Monday, August 26, 2013

The Venus Project — Beyond Politics, Poverty and War

The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.
Modern society has access to highly advanced technology and can make available food, clothing, housing and medical care; update our educational system; and develop a limitless supply of renewable, non-contaminating energy. By supplying an efficiently designed economy, everyone can enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities of a high technological society.
A resource-based economy would utilize existing resources from the land and sea, physical equipment, industrial plants, etc. to enhance the lives of the total population. In an economy based on resources rather than money, we could easily produce all of the necessities of life and provide a high standard of living for all.
R. Buckminster Fuller was saying this over a half century ago, post WWII, when he analyzed resource availability and use. He observed that the issue was two-fold, the first being national boundaries as imaginary lines drawn on maps. The second follows from that. Ninety percent of resources use at the time of his study was military-related.
Consider the following examples: At the beginning of World War II the US had a mere 600 or so first-class fighting aircraft. We rapidly overcame this short supply by turning out more than 90,000 planes a year. The question at the start of World War II was: Do we have enough funds to produce the required implements of war? The answer was no, we did not have enough money, nor did we have enough gold; but we did have more than enough resources. It was the available resources that enabled the US to achieve the high production and efficiency required to win the war. Unfortunately this is only considered in times of war.
Affordability is never the issue. As Bucky Fuller emphasized, the only actual issue is the availability of real resources that can be provided by applying human ingenuity to material resource to do more with less by constant innovation.

Bucky further observed that over the centuries, the issue has been increasing leisure to the point of making better education more widely available. At one time the leisure was limited to the ruling class, which alone received education and had the means to use in contributing to culture and civilization. If Fuller saw a solution to all social problems, it was increasing the general level of education. This requires increasing leisure.

In a civilization of leisure, the pace of discovery would continue to be a function of education. With higher education available to all, the planet would become a Bell Labs, and the discoveries of the few would lead to greater abundance for all, as it has in the past.
In a resource-based economy all of the world's resources are held as the common heritage of all of Earth's people, thus eventually outgrowing the need for the artificial boundaries that separate people. This is the unifying imperative.
This stands in contrast to the present plan for globalization by the ruling elite, as recorded by one of the great historians of the 20th century, Carroll Quigley, Professor of History at Georgetown University and member of the Council on Foreign Relations, in Tragedy and Hope, 1966., ch. 20:
"The powers of financial capitalism had (a) far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank... sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."
The Venus Project specifically dissociated itself from this project.
We must emphasize that this approach to global governance has nothing whatever in common with the present aims of an elite to form a world government with themselves and large corporations at the helm, and the vast majority of the world's population subservient to them. Our vision of globalization empowers each and every person on the planet to be the best they can be, not to live in abject subjugation to a corporate governing body.
Our proposals would not only add to the well being of people, but they would also provide the necessary information that would enable them to participate in any area of their competence. The measure of success would be based on the fulfillment of one's individual pursuits rather than the acquisition of wealth, property and power.
Money? No problem.
If the thought of eliminating money troubles you, consider this: If a group of people with gold, diamonds and money were stranded on an island that had no resources such as food, clean air and water, their wealth would be irrelevant to their survival. It is only when resources are scarce that money can be used to control their distribution. One could not, for example, sell the air we breathe or water abundantly flowing down from a mountain stream. Although air and water are valuable, in abundance they cannot be sold.
Money is only needed as a medium of exchange where there is scarcity and distribution needs to be rationed, and as store of value where there is insecurity. In the new system the unit of account will be purely digital and goods "bar coded" so that the global AI overseer knows what's needed where and on what schedule. Then humanity can turn its attention to civilization instead of some toiling for others.
Money is only important in a society when certain resources for survival must be rationed and the people accept money as an exchange medium for the scarce resources. Money is a social convention, an agreement if you will. It is neither a natural resource nor does it represent one. It is not necessary for survival unless we have been conditioned to accept it as such. 
The obstacle is consciousness. We to evolve to that point as a species and I am confident that it is coming in one form or another. As humanity grows up socially, it will politically and economically, too.

In A Theory of Economic History (1973), John Hicks observes that the socio-economics system of primitive peoples was (is) communal. This was succeed in at the time of surplus production by command system under the temple or palace. This was succeeded at the twilight of the Agricultural Age and the beginning of the Industrial Age by the market system. The social bond in the communal system is kinship. The social bond in the command system is fealty. The social bond in the market system is money.

It is important to realize that from the institutional perspective one system did not replace the other. Rather, new ways of systematically acting in concert are layered over previous systems. The present system is a combination of communal, command, and market, with an integration of cooperation and teamwork, government control, and market distribution based on monetary exchange.

While some have argued that the market system is the end of history, there is no way to predict what will emerge subsequently in a complex adaptable system. What we do know is that increasing complexity generate not only larger challenges but challenges of a different type that call forth different solutions that change fundamental relationships of a group.

So we can be reasonably sure that while previous institutions won't entirely disappear they will adapt and new solutions will emerge that eclipse them, too, but not entirely, just as communal and command-based systems are integrated with the dominant market-based system in modern representative democracies.

The Venus Project aims to be part of the solution.
The Venus Project offers a comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology and nature will be able to coexist in a long term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium
The Venus Project — Beyond Politics, Poverty and War
(h/t Neil Wilson via email)

13 comments:

y said...

The "venus project"? Are you serious?

It's communism with robot slaves.

The main promoter thinks he's Neo from the Matrix.

Roger Erickson said...

I'm pretty sure that Cro Magnon and Neanderthal explicitly agreed on this, even 100K years ago! Proto bacteria ~3 billion years before that?

How did the obvious stop being accepted as a given?

Dan Kervick said...

So how does it work?

Tom Hickey said...

There's a video, Paradise of Oblivion, at YouTube (48 min). I haven't watched it yet. Take-off on Bucky Fuller's Utopia or Oblivion?

But this is hardly a new idea. It was a major feature of intellectual debate in the Sixties and Seventies and many books were written on it. Bucky Fuller was one of the earliest and a main source of inspiration. He called it applying design science to the world game.

Buckminster Fuller Institute

The Buckminster Fuller Challenge

The World Future Society was founded at that time to serve as a focus for new perspective.

There's been quite a proliferation worldwide since then.

What is the solution? Two-fold.

First it is a problem with the level of consciousness. Consciousness needs to be raised first, which I keep harping on. While this is evolutionary in the long run, it is developmental in the short run and can be nurtured or hindered what choices we make now.

Secondly it is a design problem whose solution is methodological rather than theoretical. We don't know what the future will be like so it is also impossible to how to get there when we don't know where "there" is.

What we can do is explore alternatives and as possible options based on a desirable future by asking what is the good life in a good society contemporaneously. It is the age-old question that every age has to answer as best it can by enquiring into the possibilities and challenges under present circumstances and anticipated conditions?

What we can distinguish is methods likely to result in progress from methods that won't, especially ones that have been tried and have failed.

Kind of like we are doing on a limited and focused scale here at MNE.

Tom Hickey said...

Oops forgot the link. Paradise or OblivionParadise or Oblivion

More at Venus Project web site.

BTW this is what econ is supposed to be doing, as pointed out by Kenneth Boulding, Adolf Lowe, and Robert Theobald, for example, back in the day.

What is interesting is that the people that have taken the lead are often architects. They understand creating social infrastructure holistically from a scientific perspective as well as an esthetic one. Economists? Not so much. They are all "efficiency" but there are not engineers and don't understand what efficiency is.

Dan Kervick said...

BTW this is what econ is supposed to be doing, as pointed out by Kenneth Boulding, Adolf Lowe, and Robert Theobald, for example, back in the day.

I agree with that. One thing I have been noticing recently is that there are hardly any well-known economists whom one would be willing to describe as "intellectuals". That isn't to say there aren't economists who are reasonably learned in one way or another. Paul Krugman clearly does a decent amount of reading outside economics which shows up in his witticisms. But is Krugman deeply engaged in the most challenging and provocative thinking of our time? Is he imagining other worlds and dramatic innovations? Is he debating major ideas outside the rather narrow world of established mainstream economists? I wouldn't say so. Krugman is a bourgeois technician in the comfortable new Haven to Manhattan to Princeton corridor whose preoccupation is with the proper means of making technical repairs to the status quo.

y said...

is this the first time you've come across the venus project? It's been around for a while.

Basically the leader, a megalomaniacal architect called Jacques Fresco, wants to knock down every city and town and house on the planet and replace it all with his own designs, which look like comic book futurist buildings. From that point on everyone will live in pretty much identical towns, i.e. futuristic communes with simple geometric layouts, and all the towns will be linked into a global grid overseen by computers, which will calculate what everyone needs and how to distribute everything to everyone at all times. Robots will do practically all the physical and tedious work. It's not clear whether humans will have jobs at all, or only a few of them. There will be no money and no government except for the computers and the programmers of the computers of course. Everything will be owned in common and the computers will decide who gets what, or maybe the people programming the computers, who apparently will have jobs.

It's crazy.

Tom Hickey said...

First time I've come across Venus Project but I'm familiar with Paolo Soleri and , for example. Soleri just passed away on April 19.

I was also friends with architects of the time, and a couple were good friends that I would describe as forward thinkers used to thinking way out of the box. But they actually did build some of this stuff and were also into living experimentally.

Tom Hickey said...

Oops. Should be Paolo Soeri and Arcosanti

Tom Hickey said...

I would include The Seasteading Institute, the Libertarian utopia, in this genre, too.

y said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob said...

Sounds like a recycled version of the 1930s Technocracy movement, and their idea of energy accounting.
There are a number of groups attempting to start holons. A laudable effort, as is the effort to promote MMT.

Mr. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.