The Zeitgeist Movement

See HERE for the provisional contents page of the study,

which gives you a proper chronology of sections.

Note: the content below is all in first draft format. It will change considerably during the time it takes for the study to be completed (especially by way of more academic support, generally). I post now ‘for interest’s sake’.


The Zeitgeist Movement (TZM) must be mentioned here due to its insightful analysis of the ‘advanced’ competitive, consumer-capitalist, industrial, dominion-focused, democratic model ( ACID), as well as due to the broad type of solution it proposes, namely, a ‘natural law / resource based economy’ (NLRBE). TZM has been in existence, formally at least, since the release of the first Zeitgeist documentary-style film in 2008. Two further feature film length documentary films ensued in later years, the second of which firmly established the academic appeal of the movement due to the formidable number of relevant and academically-reputable socio-political and economic ideas that are arise (directly and implicitly) in its analyses of ACID[1]. An online community developed, followed by physical meetings of TZM supporters. The founder of the movement, Peter Joseph, continued to produce online lectures and radio talks consistently since 2008; numerous members of the movement followed in Joseph’s footsteps and became activist speakers in public events. Two such events are ‘Z-Day’ and ‘The Zeitgeist Media Festival’, where the aim of the events and indeed the movement as a whole can be seen in the following, taken from The Zeitgeist Movement Defined: realising a new train of thought [2] (pg. 5):

TZM expresses itself through targeted, rational educational projects that work not to impose, dictate or blindly persuade, but to set in motion a train of thought that is logically selfrealizing when the causal considerations of “sustainability” and “public health” are referenced from a scientific perspective.[3]

The starting point for TZM is a scathing analysis of the shortcoming of ACID and the systemic mechanisms that perpetuate it. The primary mechanism is the fractional reserve monetary system[4] (see section 2.9 of this study) and its consequence of requiring perpetual fiscal growth[5] at the expense of the wellbeing of people and the planet[6] (see section 3.5 of this study). In TZM Defined, such pernicious effects of ‘the system’ are referred to as “structural violence”[7] (pg.9),

illuminating a broad spectrum of built in suffering, inhumanity and deprivation that is simply accepted as normality today by an uninformed majority. This context of violence stretches much farther and deeper than many tend to consider. The scope of how our socioeconomic system unnecessarily diminishes our public health and inhibits our progress today can only be recognized clearly when we take a more detached technical or scientific perspective of social affairs, bypassing our traditional, often blinding familiarities.

TZM acknowledges the pivotal role that technology plays in ACID’s structural violence; for example, TZM has drawn repeated attention to the insanity of consumer capitalism’s ‘planned obsolescence’[8], which is the deliberate design of consumer goods to break after a certain period of time in order to encourage more public purchasing of consumer goods, in a context where the earth has finite resources and a finite ability to deal with the blowback of such resource-use and waste. Planned obsolescence is an example of the technology industry ‘applying science’ under the (mis)guiding hand of the consumer capitalist ‘free’ market.  TZM insightfully does not place blame on the corporations or companies (and the like) for planned obsolescence[9], but instead identifies it as a consequence of market logic, in the sense of a capitalist economy that demands endless growth:

Generally speaking, the resolution of problems and hence increasing of efficiency is, in many ways, anathema to the market’s operation. Solving problems in general means no more ability to gain income from the ‘servicing’ of those problems. New efficiencies almost always mean a reduction of labor and energy needs and while that may seem positive with respect to true earthly efficiency, it also often means a loss of jobs and reduction of monetary circulation upon its application.

Technology in the context of market efficiency is therefore one manifestation of technology, a manifestation that is coterminous with what Heidegger discusses as ‘The Enframing’ (see section 3.4 above) where nature is reduced to a ‘standing reserve’ of resources for humans to use, largely for the furthering of ACID’s expansion. In TZM, technology in the sense of The Enframing is called ‘market efficiency’ (TZM Defined, pg. 112):

This ‘efficiency’ inherent to capitalism operates without any respect for the social or environmental costs of its process to keep cyclical consumption and profit going and the world you see around you – full of ecological disorder, human deprivation and general social and environmental instability – has been the result.

The following (TZM Defined, pg. 291) draws clear attention to the type of techno-science that is associated with The Enframing:

[It] can…  be used locally and narrowly, within the context of the distorted incentive structure the market perpetuates, to create and accelerate destructive and inhumane consequences. The atomic bomb is one extreme of this reality. Our increased, high-tech capacity to more efficiently destroy biodiversity, over use our resources and pollute, is another.

But there is a clear distinction made between the use of technology as per The Enframing, and the earlier stated ‘true earthly efficiency’ – the latter approach to technology is clearly less anthropocentric, but does cater for human needs as a priority. TZM identifies that technology can be applied in ways that are indeed Orphic, as per the broad scope of the Orphic attitude discussed at various times during this chapter and which can be seen at play in the following from TZM Defined (pg. 112):

technical efficiency, which one could characterize as, in fact, a hindrance to market efficiency, seeks to maintain the environment, maintain human health and essentially keep balance in the natural world. The reduction of waste, resolution of problems and the maintaining of alignment with natural law is the common sense logic embodied.

The end goal then is a human economy that understands the carrying capacity (TZM Defined, pg. 178) of Earth, and employs technology to “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” (TZM Defined, pg. 308). Such a sustainable techno-social system would spread ecologically-sensitive values by rewarding “conservation, balance, social contribution and ecological respect” (Ibid). These are clear Orphic qualities.

A common question asked in response to a system such as the one envisioned by TZM is, who makes the decisions? The concern here is that despite automation of the system, people still have to direct machines to achieve given ends. The short answer is that no decisions are made, but rather ‘arrived at’ (TZM Defined, pg. 317-318) according to the technical parameters of a given environment; nobody needs to ‘decide’ that organic, locally-grown food is better (ecologically and nutritionally) than food shipped in from another country – the CO2 and petrochemical emissions data ‘decide’. This type of ‘emergence’ thinking[10]a technical process – is evident in the following from TZM Defined (pg. 318):

For example, different terrains have different propensities for settlement, while the location of renewable energy sources demands that harvesting exist in certain places. If production of a particular genre of goods requires certain materials and those materials happen to be local, it is logical to construct production facilities as close as possible to the extraction source. Likewise, any other attributes of the supply chain are best allocated using the same logic, including the means of distribution. Distribution centers, would naturally be close to large city centers where the population has easy access within short distances. Furthermore, the creation of parks, recreation and the like becomes self-evident as well… In short, this process of logically deducing [for example] topographical placement to maximize efficiency and sustainability is a technical process overall.

TZM advocates the design of new city complexes according to the technical approach touched upon above – these cities would be NLRBEs, where the goal is to “optimize technical efficiency and create the highest level of abundance possible, within the bounds of Earthly sustainability, seeking to meet human needs directly” (TZM Defined, 253). TZM has since its inception as a movement been very specific about how such alternative cities would function, and how people would live in such cities – TZM Defined outlines such details succinctly (pp. 250-288).  Some details about how a NLRBE city would function, as well as a glimpse of what life could entail in such a city, are evident in the following and final paragraph of this sub-section (all references are from TZM Defined):

The vast majority of tasks necessary for the running of the system are automated (pg. 247). Food is made abundant via regional automated food production methods, e.g. vertical farm technology and low energy/low impact cultivation methods such as hydroponics, aquaponics and aeroponics (179-186). Sustainable resources are locally sourced (207-209), and there is an abundance of electricity via renewable-energy sources (192-207). Participatory democratic processes take place via digital communication methods “that can bring the interests of the whole community into calculation” (pg. 252) – the ‘calculation’ is a process of technically determining whether or not a particular human interest is achievable within “basic sustainability principles needed to operate with generational longevity, whilst also maintaining a vigilant focus on producing the most strategically necessary goods at the peak technical capacity known at the time of production” (Ibid). A NLRBE is therefore an “advanced production, distribution and management system, which is democratically engaged by the public, through a kind of “participatory economics” – it is not centrally planned[11], but rather “a Collaborative Design System (CDS)[12]. It is based entirely upon public interaction, facilitated by programmed, open-access systems, that enable a constant, dynamic feedback exchange that can literally allow for the input of the public on any given industrial matter, whether personal or social” (pg. 253). This is a system “predicated entirely upon the intelligence of the ‘group mind’ and the open source/open access sharing virtue will help bring all viable interests to the surface for public consideration, in an absolutely transparent manner” (Ibid). Such a quasi-utopic state is possible because, at the outset, NLRBE cities have been designed to provide all of the physical necessities of human existence – food, water, shelter, transport, etc. – via automated means, eradicating conflict, scarcity and imbalance that TZM identifies as being at the heart of the vast majority of social ills[13]. People would not need to work to pay for the necessities of life, leaving them free to apply themselves to tasks of their own choosing[14], acting fully in the knowledge that anything in their own interest is in the interest of the whole system, and vice versa – “personal interest becomes directly tied to societal interest” (pg. 260) – and as a consequence, in the interests of sustainability for non-human life as well: “this computer-aided design and engineering process does not exist in a vacuum; it does not process designs with no input as to the current state of the planet and its resources. Connected to the design process, literally built into the noted ‘Optimize Design Efficiency’ function, is dynamic feedback from an Earth-wide accounting system that gives data about all relevant resources that pertain to all productions.” People are essentially free to do what they like in a context where human values are intimately tied to societal and ecological well-being – this may mean that people choose to spend large percentages of their time participating in the running of the system[15] or expanding the bank of sustainable designs for manufactured items; or it may mean, simply, finding “interesting things to do and explore” (pg. 271).[16]

[1] The latest electronic text that ‘defines’ the movement (see next footnote) contains 884 footnotes, most of which are references to external sources.

[2] /uploads/upload/file/19/The_Zeitgeist_Movement_Defined_PDF_Final.pdf pg. 5 accessed 6 August 2015

[3] TZM extensively refers to the scientific method, as well as technology, and the roles that these must play in a natural law / resource based economy (NLRBE). More will be said about this below in light of the various issues raised in in Chapter 3 of this study concerning the difference between TZM’s approach to science and technology and the Promethean approach to science and technology.

[4] To illustrate, consider this from TZM Defined, pg. 300: “Since all money is created out of debt and loaned with interest attached – interest that actually doesn’t exist in the money supply outright – there is always more global debt in existence than money to pay for it.”

[5] See footnote 274 of TZM Defined, pg. 90: “The creation of money out of debt, coupled with its multiplication via the Fractional Reserve lending system, a near universal practice of the central banks of the world, continues to seek infinite growth by its very mechanics.”

[6] See TZM Defined, pg. 98: “In short, when it comes to market logic, the more turnover or sales, the better – and that is that – regardless if the item sold is credit, rocks, “hope” or flapjacks. Any pollution, instances of waste or other such detriments are, again, ‘external’.”

[7] See footnote 7 on page 9 of TZM Defined for more about ‘structural violence’.

[8] See TZM Defined pg. 100, including the footnotes.

[9] As is hinted at in the following in TZM Defined, pg. 305: “This… isn’t to say anyone is “bad”, but rather to note that any system which has the capacity to even create such extreme wealth imbalance, in and of itself, needs to be addressed as the root problem it is…”.

[10] See ‘Tradition to Emergence’ at accessed 10 August 2015

[11] ACID economics is centrally planned by the Market.

[12] Further information in this regard: “The starting point for interaction in a NLRBE is the CDI, or collaborative design interface. The CDI could abstractly be considered the “new “market” or the market of ideas or designs. Design is the first step in any production interest and this interface can be engaged by a single person; it can be engaged by a team; it can be engaged by everyone. It is open source and open access and it would come in the

form of an online web interface” (TZM Defined, pg. 258).

[13] See ‘Origins and Influence’ at accessed 10 August 2015

[14] See TZM Defined pp. 271-272 for answers to the common questions that arise about life in a post-scarcity NLRBE, namely, “What will people do?” and “Who is running the machines for no pay?”

[15] Pp. 271-272 cites numerous examples to show that many human beings are inclined to apply themselves in voluntary work ‘for the greater good’ without the need for monetary or material reward. The only example (of several) that will be mentioned in passing here is that of the Linux computer operating system – which is the OS that is running the computer on which this Ph.D. is written – “Linux, which started in 1991 as a simple experiment, was able to complete its community-driven, almost moneyless programming development in

just three years. Linux has over 10,000 lines of code and the vast amount of its creation was done for free by a global community.”

[16]Note that in TZM Defined (pp. 305-314), several scenarios are outlined to explain how transition to a NLRBE would work, the details of which are beyond the scope of this sub-section.


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