Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Venus Project: Designing the Future

So my boyfriend introduced me to the idea of the Venus Project, which centers on the vision of a resource-based economy that does not depend on money to thrive. While I've read into the various oppositions towards Jacque Fresco's idea (when isn't there an opposition? Part of the many dichotomies of life, right?), and it's not a flawless plan,  I'm drawn to it.

Check out my boyfriend's research paper. It's pretty awesome.
Through this research paper I intend to explore and critically analyze the ideas proposed by Jacque Fresco in his Venus Project initiative. I will study and interpret his motives and reasoning for launching such an endeavor. Through examining conflicting perspectives, I will assess the general feedback so that I may objectively evaluate its legitimacy as a proposed solution to our social and economic hardships. I believe that the ideas proposed in the Venus Project would by no means cure all the problems in the world, but would serve as a significant step in the right direction.

                       I want you to take a walk with me.  The purpose of which is for us to achieve a greater understanding of events transpiring right before our eyes.  To achieve such an understanding, we need not do more than look.  Look around.  Look at our island.  What do you see?  Do you see the corruption, the poor infrastructure, the violence?  Now look at our nation.  The games politicians play, the deception, the lies, do you see them as well?  Look at our beautiful earth, the mother to all life and our home.  Do you see the poverty, the pollution, the war?  Open your eyes and tell me if you witness the multitude of atrocities gone unanswered and the utter lack of consideration for human life.  Now, close your eyes and look inside.  Look inside and ask yourself, “Is this right?  Is this the way the world should operate?  Is THIS God’s plan?”  I take this walk with myself every day and I look.  I see the injustices, the famine, the untruths, the greed, the mistreatment of my people, of our people, and I feel their pain.  I feel the pain of those in need and denigrate those who knowingly put them in such deplorable conditions.  Corruption, desolation and despair spread as far as the eye can see and beyond, and still no sign of salvation.  No sign until now.
Enter the Venus Project.
     What is the Venus Project?

Austerely put, the Venus Project is nothing more than a proposed solution to the issues that have plagued humanity from its existence to the myriad of problems found at all social levels today.  It is not only a solution to address the enslavement of our people via a system geared only towards increased profit, but also a solution to help protect and sustain our Earth so that she may prosper along with all her inhabitants.  Creator Jacque Fresco suggests that, “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.”  The way the Venus Project plans to tackle these problems is by the complete re-haul of our culture and social structure.  Fresco believes that through modifications, such as the replacement of the monetary system with a resource-based economy (which will later be explained in greater detail), the ousting away of current political systems, the implementation of clean, renewable, self-sustaining energy, and a careful, more precise approach to infrastructure, we can all see a dramatic rise in the quality of life for everyone. To better grasp the emergence of the Venus Project it is crucial to first take a look at the man behind the plan, Jacque Fresco.

   Biography of Jacque Fresco (founder of Venus Project) 
       Note:  I wrote this part to help him out.
Jacque Fresco was born on March 13, 1916 in Brooklyn, New York City to Issac and Lena Fresco.  From a young child, Fresco found freedom from the constraints of a formal education through teaching himself and spent much of his time at the library.  His interests lay not in the typical subjects offered at school, but in subjects pertaining to the studies of Einstein, Darwin, and the future.  He also possessed a creative spirit, which he fostered by indulging himself in painting, acting, and sketching.  These skills, sketching more specifically, would assist him in designing and developing his vision of an economy free from the entrapment and suffering brought about by a monetary system.  He noted the flaws of society’s current economy most strongly when he experienced the Great Depression’s crippling affects.  The Great Depression ignited Fresco’s curiosity regarding the function of society and mankind’s fate, much of which he later explores in his book Looking Forward that details the errors of mankind’s way of thinking and describes all that will have to change in order to secure a better future.  Determined to learn more about society, Fresco studied technocracy, a type of government where decisions come from scientists and engineers, instead of politicians.
Fresco studied structural design in Los Angeles and began designing alternative aircraft designs while working for Douglas Aircraft Company.  He honed his design skills further when he joined the army during World War II and transferred to the Air Force where he worked in a special unit, Wright Feld, that handled futuristic designs.  There he created about forty designs a day.  His advanced ideas earned him a reputation in the aircraft industry that highlighted him as “a man twenty years ahead of his time.”  Eager to continue his futuristic designs, he later encountered, in the mid-1940s, Earl Muntz and Michael Shore, who he worked with in creating inexpensive modern homes.  He spent much of his time lecturing and teaching technical design while working as the director of Scientific Research Laboratories.  During this time, roughly between the late 1940s and early 1950s, he researched and worked on various inventions, even creating model designs for science-fiction movies.

Eventually, Fresco moved to Miami, Florida in the mid-1950s where he conducted various lectures on society and conjured up a ten-year, social change plan called, “Project Americana.”  Project Americana took the form of a circular machine-operated city that included a means of helping other nations as well as introducing a new school curriculum.  The plan led him to establish, in 1971, Sociocyberneering, Inc, now known as the Venus Project, which utilized “the most sophisticated forms of science and technology toward problem solving…an approach at the restructuring of society in humanistic terms.” The Venus Project embodies his vision of a better more sustainable future for mankind.

 C.   Reasons for Implementation
Jacque Fresco was not the only person to understand the dire situation our current economy is in and the ominous ramifications it could have if continued unchecked.  Companies and corporations leading the global economy are driven solely by the motive to increase profit, neglecting the pursuit of proper morals and the well-being of humankind.  The blame does not fall solely on them, however, for they are just trying to excel in a system that is designed to allow such corruptions that start as high up as the Federal Reserve.

The last time in American history when the debt was completely paid off was in 1835 when President Andrew Jackson shut down the central bank that preceded the Federal Reserve.  Jackson warned of the dangers of implementing another central bank when he stated,  “The bold efforts the present bank has made to control the Government…are but premonitions of the fate that awaits the American people should they be deluded into a perpetuation of this institution, or the establishment of another like it.”  His warning would be short-lived, however.  In 1913, international bankers managed to install another central bank:the Federal Reserve, assuring the enslavement of the American people through a system of perpetual debt for years to come.

     Specifics of Project

  1.     Resource-Based Economy

The fundamental concept at the heart of the Venus Project is the transformation of being a monetary-based economy to that of a resource-based economy.  A resource-based economy is an economic system in which all of the resources of the earth become the shared heritage of all its people.  This concept relies on the notion that technology and society have evolved to the post-scarcity era.  Post-scarcity suggests that we have the means to produce enough resources to provide for everyone, whereas they are no longer scarce.  Accomplishing tasks in a resource-based economy prove much easier for the fact that it is not a matter of having the appropriate funding, but rather, simply having the resources.

  2.     Technology & Government

It may seem peculiar to have technology and government grouped within the same category but once we take a closer look at what Jacque Fresco had in mind, it becomes a little less obscure.  Fresco suggests that technology is the leading contributor to the betterment of the quality of life for people. He states that  “It is not politicians who solve problems; they have no technical capabilities…It is the technicians that produce the desalination plants, the technicians gives you electricity.  It is technology that solves problems, not politics.”  However, technology cannot progress without the investment of money, and unfortunately, those with the money seldom find profit in such ventures.  For example, the last thing an oil company would want is for the utilization of an alternative means of energy.  Thus, bent towards self-preservation of their own interests, the oil company would do what it can for it to stay relevant resulting in the stifling and asphyxiation of technology. 

Alexander Hamilton once wrote, “Why has government been instituted at all?  Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without constraint.”  While this has truths to it, our apparent solution was to appoint equally as passionate men to dictate and govern the masses, and we have all seen where this road leads.  If we have the resources to provide for everyone and people are encouraged to remove themselves from their selfish motives and seek a more communistic approach to our society, would people still need governance?

 3.     Infrastructure
Jacque Fresco uses his background in (see bio) to utilize a very effective means of city planning.  He says that it would be more effective to build new, sophisticated cities rather than trying to improve the outdated ones we have today.  The idea of these new cities is to “to operate with minimum expenditure of energy using the cleanest technology available, which will be in harmony with nature to obtain the highest possible standard of living for everyone.”

The cities are circular shaped with a central dome at the center that contains the cybernated systems used to maintain core automated city functions.  Also included in the central dome are educational facilities, health and child-care facilities, and computerized communications networking systems.  Moving away from the center of the city, encompassing the central dome are the centers for cultural activities such as arts, theater, exhibitions, concerts and various forms of entertainment.  Following the outward pattern comes the design and development center for research and city planning, then the dining and amenities section.  The greater the distance away from the center of the circular city, the more area is obtained which makes the next vast area ideal for residential living.  On the outskirts of the city, are indoor hydroponic, outdoor agriculture, and clean energy facilities, surrounded by a circular waterway for irrigation and filtration.

4.     Energy
Without our earth, we have nothing.  To this point we have been too preoccupied with monetary gain to really take into consideration and act on the negative effects of our energy uses.  The issues must be addressed soon before we not only destroy our motherland, but in turn ourselves through our own selfish disposition.  There are many alternative forms of clean, renewable energy that we have yet to even begin to tap into the huge mass of potential.  Fresco says, “At present, we don’t have to burn fossil fuels, we don’t have to use anything that will contaminate the environment there are many sources of energy available.”  Solar and wind energy are arguably the two most popular alternative sources of energy but are nowhere near reaching their true potential.  One hour of solar energy at high noon, contains more energy than what the entire world consumes in an entire year. 

While wind and solar energy are well known there are many other forms of energy given directly to us from the natural flow and rhythms of our planet.  Geothermal energy, wave and tidal energy are all capable means of supplying us with great amounts of energy.  A 2006 study conducted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology on geothermal energy showed that 13,000 ZJ of power are available within the Earth with a possibility of 2,000 ZJ able to be utilized with improved technology.  Given that the entire world uses roughly 0.5 ZJ of power in a year, we currently have the means to power the entire world for the next 4,000 years.  So here you can see that we have total energy abundance without the need of pollution or a price tag.


       Personal Reaction
      I took a great liking to everything this project was about from the moment I learned of it.  It is painfully obvious to me that the world, as a whole, is not being guided in the right direction for the benefit of the few.  The sad thing is that if the Earth itself continues to be the butt of the exploitation, no one will win.  While I do believe that some of the ideas proposed may seem far-fetched and quite a bit of a reach from where we are today, my eyes have been open to the horrors and corruption of our current system far too long for me to not fully support such a noble attempt at an alternative.

       Negative Reaction
Jacque Fresco and his proposed plan for salvation faces three main types of opposition; those who are comfortable with the current social structure, those who find his plan too idealistic and those who fail to get involved due to his lack of credentials.  Anyone content with their role in the current social design may not see the reason for packing up shop, turning in the chips and starting, basically, from scratch.  This is why I urge that people take the time to really look around.  Although you’ve managed to secure you and your family’s well-being, does that mean you turn a blind eye to the other suffering families?  With a system of built-in, perpetuating debt, the better you are doing for yourself, that means the worse the other person is doing.
Others argue that Fresco’s ideas are too far into the future, saying that he “has no sensible plan to achieve it and is totally irrelevant to today’s problems.”  Many who share this viewpoint may or may not necessarily agree with what he proposes but think that there will be no effective means of achieve such unrealistic goals.  Those turned off by Fresco’s lack of credentials, are usually the sentiments of investors that choose not to support due to the fact that while Fresco has a wide base of knowledge and understanding of many subject areas, his lack of formal education is a major deterrent for people coming aboard.
        Social Significance
The Social Significance of the Venus Project, I feel goes without saying.  The complete reformation of our social structure so that humankind, technology and nature can live together in equilibrium without the negative aspects of our current social systems, will only be the most significant undertaking in human history.  The systems and institutions of today are outdated and not on par with the level of which we can create, build and plan in this day and age.  Once given the chance to really open their eyes and see the possibilities of greatness that lie ahead for mankind, then I feel people will be more inclined to get involved and support the cause.

The main objective of my research was to thoroughly investigate the mechanics of Jacque Fresco’s proposed Venus Project, through which I believed that I would find that the project would not completely remedy all of society’s ailments, but make sufficient strides in addressing issues that are in desperate need of reform.  Based on my findings, I would have to agree, for the most part, with my hypothesis.  Although all of Fresco’s ideas could work in theory, they lack the support and more importantly the funding for his dream to be realized anytime soon.  Many skeptics argue that his views are far too idealistic to work, but then I ask, what is the alternative?  Are we to continue conformed to a system proven to be corrupt?  Are we to humbly comply with a world that takes its people for granted and continues to exploit us for the sake of increased profits?  At the beginning of my paper I asked you to take a walk with me, and I am very grateful you chose to do so.  Through our walk we opened our eyes to the fraudulent nature of how our society is really set up and ran.  We managed to obtain a greater understanding of steps that can be taken towards a more righteous, unified, communistic path.  Unfortunately, everyone is not willing to take that walk.  For some, it is easier to keep their eyes closed and to live their entire lives having never looked at all.  Although it is often said that ignorance is bliss, I feel that the deliverance from ignorance is the far greater pleasure.  I have confidence in time however, and feel that slowly but surely, people will come around and choose to open their eyes and take that walk with me.  I only hope that eyes are opened before it is too late.


Designing the Future by Jacque Fresco, c. 2007

Venus Project Website - http://www.thevenusproject.com/index.php

The Best That Money Can’t Buy: Beyond Politics, Poverty, & War by Jacque Fresco

Looking Forward by Jacque Fresco and Ken Keyes

Zeitgeist: Addendum directed and produced by Peter Joseph

Creative Commons License
Sand-Dollared Cataract by Sofia Mitchell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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