Monday, December 21, 2009

Why is the Venus Project not Communism/Socialism?

After several requests by listeners to talk about the differences between the Venus Project and Communism/Socialism I have been researching this topic for some time. This is also why I have not done any radio shows yet this month, as there was a lot of research that went into this. I wanted to be very sure that I knew what I was talking about.

First of all, let me begin by talking about Karl Marx and his vision. I read “The Communist Manifesto” to be able to understand the direction he was considering. I feel that he had his heart in the right place. And many of his observations about the problems with capitalism are right on track. Let go over a few
issues.

Most of Marx's work talks about the conflict between the “bourgeois” which basically is a word for the “ruling elite” and owners of the means of production, and the “proletariat” which is a word for the working class. The people who actually do the work. In his descriptions of these struggles he details how the elite exploit the working class and always seem to end up sitting around most of the day making money just because they happen to own some land or factories while the workers sweat and toil to make money for them.

From the Communist Manifesto:
“In proportion as the bourgeoisie, i.e., capital, is developed, in the same proportion is the proletariat, the modern working class, developed — a class of laborers, who live only so long as they find work, and who find work only so long as their labor increases capital. These laborers, who must sell themselves piecemeal, are a commodity, like every other article of commerce, and are consequently exposed to all the vicissitudes of competition, to all the fluctuations of the market.”

And further:

“The average price of wage-labor is the minimum wage, i.e., that quantum of the means of subsistence which is absolutely requisite to keep the laborer in bare existence as a laborer What, therefore, the wage-laborer appropriates by means of his labor, merely suffices to prolong and reproduce a bare existence. We by no means intend to abolish this personal appropriation of the products of labor, an appropriation that is made for the maintenance and reproduction of human life, and that leaves no surplus wherewith to command the labor of others. All that we want to do away with is the miserable character of this appropriation, under which the laborer lives merely to increase capital, and is allowed to live only in so far as the interest of the ruling class requires it.“

This basically talks about how in the capitalist system the people who have all the money will only give us a share of it if it in some way brings profits to themselves. And when they do so they are only inclined to do so enough to keep the laborers in a state of living that permits them only to always be dependent on that labor to be able to survive. We are watching this happen today as labor unions lose their power to do much about outsourcing and automation. Marx's points are made even stronger when you take into account technological unemployment. Technology's power to put people out of work was tiny in comparison to what it is now. And as Marx points out, the elite are only inclined to employ people so long as it is profitable.

Marx further goes on to attack private property in such a way that I believe many of us in the Zeitgeist Movement would agree with.

“You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population; its existence for the few is solely due to its non-existence in the hands of those nine-tenths. You reproach us, therefore, with intending to do away with a form of property, the necessary condition for whose existence is the non-existence of any property for the immense majority of society.”

Marx here basically exposes the utter hypocrisy of the Capitalists to say that there is some sort of “freedom” being taken away when Communists/Socialists take private property away from the elite. The real motive behind capitalists defending private property is defending their right to exist as a few who get to live lavishly thanks to the work of the many.

“The lower strata of the middle class — the small tradespeople, shopkeepers, and retired tradesmen generally, the handicraftsmen and peasants — all these sink gradually into the proletariat, partly because their diminutive capital does not suffice for the scale on which Modern Industry is carried on, and is swamped in the competition with the large capitalists, partly because their specialized skill is rendered worthless by new methods of production. Thus the proletariat is recruited from all classes of the population.”

This statement pretty much blows a huge hole in the Free Market capitalist theory that small businesses will be able to compete with large corporations. This statement above is kind of the crux as to why the notion that competition alone will prevent monopoly is absurd. It talks about technological unemployment. Some of the arguments that were used to debunk Marxism were valid before technology achieved what it has today.

Problems with Marxism:

Marx had an incomplete idea. From Wikipedia: “Karl Marx never provided a detailed description as to how communism would function as an economic system, but it is understood that a communist economy would consist of common ownership of the means of production, culminating in the negation of the concept of private ownership of capital, which referred to the means of production in Marxian terminology.”

This lack of detail left the idea wide open for interpretation and therefore corruption. I will get into some examples of that corruption here. Lets take the example of Soviet Russia.

Implementation:

When Marx envisioned how the socialist revolution would come about, he initially figured it would happen in the most advanced capitalist countries. At the time of the revolution that took place in Russia the conditions were certainly not in line with this criteria.

From Wikipedia:
“In Russia, the 1917 October Revolution was the first time any party with an avowedly Marxist orientation, in this case the Bolshevik Party, seized state power. The assumption of state power by the Bolsheviks generated a great deal of practical and theoretical debate within the Marxist movement. Marx predicted that socialism and communism would be built upon foundations laid by the most advanced capitalist development. Russia, however, was one of the poorest countries in Europe with an enormous, largely illiterate peaseantry and a minority of industrial workers.”

This kind of set the system up to fail from the beginning in these conditions. Resources were already scarce from the start. This is the reason that Marx generally figured that his system would work best in an already advanced capitalist country which could then convert it's resources to the new system.

What ended up happening in Russia was a series of problems often seen on a smaller scale in communes. You cannot take the capitalist infrastructure and just decide to “share” the already flawed system and expect it to work. You also cannot expect people to just “volunteer” to do messy jobs. The whole system depended entirely too much on labor with very little incentive.

What Marx wanted to see was what he called a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat.” which basically meant rule by the working class. This was never actually realized in Soviet Russia, and is generally never realized in any other Communist/Socialist state. Some sort of harsh regime always convinces everyone it is necessary before such a great world where everyone gets a say in their lives can truly exist. Kind of like the pigs in animal farm. This ruling class starts off on the right road. But eventually as the limitations of resources become clear the people who are in charge of their distribution tend to find themselves in the position of making sure they are on top. This is what critics and former citizens of Soviet Russia referred to as the “nomenklatura”.

Who were the nomenklatura? Well they were basically the pigs from animal farm who changed the rules from “All animals are equal” to “Some animals are MORE equal then others.” For those of you who have not read or watched animal farm I will define it further.

From Wikipedia:
“The nomenklatura were a small, elite subset of the general population in the Soviet Union and other Eastern Bloc countries who held various key administrative positions in all spheres of those countries' activity: government, industry, agriculture, education, etc. The nomenklatura was analogous to the ruling class, which Communist doctrine denounced in the capitalist West.”

Basically, you are looking at a group of elites, who choose and appoint themselves. If you want into this exclusive club you have to be sponsored by someone already in it. And once in your continued livelihood was utterly dependent on that sponsorship as you could always be replaced.

From Wikipedia:
“Because a client was beholden to his patron for his position, the client was eager to please his patron by carrying out his policies. The Soviet power structure essentially consisted of groups of vassals (clients) who had an overlord (the patron). The higher the patron, the more clients the patron had. Patrons protected their clients and tried to promote their careers. In return for the patron's efforts to promote their careers, the clients remained loyal to their patron. Thus, by promoting his clients' careers, the patron could advance his own power.”

So what do we have here? Just nobility under another name. A bunch of elites stacking the leadership of the country they are leading to ensure they are always on top. Now, before the Capitalists declare victory I would point out that in the strongest capitalist country on the planet, that being the United States the situation is no different. We just are better at hiding this fact in layer after layer of political donations and favors. In the communist system your direct superior was your sponsor. In the capitalist system corporations are your sponsors.

In any case, these people were widely seen (and resented) by ordinary citizens as a bureaucratic elite that enjoyed special privileges and had simply supplanted the earlier wealthy capitalist elites. Just business as usual.

Now, when this system just as any other system starts to have problems, it turns to fascism. Even though this is entirely against the core concepts of Marx's beliefs just as it was in theory against the founding father's of the United State's beliefs.

From Wikipedia:
“Western criticisms of the Soviet Union and Third World communist regimes have been strongly anchored in scholarship on totalitarianism, which points out that communist parties maintain themselves in power without the consent of the populations they rule by means of secret police, propaganda disseminated through the state-controlled mass media, repression of free discussion and criticism, mass surveillance, and state terror. These studies of totalitarianism influenced Western historiography on communism and Soviet history, particularly the work of Robert Conquest and Richard Pipes on Stalinism, the Great Purge, the Gulag, and the Soviet famine of 1932-1934.“

So, tell me if the above statement reminds you of anything else? Oh yeah...the capitalist United States. The difference is as I described before, the elite here in this country can achieve all of this while still maintaining the charade that we are supposedly all citizens of a free country. The fact that the government doesn't officially control the media in the United States only makes them more powerful. As the average citizen has no reason to even consider that their news might be propaganda.

Comparing this system to the Venus Project:

Simularties:

1.We (meaning the Venus Project and Communists) both think capitalism sucks.
2.We also agree that private property is a bad idea.
3.We both tend to feel that we should share the resources.

Differences:

1.Communism does not focus it's efforts on eliminating scarcity. Instead it kind of assumes that there is enough for everyone. And when this proves to be false rather then seeking solutions using the scientific method it just turns to fascism and tyranny.
2.Communism fights for the rights (or claims to fight for the rights) of the working class. We want to eliminate the need for a working class entirely.
3.Communism doesn't address the very real problem that people will not be inclined to work nasty jobs. And therefore does not recognize the importance of automation.
4.Communism still depends on the concept of law to keep people in line. And in fact is very harsh in it's pursuit of people who step out of line. The Venus Project feels that we should instead be focused on eliminating the root causes of criminal behavior at their source. The Communists also still use prisons as a means to solve this problem rather then treating people who behave abberantly as sick patients.
5.Communism in implementation tends to end up falling into the same traps of corruption. Mind you, if they were actually doing what Marx suggested they wouldn't have this problem.
6.Social stratification is still part of the Communist implementation, leading to a new “elite” all over again.
7.The communist system still uses money. And as always this can and does get used as a tool to make sure that some people have more then others.
8.Communism does not utilize the scientific method. And decisions are still made by unqualified statesman with half-assed opinions on any given subject rather then well educated experts.
9.Education at least in Soviet Russia consisted of a lot of propaganda designed to ensure that everyone was in love with it. In the Venus Project our education will be rooted in enhancing the critical and analytical thinking of the people of the world so that no one will ever be foolish enough to be taken in by another fascist ploy again. And when problems are encountered, rather then trying to cover them up or attacking people who show that the system is flawed we will embrace these findings and adjust our society accordingly.
10.Self-sustaining technologies should have been the top priority of any society that would try to share the world's resources. In the Venus Project ideal they would be.

In closing, Communism/Socialism both started off as promising ideas. And I think that if they were implemented exactly as their creators envisioned they would stand a far better chance of success. I feel that we in the Zeitgeist movement and the Venus Project could stand to learn a lot from their mistakes. I also feel that we will probably have a lot more luck finding allies in these movements then in the capitalist side of things. Most people seek out socialism out of a true love of the idea of everyone working together and sharing the world's resources for the betterment of all mankind. And we would certainly say that is a step in the right direction.

12 comments:

  1. You neglect to mention in your analysis of the USSR that the Western nation invaded the country thus putting the USSR in a civil war and that permitted Stalin to consolidate power.

    Clearly the Capitalist ruling class has yet to see the Venus Project as a threat like the USSR. However should the Venus Project achieve mass appeal the Capitalist ruling class will marshal all its forced to disrupt your project. What strategies do you have in place to defend it?

    Thus your comparison to Communism is extremely misleading and inaccurate.

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  2. When I first encountered and researched the Venus Project communism rebranded was my conclusion, having continued my research into this ideology I have read nothing that has convinced me otherwise, in fact I’m now more convinced that ever. Now even if my conclusions are incorrect I do find it interesting that you acknowledge that those with a propensity towards communism/socialism/marxism will be attracted by the Venus Project, a conclusion I have also drawn, so in that regard a question presents itself - how do you intend to prevent these types taking over the Venus Project for their own ends? Don’t think for one moment that they won’t try because they will.

    Of course there are a million unanswered questions in relation to the Venus Project that are always ignored, many people with genuine questions or concerns are often told they don’t understand or are lambasted by followers which in my view simply exposes the fragility of the Venus Project, in many cases criticism is not allowed, the forums for the Zeitgeist Movement make this very clear within their rules; unless you’re 100% behind the Venus Project you’re not welcome to post, so fragile is this ideology that it isn’t open to scrutiny, now that certainly parallels with communism/socialism/marxism. The fact remains that you’re not going to convince the planet to adopt a new system if you’re not willing to have that system placed under the spotlight; which is an inevitability. Blaming people for ‘not understanding’ is a weak and juvenile defence especially when the opposite is true; it’s because people do understand and can’t get answers to legitimate questions (which serves to confirm their beliefs) that people turn their back on the Venus Project. Unless this mentality of Venus Project followers changes you’ll all just be seen as another cult type institution and likely labelled extremists, it’s only a matter of time.

    As a final observation I do find it laughable that whenever communism/socialism/ marxism fails, and they always do, the excuses are rolled out en-masse so these people can try all over again and fail again, I also get the impression from your blog that you are actually a supporter of communism and are one of those that want to have another go at it. Also you neglected to mention the 100+ million people murdered under communism throughout the twentieth century, I mention this because I’d be interested to know what solution the Venus Project has in place for those that do not wish to play ball.

    Far from separating the Venus Project from communism you’ve actually succeeded in convincing me more that the Venus Project is indeed communism rebranded and that is what you truly support.

    P.S don’t think for one moment I love capitalism because I don’t but I hate communism/socialism/marxism far more, these ideologies have no place in the future of the human race.

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  3. I have to split this into parts as your site won't let me post it otherwise. Part one:

    When I first encountered and researched the Venus Project communism rebranded was my conclusion, having continued my research into this ideology I have read nothing that has convinced me otherwise, in fact I’m now more convinced that ever. Now even if my conclusions are incorrect I do find it interesting that you acknowledge that those with a propensity towards communism/socialism/marxism will be attracted by the Venus Project, a conclusion I have also drawn, so in that regard a question presents itself - how do you intend to prevent these types taking over the Venus Project for their own ends? Don’t think for one moment that they won’t try because they will.

    Of course there are a million unanswered questions in relation to the Venus Project that are always ignored, many people with genuine questions or concerns are often told they don’t understand or are lambasted by followers which in my view simply exposes the fragility of the Venus Project, in many cases criticism is not allowed, the forums for the Zeitgeist Movement make this very clear within their rules; unless you’re 100% behind the Venus Project you’re not welcome to post, so fragile is this ideology that it isn’t open to scrutiny, now that certainly parallels with communism/socialism/marxism.

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  4. Part two:

    The fact remains that you’re not going to convince the planet to adopt a new system if you’re not willing to have that system placed under the spotlight; which is an inevitability. Blaming people for ‘not understanding’ is a weak and juvenile defence especially when the opposite is true; it’s because people do understand and can’t get answers to legitimate questions (which serves to confirm their beliefs) that people turn their back on the Venus Project. Unless this mentality of Venus Project followers changes you’ll all just be seen as another cult type institution and likely labelled extremists, it’s only a matter of time.

    As a final observation I do find it laughable that whenever communism/socialism/ marxism fails, and they always do, the excuses are rolled out en-masse so these people can try all over again and fail again, I also get the impression from your blog that you are actually a supporter of communism and are one of those that want to have another go at it. Also you neglected to mention the 100+ million people murdered under communism throughout the twentieth century, I mention this because I’d be interested to know what solution the Venus Project has in place for those that do not wish to play ball.

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  5. Final part:

    Far from separating the Venus Project from communism you’ve actually succeeded in convincing me more that the Venus Project is indeed communism rebranded and that is what you truly support.

    Don’t think for one moment I love capitalism because I don’t but I hate communism/socialism/marxism far more, these ideologies have no place in the future of the human race.

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  6. It sounds more like Anarcho-Socialism or Anarcho-Syndicalism then... Which lacks the dictatorship of the prolitariat.... They (myself included) feel the USSR, China et al were nothing more than "state capitalism" and "degenerated workers states" wherein a new bourgeois was simply created.

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  7. A good example of a *successful* socialist state is the anarcho-socialism that governed vast areas of Spain after the Spanish Civil War. By all accounts the people were happy, prosperous and free - They were brought down not due to economic hardship, but due to force at the hands of the Facists.

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  8. Sorry about that but these people here who are slagging the venus project is not any evidence in conciderar the project as a Marxist or farxismo. Wrong ideologies that continue to massacre the head to say shit against the project? because they will not but it is studying, his great bunch of idiots? It has nothing to walk to blame the project over this and that. The project will only make a better place to live, then it leaves it up to move zeitgeist. Can not be regarded as a Marxist movement. This le-Akiva to consider all the movements of the world as well as Marxists, since as the name says, "movement". All persons who speak evil of venus project has the slightest awareness of what they say, and have not studied enough to understand the problems, do not compare, and come say blasphemy against the project, it requires violence against these people cranky, since only interested in the damn money and politics and so on. Until we seem from another planet. If there is life on other planets, find the word they use their money to social problems? But it will philosophize in the sand are made ​​of the project that is the salvation of our problems today, nobody here has to walk the evidence speak ill of the project, this is pure blasphemy to those who speak evil of the project. Ukhorseracing My dear, where did you see that part of the project is fascist? Or Marxist? you have evidence? No? So do not be stupid in their words and false witnesses without first being aware of having seen the project as well. Everything you say is related to policy and not the project. All people who are against the project relate more to political than tizerem bad about the project, this is not dessculpa, is an uncomfortable response.

    I SUPPORT THE PROJECT!

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  9. If you eliminate the working class, who will do all of the work? And who will decide who does what work? Since you used Animal Farm here, I will continue my answers in that vein, The Pigs will! In this case the Pigs will be the founding parents, after all, who else better understands the system and exactly what everybody else needs to do to make their vision work? And unless you have a real world solution to prevent it, the end result will be the same. So what's the game plan? Will everyone just join in, sing Kum-By-Ya and live happily ever after with the flowers and the bunnies?

    Yes, capitalism sucks, but history shows us what the real problem is, and unless your utopia includes a way to eliminate the ego, the most basic driving forces that make humans want to be and have more, Venus is doomed from the start.

    What will be done when those who decide that they want to be the pigs now, take action? Will the Pigs do the fighting and dying? Methinks not.

    Even in your example about qualified experts making policy and Law, Who will decide who the experts actually are? What will happen when the experts disagree? Who will have the final word? The Pigs.

    Sure technology can free us from some drudgery, but there is much that technology will never be able to do. Who will have to smile and do those jobs? Not the Pigs, that's for sure. Who will decide who will be the Farmer, and who will be the Grocer? Most people will opt for the grocer's job, Who will decide who does which? The Pigs will. But what will happen when those who are told that they will be the Farmers say NO, I want to be the Grocer? The Pigs will eliminate them!

    So, assuming that there are Venus Projects in progress now, how do I get in--as a Pig of course! Cause I'll be damned if I'm gonna be a Horse

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  10. To clarify, I think when you say "communism" you are referring to the government instituted by lenin and stalin in the soviet union. That is not communism, that is totalitarianism.

    The "state of communism" is described by Marx and Engels as the condition in which "the State" no longer exists and people live and work together in harmony in a society based on equality where the fruits of labor are shared with all members of society and no one is exploited.

    Which is exactly what TVP is essentially. The only difference is TVP has vague examples of technology that can automate labor. But that is all...

    So essentially TVP = Marxism.

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  11. so, the article in a nutshell.
    "tvp isnt communist because soviet russia wasnt communistic, but capitalistic."

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  12. From reading the comments made above, it is clear to me that most of these readers either do not fully comprehend TVP or lacks the knowledge of all the facets that comprises it. All the issues raised by the posters have been addressed by the system. It is my opinion that if all of you expand your knowledge of TVP, you would not be making uninformed comments. But don't feel obligated, after all your uninformed opinions and lack of understanding are what keeps the current system in place, and it is really amusing reading your concerns on issues that have already been addressed. TVP has been developed over a period of close to 80 years, through rigorous in depth research of social and economic structures, and through your uninformed opinion you think you have it all figured out?

    What I found especially amusing is the comment from the poster stating that he doesn't support capitalism/socialism/communism and also not TVP. Sir, if you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything. TVP is man-made, thus isn't perfect. But it is a hell of a lot better than what we have currently. Any system that could prevent 38,000 children from dying each day because of poverty, has my stamp of approval. But as long as it's not your kid dying why should you be worried? That is the unwritten rule of the current system isn't it?

    Any system is only as good as the people implementing it, but I truly believe that if we put true humanity first as TVP suggests, we have achieved a big step into making life a pleasant journey for all, and not just a privileged few.

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