Peter Joseph on Singularity 1 on 1: We Are All Subjected To The Same Natural Law System

Peter JosephPeter Joseph is a musician, film-maker and social activist best known as the man behind the Zeitgeist film trilogy and the founder of the Zeitgeist movement. Peter’s films have become a counter-culture phenomenon on the internet and have had millions of views.  He has not shied away from controversy and has dared to push a strong vision for the future. Eventually his audience turned into a global movement aimed at replacing capitalism with a radically new social system based on a Resource Based Economy (RBE). And so I was very happy to have Peter Joseph on my Singularity 1 on 1 podcast in order to discuss and debate his past work, his vision of our future and his proposed solutions.

During our 75 minute conversation with Peter we cover a variety of interesting topics such as: why he sees himself as a social critic and an optimist; his goals and motivation; Zeitgeist – the meaning, the movies and the movement; the major projects Peter is currently working on – e.g. the Global Redesign Institute; the schism between the Zeitgeist movement and the Venus Project; my take on the film trilogy and Peter’s logic for structuring his argument the way he did; the measure and meaning of progress; the natural world and being in sync with it; RBE, Capitalism, sustainability and central planning; the role of Artificial Intelligence within the Zeitgeist vision of the future; Peter’s take on the technological singularity

(As always you can listen to or download the audio file above, or scroll down and watch the video interview in full.  If you want to help me produce more episodes please make a donation)

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Who is Peter Joseph?

Peter Joseph (B. 1979, Winston-Salem, NC, USA) is an American Musician,Filmmaker, Author and Social Activist; best known worldwide as the creator of the award-winning “Zeitgeist Film Series” and founder of the “The Zeitgeist Movement”, a social sustainability advocacy group which currently operates across the world. He also founded and curates the Annual Zeitgeist Media Festival for the arts and is on the Advisory Board/Steering Committee for “Project-Peace on Earth”.

peter-joseph-biography

Apart from ongoing feature film projects, Joseph launched a free, TV style web-series called Culture in Decline in July of 2012, which has been translated into over 25 languages & has received critical acclaim and scored millions of online views. A pioneer in free, open-distribution media, Joseph’s work supports non-profit, unrestricted syndication via free online viewing and free downloads. He conducts such work via his production company: Gentle Machine Productions LLC.

Joseph has lectured around the world, including the UK, Canada, America, Brazil & Israel, on the subjects of cultural/social sustainability, the importance of critical thought, and the social role of the arts and scientific literacy. He was a featured speaker at the 2011 Leaders Causing Leaders Conference and his work has been profiled in the New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Marker, Free Speech TV, The Young Turks, Hollywood Today and many other media outlets. He has participated in multiple TEDx Events, has worked with The Global Summit and is also a frequent social critic on the news network Russia Today.

As far as activism, apart from The Zeitgeist Movement, he identifies, in part, with emerging counter-culture organizations, such as Occupy Wall St. and has spoken at official OWS gathers in Los Angeles and New York City, along with smaller ones as well. His films have been mentioned in conjunction with Occupy in many contexts, including  “Film for Actions” editorial: The Top 10 Films that Explain Why the Occupy Movement Exists, along with “A Movie Guide to Occupy Wall Street” by Laurene Williams.

Joseph is also an active musician and performs around Los Angeles, CA where he currently resides. In short, Joseph’s broad focus is on media related expressions with the intent of affecting society in a positive way.

 

  • Andrés Delgado

    Awesome interview… one of my favorites. It’s incredible how people “within” TZM can not still see the ‘movement’ is out there and we are not anything like an institution

  • http://www.scribd.com/Sally%20Morem Sally Morem

    Read F. A. Hayek and find out why society can never be calculated. Essentially, it’s because society as such can not even be conceived, let alone measured in the kind of detail the would-be planner envisions.

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Thanks for your comment Sally, it’s been 10 years since I last read anyone from the Austrian School of Economics and I am not a fan. I am a Keynesian, more or less…

  • http://www.scribd.com/Sally%20Morem Sally Morem

    Well, that explains it! You mostly agreeing with him, I mean.

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Yes, to some extent it does, as I do agree with him, to some extent. I think I said the very rough numbers during the interview…

  • Nikki_Olson

    Thank you for another great interview, Socrates.

    The push for the absence of private property is what scares me the most about the Zeitgeist “mentality” (philosophy). Scares me in a moral sense on the same grounds as communism.

    Practically speaking, however, I see it as a non-starter, and after checking in with TZM again, still firmly believe that when it comes to improving the environmental world, and the lives of the world’s poorest, attention is better spent on entrepreneurs and institutions working on the science and engineering of resources towards more efficient means of production.

  • Georgy Vladimirov

    Always great to hear Peter Joseph speak! I also grew up in socialist (never quite reached communism there) Bulgaria but I have to say I disagree with Nikola when it comes to central planning and decision making. It is true that because of central planning, there would sometimes be deficit goods (something market capitalists dream of and cam make profits from). I don’t remember ice cream ever being scarce but I do remember ladies complaining of lack of black stockings at some point :-) The central planning did house everybody, provided healthcare for everybody and free education (including higher education). And all this while still being somewhat subservient to the Soviet Union (a relatively mild empire towards us). When I look at Bulgaria today (although I live in the Unites States), I see homeless, I see drugs, people installing metal doors to their apartments, less access to healthcare, unemployment… Some of these problems are global but the shift was obvious. A small minority became extremely wealthy and the majority lives a much more impoverished live than before.

    Also, the examples of violence in the natural world should also have been balanced with the examples of “humanity” in the animal world. Despite the use of force for feeding and competing for mates, we don’t see animals go on a rampage of destruction of their habitat and they find good equilibrium with the other species. Can you imagine being bent on burning any last bit of fossil fuels (when there are much more advanced, renewable and cleaner energy sources) just because you have an industry set up to bring you profit from it?

    I would gladly leave all the decisions about my sustenance to a computer system! A lot of my supposedly individualistic existence is defined by my need to extract money from the current system just to survive. You are only as free as your purchasing power :-)

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    Thanks for your comment Georgy!

    I don’t know how old you are but I was born in 1976.

    Socialism began collapsing just as I was accepted in the English Language High School in Plovdiv in 1989 and the end of it was, more or less, in the early nineties.

    So I remember well lacking basic stuff like ice-cream. [Bananas were impossible to get... My dad had to wait for 15 years to buy a Moscvich. I remember visiting stores with empty shelves...]

    All of it was a result of the brilliant central planning of our great leaders.

    For me, the final straw was when I was conscripted in and, eventually sent to serve in a punishment unit of the Armed Forces for speaking up my mind, despite the fact that by law they could not/should not have done so.

    Anyway, that was the time when I decided, once and for all, that the best person to make decisions for me is myself. Especially when it pertains to whether I should be shooting this or that way…

    And so I decided that I’ve had it with my homeland and left shortly after I got retired from the army…

  • Georgy Vladimirov

    Thank you for interviewing good people and being respectful and giving them a little hell, too :-)

    I was born in 1975. We didn’t have a car 95% of my childhood but thankfully Sofia had pretty abundant public transportation. We did get a used Moskvitch, too, eventually but don’t remember using it much because my family immigrated to Germany. I do remember the banana shortages, too. They would show up around Christmas time :-)

    The memories of the really empty shelves were after the big changes in 1989 and the transition from the socialism I grew up in. We went through “shock therapy” the Westerners were telling us is normal :-)

    Thank God I escaped the mandatory army because I came to be with my ex wife and study in the US! And I didn’t get in trouble for speaking my mind back then (but my mind was nothing too exciting either then).

    When I speak of the socialist experience I refer pre-1989. After that we had some weird transition into what is there today. In the big scheme of things, not having black nylon stockings, bananas and ice cream (fat and sugar?, just kidding) are not as bad as having mass poverty, homelessness, etc.

    I have even better memories from socialist Bulgaria than comparing it with the United States of today. I am one of the fortunate here because I am middle class IT guy. The statistics are with 25% living in dire poverty and another 25% in normal poverty. No national healthcare. Use of government money for imperial wars, bank bailouts (welfare for the rich), etc. I see more failure of central planning here (the majority of the population doesn’t want the wars) than back in Bulgaria :-)

    Anyway, any system that still uses money (socialist Bulgaria did) is prone to corruption. If you remember we used to think some party leaders were a little privileged because they build a villa in a mountain somewhere. Talk about excess wealth and the rich Bulgarians today!

    Every system should be criticized and every system can get better. I agree that having decisions made by the people most affected by them is very important. I think Canada is a little better than the US when it comes to people having a say and being involved in the civics. Some decisions are best left to the people/computers who are most qualified. Like Jacque Fresco likes to say, we don’t ask for everyone’s opinion how to build a plane or perform a surgery :-)

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    You make some good points here friend and I can’t argue with those in general. Except for the fact that I want proof of concept about the computer being able to make those decisions… ;-)

  • Fabio Cecin

    Computers cannot “make decisions,” no matter how hard we would want them to.

    Computers are nothing more than programmable calculators. They take bits in and spit bits out. You’re still left with the “political problem” of having a bunch of people staring at the “results” on the screen and doing something with it or not, deciding whether they agree that the data is correct, whether they agree on the interpretation of the data, whether they agree on whether the problem posed to the computer was at all relevant in the first place, whether the program should be changed, or something else.

    This does not mean that the sci-fi visions of having this place full of computers and huge monitors with spinning 3D renderings of earth, and people with white labcoats pointing at data in tablets and pointing at shit, etc. isn’t somehow related to how things could work. It just means that all the “computers” in these kinds of visions “are” not “the system.” The system is still the people, and you still need conversation of some form between the people so that a tiny minority doesn’t start talking about “the computer said so” and adoring it like a deity (which is what current society is — worship of “institutions” and cultural icons like economists, politicians, celebrities, leaders, etc.)

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  • Aske B. Vammen

    I don’t know that much about it, but Project Cybersyn was a very immature prototype of how this can be done, and I heard that it did fairly well before it was destroyed.

    Also I’m very excited to hear about what socialism in reality was like – since I’m from 1990 and throughout my life everyone has always demonized it, and discouraged understanding it. It has been described to me as “unrealisticly optimistic” – so as a kid I thought its main problem was just its attachment to reality – but few seemed to care for exploring the idea of a different system.

    I’ve always wanted to understand what really went wrong and what really happened, and I don’t really understand why you would not be curious about how things could be different, unless you desperately cling on to comfort due to fear.

    I perfectly understand your views, though, and need for seeing an alternative system in practice before accepting it. I hope we will see more radical testing of alternative systems than we’ve seen the last few decades – even if an RBE doesn’t work out.

  • Gavin Cornelius

    Thank you Socrates and Peter Joseph… another fantastic Interview!

  • http://www.singularityweblog.com/ Socrates

    You are most welcome Gavin!