HOW TO GET TO NL/RBE?
The idea of transitioning fluidly out of the current model into a NLRBE can be a daunting and difficult speculation. Perhaps the first consideration is to think more deeply about what it is we are transitioning into exactly. In many ways, this move from a scarcity-preserving economy to a system of direct resource management and scientific application in the pursuit of a post-scarcity or abundance economy to meet the needs of the human species, while securing the integrity of the habitat, is really a transition of values.
At the same time, it is also a transition of operant reinforcement, which simply means the new structure actually works to rewardconservation, balance, social contribution and ecological respect, rather than what we reinforce today, which is essentially selfishness, competition, consumption and exploitation. In fact, the market system could gesturally be viewed as not a “social system”, per se, but ananti-social system.
As far as physical transition itself, it is naturally naive to assume we can predict the future regarding such a vast societal shift, especially given how forceful and present the pressures are that keep the current system in place. All of us are coerced on a daily basis into this market psychology in order to maintain survival, and hence our values are deeply associated to these methods, practices and general worldview whether we like it or not.
It could even be said that these pressures generate a "syntax" of thought, if you will. Our brains seem to wire themselves as we engage the environment, constantly reinforced by existing pressures and our responsive actions. Just as a person can learn a skill and have that skill become "second nature", without much direct conscious thought to execute once learned, we humans perform actions constantly with the same kind of learned, subconscious patterning. For example, we often don't even know we are behaving in so-called "narrow selfish" ways at times, since everyone around us appears to be working in the exact same manner, creating perceived normality.
Therefore, TZM naturally views the shifting of people's values as the most important necessity for transition. How this is done is deeply related, of course, to education, while also attempting to actively create conditions that, again, hopefully reinforce these new, sustainable values, inching out larger order change.
That stated, there are perhaps two broad ways to think about transition, with the first giving something of a logical framework for the second. This first scenario assumes that there is the basic sanction of the political/economic power structure and the community overall. It assumes that the human species has definitively decided to make this move in a step-by-step manner on the global scale. Of course, the sad truth is that it would likely never happen this way.
Yet, this hypothetical is expressed because the reasoning inherent is relevant with respect to how we think about transition as a general process and certain attributes noted would likely still come into play in the second scenario. This second scenario is the more realistic scenario as it assumes there is no large-scale public sanction and the transition must originate from activism and influence. This essentially looks at exactly where we are today, taking into account the vast range of divisive opinions, political polarization, national hatred, commercial warfare, etc.
So, to conclude this introduction to transition, it is also worth noting, as an aside, that many who criticize The Zeitgeist Movement do so not because they disagree with the direction but because they do not understand how to get there. A relevant analogy to counter this argument is the idea of a very sick person seeking to get well. This person might not even know the cure or the medical path to get there, but given his or her life is at stake, the task to learn and try to realize the proper means toward resolution does not end because of mere ambiguity.
Likewise, the difficulty or confusion in transitioning into a NLRBE does not remove the necessity for it. The fact is, we are all humans on this planet and we can change the world quite easily if we can find unified, shared common ground to relate. Furthermore, it's also important to note that we are always in transition to one degree or another. There are no utopias and even if we accomplish only 50% of such a move, as we may define it in theory, it would still be well worth it.872
Scenario One: Systematic Dismantling
A systematic move from the market economy to a NLRBE could theoretically occur through a step-by-step "socialization" of the core attributes of the societal infrastructure. Essentially, we dismantle one layer while implementing a new one in the most fluid way we can. This term "socialization", which is of course a stigmatized notion in the West given the hyper-glorification of the market economy and the demonization of anything otherwise, is still technically appropriate to use in this context, bias aside. This simply means that the necessity of money and the market mechanism would no longer apply to the given social attribute (not that a traditionally “socialist”, in the political and economic sense of the word, structure would replace it). Direct, advanced technical means would produce and distribute without a price tag, meeting these needs directly.
As noted in detail in prior essays, a critical component that enables the new social model to produce a high standard of living is the liberal application of modern technology and a systems approach to social organization based on strategic technical efficiency. Since the current model is literally based on a technical inefficiency to keep it going, the more technically efficient the system becomes, the less traditional labor is required. Therefore, in a transition starting from within the market economy, measures to compensate for this financial loss are required. These can consist, in part, of the adjustment of wages to compensate for job losses, along with theshortening and sharing of the workweek to also compensate.
The core societal attributes to be discussed for this exercise consist of (a) food production, (b) utilities, (c) basic good production and (d) transportation. Obviously, these fragments have a synergistic relationship, which require other types of technical evaluation. However, since these core attributes of our day-to-day lives are essentially what maintain our general health and basic standard of living, these abstractions should suffice for the sake of simple reasoning exemplification. It is also worth noting that the post-scarcity relationships denoted in each subject can be explored more so in the essay Post-Scarcity Trends, Capacity and Efficiency.
(a) Food Production:
The technology for high efficiency, automated food production is now a reality today, with vertical farm technology and low energy/low impact cultivation methods such as hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics. Desalinization processes, for example, could enable the building of these vertical farm facilities along most major coastlines, producing organic food in quantities to meet and exceed the needs of the regional population.
In short, if such advanced methods were implemented, the strategic abundance possibility reveals that the need to place restrictive monetary value on basic food resources is simply not required. There is no legitimate technical reason, even within an existing monetary economy, grocery stores today cannot provide the same produce resources to a given regional population, without the need for financial exchange. It is simply a matter of getting the advanced automated systems in place.
The hydrocarbon economy today continues to cause a great deal of turmoil, not only on the environmental level but also due to the inevitable scarcity of the resources themselves. While the debate continues regarding "peak oil", there is no legitimate debate as to the fact that fossil fuels are essentially finite and its combustion is detrimental to the environment. Given the advanced state of renewable energy means such as solar, tide, wind, geothermal and the like, coupled with advanced localization means, there is no reason any of us would need to pay for energy if the system was properly designed. Advanced solar systems alone applied to every existing structure, even feeding excess energy back into a community's redundant base-load grid, would eliminate electricity needs immediately based on current statistics.
The same phenomenon also assists with natural gas and water utilities. Since electricity can be used to replace gas for heating and most other utility purposes, its use can simply be designed out in this context. Water, which is of a generally nominal financial expense today in the West, can be made dramatically more abundant via further industrial efficiency to recede pollution and maintain a regional surplus by strategic use. Those who do have water shortages in the world have had technical resolutions for years via desalinization and other purification systems, both on the large scale and small scale. It has been, again, the lack of financial resources that have caused the problems, not the lack of technical ability.
(c) Basic Good Production:
The spectrum of basic good production is wide, ranging from core staples such as household items, clothes and communication technology, to specific tools for specialized tasks, such as musical instruments and other increasingly less demanded items. The best way to think about this is as a “spectrum of demand”, with daily needs on one side and specialized, or "luxury" type goods on the other.
While the advancement of automation technology will likely facilitate a vast amount of variation in production once the revolution in modular robotics and nanotechnology comes to fruition, for the sake of transition in the immediate future, we can think about industry in the more established context. Overall, each industry or sub-industry could be unified in operations to enable the highest level of production and output efficiency possible as a deliberate whole. In other words, the corporate structures would combine based on genre or sector, using that collaborative capacity to increase efficiency, while reducing waste and competitive multiplicity. This would set the stage for the creation of a fully synergistic industrial system, applying advanced, ideally simplifying automation processes liberally at every turn to remove human labor and inevitably increase efficiency.
In this, primitive versions of the Collaborative Design System, as described at length in the essay The Industrial Government, could also gain traction. While certain limitations would occur given the absence of larger order cooperation, the inching in of this process would set the stage for larger incorporation while also increasing sustainability.
Now, returning to the prior point about compensation for the loss of paid work hours, the loss of sales naturally means a loss of growth and hence a loss of jobs. In the current model, this is structurally a negative thing, of course. However, in this hypothetical transition proposal, wages would shift in proportion to the resulting job losses and/or with the shifting of workday hours. In other words, assuming an initial average work day need of 8 hours per person, incurring a loss of jobs by 50% due to the application of automation and new levels of technical efficiency, the work day would then be cut by 50% and spread across the existing workforce, keeping everyone employed but for a shorter period.
So, if we had a hypothetical economy with 1000 people and 50% of them were displaced by this deliberate technological unemployment, the workday is then divided between them so everyone now works only 4 hours, instead of 8. Again, the fact that these goods and services are becoming free in the economy means that there is less of a need for prior levels of purchasing power. Therefore a 50% cut in wages is calculated to be directly compensated for. Overall, we are phasing the monetary system out in this process. In cases where this isn't feasible, there would be an increase in hourly wage rates in the same basic proportion, compensating for the average losses incurred. In theory, this hourly reduction of the total workforce, assuming 100% employment through these standards, coupled with the compensating increase in now free resources, would fluidly move the society out of the labor market over time. Again, this is the abstract hypothetical.
The next social staple is transportation. The production of vehicles, which is already largely automated today, is one consideration and this isn't much of a problem to perfect. This issue here is access, application and necessity. Of course, this thought exercise could be quite elaborate. If we were to calculate the vast amount of energy and resources used on a daily basis today for all of us to travel to centralized offices, usually participating in occupations with questionable relevance in the broad view, we would be amazed at the inefficiency apparent on the whole. While there are certainly exceptions, there are very few occupations today that really require direct location interaction anymore, given the vast power of the Internet and such communication tools. Even industrial production facilities, once further automated, would only require a small number of people on location, with most processes administered remotely.
So, with a strategic move to simply stop from wasteful 9-5, 5 day workweek, traditional travel to work and back would create a great alleviation of pressure on many levels. Having everyone equipped by whatever means needed to operate their business function from their homes is a logical and sustainable idea for energy reduction, reduced accidents, reduced pollution, reduced stress and the like.
Beyond that, as far as infrastructure, systems of sharing, such as the currently existing rental street bicycles and the like, should be applied to vehicles (and everything else we can), coupled with the liberal incorporation of mass transit. This, again, is to be a step-by-step process of improvement where different regions are purposefully reorganized to favor the highest level of technical travel efficiency possible.
In short, localizing labor locations/remote access to limit travel needs, coupled with sharing systems for vehicles and liberal mass transit, would profoundly change the nature of transport infrastructure, easing into the foundation of a NLRBE, even if some of those services still need money to pay for them.
Scenario Two: The Real World
Now, with the following truncated yet logically purposeful train of thought towards a hypothetical break down the current system and a systematic implementation of attributes of the new one in mind, let's now take a realistic look at what a transition to this new society may hold given the complex and dichotomous reality we endure today.
It's first important to understand that the intention of social and environmental sustainability has been developing under the surface of culture for a long time. For example, the now common notion of the "green" economy, which is being pushed forward by environmentalists, coupled with periodic outbursts by civil rights groups such as Occupy Wall Street, reveals a deep seeded interest to aspire for a world that is more equal, humane and sustainable. While our current social system, as argued, often reinforces the opposite of those values, it still seems that deep down most of our core historical philosophies still suggest an interest in social equality and sustainable balance.
So again, it is important to acknowledge that in order to really create a more sustainable, humane world, a complete move out of the current social architecture is required. Otherwise the same basic problems will persist, even if reduced to some degree by half-measures. To do this, global social movement tactics become critical to put pressure on the existing system, along with helping change the intents and values of the culture itself by vast education and communication projects.
However, before such ideas are addressed, it is worth revisiting the issue of “societal collapse”, this time in the context of what we could term eco-bio-social pressures. A backdrop to our cultural evolution are pressures that can take both a positive and negative form. Positive pressures of this nature could include the development and expression of life-advancing technologies where the viewing public is so impressed by the possibilities, the social demand for that feature or implementation becomes unwavering.
On the other side are the negative pressures, such as the dramatic failure of a social edifice that shocks the culture and creates unease, loss of confidence and a dire interest in problem resolution by new methods. Given the prior section on societal problems we can logically expect as the current model grinds along, that these negative pressures are bound to help facilitate new incentives toward change. Of course, this is out of the control of TZM and at no point does TZM promote furthering any harm upon anyone. TZM focuses on positive pressure influence in its activist work, showing the world what can be done through education and think tank projects. Yet, TZM does not deny the existence of these other emerging negative pressures and acknowledges them also as a form of mobilizing incentive.
It is also important to note that so-called “societal collapse” is not an absolute distinction. It is relative. In general day-to-day operations, specifically in the West, one typically does not look around and deem the society as being in a state of "breakdown". This is because most people have simply become accustomed to the pollution, cancer, debt, homelessness, depletion, poverty, wars, uprisings, periodic financial crises, unemployment and other inefficiencies. It isn't as though one day everyone wakes up and finds the whole world suffering or dead in the streets. Societal collapse, or system failure, is a process and the real question is actually how bad are we prepared for it to become before we act to change it.
In truth, all systems change and while such a process of failure is a very negative thing in the short-term, it is also ultimately a natural consequence of cultural evolution. Problems can lead to creativity and creativity leads to new solutions, if we are willing to move on. At any rate, with these eco-bio-social pressures apparent, coupled with a basic understanding of how a step-by-step transition could unfold (scenario one), let's now talk about transitional activism. The goal here is to not only facilitate a move to the new model, but to also work to help those suffering in the current model, basically bringing them in first in this process of transition. This is done by creating parallel systems, which do not use money but still provide helpful services to people.
With growing technological unemployment and most governments and corporations still looking the other way for as long as they can, creating solutions to ease this stress on the population, coupled with removing support for the current system, is a win-win goal. For example, the use of mutual credit systems 873 or “time banks”, facilitate a kind of non-currency transactions, often based upon labor only. While taxation of these transactions apply in some countries, this system is able to bypass money overall (i.e. for those who have skills but are poor), along with reducing overall financial circulation (as a means of protest and transition).
A mutual credit system is a form of barter for services or goods, which allow non-monetary exchange values to be applied to other goods and services, removing the 1:1 good to good correlation common to simple barter. LETS874 is an example. It assists an interest free, non-inflationary form of exchange where value cannot float or fluctuate, as it does today, among many other positives. In the case of the “time bank”, it is based on the prior work of the person, in effect. There are a number of variations of these kinds of systems and they are becoming ever more sophisticated in their programming and malleability.
Another tactic, which has a similar effect, is the use of community sharing systems. TZM Toronto, for example, has a tool sharing network where basic tools exist in a facility, like a library, and one can check out these tools in rotation, as needed. 875 As minor as this may seem, it is easy to see how this library concept could extend greatly in a community, such as with automobiles and other items used more sparsely. Again, this would help those who didn't have a means of access, along with removing growth pressure for the economic system. It would also be more environmentally friendly and sustainable, needless to say.
Likewise, more traditional social policy influencing methods, such as mass online petitions and other such acts are to be viewed as minor in effect but still relevant for awareness. TZM does not endorse physical protest in the sense of piling into a parking lot and yelling at buildings as an effective means of social change, but it does not dismiss them either as such activities can draw attention toward a given issue to some degree. Likewise, petitions have been ubiquitous in the world today, along with working to influence political officials by also publicly challenging them in the purview of news media. These are other such expressions that come down to one's creativity, courage and personal interests.
However, there is one specific political lobbying proposal worth mentioning that has been around for a long time. While not a long-term solution in and of itself, its implementation would at least generate improved public health and eliminate general poverty. It is called a “guaranteed” or “unconditional income” system. This simply means people are given basic life-supporting funds each year to meet basic needs, with no one left behind. In late 2013, activist groups in Switzerland were pushing very hard to implement this idea. 876
? Now, all that aside, TZM's most important activist initiatives are the ever emerging think tank style projects, which literally can work to show a better way. R. Buckminster Fuller once stated “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete”. This is the transitional motto of TZM as well.
As will be expressed in the essay “Becoming The Zeitgeist Movement”, apart from general awareness events, think tank projects that can literally start to build the new social model, both physically and in its programming for sustainably and efficiency, is perhaps by far the most profound method of activism. The digital revolution has taken the complexity and arduous development process of industrial design and provided the option to virtually represent most any physical idea for the sake of communication. Likewise, while theCollaborative Design System noted prior may not be in existence today, there is no reason programming for it cannot be created now, even if it is to merely exist as an over simplified “mock-up”.
Likewise, the Global Redesign Institute, which is a macro-industrial design interface designed to enable anyone to think about the logic of redesigning the topographical layout of Earth, is another idea. In the end, the range of possibilities to virtually create almost exactly what TZM speaks of is becoming more possible and this has powerful communication potential. We can imagine, after these developments occur, large-scale conferences that can be conducted in any given region, showing how much more efficient that region would be, if such technical system or designs were implemented.
The Lone Country Transition
Building on the prior paragraph, imagine a fairly small country with a vast range of natural resources (a possible realistic location could be a lush country in Latin America). It is some time in the future and technical progress has been continuing its phenomenon of doing “more with less”. The result is such that known methods of industrial production now require fewer raw materials – to such an extent that if a well-organized, resource-rich country adapted strategically - there would be no need for imports or exports in that region. The country could be “off-the-grid”, so to speak, in the context of globalization and international influence.
However, the leaders of this country really were not aware of this technical reality. So, one day a relative of one of the leaders finds his or herself at a TZM conference talking about those very design initiatives and advancements in production methods. This person notifies the leaders of the country and the government takes notice. This hypothetical government is perhaps impoverished, as many Latin American countries are, mostly due to international trade dealings, corruption, debt problems, unemployment problems and the like. This government, enlightened by what they have learned, decides to take the initiative to incorporate a localized NLRBE, as best they can.
They understand that a true NLRBE is global, with a total Earthly resource management system. However, knowing this will not occur anytime soon in the current global climate, they calculate that with a number of adjustments, they can still utilize the model to a limited but powerful degree, solving most all of its country's material/financial woes. So, the country then adjusts its industrial methods in accord, creates a domestic sensor system and management network to understand its resources and keep equilibrium, fully digests the new industrial capacity to do more with less, also installing the sustainability and efficiency protocol algorithms inherent to the CDS - and they proceed with the new model in full force, literally stopping all trade with foreign nations, being self-contained and 100% sustainable in their region, once established.
After a period of this success, the world slowly begins to see the incredible result of their moneyless economy. The population, which had a very low standard of living prior, is elevated to an economic abundance they have never seen. It helps greatly that the people's values in that country consist of conservation and modest living, furthering balanced progress of the nation.
So, given this evidence of feasibility and fruitfulness, other adjacent nations begin to understand the vast merit of the new model and decide to take part. This process of joining expands the resource network greatly and the more it expands, the more other country's people also see the merit and the more they demand it, and so on. In time, the world unites.
Now, while this example might be over simplified, also clearly ignoring the international political pressures that most certainly would cause conflict, the reader should be able to understand that it is still a possibility. In truth, we don't really know what exactly will start such a move, but we do know that planting as many “seeds” of possibility as possible is the key, coupled with the increasingly negative eco-bio-social pressures that will appear to have no end in sight.