Intuitively, we have a hard time with systems. System behavior is, by definition, output behavior that is unpredicted by the behavior of its parts taking separately. This is a very profound understanding and utterly counter to our intuition and our five-sense reality. We assume our behavior and intention stands on it’s own, and if we mean well in this system, then we can’t possibly be part of something hurting others or something that is destructive to our planet. The truth is, we are involved in a larger order framework – and that framework has its own structural logic. This is why statistical analysis and the scientific method is so critical to our progress in the last century. So we can see through the clouds and limited perceptions that our small brains create. -Peter Joseph, Lecture on The End of Capitalism
This is a profound understanding. What is being said is that intentions and good morals are essentially useless in the current system structure.¹ We can interpret this as playing the role of a cog in a machine. Permitting you go to work and continue to ‘fuel’ the system every week, you are indirectly responsible for the human suffering that capitalism causes.² The take home point here is that externalities is a system consequence and has nothing to do with intentions. As long as we are working within the system, we are part of the externalities.
During Zeitgeist Day 2015, Jen Wilding presented “Money: What is it good for?”
This presentation highlights a rather important topic and some very important premises about the movement towards a post-scarcity society. Simply, the topic discussed is why do we rely on money in society today (or, in the future). It’s evident that in times of scarcity money has been a tool used to decide who has more value or who deserves a valued good/service. However, today we have advanced technology at our disposal and can start to think about a post-scarcity society were everyone could be housed, fed, and cared for properly.
Money proponents often talk about how money is required to keep people motivated. In this lecture, Jen Wilding provides some examples and studies that seem to prove them wrong.
She starts by asking people what they would do if money was not a problem. Ask yourself this question and think about it for a moment. My guess is that very few people would say that they would be lazy couch-potatoes all day. Personally, I would continue my studies of mathematics and the sciences to someday help humanity on a further path. To realize this shows that money is not the only motivating factor. Furthermore, she makes a clever statement:
“I consider the laziness that people might fear, which is a behavior we definitely see in our current market system, is actually a behavioral response to not having the freedom to choose work that would be quite satisfying to that person and still having their basic needs me.”
In the beginning of the lecture she highlights some important premises on why money is not actually in coherence with the market system vision that is often taught.
- It presumes consumers have equal voting power.
- It presumes consumers are omniscient.
- It presumes business owners and advertisers would never mislead customers.
- It presumes the best possible quality is always a factor in a purchase decision instead of quality relative to a limit of choices fitting budget restrictions.
- It presumes that the people with the most money in society have rightfully earned it through the public purchase consent relating to their high quality goods and that they serve our best interest.
Point 1 is clearly false. There exists an extremely large gap between the wealthy and the poor. In a capitalist system, how much money you have dictates your voting power.
Point 2 is proven false by one simple example. The next time you go to the grocery store look around at all the various competing items. Do you know anything about these items? Do you know the difference between the various companies producing the items? Of course not, you’d have to grocery shop for an endless amount of time before you could actually make informed decisions based on what you buy (what you vote for).
Point 3 should be viewed through the scope of the profit motive. Business owners have a high profit motive to mislead consumers into buying their product. Considering their product the freshest or the healthiest product available places the product in good graces with potential consumers, even if it false advertisement.
Point 4 regards the idea that you vote with your dollar. Unfortunately, not all of us are wealthy and often have to make sacrifices that we don’t want to make such as buying a low quality item compared to a higher quality one. By doing this, we inadvertently “vote” for the cheaper, less durable item. This has disastrous effects on the environment (think of the trash build up from low quality items).
Point 5 claims that people who have gained wealth have done so properly and based off the public’s feedback and desire for the individuals goods or services and thus, are ideal representatives of the public. I don’t know about you, but I sure as hell do not want the wealthy having that much voting power.
All in all, this is a short version of the interactive presentation that Jen Wilding gave during Z-day 2015. For more lectures on similar topics, checkout TZM’s official YouTube channel.
“We talk about civilization as though it’s a static state. There are no civilized people yet, it’s a process that’s constantly going on… As long as you have war, police, prisons, crime, you are in the early stages of civilization.”
“At the beginning of World War II the U.S. had a mere 600 or so first-class fighting aircraft. We rapidly overcame this short supply by turning out more than 90,000 planes a year. The question at the start of World War II was: Do we have enough funds to produce the required implements of war? The answer was No, we did not have enough money, nor did we have enough gold; but we did have more than enough resources. It was the available resources that enabled the US to achieve the high production and efficiency required to win the war. Unfortunately this is only considered in times of war.”
During the thousands of years of monetary system, most workers have been paid just enough to make it necessary that they return to work, even when higher wages have been possible. How else can the wage-payer keep the workers coming back?
“You know that you can’t go out there and change the world tomorrow morning. It just takes time, and the realization of that does not produce frustration. What produces frustration, is when you expect the world to join with your cause it’s so reasonable. It is not reasonable to unreasonable people.”
Earlier this week, Peter Joseph and The Zeitgeist Movement published a video providing three essential questions regarding the current system that we live in. Essentially, the group is asking for answers to these seemingly impossible-to-answer questions that strike at the heart of the current market system.
I firmly believe that if you can sit through this video and still feel that the current system must be maintained then you are either delusional or ignorant. Possibly, you have an answer to these questions that differs from the answers obtained? If so, feel free to comment via the YouTube link and let them know your answer to these questions.
Read more for Questions / Answers. Continue reading Three Questions: What do you Propose?
Matt Berkowitz “A Science of Morality and Society”
The moment you grant that the worst possible misery for everyone is the worst case scenario we could imagine, and that morality has to do with well-being, you have to admit there are better and worse ways to proceed with respect to morality — which is of course contingent on the laws of nature and the scientific method to uncover.
I. Morals must relate to the well-being of conscious creatures.
II. The worst possible misery for everyone is the worst case scenario we could imagine.
∴ There are better and worse ways to proceed with respect to morality.
Many critics of wide social change agree that it is not possible to transition out of the current socioeconomic system of monetary exchange as it has grown too big to fail. They might argue: While a resource based economy may work in theory, the practical application of it would be impossible.
Unfortunately, if we continue on with the current monetary system we will end up with inevitable massive problems and therefore, we need to critically analyze how we can transition. Clearly, this is no easy task. I have identified that the first order to successfully transition out of a monetary system and into a resource based economy is to educate the public on what a Natural Law Resource Based Economy truly is.
This excerpt is taken directly from the TZM orientation guide found at this link (pdf): HERE.
Does anyone disagree with this argument?
The notion of “self-interest” is clearly inherent to the human being’s common urge to survive. This is obvious enough and it is easy to see historically how the raw necessity of personal survival, often extending to family and then the “tribe” (community), set the stage for the divisive, protectionist paradigm we exist in today. It should have been expected from the standpoint of history that vast economic theories would also be based upon the notion of competition and inequality, such as in the work of Adam Smith. Considered the father of the “free market”, he made popular the assumption that if everyone had the ethic to look out for themselves only, the world would progress as a community.
This “invisible hand” notion of human progress arising from narrow personal self-interest alone might have been a semi-workable philosophy many years ago when the simplicity of the society itself was based on everyone being something of a producer. However, the nature of society has changed greatly over time, with population increases, entirely different role structures and exponentially advancing technology. The risks associated with this manner of thought are now proving to be more dangerous than beneficial, and the true definition of “self-interest” is taking a larger context than ever before.
Is it not in your self-interest to protect and nourish the habitat that supports you? Is it not in your self-interest to take care of society as a whole, providing for its members, so that the consequences of deprivation, such as “crime” are reduced as much as possible to ensure your safety? Is it not self-interest to consider the consequences of imperialist wars that can breed fierce jingoistic hatred on one side of the planet, only to have, say, a suitcase bomb explode behind you at a restaurant as a desperate “blow-back” act of retribution? Is it not self-interest to assure all of societies’ children have the best upbringing and education so that your future and the future of your children can exist in a responsible, educated, and increasingly productive world? Is it not in your self-interest to make sure industry is as organised, optimised and scientifically accurate as possible, so that we do not produce shoddy, cheap technology that might perhaps cause a problem in the future if it fails?
The bottom line is that things have changed in the world today and your self-interest is now only as good as your societal interest. Being competitive and going out for yourself, “beating” others only has a negative consequence in the long-term, for it is denying awareness of the synergistic system we are bound within. A cheaply made nuclear power plant in Japan might not mean much to people in America. However, if that plant was to have a large scale technical failure, the fallout and pollution might make its way over to American homes, proving that you are never safe in the long run unless you have a global consciousness…
Recently, I’ve began my search for the empirical value set that I look to present to society in the hopes to realign some of our distorted values. I believe this is the first step towards a better future. Without ranting too much about our current society let’s realize a few value based problems that we currently face:
1. All values and morals are equal! Moral Relativism! There can’t be an objective basis for morality.
This is simply wrong. To quote The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris:
Meaning, values, morality, and the good life must relate to facts about the well-being of conscious creatures-and, in our case, must lawfully depend upon events in the world and upon states of the human brain. Rational, open-ended, honest inquiry has always been the true source of insight into such processes. Faith, if it is ever right about anything, is right by accident.”
You are partially responsible for the thoughts and values of others! There is simply nowhere to hide from the collective consciousness. How have we convinced ourselves that all views must be equal on this matter? We are all in this together and if we want to escape a problematic fate then we need to find a value set that is based around objective understanding of our well-being. This is what I am searching for.