No 2033 Posted by fw, August 17, 2017
Latest transcription updates to Peter Joseph’s responses: August 18 (2); August 19 (2); August 20; August 21; August 22; August 23 (2); August 24; August 25; August 27; August 28; August 29; September 3; September 4;
Peter Joseph is an American-born social critic and activist who has lectured around the world on the subject of cultural sustainability. Working in concert with numerous non-profit and grassroots organizations, he is the founder of The Zeitgeist Movement, a grassroots, worldwide organization that advocates an alternative economic system based on sustainability, cooperation and human need. His most recent book, The New Human Rights Movement, delivers a startling exposé about the violent oppression that defines our economic order, while issuing an urgent call for global activism to unite to replace it. Abby Martin sits down with Joseph to talk about the contradictions and crises of capitalism and what he advocates to save the future of the planet from catastrophe.
The 45-minute interview has registered 110,711 views (and counting) and 1,242 comments.
Abby Martin’s interview of Peter Joseph covered the following 20 topics:
1/ Advertising 2/ Consumer society 3/ Stock market 4/ Debt 5/ Wall Street 6/ Empire 7/ Financialization 8/ Class wars 9/ Colonization 10/ Structural violence 11/ Capitalism 12/ Inefficiency 13/ Energy 14/ Vertical farming 15/ Automation 16/ Intellectual property 17/ Competition 18/ Scarcity 19/ Socialization and localization 20/ Solutions
My Chronological Index / part transcript, appears below the embedded video. Alternatively, the video can be viewed, without my Index, by clicking on the following linked title.
Chronological Index (Transcript in progress)
This Chronological Index is intended to facilitate visitors’ selection and viewing of those parts of the video of particular interest. By scanning the times shown on the left, viewers can calculate the estimated length of Joseph’s responses, most of which are not that long.
The Index includes the full text of most of Abby Martin’s questions and comments. Space has been provided for adding the text of Joseph’s responses as time allows.
00:26 Abby Martin (AM) – Peter Joseph is the founder of The Zeitgeist Movement, the grassroots world organization that advocates an alternative economic system based on sustainability, cooperation and human need. His most recent book The New Human Rights Movement, delivers a startling exposé about the violent oppression that defines our economic order, while issuing an urgent call for global activism to unite to replace it. I sat down with Joseph to talk about the contradictions and crises of capitalism and what he advocates to save the future of the planet from catastrophe.
00:58 AM – Peter, you have a very interesting background, having worked both in advertising and equity trading. Let’s talk about advertising first. What function does this industry serve in today’s society?
1:06 Peter Joseph (PJ) – (Updated August 18) —
The best way to explain that is to look at the fact that our economy is based on consumption, and advertising is the arm of creating artificial demand. And without that arm – and it’s so polluted as you know, I can’t imagine what the world would be like without advertising — but without that arm you wouldn’t have people aspiring to things that are highly irrational, abused by our social inclusion. When advertising presents something, the community — that seems to be something that some people want – it spreads like a virus, and then everybody wants it, because it’s an issue of social inclusion, which is a part of our biology, because that’s how we identify. We identify ourselves by how others see us and how we are included in the group. So, it manipulates our most primal sense of humanity in order to sell things.
And again, getting back to my original point, if you didn’t have that arm in our consumption-based society since the industrial revolution, the economy would collapse. That’s a very unique point to make because we first start an economy of this nature, like an agrarian society and the handicraft industry, you’re meeting demand, right? That’s the point. And that makes sense. But at some point, this kernel seed had to change because we have such a highly efficient productive society that we have now, at least in a technical sense — not in a distribution sense because we have poverty and all that – at least in a technical sense of what we can create – the efficiency, abundance – you have to have demand created now.
And that’s basically the kernel seed of one of the central flaws of market economics or capitalism that has come to fruition today. Not only destroying human psychology, but destroying the environment simultaneously, because you have an insatiable culture that’s been literally generated now. As I detail in my book, the National Association of Manufacturers, in the 20th century, they were actually arguing that consumerism was the best defence against communism and totalitarianism. There was this incredible PR campaign that went on for – well, it still goes on really, but it’s echoes of the original intent – to transform society into one that just wants to buy and consume. And then progress, of course, being defined by what we produce, the more stuff we produce, the more you buy, the more you own. That must be progress now.
3:12 AM — It’s an incredibly disturbing realization that this does nothing to benefit society. In fact, it’s just literally ready to keep society afloat, the economy afloat.
3:21 PJ – (Updated August 18) –
Yeah. It’s a kind of cultural violence. The more people promote consumeristic values – vain, materialistic values – the more they want more and more of this and that, the more they flaunt that kind of phenomenon, the more they create what was is termed by Johan Galtung, cultural violence. Because if you create a society that thrives on this type of self-identification you’re basically also promoting not only the destruction of the environment but the diminishment of others. Because you’re saying that I can afford this, I have the status, and I’m better for that, and this person can’t. And we see that phenomenally amplified today in the modern world with the winning community and our lovely president and his rhetoric. It also carries over into misogyny and everything else as I’m sure you know.
Fairly recently he said well we want to have rich people in charge of the economy because clearly they must be good at it. So in a complete absence of, you know, where’s the sympathy, where is right, where is the actual binding purpose of an economy which is to provide for everyone ideally. No. So the signature is becoming increasingly more palpable.
I often wonder what a world would be like without advertising, which would be a world without marketing and markets. And I can tell you it would be a whole lot different and far more peaceful and sustainable, and amiable, and just humane than what we see today.
4:37 AM – From an insider’s perspective, how exactly does the stock market work?
4:38 PJ – (Updated August 19) –
The stock market is a proxy system that was developed … It was contrived out of the original foundation which was a board of directors for a company. So, a bunch of people, each had a million dollars, they get together, they invested – ten of them, ten million dollars – into a company, and then they get dividends, right. That made basic sense years ago. But someone said — You know I want to sell this stock and this guy’s gonna buy it from me for a little bit more, and I’m going to make money off of that. And then suddenly the exchange system began and slowly but surely the idea of selling artificial shares of nothing, effectively, became a means of making money. I call it drone warfare economics. It’s just like people that drive a drone, they don’t see any kind of humanity and they drop bombs across the world. The people that trade the stock market have no idea what they’re doing when they’re shorting, say the currency of some small country, effectively contributing to that country’s decline.
But back to your question, it started off as an innocuous kind of investment strategy and then it moved into this thing where we have people artificially trading things for no other purpose. 83% of all stocks are owned by 1% of the population. It is one giant money-making machine for the elite. And it … the financialization of it all – because financial services have become so large, and the money … only 5% of the US population is in financial services yet 30% of all GDP is taken by that. That doesn’t even account for all the growth over the years that is attributed that we know to the upper 1%, upper 10%.
So, this is one of those powerful political centers now, simultaneously. And it’s truly despotic that you have effectively the most powerful and profitable system on the planet now – one that creates nothing. It’s there to simply make money out of money. It’s a cancerous disease. It’s what happens in financially mature nations that have pretty much run out of the angling required to keep as maximizing profits in a given industry, so instead they move to financialization and it moves in all sorts of other despotic things like dead peasant insurance.
These are companies like Walmart that would take out insurance on their employees and get paid when they die – things like that. So, it’s just this commodification of everything, put a dollar sign on it, no relationship to anything anymore – abstraction becomes reality once again.
[Turning to high frequency trading]. When I was in trading, it was the start of artificial intelligence, and the traders around me – like, OH, this is … it’s over … once Goldman Sachs gets their supercomputers together. Most of these companies, when they trade – it’s just a little detail that some will find interesting – the amount of time they’re in a trade has been … seconds because they’re fronting other orders, because that’s what these companies can do. In other words, they’re trading tiny little spreads of pennies, but with heavy amounts of shares in front of other orders. And then they use computers to do this. And then they can generate literally millions of dollars off of fractions of time spent in and out of the market on a giant micro-processing level.
Anyone that thinks that today especially, that Wall Street isn’t rigged needs to wake up because there’s no way artificial intelligence isn’t dominating. It’s pretty much all the big investment banks with their artificial intelligence versus other people’s artificial intelligence at this point. There’s no rhyme or reason to when it comes to human perception.
So, in effect, you have this giant money-making machine that the public has been roped into – such as their retirement and all the things, the IRAs that for some reason are now connected to the market. The market is inflationary-driven which gives it its artificial sense of progress, meaning the more money that we pump into our society, the more it goes into the market, the more it keeps rising. So, yeah, if you put in your retirement into the stock market it will probably rise. It’ll crash periodically, and then people will make a fortune off of that too.
Anyway, the whole society has been coerced into this nonsensical participation that effectively holds up the most giant powerful political sub-class, the financial sector, and if anyone wanted to see another level of sanity emerge on this planet, in a step-by-step process rather than complete structural change, I suggest the abolishment of Wall Street. There’s nothing positive about what this institution does. And this that say that it’s there to help investment, you can investment in anything with direct money without the need to go IPO.
The seven hundred-billion-dollar float of Apple has nothing to do with what is actually produces at all. It’s just what the people who are trading and buying and moving the stock around. It’s just a game. And it’s too bad that people are so ignorant about that. It’s a siphoning machine that is taking basically money from the lower class and bringing it to the upper class through different mechanisms.
9:07 AM – A lot of people who are middle class or lower class don’t invest in Wall Street because it’s just completely too abstract for them. But everyone participates in debt-based currency and the way that the currency operates. How does it make sense that there is more debt than there is currency?
9:22 PJ — (Updated August 19) —
Good question. Mainly because of the interest that’s charged. In capitalism, every product has to have something that makes money, makes a profit, and then when the sale of money – which is what banks do, they create and sell money, effectively, when the lower or raise interest rates they’re changing to price of what it’s going to cost you to get money and a loan – and then they produce interest obviously and that interest doesn’t exist in the money supply.
So, you have today about 200 trillion in debt in the world and about 80 trillion in currency. So, what does that mean? It means that those who are holding the bag, the lower class, are the ones that get screwed when you have economic declines. There are always going to be bankruptcies and things like that that happen in a kind of classism, a structural classism that I call it, that effectively hurts the lower class. And the fact that people don’t see that either … I mean that goes back 5,000 years. It has been in lockstep with something else that we’re familiar with called slavery. So, debt, peonage slavery, convict leasing — even today, in certain areas of Asia, they have debt that’s passed through generations, from farmer to child, and that child has to continue working off its father’s debt in effectively a kind of post-neofeudalism.
So, this phenomenon is there. And it’s unfortunate that more people don’t see the actual intrinsic problem of debt. And the solution to that, you can’t … you can argue that you could get rid of a debt-based currency and so on, and I’ve had many conversations with people about that, but the question is why hasn’t it happened? Because it’s intrinsic to the function of capitalism. And it’s not even that they act insidiously. It’s just what their job is. Their job is to make money on nothing and sell it to people, and when the people can’t pay it, they take their property. It’s just another funneling system.
Here’s another thing I’ll mention. All the money that’s made in the world comes from the lower class taking loans. So, right now less than 63% of Americans have a $1,000 in savings. Yet the lower class, that same sub-class, is what takes on all the major loans: home loans, car loans. That money comes in, the people buy all this stuff and then that money that’s spent goes basically right back up to the upper class again, because, as we know, the growth of the past ten years, all of the major income has gone to the upper 10, 5 to 10%. So, it’s even worse now. See my point? The people take on all the loans of the entire collective money in society and then that money is extracted from them through various forms of structural classism and goes right back up to the upper 1%. People should be enraged by that. But they don’t see it because it’s a structural phenomenon. It’s something that’s happening under the surface that isn’t readily apparent. And that’s why today, in ignorance, no one really reacts on it.
12: 00 AM – It seems like no matter who’s in the White House – Obama, Hillary or Trump – Goldman Sachs turns out to be the winner. And even Trump based his whole campaign saying I’m not a Goldman Sachs’ shill. And look what his cabinet is stacked with. How powerful is Wall Street in terms of controlling the political spectrum?
12:19 PJ – (Updated August 20) —
It’s very covert, but it’s definitely an enormous power because the financial sector is like the polluting force that underlies everything. And it’s very difficult for people to understand that the major corporations have to be in bed with these major banks and do the financialization. They ultimately bleed over into investment banks. So much money is made by major corporations, that people don’t even know about, have nothing to do with goods and services. They have to do with this recycling, financialization, and reinvesting and this and that. There’s a whole subclass of all major corporations that reinvest everything that they’ve done, and they employ Wall Street to do so.
Wall Street, as people have talked about since the American Revolution, the banking system has been given this privilege — I’ll say it this way – there’s a privilege that banks, investment banks, commercial banks and effectively the financialization has had, and it’s been unquestioned, and that’s basically the control of money and artifacts that relate to money but have no intrinsic value. Again, that’s why I advocate the abolition of Wall Street and the entire thing. These derivatives upon derivatives.
And so we create this housing bubble, right. So, the housing market, abusing the people that are in need and basically triggering the systemic crisis that these people at the top made a fortune off of, but didn’t contribute to the public health outcomes such as 500,000 people that died of cancer because they couldn’t get treatment. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of the financial relationship to public health.
13:50 – Let’s talk about Empire. We see US military presence in over 70% of all the nations on earth. When you look at military personal it’s almost every single country. But beyond the military hegemony, there’s the hegemony of US capital. Of course, this is more hidden. But how does this financialization underpin the Empire?
14:07 PJ — (Updated August 21) –
Since the fall of the Soviet Union and the development of the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, NATO, underlining all of these higher structure institutions, are neoliberal, globalization, financialization. Those three words have to go together because it’s one synergy. And since the attempt at a different type of social order has been officially squashed, the World Bank and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) have gone out of their way to make sure that neoliberal policy is employed everywhere in any country that doesn’t have that interest – such as Iran, such as Iraq, such as Syria – so there’s a long list of countries, such as Libya – that have tried to do something different or have been on the outs for whatever reason – but usually have economic roots that go back in history to some degree – in any country that tries to step out of the way gets hit with the idea that they are violating human rights because in this world – at least in the perception of democracy that we have – neoliberalism is supposed to be right next to it.
The idea of free markets – Of course it’s not really free at all. That’s the thing about it. It’s not really neoliberalism, because that would mean everything would be open. That’s the true idea of neoliberalism. The people that came up with this word decades ago, they said well we need some kind of philosophy to counter communism. We want to promote open, free markets across all borders. Of course, no one actually did that. So, it’s that war of neoliberal thought; but it’s really just a function of the wealthy class gets the socialist support as usual, and the lower class, countries or individuals, are the ones that have to suffer through neoliberal free market outcomes. They’re the ones that get to fight and lose. But the upper-class states, like the United States and Empire, it doesn’t; it’s not susceptible to any of this because it’s just the bully in the room. It’s the big Empire and it has its vassal states that help. It has its arm of NATO and it’s bank institutions to support its economic worldview, which eventually leads to its territorial and geopolitical control of other nations. Because that force won’t tolerate anything else.
16:51 AM – Expand more on the notion that all wars are class wars.
16:54 PJ – (Updated August 22) –
You can look at society as a stratified structure both in the domestic … in any domestic society, such as the United States, where, of course, you have the rich and the poor, the dwindling middle class, then you can apply that exact same macro view to the nation states of the world. It’s amazing to see how close in resemblance they are. After World War II, any country that simply wanted to do something different outside of the neoliberal order, had to suffer the same fate. So, the World Bank, what did they do, they impose austerity. They keep those countries poor and destroyed. And that’s a great way, if there’s no infrastructure in these countries to start to develop new ideas and new patterns, then there’s no threat.
And, of course, there’s “The Grudge”. There’s always going to be an element that is an echo of our economic dominance – US economic dominance – or this pattern of economic dominance, that builds in other forms of bias. And I have no doubt that Western society with its increasingly jingoistic views and this reversion back into the xenophobic presence, whether it’s claiming that Mexicans are stealing their jobs, or that the Arab communities and Muslim communities are now the hub of this terrorist ideology and so on. These things foment, after the fact, and create long-term patterns of bias and bigotry.
18:12 AM – I like that you brought up macro and micro in terms of the classism in America and the global classism because people talk about the developed world and the underdeveloped world as if that’s just the way it is instead of the underdeveloped world actually giving way to why we have a developed… [crosstalk]
18:27 PJ – (Updated August 23) –
Well, I mean colonization, as you know very well, is effectively a sprawling class antagonism. It’s a subjugation. The poor of the world are not poor because they’ve been left behind and [because of] market capitalism … They’re poor because of these years of colonization have destroyed Africa and areas of Latin America.
18:47 AM – You call your new book a logical train of thought from a social psychology perspective. Let’s start with the notion that poverty is violence, right. Go over some of the casualties that arise from the structural violence that exists today in this system.
19:01 PJ – (Updated August 23) —
The big word I use is socioeconomic inequality, which poverty falls under the umbrella of. Socioeconomic inequality, basically class stratification, has been held up as some kind of force of innovation. That’s about the only defence that you’ll hear. They’ll say, well you’ve got to have poor people that aspire to be rich people. And that will create the engine of innovation — more nonsense that is produced by industry. That’s effectively the only defence that I’ve ever heard of stratification, other than people claiming that it’s a biological reality, and there’s no other choice than for us to be these primitive primates that stratify, and therefore the bottom rungs will suffer.
It’s not just poverty that’s the worst form of violence, as Gandhi stated. To be in a stratified system is against wellbeing and public health. That’s been proven by a lot of different theorists in epidemiology where they measured all these artifacts such as the level of violence – in fact, Dr. James Gilligan, which I know you’ve interviewed – he’s the former head of the study of violence at Harvard – an extremely brilliant man who studied this as a prison psychologist and his core statement, you want to reduce violence in society, reduce inequality.
There’s also the source, the psychosocial stress, that we are killing each other through plaques in our arteries from the release of certain stress hormones that are directly attributed to socioeconomic inequality as well. In other words, the more you’re involved in a class-based society, the more you witness the haves and the have-nots, the more it messes you up. And there’s a … it’s biologically associated.
So, this is an unnatural state. Poverty and socioeconomic inequality kill about 18 million a year based on one estimate. That is a couple of holocausts in one year. They say the Soviet Union killed a hundred million people in one century of its existence. We’re killing in capitalist inequality – capitalist-generated inequality – that many in six years. So, the defence of a class-stratified society is no longer existent in the public health research.
20:55 AB — Under capitalism there’s always going to be people who are poor, right. Why is this notion that this is just a constant inevitability that we have to accept – poverty, unemployment in the system’s booms and busts. This is the most odd thing to me about capitalism is the acceptance that these things are natural.
21:10 PJ — (Updated August 24) –
First of all, the masses view it as a class war. Every time there’s a bust, it doesn’t affect … the wealthy can endure that. They can find ways to work around it. But that creates cheap labor, the boom, better for the owners of the country and the owners of big business and finance. They take foreclosures … the financial services sector effectively booms during this because they’re the ones who get to grab up everything the lower class can’t pay for anymore.
And then when the boom starts happening again the QE [quantitative easing] or all the things that the central banks do, invariably go into the powerful corporate and financial sectors, because we still have that philosophy of trickle down. We still have the idea that you have to pump money into big business, and the effect of the stock market, in order to generate more activity that will float down to the lower class.
So, it’s really transparent. And, no, it doesn’t have to exist.
22:03 AM – Let’s talk about the inefficiencies of the capitalist model versus the possibilities that exist today with modern technology. Paint a picture juxtaposing this crazy comparison from food to energy.
22:12 PJ – (Updated August 25) —
Well the greatest inefficiency would be the fact that we have poverty at all. So, we talk about this advancement of society, and this great productivity … The most powerful force, the most positive force we do have of the whole of human civilization is … since the Industrial Revolutions we’re able to do more and more and more with less and less and less. And that is the driving force that can create equitable distribution and peace on this planet.
The fact that you have five people now with more wealth than the bottom half of the world, and that you have close to a billion people not getting their nutrition met, and you have what in by … Peter Edwards of Newcastle University put out what he called “the ethical poverty line”, which is based on lifespan, not the metrics put out by the UN – and when you use this ethical poverty line you find that 60% of the world’s in poverty. That is lunacy from an efficiency standpoint. No one can sit there and claim that this is an efficient system when that’s the outcome on the social level.
Now we can talk about the efficiency of a factory and all the great fruits of technology that people will claim are associated with capitalism, which is nonsense too: It’s our ability to design and our ingenuity through science and technology that’s created this, not some weird mechanism that’s attributed to capitalism.
AM – And what about food and waste?
The waste is absolutely insane. You have 40% of all food being wasted because of inefficiencies in the distribution pipeline, which is staggering. We have globalization moving food all around you. The average American food plate moves about 1400 miles. There’s no reason for any of that especially now.
If you go down a line of what’s possible you remove the chaos of human society and its strange beliefs and everything else, and you actually look at what we can do, then there’s no reason for anyone to be hungry obviously. There could be an incredible state of efficiency and abundance across food and energy and production. So, when we talk about abundance it’s so confused with people because they like … I get attacked all day long with the “The world is finite. It, you know, you can’t make an abundance what’s …” Obviously it’s a relative notion. I mean the sun will eventually burn out. It’s abundant to us in the long term of time. So, it’s not about suddenly there’s a magical amount of everything.
It’s about using the efficiency and, of course, focusing the economy on the interest to have an abundance, because in our current society it’s the antithesis of what’s rewarded. We reward scarcity. We want things to be generally scarce — the corporate construct does. Business doesn’t want there to be abundance of anything. So, the pollution of the water supply, that’s great for the water-bottling companies. We’re rewarding the exact opposite. You can’t have sustainability, preservation, efficiency in a society that rewards the opposite. And therein lies the great contradiction of the capitalist system.
24:55 AM — In terms of energy, what is possible right now? I remember reading that just a small area in like Africa can power the entire continent plus part of Europe.
25:02 PJ — (Updated August 25) —
I do an analysis in the book that just looks at all the basic renewables, and each one of them has the capacity to create global abundance and meet the current needs. And you put them all together in a synergy then make basic, what’s called mixed use systems – it’s a little bit technical — but we don’t have any kind of systemic incorporation in our cities – not like there should be. Everything in the house today should have solar panels that not only power the helm [control post] as much as possible, but they run the energy back out into the central grid. Suddenly everything becomes an attribute of energy development. It’s shared. And you do that … If someone created a society that does … a few of the smaller cities in Europe that are doing that with outrageous efficiency potential.
So when you put all that together, it’s absurd, it’s absurd. Everyone in small pockets, and these entrepreneurs are doing their best, you know, even like Elon Musk and the battery technology and they’re trying to do something but there’s no concentrated focus. There needs to be basically a Manhattan Project to figure out what the best solution is globally, to unify the synergies of all of our renewables and to make them all work. And if we did that, if we actually got the minds of say all the universities together right now, and [had] the university project across the entire world, and we said we’re going to focus on this problem right now, what is the combination of renewables, how do we distribute across the world, and how do we make it create an abundance at zero cost effectively. And I guarantee that if we did that it would happen probably in six months.
The intent of the business class isn’t that they wilfully want to repress sustainable abundant resources and products. It’s that they know deep down, just like everyone knows about a lot of things in their subconscious, but if they did that they would make themselves obsolete. And no business on this planet is going to try to make itself obsolete, no matter how green it claims to be. But that’s what it leads to. If anyone really wants to improve the ecological state specifically, the type of transformations required would effectively cut energy in an industry back by half at a minimum. There would not be that many people employed, money would not be made anymore, because we have that ability in technology now to create things that last, that will work, that will be modular, updatable, without that need of the service scene and constant turnover that we see in the current energy sector.
27:15 AM – Really quickly, let’s go back to just what’s possible. Can you explain the notion of vertical farming, because I don’t think a lot of people realize what that is in the potentiality?
27:22 PJ – (Updated August 28) —
I did an extrapolation in the book regarding vertical farming based on a study out of Columbia University and what I’ve calculated crudely – and I did this deliberately to show the extremity of it – if you apply vertical farms to existing agricultural land – just in theory – a 15-story [operation] would produce enough food for 34 trillion people.
Now people say well we can obviously have different regional things and irrigation and so on … Yeah, but it makes moot when you look at that type of number of potential… And the reduction of … basically vertical farms allow for extreme reduction in the fertilizer, the need for light and energy, the need for water. And the study, the example of this that exist in different places … Granted, you’re producing the … you’re obviously not producing meat. I mean … and, in truth, human society has to get away from animal agriculture anyway to be sustainable. You have an incredible potential for abundance.
And you put these in localized areas … in New York they’ve been concerting some warehouses to start doing this. Very small amounts of investment are slowly being put into this, but it needs to be amplified rapidly because with the loss of topsoil, with 70% of our fresh water going to agriculture in the midst of what is effectively a water crisis. By 2030 I think it was the stat [statistic] that 65% of the world would be in a water-stressed area. There’s nothing positive in those trends at all.
So, that’s one great potential way to not only feed local populations well, but also to remove the incredible ecological footprint that agriculture is doing today.
28:52 – Automation is also used constantly as a talking point against the rise of labor standards, against wage increases because it will take away these skilled jobs. We saw this in the 80s with car manufacturers. We see it today with restaurants as fast food industry, stores, right, CVS etc. You encourage automation because you say that it will liberate people. How?
29:13 PJ – (Updated August 29) —
There’s a few levels to this. First, what has been the greatest source of oppression on this planet since recorded history? Labor. So not only is it irresponsible for us not to apply automation because it’s more efficient, it’s safer, we can create more of an abundance with less resources. Also it’s a dramatic shift in the way human relations has been. So if we can finally remove that ownership labor, that old classist duality, with the use of automation, that would be profound just on that level.
People say silly things, too, like well if you could increase abundance, we’ll just have overpopulation. People keep reproducing. It’s actually the opposite now. That was the case at the end of the Malthusian trap. We had a huge burst of population when we found hydrocarbons and then the technology boomed. But when you look at stats now in countries that have overpopulation, they’re poor countries. And when you have countries that actually have decent affluency they’re not reproducing rapidly anymore. So if you want to stop what people perceive as apparent overpopulation, which is a dubious word because it’s not quantifiably viable, there’s only overpopulation is our society because our society is so inefficient. It’s not overpopulation because suddenly we’re outdoing the resources of the planet.
But if you create an equitable playing field and you meet people’s needs, the population issue will not be an issue. It would completely create – I can’t emphasize it enough what it would do to the psychology of people to be free of that drudgery and that sense of exploitation of each other.
30:46 How does intellectual property prove to be one of the biggest flaws of this system?
30:50 PJ – (Updated September 3 ) —
The main reason is that intellectual property restricts the open flow naturally and it allows … it restricts people’s contribution to given ideas. The whole of industry is pushed by sharing, one way or another. Some cellphone company makes something, they have some kind of proprietary something or another. They release it. Another under … [garbled] Then finally, another cellphone company experiences that; it imitates it and suddenly a little competitive war that people call innovation continues. Extremely wasteful, including unnecessary.
Why not just open source all intellectual property across the entire sector, if not across business in general? You would see an exponential increase in efficiency. If could sit back and design my own camera, along with millions of others in an open source community, a collaborative commons, you would see the efficiency of that given technology far transcend what any given boardroom or any even small group of technicians could ever come up with. That’s the wisdom of crowds. And that’s happening, like that’s what drives our industry in the long run. But it does it in such a slow way because we’re not sharing it directly.
You want to see a dramatic innovation in this world then drop capitalism because it’s inhibiting innovation more than it is anything else, especially now.
AM – Yeah, completely inhibiting the medical field as well. Just all these patents on medicines. It’s disgusting.
PJ – Think about the people that want to make generics. I did document this in the book as well. There are people suffering from tuberculosis and HIV related diseases, and they were looking for … they were looking to make their own generics. And the Western pharmaceutical industry, including all the way up to the White House, said nope. Intellectual property restricts you from producing this. You have to buy it from us. Finally, they gave them a little bit of a discount because they knew … [crosstalk].
AM – Only hundreds of dollars and not thousands per pill, per cancer pill.
PJ – Yeah. You bring up a good point. The medical industry is the best example of artificial scarcity, The idea that these pills cost … I have a family member, had cancer and they gave her this little thing, and they stuck it on her arm, and it was $17,000 for this little piece of plastic that simply injected the fluid into her. $17,000! There’s no way …
AM – You’re paying for yachts. You’re not paying for plastic.
PJ – This is made by a machine in some pharmaceutical company in about five minutes, with chemicals that are being mixed that are far from rare or scarce. It would be different if they had to go all the way to the Amazon and find something … Yeah. No. It’s the biggest fraud industry out there.
33:15 AM – I think another fraudulent, fundamental basis of the whole system, is competition. Because we’re all in agreement with the notion that all of these technological advancements come from competition incentivizing. Of course, the development of these ideas … you discuss the need to move from competitive to collaborative. Why is competition not all its’s made out to be?
33:34 PJ – (Updated September 4) —
The first problem with competition in a market system where everyone’s competing for market share, meaning money, the competition becomes … the innovation that’s produced is artificial. If they’re not trying to improve on something to meet a human need, they’re trying to improve on something to sell.
A healthy industrial system isn’t trying to artificially create demand once again. It’s there to meet demand. In fact, you don’t want to artificially create demand because that means you’re going to be reducing your sustainability. You want a minimalistic culture. You don’t want what advertising is driving now.
So that’s an aside of what you’re asking. But I think it’s a very important point that people miss when they talk about innovation through competition especially. Competition has been proven in many academic journals to be hideously hindering, and neuroses producing. There’s little evidence to say that the competitive industry of capitalism actually innovates in a way that’s somehow superior to a collaborative system, especially if people have the same intent.
Anyone can sit and imagine the building of something, once again like an open-source collaborative Commons, and they know what they want. They can infer what the next stage would be. It doesn’t take this sort of imposition built on competitive coercion effectively to impose the demand upon them. If we know what we want, and can infer the next stage of things, why do we need companies competing against each other? We can just … now we have the technology to work together. And again, it would be that much more innovative if we did that.
AM – When you look at just even your childhood development in school, people are incentivized to cheat to get ahead. And there’s always going to be way more losers, and what does that do to the psychology of humanity?
PJ – Oh, yeah. General competitive neuroses incentives. It reinforces once again the in-group out-group underline, hierarchy enhancing tendency. Because if you have a society that believes in this type of competitive ethic, you have a society that says winners and losers are part of the system and I want to be a winner, then suddenly you can justify walking over homeless people in the street. You can justify the bombing of this or that country. You can justify just about anything that hurts another human being under the guise that it’s just the competitive nature of our world.
35:36 AM – Our whole system today is based on the idea of scarcity, but the opposite is true. We have an overabundance as you’ve explained so clearly. Talk about how the development and stages of market capitalism got us to where we are today.
35:50 PJ — (Updated September) —
39:20 AM – How do we socialize and localize the enterprise? And who is standing in the way of this being done?
39:25 PJ – (Updated September) —
42:24 AM – The end vision for this book is a beautiful democratized symbiotic ecosystem where people are collaboratively growing society. Talk about how you lay that vision out.
42:35 PJ — (Updated September) —
45:21 END OF INTERVIEW
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