Review of Zeitgeist Addendum
By Neil Kiernan
The official showing here in Michigan is not until the 20th, but thanks to Peter I was able to watch the movie online for the purposes of this blog review. I had meant to do this earlier but a lot of things got in the way.
In any case, what follows is my review of the various chapters of this great film which is arguably Peter's best to date.
The film starts out with one of my favorite speeches that many of you may remember from “Capitalism Epic Fail”:
“You have to ask yourself: When you finally get the ultimate possession, when you’ve made the ultimate purchase,when you buy the ultimate home, when you have stored up financial security and climbed the ladder of success to the highest rung you can possibly climb it, and the thrill wears off–and it will wear off–then what?”
– John Ortberg
After this we get into some powerful imagery. Some time ago I read an article about this area in New York where the wealthy spend their time shopping for $3,000 hand bags while people are lying homeless on the street. They casually walk by these people with no interest at all in their predicament. I remember giving a link about this out to people in the movement. It was powerful to see Peter Joseph put that place to imagery, and he later mentions the handbags later in the film. I wanted to let people know that the imagery presented actually represents something real.
After some awesome animation about Jacque Fresco's early life and an epic quote that I will not spoil for you if you have not already seen the film, we launch right into the act of intellectually kicking the notion of “human nature” right in the balls. With interviews with multiple professionals who are experts in the field of human behavior and genetics including one from Stanford University, a comprehensive picture is painted of exactly how human behavior forms. And that it is entirely influenced by your environment going all the way back to the womb.
One of the experts in question quotes an article that describes the “genetic” argument and therefore the “human nature” argument is an explanation for the way things are that does not threaten the way things are. Another of the experts condemned the notion that violent behavior is inevitable.
At one point in the film it is even pointed out that someone's genetics themselves can change through life experiences. Generally obvious in victims of traumatic experiences, but it was obvious that this would also apply to positive experiences. This is not just in regards to behavior, it also had serious impact on the body as well. A fetus that is growing inside a mother who is being starved are found to develop a tendency to store all of their sugar and fat. I thought further about the implications of this, and it occurred to me that the obvious proof of this notion is clear in evolution. Particularly in the different races of humanity. Skin tone, and other various attributes of race were obvious adaptions to the physical environment of the people in question. Black people for example adapted darker skin to deal with the hotter weather in Africa.
This all clicked into my head in a powerful way. The reason people's “genetics” adjust to violent behavior when they come from violent backgrounds is their personal evolution preparing them to survive in a violent environment. If you are not exposed to violence you will have no need to develop that behavior to survive. You can see this obvious point when you consider that most of the best participants in violent sports such as Boxing or Football come from cultures where violence is more common or even encouraged. I realized finally that every aspect of who we are adapts to our environment. And a child who's parents are violent who is not exposed to violence while having genetics from those parents, is found not to develop violent behavior unless they also are abused.
This whole segment of the film also had a profound effect on my attitudes about parenting. I suddenly became very sensitive to any sort of environmental stimuli in the lives of my own children. And I urge parents to consider this as well.
All of the work that Peter did in this film does an excellent job of providing tangible and credible sources to the material in his “Where are we now?” and “Where are we going?” lectures he did previously, along with some of the information of the orientation guide that was not contained in “Zeitgeist Addendum”. And this was very vindicating for those of us who have been using those lectures as a source in our own debates.
In the next segment of the film we again look at the monetary system. Getting into the origin of the idea of “private property”. Further reflections point to the fact that the GDP of a country does not by any means reflect the quality of life of people living in that country. Further exposing the way we have been conditioned to think that being a consumer is directly linked to our happiness.
A really detailed analysis that is still very easy to listen to exposes a great deal about the falsehoods in the market system, and the inevitability of collapse of the money system. I got another happy moment when an article I had linked to Peter and Roxanne made it's way into the film as MIT did a study about how machines are in fact stealing jobs.
Further analyzing the direct effects of social-economic status of people and their health. With all the excuses other then the lack of equality directly impacting the health of people completely debunked.
The film then launches into what I would have to say is one of the best and most complete descriptions of a Resource Based Economy. Including how resources should be viewed, and a strong explanation of how it will work. Including a great description of how the circular city model works.
I won't get into deep descriptions of this, but there was some humor in the film that absolutely took me by surprise and caused me to laugh so hard I had to pause the film while I was watching it. It really takes someone who is a veteran of Peter's typical dark and mysterious storytelling style by surprise.
The ending was also powerful, and emotional. I have had multiple people tell me they were in tears because of it. But they are tears of joy.
In conclusion “Zeitgeist: Moving Forward” I think does an excellent job of finishing what “Zeitgeist: Addendum” started, while completely divorcing itself from any of the controversial aspects of the first “Zeitgeist” film. It did an excellent job of putting all the pieces together of Peter's various other lectures and other information that we have had to previously always have to link to anyone who had only seen “Zeitgeist: Addendum”.
Excellent film. I have heard that the internet release that has yet to come is going to be even longer. And I am looking forward to it.