Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is the third documentary by activist Peter Joseph, who has independently released three of the most thought-provoking films I’ve ever seen. Their overall message has far-reaching implications: our world’s economy, which is based on money and power are increasingly becoming redundant in the modern world, and as a species it is in our own interest to think of an alternative way of life – one that encourages progress, rather than restricts it. The films offer a potential solution to the apparent dire state of global culture, and it is very hard not to feel inspired by the ideas they suggest…
I don’t want to review this film as much as I merely want to spread the word about its existence. Its one of those films you see and just wish everyone around you would see it too and take on board what its trying to say, because frankly I can’t imagine anyone being able to justifiably argue against some of its core ideals. It goes into depth about how society shapes a person and makes them who they are, regardless of their upbringing or biological background. It criticises the modern economy which forces people to fight a constant battle for ownership of property, jobs and other life essentials. However, its biggest enemy is the monetary system, which it claims serves no useful purpose any more. Its this part of the argument which felt like a real eye-opener for me, and has been gnawing away at my mind for several days since seeing the film.
I work in marketing, and part of my job requires me to create online advertisements which sell mostly boring products. I was animating a printer the other day (as exciting as it sounds), and it struck me how utterly pointless that task was. In six months time, this printer will probably be outdated and a newer model will have been released. It will essentially do the same job, albeit with a few improvements here and then, enough to justify selling it at a higher price than the previous model, which would by then have moved down to the ‘discontinued’ shelf of the store. So, why waste all those materials on producing the first printer, if you could just make a better model in the first place? Why, because you’ll make more money if you sell two of them! Sounds logical, and reasonable, right? Not if you understand that the materials wasted on producing two sub-par products could have been more efficiently used to create a single, superior product that lasts twice as long.
We unfortunately live in a world where money is required in order to gain literally anything, but the fact is that if money didn’t exist, it wouldn’t make any difference to the amount of available resources we have. Money simply dictates who can control them. The more money you have, the more control you have. Money is a fictional commodity, invented in order to give a value to everything, and its this self-centred constant struggle to earn more of it that can be to blame for many of societies problems. Since everything is limited and shared out based on how much money you have, we end up with the ultra rich getting richer, while the poor get poorer. As the Zeitgeist films suggest, this system is fundamentally flawed and yet we continue to rely on it as though there is no other way. But, there could be.
The Venus Project offers a radical alternative which is a resource-based economy, rather than a monetary one, and as outlandish as it may seem on the surface, you cannot fault the logic behind it. It started in the 70s by Jacque Fresco, a very forward-thinking man who witnessed humanity at its very worst during the second world war. This is a man with perspective. His main wish is to see the world’s resources distributed more equally, as he believes its this which causes the most conflict around the globe. Currently, supply and demand is dictated by the “invisible hand” of the market, and what Fresco’s ideas amount to is a world where everyone can have access to the things they need – a world of ‘global abundance’. The Venus Project is like a blueprint for a better world, and though I would never expect some of its suggestions to happen in my lifetime, the idea of living in a money-free world is made very appealing.
The problem is I can’t escape the fact I want to live. And I live in the world as it stands, and rather than dream about how much better everything could be, a large part of me wants to simply make the best of what I have. For many others, this is the only option. I still strongly admire these films though. They have opened my eyes to how messed-up the monetary system really is and I recommend everyone see it for themselves to make your own mind about the things it suggests. It doesn’t hurt to question your world every now and then.
You can watch all three of the films here, theres lots more information about The Zeitgeist Movement and The Venus Project on their websites. And since Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is freely available to view on YouTube, you can watch the whole thing below, if you want.