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Understanding Zeitgeist Movement Critics - A Peter Joseph Essay (Repository)

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Understanding The Zeitgeist Movement Critics: Malicious Intent or Innocent Ignorance? Hello, my name is Peter Joseph and this is a July 15th 2012 video essay. I haven't done an essay in a while so I decided it would be about time. This video is going to quickly address some persistent misinterpretations of the Movement which originate from researchers and reporters which, frankly, should know better. Please understand that there are many people out there who oppose or object to various issues brought up by the Movement. But at least they do so in a way that actually has some basis with respect to what the Movement is and does. I have nothing but respect for those who oppose us with general consideration and diligence in the process of their criticism. As the old saying goes: "If we all agreed there would be no progress." So this essay is not to denounce general critics of the Zeitgeist Movement who have done basic, fundamental research of the Movement and communicate their ideas and objections in a mature, respectful way. That's amazing and great. In fact, I want to bring on notable critics of the Movement to The Zeitgeist Movement's global radio show to speak with me and others directly about their objections. Unfortunately a lot of people out there prefer to just criticize from afar. And I'm sorry to say, if any researcher or reporter is not willing to interact with those persons or groups they choose to criticize, being open to change their disposition through new clarifying information, their integrity is instantly void. We live in a very different world today with the age of the Internet and now everyone has the ability and freedom to present their ideas and criticisms of the world. However, as with all freedom comes increased responsibility. And one-sided closed attacks are simply intellectually unjustifiable, whether intended or not. At any rate, if you would like to suggest somebody for our global radio show please email [email protected] with the subject line 'TZM Objections' and we will work to bring them on, so we can understand their criticisms better. Okay, back on point. The trigger for this essay was my recent discovery of an apparently peer-review style article published in 2011 in the 'Journal of Contemporary Religion' called 'The Emergence of Conspirituality' by Charlotte Ward and David Voas. I discovered this article by stumbling upon the current state of The Zeitgeist Movement's Wikipedia page which sadly undergoes constant edit-wars by some very persistent and clearly anti-Zeitgeist Movement gatekeepers that subtlely pollute and distort what The Zeitgeist Movement actually does. You know as much as I appreciate Wikipedia's democratic platform which is truly amazing in most cases, when it comes to anything controversial or seemingly subjective in interpretation, you often end up with ongoing edit-wars, and only the most persistent and aggressive will win. In such a context, Wikipedia is not about truth and proper representation, it is simply about aggression and persistence and those with the most time, evidently, will win. Anyway, while I never take Wikipedia seriously as a source on that basic level, I am still very much amused by what surfaces in this sort of entertainment aspect with respect to the ongoing debasing of The Zeitgeist Movement there through deliberate misinterpretation and spin by its gatekeepers. My favorite part is the current Criticism section, not only because none of the criticisms actually have anything to do with The Zeitgeist Movement's interests and intents, but also because of how much it outweighs in focus the other flimsy statements that appear to express what The Zeitgeist Movement is, actually providing no real information of relevance at all. Just a hodge-podge of prima facie and trajections that ignore mostly everything the Movement advocates, harping instead on my personal unrelated artistic expressions, the Zeitgeist film series, specifically my first film, which was made years before the Movement was even realized and has no direct connection at all with respect to the Movement's interests. And for those familiar, it's nothing new, we have endless 9/11 conspiracy relationships from the first film highlighted, which of course have nothing to do with anything we promote. We have this very odd article by Michelle Goldberg which suggests that the Movement is some type of anti-Semitic cult along with some dubious claim about this German social network site that banned evidently one of our groups because of anti-Semitism which is completely absurd, since there's no evidence that the group that was banned had any official connection to our chapter network and was not just some random page using our name which has been prolific across the Internet. And not to mention of course, The Zeitgeist Movement clearly has no racial, religious or class bias, and rather seeks human unification and support in general, not division. But my real interest here is the noted article in the 'Journal of Contemporary Religion' and the lapse - complete lapse - of academic integrity put forward by the authors, which paints not only an incorrect picture of the Movement, but an offensive and defaming one. Let me ask you a question: If you were a reporter wanting to learn about The Zeitgeist Movement objectively, and you wanted to understand what it was, what it did, what would YOU do? Would you go to Wikipedia? Would you go to some random blog or YouTube video that comes up in a search engine? Or would you go to the official site that actually made its points very clear regarding what the organization does, its mission, and review our official materials and lectures? The Zeitgeist Movement's website has been up since 2009 with a very concise FAQ and enormous number of lectures by our lecture team. It's very difficult to miss in fact, how obvious, what our mission is. Sadly however, it appears the FAQ, the pdf guides, the lectures, and the enormous amount of work put into this through radio shows, and parallel websites, blogs and so forth, our global event days, our town hall lectures, our media project, the entire educational method and avocation, apparently all of that is invalid when it comes to the interests of some of those that wish to report on us. Of course, to give credit where credit is due, the New York Times and the Huffington Post reviews of Z-Day, along with many live interviews and reports by Russia Today, mostly got it right. But the vast majority continue to embarrass themselves with what appears to be simply lazy research, or even worse, malicious intent. In fact very quickly, an amusing article, at least in gesture produced by the London Telegraph a few weeks ago, without any noted evidence at all, claims that an unfortunately disillusioned boy, insensitively labeled as "Forest Boy" by the media, was quote "inspired by the Zeitgeist Movement" with the author going on to make some of the most egregious errors I've ever seen in an article. It said the boy "was inspired to travel to Germany by the teachings of the Zeitgeist Movement that aims to destroy market capitalism." The Zeitgeist Movement has never published anything about destroying anything, first of all. Our disposition is simply that capitalism will destroy itself, in fact; we are simply watching it go down and planning for the future like any diligent group should. As far as his traveling to Germany, the author was forced to actually retract and remove a claimed that I originated from Germany! I, Peter Joseph apparently am a German citizen, uh which ... of course I'm not, amongst many amateur errors, that I guess that might add in well with the argument that apparently I'm anti-Semitic so I'm sure Michelle Goldberg appreciated that. Nevertheless, it also refers to things like, it's a "political movement that holds future generations will view Christianity as a fraud." Actually, no, the Zeitgeist Movement respects all religions equally as a course of human evolution and has never published anything making such statements. This is once again a deliberate misinterpretation coming from my personal 2007 film which had interests about comparative religion and has nothing to do with the Movement itself. If Michael Moore started a social movement, does that movement mean it's going to have to be about say adolescent violence, such as what was the context of his film in part for 'Bowling for Columbine?' What about his movie Fahrenheit 9/11? Does that mean his movement would have to be about 9/11 issues that was noted in the film? No. Even the premise that a whole non-profit social movement could be based upon merely a film series is idiotic. Anyway, moving on. The article also refers to us as a protest movement, which is really odd given that we've never protested anything and do not intend to, for we don't believe in the efficacy of traditional protest. Instead we work through peaceful educational projects in the hope to bring about sound logic and reason regarding new social possibilities. So the public, once informed, can make up their own mind. And if we transition we do, if we don't, then we don't. In the words of Buckminster Fuller, a strong influence on the Zeitgeist Movement's intent, "You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." Sadly, the Telegraph reporter is not alone and this leads us to the noted article in the Journal of Contemporary Religion. The context of the Zeitgeist Movement's inclusion in this article is presented as related to a phenomenon perceived by the authors called "conspiratuality" which is defined as "a combination of New Age beliefs and conspiracy culture" in effect. Now, it isn't the scope of this essay to discuss the rather abstract linkage the authors are trying to draw, but I will say that the entire paper is based upon a series of self-defining self-referring, extremely subjective, circumstantial presuppositions that haphazardly and crudely categorize a large number of counter-culture type groups in the world today. Now, in some agreement regarding the subject of conspiracies as a theme I will admit that I personally have lost a lot of patience with those who rather than work to really consider the root causes scientifically of human behavior oriented in a system like ours that rewards power consolidation and control, they choose to just harp upon the symptom itself, referencing the unseen "they" as it were. The human blame game, no matter how exotic and creative, simply bores me to death as it actually isn't doing anything progressive. And on that level, I can share in the frustration of those who believe things that really don't accomplish anything or could be erroneous because they're not related directly to causality. Yet, on the other hand, to dismiss the very idea that human society historically is and has been controlled by various power establishments-... We can talk about traditional ones like kings and monarchs to the age of feudalism; we could also extend that of course to what the Occupy movement is fighting today with regard to financial power. Those that seek and to preserve their self-interest over others manipulating to their advantage dishonestly, is not a profound, out-there, radical conspiracy nut-job notion, okay? In a world today where 40% of the wealth is owned by 1% of the world's population, anyone who thinks there is no structurally-based self-interest oriented manipulation for upper-class advantage is in an enormous level of denial about the nature of our reality today. And the use of the term "conspiracy theorist" recently has served those in power quite well by making all of those who realize such unfair social realities simply appear like irrational lunatics. So, as expected this article takes the establishment perspective overall, painting the picture that any such realizations are all irrational conspiracy theories and is in turn painted, in their words, as part of a "politico-spiritual philosophy" when combined with the "New Age" which they define as "mystical individual transformation; an awareness of new, non-material realities, the imposition of personal vision into society and belief in universally invisible but pervasive forms of energy." Okay, all of that denoted let's step back and see how they fit the Zeitgeist Movement into all of this. On page 7 of the article extract, a section entitled "The emergence of conspiratuality," they begin to discuss the Zeitgeist Movement by sourcing a singular statement, very much out of context and in a very misleading manner, from an old obviously cherry-picked introductory essay called 'The Means is the End' which can be found archived online. They partially quote a paragraph which, to one who is not read anything else in the essay provides absolutely no info about what the Zeitgeist Movement is, not to mention opening it up to large-scale semantic misinterpretations obviously fitting their agenda. The quote is as follows. Open quote. "The elite power systems are little affected in the long run by traditional protest and political movements. We must move beyond these 'establishment rebellions' and work with a tool much more powerful: We will stop supporting the system, while constantly advocating knowledge, peace, unity and compassion. We cannot 'fight the system.' Hate, anger and 'war' mentalities are failed means for change, for they perpetuate the same tools the corrupt established power systems use to maintain control with. This could be called a 'spiritual' awakening." (unquote) First, the end statement "this could be called a spiritual awakening" appears nowhere in the noted section and is completely out of context, only placed because they felt it was convenient. Not to mention that the entire context of the quote has nothing to do with New Age free thought and certainly devoid of anything suggesting conspiracy theory, outside of the obvious acknowledgment I've already stated with respect to abuse in power which has been rampant since the beginning of time. Also, since I stated that quote, for those that don't understand it given my comments earlier, this is depicting a Martin Luther King, Gandhi-style non-participation which is probably the strongest form of peaceful activism anyone can be a part of. And for those that don't understand that please get out your history books and understand what non-violent non-participation activism actually is; it's extremely important. I suspect by the circumstances presented here that Martin Luther King and Gandhi, given their recognition of abuse from power and oppression from power, coupled with their interest to see humanity work together, I guess they would also be considered "conspiratualitists" as well. So given the nature of the quote being truly absent of anything New Age or conspiracy oriented, they circumvent this problem with the preceding paragraph, stating the erroneous and long-debunked intent association regarding my 2007 film, Zeitgeist, which again has nothing to do with the Zeitgeist Movement. They state quote: "The second quote is weighted towards conspiracy theory." (This is by the way what they're referring to, the quote I just read.) "It was taken from the Zeitgeist Movement, a website promoting global activism connected to Zeitgeist the Movie, a 2007 web movie. Zeitgeist alleges among other things, that organized religion is about social control and that 9/11 was an inside job." (unquote) And then that's when they actually have the quote that I just read. So you can see how this is framed. You know I would like the authors of this article to provide one piece of evidence that the Zeitgeist Movement officially promotes anything denoted in my film Zeitgeist the Movie. How lazy can you be? The 40+ hours of lectures, endless Q&A's, townhalls, Zdays, media festivals. Is there one official publication, lecture, about 9/11 conspiracies that we denote? 9/11 truth? by myself or other prominent individuals representing the Zeitgeist Movement in talks? Is it in any of our guides and pdfs? And while the belief systems in religion and their values are always going to be subject to scrutiny and interest of any group that's thinking about the broad ordering of society, nothing in my film, the first film, has anything to do with those contexts regarding the Zeitgeist Movement, which is extremely passive, and we have always denoted being completely open to all religions, seeing them as evolutionary consequences. Nevertheless, I do find it amusing that in one of the sources they have for those statements, it goes back to my website, which in the Q&A they source, actually has the following statement a few paragraphs down. It says "The relationship of the films is mainly in gesture to the Zeitgeist Movement. While the films have served as an inspiration for The Movement, the subject matter in the films is not to be confused with the main materials/interests of The Zeitgeist Movement itself, which focus on values, resource economics and sustainability. For example, TZM is not about 9/11, comparative religion, central banking, financial reform or the like. In the world today, many are active in these areas and work to resolve them on a per case basis. The Zeitgeist Movement is not interested in this. Its function is to find the source of problematic social phenomenon and act to resolve it at its core. This is why a completely new social system is expressed in the Movement's materials." Obviously they read that and ignored it. Nevertheless. The article then goes on in general to lump a number of subcultures into this new obviously pejoratively-angled conspirituality institution, then leading up to a final indication of the exceptional academic fallibility of the authors. It states, quotes: "Providers have credentials and appear credible to many despite promoting beliefs that often seem bizarre to non-subscribers. Jacque Fresco, inventor of 'Zeitgeist the Movie' and the movement, is an architect." Hmm-... Does anyone else see something wrong with this statement? How could the authors, even visiting my personal film project website,, made by the director, ME! I mean, how do you mess that up? It sounds to me like they took a bunch of stuff and they didn't bother to fact check anything, and they probably had some really bad intern or somebody compile this conglomerate of subcultures, and they just went in and just threw this thing together and it's really, really pathetic. And by the way for those that don't know, Jacque Fresco is the director of the Venus Project. I have to tell you though, if this is the state of our academia today, peer review academia, I am terrified. Okay, in conclusion. If The Zeitgeist Movement embodies this conspiratuality, taking this seriously still, it would have to fit the criteria that they have denoted, which is on page three of the extract, or page 104 for the whole journal. It says "We argue that conspiratuality is a politico-spiritual philosophy based on two core convictions, the first traditional to conspiracy theory and the second rooted in the New Age: (1) a secret group covertly controls, or is trying to control, the political and social order, and (2) humanity is undergoing a paradigm shift in consciousness, or awareness, so solutions to (1) (that denoted, the secret group) lie in acting in accordance with an awakened new paradigm worldview." Okay! Criteria number 1: Does the Zeitgeist Movement promote that a secret group is covertly trying to control, or is controlling the political and social order? Not at all. The Zeitgeist Movement expresses in part the social system supports the creation of power establishments and those establishments have a tendency to operate for their own self-interest often in a dishonest way against others. And that is not a far-fetched conspiracy theory even though there might be conspiracy-oriented by definition. This is common knowledge, commonly understood, and our legal system today prosecutes such active figures and institutions almost on a daily basis. There is no mystery. Second criteria: does the Zeitgeist Movement believe that quote "humanity is undergoing a paradigm shift in consciousness or awareness, and solutions to the first issue lie in acting in accordance with an awakened 'new paradigm' worldview?" Well. I don't know what the hell that even means frankly but the Zeitgeist Movement simply recognizes and as throughout all of our materials again, that everything undergoes change including our social system. We promote tangible scientifically-based proven solutions to help solve current problems and create prosperity; that's it. Buzzwords like paradigm shift or consciousness means virtually anything frankly to those who read it based on their background. The Zeitgeist Movement does not promote spacey intuitive etherial shifts, indescriptive consciousness ideals, that affect the ether and change the world in some metaphysical way which appears to be the nature of the New Age argument by the definition that the authors are choosing. Now, I will admit that because of the vast popularity of the Zeitgeist film, the Zeitgeist movie and the whole film series, excuse me, you do have people that see this and then through the grapevine they hear about the Zeitgeist Movement and they do instantly think that there's some connection which is obviously the point of this entire video essay that I'm doing. However the moment those people begin to interact with anyone in the Zeitgeist Movement, if they're trying to promote 9/11 truth, comparative religious awareness, or New Age things if you will, whatever, they will find out very rapidly that the Zeitgeist Movement has nothing to do with any of them. Doesn't mean that there aren't people that might claim such things that are in complete ignorance, but we have no control over that. The Zeitgeist Movement is one of most open non-institutions on the face of the Earth. Anyone can subscribe to these ideas and claim to be a part of it, which on one side is quite dangerous as we're constantly being misrepresented, as anybody and their mother can go out and do whatever, and then claim they're a part of the Zeitgeist Movement; all they have to do is say it. Of course the media loves that. But the alternative is far too restrictive and against the ethic of the Movement. If you agree with the Movement, and you understand it, come into a group that supports it, and our chapters, and help make change. If you don't agree with it then don't agree with it and don't volunteer. However the Zeitgeist Movement is the ultimate anti-institution, it's based only on the train of thought, no group identification. We only use the group model because we have to have something in structure to keep some type of process when it comes to our activities. Now, in closing let me just express a certain amount of frustration because when these articles come out or when they're recognized, people contact me and they sent me this stuff and they expect me to always be there to respond as though I'm in that role of representation when I'm really not. And the more time goes on the less I'm going to be representing the Movement, expecting others to step forward. Because I have other things I have to do in my professional life, the Movement exists on its own as the train of thought. I'm not leading anything so you have to take it upon yourselves but I will make some suggestions. If you want to promote the Zeitgeist Movement correctly on the Internet (amongst all the noise) there are four things you can do which interconnect very easily and easy to maintain, and they're all free. 1. Get a Word Press blog. 2. Get a twitter account. 3. Get a face book page only for your representation of the Movement. 4. and get a YouTube account. And post amongst all of these, interconnecting them. You can promote our articles, you duplicate them, you bring up conversations, you invite other bloggers, and do something. It does not take a lot of effort everyday to maintain simple Internet activism so when people come to the Internet they actually understand what we're doing in the general sphere. Since as denoted in this article, it appears a lot of our supposed academic researchers actually don't do any tangible research at all; they're sourcing bullshit. And if you want to stop the bullshit you're gonna have to come in and begin to counter it. So, that's all I have to say, this is Peter Joseph, thank you for listening.

Video Details

Duration: 24 minutes and 16 seconds
Year: 2012
Country: United States
Language: English
Producer: The Zeitgeist Movement
Director: The Zeitgeist Movement
Views: 71
Posted by: ltiofficial on May 11, 2017

This Video Essay discusses a number of issues related to common yet gross misunderstandings regarding The Zeitgeist Movement and how you can help.

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