Zeitgeist Moving Forward: Stumbling on the Transition
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by C.A. L'Hirondelle, June 19, 2011
Update Sept.2012 - new Zeitgeist article in favor of basic income as a transition
7.8 million people have viewed Zeitgeist Moving Forward, the third video in Peter Joseph's Zeitgeist series.
Obviously the Zeitgeist Movement has hit a nerve: people feel, as Peter Joseph says he felt when he did his first Zeitgeist performance, that "the world's going to shit" (see Part I of Who is Peter Joseph?) and they are also looking for alternatives to the usual superficial left/right political arguments. Zeitgeist certainly provides a deeper analysis, to such a degree that Peter Joseph has been subject to death threats and, as he says in one interview, there is a large cottage industry devoted to debunking Zeitgeist ideas.
The whole 2 hour 40 minute video is worth watching; however, Zeitgeist Moving Forward stumbles on the step of moving from the current destructive economy to a livable economy. The end of the film presents a trajectory going straight from the (as described) purely evil monetary system to a purely non-monetary Resource Based Economy - but only after a total global systemic breakdown.
A transition via a universal basic income / guaranteed livable income is not mentioned. And given that a total global breakdown would fall upon the most vulnerable people first, there is an ethical obligation to try a universal income benefit first... before any big breakdown.
Much of Moving Forward hinges on the work of Jacques Fresco, the 95-year-old founder of The Venus Project (Fresco's video Future by Design is also worth watching). There are also interviews with Max Keiser, Adrian Bower, Behrokh Khoshnevis, Roxanne Meadows (Venus Project), Colin Campbell, Jeremy Gilbert, Robert Sapolsky, Gabor Maté, Richard Wilkinson, James Gilligan, John McMurtry and Michael Ruppert.
The first part of Moving Forward (Human Nature) shows harm from the current economy to people on an individual level; it examines how people become emotionally broken, violent and addicted. Constraints and stress from financial pressures often make it difficult for parents to meet the high needs of their children. However, it may frustrate young parents to know they need to spend more time with their children, but then, as the film progresses and concludes, they are offered no immediate solution except to wait for the coming global collapse and the switch to a resource based economy.
The next sections go into a detailed diagnosis of what is wrong with the economic/monetary system and how it tragically and terribly doesn't work for people or the planet.
Much of the economic critiques in the film have also been described by E.F. Schumacher, Marilyn Waring and others. It is unfortunate that feminist writers such as Waring (see Sex Lies and Global Economics, a groundbreaking film) are not referenced and that very few women were interviewed (e.g. Vandana Shiva, Maria Mies or Arundhati Roy ).
The end of the film describes a Resource Based Economy and interviews the brilliant Jacques Fresco. After this detailed description of RBE - measuring and monitoring the earth's resources, getting input on people's needs, and arranging to meet or exceed needs - we finally get to the punchline: how to move forward.
The near future transition point is dramatized: global leaders realize they are at the end of their reign; the military and police drop their helmets and weapons; people empty bank accounts and dump their useless money in front of central banks...
...then we get more visualizations of how the Resource Based Economy would create a livable world.
The film is extremely valuable for presenting crucial information to understand the problems that face humanity. But Moving Forward stumbles on the question of how to actually move forward.
comment from youtube re: Zeitgeist Moving Forward
It does not address how can we make such an enormous change without having to go through a global cataclysm. One would think there is no other option other than collapse. Omitted from Moving Forward is any mention of the growing world movement pushing for a basic income guarantee / guaranteed livable income*: a simple way to reverse engineer our way out of the current mess, and it could do this in a peaceful, yes, even a very boring, way.
In a long interview with Peter Joseph, he makes it clear he does not want a cataclysmic breakdown, that it would be possible and preferable to move quickly to a Resource Based Economy if that was desired, but he does not think this likely to occur without a crisis first. He feels the current orthodox monetary system is fast approaching the point where it will destroy humanity -- "All indicators point to self-destruction" - and a World War III fought over control of oil and other resources.
The question remains as to why Zeitgeist and the Venus Project do not advocate a transition via some form of universal income distribution. Perhaps they have an aversion to money because they identify it as the source of all world problems to such an extent that they don't want to use it, even as an interim initiative.
If that is the case, it is a kind of puritanical thinking. So what if we use paper and electronic tokens to keep people alive and essential services functioning while we create a livable economy -- even if it becomes purely non-monetary in the future? Sure, we can admit money-as-a-system is evil, but it is also currently 'arterial'--few people know how to survive without it. To rip it up suddenly and have a crisis provoked shift to a non-monetary system, would mean many people would not survive. Given what is at stake, there needs to be a very good reason why a basic income/ livable income would not be used as a practical transition to a livable economy.
And although there is much valid information being presented in Moving Forward, without acknowledging the need for an EASY practical transition to a livable economy with a universial income benefit, the Zeitgeist Movement might just become another flash in the pan anomoly like the Technocracy movement of the 1930s.
See related articles here.
*Along with guaranteed livable income (GLI), other terms for this policy include:
basic income guarantee, basic income grant, citizen's income, citizen's basic income,
minimum income guarantee, national dividend, citizen's dividend, guaranteed annual income, LIFE grants (Livable Income For Everyone), Participation Income, and Buckminster Fuller's Lifetime Fellowship.
C.A. L'Hirondelle has been researching and writing about guaranteed livable income from a grassroots perspective since 1998.
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