This post is a response to Muertos' blog where he asserts that putting a Resource Based Economy into practice will ultimately lead to disaster. While I agree on some points I'm of the opinion that other arguments are irrelevant in the larger scheme of things and also I can't escape the notion that a portion of Muertos' article is based on projection and fear-mongering. He bases his claim on the works of author and professor James C. Scott, who wrote many books about political science and anthropology. The book 'Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed,' is used to display the alleged inherent faults of a Resource Based Economy.
“[High modernism] is best conceived as a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientific understanding of natural laws. It originated, of course, in the West, as a by-product of unprecedented progress in science and technology.”
Muertos starts off with this quote from the book and says; 'This definition describes the Zeitgeist Movement/Venus Project perfectly.' No argument here. Professor Scott formulated it quite nicely. A RBE is in fact based on what scientific and technical progress can do and I find no fault in calling it 'high modernism.' (Perhaps an even better definition that applies here is trans-humanism.) You simply have to look at our current state of technology and it's remarkably easy to fathom what is possible these days. Durable types of energy are a scientific fact. Much of what a Resource Based Economy proposes is actually feasible with our current day technology. In turn that technology CAN create abundance and there's nothing unrealistic about this notion. The major obstacle at this point is simply the monetary system. We have the technology, we have the resources, but we don't have the money. The next obstacle is the human condition, because we are all conditioned to think in certain ways.
That also brings us to 'human nature' and the concept of 'nature vs nurture.' Human nature is often attributed to acts of aggression towards each other like that is a 'natural' thing.' Is it really? Are we all just animals? Personally, I think humans are born with a build-in 'survival mode' but as your brain develops it is capable of so much more. When the brain starts developing, you, just like a computer, start receiving programming. The next stage of development is the programming interacting with the environment. If I had to put it in an equation I would say that 10% is nature and that 90% is nurture. A person is fed and cared for from birth, we don't grow up in the wild, we grow up in protective surroundings. Therefore I don't attribute much to instinct, most of the human condition is taught and influenced by the environment. Which brings me to this quote from Muertos.
"In simpler terms, high modernist projects are doomed to fail because they are profoundly naïve about human behavior, institutions and culture."
Several things here. I agree with Muertos that if you would put everyone on the planet in a RBE tomorrow there's a high probability it would fail, that's because most people right now are simply preoccupied with their own self interest and needs, how trivial that may be. Stick those people in another world and they'll just continue their old habits. Change or behavioral modification takes time.
Human behavior at the moment is basically centered on self interest. You basically go to work because you earn money and that in turn enables you to buy food and all the other necessities of life. You work at an institution for the interest of that institution because that in turn serves your interest. Culture is largely shaped by the most dominant institutions, be it churches, political parties, media and so on. That is the world we live in. Once you start comparing that world to a Resourced Based Economy where everything is provided for without charge through technology, the average person would be skeptical because it's such a stark contrast to the world we live in today. Naturally, people start to wonder what the cost might be and what they risk to lose.
High modernist projects are not inherently naive, it's the people themselves who wonder about their own self interest. You can bring it all back to psychology and ideology. The Venus Project takes that into account by advocating a holistic approach. It appeals, in large, to our higher nature which of course is something some people have a hard time getting at. It proposes; what is good for everyone is also good for yourself, but in the egomaniac oriented society that we have today that view is of course the other way around. What is good for myself, is good for everyone. It becomes a matter of (global) social therapy and it will take time. The Venus Project, in my opinion, is a futuristic ideal. It lays the premise of understanding that ideal on emotional and intellectual maturity, something that is scarce right now in our world. However, it must start somewhere. You can call that a Project in many ways. Addressing both the inner- and outer world.
"High modernists simply assume that people and their behaviors can be neatly crammed into well-ordered boxes that will operate efficiently. Their contempt for the idea of human nature is a by-product of this myopia. History shows, however, that these types of projects always fail. When a high modernist project is undertaken by an authoritarian state, such as the Soviet Union under Stalin, the zeal to achieve unrealistic goals combined with the state’s increasing efforts to streamline the process often results in death and suffering on a colossal scale." (Muertos)
'High modernism' is an extension of technological progress. Whether it will succeed or not is dependent on the psychological progress of the people. One can't fully work without the other. A high modernist like myself doesn't assume that everything will fall into place when a RBE is suddenly put into place. We have to take into account the level of psychological maturity. There is no contempt for the idea of human nature, if there would be any contempt at all it would be for the human condition, not for human nature which is in fact negligible. It's human conditioning, people are born and raised in a culture that imposes a set of values on them. Those values are accepted (without question) to a large degree. The Venus Project examines those values and proposes new ones. It's not that humans and their trains of thought are ignored, other options are simply presented.
Bringing up the Soviet Union as an example of failed high modernism is questionable. First of let me say that I haven't met a Zeitgeist supporter yet that supports such a society like that in the U.S.S.R. in the previous century. Nobody is waiting for another totalitarian regime. Period. Making the connection between the Soviet Union during the Cold War period and a futuristic society like the Venus Project is in fact a false association. There's already the assumption (projection) that these two models are highly similar if not identical. They are not.
The U.S.S.R. was dependent on the technological level of the time period, as you know technology evolves. Much more technologies are available right now that weren't there in the time of the Soviet Union. More importantly they were part of the monetary system and bound by the restrictions of finance. Lastly, they were a separate part of a global dynamic system and forces were at work hampering their progress. It's too simplistic to say they failed because of unrealistic goals, it's much more complex.
Could the Soviet Union finance their entire society so that everyone was fed and housed in luxury? No, they couldn't. In a monetary system there simply isn't enough money to do that. The system wont allow it because the system is dependent on money circulation and economic growth of itself. Secondly, where do you think most of the money was spend on in the Soviet Union during the Cold War era? On defense, not on its people, because there were other nations in the world with their own national interests and agenda's. That's what I mean by 'dynamic forces' because there were other hardline-ideological states, such as the U.S., who made the need for military expenditures absolutely necessary. In the end the Soviet Union was bankrupt.
Comparing the Soviet Union to high modernism or the Venus Project and make the proclamation that they failed and will fail is very simplistic, if not outright false. A myriad of factors contributed to the decline of the Soviet Union, not high modernism by itself.
"In the 1950s, the government of Brazil was eager to forge a totally new capital city, one that would be functional, efficient, beautiful and above all ultra-modern. [snip] No one congregates in the broad open squares because there’s nothing to do there—no shops, no places of social interaction, no reason to go there other than to be there. Everyone hates the apartment buildings because they’re bland, blocky and utterly devoid of any sort of character." (Muertos)
Next point in the critique on the Venus Project. Modern cities are boring to live in and lack character. That's what it basically amounts up to. The city of Brasilia is mentioned as an example. Listing such an example is strictly done in order to associate a city such as Brasilia and the negative connotations that already accompany it, with a modern (circular) city the Venus Project proposes. Classic example of projection. The main problem here is that there are not enough recreation facilities for the people that live in that town. If there were shopping malls and topless bars, most people would have said that it is a helluva place to live in. The solution here is very simple, add places for recreation. Oddly enough, and you can read it up in Fresco's books or interviews, he actually suggests a 'recreation belt' in the cities he proposes.
The problem with cities such as Brasilia, aside from the lack of recreational facilities, is that over time they get outdated. New building materials, ways of construction and technology make such a place look old and inefficient within decades. Yet there isn't enough money (of course) to constantly update and upgrade such a city and bring it up to more modern standards and the wishes of its people. In our monetary system this would be a hard thing to do since the cost would be tremendously high. In a Resource Based Economy I would suspect this would be an easy thing to do since no money would be involved, just the availability of resources would be the main issue. Cities such as Brasilia aren't an example of high modernism failing, they are an example of poor (long term) planning and the restrictions that the monetary system lays upon improvements.
"It’s the ultimate pinnacle of high modernist folly, and would invariably collapse into a disaster so bloody and chaotic that it would make Stalin’s forced collectivization look benign by comparison." (Muertos)
Muertos continues by making a connection between Stalin's brutal policies and high modernism, the latter being the core element of the Zeitgeist Movement and the Venus Project. While I have my doubts that Stalin's policies can be termed 'high modernism' in the truest sense of the word, of course they can be construed as forced social change. However making the connection between a part of history that was costly in lives and claiming such matters will automatically happen in the future on an even greater scale, clearly falls into the category of fear mongering.
If anything, most Zeitgeist supporters are well aware of their history and no one is seeking a repetition of a communist society with all its downfalls. Any intelligent person knows that forced social change will be met by opposition. Subsequently, this is not about advocating forced social change, it's about finding common ground and shared values. We are in the stage of making a proposal and creating awareness, but if you start making negative associations than you're already figuratively throwing out the baby with the bathwater. In my book, such an act would be intellectually dishonest.
“First and foremost, high modernism implies a truly radical break with history and tradition….All human habits and practices that were inherited and hence not based on scientific reasoning–from the structure of the family and patterns of residence to moral values and forms of production–would have to be reexamined and redesigned…" (Scott)
I don't see that much fault with professor Scott's reasoning so far. The only important matter that is absent here is that high modernism can be seen as a constant, and therefore always influencing tradition, human habits and practices. New discoveries in technology change the culture all the time. There is no stopping that. The invention of the telephone enabled people to communicate over vast distances, cellular phones made it even more easier and people suddenly could communicate when they were mobile. It transformed culture. The invention of the airplane literally opened up the world since people could travel everywhere on the globe. The invention of the computer opened up a world of itself, communication, calculation and a host of other utilities. Culture is constantly being transformed by new technological inventions and applications.
The point here is that if you would take the 'high' out of high modernism, tradition, human habits and practices would still be challenged with every step on the path of technological evolution. High modernism takes the change to its fullest potential, that's why it conflicts so much with conservative elements who wish that things remain as they are. If you would remove the 'high' out of high modernism the conflict itself will remain, it just becomes a matter of intensity. Maybe conservative elements need to realize that Pandora's box is already opened. Not many people are willing to return to simpler lifestyles. Inventions such as the telephone and the computer are here to stay, they will only go away if something better is invented. In this regard it also becomes clear that change is a constant.
"The sources of this view are deeply authoritarian. If a planned social order is better than the accidental, irrational deposit of historical practice, two conclusions follow. Only those who have the scientific knowledge to discern and create this superior social order are fit to rule in the new age. Further, those who through retrograde ignorance refuse to yield to the new scientific plan need to be educated to its benefits or else swept aside.” (Scott)
I'm not sure high modernism would automatically lead to a deeply authoritarian society. One can learn from mistakes in the past and as such it is no guarantee such a thing would happen in the future. Personally, I was under the impression that the Venus Project sets its aims a little higher by focusing strongly on matters such as freedom and equality - ensuring the necessities of life for all the people in the world. Many states in the past (and right now), democratic or otherwise, couldn't even do that for their own people.
But lets be totally honest here. Can high modernism lead to a totalitarian state? Yes, of course. Human nature or human conditioning, take your pick, can lead to elitist behavior where one thinks the majority of the people are too ignorant or unintelligent and that decisions have to be made for them. Yet, is this exclusive to high modernism? No, not at all.
One only needs to take a hard look at the world of politics and you would realize that such thought patterns are happening all the time. In a democracy politicians make decisions for you, but who benefits the most from those decisions, the people or the institution/establishment?
In our history, how many nations made the transition from democracy to totalitarian states? Quite a few actually. Disregarding the eastern European states that fell under the influence of the Soviet Union there were a number of states across the globe who found themselves under a (military) dictatorship, often supported by the U.S. I might add. High modernism doesn't seem to be the main cause. It's the self interest of a group.
It's fairer to say that a recipe for disaster is always present. It is fueled by socio-economic differences and inequality, which are brought on by the self interest of the most dominant institutions. These institutions shape society, not high modernism by default. High modernism interacts with culture and influences it but it is the most dominant institution(s) that has the final say. Just take a look at modern day U.S., big business interests basically rule the country and it's all about the money - and has been so for the last 100 years. Thirty to forty million people don't have proper healthcare and are not insured or underinsured. The health of the people is not the main priority. The public debt is now around 14 trillion dollars, have you heard one bank say they are going to help making the U.S. financially sound? No of course not, they are pursuing their own self interest which is profit in this case. If the U.S. economy should totally fail you can bet your last dollar those banks will move their main office to another country and leave the American people out to dry.
In case you didn't notice not every new technology is implemented right away. Have you seen many cars that run on hydrogen or strictly on durable battery power? Not that many, right? Now, why is that - why wasn't new technology adopted right away? Answer, because it's not in the interest of those in power. If hydrogen or battery power was used, the oil industry and a large part of the economy which is based on that would be severely diminished. That's why they don't do it. Self interest, profit and the circulation of money (cyclical consumption) are the most dominant values in our global society, not the people or any sense of equality. It is profit and the pursuit of self interest that causes all the ills in the world. Maybe this is the true recipe for disaster.
Professor Scott already formulated it wisely, 'a planned social order is better than the accidental, irrational deposit of historical practice.' Perhaps we can postulate that the Venus Project is a planned social order and better then the one we have now? Implementing it is another matter altogether and I fully acknowledge that it will cause a great deal of friction with our current values. Therefore you can't make such changes right away. It simply wouldn't work and elitist behavior is right around the corner when the new values challenge the old ones.
What we need is patience. Radical changes must take time in order to avoid conflict. What we need is education. People should increase their knowledge of the world and not only discover what drives its people but also those things we have in common. Education is one of the most valuable assets a person can have. People should learn about themselves and ask themselves why they do certain things. Hopefully they'll realize that the next person is not that different. Lastly, we must keep the dialogue going and hope for more understanding between our fellowmen. In that spirit I hope that Muertos and other critics of the Venus Project have learned something. Us Zeitgeist and Venus Project supporters don't want chaos, we want a better life just like you do.
October 27, 2010
October 26, 2010
Here's a video from YouTube user Neanderthalcouzin who goes into to the mechanics of the relationship between Zeitgeist the Movie and the Zeitgeist Movement. Being so similar in name it is often automatically assumed that the two are the same when they are not. Bit of 'our' own fault of course, yet there is still the need to explain this situation since some people, after seeing Zeitgeist the Movie, assume that every member completely supports that film when in reality there are a number of Z members who don't, and have problems with the critique on Christianity and 9/11. The maker of this YouTube video does this as well and attempts to clarify the confusion surrounding this matter.
October 25, 2010
(Oct. 22) -- It might sound like the stuff of science fiction, but a NASA official says that "within a few years" scientists will unveil a prototype for a spaceship capable of taking earthlings to other worlds.
Excerpt from this article. Quite fascinating actually since those words came from NASA director Simon Worden. I'm not getting my hopes up that I can stroll on the moon in a couple of years but stories like these are at least positive. Also not really sure what kind of spaceship they have in the works. It uses microwave energy to ignite hydrogen propellants. No warp drive, damn. As I'm writing this I also feel a bit skeptical somehow about the possibilities of this technology, but who knows.
October 20, 2010
Many of the dominant values shaping our present society are medieval. The idea that we live in an enlightened age, or an age of reason, has little basis in fact. We are overwhelmed with valid information concerning ourselves and our planet, but we have no inkling of how to apply it. Most of our customs and modes of behavior have been handed down to us from the Dark Ages.That is a quote from Jacque Fresco, from his book 'The Best That Money Can't Buy,' and which I am currently reading. The book itself is an interesting read and it's written in the same tone/depth you would expect from Fresco, especially if you ever saw an interview on television or YouTube about the man. Quite refreshing actually, but that's not what I really want to write about.
Fresco's remark, that we still carry the legacy of the Dark Ages, is something that rings true to me. In fact, I've often thought to myself that we live in the aftermath of medieval times and that we are not quite out of it yet. The Age of Aquarius or Age of Enlightenment, whatever you want to call it, hasn't started yet. Technology certainly has undergone rapid development the last 100 to 200 years. The problem lies in the realization that our hearts and minds have not and are lagging behind. Many socio-economic reasons are at the foundation of our current global predicament. It's also a certainty that with new technological discoveries old ways are challenged. Maybe we are currently even experiencing 'growth pains' on a global scale.
The Venus Project offers a realistic alternative in my opinion. We simply let technology work for us, we let it in a way free us so that we have all the time in the world to explore the world but also ourselves. Without having read the entire book I already recommend it to others. I'll do more on Fresco's book in time to come.
October 17, 2010
October 13, 2010
Yep, that age old mistake is responsible for this situation once again. Slamming your foot on the gas pedal instead of the brake. No one got hurt but it's safe to assume shoppers in that store nearly suffered a heart attack.
In this great piece of stand up comedy George Carlin breaks down the 10 commandments and in a humorous way, revises them. I'm not a hardcore atheist but I do recognize that in the past and continuing till this day a lot of malevolence in the world is caused by religious fundamentalists and fanatics. Carlin also comes up with an additional commandment which I agree wholeheartedly with.
"Thou shalt keep thou religion to thyself."
I can't even begin to point out how important that is. When you have a strict religious view or interpretation of the Bible or any other holy book for that matter, you are always bound to collide with another person who holds a slightly different view. That's what the planet and the human race has been enduring for centuries now. Strict religious beliefs are automatically also intolerant of other points of view. That's the nature of this particular ideology. How do you avoid conflict? Keep religion to yourself.
October 12, 2010
The young dude on the left is succeeding the old dude on the right. I'm talking of course about Kim Jong Un following in his fathers footsteps Kim Jong Il which was all over the news the last couple of weeks. First and last names are probably swooped in North Korea now that I think about it. Il "inherited" the leadership of North Korea from his father as well, Kim Il-Sung. Ok, now I'm pretty confused with the names.
Lets take another approach. Grandfather took control of the communist party in North Korea during and after world war 2. His son followed him as president of that country, sorta, and now that the son is ill the grandson is next in line. Ummm, silly question maybe but doesn't that sound like a dynasty? Something comparable to the kings and queens in former times? When leaders of a country remain in a single family, I think that terminology qualifies.
In fact, I've heard some political commentators phrase it in similar fashion as well. They also compared North Korea to the empire of Japan prior and during world war 2, and to be honest, viewing developments from a distance I must concur. North Korea is very much different than other communist states such as China, the Soviet Union or Eastern European states before the fall of the Berlin Wall. When the reigns are passed onto the family members it becomes pretty obvious that a dynasty is taking place. Political ideology is intertwined with a single, elevated family. And that makes the North Korean society that much more peculiar. Maybe even nasty.
October 9, 2010
This morning I caught this "creature" with my camera as it was hiding in a tree.
Nah, it was my neighbors cat (see below) climbing in a tree some 2-3 meters high and the camera flash went off. Cats eyes reflect light pretty well. It does make a spooky image. For all intended purposes cats can be considered alien creatures since they have some weird character traits. The cat from next door arrived some 1.5 years ago and made its presence immediately known to the entire neighborhood by constantly getting into fights with other cats (also in the middle of the night) and screaming his lungs out in the process. Quite strange actually since when my neighbor gets home the cat is all miauwing and purring, one friendly little furry creature. At night outside or when my neighbor is gone, one black ball of mayhem.
After taking the picture (below) I walked outside and the cat flipped. It didn't know where to go, tried to squeeze itself through the fence - which didn't work, trying to dig a hole - which didn't work, then it ran around like a maniac until finally crawling over the fence in the corner of my garden where it's a little lower. A friend of mine once said; 'cats are two dimensional,' and I think he's right. You would think the cat remembered how it got in my garden but I suppose fear is a bad motivator for cats as well. While constructing my new garden fence I did keep in mind keeping the cats out. I'm not a cat-hater but I do mind when they use my garden as a latrine. When I tend my garden, I don't like working with poop. That's just me. So I made the fence basically hard to enter and made it 1.2 meters high. Clearly not high enough for cats and when you wake up in the morning and open your curtains you see this alien creature chilling in your spot.
Getting better at this. I recall that my mother was always able to make a fine rice meal, it was one of her best dishes and I was always looking forward to it. She got her recipe from an Indonesian neighbor who lived down the street. Now that she is gone I try to emulate that dish but it's still not as good as I remember. Ingredients; rice - which I cook for 10 minutes and than let it rest for another 10 minutes, meat (you can use chicken or pork) that you cook in olive oil until you get that 'golden' finish. Once the meat is ready you throw in the vegetables which can come in many varieties. Cook and stir that until it's done (usually it takes another 10 minutes), then throw in the rice again and stir it around for a minute. Oh and, I do add some spices and pre-baked onions. Yummy.
October 7, 2010
October 5, 2010
Read in the newspaper today that Alberto Contador, the winner of the last 3 Tour de France, probably used a blood transfusion (doping) on the resting day of the last edition. Test results showed that although it is still denied by Contador and his team. Professional cycling is seemingly infested with less then honest competitors. Examples of violators are plural and a few get caught practically every major competition. Bernard Kohl, a former cyclist, admitted that he used performance enhancing substances on many occasions and that out of a hundred drug tests he was caught only once while he could have been on everyone of them.
I enjoy watching cycling. Watched it as a kid and especially the Tour de France and the mountain stages is something I enjoy watching on television. Even watched races when it was nearby although I must admit that as a spectator along side the road there isn't much to see since the pack is in sight and out of sight within a minute if not sooner. Doping is of course a falsification, an act of fraud. You can actually loose count on how many riders were caught in the past. That makes me wonder why doping is so abundant in professional cycling. I mean, every professional knows it's forbidden and still some of them use it. Seeing that many winners of competitions or stages were caught days, weeks or months after their victories, I can only come to the conclusion that doping actually works and that's why they use it despite the risks. I guess there's also a culture among professional cyclists that if you want to perform on the upper levels of the sport, you have to start using since there's also a good chance someone else is using.
I think it transgressed to that - culture wise. Even an athlete like Contador probably isn't above it. There's much pressure to perform and get the results. I think that says something about not only sports, but our society in general.
October 4, 2010
He's on trial now, Geert Wilders, for inciting hatred. Wilders is a right-wing politician and I suppose he can be compared to hardliners of the American Republican Party although I suspect the latter are more wise in public - generally speaking. The Dutch politician however spews out the most hard speech, particularly against Islam, that you have to wonder about things. One of the most remarkable matters is that he receives a lot of support, from the voters that is. Around 1.5 million people voted for him at the last elections. That in itself is a remarkable phenomenon.
I suppose a lot of people are attracted to his political program because of two things. The first item is the anti-Islam rhetoric. In Holland there are about one million people who are affiliated with that religion, mostly immigrant workers and their families who were brought here during the 1960s and 70s. The other 15 are (mostly) Christian all be it divided into Catholics and Protestants (and others). Once you contemplate the religious angle you'll realize that different religions don't mix well and that this has always been the case. Nowadays of course with terrorist attacks stemming from followers of Islam this division is inflated to massive proportions. This is one aspect. The fear of Islam is augmented by the fact that Muslim couples tend to have many children. I know for a fact that the most common name for newborn children in Amsterdam is Mohammed.
This is for some people an indication that Islam is on the rise in Holland since the indigenous Dutch don't have that many children anymore in our modern, expensive, fast-paced society. In the long haul it is feared that Muslims one day will surpass the Christians and will shape a nation according to their own religious ideology. For Christians this culminates in the potential loss of identity and culture. This is one aspect why Geert Wilders manages to gather so much support, from my perspective.
Secondly, and far more clever, Wilders drives the economic angle and connects the deficit to unwise, leftist spending which he calls "hobbies". Politicians from the left of the political spectrum tend to tax and spend more money on matters such as the environment, foreign aid, charitable causes, social security and so on. During these difficult economic times he claims that expenditures such as these are totally unfounded and even hints towards the notion that they are (partially) responsible for the current economic climate. The latter of course isn't exactly the truth since we all know that the financial system and the banks caused the crisis. Still, cutting back on (perceived senseless) government spending is something that sits well with many people and this factor also accounts for some of the support Geert Wilders is getting. Holland is a country with many forms of taxation and over the years many people from all walks of life got totally fed up with the system. I'm sure that goes for many other Western countries as well. A politician can score easy points by stating that he will tax the people less.
To be honest, I'm not totally insensitive to what Wilders is saying. Cutting down taxes is something that sits well with every person, myself included. Yet I'm experienced enough to know that this is half of the equation because what you don't pay in taxes that goes to government related programs, you'll eventually wind up paying the same amount (or more) in the corporate world because there is where it's going to be outsourced. I look at the political wings, left and right, as two wings of the same bird - the political/financial system. Left may tax more but right will lay the same bill in the corporate world. The left makes taxes mandatory while the right leaves you the choice but in the end you'll need those utilities and possibly wind up paying even more. Looking at it from a distance it resembles more of a financial game - for me - and it doesn't matter if you go right or left because you wind up paying anyway. From this perspective I find Wilders solutions to financial problems to be superficial. Many people have labeled him as a 'populist,' saying those things that attract voters but in reality don't offer any real solutions to long term problems.
The anti-Islam rhetoric is potentially far more dangerous and could have serious implications. I myself am a Roman Catholic although not a practicing one. I have no religious affiliation with Islam whatsoever, but I do understand and support the notion of freedom of religion. Having the freedom to practice leaves far more room for dialogue than imposing restrictions. When you start doing that people will automatically have a negative reaction.
I'm sure there are folks that will say that Muslim countries don't have freedom of religion and it's true to some extent, but while some countries have Islam as the sole religion and forbid the rest, other countries allow all religions. You can't lump everything together. Imposing restrictions here in Holland could result in similar measures being taken in moderate Muslim countries. The world often works with quid pro quo.
Like I mentioned before, I don't think Geert Wilders offers any real solutions. He's a politician in the truest sense of the word and will say those things which he knows will gather support. All politicians are bound to the financial system and climate, therefore automatically limited in what they can do for the people. There's never enough money to fix all the problems. Once you realize that you might also realize that there our no saviors in the political system. Wilders doesn't add any real value to the political process. Personally, I think he does the opposite.
How his trial will go is anyones guess. His lawyer managed to suspend the trial on the basis that the judge might be partial (based on some things he had said) and another judicial body is examining the matter. Wilders actually took the right to remain silent at the beginning of the trial. Quite remarkable since he's very vocal at practically every other venue. I'm not sure what he's trying to accomplish with that. But he is a showman, make no mistake.