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Interview: Peter Joseph on The Young Turks

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- All right, well, we have another terrific interview for you guys today. Peter Joseph, only the founder of the Zeitgeist Movement, not a big deal. His first movie was in 2007 'Zeitgeist: The Movie', which makes sense. 'Zeitgeist Addendum' came out in 2008. 'Zeitgeist Moving Forward' came out in 2011. Peter, thank you for joining us. Appreciate it. - It's my pleasure, I really appreciate you having me. - Alright now, a lot of people might not be familiar with the Zeitgeist Movement, so let's start there, what is it? - The Zeitgeist Movement is a global sustainability advocacy group, that essentially orients itself around economic theory and how we can change the social system to be more pliable, humane and sustainable across the world. - Ok. So what's wrong with the system we have now, doesn't it kick ass? Aren't we number one? - Of course we're number one, number one in a lot of things, a lot of negative things, unfortunately. A lot of life support systems are in decline, we have growing destabilization across the world. We've watched Occupy come and go, it's still lingering, but in different forms now. We've watched a number of different crises emerge. Climate destabilization is still on hand, in a very strong way. The central argument here, and I'll just jump right into it, is when it comes to economics, which in Greek means 'management of household', it also implies efficiency, to economize you know. This is a 'natural order' type of system that is natural to the Earth, to the environment that we inhabit, something science stumbled upon. You know you don't do certain things, you don't pollute the atmosphere with, by burning oil. It creates climate destabilization, and you can stick with that example and extend that on to infinity, as far as how we are bound by natural order laws. There's nothing metaphysical about that, nothing esoteric. However, what's happened traditionally, is we have a system, a market-based system, a system that's based on really old traditions of people engaging in labor, creating trade. We've developed this thing. We started with handicraft, making it very simple. We've evolved this industry, that is massive, huge. Money traveling for the sake of money, money made for the sake of money I should say. Wall Street, the financial system's bigger than anything which makes perfect sense, since that the core route psychology of this system is this notion of trade only, not social betterment. So to finish my thought, we have this natural law system, this natural law economy which has been superimposed upon, by this capitalist free-market system if you want to call it that in distinction. I'm gonna say market economy to generalize throughout this conversation. And what's happened is that they're not in accord with each other and the problems we're seeing in the world, both on the human level and the ecological level is this discord. We're taking a square peg and trying to fit it into a round hole. And from here on out, its only gonna get worse across the board. - I counter by saying: USA! USA! So, seriously, why are they in discord? I mean, I think a lot of americans would normally think; "Hey look, capitalism, that's the free market, that's people trading goods." And you know, exactly what you described, what's the discord? - Well, Ok. The psychological value system that underlies it, as I just alluded to you we have Wall Street and the banking system, one of the largest most influential on uh... growth, GDP, in many different ways the most rewarded system on the planet. This system produces nothing. The Wall Street does nothing. You can argue investment, but creatively there's no one sitting there behind a desk at a hedge fund, putting stuff together to better the world. You could remove, I'm sorry, you could remove the entire system of finance and still generate the economy that allows us to live through factory, industrial production and creativity. I bring that up because that the core sickness of this is a value system problem, where we are seeking money in advantage only, with the side-effect being social betterment whenever it happens, and that's a problem. - So now the bankers would counter and look we've got a ton of problems in our banking system, no question about that. But they would say, "Look the core of the system is essential, cause it allocates money and it allocates resources. So if it's more important to society that we create widget X, as opposed to widget Y, we move the money in that direction, so that we have more efficiency." So that's something that they do, isn't it? - Oh, I agree, to a certain degree. But what is efficiency really on, again, this natural law ecological level? Efficiency means that you want to preserve and you want to do the best thing you can, to create the best outcome you can. Efficiency is preservation, conservation to meet needs in the most strategic way. We have an electric car industry, that's slowly inching its way into America. What happened to it, say 100 years ago when the first electric car actually emerged? Why hasn't this technology been completely proliferated around the world? Why? Because industry also is greedy, stubborn, it gets established and doesn't want to change its mechanisms of profit. Across the board, and this is one of the greatest things we talk about in the movement, we are paralyzed by this value ethic. And now I'm not saying that the market system wasn't great a long time ago. And the handicraft industry, we had a simple type of post-feudalism, mercantilism kind of world, where people were, everyone was a producer, everyone was trading, that's beautiful in and of itself. But technology and everything that's happened around us, has completely stifled this, to the extent that it's no longer applicable in its merit and we are evolving out of it. There's no better word to use than evolution. I don't put down capitalism and the market economy cause it was always bad, I say it's no longer relevant, especially in a world where we can create an abundance. - But I wanna get to the core of the problem. So, you know, I understand that we've got great inefficiencies, now and you mentioned the electric car you know, there's a great movie: "Who killed the electric car?" And I get why the companies that are in the oil business, or that do traditional cars that aren't energy cars, wanna kill the electric car, cause they wanna protect their market share and they want to kill the trolleys and have everybody to drive cars. I understand that and they pervert the market in that sense. So, but what is the core of that problem, that we're letting them? So, what is it? - The core of the problem is that it's not a perversion as you've said, you say it's a perversion? It's not, that is the market. Here's the thing that most economists hate that I say, "The market is as free as ever". And economists that are from the free market mind are like, "Wow, what are you talking about? The economy's not free, we have protectionism we have trade terrorist, we have all this taxation, we've all this coercion by government!" And I say "No". Just like Feudalism was based on the land, if you go back to Feudalism; a completely agrarian society, the entire social order was based around production of the land, the lords, nobles, ownership, and peasants that controlled it. We went into Mercantilism, more state concentration, ultimate, complete state coercion in Mercantilism, as I'm sure you know. Capitalism comes in the exact same way, which means that the government and the legislation that is produced by government, is a product of the economic theory, not the other way around. So capitalism is the economy, economy, excuse me, is the Government, I meant to say, you can't deviate between the two. So when you see this corruption that people call, it's not corruption, it's the freedom of the market. I have the freedom in the market to shut you down if you have a competing product, or if you have something that's gonna interfere with my market share. That is the free market, not this illusion that everyone's gonna compete freely and not have any inhibitions in this sort of utopian laissez faire thing that goes on, in the rhetoric you hear about. - So, that's trippy and I'm not sure I agree with you. So let's go a little further down the rabbit hole. - Sure. - Ok. So if you were to take that system away then, what's an ideal system? What would replace it? - It's an enormous question, let's look at this from an evolutionary standpoint again. Every element that's happened in human society up until this point in time, excuse me, every social system, has been based around scarcity, it's based on the assumption that there really isn't enough to go around, right? You go back to Adam Smith, go back to David Ricardo, you go back to Malthus, specifically Malthus, with his population theory firmly ingrained this stuff. You hear rhetoric across the board, from mainstream economists, that this is based on the fact that we can't provide enough for everyone, therefore we have to restrict. This is no longer true. When it comes to actual sustainable life supporting goods, when it comes to meeting the needs of your population, mantaining a high level of public health and of course assuring sustainability, which you cannot talk about production in any society without talking about sustainability 'cause that's the long-term inhibitor when it comes to the laws of nature, we can actually create an abundance now. See, I would argue for the market and all the things that you and many others talk about, if I wasn't aware of the fact that it's no longer needed with just the state of science and technology. To alleviate the corruption you have to get rid of the psychological place of it. You have to, everyone's the same basically, we're not, some people are not just more corrupt than others, they become that way. There's a reason, just to throw this in there, psychologically, that those of the highest uh, wages in the world, donate less to poverty, percentage wise. There's a study done fairly recently, that found that the most ruthless and the most wealthy people in the world, excuse me, that the most wealthy were the most ruthless, they were most likely to cut people off in traffic. But this is all common sense to us, we know that the cutthroat mentality is there, but the point is it's no longer necessary. Do you wanna resolve global problems? Do you wanna resolve poverty? We can, overnight. Do our resolve corruption? Do you wanna resolve the fact that, we have ecological destabilization coming out every single angle, with almost every life support in decline? We can. But it's going to take overriding the current social system and moving on. - But I need to know how. So I agree with you that, you know, if you breed a certain culture you will get that culture. So, if you reward and incentivized greed, you will get more greed and the same with corruption, etc. So I don't believe that the way we do things, is the only way we can do things and I believe that there is a better way and we can get there. Now, I need to know more about the specifics though, so for example if you say, okay we have enough food to feed the world, that's true, we do. The question is how do you allocate it? So that's what I throw at you. - Well, let's think about allocation, ah, what is the point of any allocation in a market system? It's to get needs to people, really. It's something that doesn't really happen. You know? As every major world health organization stated that it's not the food, it's not the nutrients, it's not the calories that's in deficit; it's the fact that there's not enough money in these environments for these poor people to have resolution. There's not enough money to create a desalinization plants, to bring clean water. So, the problem is economic. So allocation, what does it mean? It means meeting the needs of the human population! Why should we give birth to anyone on this planet, that we cannot take care of? And the fact of the matter is we can! So, that's a huge subject. I could go on a massive spiel about how an entirely new social system could be generated, that takes in all the needs of the entire human population at once. And probably the first thing that comes out of anyone listening is that it will be "Communism", because that's a general reaction, but that is not what it is at all. It's actually making a society that isn't an anti-society, which is what we have now. - Ok now, I believe you when you say it's not communism and I think it's very simplistic thing to think of it that way. Obviously you're not in favor of capitalism as we have it now, right? - Well, I will say I'm not in favor of this idea that a competitive system, where everyone's out for itself is the way that you can have a healthy society. - Ok. So, again, I'm trying to wrap my mind around how it would work. Ok, so it's not like, "Hey you know, we've got that all food in the world and hey Bob, if you don't wanna work take a load off, we'll get it to you", or whatever. Uh, I'm describing the stereotype of communism. - Sure - So, but how does it work? I mean, you would have to reallocate resources to some degree, wouldn't you have to take more from the rich to be able to feed the people in Africa, etc? - Well, no, that's another unfortunate strawman that's built, I'm not accusing you of that by the way. But people often say, "You're just gonna take stuff from everybody else? That's not right." Transition to a new social system is, of course, not an easy thing to think about. And we can talk at length about that, but let's think of a more direct philosophical, technical level, let's put it in layers. Human needs are human needs and public health is public health. Public health can be defined as; both your nutritional health and also your mental health, your state of mind. Lack of conflict in society is also an attribute of public health and preventive medicine. If you look at this in the standpoint of all the layers that create what your daily life means, begin, begin with food. Food creation can exist in much higher states than they can now and they can be localized, removing economic consequences that we have with the current market economy such as Globalization, which is very destructive, high-energy, completely wasteful, exploiting labor. We can concentrate food production regionally all across the world, in very simple technical manners, such as vertical farms. Vertical farms we can put in the coast of Los Angeles, along with desalinization processes and nutrient extraction processes coming from the ocean. And we can grow hundreds of tons of organic nutrient vegetable food, enough to meet the the actual, and protein generating food too, there're all sorts of things can be grown as well to actually meet the high nutritional quality of everyone in Los Angeles. Locally, no importing. And I'm not advocating that's all we do, but I'm giving you the example. So what that means is that you could have, for example, in transition and I'm jumping ahead, is, all food free in Los Angeles, of this nature, to everyone, to meet everyone's need, period. Because its in abundance, no one's gonna hoard it and steal it, even in a market system, cause it's gonna go to waste. It's available to everyone and you would see an enormous increase in public health and less strife in the community. I could go on a big tangent on that, but we'll stop there, that's one layer. - Ok, the people who are gonna make that food, they have to be incentivized to make it? - They do. - Ok, so how do you pay them? How do you incentivize them to produce more food? - In a transitional system, see I'm speaking transitionally right now, you would pay them just like anyone else is being paid. You'd subsidize this one, this one would be subsidized. Or you get corporate influence to agree to do it, which would be hard-pressed, hard-pressed to do. But... - You would have to change a lot of things for that to happen. - Well, we're talking about changing everything here, there's no qualms here. I understand the difficulty of it, I'm not here to say that any of this is easy, but I'm presenting a train of thought. If people want to see these resolutions and they wanna have change, we could do it, we are all one big human family! - Ok so put the corporations aside, you could subsidize it, ok? - It could be subsidized, but I really don't wanna go down this road to talk about this, because it's actually deviating from the point as far as, it just getting done. You know, automated food system is what we're talking about, we're talking about one supervisor on every floor of these automated, tiered, vertical farm systems. Everything can be automated at this stage, as far as stuff like that, very easily. This is a powerful because you have supervisors get paid nominally what, in concert as far as the whole industry... see, they'd get paid perfectly fine, if again, we're talking about a market economy (and I usually don't think this way). They could be paid perfectly sufficiently, especially given the fact that there's not a fraction of the employees that would typically be involved in industrial production, as we know it today, as far as food resources. Again here's one problem though, I don't want to go this angle because it's really complicated, to include the market economy, that's why I advocate the removal of it. - Ok so if you remove the market economy... - What is the incentive? - Yeah - What is the incentive? - Yes. - The incentive is that your well-being is directly related to everything that happens, so that means you are incentivized to actually contribute because it comes back to you. In 1992, 50% of americans donated 4.2 hours, totalling 80 billion hours a year no money, they donated themselves to help poverty to help different systems. In 1978, there was a study done in Canada, one of the only studies done ever in the world by the way, this is fascinating, they gave a fixed guaranteed income to a small town, ah, brilliant for four years. Everyone, more people graduated from high school, more people worked, the happiness rate was off the chart, people could take care of their families, even people that came from more destitute origins, there was an incredible improvement. - So wait, everybody got the same salary? - Everyone was given the same monthly rate of salary, yes. - And then they could do whatever they wanted? - They kept working, they went to jobs that employed them. - This was a particularly unique circumstance, I can send you the article if you'd like to read it? - Aha. - But what it goes to show is this incentive fallacy we have, that no one's gonna do anything unless there's a "monetary reward" is shortsighted. People will do tons of things, if they think it comes back and helps them. And even more so, the great secret of humanity, people love to do things that help others, they really do. - So you think that they would've started Nike just the same... - No. - And would have expanded Nike just the same if they didn't have the profit motive? - Because that is a completely different abstract notion that seeks profit. Nike, the entire concept to say a shoe, has to be put in question. You don't design a shoe to be advertised through celebrities to sell it, to develop market share with a style and a brand. In the future, if we were to move into this type of sanity, people would think of shoes in the most ergonomic sense, it would be designed to last, it'd be designed to be the most beneficial and healthy for you, we'd lose a lot of the stylistic things. All corporate facades are built upon the interest to sell you things, with a certain degree of durability, with a certain degree of health involved, but that's secondary. - But isn't that part of human nature? People want style! -Oh, well I think style can come in many different ways though. People can appreciate each other without the ornament and all that nonsense. Go back 60 years, in America we had more of a, I'm sorry go back about a hundred years. In America we had more of a puritanical ethic for the earliest part of this country, it wasn't until the 19... actually yeah, the 1930s that the big push towards two phenomena in fact; planned obsolescence, because our technology was getting too big, so we had to decrease product life in order to keep the consumption economy going, keep people employed. And 2, this massive thing, put forward by people like Eddie Bernays and a lot of others, that they wanted to turn people into consumers because not of what they needed, but because of these wants that would be generated by society. This is fact, anyone can go look this up. So the value system that, is talked about where people, you have this assumption that people just want more, more and more bling and they want to be stylized. There might be some truth to that, we see african countries with their ornaments and everything but that is very, very, different from what's been put forward, and the fashion neuroses that has come to define our culture today in America and the West. - So I guess I have a fundamental problem with that because I think that... and you know balance is kind of a loaded word, but I think that I look at it a little bit more balanced. I think that human beings are both things; they're both incredibly cooperative and much more so than in our current system allows for or encourages, but at the same time I also believe they're incredibly competitive. And so, so, I think that they want the bling, I think it's a natural human instinct and they want more land and they want more stuff and I think trying to bottle that up ain't gonna work. - Ok well, instead of us thinking anecdotally or at the surface sense, let's run the statistics. There are many many studies that have been done by the Khan Academy and many other places that have done numerous research projects, to see what really motivates people and what happens when they get put into certain environments, where they're forced to be competitive. When it comes to collaborative things, excuse me, when it comes to creative ventures and I find this to be particularly interesting, competition is not a good concept. Cutthroat competition is not a good concept at all, when it comes to developmental creativity. In fact if you look, this is easy to prove if you look at a general corporation. Well all corporations might be fighting ruthlessly against each other, there's a deep seated need to incentivize some element of deep collaboration amongst those are working together, to produce what they need to produce. I think that there's a great deal of truth to what you say, but I think it's over exaggerated to a large degree. I think that the core of everything is a collaborative drive, a deep empathy. You know when you walk down the street and you see someone get hit by a car, you wanna help them, you don't wanna laugh at them. And you know, deeply we have an empathetic evolutionary psychology that's been suppressed. I use that word suppressed, very, very adamantly. I think if we were given time to fruit out a non-competitive environment, to really see that collaboration, is the most rewarding. And it's not to say we're all equal, it's to say that yes you contribute cause your skill set is really good in one way, I contribute cause my skill set is really good in another way and we work together to make the best of it, not have a cutthroat personality battle, because we think that one needs to be better than the other in this value system we have. - You know, again, we have some disagreement on that cause I just think that you're right, it has been de-emphasized and we're on the extreme end of the spectrum and we can come much closer to the middle, but I also think that, that, maybe I'm over generalizing, based on myself but I'm an incredibly competitive guy. I wanna win, right? I wanna win in a basketball game, I wanna get the hotter girl, you know I wanna ... I was born into a deeply competitive musical environment, everyone was as cutthroat as it can be, I have deep neurological culminations of competition myself, but I understand where they come from. Competition is again a cultural phenomenon. We have a fight or flight propensity, we run out of food, we get, I step on your foot, you're really mad at me your adrenaline kicks in, a competitive mode might happen and there might be conflict. But in the society that we can create an abundance, we have to really think about what it means for us to meet the needs and change our evolutionary psychology if you will, I mean that not in a literal sense. We look at the fact that over the past 4000 years, the dramatic changes that have occurred through society, that's all cultural, our brains have not changed that dramatically in 4000 years. And I'll say this as one final point as these little tangents I have, is war, we live in a state of very very detrimental war. Technology, nanotechnology, of course nuclear weapons I mean in about 50 years we're gonna have nanotechnology, if not a lot sooner. That will make the, the nuclear bomb look like a roman catapult. It's that severe, when we think of national war, to see what kind of risk we're all at, when anyone at this point will be able to get a suitcase bomb to blow something up. Anyone will be able to do anything to have enormous capacities of destruction. So, point being, I agree that competition can be good, sports, friendly competition, but on the social level, it's truly destructive and could very well lead the demise of the whole society. - Well there actually, we generally agree. I mean, so I think for example, we've incentivized defense contractors in this country to make more money if there's more war. And we told them all by the way, it's incredibly easy to buy our politicians. So you put either a plant in their district, or just simply give them 10 or 50 thousand dollars. My God, if you give them 50 thousand dollars they'll do anything for you, right? - Sure. - And so we've created this giant incentive system for more war, and by the way we're number one, and USA, USA, we're gonna dominate and when we do, we're shocked to find out that other people are displeased with that. - Yeah. - And then there's something called blowback. - Yeah. - You know libertarians talk about this, liberals talk about it, and, and so all of that I totally agree with, right? - Ok. - And I wanna change that system, I'm just tryin to find a way that I can wrap my mind around it, where I think that is, to be honest, realistic. - Ok, well I'll do you one further then, just for the philosophical basis of it. With respect to war, there's a deep inter-meshing between politics, business and war and there always has been. Again, the government we have is a product of the competitive market economy, not the other way around. So to think that we would not go to war for oil, we would not go to war to secure our currency, to think that we would not go to war to do all of these things that we've been doing, in fact, all empires have been doing Eastern India Company, Britain. War has a always been about resources and economic commercial domination, always, with a few religious exceptions in the middle ages. And even those, actually, if you look underneath the surface are largely about trade and commerce and land. That is deeply ingrained in the competitive market mentality. If you have twocorporations that are seeking market share, looking to collaborate, get cartels going, looking to establish a monopoly, yeah they might not be able to get away with it too long because of the overarching government issue that's there to stop it, there's no real difference between that and two countries, which are corporations one and all. The United States gets trillions of dollars in taxes revenue from all corporations. It's a business, period! General Smedly D. Butler, 1940s, one of the most decorated army officers in history of America. He wrote a book called 'War is a racket' and I've never seen a more plain description, of how war is, and has always been used for commercial domination of the monetary power. Which is why we always put down the Rockefellers and the Rothschilds and all these people we demonize, they are just manifestations of the same ruling ethic. So, to disagree a little bit, I don't differentiate, I see it as exactly built-in. And we can expect nothing less, than the buying of politicians, the defense contract, windfalls, these are all build into the same mechanism, as far as I'm concerned. - Ok, so how do you change it? - Ok. How do you change a system that is inherently corrupt? How do you change a system, move from something where everyone that has been so deeply conditioned into these values and ethics, to the fact that is glamorized now, into something that is actually sustainable and meeting the needs of the human population in an abundance. Transition again, is the most complicated thing you can talk about. But you have to change, which is what the Zeitgeist Movement does, the value systems first. You have to get people to realize the underlying problem and get them to actually understand the solution. So when you talk about change literally, it's a change of the human being, it's a change of you and I. To realize that we might be a part of this system, we might have to engage it. I have to sell movies, I have to engage in the "evil capitalist" stuff and everyone says I'm a hypocrite for that, but that's me living in the system I was born into, trying to work through it. We have to deviate and create plans to enable an abundance, to enable these, these elements that would comprise the characteristics of the new social system in the future, which would again reward these, these attributes. The Zeitgeist Movement works on about four different levels here, we have for example, March 17th we have our big awareness day that's global, with about 150 events usually on average for this day, across the world in always about 70 countries. And it's all about showing the flaws in the current economic system and showing the solution, through the train of thought of logic, natural law economy that we put forward. - And you guys get drunk for Saint Patrick's day? - Yes, of course. - Ok, alright good. Just want to be clear on that. - It's at the same time, but we can't talk about that. - Ok, all right, this is a coincidence.. - So beyond that.... And the second event is on Cinco de Mayo! - Ha, ha. The other issue, is to show the world, again, the possibility more than anything else ... We can talk about and complain and most people know the complaints, they don't know the root order, excuse me, the root psychology, the root problem of this system, they don't fully understand that, which again, I can talk about it 'til I turn blue. but to show people what's possible and make them realize that they don't have to exist the way they do And if they realized that.. just as slavery, when you know, african-american population many of them probably thought that's the way it was supposed to be, they were ingrained into that... to be slaves that was their value system, they thought God created them this way or something like that Slowy they realized it didn't have to be that way and revolution occurred and they were "set free", if you use that terminology This can happen in the exact same way, we can free ourselves from this economic system if we change our minds, and start to create institutions that interfere with this system a little bit in meaning that there are transitional systems that could be put forward that don't use money there could be transitional systems that are put forward that use a mutual credit system that remove the pressure of GDP Again, these are all transitional notions i could talk at length but i really want to emphasize 'cause I could go a long distance on this for the audience's sake, which probably doesn't even know what i'm referring to i'd like to talk about what actually comprises the new system because you've alluded to it but we haven't really described it So let's think about this in layers public health is really the goal...It's the success of society....It's public health, right? It doesn't matter how much stuff we have, even if everyone in the world had a 50 room mansion and 2 jets parked in their front lawn, that doesn't mean they're happy but it would be kind of awesome It'd be tripy if that was the case Granted, the Earth couldn't sustain that clearly (We're working on it) And that's another important point, is that all elements about our sense of luxury and aspirations and success, have to fit within the pre-existing framework of the natural order People often say to me: "what if i want in your system ah... uh... you know, a huge.. 2000 square foot house with (it's not 2000 square foot house). A 200 square mile backyard, i should say, something obnoxious i say, well, what if I want Africa as my backyard? do you think that's humane? Cause at some point, when it comes to natural balance in society, something has become crazy irrational, and essentially violent There's a great deal of material violence out there when it comes to selfishness So with that framework in mind.. you have to balance human needs and our aspirations and sense of success and material abundance with the inherent levels of restriction in the natural world, the carrying capacity of the Earth Do you want to coexist or you want to fight? If we want to coexist, then we have to change our patterns 7 billion people on this planet...9 billion people in a couple of decades easy that's due to lack of education by the way uh... we're gonna have to really assess what we're doing and build a model around that goal now that's the first thing, how do you establish that goal? Do we want that goal? If humanity doesn't want that goal, then there's no hope in even trying to reach it But i think deep down people want to see balance and peace and sustainability So you start with the food level as I mentioned earlier, easy to create global abundance through localization Energy. Big energy issue across the world Are there other technical solutions to create energy abundance? Absolutely. There's more energy hitting the surface of the Earth uh... every day than we could use daily for 4000 years It's 4000 times more energy. It's a technological capacity to harness which is right around the corner with nanotechnology also geothermal and wind and solar and tide, these've imense capacities, there's no energy crisis we localize all of that, all homes become local in their energy production, very easy to do at this point in time, it's not done because of, again, the utility industry and the cartels that are inherent to our system and the GDP that it drives by the way, that's very important to point out. You localize this, boom, everyone has food and everyone has energy Now we get to production, i'm making it over simplified, but it really is that simple if these industries were set up, when i say "industries" i mean technical mechanisms were set up then you move on to actual production Production is really important, and of course, this relates to what i just described production... you have to get a sense of what the Earth has Right now, all the corporations in the world that hoard resources for their own profit gain They keep it secret what's available, we don't really know how much oil there is We don't really know how many diamonds how much copper, how much aluminum there really is... there have been surveys that have been made, but it's private secret, it's a corporate right to have those secrets. We have to assess this. And we have to figure out exactly what we have and then we have to generate a system, a logical system of distributing these resources in a way that actually make sense with respect to natural law What i mean by that: we have decision making processes through industry that's based entirely on the motivation of money so you have to make something you're looking at numbers and cost efficiency, you're relating to industries, you're going to use things based only on your cost efficiency and the patterns you need that's not the way a real economy would work, a real economy would take resources that we have and assess them for their scientific relevance, assess them for what they're actually supposed to do But who does the assessment? The assessment is done by reason and this is something that people hate it when i say it, cause they think that somebody in some round table in some soviet circle, is gonna make all the decisions for all the world one of the great psychological revolutions, great sociological revolutions that has to occur if we intend to survive on this planet is we have to stop delegating decision making to people and delegate decision making to a process of rational thought and LOGIC this is completely devoid in the world Let me express this, cause i know that it's a difficult thing to just throw out there We can calculate society now Science has only been with us really in application about six hundred years we can calculate what the greatest conductor, conducting metal is and why should be used in certain forms and not in others we can apply this type of reasoning to everything and i don't mean some utopianistic thing where suddenly there's a matrix and everything's calculated...that's an ideal that probably isn't reality, at least not now but that's the way we should approach our thought process... we have to arrive at conclusions, not base them on traditional notions or pre-existing systems So when you take the frame of reference it completely shatters the political system it shatters the business system as we know it, it shatters this notion of "free choice" and i say that in a very subtle way, because when it comes down to it we are not free if we intend to survive on this planet we have to align ourselves with the laws of nature and guide ourselves and that's that. And that's a deep problem we have with the neuroses of "freedom" we have in the world today. But Peter, it comes back to who's gonna make that decision, so... uh...I sometimes kiddingly, somewhat kiddingly, call myself the most reasonable man in America So do I get to make the decisions? Ok, here's the thing, democracy. What is a real democracy? Democracy means at the root, I don't mean the greek root but democracy in and of itself implies finding a way to get people to work together and share the world and share decision making processes, right? okay well a democracy could be that everyone in the world decides to kill themselves Well, then that's their choice to do so. It could be that everyone in the world decides to enslave a whole group of people, that's fine It could be decide that everyone in the world, in their ignorance, decides to destroy the whole planet because of bad methods because they're not willing to align themselves with natural laws such as say... climate destabilization, depletion, all the other things that are happening in the world today so that means democracy needs something else, it needs a guiding educational principle It needs a frame of reference to make the democratic process reasonable because otherwise, it's just monkeys in the wild Ok, but who gives that? Your reason can be different than my reason you know, look, i'm an enormous believer in logic and i'm agnostic and I don't believe in religion, that's a whole separate problem because we've got to overcome the fact that the world is massively religious That's a great point But who decides what's reasonable? Well, let me finish my's we have to create a system of interaction of humanity where everyone decides now what i mean by that is... we have this thing called a Direct Democracy, it's very common now, it's used in technical circles. we apply the concept of Direct Democracy, except it isn't people seeing a isn't people voting on something... it's actually about the true established element of society, that keeps us going which is industry itself Not politics. Politics is a byproduct it's really at its deepest core really uh... negative retroaction of an economic system that's so inefficient it needs these people up here to control everything in their dictatorial way So in the future you're gonna have an interactive system of some kind where people are going to contribute to the development of goods of life support They're gonna contribute to the management of the Earth contribute to their own betterment in just the way we do today except against a technical benchmark of the scientific method and reason we really can't operate in another way There's gotta be a system and that can be done technically, it can be done though computers That's how a direct democracy is proposed to work today I use that, it's a great analogy it can be done where people are interacting and sharing ideas in an utterly open-source way Oh, you want to build a car? Here's a bunch of data that we've comprised about how this car could work more efficiently and more in the interests of our demands in the population But what if i don't want your perfectly efficient car? Well it's gonna get to a point also, when human choice would be so much more variable because of the modular revolution in robotics where you'll be able to print cars in a way where you can have a custom car at a whim, without the need for mass production there's so many things that are happening technologically right now that aid the individualism that you speak of that aid the ability of you to be creative in and of yourself, 3D printing... uh... there's a whole lot of amazing stuff happening around the corner If you study people like Ray Kurzweil... The Singularity Institute and look at people like Jacque Fresco, Buckminster Fuller I throw this out there because we're not thinking wide enough enough, and i'm calling you out a little bit, cause you gotta be wider You gotta look at what's possible.. I'm pretty wide It's looking at what's possible and thinking about how a lot of the fears that we have about a loss of individuality a loss of decision making are not actually applicable to the type of system of interaction I'm speaking of, and i'll say one more final... I'm not sure I'm buying that Ok. Then what's the objection? Again, i'm not quite sure who's making the decision, it seems a little too utopian about how we all wind up agreeing on the right technical thing and then and then what's my parameters of choice? So like you've come up with this great car except then i say okay, but i want a different car, and you say don't worry about it cause all the printers are gonna print all the kinda cars you want Oh let me ask you this one: how much choice do you think you really have ? How much choice do any of you people think you really have? In a world that's driven entirely by a corporate incentive, entirely upon mass production in a very inefficient way, producing things that yeah, there's the illusion of difference everything is as 1984 as you could possibly imagine in the world today Everything is carbon copy Look at the average homes out there, there's very little variation the entire infrastructure is certainly without variation people have very little options to do tons and tons of things I can't put solar panels on my home without enormous amount of money There's inhibitions across the board So this idea, this sort of indulgence that we have that we can exist in a way we can't exist in a way, excuse me, without the market system because the market system enables this freedom of choice is really a delusion. We have limited choices more than any time than we'll ever see when it comes to the future There'll be so many more choices in the future and there's only one final thing i'll add to that that is really important again, I can't drill home that when we want to be sustainable our choices are limited it doesn't mean that things are going to be uh... anything less than they are now, in fact there will be more choices the future But if the choices are limited, who's the one who gets to limit them? It's funny how, again, we think we live in a democracy, and you keep asking this question "who is the person?" You don't fathom that we can create a system where everyone interacts through a medium that reasons these things out, where production can be automated... Ok, so that goes back to my religion point then is hard to fathom, right? So, I fancy myself logical, right and.. uh... at the same time i know that i live in a notion of insanity, let's keep it real generated insanity ok now, there's the insanity that you talk about in the capitalist system, etc which there's a lot that a agree with on, as we've discussed already and then there's the insanity of religion so if we went to, you know We go to decide what's reasonable and people will decide your that what's reasonable is that we're gonna get sucked up into the sky by Jesus's vacuum. Believe me I know...I'm not sitting here trying to tell you I have all the answers I'm trying to present a train of thought to the audience and yourself to the extent that, this is what we could do this would resolve the problems at hand. We have plenty of cognitive dissonance I have spent a great deal of time criticizing religious belief I'm very well aware of the neuroses that's established. I'm also very well aware of the dogma that exists in the market mindset too with people i speak to, this materialism that's come forward where anything, where you try to say anything about how things how they "should be" or how someone should behave, everyone hates that you know, I get that but the fact of the matter is there is a governing natural law I am susceptible to certain rules, I can eat tons of garbage and toxic stuff but i'm gonna get cancer probably, therefore i'm bound if i want to maintain health same thing goes to society if we wanna live in a society that's peaceful sustainable, humane, in a very literal sense that we know of today we have to take the social order into account so people's values have to be adapted to what works on the whole and if you follow this train of thought you will realize that... and we are malleable, we are very malleable Our plasticity in our minds can enable us to do things.. when you look across the world there are people living in all sorts of different types of societies Not as much as they used to of course, with the hegemonic agendas of the West But, it's not that it can't be done...people will overcome their fears once they realize that they are going to be so much happier than the world they have today because this is all relative as well i'm not trying to say this is utopia, this is relative to where we are now So look, there's limited resources and that's a sad day for all of us and we allocate them in a way that's not necessarily efficient now so we have the illusion of choice as you're pointing out, I get all that in your view of things somebody there's going to be another system of making those choices among limited resources And you're hoping that it's one that it's based on reason so that appeals to me, I like reason. But but when we go to decide together we're not very reasonable creatures, so I mean we're not right now, i hope we are in a thousand years or in ten thousand years But right now, like you go and try to make a reasonable decision in Pakistan and see how that turns out for you I completely agree with you, I understand. Once again, I'm not trying to deny that and I know that there would be an enormous amount of resistance towards anything of this nature regardless of how reasoned and even if you explained how beneficial it would be for everyone, especially in these impoverished highly religious nations, how much better their lives would be if they simply conceded to these fundamental economic purposes uh... but that doesn't change the goal, and that doesn't mean if doesn't happen tomorrow, doesn't happen in a decade, doesn't happen in 100 years, doesn't happen in 1000 years from now it doesn't change the interest to pursue it because if you follow the logic, this is where we're going, and I think it will happen if we don't destroy each other and the planet uh... beforehand And that's Nip and Tuck, I see which way it's gonna go So one more thing uh... how do people take concrete steps now? let's assume that, you know, you live in a western democracy, specifically, i would say the US we're in the US uh... do you want them to take certain action in terms of the government and say okay, let's do this instead of that? Ok, as far as transition i'll jump right into that The first as i mentioned earlier is you've to really start to inform people about what the true root problem is, again i've huge lectures and tons of documents on the root problems of economics as we know it then you have to inform them of the solution, get that under their belts then you show them what's possible, you show them they can live in a world where they only work 2 hours a week Oh get outta here... Listen, I'm serious. I'm dead serious I don't think you understand the capacity, what we're capable of technologically this isn't to say we're gonna live in the same world we live in now We'll take this back right now Imagine if you took all the technology that you know of today, all the automation and stuff then posed it on America, or you posed it on Europe 300 years ago Forget the biases of the culture, forget everything they would not have to work at all You know why? Because it'd be fully and utterly automated it's the change of culture the change of the notion of materialism that has forced us into wanting more and more and creates these illusions, i'm not saying that we should go back to 300 years, Europe, that's not what I'm saying What i'm saying is that.. Hey, they didn't have air conditioning back then, so let's just keep that real It's all relative, the values are all relative, if we leave this materialistic culture if we stop this obsession with consumption that has been imposed upon us we could find....balance. To the extent that where we drive our values and importance from how we relate to each other how we help, we contribute to the world, how we better ourselves in a deep personal way not only cars we have in the garage or anything else Look, 2 hours a week seems extreme to me, but i understand you've a valid point I can mathematically quantify that in documents that have been posted I understand it, so.. but so now that's step three of those ok, then what do we do tomorrow? So what i propose.. we have a great deal of poverty, we've a great deal of unemployment and unemployment by the way, just to make sure that this is stated at least once unemployment's a consequence of technology entirely the entire reason we have unemployment in America and across the world is in explicitly based on the application of technology for cost efficiency in this is not going to stop and this will lead to what has been called theorists the contradiction of capitalism to the ultimate instability of our social system the ability to produce more with less people at cheaper rates It's a complete clash of the system that being said, there's plenty of people unemployed on this planet that could, that have plenty of skills that could be utilized There's something called a mutual credit system, that has been used in Switzerland it also takes more primitive forms as a time bank uh... in the world like in New York they have one i think there's one probably in Los Angeles and what you do is you don't use money you start to barter through these complex systems, computerized systems you barter services and even goods in certain circumstances you're not using money, which is beautifully you're accomplishing 2 things: you're removing growth which means removing circulation which is a negative thing against this type of model, you want more and more consumption to make this model work which means that... This isn't the intention of it, but as long as people are bartering and getting their needs met cause they have no money and.. those that do come around and want to do that instead, cause they despise this system like myself they will start to pull away from the market economy and they'll start to pull more gas out of this, we're gonna starve the beast starve the beast is a more, a firmly activist notion Second are sharing systems there's a Zeitgeist Movement in Toronto that does a tool sharing systems in their local community they have all their tools put in one place and they share them, why? Cause no one uses a screwdriver all the time so they share them There's no duplication of stuff, like the Zipcar Zipcar is a tremendous good sustainability practice because there is not people buying cars one on one, they're using them, having access to them and that's a big thing about the future, there won't be as much property obsession in the future, it will be about access more than anything else extremely important for sustainability of the species given population growth so those are two attributes that will help pull some wind out of the system and help those that are really suffering and then we move on to larger order mandates that we'll move against the government to demand certain facilities be put in place regarding energy regarding food production and this word that people hate more than anything else the "socialization" of certain aspects of our lives doctor Martin Luther King Jr. advocated a guaranteed income and he was killed soon after, I'm not saying that was why but he went against the economic system just like he went againt racism you know why? Cause we live in a state of pure economic racism, it takes the form of classism now It doesn't matter what your gender or race is It matters what your place is on the social hierarchy and they're keep you in those positions because it's subservient oriented It's exploitation across the board this is important, so these mandates will be pushed forward in the same type of rhetoric and through culminations of these things....and the ultimate issue really is education i believe that there's gonna be a breakdown in culmination as well because this system is not going to survive, i mean we're gonna keep... Mark my words, you're gonna see more employment, since it's inevitable you're gonna see more poverty of the ultimate tier.. More employment or unemployment? Unemployment, excuse me You're going to see more climate destabilization because the faster this system pulls itself and tightens the noose the corporations are gonna get more and more lax and more and more ruthless, same with the politicians and the worst thing that i fear more than anything else is another World War which has been inching in certain ways for a long time there's a lot i agree what you just described Ok before we leave though i wanna ask you about how you got here so where did you grow up and how did all of this come about? Sure, I grew up in North Carolina, a small a small more or less an urban town but for North Carolina isn't particularly urban uh... my father is a mailman and my mother well a retired now, a social worker and actually I pull a lot of my views from my mother's work in social work, she worked many different elements, I've never seen such deprivation than the more rural areas of the world really a case example of what poverty does to people and the generation neuroses, sexual abuse, gangs uh... it's really a microcosm uh... I should say a macrocosm really of what's happening across the world and i drew a lot of values from that, but i grew up in a very competitive environment I was pursuing career in classical music..that was my...i went to college for i dropped out for various uh... obvious reasons, debt. I couldn't see myself going into 100 thousand dollars in debt to be musician, that made no sense to me It's unique how the financial system when people turn 18, they go to college and they're just riped to be exploited by the corporations 'cause they're a walk out of that school with enormous amounts of debt, at least in America and then you're gonna have to pay that all the rest of life, how you're gonna pay it off? You're gonna work for a corporation And you can't leave otherwise you can't pay the debt and that is the one thing you cannot get rid of, even under bankrupcy I know, I remember years ago i was gonna default on my loans, they were so big but it was in my mother's name and they told her they would garnish her social security which I thought was unbelievable and this is America you know... so i moved uh...I was in New York for many years Three years ago i moved here but i mainly worked in media in New York i did my music stuff but i was just like anyone else I was very ruthless, I actually was an independent equity trader for about 6 years I have a lot of experience in the financial system and in the advertising system too, as in my own view two of the worst industries in the face of the Earth Did you make good money doing that? Not particularly cause i didn't have a large capital base You have to have high five figures to do the type of day trading I was doing, I did nominal but i didn't ...I did purely private I didn't work for any institution so but it was a great experience driver I mean, my goal was to actually do that and be a musician in all my narcissism was to be an equity trader, finally get the capital base which i was working up to, and be a musician This is the standard kind of narcissism you see in this culture, and then something snapped Something snapped when I was about 25 and i just started looking at the world, 9/11 happened, i started looking at the world and said, what's going on? What is...I woke up, to use that cliche term and then i made the first film as a performance piece believe it or not, in 2007 as a catharsis, I was still working in advertising, still doing day trading and i released this free piece i never intended to put it online, excuse me, I never intended to make a movie out of it it was riddled with copyright infringement but I did a performance of it in lower manhattan for free and after it was done i threw the media on it cause it was a performance piece I literally performed the piece with a percussion arrangement and then i threw up online and out of nowhere the whole thing went viral like there was no tomorrow and this started me on a path I've been pushed into the position i'm in now, i had no intention of uh... really attempting any of this and everything's just been led to another and now i feel a deep uh... I can't live with myself knowing what's possible in the world and seeing what we're doing and without trying to change it that's where i stand All right, Peter Joseph, thanks so much for being with us on The Young Turks I appreciate it .......................

Video Details

Duration: 49 minutes and 14 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: The Young Turks
Director: The Young Turks
Views: 584
Posted by: ltiofficial on Apr 8, 2013

Cenk Uygur sits down with Peter Joseph, founder of the Zeitgeist movement and creator of Zeitgeist, The Movie. The Zeitgeist movement's goal is to create global sustainability by changing established social systems. Can people save the world by changing socially?

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