happy. That’s just not true.
Dr John McMurtry: So why do people continue to buy in this way which is ultimately eco-genocidal in its systemic effects cumulatively? And it just is classical operand conditioning. You simply put inputs of conditioning into the organism and you have outputs of desired behaviours or goals or objectives. And it has all the resources of technology. And they boast about how they get into the minds of infants; what they hear is already making them conditioned to the brand. Then you see, that’s how people have been such fools. In a way, they have been taught to be fools. It’s a value system disorder.
Narrator: You know, if there is any testament to the plasticity of the human mind; if there is any proof to how malleable human thought is and how easily conditioned and guided people can become based on the nature of their environmental stimulus and what it reinforces: the world of commercial advertising is the proof.
You have to stand in awe at the level of brainwashing where these programmed robots known as “consumers” wander the landscape only to walk into a store and spend, say- $4000 on a handbag that likely cost $10 to make in a sweatshop overseas. Only for the brand status it supposedly represents in the culture. Or perhaps the ancient communal traditions, which increase trust and cohesiveness in society – which have now been hijacked by acquisitive, materialistic values where now annually we exchange useless crap a few times a year.
And we might wonder why so many today have a compulsion to shopping and acquisition, when it is clear that they have conditioned from childhood to expect material goods as a sign of their status with friends and family.
The fact is, the foundation of any society, are the values that support its operation. And our society, as it exists can only operate if our values support the conspicuous consumption it requires to continue the market system.
75 years ago consumption in America and much of the first world was half of what we see today, per person. Today’s new consumer culture has been manufactured and imposed due to the very real need for higher and higher levels of consumption. And this is why most corporations now spend more money on advertising than the actual process of product creation itself. They work diligently to create a false need for you to fill. And it happens to work.
Dr John McMurtry: You know economists, in fact, are not economists at all. They’re propagandists of money value. And you will find that all of their models basically get down to token exchanges that are true to profit of one side or both sides or whatever. But they are completely disconnected from the actually existing world of reproduction.
Old footage of a young man asking Milton Friedman: In Ohio, an old man failed to pay his electric bill; you may be familiar with the case. And the electric company turned off the electricity and he died. The reason they turned it off was because it wouldn’t have been profitable for them to keep it on because he didn’t pay his bill. Do you believe that was right?
Milton Friedman: The responsibility really lies not on the electric company for turning it off but on those of this man’s neighbours and friends and associates who were not charitable enough to enable him, as an individual to meet the electric bill.
Narrator: HMMMMMM… Did I hear that right? Did he just say the death of a man caused by not having money was the responsibility of… other people… or, in effect, charity? Well then, I guess we’re gonna need a whole lot of infomercials, little miserable coin slot donations for bodega counters and a bunch of pickle jars for the billion people now starving to death on this planet because of the very system Milton Friedman promotes.
Whether you are dealing with the philosophies of Milton Friedman, F.A. Hyack, John Maynard Keynes, Ludwig von Mises or any other major market economist the basis of rationale rarely leaves the money sequence. It is like a religion. Consumption analysis, stabilization policies, deficit spending, aggregate demand… it exists as a never ending, self-referring self-rationalizing circle of discourse where universal human need, natural resources and any form of physical life supporting efficiency is ruled out by default, and replaced by the singular notion that humans seeking advantage over each other for money alone, motivated by their own, narrow self-interest, will magically create a sustainable, healthy, balanced society.
Dr John McMurtry: There is no life coordinate in this whole theory, this whole doctrine. What are they doing? What are they doing? What they are doing is tracking the money sequences. That’s all it is, is tracking money sequences presupposing everything that matters:
One: There is no life coordinates… Whoa- … no life coordinates! Two: That all the agents are self-maximizing preferences seekers.
That is, they think of nothing other than themselves and what they can get most for themselves. That’s the ruling notion of rationality: self-maximizing choice. And the only thing that they are interested in self-maximizing is money or commodities.
Well, where does social relations come in? It doesn’t, except in the exchange to self-maximize. Where do our natural resources come in? They don’t, except to exploit. Where does the family come in as being able to survive? It doesn’t. They have to have money in order to purchase any good.
Well, shouldn’t an economy deal somewhere with human need? Isn’t that what the fundamental issue is: to satisfy human needs? Oh, “need” isn’t even in your lexicon. You dissolve it into “wants”. And what is a want? That means money demand that wants to buy. Well, if it’s money demand that wants to buy it has nothing to do with need because maybe the person has no money demand and desperately needs, say, water supply. Or, it may be money demand wants a gold toilet seat. Well, where does it all go? To the gold toilet seat. And you call this economics? Really, when one thinks of it, it’s got to be the most bizarre delusion in the history of human thought!
Narrator: Now- so far we have focused on the market system. But this system is actually only half of the global economic paradigm. The other half is the “Monetary System”.
While the Market System deals with the interaction of people gaming for profit across the spectrum of labour, production and distribution, the Monetary System is an underlying set of policies set by financial institutions which create conditions for the market system, among other things. It includes terms we often hear such as interest rates, loans, debt, the money supply, inflation, etc. And while you might want to pull your hair out listening to the gibberish coming from the monetary economists:
Greenspan: “Modest pre-emptive actions, can obviate the need of more drastic actions, at a later date.”
Narrator: The nature and effect of this system is actually quite simple:
Michael C. Ruppert: Our economy has – or the global economy has three basic things that govern it:
One is fractional reserve banking – the banks printing money out of nothing.
[2nd] It’s also based upon compound interest. When you borrow money, you have to pay back more than you borrowed which means that you, in effect, create money out of thin air, again which has to be serviced by creating still more money.
[3rd] We live in an infinite growth paradigm. The economic paradigm we live in now is a Ponzi scheme. Nothing grows forever. It’s not possible. As a great psychologist James Hillman wrote: “The only thing that grows in the human body after a certain age is cancer.”
It’s not just the amount of money that has to keep growing it’s the amount of consumers. Consumers to borrow money at interest to generate more money and obviously, that’s not possible on a finite planet.
People are basically vehicles to just create money, which must create more money to keep the whole thing from falling apart, which is what’s happening right now.
Narrator: There are really only two things anyone needs to know about the monetary system:
1: All money is created out of debt. Money is monetized debt whether it materialized from treasury bonds, home loan contracts or credit cards. In other words, if all outstanding debt was to be repaid right now, there would not be one dollar in circulation.
And 2: Interest is charged on virtually all loans made, and the money needed to pay back this interest does not exist in the money supply outright. Only the principal is created by the loans and the principal is the money supply. So, if all this debt was to be repaid right now, not only would there not be one dollar left in circulation, there would be a gigantic amount of money owed that is literally impossible to pay back, for it does not exist.
The consequence of all of this is that two things are inevitable: Inflation and Bankruptcy. As far as inflation, this can be seen as a historical trend in virtually every country today, and easily tied to its cause, which is the perpetual increase of the money supply, which is required to cover the interest charges and keep the system going.
As far as Bankruptcy, it comes in the form of debt collapse. This collapse will inevitably occur with a person, a business or a country and typically happens when the interest payments are no longer possible to make.
But there is a bright side to all of this… well, at least in terms of the market system. Because debt creates pressure. Debt creates wage slaves. A person in debt is much more likely to take a low wage than a person who isn’t, hence becoming a cheap commodity. So it’s great for corporations to have a pool of people that have no financial mobility. But hey – that same idea also goes for entire countries.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which mostly serve as proxies for transnational corporate interests, give gigantic loans to troubled countries at very high interest rates. And then, once the countries are deeply in the hole and can’t pay, austerity measures are applied, the corporations swoop in, set up sweatshops and take their natural resources. Now that’s market efficiency.
But wait – there’s more: You see, there’s this unique hybrid of the monetary and market system called the stock market. Which rather than, you know, actually produce anything real, they just buy and sell money itself.
And when it comes to debt, you know what they do? That’s right- they trade it! They actually buy and sell debt for profit. From credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations for consumer debt, to complex derivative schemes used to mask the debt of entire countries, such as the collusion of investment bank Goldman Sachs and Greece, which nearly collapsed the entire European economy.
So when it comes to the stock market and Wall Street, we have an entirely new level of insanity born out of the Money Sequence of Value.
Max Keiser – Financial Analyst: All you need to know about markets was written in an editorial in the Wall Street Journal a couple years ago. It was called “Lessons of the Brain-Damaged Investor”. And in this editorial, they explained why people with slight brain damage do better as investors, than people with normal brain functionality.
Why? Because the ‘slightly brain damaged’ person, has no empathy. That’s the key. If you don’t have any empathy, you do well as an investor. And so Wall Street breeds people who have no empathy. To go in there and to make decisions and to make trades they have no compunction about and no thought whatsoever as to how what they are doing might affect their fellow human being.
So they breed these robots. These people who have no souls. And since they don’t even want to pay these people anymore- they are now breeding robots – real robots – real algorithmic traders.
Goldman Sachs in the high frequency trading scandal: They put a computer next to the New York Stock Exchange. This computer, this “co-located” computer, as they call it: it front-runs all the trades on the exchange and hits the exchange with volumes of orders in ways that “scalp” pennies and nickels away from the exchange. It’s like they’re siphoning money all day long. They went one quarter last year 30 or 60 straight days without a single down day and made millions of dollars every single day? That’s statistically impossible!
When I worked on Wall Street, the way it works is everyone kicks upstairs to bribes. The brokers bribe to the office manager, the office manager bribes to the regional sales manager, the regional sales manager bribes to the national sales manager. It’s a common understanding.
At Christmas, who gets the biggest bonus at Christmas in an average broker job? The compliance officer. The compliance officer sits there all day long; he’s supposed to be making sure you don’t violate any of the margin rules and you’re “complying” with the law. Of course, yeah, to the extent that you can bribe the compliance officer – yeah, that’s right, you are complying with the law!
So how has fraud become the system? It’s no longer a by-product. It is the system.
It’s like that old Woody Allen joke. He says: “Doctor, my brother thinks he’s a chicken.” And the doctor says, “Take a pill and that should cure the problem.” And he says, “No doctor. You don’t understand. We need the eggs.” Okay?
So … the trading of fraudulent claims back and forth between banks, to generate fees, to generate bonuses, has become the GDP-producing growth engine of the United States economy, even though they are essentially trading fraudulent claims that there is absolutely no hope of ever paying back.
They are processing, generating and re-securitizing nothing. If I write $20 billion on a cocktail napkin and I sell it to J.P. Morgan and J.P. Morgan writes $20 billion on a cocktail napkin and we swap those two cocktail napkins at a bar, and we each pay ourselves a quarter of 1% in a fee, we make a lot of money for our Christmas bonus. We each have on our books a $20 billion cocktail napkin, which has no real value, until such time as the system is no longer able to absorb bogus cocktail napkins, in which case we go to the government to get bailed out.”
Narrator: And because of Wall Street and the global stock market there are now conservatively about 700 trillion dollars of outstanding fraudulent claims, known as derivatives, still waiting to collapse. A value amounting to over 10 times the gross domestic product of the entire planet.
And while we have seen the bailouts of corporations and banks by governments, which, of course, comically borrow their money from banks to begin with, we are now seeing attempts to bailout whole countries by conglomerates of other countries through the International banks.
But how do you bailout a planet? There is no country out there that isn’t now saturated in debt. The cascade of sovereign debt defaults we have seen can only be the beginning, when the math is taken into account. It has been estimated in the United States alone that income tax would need to be raised to 65% per person just to cover the interest in the near future. Economists are now foreshadowing that within a few decades 60% of the countries on the planet will be bankrupt.
But hold on. Let me get this straight. The world is going “bankrupt” whatever the hell that means because of this idea called “debt” which doesn’t even exist in the physical reality. It’s only part of a game we’ve invented… and yet the well being of billions of people is now being compromised. Extreme layoffs, tent cities, accelerating poverty, austerity measures imposed, schools shutting down, child hunger and other levels of familial deprivation all because of this elaborate fiction…
What are we, fucking stupid?!
Animation: Hey! Hey! Mars- my man! Help a brother out, uh? Grow up, kid! Saturn! What’s up man? You remember that smokin’ nebula I hooked you up with a while back? Uh – listen Earth. We’re getting really tired of you. You’ve been given everything and yet you waste it all. You’ve got plenty of resources and you know it. Why don’t you grow up and learn some responsibility for Christ’s sake! You’re making your mother miserable. You’re on your own, pal. Yeah, whatever…
Narrator: Now, all of this considered from the waste machine known as the market system to the debt machine known as the monetary system, hence creating the monetary/market paradigm, which defines the global economy today – there is one consequence that runs through the entire machine: Inequality.
Whether it is the market system which creates a natural gravitation towards monopoly and power consolidation while also generating pockets of wealthy industries that tower over others regardless of utility – such as the fact that top hedge fund managers on Wall Street, now take home over $300 million a year for contributing literally nothing, while a scientist looking for a cure for a disease trying to help humanity might make $60,000 a year if they’re lucky. Or whether it is the monetary system, which has class division built right into its structure.
For example: If I have $1 million to spare and I put it into a CD at 4% interest, I will make $40,000 a year. No social contribution- no nothing. However, if I’m a lower class person and have to take loans to buy my car or home, I am paying in interest which in abstraction is going to pay that millionaire with the 4% CD.
This stealing from the poor to pay the rich is a foundational, built-in aspect of the monetary system and it could be labelled “Structural Classism”. Of course, historically, social stratification has always been deemed unfair, but obviously accepted overall, as now 1% of the population owns 40% of the planet’s wealth.
But material fairness aside there is something else going on underneath the surface of inequality causing an incredible deterioration in public health as a whole.
Professor Richard Wilkinson: Well, I think people often are puzzled by the contrast between the material success of our societies – unprecedented levels of wealth – and the many social failings. If you look at the rates of drug abuse or violence or self-harm amongst kids or mental illness there is clearly something going deeply wrong with our societies.
The data I have been describing simply shows that intuition that people have had for hundreds of years: that inequality is divisive and socially corrosive. But that intuition is truer than I think we ever imagined.
There are very powerful psychological and social effects of inequality. More to do I suppose with feelings of superiority and inferiority. That kind of division… Maybe going with the respect or disrespect; people feeling looked down on at the bottom. Which, by the way, is why violence is more common in more unequal societies – the trigger to violence is so often people feeling looked down upon and disrespected.
Dr. James Gilligan: If there is one principle I could emphasize that is, the most important principle underlying the prevention of violence it would be “Equality”. The single most significant factor that affects the rate of violence, is the degree of equality versus the degree of inequality in that society.
Professor Richard Wilkinson: So, what we’re looking at is a sort of general social dysfunction. It’s not just one or two things that go wrong as inequality increases. It seems to be everything, whether we are talking about crime or health or mental illness or whatever.
Dr Robert Sapolsky: One of the really disturbing findings out there in public health is: Never ever make the mistake of being poor. Or being born poor. Your health pays for it in endless sorts of ways: something known as the ‘health socioeconomic gradient’. As you move down from the highest strata in society in terms of socioeconomic status, every step down, health gets worse for umpteen different diseases. Life expectancy gets worse. Infant mortality rate- everything you could look at.
So, a huge issue has been: why is it that this gradient exists? A totally simple obvious answer which is ‘If you’re chronically sick, you’re not going to be very productive, so health causes drive socioeconomic differences.’ Not that in the slightest – on the very simple level that you could look at the socioeconomic status of a 10-year-old and that’s going to predict something about their health decades later. So, that’s the direction of causality.
Next one; What ‘s it about? ‘Oh, it’s perfectly obvious: poor people can’t afford to go to the doctor; it’s healthcare access.’ It’s got nothing to do with that, because you see these same gradients, in countries with universal health care and socialized medicine.
Okay – next ‘simple explanation’: ‘Oh – on the average- the poorer you are the more likely you are to smoke, to drink and all sorts of lifestyle risk factors.’ Yeah, those contribute but careful studies have shown that it explains maybe about a third of the variability.
So what’s left? What’s left is having a ton to do with the stress of poverty. So, the poorer you are- starting off being the person who is one dollar of income behind Bill Gates- the poorer you are in this country on the average, the worse your health is. This tells us something really important: the health connection with poverty it’s not about being poor, it’s about feeling poor.
Professor Richard Wilkinson: Increasingly we recognize that chronic stress is an important influence on health. But the most important sources of stress are the quality of social relations.
Narrator: And if there is anything that lowers the quality of social relations, it is the socioeconomic stratification of society. What science has now shown is that regardless of material wealth, the stress of simply living in a stratified society leads to a vast spectrum of public health problems. And the greater the inequality, the worse they become.
Life expectancy: longer in more equal countries. Drug Abuse: Less in more equal countries. Mental Illness: Less in more equal countries. Social Capital – meaning the ability of people to trust each other: Naturally greater in more equal countries. Educational Scores: Higher in more equal countries. Homicide rates: less in more equal countries. Crime and Rates of Imprisonment: Less in more equal countries. It goes on and on: Infant mortality – obesity – teen birth rate: Less in more equal countries and perhaps most interesting: Innovation: Greater in more equal countries, which challenges the age-old notion that a competitive stratified society is somehow more creative and inventive.
Moreover, a study done in the UK called The White Hall Study confirmed that there is a social distribution of disease as you go from the top of the socioeconomic ladder to the bottom.
For example, it was found that the lowest rungs of the hierarchy had a 4-fold increase of heart disease based mortality, compared to the highest rungs. And this pattern exists, irrespective of access to health care. Hence, the worse a person’s relative financial status, the worse their health is going to be on average.
This phenomenon is rooted in what could be termed ‘Psychosocial Stress’ and it is at the foundation of the greatest social distortions plaguing our society today. Its cause? The Monetary Market System.
Make no mistake: The greatest destroyer of ecology, the greatest source of waste, depletion and pollution, the greatest purveyor of violence- war – crime – poverty – animal abuse and inhumanity, the greatest generator of social and personal neurosis, mental disorders – depression, anxiety, not to mention, the greatest source of social paralysis stopping us from moving into new methodologies for personal health, global sustainability and progress on this planet, is not some corrupt government or legislation, not some rogue corporation or banking cartel, not some flaw of human nature, and not some secret hidden cabal that controls the world.
It is, in fact: The Socio-Economic System itself at its very foundation.
Part 3: Project Earth
Let’s imagine for a moment we had the option to redesign human civilization from the ground up. What if – hypothetically speaking, we discovered an exact replica of the planet Earth and the only difference between this new planet and our current one is that human evolution had not occurred. It was an open palette. . No countries, no cities, no pollution, no republicans… just a pristine, open environment.
So – what would we do? Well, first we need a “goal”, right? And it’s safe to say that goal would be to survive. And not to just survive, but to do so in an optimized, healthy, prosperous way. Most people, indeed, desire to live and they would prefer to do so without suffering. Therefore, the basis of this civilization needs to be as supportive and hence sustainable for human life as possible, taking into account the material needs of all the world’s people, while trying to remove anything that can could hurt us in the long run.
With that goal of “Maximum Sustainability” understood the next question regards our “method”. What kind of approach do we take? Well, let’s see- last I checked, politics was the method of social operation on Earth, so what do the doctrines of the republicans, liberals, conservatives or socialists have to say about societal design? Hmmm… not a damn thing.
Okay then – what about religion? Surely the great creator had to have left some blueprints somewhere… Nope, nothing I can find. Okay then- so what’s left? It appears something called “Science”.
Science is unique in that its methods demand not only that ideas proposed be tested and replicated, but everything science comes up with is also inherently falsifiable. In other words, unlike religion and politics, science has no ego and everything it suggests accepts the possibility of being proven wrong eventually. It holds on to nothing and evolves constantly.
Well, that sounds natural enough to me. So then: based on the current state of scientific knowledge in the early 21st century along with our goal of “maximum sustainability” for the human population, how do we begin the actual process of construction?
Well, the first question to ask is: What do we need to survive? The answer of course, are Planetary Resources. Whether it is the water we drink, the energy we use or the raw materials we utilize to create tools and shelter, the planet hosts an inventory of resources- many of which are demanded for our survival.
So, given that reality it then becomes critical to figure out what we have and where it is. This means we need to conduct a survey. We simply locate and identify every physical resource on the planet we can, along with the amount available at each location. From the deposits of copper, to the most potent locations for wind farms to produce energy, to the natural fresh water springs to an assessment of the amount of fish in the ocean to the most prime arable land for food cultivation, etc.
But, since we humans are going to be consuming these resources over time we then realize that not only do we need to locate and identify – we also need to track. We need to make sure we don’t run out of any of this stuff; that would be bad. And this means not only tracking our rates of use but the rates of earthly regeneration as well such as how long it takes for say, a tree to grow or a spring to replenish. This is called “Dynamic Equilibrium”. In other words, if we use up trees faster than they can be grown back, we have a serious problem, for it is unsustainable.
So then, how do we track this inventory especially when we recognize that all of this stuff is scattered everywhere? We have large mineral mines in what we call Africa, energy concentrations in the Middle East, huge tidal power possibilities on the Atlantic coast of North America, the largest supply of fresh water in Brazil, etc.
Well, once again, good old science has a suggestion: It’s called “Systems theory”. Systems theory recognizes that the fabric of the natural world, from human biology to the earthly biosphere to the gravitational pull of the solar system itself, is one huge synergistically connected system – fully interlinked. Just as human cells connect to form our organs and the organs connect to form our bodies and since our bodies cannot live without the earthy resources of food, air and water, we are intrinsically connected to the earth. And so on.
So, as nature suggests, we take all of this inventory and tracking data, and create a “system” to manage it. A “Global Resource Management System”, in fact to account for every relevant resource on the planet. There is simply no logical alternative, if our goal as a species is survival in the long run. We have to keep track as a whole.
That understood, we can now consider production. How do we use all this stuff? What will our process of production be, and what do we need to consider to make sure it is as optimized as possible, to maximize our sustainability? Well, the first thing that jumps right out at us, is the fact that we need to constantly try and preserve. The planet’s resources are essentially finite. So it is important that we be “strategic”. “Strategic Preservation” is key.
The second thing we recognise, is that some resources are really not as good as others in their performance. In fact, some of this stuff when put into use has a terrible effect on the environment, which invariably hinders our own health. For example: oil and fossil fuels, no matter how you cut it, release some pretty destructive agents into the environment. Therefore, it is critical we do our best to use such things only when we really have to- if at all. Fortunately for us, we see a ton of solar – wind – tidal – wave – heat differential and geothermal possibilities for energy production. So we can strategize objectively, about what we use and where, to avoid what could be called “negative retroactions”, or anything that results from production or use that damages the environment and hence, ourselves. We will call this “Strategic Safety” to couple in with our “Strategic Preservation”.
But production strategies do not stop there. We are going to need an “Efficiency Strategy”, for the actual mechanics of production itself. And what we find is that there are roughly three specific protocols we must adhere to:
1: Every good we produce must be designed to last as long as possible. Naturally, the more things break down, the more resources we are going to need to replace them, and the more waste produced.
2: When things do break down, or are no longer usable for whatever reason, it is critical that we harvest, or recycle as much as we possibly can. So the production design must take this into account directly at the very earliest stages.
3: Quickly evolving technologies, such as electronics, which are subject to the fastest rates of technological obsolescence, would need to be designed to foreshadow and accommodate physical updates. The last thing we want to do is throw away an entire computer system just because it has only one broken part, or is outdated. So we simply design the components to be easily updated, part by part, standardized and universally interchangeable, foreshadowed by the current trend of technological change.
And when we realize that the mechanisms of “Strategic Preservation”, “Strategic Safety” and “Strategic Efficiency” are purely technical considerations devoid of any human opinion or bias, we simply program these strategies into a computer which can weigh and calculate all the relevant variables, allowing us to always arrive at the absolute best method for sustainable production based on current understandings.
And while that might sound complex all it is, is a glorified calculator, not to mention that such multi-varied decision making and monitoring systems, are already used across the world today for isolated purposes. It is simply a process of scaling it out.
So… Now, we not only have our Resource Management System, but also a Production Management System, both of which are easily computer automated to maximize efficiency, preservation and safety. The informational reality is that the human mind or even a group of humans, cannot track what needs to be tracked. It must be done by computers, and it can be.
And this bring us to the next level: Distribution. What sustainability strategies make sense here? Well, since we know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, and since energy is required to power transport machines, the less transport distance, the more efficient. Producing goods in one continent and shipping them over to another only makes sense if the goods in question simply cannot be produced in the target area. Otherwise, it is nothing but wasteful. We must localize production, so distribution is simple, fast, and requires the least amount of energy. We’ll call this the “Proximity Strategy”, which simply means we reduce the travel of goods as much as possible whether raw materials or finished consumer products.
Of course, it might also be important to know what goods we are transporting and why. And this falls under the category of Demand. And demand is simply what people need to be healthy and to have a high quality of life.
The spectrum of material human needs range from core life supporting necessities such as food, clean water and shelter, to social and recreational goods which allow for relaxation and personal, social enjoyment: both important factors in human and social health overall. So, very simply, we take another survey.
People describe their needs, demand is assessed, and production begins based on that demand. And since the level of demand of different goods will naturally fluctuate and change around different regions, we need to create a “Demand / Distribution Tracking System” so to avoid overruns and shortages.
Of course, this idea is old news; it is used in every major store chain today to make sure they keep up with their inventory. Only this time, we are tracking on a global scale.
But, wait a minute. We really can’t fully understand demand if we don’t account for the actual usage of the good itself. Is it logical and sustainable for every single human to say, have one of everything made? Regardless of their usage? No. That would be simply wasteful and inefficient. If a person has a need for a good but that need is only for say, 45 minutes a day on average, it would be much more efficient. if that good was made available to them and to others when needed.
Many forget that it isn’t the good that they want, it is the purpose of that good. When we realize that the good itself is only as important as its utility, we see that “external restriction”, or what we might call today “ownership”, is extremely wasteful and environmentally illogical in a fundamental, economic sense.
So, we need to devise a strategy called: “Strategic Access”. This would be the foundation of our “Demand / Distribution Tracking System” which makes sure we can meet the demand of the population’s needs for access of whatever they need, when they need it. And as far as physically obtaining the goods, centralized and regional access centres all make sense for the most part, placed in close proximity to the population and a person would simply come in, take the item, use it and when finished, return it when it is no longer needed… sort of how a library works today. In fact, these centres could not only exist in the community in the way we see local stores today, but specialized access centres would exist in specific areas where often certain goods are utilized, saving more energy with less repeat transport.
And once this Demand Tracking System is in order, it is tied into our Production Management system, and of course, into our Resource Management system. Hence creating a unified, dynamically updating, global economic management machine, that simply makes sure we remain sustainable. Starting with securing the integrity of our finite resources, moving to make sure we only create the best, most strategic goods possible, while distributing everything in the most intelligent and efficient way. And the unique result of this preservation-based approach, which is intuitively counter to many, is that this logical, ground up empirical process of preservation and efficiency – which can only define true human sustainability on this planet – would likely enable something never before seen in human history: Access Abundance. Not just for a percentage of the global population, but the entire civilization.
This economic model, as was just generalized… this responsible, systems approach to total Earth resource management and processes, designed, again, to do nothing less than take care of humanity as a whole in the most efficient and sustainable way, could be termed: a “RESOURCE-BASED ECONOMY”.
The idea was defined in the 1970s by structural engineer Jacque Fresco. He understood back then that society was on a collision course with nature and itself, unsustainable on every level, and if things didn’t change, we would destroy ourselves, one way or another.
1974 footage of filmed interview: Interviewer: Are all of these things you are saying Jacque, could they be built with what we know today? Or, … are you guessing based on what we know today?
Jacque Fresco: No. All of these things can be built with what we know today. It would take 10 years to change the surface of the earth. To rebuild the world into a second Garden of Eden – The choice lies with you. The stupidity of a nuclear arms race, the development of weapons, trying to solve your problems politically by electing this political party or that political party, that all politics is immersed in corruption. Let me say it again: Communism, socialism, fascism, the Democrats, the liberals- we want to absorb human beings … all organizations that believe in a better life for man! There are no Negro problems or Polish problems or Jewish problems or Greek problems or women’s problems – there are human problems! I’m not afraid of anybody, I don’t work for anyone; no one can discharge me. I have no boss. I am afraid to live in the society we live in today. Our society cannot be maintained by this type of incompetency. It was great- the free enterprise system- about 35 years ago. That was the last of its usefulness. Now we have got to change our way of thinking or perish.
Jacque Fresco in his 90’s: The horror movies of the future will be our society- the way it didn’t work- and politics … would be part of a horror movie. Well, lots of people today use the term ‘cold science’ because it’s analytical, and they don’t even know what analytical means. Science means: closer approximations to the way the world really works. So, it’s telling the truth- is what it is. A scientist doesn’t try to get along with people. They tell them what their findings are. They have to question all things. And if some scientist comes up with an experiment that shows certain materials have certain strengths, other scientists have to be able to duplicate that experiment and come up with the same results. Even if a scientist feels that an airplane wing due to mathematics or calculations can hold up a given amount of weight they still pile sandbags on it to see when it breaks, and they say ‘you know my calculations are right’ or ‘they are not correct.’ I love that system because it’s free of bias and free of thinking that math can solve all the problems. You have to put your Math to test also.
I think that every system that can be put to test should be put to test. And that all decisions should be based upon research.”
Narrator: A Resource-Based Economy is simply the scientific method applied to social concern- an approach utterly absent in the world today. Society is a technical invention. And the most efficient methods of optimized human health, physical production, distribution, city infrastructure and the like reside in the field of science and technology- not politics or monetary economics. It operates in the same systematic way as, say an airplane and there is no Republican or Liberal way to build an airplane.
Likewise, nature itself is the physical referent we use to prove our science, and it is a set system- emerging only from our increased understanding of it. In fact, it has no regard for what you subjectively think or believe to be true. Rather, it gives you an option: you can learn and fall in line with its natural laws and conduct yourself accordingly – invariably creating good health and sustainability, or you can go against the current – to no avail.
It doesn’t matter how much you believe you can just stand up right now and walk on the wall next to you; the law of gravity will not allow it. If you do not eat- you will die. If you are not touched as an infant- you will die. As harsh as it may sound, nature is a dictatorship and we can either listen to it and come in harmony with it or suffer the inevitable adverse consequences.
So, a Resource-Based Economy is nothing more than a set of proven, life supporting understandings where all decisions are based upon optimized human and environmental sustainability. It takes into account the empirical “Life Ground” which every human being shares as a need regardless, again, of their political or religious philosophy.
There is no cultural relativism to this approach. It isn’t a matter of opinion. Human needs are human needs. And having access to the necessities of life, such as clean air, nutritious food and clean water, along with a positively reinforcing, stable, nurturing, non-violent environment, is demanded for our mental and physical health, our evolutionary fitness, and hence, the species’ survival itself.
Jacque Fresco: A Resource-Based Economy would be based upon available resources. You can’t just bring a lot of people to an island or build a city of 50,000 people without having access to the necessities of life. So, when I use the term ‘a comprehensive systems approach’ I’m talking about doing an inventory of the area first and determining what that area can supply- not just architectural approach- not just design approach – but design must be based on all of the requirements to enhance human life.
And that’s what I mean by an integrated way of thinking. Food, clothing, shelter, warmth, love – all those things are necessary. And if you deprive people of any of them you have a lesser human being, less capable of functioning.
Narrator: As previously outlined, a Resource-Based Economy’s ground-up global, systems approach to extraction, production and distribution is based upon on a set of true economic mechanisms, or ‘strategies’ which guarantee efficiency and sustainability in every area of the economy.
So, continuing this train of thought regarding logical design, what is next in our equation? Where does all this materialize? Cities. The advent of the city is a defining feature of modern civilization. Its role is to enable efficient access to the necessities of life along with increased social support and community interaction. So how would we go about designing an ideal city? What shape should we make it? Square? Trapezoid? Well, given we are going to be moving around the thing we might as well make it as equidistant as possible for ease, hence the circle.
What should the city contain? Well, naturally we need a residential area, a goods production area, a power generation area, an agricultural area. But we also need nurturing as human beings- hence culture, nature, recreation and education. So lets include a nice open park, an entertainment/events area for cultural purposes and socializing and educational and research facilities. And since we are working with a circle it seems rational to place these functions in belts based on the amount of land required for each goal along with ease of access.
Very good. Now, let’s get down to specifics: First we need the consider the core infrastructure or intestines of the city organism. These would be the water, goods, waste and energy transport channels. Just as we have water and sewage systems under our cities today, we would extend this channelling concept to integrate waste recycling and delivery itself. No more mailmen or garbage men. It is built right in. We could even use automated pneumatic tubes and similar technologies.
Same goes for transport. It needs to be integrated and strategically designed to reduce or even remove the need for wasteful, independent automobiles. Electric trams, conveyors, transveyors and maglevs – which can take you virtually anywhere in the city, even up and down, along with connecting you to other cities as well. And of course, in the event a car is required, it is automated by satellite for safety and integrity. In fact, this automation technology is in working order right now. Automobile accidents kill about 1.2 million people every single year, injuring about 50 million. This is absurd and doesn’t have to occur. Between efficient city design and automated, driverless cars this death toll can be virtually eliminated.
Agriculture. Today, through our haphazard, cost-cutting industrial methods- using pesticides, excessive fertilizers and other means- we have successfully destroyed much of the arable land on this planet, not to mention also extensively poisoning our bodies. In fact, industrial and agricultural chemical toxins now show up in virtually every human being tested, including infants. Fortunately, there is a glaring alternative: the soil-less mediums of hydroponics and aeroponics, which also reduce nutrient and water requirements by up to 75% of our current usage. Food can now be organically grown on an industrial scale in enclosed vertical farms, such as in 50-story 1-acre plots, virtually eliminating the need for pesticides and hydrocarbons in general. This is the future of industrial food cultivation: efficient, clean and abundant. So, such advanced systems would be, in part, what comprise our agricultural belt, producing all the food required for the entire city’s population with no need to import anything from the outside, saving time, waste and energy.
And speaking of Energy, the Energy Belt would work in a systems approach to extract electricity from our abundant renewable mediums- specifically wind, solar, geothermal and heat differentials- and if near water potentials- tidal and wave power. To avoid intermittency and make sure a positive net energy return occurs, these mediums would operate in an integrated system powering each other when needed, while storing excessive energy to large super capacitors under the ground, so nothing can go to waste. And not only does the city power itself, particular structures will also power independently and generate electricity through photovoltaic paints, structural pressure transducers, the thermocouple effect, and other current but underutilized technologies.
But of course, this begs the question: How does this technology, and goods in general, get created in the first place? This bring us to Production: The Industrial Belt, apart from having hospitals and the like, would be the hub of factory production. Completely localized overall, it would, of course, obtain raw materials by way of the global resource management system just discussed, with demand being generated by the population of the city itself. As far as the mechanics of production, we need to discuss a new, powerful phenomenon which was sparked very recently in human history and is on pace to changing everything. It’s called Mechanization or the automation of labour.
Dr. Berok khoshnevis: Well, if you look around, you’ll notice that almost everything that we use today is built automatically. Your shoes, your clothes, your home appliances, your car and so on… they are all built by machines in an automatic way. Can we say that the society has not been influenced by these major technological advancements? Of course not. These systems really dictate new structures and new needs and they make a lot of other things obsolete.
So, we have been going up in the development and use of technology in an exponential way. So, definitely automation is going to continue. You cannot stop technologies that just make sense.
Narrator: Labour automation through technology is at the bottom of every major social transformation in human history. From the agricultural revolution and the invention of the plough, to the industrial revolution and the invention of the powered machine, to the information age we live in now, through essentially the invention of advanced electronics and computers.
And with regard to advanced production methods today mechanization is now evolving on its own: moving away from the traditional method of assembling component parts into a configuration, into an advanced method of creating entire products in one single process.
Dr. Adrian Bowyer: Like most engineers, I’m fascinated by biology because it is so full of examples of extraordinary pieces of engineering. What biology is – is the study of things that copy themselves. As good a definition of life as we’ve got.
Again, as an engineer, I have always been intrigued by the idea of machines copying themselves. RepRap is a three-dimensional printer – that’s to say it is a printer that you plug into your computer and instead of making 2-dimensional sheets of paper with patterns on, it makes real, physical, 3-dimensional objects.
Now there’s nothing new about that. 3D printers have been around for about 30 years. The big thing about RepRap is that it prints most of its own parts. So, if you’ve got one, you could make another one and give it to a friend as well as being able to print lots of useful things.
Narrator: From the simple printing of basic household goods in your home to the printing of an entire automobile body in one swoop, advanced, automated 3D printing now has the potential to transform virtually every field of production, including home construction.
Dr. Berok khoshnevis: Contour Crafting is actually a fabrication technology- . the so-called 3D printing- when you directly build 3D objects from a computer model. Using Contour Crafting, it will be possible to build a 2000 square-foot home entirely by the machine, in one day.
The reason that people are interested in automating construction is that it really brings a lot of benefits. For example, construction is pretty intensive-intensive. And although it provides jobs for a sector of the society it also has issues and complications. For example, construction is the most dangerous job that there is. It is worse than mining and agriculture, it has the highest level of fatality in almost every country.
Another issue is the waste. An average home in the United States has 3 to 7 tons of waste. So this is huge if we look at the impact of construction, and knowing about 40% of all materials in the world are used in construction. So, a big waste of energy and resources and big damage to the environment as well.
Roxanne Meadows: Making homes using hammers and nails and wood with the state of our technology today, is really absurd and will go the way of our labour class in regards to manufacturing in the United States. Recently, there was a study by economist David Author of MIT, that states that our middle class is obsolete and being replaced by automation.
Narrator: Quite simply, Mechanization is more productive, efficient and sustainable than human labour in virtually every sector of the economy today. Machines do not need vacations, breaks, insurance, pensions, and they can work 24 hours a day, everyday.
The output potential and accuracy compared to human labour, is unmatched. The bottom line: repetitive human labour is becoming obsolete and impractical across the world. And the unemployment you see around you today is fundamentally the result of this evolution of efficiency in technology.
For years, market economists have dismissed this growing pattern, which could be called “Technological Unemployment”, because of the fact that new sectors always seemed to emerge to re-absorb the displaced workers.
Today, the service sector is the only real hub left and currently employs over 80% of the American workforce with most industrialized countries maintaining a similar proportion. However, this sector is now being challenged increasingly by automated kiosks, automated restaurants, and even automated stores.
Economists today are finally acknowledging what they had been denying for years: Not only is technological unemployment exacerbating the current labour crisis we see across the world, due to the global economic downturn, but the more the recession deepens the faster the industries are mechanizing.
The catch, which is not realized, is that the faster they mechanize to save money- the more they displace people – the more they reduce public purchasing power.
This means that, while the corporation can produce everything more cheaply, fewer and fewer people will actually have money to buy anything regardless of how cheap they become.
The bottom line is that the “labour for income” game is slowly coming to an end. In fact, if you take a moment to reflect on the jobs which are in existence today, which automation could take over right now if applied, 75% of the global workforce could be replaced by mechanization tomorrow.
And this is why, in a Resource-Based Economy, there is no Monetary-Market system. No money at all… for there is no need. A Resource-Based Economy recognizes the efficiency of mechanization and accepts it for what it offers. It doesn’t fight it, like we do today. Why? Because it is irresponsible not to, given any interest in efficiency and sustainability.
And this brings us back to our city system. In the centre is the Central Dome, which not only houses, the educational facilities and transportation hub, it also hosts the mainframe that runs the cities technical operations. The city is, in fact, one big automated machine. It has sensors in all technical belts to track the progress of agriculture, energy gathering, production, distribution and the like. Now, would people be needed to oversee these operations in the event of a malfunction or the like? Most probably: yes. But that number would decrease over time as improvements continue. . However, as of today, maybe 3% of the city population would be needed for this job when you break it down.
And I can assure you: that in an economic system, which is actually designed to take care of you and secure your well being, without you having to submit, to a private dictatorship on a daily basis usually to a job that is either technically unnecessary or socially pointless, while often struggling with debt that doesn’t exist just to make ends meet… I guarantee you: people will volunteer their time left and right to maintain and improve a system that actually takes care of them.
Coupled with this issue of ‘Incentive’ comes the common assumption that if there isn’t some external pressure for one to “work for a living” people would just sit around, do nothing and turn into fat lazy blobs. This is nonsense. The labour system we have today is in fact the generator of laziness, not a resolver of it. If you think back to when you were a child – full of life, interested in new things to understand, likely creating and exploring… But as time went on, the system pushed you into the focus of figuring out how to make money. And from early education, to study at a university, you are narrowed. Only to emerge as a creature which serves as a cog in a wheel, in a model that sends all the fruits to the upper 1%.
Scientific Studies have now shown that people are, in fact, not motivated by monetary reward when it comes to ingenuity and creation. The creation itself is the reward. Money, in fact, appears only to serve as an incentive for repetitive, mundane actions a role we have just now shown can be replaced by machine. So when it comes to innovation- the actual use of the human mind – the monetary incentive has proven to be a hindrance, interfering and detracting from creative thought. And this might explain why Nikola Tesla, the Wright Brothers, and other inventors who contributed massively to our current world never showed a monetary incentive to do so. Money is, in fact, a false incentive and causes 100 times more distortion than it does contribution.
Animation: Good morning class. Please settle down. The first thing I would like to do is go around the room and ask what everyone would like to be when they grow up. Who would like to go first? Okay, how about you Sarah? When I grow up I want to work at McDonald’s like my mom! Oh, family tradition, eh? How about you, Linda? When I grow up, I’m going to be a prostitute on the streets of New York City! Oh! glamour girl, huh? Very ambitious. How about you, Tommy? When I grow up, I’m going to be a rich, elitist businessman who works on Wall Street and profits off of the collapse of foreign economies. Enterprising… and great to see some multicultural interest!
Victims of Culture
Narrator: As stated before, a Resource-Based Economy applies the Scientific Method to social concern and this isn’t limited to simply technical efficiency. It also has the consideration of human and social well-being directly and what comprises it. What good is a social system if, in the end, it doesn’t produce happiness and peaceful coexistence? So, it is important to point out that with the removal of the money system and the necessities of life provided we would see a global reduction in crime by about 95% almost immediately- for there is nothing to steal, embezzle, scam, or the like.
95% of all people in prisons today are there due to some monetary related crime or drug abuse and drug abuse is a disorder – not a crime.
So what about the other 5%?, the truly violent… often seeming to some as being violent for the sake of being violent… are they just “evil” people?
Dr. James Gilligan: The reason that I frankly think it’s a waste of time to engage in moral value judgments about people’s violence, is because it doesn’t advance by one iota our understanding of either the causes or the prevention of the violent behaviour.
People sometimes ask if I believe in “forgiving” criminals. My answer to that is “No, I don’t believe in forgiveness anymore than I believe in condemnation.”
It’s only if we, as a society, can take the same attitude of treating violence as a problem in public health and preventive medicine rather than as a moral “evil”… It’s only when we make that change in our own attitudes and assumptions and values that we will actually succeed in reducing the level of violence rather than stimulating it, which is what we do now.
Jacque Fresco: The more justice you seek, the more hurt you become because there’s no such thing as justice. There is whatever there is out there. That’s it. In other words, if people are conditioned to be racist bigots- if they are brought up in an environment that advocates that- why do you blame the person for it? They are a victim of a subculture. Therefore they have to be helped.
The point is, we have to redesign the environment that produces aberrant behaviour. That’s the problem. Not putting a person in jail. That’s why judges, lawyers, “freedom of choice”- such concepts are dangerous! Because it gives you miss-information that the person is “bad”, or that person is a “serial killer”. Serial killers are made just like soldiers become serial killers with a machine gun.
They become killing machines, but nobody looks at them as murderers or assassins because that’s “natural”. So we blame people. We say, “Well, this guy was a Nazi- he tortured Jews.” No, he was brought up to torture Jews.
Once you accept the fact that people have individual choices and they are free to make those choices… Free to make choices means without being influenced. . And I can’t understand that at all. All of us are influenced in all of our choices by the culture we live in, by our parents and by the values that dominate. So we’re influenced- so there can’t be “free” choices.
‘What’s the greatest country in the world?’ – the true answer: ‘I haven’t been all over the world and I don’t know enough about different cultures to answer that question.’ I don’t know anybody that speaks that way. They say, “It’s the good old USA! The greatest country in the world!”. There is no survey… ‘Have you been to India?’ – ‘No.’ ‘Have you been to England?’ – ‘No.’ ‘Have you been to France?’ ‘No.’ . ‘Then what do you make your assumptions on?’ They can’t answer, they get mad at you. They say, ‘God damm it! Who the hell are you to tell me what to think?!’
You know… Don’t forget: you’re dealing with aberrated people. They are not responsible for their answers; they’re victims of culture and that means they have been influenced by their culture.
Part 4: Rise
When we consider a Resource-Based Economy there are often a number of arguments that tend to come up with… [ EH! ] (Interrupted) [ Eh! Hey! ] [ Now hold on just a minute! ] – Yes? [ I know what this is. This is called Marxism, buddy! ] [ Stalin killed 800 billion people because of ideas like this… ] [ My father died in the Gulag! ] – All right, hold on, hold on … [ Communist! Fascist! ] [You don’t like America you should just leave!] All right, everybody just calm down… [ Death to the New World Order! ] [ Death to the New World Order! ]
And as the irrationality of the audience grew, shocked and confused, suddenly the narrator suffered a fatal heart attack.
And the seemingly communist propaganda film was no more. [System Error] [Backup Initiated – Restored]
Dr John McMurtry: But you know, I’ve said that sort of thing to people in think-tank type of situations, you know these Club of Rome types and so forth… they say ‘Marxist!’ What? Marxist? Where did that come from? They just got this icon they hold onto- It’s their Holy Grail and it’s such an easy one, you know.
Michael C. Ruppert: People ask if I’m a Socialist or a Communist or Capitalist. And I say I am none of the above. And why do you think that those are the only options? All of those political constructs were created by writers who assumed we lived on a planet of infinite resources. Not one of those political philosophies even contemplates that there might be a shortage of anything!
Jacque Fresco: I believe that communism, socialism, free enterprise, fascism are part of social evolution. You can’t take a giant step from one culture to another, but there are in-between systems.
Dr John McMurtry: Before there’s any “ism”, we’ve got a life ground. And the life ground is as I’ve just described most easily as all the conditions required to take your next breath. And that involves the air you breathe, the water you get, the safety you have, the education you can access.
All these things that we share and use and that no life, in any culture, can do without. So we’ve got to reset down to the Life Ground and the life ground is no longer any “ism”. It’s “life value analysis.”
Beyond The Pale
Dr Gabor Mate: It’s simply a matter of historical fact that the dominant intellectual culture of any particular society reflects the interests of the dominant group in that society. In a slave owning society the beliefs about human beings and human rights and so on will reflect the needs of the slave owners.
In the society, which again is based on the power of certain people to control and profit from the lives and work of millions of others, the dominant intellectual culture will reflect the needs of the dominant group. So, if you look across the board, the ideas that pervade psychology and sociology and history and political economy and political science fundamentally reflect certain elite interests. And the academics, who question that too much tend to get shunted to the side or to be seen as sort of “radicals”.
Narrator: The dominant values of a culture tend to support and perpetuate what is rewarded by that culture. And in a society where success and status is measured by material wealth- not social contribution- it is easy to see why the state of the world is what it is today. We are dealing with a value system disorder – completely denatured – where the priority of personal and social health have become secondary to the detrimental notions of artificial wealth and limitless growth.
And, like a virus, this disorder now permeates every facet of government – news media – entertainment – and even academia. And built into its structure are mechanisms of protection from anything that might interfere.
Disciples of the Monetary-Market religion- the Self-Appointed Guardians of the Status Quo- constantly seek out ways to avoid any form of thought, which might interfere with their beliefs, the most common of which are Projected Dualities. If you’re not a Republican, you must be a Democrat. If you are not Christian, you might be a Satanist. And if you feel society can be greatly improved to consider, perhaps – I don’t know – taking care of everyone? You’re just a “Utopianist”. And the most insidious of them all: If you are not for the “free-market” you must be against freedom itself.
“I’m a believer in freedom!”
Dr John McMurtry: Every time you hear the word ‘freedom’ being said anywhere or ‘government interference’ said anywhere, it means, decoded: blocking maximization of turning money into more money for private money possessors. That’s it.
Every other thing they’ll say: ‘Oh, we need more commodities for people’; ‘Oh, this is freedom against tyranny’ and so forth, every time you see it, you can decode it down to that. And I think you’ll find a one-to-one correlation with every time they use it. And this, in a sense, in which we might call – It’s a Syntax. A governing syntax of understanding, and of value. So it governs beneath their own recognition of it. So they might say: ‘Oh, I didn’t mean that at all!’ but in fact, that’s what they do. Just like you may speak a grammar and you have rules of grammar you follow without recognizing what the rules are… and so what we have is what I call the “Ruling Value Syntax” that underlies this. So, every time they use these words: ‘government interference’; ‘lack of freedom’ or ‘freedom’ or ‘progress’ or ‘development’ you can decode them all to come back to mean that.
Narrator: Of course, when you hear the word ‘freedom’ it tends to be in same sentence with something called ‘democracy’. It’s fascinating how people today seem to believe that they actually have a relevant influence on what their government does, forgetting that the very nature of our system offers everything for sale. The only vote that counts, is the monetary vote and it doesn’t matter how much any activist yells about ethics and accountability.
In a market system, every politician, every legislation and hence, every government- is for sale. And even with the $20 trillion bank bailouts starting in 2007 – an amount of money which could have changed say, the global energy infrastructure to fully renewable methods – instead going to a series of institutions that literally do nothing to help society, institutions that could be removed tomorrow with no recourse…
The blind conditioning that politics and politicians exist for the public wellbeing, still continues. The fact is, politics is a business, no different than any other in a market system, and they care about their self-interest before anything else.
George Carlin: I don’t really, honestly, deep down believe in political action. I think the system contracts and expands as it wants to. It accommodates these changes.
I think the civil rights movement was an accommodation on the part of those who own the country.
I think they see where their self-interest lies; they see a certain amount of freedom seems good – an illusion of liberty – give these people a voting day every year so that they will have the illusion of meaningless choice. Meaningless choice – that we go like slaves and say “Oh, I Voted.”
The limits of debate in this country are established before the debate even begins and everyone else is marginalized and made to seem either to be communist or some sort of disloyal person – a “kook” – there’s a word… and now it’s “conspiracy”. See – they made that something that should not be even entertained for a minute: that powerful people might get together and have a plan! Doesn’t happen! You’re a “kook”! You’re a “conspiracy buff”!
Narrator: And of all the mechanisms of defence of this system, there are two that repeatedly come up.
The first is this idea that the system has been the “cause” of the material progress we have seen on this planet.
Well…No. There are basically two root causes, which have created the increased so-called “wealth” and population growth we see today. One: the exponential advancement of production technology; hence scientific ingenuity. And Two: the initial discovery of abundant hydrocarbon energy- which is currently the foundation of the entire socio-economic system.
The free-market / capitalist / monetary market system – whatever you want to call it – has done nothing but ride the wave of these advents with a distorted incentive system and a haphazard grossly unequal method of utilizing and distributing those fruits.
The second defence is a belligerent social bias generated from years of propaganda, which sees any other social system as a route to so called “tyranny” with various name droppings of Stalin, Mao, Hitler, and the death tolls they generated.
Well, as despotic as these men might have been along with the societal approaches they perpetuated, when it comes to the game of death- when comes to the systematic daily mass murder of human beings- nothing in history compares to what we have today.
Dr. James Gilligan: Famines- throughout at least the last century of our history – have not been caused by a lack of food. They have been caused by relative poverty. The economic resources were so inequitably distributed that the poor simply didn’t have enough money with which to buy the food that would’ve been available if they could have afforded to pay for it. That would be an example of Structural Violence.
Another example: in Africa and other areas- I’ll particularly focus on Africa- tens of millions of people are dying of AIDS. Why are they dying? It’s not because we don’t know how to treat AIDS. We have millions of people in the wealthy countries getting along remarkably well because they have the medicines that will treat it.
The people in Africa who are dying of AIDS are not dying because of the HIV virus. They are dying because they don’t have the money with which to pay for the drugs that would keep them alive.
Gandhi saw this. He said: “The deadliest form of violence is poverty.” And that’s absolutely right. Poverty kills far more people than all the wars in history, more people than all the murderers in history, more than all the suicides in history. Not only does Structural Violence kill more people than all the Behavioural Violence put together, Structural Violence is also the main cause of Behavioural Violence.
Beyond the Peak
Michael C. Ruppert: Oil is the foundation of and is present throughout, the edifice of human civilization. There are 10 calories of hydrocarbon energy– oil and natural gas– in every calorie of food you and I eat in the industrialized world. Fertilizers are made from natural gas. Pesticides are made from oil. You drive oil-powered machines to plant, plough, irrigate, harvest, transport, package. You wrap the food in plastic– that’s oil. All plastic is oil. There are 7 gallons of oil in every tire. Oil is everywhere; it’s ubiquitous. And it’s only because of oil that there are 7 billion people or almost 7 billion people on this planet right now.
Dr Collin J. Campbell – Petroleum Geologist: The arrival of this cheap and easy energy which is equivalent, by the way, to billions of slaves working around the clock, changed the world in such a radical way over the last century and the population has gone up 10 times.
But by 2050, oil supply is able to support less than half the present world’s population in their present way of life. So, the scale of adjustment to live differently is just enormous.
Michael C. Ruppert: The world is now using 6 barrels of oil for every barrel it finds. Five years ago it was using 4 barrels of oil for every barrel it finds. A year from now it is going to be using 8 barrels of oil for every barrel of oil it finds.
Jeremy J. Gilbert – Petroleum Engineer: What’s disturbing to me is the lack of any real effort from governments worldwide and industry leaders worldwide to do something different. We have these, sort of, attempts to build more wind power and to maybe do something with Tide… we’ve got attempts to make our cars a little bit more efficient. But there’s nothing which really looks like a revolution coming along; these are all pretty minor, and that I think is pretty frightening.
Dr Collin J. Campbell: The governments who are driven by these economists who don’t really appreciate what we’re talking about are trying to stimulate consumerism to restore past prosperity in the hope that they can restore the past.
They’re printing yet more money lacking any collateral at all. So, if the economy improves and recovers and the famous growth comes back, it will only be short-lived because within a short period of time, counted in months rather than years, it will hit the supply barrier again; there will be another price shock and a deeper recession. So I think we go into a series of vicious circles.
Michael C. Ruppert: So you have the economic growth going up -price spike- everything shuts down. That’s where we are now. Then it starts to come up again but what we have now is this area where there’s no more ability to produce cheap energy. We’re at the peak- we’re on the down slope of oil production.
No way you’re going to get any more out of the ground any faster which means that things shut down, the price of oil drops which it did in early 2009 but then as you have a “recovery” the price of oil starts to come back. It’s recently been hovering at about $80 a barrel and what we see is that at even at $80 a barrel now, with the financial and economic collapse, people are having a hard time affording that.
Jeremy J. Gilbert: World oil production right now is about 86 million barrels a day. Over 10 years, you’re looking at roughly 14 million barrels a day having to be replaced. There’s nothing around which can come even within 1% of meeting that sort of demand. If we don’t do something pretty quickly there’s going to be a huge energy deficiency.
I think the big mistake is in not recognizing a decade or so ago that a concerted effort needed to be made to develop these sustainable forms of energy. I think that’s something our grandchildren will look back on with total disbelief. ‘You people knew you were dealing with a finite commodity. How could you possibly have build your economy around something which was going to disappear?’
Narrator: For the first time in human history the species is now faced with the depletion of a core resource central to our current system of survival. And the punch line of the whole thing is that even with oil becoming more scarce the economic system will still blindly push its cancerous growth model, so people can go out and buy more oil powered cars to generate GDP and jobs, exacerbating the decline.
Are there solutions to replace the edifice of the hydrocarbon economy? Of course. But the path needed to accomplish these changes will not manifest through the Market System Protocols required since new solutions can only be implemented through the Profit Mechanism.
People are not investing in renewable energies because there is no money in it in both long and short term. And the commitment needed to make it happen can only occur at a severe financial loss. Therefore, there is no monetary incentive and in this system, if there is no monetary incentive, things do not happen.
And on top of it all, Peak Oil is just one of many surfacing consequences of the environmental-social train wreck gaining speed today.
Other declines include fresh water: the very fabric of our existence- which is currently showing shortages for 2.8 billion people and those shortages are on pace to reach 4 billion by 2030.
Food Production: The destruction of arable crop land, from which 99.7% of all human food comes from today is occurring up to 40 times faster than it is being replenished. And over the last 40 years, 30% of the arable land has become unproductive. Not to mention that hydrocarbons are the backbone of agriculture today and, as it declines, so will the food supply.
As far as resources in general, at our current patterns of consumption, by 2030 we will need 2 planets to continue our rates.
Not to mention the continual destruction of life supporting biodiversity causing extinction spasms and environmental destabilization across the globe. And with all of these declines we have the near exponential population growth where by 2030 there might be over 8 billion people on this planet.
Energy production alone would need to increase 44% by 2030 to meet such demand. And again – since money is the only initiator of action, are we to expect that any country on the planet is going to be able to afford the massive changes needed to revolutionize agriculture water processing, energy production and the like? When the global debt pyramid scheme is slowly shutting the entire world down? Not to mention the fact that the unemployment you currently see is going to become normality, due to the nature of technological unemployment. The jobs are not coming back.
And finally, a broad social perspective: From the 1970 to 2010, poverty on this planet doubled due to this system. And given our current state, do you honestly think we will see anything less than more doubling, more suffering and more mass starvation?
Michael C. Ruppert: There is not going to be any recovery. This is not some long depression that we’re some day going to pull out of. I think the next phase that we are going to see after the next round of economic collapses is massive civil unrest. When unemployment checks stop being paid because the states have no money left.
Jacque Fresco:: And when things get so bad that people lose confidence in their elected leaders, they will demand change if we don’t kill each other in the process or destroy the environment.
I’m just afraid that we might get to the point of no return and that bothers me to no end. We do all we can to avoid that condition.
It’s clear that we’re on the verge of a great transition in human life. That what we face now is this fundamental change of the life we’ve known over the last century.
There has to be a link between the economy and the resources of this planet – the resources being of course all; animal and plant life, the health of the oceans and everything else.
This is a monetary paradigm that will not let go until it’s killed the last human being.
Jacque Fresco: The “in” group will do all it can to stay in power and that’s what you’ve got to keep in mind.
They’ll use the army and navy and lies or whatever they have to use to keep in power. They’re not about to give it up because they don’t know of any other system that will perpetuate their kind.
Footage: [ Live from New York ] [Global Protests Shut Down World Economy] [ London – Live ] [ China – Live ] [ South Africa – Live ] [ Live from Spain ] [ Live from Russia ] [ Canada – Live ] [ Saudi Arabia – Live ] [ Western Crime Rates Soar ] [ UN Declares State of Global Emergency ] [ Global Unemployment Hits 65% ] [ Fears of World War Continue ] [ Debt Collapse now causing food shortages ]
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[ While no violence has been reported as the unprecedented protests continue… it appears that the equivalent of trillions of dollars are being systematically withdrawn from bank accounts across the world and in turn, evidently now being dumped in front of the world’s central banks. ]
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