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Peter Joseph Interview - Berlin Germany - Nov 12, 2013

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- Hi! My name is Jasiek and I'm interviewing Peter Joseph here, who has just come from the United States to Berlin to give a lecture. And first of all I'd like you to just introduce yourself and tell two sentences about who you are. - Sure. As you state, Peter Joseph, I founded the Zeitgeist Movement as it's called which is a leaderless movement that started in 2008, late 2008. And I, basically, I am a social critic and media creator. I mainly do films to communicate socially conscious message. - And in one of the films you introduced the Resource-Based Economy to the wider public. Now it's being termed the Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy. - Right - First of all, I would like to ask you: Why the change? Why the "Natural Law" was added? You could basically state that a resource-based economy is any type of economy that uses resources. And it was also a derivative of another organisation started by a man named Jacque Fresco who has a specific design reference for what he puts forward which is less avaliable to open-source thought. The Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy denotes two things: It denotes the importance of Natural Law right in the title which means even laws of nature. Sustainability and efficiency laws that exist around us, that we have discovered, that we need to harmonise with in order to be in a steady state environment, not have consumption overrun, not to lose biodiversity, scarcity and all of those things that are occuring today. - The other part of that is it also makes a novel concept away from the original predication of the "Resource-Based Economy" which gives a more open-source definition and distinction to allow more people to contribute to it, which I think, a lot of people, when they here a "Resource-Based Economy", they think of one particular version of it put forward by Fresco. This is a variation of that, not affiliated with Fresco. - So now we call it a "Natural Law/Resource Based Economy" because it denotes, let's say, a better understanding of this. So it's not a set-in-stone? - I am just a singular as anyone else. I may have founded the movement but people can call this whatever they want. You know, it's a train of thought. It's how you chose to think about this type of design approach and efficiency approach to society and there are no 100% correct angles or directions. We have this principles, and as technology moves forward, science moves forward, the mechanism, which will make this happen, can be very, very different. So there are very many approaches to this, within the bounds of those natural law rules which are indeed static. - But now we are not in a Resource-Based Economy of any kind. Would you say that we are in a transition or are we still before that stage? - I would say that we are in a very destabilised period ecologically and culturally 'cuz of all kinds of uprisings that continue to happen because of deprivation. And people are looking for change, but most people don't really think about it, are not aware of how the society could be managed in a technical sense to ensure sustainability and also to think about how we pretty much need to start creating equality on some level. Just like we have race equality in most countries, gender equality in most countries, creed equality in most countries we need economic equality in order to keep stability, and we can do it now because of our capacity of creating a post-scarcity environment. - Just like the Wilkinson's book (The Spirit Level) states that this income equality makes everything, basically, work better. - Absolutely, absolutely. I can say a great deal about materialism, about this, sort of, violence of acquisition or acquisitive violence where people have been conditioned by the market economy which thrives on consumption, because people have to buy more and more, they develop a value when they want more and more. And that's, you know, that's very unhealthy. That's almost destructive. I'd say it is destructive in many cases because people hoard money for the sake of money. They really are hoarding resources and food because money represents energy that can move towards production and they take it and hoard it for the purpose of simply having it as that form of security whether it's a million dollars or a hundred billion dollars, it doesn't really matter in the view of the market, you know. 'Cuz, to say this, human needs are considered the exact same as human wants in the framework of market psychology and that's very destructive for a stable society. You can't think that way. - But on a positive note, are there any systems or technologies that you see here right now that could resemble something that would work in a Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy? - Oh! Of course! I mean, all the existing technologies that are applied right now are... on some level, represent some degree of efficiency towards a given end. So, whether you talk about energy systems, which there are many other energy system apart from what we are using. Obviously we don't want to be in a hydro-carbon economy any more. But that doesn't necessarily mean that the technology that's putting forward the hydro-carbon economy is bad. It just means that the medium isn't efficient anymore compared to the fact that we have all these renewables. So, there's... we have renewable energy, for example, used in pockets throughout the world - that's great. It's just not vast enough. The consideration of making really efficient technologies, which we can do, isn't given much credit. Why? Because the market requires inefficiency at all times. Imagine for a moment that every single house had an 80% conversion rate.. conversion for solar array, radiation conversion and they could run into a simple battery technology and be completly off the grid. And that technology could be developed and distributed to everyone within 5 year. Imagine if that was possible, which it, kind of, is. You would see a dramatic collapse of the entire world energy system if that type of efficiency was put forward. Especially, if those solar arrays could exist for, say, 60 years without needing service. So, what would energy infrastructure do... excuse me, what would the energy industry do? They would be out! - So what is this most important puzzle what we are still missing in order to get the whole process of transition going full speed ahead? - Awareness, all I can say... and projects which couples in with awareness. There are numerous think tank style projects that I talk about and others have talked about. The earliest, I think, the earliest individual that spoke of these things by the name R.Buckminster Fuller He talked about something called "the world game", which is very inspiring as a concept. And his game was: how do you look at the world as one unit? How do you share resources efficiently to meet the needs of everyone on Earth? It's a calculation problem. It's a game, it's like a chess game. How do you do it? It's math problem. And that's something think about. And if people are aware of that concept... because no one thinks that way. Everyone still thinks in terms of nations and economies that are localised. They don't look at the world in a holistic view. And I think the work of The Zeitgeist Movement and other organisations is starting to force that view, force that need for a global consciousness. And with that comes the resource consciousness, comes the sustainability consciousness and everything else that we talk about so... we need projects and education rapidly. - And... you mentioned this mathematical issue, right? This is basically, this subject of your today's lecture, right? - More or less. The final third... yes, there are other things talked about, but I'm talking about the macro algorithm of calculation and things... - Could you, in a nutshell, just say what it's going to... how it's going to look like, what you are going to say? Because I know that many people who are of that more economical disposition criticise what we say about in the movement and the idea of resource-based economy, that it's nonviable, that it's impossible because of the problem of calculation in economics. - Sure. That's an old socialist objection where they say that if you don't have money, you don't have price than you can never figure out what anything is valued subjectively. In other words, you take two heterogeneous things like this table and this glass. How do you decide value between the two? Well, first of all, in price, which does it very well for subjective value, yes, we can arbitrarily trade things that each of us make, that are very very different by thinking about how monetary relationship works. And with the entire economy competing, yes, it does work to a certain degree, but it's completely subjective, it has nothing to do with the actual value of the materials. It has nothing to do with the... nothing to do with the whole system awareness that basically decides how certain efficiencies apply. I will give you an example. Certain metals have higher conductivity for energy, for electricity. Some are better than others some are not. And that's a technical relationship and that's where the value really rests, in the context of electrical conduction. So, if you think from a resource standpoint, we could manage society from a technical standpoint without the need for price and money. And the trick to do that...this is a long subject, I'm not trying to bolt this down. That's why I'm giving a big talk on it... ... is, you eliminate trade and you create a system of direct access to the means of production. It's just like in your home you have a computer and that computer is attached to a paper printer. When you print the piece of paper you are contributing to the means of production. It's a mini means of production. In some towns there are 3D printers... 3D printing centres, excuse me, where you can take a 3D design with whatever material, send it to the printing company and they will print it for you. You go and pick it up. In the future, it will be an open-access type environment where everyone can contribute to design, everyone can share design, 'cuz they... that's why you have progress - sharing, not competition. And they will be able to control directly through interfaces through CAD or Computer Aided Engeneering, Computer Aided Design and directly go straight to the means of production which is fully automated. So, there is no reason for trade at that stage. And there are all sorts of things that are qualifiers for that, which, I think, pertain to this conversation... - If somebody wants to listen more about that they'll surely go to the lecture that will be posted on-line - They can watch this lecture, sure. - I want to ask you one more thing about this subject. Because, that type of efficiency, without the price, the price tag actually, needs a lot of data, needs a lot of information. Can you tell me more about the ways it will be collected? Because there are... people have issues with security, for example, right? So could you touch on this subject? - Well, the main data, public data, really, is just demand. That's really what it is. I mean, all that any of us really contribute in the general consumer level is our sense of demand. And of course, we decide to buy certain things, we decide not to buy certain things, and those things we don't decide to buy will reduce in value and they will become obsolete - that's the price mechanism. But in the future, the only real values are natural resource values and efficiency values, scarcity, the efficiency, labour complexity... So if you have a chair that's made in one moulded shot, in one extrusion versus a chair that is very complex that has to use... requires human assembly This moulded chair requires much... excuse me, is much more efficient in it's construction for it's purpose, than this other complex chair, assuming they have similar properties as far as their use. Again, that's a complex subject but it's all technically relatable. If you can put a quantitative value, a categorical quantification on anything, you can compare them. And in this type of society, as I'll talk about in the lecture, it's done based on what the use is, in what the genre use is. It's organised in that way. I hope that makes sense. - Of course. And as a kind of a finishing note, I would like to ask you two more questions. One is about the free marked but from a bit different standpoint because we had a lot of conversations about how different Resource-Based Economy is from the Free Market. I would like you to point out similarities, if you see any, and where we could find the bridge to, maybe, work with these people. - I would have to argue that the similarities are only loosely associated because the end goals are so different. So, right now you have the industry that is using automation, right? They are replacing humans with machines as much as they can because it's cheaper -cost efficiency, it's much very advantageous. So, you see this push towards automation on one side, but it's pushed back because, deep down, people know they have to have jobs. If you don't have the purchasing power you can't buy things that are made by automated machines 'cuz you don't have a job, you know what I mean? So, yes there is a push for, say, automation, but it doesn't go far enough, so that's a slight similarity. I'm trying to think of other similarities. That's very hard in few and far between. The market is based on predication of scarcity. And within a scarcity worldview you can't assume hight levels of efficiency or high levels of abundance. So to answer your question, I would say that's the only one I can find of the top of my head. It's very difficult, it's the opposite, really, of what this system does today. - All right. And, I would like you to, maybe, think of a message that you could send right right now to Polish people, people who have, actually, been through a communist regime and have this, kind of, a negative attitude towards some things we say because they associate it with these old times. So something that would, maybe, make them change their mind about what we advocate. - I would say that the seeds of communism were very well meaning, if you read those that were in the philosophy towards it. The problem was it wasn't thought out and there was no way to actually create the environment because of the scarcity that was inherent. The communism also existed within the larger structure if the market. So communist trade had to engage the market on the international level. They also used money! The lover echelon and the means of production was controlled by an elite. And these are all... ...Non of these could possibly work. So don't look at communism from the standpoint as that's what the communal concept was, as though, any concept where you are not trading is going to lead to that type of circumstance. I'll say this, though, for those that are fearful. I would be much more fearful of what we are doing today, given the incredible loss of biodiversity, the incredible consumption overshoot we have today because of industrial inefficiency which is leading to vast life-support decline. Every... almost every life-support system on this planet is in decline and we have a population that will be 9 billion soon. I'd also say that the competitive society, especially with this pressure I've just mentioned, the competitive society breeds destabilisation, it breeds war, it breeds uprisings. We've had one uprising... there's probably an uprising, a couple of them happening right now. There's an uprising almost every day, right now. Why? 'Cuz of inequality, a lack of resources and basic representation of efficiency. Between these two things, the fear of dictationship, the fear of loss of freedom - much lower on my sense of priority. And I'm not saying that anything would lead to these issues. I'm saying, we need to be aware of the problem we are actually in. The market has killed more people in the past 400 years than every war and every dictator combined due to it's structural violence meaning, due to the fact that, because we have these means to create this abundance we don't utilise it because of the preservation of scarcity therefore all these people suffer and die just because this is the nature of this system. And yet we don't see it, it's invisible. So, this system is completely open-sourced and utterly democratic. It's a kind of participatory democracy, which was never seen in communism, where people are gonna actively engage through modern technology to build the world around them, based, again, through the filter of sustainability and efficiency principles. - Thank you very much for this interview. - Sure thank you. - Hopefully we will see you in Poland someday as well - I hope so, yeah. - All right, Thank you very much - Thank you

Video Details

Duration: 15 minutes and 49 seconds
Country: Germany
Language: English
Producer: TZM Poland
Director: TZM Poland
Views: 121
Posted by: ltiofficial on Dec 30, 2013

This interview took place the day of Peter Joseph's Berlin, Germany lecture, entitled 'Economic Calculation in a Natural Law / Resource Based Economy'.

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