The Venus Project

beyond politics, poverty & war

Friday 31 July 2009, by Aras Yildiz

66 inspired

1. Introduction

There have been a lot of scenarios, utopias, proposals or speculations about the future since humans started to imagine. Today, a lot of movies and books are being published which try to describe the picture of the future. Notaro (2005) explains the situation as ?Ideal cities, or utopias have been imagined in minute detail by philosophers, poets, architects, social reformers, religious devotees, and artists for more than two thousand years. The attempt to invent the perfect city, cradle of the ideal society, is an abiding and ever-evolving vision embracing a wide variety of fascinating and often controversial movements and figures?. However, all of those utopias or scenarios mostly do not seem possible and real to us.

The Venus Project by Jacque Fresco demonstrates a possible future with viable alternatives. This project does not remain as a futuristic design of architecture or technology, beside presents a ?bold, new direction for humanity that entails nothing less than the total redesign of our culture?. It addresses every aspect of life with a broad view by putting humanity to the centre of the world. The project handles the social, economical, ethical etc. problems exist in the world and proposes realistic and sustainable solutions to these matters.

One Cree Indian proverb says that ?Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten?. This quote might be the best description and starting point for what is questioned by The Venus Project.

2. The Main Facts About the Activities of the Project

The Venus Project is a futuristic and systemic approach which proposes us a much better life in the future than we have at the moment. It is a veritable blue-print for the genesis of a new world civilization, one that is based on human concern and environmental reclamation. The plans for The Venus Project offer society a broader spectrum of choices based on the scientific possibilities directed toward a new era of peace and sustainability for all. Through the implementation of a resource-based economy, and a multitude of innovative and environmentally friendly technologies directly applied to the social system, The Venus Project proposes to dramatically reduce crime, poverty, hunger, homelessness, and many other pressing problems that are common throughout the world today.

It is stated in the website of the project as: ?there are many people today who are concerned with the serious problems that face our modern society: unemployment, violent crime, replacement of humans by technology, over-population and a decline in the Earth’s ecosystems. The Venus Project is dedicated to confronting all of these problems by actively engaging in the research, development, and application of workable solutions. Through the use of innovative approaches to social awareness, educational incentives, and the consistent application of the best that science and technology can offer directly to the social system, The Venus Project offers a comprehensive plan for social reclamation in which human beings, technology, and nature will be able to coexist in a long-term, sustainable state of dynamic equilibrium?.

In the project it is declared that the problems we are faced with today cannot be solved politically or financially because they are highly technical in nature. These social and economical problems do not have solutions because nobody is making a trial to alter basic value systems. So The Venus Project raises the discussion: There may not even be enough money available to pay for the required changes, but there are more than enough resources. Therefore, the project supports and suggests the transformation from ?Obsolete Monetary System? of today to ?Resource Based Economy?. With this transformation, people will not need money and the necessities of life will be in free access of everyone without bureaucracy or any other agency. All humanity will work with resources that nature gives us and produce what we need.

Jacque Fresco, the founder of the project, points out in his essay that ?the real wealth of any nation lies in its developed and potential resources and the people who are working toward the elimination of scarcity and the development of a more humane way of life. A resource-based economy would use technology to overcome scarce resources by utilizing renewable sources of energy; computerizing and automating manufacturing, inventory and distribution; designing safe, energy-efficient cities; providing universal health care and relevant education; and most of all, by generating a new incentive system based on human and environmental concern?. Thus, the project offers a new way of life by utilizing natural resources of the world in order to increase well being and wealth of humanity. Contrarily to current monetary system it puts the quality of life in the first place rather than profit maximization.

3. The Ethical Challenges This Project is Addressing

As it is already mentioned, The Venus Project focuses on a lot of social and economical problems, moreover the ethical challenges that those problems bring along. Basically, human behaviour is subjected to the general questioning of today?s problems. According to Jacque Fresco; ?Our customs, behaviours, and values are byproducts of our culture. No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism and hatred; these are all learned behaviour patterns. If the environment is unaltered, similar behaviour will reoccur?. He and his colleague Roxanne Meadows believes that there is no human nature, there is human behaviour, and that has always been changed throughout the history. We are not born with bigotry, greed, corruption and hatred. We pick that up within the society. So, what are the reasons which cause these behavioural flaws we have and drag us to ethically wrong behaviours?

In today’s world we are facing with many common threats that transcend national boundaries. These include overpopulation, energy shortages, pollution, uncontrollable diseases, human rights abuse, economical fraudulence, terrorism, political corruption, religious exploitation and so forth. These indications demonstrate that the system we are living in is collapsing. The Venus Project addresses the reason of these problems to the ?obsolete monetary system?. At this point, Jacque Fresco claims that ?However, faced even with threats of this magnitude, which are common to all nations, the direction of human action will not be altered so long as powerful nations are able to maintain control of the limited resources available?.

Understanding this we then see that money fundamentally exists as a barrier to reach these resources and virtually everything has a financial cost. This situation drags the world in crises and avoids majority of population to reach their main, natural needs because of not having the enough money as a medium to obtain these resources.

The Venus Project declares that the current monetary system is not capable of providing a high standard of living for everyone, nor can it ensure the protection of the environment because the major motive is profit rather than the welfare of humanity. Therefore, while strategies, such as downsizing, toxic dumping etc, increase the profit margin they actually still stay as ethically wrong actions.

For example, automation causes replacement of people by machines and then the social problems arise from unemployment of big amount of people. This seems like the consequence of the technological development and technology brings out unethical behaviours. However, the monetary system is the main actor who let fewer people to purchase goods and services, where technology is making our lives easier in fact. Fresco explains this situation as: ?Our present, outmoded political and economic systems are unable to apply the real benefits of today’s innovative technology to achieve the greatest good for all people, and to overcome the inequities imposed upon so many, therefore competition and scarcity have caused an atmosphere of jealousy and mistrust to develop between individuals and nations. Our technology is racing forward yet our social designs have remained relatively static. In other words cultural change has not kept pace with technological change. We now have the means to produce goods and services in abundance for everyone?.

Like the monetary system, there are other social systems are addressed by The Venus Project in terms of ethical challenges. These are political and religious institutions which are also related to monetary system. The project was a main basis of a documentary movie, Zeitgeist Addendum (2008) and the role of these established institutions and their impacts were also subjected in the movie as the following part: ?The social values of our society, which has manifested in perpetual warfare, corruption, oppressive laws, social stratification, irrelevant superstitions, environmental destruction, and a despotic socially indifferent profit oriented ruling class is fundamentally the result of a collective ignorance of two of the most basic insights humans can have about reality: The emergent and symbiotic aspects of natural law. The emergent nature of reality is that all systems; whether it is knowledge, society, technology, philosophy, or any other creation will, when uninhibited, undergo fluid perpetual change... ...This means we must be open to new information at all times, even if it threatens our current belief system, and hence, identities. Sadly society today has failed to recognize this, and the established institutions continue to paralyze growth by preserving outdated social structures... ...The monetary system perpetuates an intellectual materialism not only by its self-preserving structures, but also through the countless number of people who have been conditioned into blindly and thoughtlessly upholding these structures, therefore becoming self-appointed guardians of the status quo?
An example which Jacque Fresco has given about the business and industry in the Zeitgeist Addendum movie can help to sum up the ethical challenges which is addressed by The Venus Project; ?if you came into my store and I said ?this lamp that I have got is pretty good, but the lamp next door is much better?, I would not be in business very long. It would not work. If I were ethical, it would not work. So when you say industry cares for people, that is not true. They cannot afford to be ethical. So your system is not designed to serve the well-being of people. If you still do not understand that there would be no outsourcing of jobs if they cared about people. Industry does not care. They only hire people because it has not been automated yet. So do not talk about decency and ethics, we cannot afford it and remain in business?.

4. Why This Project Is Really Ethical and Why to Trust It

As the proposals and the ethical dimensions of the project have been discussed, now the reasons what make this project ethical should be given. In my opinion, the radical and thorough change which is suggested by the project might seem like unrealistic at the first sight, however conceptually, the principals presented leads me to positive thinking and dreaming about a nice future. On the other hand, present monetary system has been tried for a long time and day by day, humans are suffering from the consequences of it. Fulfilling the demands of current economy does not seem like proposing solutions to end; war, poverty, hunger, deprivation, crime, ignorance, stress, fear, and inequity. Unlikely, it leads to increasing rates of these problems constantly.

Notaro (2005) also claims that; ?greed was the main obstacle towards the creation of a total environment in which man would live in peace with his fellow man and in harmony with nature. Most importantly, all the facilities are available to everyone without cost in a resource based economy where human greed becomes a thing of the past?. About the issue, Fresco declares, one that ?utilizes existing resources rather than money and provides an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner for the entire population ... all the world?s resources are held as common heritage of all the Earth?s people. This is the unifying imperative?. These arguments represent the equality approach of the project.

Moreover, in a humanitarian aspect, it is indicated on the website of the project that in this new social arrangement of a resource-based economy, motivation and incentive will be encouraged through recognition of and concern for the needs of the individual. This means providing the necessary environment, educational facilities, nutrition, health care, compassion, love, and security that all people need.

Another, supportive instrument to ethical dimension of the project is its 18 goals which are presented in his essay by Fresco. Some of them which are most related to ethical issue are listed below;

 Conserving all the world’s resources as the common heritage of all of the Earth?s people.
 Transcending all of the artificial boundaries that separate people.
 Evolving from a monetary-based economy to a resource-based world economy.
 Reclaiming and restoring the natural environment to the best of our ability.
 Redesigning our cities, transportation systems, and agricultural and industrial plants so that they are energy efficient, clean, and conveniently serve the needs of all people.
 Using clean, renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal power, etc.
 Outgrowing nationalism, bigotry and prejudice through education.
 Eliminating any type of elitism, technical or otherwise.
 Providing not only the necessities of life but also offering challenges that stimulate the mind, emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity.

Because of its egalitarian, humanitarian, naturist and environment ? friendly aspect, I believe that Venus Project deserves to be believed and trusted in terms of ethical concept.

Of course, for most of the people, not surprisingly, it might not easy to accept a theory like this. However, if we consider the unethical cases in the world, most of them will lead us to monetary and profit related issues. There are a lot of cases in the history, where unethical acts came true because of the conflict with economical interests. Fresco winds up the discussion with a nice quote in Zeitgeist Addendum (2008): ?The system I advocate, a resource based global economy is not perfect, it is just a lot better than what we have. We can never achieve perfection?.

5. The Possible Challenges Facing The Project In The Future and How This Project May Improve

First of all, the most important challenge that project might face in the future is the diversity of human. As a totally different aspect to the present system, it will be hard to establish a common collective between people on the world. There might be a lot of people who oppose this project with the argument of an imposition of a system. Imposition of a system might be perceived as limiting the liberty and therefore can cause an unethical impression.

Another challenge might be the people who believe that there is already too much technology in the world today, and that technology is the major cause of our environmental pollution. This fact is emphasized by Fresco as well, but he objects to this view and argues that the abuse and misuse of technology should be the major concern. In very simple terms, a hammer can be used to construct a building, or to kill another person. It is not the hammer that is the issue, but how it is used. Hence, Fresco means the being ethical is not the matter of technology but human beings.

And the last issue which has already been talked about and might challenge the project in the future is the question; if all people have the access to basic needs, what will be their motivation then? Again Fresco answers in this objection in his essay; ?this is tantamount to saying that children reared in affluent environments, in which their parents provide all the necessary food, clothing, shelter, nutrition, and extensive education, will demonstrate a lack of incentive or initiative. There is no evidence to support this fallacious assumption. There is overwhelming evidence to support the facts that malnutrition, lack of employment, low wages, poor health, lack of direction, lack of education, homelessness, little or no reinforcement for one’s efforts, poor role models, poverty, and a bleak prospect for the future do create monumental individual and social problems, and significantly reduce an individual?s drive to achieve. The aim of a resource based economy is to encourage and develop a new incentive system, one no longer directed toward the shallow and self-centred goals of wealth, property, and power. These new incentives would encourage people to pursue different goals, such as self-fulfilment and creativity, the elimination of scarcity, the protection of the environment, and the alleviation of suffering in their fellow human beings?.

On the other hand, it is not easy to anticipate improvements to this project because it is still pending to be implemented one day in the future. Thus, the preparation period can be improved by increasing the communication and awareness around the world to gain supporters.

6. Conclusion

The Venus Project, as I have tried to present, is an alternative approach to current outmode mechanism of the world. It aims a social change, which leads humanity to a sustainable global civilization. Fresco, who leans on the blessings of the technology for the future, manifests a positive philosophy with his promising ideas and reveals a nice scene from our future with this part of his essay; ?As we enhance the lives of others, protect our environment, and work toward abundance, all our lives can become richer and more secure. If these values were put into practice it would enable all of us to achieve a much higher standard of living within a relatively short period of time—one that would be continuously improved. At a time when commercial institutions no longer exist, the necessity for prisons, lawyers, advertisements, banks and the stock exchange will serve no useful purpose. In the society of the future, in which the monetary system of scarcity has been surpassed by a resource based economy and most physical and creative needs are met, private ownership as we know it would cease to be a necessity to protect one?s access to goods and services. The concept of ownership would be of no advantage whatsoever in a society of abundance. Although this is difficult for many to imagine, even the wealthiest person today would be immensely better off in the highly productive resource-based society. Today in developed countries the middle class live far better than kings and the wealthy of times past. In a resource based economy everyone would live richer lives than the powerful and wealthy of today, not only materially but spiritually as well?.

The Venus Project helps us to understand that the only limitations are those we impose upon ourselves. It is not a utopian, unrealistic view instead it presents attainable goals requiring only the intelligent application of what we already know.

As a conclusion, I believe that the vision of the Venus Project and the aspect of the Jacque Fresco are worth to be praised. Unlikely to general attitude towards systems, Venus Project does not remain as a criticizer, proposes alternatives to current obsolete system.

Bibliography

Fresco, J. 2009. The Future and Beyond, http://www.thevenusproject.com/anewEssay.php
Notaro, A. 2005. Imagining the Cybernetic City: The Venus Project, Nebula, 2.4, Dec/Jan 2005
The Venus Project, http://www.thevenusproject.com/
Joseph, P. 2008. Zeitgeist Addendum ? the movie

Location: Venus (United States of America, Florida)

Sector: visions of future

Official website: http://www.thevenusproject.com/

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Nbr. inspires: 66