We learned about the existence of the Venus Project in 2016. Our attitude towards the “project” was rather cool at first, but as we got acquainted with the Fresco's ideas and understanding theirs essence and, most importantly, theirs historical meaning, we changed our initial opinion. If in this series of articles we allow ourselves any criticism of the “project”, the general opinion and attitude towards it are generally unambiguous - this is the best and most worthy manifestation of human thought and human will today. Jacque, now deceased, was one of the few people remained on this planet of baboons. With his death this already plastic world became even more plastic.
The level of "project" and that fact it arose in the USA give hope that all this makes more sense and will cause much bigger consequences than dozens of "communes" and so forth existing throughout the last centuries. So be it.
In order to reveal our relation to "project" in general, to Jacque Fresco's ideas in nuances and particulars, we use his book "The Best that Money Can't Buy...". In addition, we plan to review some of the numerous video interviews with Fresco and Roxanne Meadows in the future. There is something to talk about.
The first thing you should pay attention to and what gives to the “project” a great chance to be and remain something different than the next local utopia is the breadth of the historical thinking of its creator. We wrote somewhere that today we all need to look at our world through the eyes of a Neanderthal man, an ancient slave, a serf, and not the dull eyes of a consumer of fast food, high tech and postmodern texts. Jacque Fresco can do it. He can break out of the worldview and mental matrix of the XX-XXI centuries inhabitants and look at our world through the eyes of a person who sees and feels a great story. In his book and in his interviews he often gives examples from the lives of people of the past in order to show the path that we have followed since those times. He sees this path, he sees the connection and it is very much today.
A person with a similar outlook on things always sees the limitations and transitory nature of each, and especially his own, era. Only such a person can rightfully say: «Probably the only thing we can know for sure about the future is that it will be very different from the world of today. But whatever difficulties we have trying to understand life in the future, it is nothing compared to the difficulty people of the future will have understanding the way we do things today… How simple, crude, and pathetic we will appear in the eyes of our descendants». And only a person with the same way of thinking can know and understand that these are not just the words of a dreamer, not just the chatter of the narrow-minded freak, but a statement of fact.
But it is not enough to keep an open mind. It is necessary to see what, in fact, is the limitations of his own era, and Fresco sees what, devoting the residue of his life to attempts to reach the skull boxes of his contemporaries.
By the beginning of the XXI century mankind has unprecedented production capacity, «modern society has access to highly-advanced technologies that can provide sufficient food, clothing, housing, medical care, education, and the development of a limitless supply of renewable non-contaminating energy. We have the technology, resources, and personnel for everyone to enjoy a very high standard of living with all of the amenities a prosperous global civilization can provide». «Modern society has highly advanced technologies and can easily provide more than enough for a high standard of living for all», but huge masses of people, the vast majority of the planet population lives in poverty or constantly gets closer to it, or lives in a state of permanent survival, selling themselves, their time, their life for those, by and large, miserable benefits that society is ready to give them for their self-sale price. In other words, as they used to say on other ocean side from Florida since the middle of the 19th century, production relations enter into more and more apparent contradictions with the level of development of productive forces.
On the other hand, the rapid development of civilization over the past couple of centuries has led to the emergence of such planetary problems the solution of which, according to Fresco, is impossible within the existing social relations and non-solution is fatal (ecology, etc.).
What kind of social relations, not only hindering our further development, but also endangering the existence of humanity, is this? Jacque calls it "the monetary system". Its «...major aim is profit: maintaining the competitive edge and the bottom line is all that matters. The social and health problems that arise from mass unemployment of people rendered obsolete by automation are considered irrelevant, if they are considered at all. Any social need that may be met is secondary to acquiring a profit for the business. If the profit is insufficient, the service will be withdrawn». Fresco criticizes "the monetary system" according to the classical canons - there is neither add to nor detract.
Among other things there is a small non-classical nuance: «In our present monetary system, private institutions hoard a great deal of useful knowledge rather than making it available to the world’s population». In our opinion it is one of the most dangerous trends of modern capitalist society. All researches in the field of genetic engineering, gerontology have to be banned while society is in an alienated state. But is it possible to ban something to the Owners of the planet? Is it possible to take something under control in a society that is under total control? All this would likely end badly and we'll talk more about it.
What alternative is offered by the Venus Project?
Among the aims and goals of the “project”, Jacque Fresco lists the following:
• realizing the declaration of the world’s resources as being a common heritage of all people;
• transcending the artificial boundaries that currently and arbitrarily separate people;
• replacing the money-based nationalistic economies with a resource-based world economy;
• assisting in stabilizing the world’s population through education and voluntary birth control;
• reclaiming and restoring the natural environment to the best of our ability;
• redesigning cities, transportation systems, and agricultural industries and industrial plants so that they are energy efficient, clean, and able to conveniently serve the needs of all people;
• gradually outgrowing corporate entities and governments, (local, national, or supranational) as means of social management;
• sharing and applying new technologies for the benefit of all nations;
• developing and using clean renewable energy sources;
• manufacturing the highest quality products for the benefit of the world’s people;
• requiring environmental impact studies prior to construction of any mega projects;
• encouraging the widest range of creativity and incentive toward constructive endeavour;
• outgrowing nationalism, bigotry, and prejudice through education;
• eliminating elitism, technical or otherwise;
• arriving at methodologies by careful research rather than random opinions;
• enhancing communication so that our language is relevant to the physical conditions of the world;
• providing not only the necessities of life, but also challenges that stimulate the mind, while emphasizing individuality rather than uniformity;
• finally, preparing people intellectually and emotionally for the changes and challenges that lie ahead.
It's cool, yeah? The points in italics directly hit on such historically-global things as private property, commodity-money relations and alienation. The “project” is as radical as possible and this radicalism is presented as an absolute necessity, so far as «attempting to find solutions to the monumental problems within our present society will only serve as temporary patchwork, prolonging an obsolete system». Quite right, extreme conditions demand extreme responses, and social and economic transformations in a point of bifurcation which we approach closer and closer cannot be not radical. The “project” exists at the forefront of history and therefore it is radical. It should be.
As for details of the Venus Project program we will talk in other articles and now let's move on to, perhaps, the most burning topic. A theme that rises always and everywhere, a theme that makes even agree nodding people remain indifferent to the Fresco's and his supporters' ideas.
Everything is good, everything is wonderful, people say, but how can all these beautiful dreams come true?
Fresco is well aware that any social changes affect someone’s material interests and, as a rule, these are the interests of the dominant stratum in this system. If «the country’s actions and decisions are made by and for major corporations, financial interests, the wealthiest, and the military industrial complex» then nobody allows to approach too close to the base of a planetary system which has existed for several millennia.
Well, and? On the one hand, Jacque, in many respects contrary to himself, says that «significant social changes are not brought about by me and women of reason and good will on a personal level. The notion that one can sit and talk to individuals and alter their values is highly unrealistic», on the other hand – the Venus Project not only is not revolutionary, but as the same Jacque speaks, is not designed even "to sabotage" institutes of "free enterprise system". In this point the "project" turns into a commune of utopian dreamers in the people's eyes. Although, for the sake of justice, it must be said that the revolutionary nature of the “project” would not save it from this fate. The word "revolution" can not cause in the modern world anything but laughter.
So far, whatever one may say, the “project” remains, so to speak, a moral and educational manifesto. A trying to persuade and set an example to those who do not have to persuade, but who can not follow this example.
«The most effective way to implement change is through the use of worldwide media, seminars, and workshops during the initial design stage.
…Since al new ideas go through a process of maturation and development, we expect our experimental City of the Future to gradually gain acceptance by fulfilling its promise as a successful, peaceful, and desirable place to live. As newer communities develop and become widely accepted, they will provide the basis of a new society through a process of evolution rather than revolution».
Against the background of the belief in "the most effective way to implement change" is quite pessimistic - and soberly - the words sound: «the solutions to our problems will not come about through the application of reason or logic. We do not live in a reasonable or logical world. There is no historical record of any society that deliberately and consciously modified their culture to fit changing times».
We think, in the end, Fresco bet on what we bet: collapse and disaster, in the process of overcoming which we will reach new horizons. «Real social change occurs when conditions deteriorate to the extent that governments, politicians, and social institutions no longer relevant or acceptable. Only when the public is better informed or in sufficient pain is it possible to introduce a new social arrangement». – Jacque could not resist and put in "the good informed public" here. No one will allow this public to do anything, change anything, neither with it is good nor with it is poor “informed”.
«If our system continues without modification involving environmental and social concern, we will face an economic and social breakdown of our monetary and political system».
«It will likely take an economic catastrophe resulting in enormous human suffering to bring about true social change. Unfortunately, this does not guarantee that the change will be beneficial».
What has been said in the last sentence concerns us too. Nothing is guaranteed now. “Elite” not only dominates on the planet today it learns to control the history course. And it has at least two options to stake out this planet forever: 1) prevent a catastrophe that could break it neck and 2) at the failure of the first option, drive the world community in the direction it needs. In both cases we face a shameful and terrible ending.
What can we do here and now? Wait. Wait and try to keep all human, reasonable, sane in people. Keep in order to understand how and in the name of what to act at the right time. In order there are those who are able to act at the right moment. Let it be some kind of “design”, some kind of educational activity, “informing” society about the state of affairs. But we must understand that this activity is not effective and also is not any way to “implement changes” in general. Wait, as in the famous Gibson's film the Scotsmen waited for the British cavalry.
We think Fresco is not mistaken - from a technical point of view (resources, technologies, knowledge) all the proposals and developments of the Venus Project participants are absolutely realizable. It's not even the point. And the point is not whether our possible future will grow out of this “project” or in some other way. If we have a future it will be something like this. Unlike previous “utopias” the Venus Project is a direct and immediate reflection of our possible future. We have no doubt about it.
Throughout centuries the history scoffed at our utopian dreams and thoughts and now when we laugh and scoff at our own utopias the history demands it. In general, in our situation the concept of "utopia" loses its meaning. Either "utopia" or death, and Jacque gave hope, at least, to all of us.