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Matt Berkowitz Interview - A Search For Solutions

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Rhyolite Entertainment presents 'A Search for Solutions' In an era of global economic strife controlled by a small group of dominant men with psychopathic disregard for the masses it is crucial for us all to be aware of the problems and even more important, is for us to discover and implement sustainable solutions. An Interview with Matt Berkowitz with Zeitgeist Vancouver My name is a Matt Berkowitz. I'm one of the coordinators of Zeitgeist Vancouver the Vancouver Chapter of the global Zeitgeist Movement which now has chapters in nearly 100 countries and over a thousand cities worldwide. I first became interested or aware of The Zeitgeist Movement after discovering Zeitgeist Addendum online It's the second film in the series and the message really resonated with me. I felt quite alienated from the values in modern society from the acquisitive, materialistic values that many people uphold and as such had sort of found solace in underground music and I very much related with many of the values that are advocated by The Zeitgeist Movement. I went to work right away for the next several months researching everything addressed in both Zeitgeist films trying to get my hands on everything I could and it became very clear to me right away that the direction that The Zeitgeist Movement proposes in terms of a Resource-Based Economy was critically important information. I knew I needed to get involved in the Vancouver Chapter. We had our first event here in Vancouver in March 2009. We had a screening of Zeitgeist Addendum. That was for our Z-Day event, and a couple of months after that we had our first activism event in terms of actually spreading awareness to new people. We'd setup for one of the local festivals here in Vancouver and from then we've been active on a weekly basis spreading this information to new people as well as giving lectures to people who want more information. That's pretty much how I got involved. - How do you see the current global economic condition the destruction of the environment for profit gain unequal distribution of wealth, unemployment, job loss not to mention government services, rising healthcare costs? - Yes, all of these things: war, poverty, unemployment income inequality, all of these things can really be traced back to the governing social paradigm. It's important to focus on these issues but it's even more important to trace them back from where they originate and that's where the socio-economic system that essentially governs the entire world comes into play. To borrow from Dr. John McMurtry, he says "We live in an anti-economic system." Essentially what that means is: It's basically inverse to what 'economize' actually means. If you look at the definition of that, it means to preserve our resources in the most diligent manner with the most reduction of waste that's absolutely possible. Our system today does pretty much the exact opposite of that with consumption at the heart of it. Consumption drives everything, the faster the better for the GDP and for the profits of all the companies within that economy. All these problems: war, poverty, environmental decline these are just symptomatic of the goal of trying to consume as much as we possibly can. The competitive framework governs our entire economic system where companies have to adhere to cost efficiency rather than a technical efficiency. So immediately, all products that are created are inherently inferior by design because of the need to adhere to this cost efficiency which is in order to increase your profitability and to increase your market share. You can't have both cost efficiency and technical efficiency together. They're simply inverse. If we were to talk about a system that was actually economizing it would be one that would be designed from the ground up to take into account what the Earth can actually support to reduce consumption as much as possible basically to manage our resources on this planet in the most sustainable manner possible. That would be a true economy and we can get to that more later. - From what you're saying about, this it sounds like a monetary economy has effects on all aspects of our lives including how we're governed. Do you think the monetary economy has any results as far as democracy is concerned? - Well, it's paradoxical to have those two things together. First of all there's never really been a democracy anywhere in the entire world. How can you have democracy when you have unequal purchasing power when you have monetary interest influencing government legislation, political parties and basically everything that happens in the economic system? Democracy is essentially just mob rule. It's 51% of the population controlling or taking away the rights of the other 49%. In a monetary system it's impossible to have a democracy and if you want to get into an economic system that actually works meaning it provides the basic human needs to all people the democratic method for social decision-making isn't really the way to go. It doesn't matter how much the majority of the public believes that they can dance on the ceiling, gravity will not allow them. We need to adhere to what we actually know in the physical world to gain our understandings for how we should conduct social operations. - Do you see a collapse of the present economic system in the near future? - It's virtually inevitable unless the game of monopoly that we currently play is halted. There are several key trends that we can look towards to understand what the future of this economic system might hold. We've got the obvious discrepancy of living in a system of infinite growth while we live on a planet with finite resources. This is obviously a mathematical incompatibility. You can't just have an economic system that grows forever when you have a finite amount of resources. You've got this obvious unsustainable aspect inherent in any type of monetary or market system that requires growth. What we really need is a steady-state economic system and again, we can get into that. Another attribute we need to look at it is technological unemployment. That's simply the displacement of human labor through machine automation , and this is happening at increasingly faster rates than ever before in history and that's basically the reason for the unemployment throughout history. A hundred years ago, most people worked in manufacturing or agriculture. Now pretty much everyone works in the service sector and now the service sector is even being automated so where's the next sector to absorb all these jobs lost? There really isn't one and the increased unemployment we're seeing globally in the past few years is the result of this machine automation. There's much statistical background to support this and if you understand the logic of this system these jobs really can't come back. It's just going to get more and more pronounced. There's no sector to absorb these jobs. The jobs are simply not coming back and that means that the public has less purchasing power. Less purchasing power means less ability to support the consumption levels needed to increase GDP and this translates into a failing monetary system. It means the end of the monetary system as we know it. Another attribute we need to look at is depleting oil reserves or the phenomenon known as 'peak oil.' We can speculate for a while how much there is left. The obvious reality is that oil is a non-renewable energy resource and it's not going to last forever. It's probably only going to last a few more decades at most and there's really nothing that we can see in this society in terms of a concerted effort to move or to shift the global energy infrastructure into something sustainable. We have the technology to do it but I believe there was an International Energy Agency study a few years ago that found it would take 30 years and $20 trillion to convert the global energy infrastructure into something sustainable. Do you really think that's going to happen in a monetary system? We have the technical capability to do it. We could do it very fast but again the monetary system will not allow it because of its need to maintain cost-efficiency for all companies to make a profit in what they do. If it's not profitable, it's simply not going to be done. We've got peak oil and then we've got the skyrocketing debt collapses that's happening all over the world which is, of course, just a fiction and can be stopped at any time, but the consequences are very real. I think the global uprising that's happened the last several years is largely the result of these debt pressures that are imposing austerity measures in many countries all over the world. You see protests happening all over the world and in the Middle East. We see the sovereign debt defaults of many countries in Europe and probably only a matter of time before the US follows eventually. You take all of these trends and put them together and you really see that this system doesn't have much longer. It's completely unsustainable on almost every level imaginable and the question I really have is not will it collapse, but when will it or will people wake up in time to realize that this system doesn't work and just put a halt to it before it does completely collapse and destroy the planet or the species? - There are those who would say these problems are self-perpetuated brought on by consumers who overstress their lifestyles and demand entitlements. What would you say to these people? - I would just say that that's propaganda imposed or basically spewed out by the status quo. Things like planned obsolescence, people who defend the market system will say that it's consumer-driven. This goes against the inherent logic of the entire system of having to adhere to cost efficiency. Every corporation has to do this and they'll cut costs wherever they can which automatically means inferior products which automatically means they're going to design products to break down, so this is just an attribute of the system. When people say it's all consumer-driven that basically ignores the entire mechanics of how this system really works. - There are those who would also say that there's no solution for today's problems. The recent movement by the Occupy Wall Street group and the Occupy Together group made their positions clear by addressing the problems but they stopped short to address the solution. Won't these problems that they've been addressing be addressed with legal changes and regulations? - It seems that there are more people who are trying to pose solutions from within the current political or social or economic framework and this fails to take into account where these problems actually originate from which is the economic system itself. If we don't go deeper to the lowest common denominator of where these problems actually originate nothing is going to change it. Legislation or regulatory efforts do nothing to address the root causes of where these problems originate. It's simply a form of patchwork and when it really comes down to it every law in the books is just more proof that this social system is insufficient in terms of actually providing for everyone on this planet. The more regulation you need just shows that this system, again, is a failure. People who say that this system will just work it out by going back to the free market that again fails to take into account the mechanisms of how this system operates. We need to look towards the very system itself understand the mechanics within it and understand that it's the structure itself that causes a propensity for war that causes this income inequality. This monetary market system obviously creates this. For example, income inequality: the more money you have, the easier it is to make more money. If you have a million dollars and you put it into a bank at 5% interest per year you get $50,000 per year for doing absolutely nothing. [If] a lower or middle-income person wants to get a mortgage for a house he or she would have to go to the bank and get a loan and pay interest. You're essentially taking this money from the poor and giving it to the rich. It's basically a built-in classism right in the very mechanics of the system. - Some defenders of capitalism say we've gotten away from a free-market economy that what we have is crony capitalism or corporatism and that returning to a truly laissez-faire, free-market capitalism would fix the problem. - Yes, this is one of my favorite ones to address. It really just reveals the indoctrination that these people have towards supporting this structure. Advocating such a position fails to take into account the obvious incentive for corruption within any type of market system whether it's completely laissez-faire or even further left-leaning. You'd still have this incentive for corruption. You'd still have a propensity for war. If a country doesn't have the resources it needs and it's not going to get along economically with them they'll invade the country for resources. Every war has been about resources in one form or another. To simply return to the free market doesn't make a whole lot of sense. If we were to reset the free market back to how it was in the late 19th century in the US don't you think it would just be a matter of time before what we have today happens? Remember, in a market system everything is for sale and that includes politicians, the governments, legislation. All of these things can be influenced by corporate interest unless we have laws against that but then that's not a totally free market, now is it? To simply return to a free market is to ignore the mechanisms in that free market that allow it to be corrupted. Even Adam Smith understood that a purely laissez-faire economy would turn into a conspiracy of business interests to overtake consumers and he never really advocated such a thing. There are schools like the Austrian School of Economics that almost dogmatically preach that the free market will take care of everything and this so-called 'Invisible Hand' will somehow work out for the benefit of everyone. This is completely unfounded and when we get more into what a Resource-Based Economy is it'll become even more clear how this system fails to simply meet the needs of everyone on the planet and really optimize our social functionality. - You know, the Resource-Based Economy does sound interesting. Can you tell me a little bit about that please? - Yes, a Resource Based Economy was proposed by Jacque Fresco of The Venus Project. He's a 95-year-old industrial designer and social engineer. Basically this economic model transcends our understandings of capitalism, socialism, communism transcends the entire monetary market system. What it does is provide goods and services to everyone on the planet without the need for money or any type of medium of exchange: no barter, credits, debt, nothing like this. The realization is: We have enough food to feed the world's population many times over. We've got renewable energies that can last us thousands of years. We've got incredible technologies that could raise the standard of living of everyone on Earth to beyond what we can even imagine today. The only thing stopping us is our current economic system that will really only operate on endeavors that are profitable. We're saying in a Resource-Based Economy, we simply do it if we have the resources and if it actually optimizes the collective humanity basically. A Resource-Based Economy essentially would provide an access abundance to everyone on Earth because we have the technology to do this. It would look at what's the most efficient and therefore sustainable way of managing resources on a global scale taking into consideration the most efficient distribution systems production systems and the best ways to manage our resources. This could be summarized as the application of the scientific method for social and environmental concern on a global scale. When compared to the methods of our current political system it really is unparalleled and that's another attribute: We want to dissolve the current political system and replace it with a scientific system for decision-making. We don't want to elect people to make decisions for us. We want to engage in statistical analysis, scientific research to arrive at the best decisions. The scientific method is the best method we've developed for properly approximating what reality is and as such, we need to actually apply this on a social level rather than just in isolated pockets. It's time that our social sphere be updated to what we actually know in terms of science and technology and that's a little bit about a Resource-Based Economy. There are obviously many different attributes and you can watch Zeitgeist Moving Forward the third section, called Project Earth which explains all the inner workings of this system in great detail. - Do you think immediately transitioning into a Resource-Based Economy from a monetary-based economy would work right away? Aren't there aspects of human values and belief systems such as greed, self-focus or aggression that play against such a system? - It's definitely a good point. I use the analogy of: {If] we took someone from the Amazon jungle and we dropped them into the middle of an urban, North American city they simply would not understand how to operate and their conditioning would be completely obtuse. It's basically the same. If you took someone from our monetary system today and you drop them into the future in a Resource-Based Economy without orienting them to the new social system their conditioning would be obtuse to the extent that they would simply not understand how to operate and they... It probably just wouldn't work to the extent that they'd have to be educated into this new system. This is probably the most critical point here that we need to look at and that's human values. What human values work and what human values don't? We like to think that all values are equal that we all have the right to our own belief systems and that we're entitled an amount of respect for all of these beliefs. Does that really make any sense, if you know... If your value is to hold a gun to my head and tell me I deserve to die am I supposed to respect that value of yours? Obviously, values are not equal and in order to understand what values work we need to weigh them against natural phenomenon see what sort of relevance they actually have in the natural world. If you look at many of the values that our social system today creates and reinforces like all the consumptive ones, from materialism vanity, ego and jealousy and all these acquisitive values, they're simply unsustainable. Those values will not lead to social betterment in any way. They're simply there because advertising and marketing drills them into people because that's what this system requires this system based off of consumption. We need to rethink our entire value system. I would say we need to move towards what we call a sustainable value system, meaning it's aligning to the natural order of reality. It aligns to natural law. There's many different social myths in society and they're addressed abundantly throughout The Zeitgeist Movement's literature. For example, people's beliefs in human nature that we're born a certain way or our preference towards competitive tendencies our beliefs in free will, or incentive what actually motivates people. These things really need to be understood for what they actually are. I'll give you an example: our beliefs in free will that people can simply make choices free from their environmental stimuli that create these types of values. You simply, you know... If you're brought up in the Middle East into a Muslim family and you have no other influences with regards to other religions or other ways of life what's the chance that you'll become a Christian or Jewish or any other religion? Pretty low. We need to understand that we're essentially products of our environment that our values come from the social system at large our values and behaviors and we need to understand this relationship. If you take the example of free will this assumption extends to the depths of society. Look at our prison and legal systems. These systems are based on the assumption that people have free choice that they commit these so-called 'criminal' acts and we ignore the basis in society for why these supposed crimes actually take place. Crimes are just a response to social insufficiency or people being treated in a negative manner. We need to move towards a sustainable value system which would be values based on cooperation and compassion, empathy, reciprocity and a system where the negative attributes of our system today are just conditioned out. - What is the plan to put a Resource-Based Economy in place? - If everyone or a majority of people in society understood that this direction is beneficial and we wanted to move towards it and we were at the point in which we wanted to implement this thing the first step would be to do a survey of all earthly resources. It really makes little sense to start any other way. We need to know what we actually have on the planet before we can operate in any type of responsible manner with regard to efficient, sustainable use of resources. We do a survey of all resources on the planet or as many as we can locate at the current time with regards to minerals, iron ore deposits the most potent locations for renewable energy whether it be geothermal, solar, wind, wave, tidal (endless supply of renewable energies that we have) to all the different technological capabilities we have and how that applies to efficient production and distribution systems. Once we have this survey, we essentially apply it to the system. It's a self-generating system. Once we have the information that information dictates how we then proceed. That's not based on my opinion or your opinion or anyone else's opinion or even a scientist's opinion. It's based on the best available information that we have at a certain time and essentially everything would unfold from the basic goal of efficiency and sustainability without the need for monetary exchange. This is an outdated concept and we simply just don't need it anymore. It impedes social progress and does little, if anything, to actually provide an incentive for advancing social progress. - Well, do you anticipate resistance from those who profess to have a monetary economy? - Sure. In the meantime there are people who have an emotional inclination towards supporting this system and that's really what it is. It's less of an intellectual struggle on our part than breaking through emotional barriers that have become so ingrained in people that they find it essentially painful to consider any other position whether it be from a religious background or political background or any type of economic dogma, screwed up from the system. They're all the same in the sense that they're not emergent value systems. In a Resource-Based Economy people would be educated to accept change very quickly. That's what this system would need. We need an emergent system rather than an established system and people today are conditioned to have established value systems such that they cling on to it for dear life until something so drastic eventually challenges that value system and they're forced to shift. That's essentially the history of social change. If people are out of a job and out of their house, maybe then even the most ardent free market capitalists will start to wonder and question the very system that they support. In terms of the people at the top, people always ask "Well how do you expect to convince people at the top, the top 1%?" If we have a majority of people who understand a new socioeconomic system such as a Resource-Based Economy the people at the top are going to have very little say as to what the rest of society does. And even then, the people at the top would be so much better living in a Resource-Based Economy with all the reduced stress, the access abundance to essentially everything it is they'd possibly require without any of the dangers that our current system imposes on them. Even they're not exempt from environmental pollution food contaminants, income inequality which actually affects even the richest in society (studies now conclude) so even they would be better off in this type of social arrangement. - How does the timing of the global uprising that we're experiencing now come into play with the implementation of a Resource-Based Economy? - I think we're at a point in time now where many thresholds have been crossed in terms of being able to accept this system and just carry on with business as usual. The protests are probably a testament to the fact that social conditions are worsening for a majority of people in the world, and they're starting to wake up to the fact that this system doesn't serve them in their best interest. To directly answer your question, it's almost like a Catch-22 because if society completely collapses it's going to be a lot more difficult to spread awareness about a new possible social system. At the same time, if this system maintains itself for much longer we may pass the point of no return environmentally and it will become impossible to even implement this type of thing. I don't know when we would pass that point but basically it's a very delicate balance we need to walk and essentially The Zeitgeist Movement understands that we just need to move forward with this information and work as hard as we possibly can to get this information out there. - Well, how can people find out more about The Zeitgeist Movement? - They can go to That's our official, global website where you can link to all the other chapters in the world. You can find our Orientation Guide which denotes the trains of thought advocated by The Movement and all the supportive evidence for how we've arrived at this Resource-Based Economy. There are many different lectures that you can view. As far as locally, Zeitgeist Vancouver is active on a weekly basis in downtown Vancouver at the Vancouver Art Gallery where we engage passers-by with DVDs, engage in meaningful discussion and just distribute as much information as we can to try to reach as many new people as possible. This has been our best method that we've found for activism as opposed to closed-type meetings where you're essentially preaching to the choir. These things are important to get more information out there for people who are interested, but the most critical work that we do I think needs to be in reaching new people and that's where our efforts lie. As far as our local website, you can go to and you can read all about our events that we've done in the past as well as our upcoming ones, all the different local media we've done as well as just everything else that's relevant on a local level. For more information about the Zeitgeist Movement please visit: |

Video Details

Duration: 31 minutes and 31 seconds
Country: Canada
Language: English
Genre: None
Producer: Jeffery K. Leavitt and Jerry Lewandowski
Views: 301
Posted by: ltiofficial on Nov 19, 2011

Interview featuring Matt Berkowitz of The Zeitgeist Movement Vancouver Chapter.

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