Skip to main content
  1. Posts/

The Zeitgeist Movie Series – My Take

·973 words·5 mins
Economics Money Review Utopia

Let me open by saying that these movies are a classic definition of Propaganda. They follow the tried and true model of massaging real facts to their own needs, and using strategic omissions or worse. That said, I have long wondered whether monetary system is the best way to organize Planet’s resources at this stage of evolution for our mighty civilization. It is rather clear to me that human race is much further along thanks to invention of Money and evolution of Markets and Banking, but is Monetary System in it’s current form truly the best method to propel us onto the next stage of evolution as a species?

For those not familiar with the series, let me start of with by focusing on particularly ugly misinformation in the films:

  • The films pile Communism along with Capitalism and others as a Monetary system. That is just a complete fib, and if you don’t believe me, just read the first 2 sentences on Wikipedia definition of Communism. In fact The Venus Project and various others like it are just pure Communism solutions, but of course they stay away from being labeled as such, seeing how Communism got nothing but bad publicity in the past.
  • The Evil “Profit” is really not an aspect of Monetary system, but rather a key element of Capitalism. Meanwhile Evil “Interest” is not inherently there to enslave us, but rather an aspect of Monetary system that ensures that Money is properly allocated and remain “active”, instead of piling up idly “in someone’s mattress”.
  • Artificial Scarcity goes hand in hand with Price Gauging and other Capitalism evils that are well known, hence US and most other Western countries have laws to abolish these practices and prosecute anyone engaging in Collusion or Monopoly. Free Market is designed by definition to eliminate scarcity and encourage competition, driving price and the Evil Profit down.
  • The current “Glue” of society, that which guides us as humans, is Money. This is how we got our Technology to progress as far as it has. This is the key principle that allowed us to combine “Human Ingenuity” of many people towards the common goal. Without it, we each would be exploring duplicate or disparate ideas and likely progress would be much slower. Furthermore, without it most likely no-one would take the time to fully educate our children generation to pass on the knowledge collected over time. That knowledge and education is what allows us humans to continue and excel – Standing on the Shoulders Of Giants as we often call it.
  • Ecological impact remains 100% relevant even with Money-Free society. There will always be someone who feels it is fine to dump pollution, as long as it is not in our “city limits”. Or another who is fine mining Lithium, even if it may collapse a mountain where 1 million “other” people grow their crops today? How will we resolve such disputes? Weapons?
  • Problems without monetary gain are “not solved” today – absolute fib, obviously. Society richest people pledging their funds more than ever now, and even large corporations are engaged with philanthropy, more so than ever before. Furthermore, most of humanity’s crippling diseases are being researched on a massive scale, thanks to donations and large R&D budgets of established Pharmaceuticals. This is exactly where Monetary system shines, whereas in pure Communism it is unclear whether we could guide so many of our brightest minds into these important common goals.
  • Planned Obsolescence is presented as big evil also, while I contend that it is actually great positive as our society faces accelerated progress forward. With more and more investment into R&D (mostly to stay competitive, another big positive) there are continuous new discoveries that benefit all kinds of products. Another thing one would learn in business school (ahem), is that various brands position themselves for different durability, which is signaled to consumers in price and generally in brand. I will fully agree that we have big issue with lack of good recycling techniques. There seems to be lack of incentive there, for our economy, but I am seeing increased interest there as well, as we dispose of more and more useful things.
  • Israeli Kibutz is mentioned as non-violent place, which is true. However, I think it is of greater interest as one of the best incarnations of working communism on the planet now, albeit on a small and isolated scale.

Technological Utopia (what they call “The Venus Project”) was envisioned years ago, and even subject of one of the original Star-Trek episodes. I still believe that key issues that approach suffers from are still unresolved, including all essential Human Incentive problem, predicting and managing demand/supply and covering all critical “professions” for sustainability. Presence of Money solves all these via signaling mechanism, same one that movie presents as “evil” and “leading to inequality”.
Similar ideas have been tried and failed, so far. Latest example, and perhaps most similar to the series, is the Israeli Kibbutz cooperative. In conclusion, here is an interesting read about how they are faring today.
Although one way to look at money is debt, the true essence that we use it for in our economy is signaling. Here is a simple example where moneyless economy runs into trouble: You have newly designed holocam coming off the manufacturing line. First one is due to ship tomorrow, and both 19 year old gifted woman and 70 year old scientist are interested in it. How do we decide who gets the first one? First come first serve? what if 70 year old scientist happens to be the one who found cure for cancer? What if 3rd person is interested, one who invented faster than light space-travel? How do we measure one contribution against another? Today the answer is pretty much Money.

Featured Art: by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash