April 11, 2010

Zeitgeist = Communism?

You know, often on forums the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project get a lot of opposition from folks who claim it is Communism. I suppose the concept of sharing resources is reminiscent of a communist state, but while you're making that equation you can wonder about 'not sharing' and what kind of 'ism' that would be. At the core Zeitgeist aims much higher then communism. The latter has shown it still works under a monetary system. You just have to take a look at China today and see how "communist" they really are. Historically communism was and is a failure because despite its goals it transcended in totalitarian regimes, brutal even to their own people.

Jacque Fresco, the man behind the Venus Project, had this to say about comparisons with Communism;
Communism used money and labor, had social stratification, and elected officials to maintain the communists' traditions. Most importantly, Communism did not eliminate SCARCITY nor did they have a blueprint or the methods for the production of abundance. Machine production rather than labor will dominate the future. Perhaps through no fault of their own, they also had to maintain huge military expenditures to protect themselves from invasion of fascistic and capitalistic institutions.

Communism being similar to a resource-based economy or The Venus Project is an erroneous concept. Communism has money, banks, armies, police, prisons, charismatic personalities, social stratification, and is managed by appointed leaders. The Venus Project's aim is to surpass the need for the use of money. Police, prisons and the military would no longer be necessary when goods, services, healthcare, and education are available to all people. The Venus Project would replace politicians with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive. A society that uses technology without human concern has no basis of survival. Communism has no blueprint or methodology to carry out their ideals and along with capitalism, fascism, and socialism, will ultimately go down in history as failed social experiments.

Fresco is pretty clear on the relationship between the Venus Project and Communism. Still, that doesn't deter some folks to make the communist claim. Personally, I think such opposition is fueled by the fear of losing what (little) they may have, be it in a materialistic and/or mental way. The loss of money or personal property is easy to identify as a motive. On another level there might be fear of losing the identity that is associated with the kind of work a person does. The loss of social identity. However, this is only a portion. In my opinion, the remaining factor is simply social conditioning.

A person growing up in America will automatically receive information that communism is bad and if something remotely reeks of it, alarm bells should go off. The reactions of Americans amaze me sometimes. Personally I've worked with people from former communist regimes, such as Poles, Russians and Czechs. While they admit their lives were hard and that now they enjoy democracy and freedom much more, they hardly go off on a tantrum like some Americans do who never lived in such a system. They have a different attitude and mindset towards communism (in general). That sets the American mindset apart. It's simply social conditioning.

Growing up in Holland in the seventies I received social conditioning as well. Basically I grew up hating the Germans. Why you might ask? Well, that's simply something you pick up from other family members who experienced WW2. The hard times and negative emotions they endured were transferred on to me. There are even local/micro factors. My hometown was a hotbed for resistance against the Germans during WW2 and on occasion a German officer was ambushed and killed. The Germans retaliated by picking 10 random citizens and executing them. Memorials of those incidents are close by. As a kid growing up you pick that up as well. Later on in life you learn how to put that into perspective. The current German generation had nothing to do with all the atrocities during WW2 and therefore hate directed against them is completely unjustified. But it takes time to rationalize and abandon such emotions.

I think something similar is present in current day America. People who fought in Korea or Vietnam will naturally relay their experiences to family members. Those negative emotions would be associated with communism in general. American culture itself strongly opposed communism right after WW2 in the media and schools. Again that is another form of social conditioning. The trick is to put that into proper perspective, move beyond shallow emotions and rationalize the situation you are in.

Is Zeitgeist or The Venus Project Communism? No, I would say. There's no politburo or any other institution like it. The trick is that every person is aware of the basics of human necessity. In a way it's another ideology, it's moving forward while going back to basics. It's about eliminating inequality in every way. Eliminating wars, poverty, hunger and ensuring a high standard of living for every human being on the planet. Did Communism, Capitalism, Fascism or Socialism ever achieve that? No, they didn't. That's why Zeitgeist and The Venus Project are in a different category altogether.

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