Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Zeitgeist Movement: Cancel Your Membership. Renew Your Leadership.

For those of you who have been following The Venus Project Challenge on YouTube, you may have noticed that I rarely do Video Responses. One of the reasons for this, is that it would take an insurmountable amount of time and patience to respond to everyone, especially if it's actually going to serve a worthwhile purpose - that is, to answer valid questions, correct any disinformation, and try to get people to understand - rather than just to "retaliate" against naysayers. In some cases the disinformation is just so obscure that it is not even worth refuting, and we can only hope that anyone with half a brain, that's new to the Movement, won't be bothered with it. In those cases, I feel it's a more productive use of my time to just keep making new videos addressing legitimate concerns.

However, in light of my very first Video Response, I was asked to share my thoughts and ideas for promoting the virtues of patience and understanding in our overall responses.

First, I'd like to mention that in his Video Response to TheLegalImmigrant05, Neanderthalcouzin became my role model for exhibiting the patience it takes to articulate the tenets of a Resource-Based Economy, even in response to what most of us would consider an infuriating, or perhaps laughable, objection.

However, the reason I decided to finally do a Video Response is because I knew exactly where this certain naysayer, amongst others, was coming from. This was another person with severe misunderstandings who, understandably, had been told to "do more research." Unfortunately, that response doesn't work, and I'm beginning to find that it's counterproductive. It's lazy. It's often a valid criticism, and perfectly good advice, but in order for it to have any meaning or any effect, it has to come with an explanation. Granted, the person in question is presumably "lazy" for not doing the research, but we are supposed to be the leaders here. If you know how to counter the arguments made against The Venus Project, then do so on your own. Explain it in your own words as best as you can, and list the sources yourself. (i.e. links, articles, videos etc.) That's the best you can do. If they don't acknowledge your answer(s), then that's on them, but at least they can't accuse you of being dogmatic and avoiding the question(s).

When we come across those who blatantly misconstrue the fundamentals of a Resource-Based Economy, they have either A) Done the research and still don't get it, or B) Haven't, and probably are not going to do the research, at least not without you holding their hand. Therefore, the canned response of telling someone to "do more research," just sounds like a cop-out answer to cover up the fact that you, yourself cannot explain it properly. They get the sense that we think we are just "so enlightened that we cannot be bothered with such silly questions or objections," and this hurts the Movement. I say call their bluff, and answer the damn question or objection, right then and there. Don't rely on other people or other writings to do it.

To be quite honest, I think this Movement would already be light-years ahead if every single member took it upon themselves, in every situation, to answer every question or concern to the best of their ability. (Of course we have to use our own judgement and know where to draw the line between answering legitimate questions and responding to endless trolling...) But the point is, we're getting into dangerous territory if we hear a question or concern that we genuinely can't answer, and just argue anyway because we believe so strongly in The Venus Project. If you don't know the answer, find it. We don't need to rely strictly on TVP or TZM materials; there are plenty of sources out there. This level of knowledge and participation would ultimately require, and therefore naturally develop, a more thorough understanding of the material within the organization itself, rather than just regurgitation, and as a result it would accurately portray us as the much more mature and intellectual Movement that we are, as opposed to the accused "cult."

It is absolutely critical that if we are going to suggest to someone that they do more research, we take it upon ourselves to back it up.


"I disagree that humans are naturally greedy, or that they naturally prefer competition. X and Y studies show that we are naturally wired for empathy and cooperation, but this has been stifled due to scarcity. Look at these [sources: links, articles, videos, etc.] and tell me what you think. Also, can you point me to some studies that show humans are naturally selfish?"

Not "clearly you need to do more research."


"Actually, I think you have misunderstood the economic structure of a RBE. It is not the same as using 'money, gold, silver, or bananas,' because there is an element of abundance involved. Therefore, trade and private 'property' are not necessary. I think you will find that [this] segment of Peter Joseph's lecture explains this quite well, at -:--. Here are some other [sources: links, videos, etc.] that explain it as well. What do you think of what Jacque said about a systems approach in the last paragraph?"

Not "if you think a RBE is the same as a monetary system, you obviously haven't done any research."

I feel that this is a powerful approach for at least two reasons: 1) It genuinely answers the question(s) and/or concern(s), if the person is genuinely asking, and it opens a new line of discussion. 2) If they're not genuinely asking and just being an argumentative douche, you will immediately be able to tell when they respond with something like "Human desire will always be unlimited," or "It doesn't matter how you organize the system because central or planned economies always fail," without addressing a single one of your statements or sources, in which case you don't need to waste your time. (See the video below for clarification on the difference between #1 and #2.) It's a win-win situation; you either A) Answer the question satisfactorily and continue the discussion, or B) Patiently and intelligently determine that the person does not actually want to hear the answer. In contrast, when you simply lead with "do more research," you skip both A and B, and end up with C) Not answering the question - which gives them an easy out, that you don't know wtf you're talking about.

In short, I think the more knowledge you have, the more patience you have. It's frustrating not to be able to answer questions and objections, especially when you know there's an answer, but maybe you can't formulate it well. (i.e. You know you heard Peter say it somewhere, but you don't know where, and you can't remember exactly what he said.) That doesn't work. Learn it yourself. Otherwise it becomes a dangerous crutch to say "do research," and it's very easy to get angry and impatient with people. On the other hand, it's very liberating to be able to effectively address objections, as in Neanderthalcouzin's response. At the very least, it reinforces your own understanding, even if no one's listening. I always try to respond to people with open-ended answers - an explanation, followed by a question which encourages them to either elaborate on, or at least question, the legitimacy of their position. Even in the Challenge when I refer people to the FAQ, I still try to point them to specific ones, and ask them what they think of it. I try not to assume that that's the answer, and that's the end of it. We often get so used to hearing the same old objections that we might be too quick to tell someone to "do more research," or "read the FAQ." Careful. Make sure that that's actually what needs to happen, and on top of that, don't be afraid to offer your help.

If we expect to see any kind of realistic change in society, we owe it to ourselves to become subject matter experts in the methodology that will bring this change about. This way, the next time someone asks if you're a "member" of The Zeitgeist Movement, you can confidently say "No... I am The Zeitgeist Movement."
(Added January 6, 2011)