Well, I seem to have struck a nerve. On Saturday, October 23, I posted a blog which was also reposted on the Skeptic Project Blog, that has engendered a fairly passionate response from a member of the Zeitgeist Movement explaining his objection to my analysis. In this blog I will respond to those remarks.
To recap: on October 23 I posted about a book I read recently, James C. Scott's Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. The thesis of this book is that "high modernist" projects--basically, social engineering that proceeds from the assumption that planned top-down programs can greatly improve the world--are doomed to fail because of their intrinsic naïvete about human nature and, often, their ideological blindness to the way things really work. I applied Scott's analysis to the Zeitgeist Movement, which I maintain is precisely the type of "high modernist" scheme that Scott identifies as a certain failure at best, and an (unintentionally) murderous catastrophe at worst.
The response, by Roan Carratu, is here (http://www.facebook.com/notes/roan-carratu/debunking-a-debunker-on-the-conspiracysciencecom-website/160823960619030)
I'll put Roan's statements in green text, but because he quotes heavily my own words, where necessary I'll show my own previous words of the October 23 blog in non text colored italics.
"I get the Google Alerts feature in my mail on what pops up on the internet about the Zeitgeist Movement. Yesterday I received an Alert that had a link to [Muertos's blog] which was one of the most blatantly ignorant web editorials I have read recently from a group which is supposed to be based upon rational perspectives based upon good information."
He refers to ConspiracyScience.com, a consortium of self-appointed "debunkers" who present the facts indicating that the Internet's most popular conspiracy theories are mistaken, deceptive and often outright fraudulent. This is what brought CS.com into conflict with the Zeitgeist Movement in the first place. The Zeitgeist Movement was spawned from a series of pro-conspiracy films by NYC musician and former art school student Peter Joseph Merola, who among other things is a 9/11 Truther. It was only later, after the first Zeitgeist film became an Internet sensation, that Merola included in his worldview the neo-utopian ideology that I took to task in my October 23 blog. So, for the uninitiated, that's how we got here.
"They apparently miss the obvious fact that the world is rapidly heading towards disaster, (as if a billion people going hungry every day and the extinction rate of the ecology is not a disaster in itself) so their whole silly bias is clearly the result of incredible ignorance."
This is a typical maneuver by Zeitgeisters: if you criticize the Zeitgeist Movement ideology even slightly, in any way, in their eyes you are asserting that everything in the world is peachy keen and that there is no room whatsoever for any improvement in human affairs. Naturally this binary argument is as absurd as it is insulting. I never once in my blog suggested that world hunger or ecological disaster is not happening; neither was the point of the blog. So right off the bat Roan is trying to box me into a corner and paint me as a defender of "the system." Nice try, but this isn't going to work.
"If alien archeologists ever come to the late great planet Earth to study the extinct species called 'Humans', they will at least get a laugh at what we said in the last decades of that extinction. lol. (That is if the ZM concepts do not become the global paradigm shift that we must have to survive our own past ignorance. If those concepts manage to change our worldviews, and we manage to survive, we will likely greet them with peace and open hearts.)"
The Late, Great Planet Earth was of course a notorious religious eschatological screed by wanna-be prophet Hal Lindsey which predicted (in 1979) the imminent end of the world in a Biblical-style rapture. Needless to say it didn't happen. Zeitgeisters seem to have jettisoned the fire-and-brimstone Revelation references, but clearly here Roan predicts something not unlike the end of the world--and adding the unconscionably arrogant coda that only adopting Zeitgeist ideology as a "global paradigm shift" will save the human race. Wow, and here I was thinking global warming was a big threat!
Let me put this in simpler language: Roan believes the end of human civilization is imminent, and that only the Zeitgeist Movement can save us. Yes, you read that right. Only the Zeitgeist Movement can save the world. As I said in my blog, cajones are definitely not lacking on these people.
[My words:] I've blogged several times before about the Zeitgeist Movement. This bizarre organization, based almost exclusively on the Internet and spawned from the Zeitgeist series of Internet films, is primarily aimed at spreading conspiracy theories...
"Gee, can this blog be any more ignorant? Conspiracy theory was in the Zeitgeist Movie, but that was a concept video by Peter before the Zeitgeist Movement ever existed, and the conspiracy sections, about religion and 9-11, are not part of the Zeitgeist Movement's concepts. They are irrelevant, period. The Zeitgeist Movement may have started from that movie, but those sections are not part of the Zeitgeist Movement's basic concerns."
This is the age-old favorite chant of the Zeitgeister, "The movies aren't the movement!" Number one, in fact, on the Zeitgeisters' Greatest Hits, which I have already debunked here
...in this blog I intend to explain why the Zeitgeist Movement/Venus Project's utopian vision for the future of humanity is, at best, doomed never to get off the ground, and at worst is a recipe for a catastrophe that could potentially claim millions of lives.
"hehe... and what we live in now is not a recipe for a catastrophe that could potentially claim billions of lives before we go extinct or produce a few stragglers living in a fascist slavery in a nearly barren world?"
Again, painting me as an all-or-nothing defender of the status quo. In case you haven't caught on, Zeitgeisters are rather monochromatic in their thinking.
"We know the map is not the terrain. WE know that what will emerge will be vastly more complex than anything we have thought of... reality does not emulate virtual (conceptual). But we can also understand what is wrong in the way the world is now, and we are going with that, by altering the dynamic of those factors which are not survivable and proposing alternates that might work better. Since they are 'emergent' they cannot be forseen, but almost anything we think of and manage to pull off is going to be better than what exists now."
This is as close as a Zeitgeister will ever get to admitting that they have no idea what they're talking about, and that their ready-made ideological chant of "Resource based economy! Resource based economy!" is totally inadequate to address the world's problems. Still, close is no cigar.
"[Regarding James C. Scott's analysis in Seeing Like a State] Could you consider that the social paradigm of the book's premise is a result of the same social paradigm that is currently destroying the ecology of the planet and unnecessarily starving thousands of people to death every day in the world? Can you consider the possibility that the past failures didn't work because they were forced, that is, coerced?"
Roan, can you consider the possibility that you haven't actually read Scott's book, and thus are grossly mischaracterizing his thesis? Can you consider the possibility that, when "debunking" a blog that is about a book, you might bring more to the table after having actually read the book? Guess not.
"Can you imagine the idea that survival is the basis of the Zeitgeist Movement concepts, and that coercion is completely rejected by the Zeitgeist Movement?"
One of the points Scott makes is that "good intentions," meaning, the absence of a coercive motive, is generally irrelevant both to the failure of high modernist designs and to the suffering that results from them. Roan would have known this if he had read Seeing Like a State, which clearly he has not.
"I have no doubt that the writer of this blog approves of coercion and much of the nastiness that goes on in the world, seeing them as 'practical'. But we don't."
Again, painting an all-or-nothing picture totally in shades of black or white. Because I refuse to accept the Zeitgeist Movement's ideology, by definition I must approve of coercion and "nastiness." I never made any such statement.
"We think there are other dynamics that will make the concepts of the Zeitgeist Movement spread and be accepted....While technology cannot in itself correct Humanities suicidal actions, it is how we advance. It is the one variable we can most certainly do something about, and it has a far reaching effect upon everything, even the ecology of the planet. It changes the way we think, and that is what is most necessary. If we are comprehensive about our use and application of technology, it stops being a Utopian idea and becomes a super practical idea. Our situation comes from our use of technology, but we know now that we have been doing it stupidly, and we want to simply do it so it harmonizes with both the ecology and 'human nature'. We are not naive."
To this I can only repeat what I quoted of Scott's definition of "high modernist" ideology in Seeing Like a State:
"[High modernism] is best conceived as a strong, one might even say muscle-bound, version of the self-confidence about scientific and technical progress, the expansion of production, the growing satisfaction of human needs, the mastery of nature (including human nature), and, above all, the rational design of social order commensurate with the scientific understanding of natural laws. It originated, of course, in the West, as a by-product of unprecedented progress in science and technology."
The irony is palpable. In arguing that Zeitgeist can't possibly be the sort of thing Scott denounces in Seeing Like a State, Roan underscores the fact that Zeitgeist precisely is the sort of thing Scott denounces in Seeing Like a State. Welcome to the inverted, war-is-peace, freedom-is-slavery, the-movies-aren't-the-movement Bizarro world of Zeitgeist. Get used to it. These inversions (perversions?) of logic are par for the course for Zeitgeisters, as Roan amply demonstrates later on.
Zeitgeisters embody Scott's definition of high modernist ideology in several interesting ways. First, there is the blind and virtually unquestioning acceptance of the concept of superabundance, which Zeitgeisters believe is technologically created. Second, Zeitgeisters' ideology explicitly refers to the "scientific method," which they say is the bedrock of how their system will organize the world. Thirdly, they insist that human nature is mutable and will be subordinated to ideology in an RBE order...
"And this is significant? Your third point is rather out to lunch. The mutual interaction of individuals and the social paradigms is well established, so changing the social paradigm will change the most destructive aspects of what is called 'human nature' as well..."
My third point was that Zeitgeist presumes human nature will become subordinate to their "superior" ideology. Yet this is precisely what Roan argues. How then, exactly, is my point "out to lunch?" By Roan's own admission it's spot-on.
"The first two points are true... is there something wrong with that? If so, what? Why not try it... certainly we could not do better by staying as ignorant as our social systems are now and having no 'rudder' on our social boat."
So, by admitting that my first two points are true, and by illustrating that he actually agrees with my third point, Roan places Zeitgeist ideology precisely in the same category as the "high modernist" ideology that concerns Professor Scott. "Why not try it?" Well, read Seeing Like a State for the answer to that question: trying it will very likely involve the deaths of millions of people.
My fourth point, in demonstrating how Zeitgeist ideology is exactly what Scott is talking about with "high modernism," was this:
Finally, their visions--lavishly illustrated in artist's depictions of circular cities and YouTube videos--unabashedly wallow in technological and aesthetic fetishism. Any one of their designs could have been torn from a sketchbook from the 1930s film Things To Come, depicting a utopian future world where denizens of an automated city are pampered by ubiquitous machinery.
About this Roan says:
The final point is also true, Jacque's city designs are from that era. He is 94 years old. What would you expect?
So, then, Roan agrees with all four of my points. He stated explicit agreement with the first two and the fourth, and argued the third in such a way as to make his agreement with it self-evident. Conclusion: Zeitgeist is high modernist ideology, exactly the same type of high modernist ideology that Scott demonstrates is naïve, ill-conceived and horribly dangerous.
Gee, and when I started reading his reply I thought Roan was trying to refute what I said! Instead he has ended up supporting it. Again, welcome to Bizarro Zeitgeist-world.
"You are even ignorant of the original source of the money system? You think it 'grew organically'? Well, it was implemented by ancient 'godkings' for control purposes, and forced by coercion. It did not 'grow organically' through any of the mythological processes that academia teaches, and more than one historian has said so in uncertain words."
Maybe Roan should read more historians, because he's completely wrong about the "source of the money system." Money economics have been developing in human societies since almost the dawn of time. Our current economic system--which is not monolithic, as Zeitgeisters tend to treat it--is the result of billions of decisions and actions, some conscious, others unwitting, by billions of individuals, companies, guilds, governments and organizations across thousands of years of human history. It wasn't a sui generis invention by some "godking" for "control purposes." In their profoundly shallow and reductive view of world history--such as their complete and uncritical acceptance of the asinine assertions of pseudohistorian D.M. Murdock, also known as Acharya S.--Zeitgeisters presume that everything they see as bad in the world, principally money and religion, was designed by a single person or group of people and then implemented whole and complete, the way automobiles go from the drawing board to the factory floor in Detroit. Of course no one who has even the slightest understanding of ancient, pre-modern or modern history could countenance this laughable idea.
"You can call us naive if you like, but you are profoundly naive yourself. We do not think as you describe us, and history shows that it is technology that has created the destruction of the ecology now..."
Oh, but Zeitgeisters believe that it's technology that will save us! Once we live in their bubble cities and have robots cater to our every whim, all problems on Earth will magically disappear.
"We have no idea what people will decide. But we will certainly make sure that the necessary systems are integrated into those designs so that a billion people will not go hungry each day in the world. And we will not force people to have lives of quiet desperation as the existing system does. Think about it."
The arrogance of this statement is breathtaking. We--meaning the Zeitgeist Movement--will make sure that the necessary systems are integrated. Put your trust in Peter Joseph Merola, Jacque Fresco and their robots, and a new day will dawn for humanity. This is precisely the class of thinking that Scott illustrates, in Seeing Like a State, is the key ingredient in high modernist catastrophes. Once more, Roan, in his attempt to argue against Scott's classification, puts his organization squarely within its ambit.
"If the world wasn't in the middle of a Man made Mass Extinction Event and killing millions continuously, perhaps your argument might mean something, but the fact is, what we have now is Omnisuicidal."
"Omnisuicidal?" That's not even a word. And I'm not sure the Random Capitalization of Mass Extinction Event makes Roan's argument any more persuasive. Note he offers no specifics whatsoever; he merely repeats the claim that a billion people starve every day, or something, and that the human race is headed for extinction unless we immediately surrender to Zeitgeist's ideology and become perfectly obedient drones in Peter Joseph Merola's new world order.
"Yes, we work for the radical transformation of the entire earth, but we will not use force and we will apply what works, as proven by the scientific method. And it will be what people want, not what a few pundits think people want. Unless you think science is just a conceptual game like religion, you will eventually understand what we are saying."
So, Roan is telling us that, in the very unlikely event that Zeitgeisters ever get to implement their civilization-destroying ideology, when it fails spectacularly they will fade quietly into the sunset admitting that they were wrong and everything can go back to the way it was. Anyone who knows anything about what Scott is talking about will recognize this as highly unlikely. Considering that in order to even have the chance to implement Zeitgeist's ideology someone would have to claw their way to considerable power using ruthless tactics to begin with, it doesn't seem to comport with what we know about power dynamics. The more the Zeitgeisters believe their ideology will save the world--as Roan clearly does--the higher the stakes become. Once in a position of power to implement their program, they certainly wouldn't step aside and go home over the objections of a few people, or even a few early failures. They, like Stalin, like the architects of Brasília, like the "villagization" bureaucrats of 1970s Tanzania, would press forward, no matter how much opposition there was or (probably) no matter how many lives or communities were destroyed. This is how power works and it's a key piece of Scott's analysis.
"Scott is just another naysayer who must love the death of billions and the destruction of the ecology. Frankly, I'm sorry for him."
This statement shows how blinded Roan is by his bizarre ideology. Far from "loving the death of billions," James C. Scott is actually an anarchist who disdains almost any form of central state control. A main theme of Seeing Like a State is the terrible human cost of high modernist failures. He's not exactly the Stalinist type, if you know what I mean. If interested, here's his Wikipedia page. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_C._Scott)
"And unless the ideas are accepted, in a radical paradigm shift, the Zeitgeist Movement will simply fade from existence. All we are doing is trying to help people see the possibilities if we choose to live, and we don't see many choices."
Of course Roan doesn't see many choices. If Zeitgeisters do come to power--which, again, is a pipe-dream of the highest order--no one will have a choice. This is how high modernism works. Regardless of good intentions, these schemes almost always devolve into one form of authoritarianism or another. Zeitgeist, if it were implemented, would be no different.
"Certainly as you describe it, this author you quote is very researched but completely without a clue. He thinks what is is all that can be and the best possible world we can create. And if everyone thought like him, nobody would have children and mostly the great dynamic of our culture would be suicide, although it is a major component even with many people not accepting his cynical perspective. Sad, really."
This paragraph is profoundly and appallingly stupid. Without even having read Scott's book, Roan assumes that he must be, like me (evidently), a total apologist for everything in the world today and that he (Scott) must believe there is no room for improvement in anything, anywhere, under any circumstances. This is idiotic. But it's par for the course for Zeitgeisters, who, as I said earlier, operate in a totally binary universe. You are either one of them or you are the enemy. You either accept 100% of their program, full-bore, and hail Peter Joseph Merola as the new messiah, or you're in favor of genocide, the deaths of billions and the extinction of human civilization--period. There is no room for debate. Either get behind the Zeitgeist program, or you are valueless. One wonders how Roan could be so blind to the blatant authoritarian undercurrent of this thinking, which he just got done accusing Scott--and me--of exhibiting.
"And you think the temptation will exist to become violent in our goals?"
Well, yes--that's a main point of Scott's argument. It's good to see that Roan is at least catching on to what the argument is, instead of denouncing an anti-authoritarian anarchist as someone who must "love the death of billions."
"You really are clueless about the Zeitgeist Movement. It is not a hierarchical organization beyond the necessities of organization, with even Jacque and Peter being only spokesmen."
This is the "Peter Joseph is not a leader...we have no leaders!" argument, which is Number 8 on the list of Zeitgeisters' most often-used canned arguments. Go here for an explanation of why it's silly.
"As to your point about 'what if'... if you don't grasp the most basic ideas of the Zeitgeist Movement, you creating 'what ifs' is a futile attempt to produce an argument. When a town or group of Mormons are without food, the other Mormons send it to them on their own dime. If religious zealots can do it, why do you think we can't do it globally?"
Because I read Seeing Like a State, that's why. Perhaps Roan would do well to actually read the book he's attacking.
"You don't seem to be noticing that the world is ominously having incredibly nasty, bloody, and preventable problems under the existing systems. In your paradigm, I'm sure avoiding admitting ideological failure IS irresistible. But the world's current ideological systems are failing big time."
So, by this logic, the certain failure of the Zeitgeist Movement's ideology is preferable to (in their view) the even more certain failure of the world's current systems. "Try us, what have you got to lose?" works when selling cola or car insurance, but when we're talking about a fundamental top-down reorganization of human society and the complete abrogation of all organically-developed cultural, economic and political constructs to an artificial ideology developed by Peter Joseph Merola and Jacque Fresco, there's a little more at stake here than that. And again Roan tries to load the scale with Zeitgeist ideology on one pan and all that's wrong with the world on the other, daring the reader to choose between them.
"Do you have a solution other than that status quo? Do you not now 'ignore or rationalize mass suffering'? That is a ubiquitous trait of our current social paradigm, right? A social paradigm shift means we do not think in your terms."
Again Roan dares me to solve all the world's problems on my blog, and if I cannot, then any criticism I may level at the Zeitgeist Movement is by definition illegitimate.
"We go with practicality, not delusion or cynical projections."
This is not persuasive, considering there is nothing even remotely practical about the bizarre 1930s stone-age-science-fiction scenario of Zeitgeist's "Resource Based Economy."
"[After criticizing the likely catastrophic effects of Zeitgeist ideology] Sounds to me like you are describing the existing social systems. You cannot 'devalue' people more than blowing them up or starving them or sticking them into metal boxes like prisons... The existing system IS NOT 'organic'. Unless the use of a gun to force compliance is organic! And in the current system, there ARE people who profess to know better and who demand, using force and coercion, to get compliance with their 'better' way... better for them, that is. That is exactly what we are working to eliminate, although a superficial glance at our movement, put into the existing paradigm, would automatically filter the observation to support the unconscious 'axiom' of cruelty and 'cog-ness'. After all, it's all you know."
Roan assumes that the entire world is a police state, which is a typical meme from conspiracy theorists. I do not know if Roan himself is a conspiracy theorist, but certainly he's internalized the conspiracist ideology that "they" are "forcing" the world to be the way it is, and if only "we" would "wake up" we would see the self-evident way to a better life. This naïve and bitter vision is profoundly depressing, but it's a large part of how Zeitgeist sells itself to its would-be followers.
This is the essence of the Zeitgeist Movement's social vision for the future.
"Uh, no, it's not. Do some self-educating, get your head out of your armpit, and reconsider what you think. Seriously, if most of your opinion is of sources in your subconscious, you have no mind. But you could. Reconsider HOW you think. THEN find out what we think."
Another conspiracy theorist meme--the old "wake up, sheeple!" argument. Here I am (again) being portrayed as the bad guy, as the closed-minded stick in the mud who refuses to accept any conflicting information. This is a common tactic among Zeitgeisters, to presume that the superiority of their ideology is self-evident to anyone who "understands" it, and that anyone who rejects it must be doing so on the basis that they don't understand. Zeitgeisters cannot countenance the notion of disagreement, and simply can't accept that there are those who have very legitimate reasons for opposing their ideology.
Zeitgeisters are fundamentally incapable of conceiving that their ideology could have that effect [the unintended suffering and deaths of millions]. They're as blind as the overzealous architects, city planners and Soviet revolutionaries described in Seeing Like a State. Given the colossal scale of Zeitgeist's designs, their dangerous naïvete far outstrips any of those examples.
"And that is possibly the stupidest thing you have written yet. I'm sorry you have put your mind through this process in order to 'de-bunk' us. But I suggest you research us a bit better first, and realize that we are a large group of disparate people with many different views of the ideas, so you can find someone in the Movement who believes in anything you can come up with... and it doesn't mean a thing. The same probably applies to every group in existence as well as every person on the Internet. Having worked in labs I know it applies to scientists as well as everyone else. To say someone is 'fundamentally incapable' is really being an ass. I don't even say that about you, because I know you could understand the Movement and probably join it someday."
This paragraph dwells in the Bizarro world of Zeitgeist where everybody gets their way, and everybody's right. Of course that is fantasy, every bit as much as Zeitgeisters' dreams of reordering human civilization are fantasy. Here Roan dismisses the reality that the Zeitgeist Movement has a rigid orthodoxy imposed by the iron fist of Peter Joseph Merola, who appears to be the only serious gatekeeper on who is "in" or who is "out" of the Zeitgeist Movement. On the forums, at least, public disagreement with Peter Merola results in denunciation, banning and banishment. Refutation of conspiracy theories that Peter Merola personally believes results in the same thing. Indeed, while Roan paints a picture of some sort of open-source paradise where all viewpoints are welcomed, the reality is that the Zeitgeist Movement is rigidly orthodox and its members are kept on an extremely short leash. This should surprise no one who's been following along regarding the authoritarian undercurrent of the Zeitgeist Movement. Such a bold experiment in social engineering must, by definition, have an authoritarian basis. Roan proves once again that the Zeitgeist Movement could not fit James Scott's definition of "high modernism" more perfectly if it was tailor-maid to do so.
I love the gratuitous prediction that I will eventually join the Zeitgeist Movement. I find that amusing. Zeitgeist leader Peter Joseph Merola has publicly referred to me as a "monkey" who "flings poop," so it's not particularly likely that he would allow me into his movement even if I somehow became deluded enough to join it.
Fortunately, in the real world we don't have to worry about Zeitgeisters implementing their designs, because they'll never get anywhere close to achieving them.
"Let's see... we started with two people, Jacque and Roxanne, and now, in less than about two years, we have nearly 500,000 members, although most are not very active."
At least Roan admits "most are not very active." That's more than most Zeitgeisters will concede: to hear them tell it they have millions of die-hard members ready to storm the world's capitals demanding a "Resource Based Economy." The reality, of course, is much different. Of the 500,000 (it's more like 400,000) who have registered with the Zeitgeist Movement forums since 2008, I would estimate that considerably less than 1% have even posted on the boards. Also, the turnover of frequent posters is extremely high, with (I estimate) better than 80% of the active posters at any one time sporting less than 200 total posts on the forum. (If anyone has done a quantitative analysis on Zeitgeist's posters, please correct me--these figures are of the "eyeball" variety and admittedly unscientific). In short, the vast majority of Zeitgeisters--better, I would imagine, than 99%--join the forums, post a few times, get disillusioned, and leave. Even if these numbers are overstated, it's clear that this is not exactly a movement that's going to take the world by storm.
"It's a long term idea in the first place, so there is no stress about it. Emergence means 'the appearance of new properties or species in the course of development or evolution'. It's not a fast event but I think the ecological mass extinction event is pushing it a lot. If the ship is sinking, the passengers tend to all want the same thing. And you are making a fundamental mistake in saying that we have plans to implement. As I've said, we are not making plans because nothing we came up with would likely fit the conditions when the plans are implemented. We will come up with them when it's time to implement them."
So, I'm making a fundamental mistake by saying Zeitgeist has no implementation plans...and then the next sentence admits that Zeitgeist is not making any plans? Roan again contradicts himself, continuing to foster the impression that he has no idea what he's talking about.
"We will come up with them when it's time to implement them."
Remarkably proactive organization, this Zeitgeist Movement!
In truth this paragraph is an attempt to rationalize why the Zeitgeist Movement has done nothing, and will continue to do nothing for the foreseeable future. This effect is common among Zeitgeisters. They talk big about changing the world, but when it comes down to brass tacks, the answer is always "mañana."
Zeitgeist is a fringe movement existing mostly on the Internet. Oddly, its internal cohesion seems to owe more to its reliance on conspiracy theories than on any conscious unification behind the RBE concept (despite what many of its followers say to the contrary).
"So, you are so desperate to 'de-bunk' us you have to call us liers? Perhaps you think there are no 'conspiracies'?"
This is a classic conspiracy theorist comeback--"So, you believe everything the government says? You think no one ever does anything wrong?" After this statement I am more inclined to believe that Roan is a conspiracy theorist, but even if he isn't, as stated before he's clearly internalized conspiracist thinking and styles of argument. Beyond this observation, this part of the argument isn't worth responding to.
"Meanwhile, there are armed men applying weapons of incredable destructive power to slaughter people, families, other species... anything living... and a billion people go hungry each day on this planet of incredable prosperity. That is not conceptual. That is real."
No, it's fake. If a billion people starved to death per day, the human race would cease to exist in nine days. World hunger is a problem that must be addressed, but Roan vastly overstates the case in his zeal to present the world as on the brink of human extinction.
I would like to know which "armed men" are using this "destructive power" and against whom. Roan seems to believe that there are vast genocides going on all over the world at any one time. This simply isn't true. Yes, there are wars going on in several corners of the globe right now, including Afghanistan, but they're all relatively low-level conflicts. The last significant genocide on planet Earth was the horrific tribal violence in Africa in the mid-1990s. As terrible and appalling as it was, it had nothing to do with "incredable [sic] destructive power." Most of the tribal murders in Africa were committed with machetes. This violence was not directed by one or a group of "evil men," either. It was ethnic in origin, springing relatively spontaneously from social, economic and political factors that existed in central Africa at that time.
Why is Roan bringing this up anyway? He gets to something of a point here:
"And that is the motivation for the emergence and continuation of the Zeitgeist Movement. If you can't understand that, then you must be someone's dogmatic follower, believing in some purely virtual ideas some abusive lying power wielding idiot tells you... oh, wait, wherever you live, you have a 'president' or 'Chairman' or suchlike... right? Who defines the status quo ideas you apply to your 'de-bunking' efforts? May you rethink every concept in your head... or continue to live in abject denial of anything new even when it comes up and gets in your face."
Oh, okay. So I'm a "dogmatic follower" of somebody. That is rather ironic, considering it seems Roan is quite a dogmatic follower of Peter Joseph Merola and Jacque Fresco. And note again how the "abject denial" charge plays into the Zeitgeist conceit that the only reason why someone would ever reject their ideology is out of some sort of unthinking reflex, the implication being that everyone who seriously considers their program will definitely agree with it.
Not a single economist, sociologist or government official, to my knowledge, has associated him or herself with the Zeitgeist Movement.
"HAHAHA... like you cannot value something unless someone who gains from the current system supports it? You seem to be more naive than I thought."
This is the most telling part of Roan's essay. Here he literally laughs at the idea of expertise and those who wield it, dismissing the fact that the Zeitgeist Movement has absolutely no support among professionals who understand how social and economic change works as some sort of conspiracy because those people must "gain from the current system." What does that even mean?
Zeitgeisters are forced to reject the value of expert opinions because they can't get any experts to agree with them. I guarantee that if a sociologist did decide to endorse the Venus Project, and stated in his or her expert opinion that it could work, the Zeitgeist Movement would be rolling loudspeaker trucks through the streets blasting the news at everyone who would listen. An economist who agreed with the idea of a "Resource Based Economy" would be the immediate poster child for the Movement. But since they can't find one, they're forced to say that expert opinion doesn't matter.
"So... on one hand, I can read a cynical book of opinion which says that anything good is bad and anything bad is good and wallow in the status quo, keeping my ears and eyes ...and MIND shut..."
That is not even close to what Seeing Like a State is about. Roan would know this if he actually read it, but since he has not, this criticism is meaningless and laughable.
"or on the other hand I can work for a survivable prosperous future for all life on the planet... hummm, such a choice. HAHAH...Frankly, your recommended book is about as defective an ideology as I can imagine. And this post of yours is really a terrible attempt to de-bunk the Zeitgeist Movement. I'll talk to you when you join us."
Once again, the false dichotomy and binary choice: either you agree with the Zeitgeist Movement, or you and the rest of humanity will die. Literally. Those are the choices Roan poses for the future. And I'm supposed to be the authoritarian? Join Zeitgeist or die? Really?
And again Roan dangles the possibility of me turning around (evidently when I "do my homework" on the Zeitigeist Movement) and joining it, which is about as likely as Louis Farrakhan converting to Judaism.
It is clear that Roan Carratu has not read Seeing Like a State, nor does he even attempt to take seriously its criticism of high modernist ideology and why it's defective. This essay is, like most apologist screeds for the Zeitgeist Movement, an arrogant, illogical, poorly-argued, poorly-conceived and ultimately incoherent mishmash of high modernist sound bites, false binary choices, logical errors, projections, and sycophantic hero-worship of Peter Joseph Merola and Jacque Fresco. It is not a serious argument. It is, unfortunately, illustrative of the general approach of the Zeitgeist Movement toward its critics. With so poor an understanding of the implications of their own ideology, it's no wonder that the Zeitgeist Movement is so dysfunctional. When attempts to educate them end in diatribes like Roan Carratu's, it's evident that their naïvete will not be easily cured, nor will their fanaticism be blunted by reason or logical argument.
Thanks for reading.
Roan has evidently attempted to leave comments on this blog but for whatever reason can't make them here in this post. (This blog does require you to register with blog.com to comment-that's for spam control). I have not censored or disallowed ANY comments regarding this blog. So, to make clear that I welcome Roan's rebuttals, I'm going to paste the comments on this blog entry that have been made elsewhere.
The thread (on Facebook) in which Roan comments on this blog is here: http://tinyurl.com/326ws5y
I don't think they will even consider any info that we would consider relevant.
I think there is a strong 'Social Darwin' flavor to this guy's response, perhaps a Ayn Rand follower, but he doesn't actually say what he thinks, only what he t...hinks we are saying that he considers stupid.
I don't think I will get together a lot of data to show him. I don't get the impression he will consider it as anything but BS, regardless of the source. So be it, some are too afraid of everything to consider doing anything good.
He surely gets off on the attention he gets. Loves to argue, to make himself seem smart, which probably means he is compensating for other things about himself that he feels short on... Classic twit.
(But I'm considering getting together the data I once ran across and should probably post on the ZM site for others to see. It's hard to imagine that our species can have the impact on the world ecology the data describes.)
I think he will continue to slander us and I don't see there is anything we can do about it. but he is quite safe among his own. He definitely stains his comrades reputation in the 'anti-' conspiracy 'science' site. That's sad, but it is also an extreme position much like those who propose the opposite viewpoints.
I have often said that it will take the changes in the world impacting people's private lives before they will even consider the possibility that the world's changes can impact their private lives, and therefore consider any other perspective. Time will tell, I guess.
I am neither a Social Darwinist, nor an Ayn Rand devotee. In fact I despise Ayn Rand. I am not a Libertarian. My politics, to the extent they're relevant, are solidly mainstream (US) Democratic Party.
I find it amusing that Roan suggests I must be a "Social Darwinist" because I reject Zeitgeist ideology. Social Darwinism, as I understand it, is a "survival of the fittest" mentality as applied to society-usually manifesting itself in an ethos that no help should be given to poor or underprivileged so as to encourage them to be winnowed out by natural selection.
Nothing could be further from my beliefs. I strongly believe in the establishment of a social safety net and the advancement of social and economic justice. If Roan would like me to detail some of the charity activities that I do toward this end, to the tune of hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars per year, I'd be happy to do so. But to suggest I'm a "Social Darwinist" and must want the "weak" to die out, simply because I think Zeitgeist is a bad idea, is absolutely asinine. I have no idea where Roan gets this argument out of either my criticisms of the Zeitgeist Movement or my take on "Seeing Like A State."
As for "some are too afraid of anything to consider doing anything good," this is also false. Interestingly, a few years back someone did an unofficial study of one of the charity groups I'm involved with (and was president of for a time). Their conservative estimate was that, through the various programs our small group of 40 people (about 25 active members) administered, we had saved 21,000 lives in the course of a year.
I would advance this statistic as proof that Roan's assertion is false that I refuse to "consider doing anything good." Again, if he'd like a detailed analysis of what I actually do to help people, I'm happy to give it to him.
This is not about me "making myself feel smart." The original blog was posted as an assessment of the Zeitgeist Movement's ideology and an explanation of why it's faulty-a case I believe I buttressed by support from Scott's book, which, I repeat, Roan Carratu has not even read.
Roan's response to that assessment has been hysterical and hyperbolic. I've been accused of being a Stalinist sympathizer, a Social Darwinist, of "loving the death of billions," and of being an Ayn Rand supporter. Oh yes, and being a "twit." I've also been told in no uncertain terms that if I don't accept Zeitgeist ideology, I will die along with everyone else on this planet.
These responses, soaked as they are in hysterical and personal vitriol, are unfortunately typical of Zeitgeist Movement defenders when their ideology is challenged. I leave it to the readers of this blog to determine whether these responses are appropriate; however, rest assured, should they appear on this blog, I have no intention of censoring them. Just want to make that clear.
In the nature of completeness I'm posting Roan's response to MY response. It's long:
OK, perhaps I misinterpreted the meaning of the messages Matthew posted. I interact on a lot of forums with people who say the same things but definitely do not have a rational mindset. I could be wrong in this case.
I am not into debating this issue. I don't care if what I say convinces anyone. Either the reality of our global situation is real or it's not. Time will tell. Our opinions about it are just opinions. The idea that the ZM is some kind of threat due to the ideas presented in the book and by Mathew on that site is a distortion that comes from comparison to those groups and ideas the book uses, and it is a projection. Mathew says we are like those groups and we will produce the same results in his estimation. I disagree.
So be it. I don't think the Zeitgeist Movement has an 'ideology', I think it comes from the situation in the world and scientific findings presented in scientific publications. He thinks we are just really screwed up and are seeing the world through a particular mistaken binary mindset. And perhaps we are, but it is how we are seeing it. I don't think the ZM, even if wrong, is a major threat to anyone. I fail to see why Matthew sees it that way, if he does. Compared to mass starvation, war, pollution, and other global problems, the ZM cannot be all that dangerous.
And he has not posted any alternatives.
I was going to find and post the data which I had seen that presented the danger Humanity is creating in the ecology, the data that produces the either/or situation. I have not found that data, although I do remember reading it. But the Internet did not exist yet when I saw that data, and while it might be somewhere in the archives of various science publications, I have not found it. One would think that it would be important enough to be presented frequently, but perhaps not. I call upon others to present it if they find it.
I did find this data on a site dedicated to presenting much the same data as I remember reading:
This site in particular seems relevant:
This is the kinds of data I was talking about. The Zeitgeist Movement is simply a human social response to this data. Framing the ZMs ideas into a label, as an 'ideology', I do not see as being real. I do not see it as an 'ideology'. The ideas seem concise and logical to me, while discrediting them, if they represent a social response to an actual danger, seems rather self-defeating. If the ZM's framing of the world's situation is false, then it will 'come out in the wash', so to speak.
There is no monolithic control mechanism in the ZM, no violence enforced hierarchy that can impose some control system upon those who join it. It is completely voluntary and anyone who decides not to participate can do so anytime. Nobody is asked to donate money, so any donations are also completely voluntary and more than once, even those donations have been turned down to make sure no misunderstanding results.
The projection of evil intentions upon the ZM seems to be a fear response without evidence, much of it coming from the first Zeitgeist video, which was not produced by the Zeitgeist Movement. It was an art piece by Peter before the movement existed. He did not even know Jacque Fresco when he produced it. I would not have supported the Movement if that video was a basic of the Movement.
Zeitgeist Addendum is the first real ZM video produced, and Peter has rescinded most of the first video, saying publicly those parts, parts one and two, the anti-religious and 9/11 parts, of that video are irrelevant.
There is no 'canon' of approved ideas in the ZM. It is common knowledge in the ZM that much of what we thought has to be altered by new information. It is why we use the word 'emergent' so often. We claim it is a 'paradigm shift'. If it is not, it will simply not show in the results of the movement's efforts and the Movement will adapt or fad away. If it is a fantasy, then clinging to it would be irrational.
The movement rejects coercion as an action and concept which does not result in anything workable, as proven by history. This is one of the most basic ideas of the Movement. If this is so, how can anyone see the ZM as 'dangerous'?
I do not feel the need to argue about the Movement with anyone. I answer as a courtesy, nothing more. If the ZM's data and conclusions from that data is true, then it will become more and more obvious in the daily lives of the Human species on an individual level. If the Zm's data and conclusions are erroneous, then that will also become obvious over time.
I apologize if anything I said was felt to be a personal attack. I do run across a lot of twits who jump to totally fearful conclusions based upon no information whatsoever. A TWIT is an old term from the early days of the Net meaning 'shallow uninformed person who loudly asserts their fears without reason.'
I will attack ideas without remorse, but I do not devalue other people because of what they believe. (or at least that is my intention) The projection of fear that the ZM is a horrible mistake requires response when posted in public. A writer's opinion, supported by past group's efforts and results defined by and concluded in a book, cannot be rationally projected upon a new group as if it is some 'universal' truth and any future group effort has to produce an evil result. That is what it appeared to me that the original post was saying and to which I responded.
We can agree to disagree and let time show the results.
The only further comments on Roan's statement I wish to make are the following:
- My name isn't Matthew, but that's fine. I understand my comments here were cut-and-pasted onto the Facebook group by someone called Matthew, so I understand the confusion.
- It doesn't matter if the Zeitgeist Movement has violent/coercive motives. It doesn't matter if the Zeitgeist movement rejects coercion in all forms. The thesis of "Seeing Like A State" is that high modernist ideology by itself tends toward authoritarian results-regardless of whether the express intention is or is not coercive. Roan would know this if he'd actually read the book.
- "How can anyone view the ZM as dangerous?" Easily. It's a movement that has, as its main but unacknowledged goal, the promotion of conspiracy theories and conspiracy thinking. That goal is dangerous. It's a movement that embraces ideology that leads, as Prof. Scott demonstrates, irretrievably to authoritarian results. That goal too is dangerous, although, as I pointed out in the main blog, the Zeitgeist Movement has no realistic chance of ever achieving its stated goals, so we don't have to worry too much about this.
Nevertheless, does the Zeitgeist Movement do more harm than good? Yes, I believe it does, which is why I continue to speak out against it on a regular basis. If nothing else it should stop promoting conspiracy theories. Would a de-fanged Zeitgeist Movement-meaning one that actually IS divorced from conspiracy-mongering, as opposed to one that merely says it is while acting at variance-really be dangerous? Probably not. Its ideology is dangerous, but the Zeitgeist Movement is, fortunately for us, too attenuated, anemic an ineffectual a group to make any real difference in world economic or social policy.
God help us, though, if someone in a position of actual power ever signs on to Zeitgeist ideology. Then we'd really be in trouble. But, hopefully, and most likely, that will never happen.