A third movie in the "Zeitgeist Movement" was released on January 15th, 2011. I should warn you that I never watched any of these movies. So how can I make a criticism? Because I read the summary of the main ideas that are expressed in these movies. I looked up the main points Zeitgeist brings forward. I will tell you what I think of the main claims the movies make.
Well, first let me begin with something positive. Everything that I will write after this paragraph will be a negative criticism, so I guess it is fair to begin with a positive criticism. It is refreshing to see a documentary on social organization that does not push for statism. It really disturbs me of these so-called "intellectuals" in colleges and universities who write articles in favor of heavy state control. It is disturbing to see all the heavy statism in the world and for documentaries to come forward and push for even more state control. I have to give credit for Zeitgeist for not falling into this trap. Even though I think it is filled with mostly false conclusions I do have to give it credit of not promoting statism and sometimes even making anti-state remarks. For example, Zeitgeist argues that there is a threat of a One World Government in the future. The fear of this happening suggests that Zeitgeist is not pushing for more statism. Another example, is Zeitgeist's objection to the income tax of the United States. Zeitgeist says that the income tax is unconstitutional. I agree with Zeitgeist that it is unconstitutional, but that is not a very good argument. Whether something is constitutional or not should not give us reason to do or not to do something. We need a different argument. However, the fact that Zeitgeist is critical of the US taxation system does suggest in an implicit manner that it is arguing for less statism, which is refreshing to see - for once.
Zeitgeist is filled with a lot of conspiracy theories. I am not a fan of conspiracy theories because they have no reasonable justification for them, and they are not even necessary to explain the problem that you are describing. Let us take something like Christianity. Zeitgeist argues that Christianity was a myth. I agree with this part. But it is not necessary to create a conspiracy theory. We can say that religion emerges from superstition and irrationality. Then once its irrational ideas become popular they create a moral code within the people. The followers of these moral codes then create an authoritarian system the reflects the religion that they foolishly inherited. Thus, I do agree that religion is a method of controlling people. But religion was not created in a conscious manner. In other words, there were no inventors of Christianity sitting around a large round table telling themselves, "haha, we shall create a religion, known as Christianity, because it would be easier to control the world that way". There is no reason to assume that this ever happened. The control of religion, in general, over the masses was not done in a conscious manner, but rather in a spontaneous manner. Religion simply developed in such a way that it became the tool of the rulers to use to control their subjects. There is no need to create a conspiracy theory here at all when a much simpler explanation, like the one I briefly provided, would do. You can read more about the birth of religion that I wrote in the past here.
The first movie of Zeitgeist (from 2007) claims that 9/11 was an "inside job". The US government was in on the attacks against its own citizens because they wanted more power for themselves, so they used 9/11 as an excuse to expand their powers. My basic argument against the 9/11 truth movement is what I wrote back here. The US government is so incompetent, so clumsy. It cannot even run a post office nor a public school for Science's sake, what makes you think it has the ability of a mastermind to plot such a successful conspiracy against the entire world? What Zeitgeist is doing is looking for an excuse to hate the US government. And I agree, the US government should be hated. But you do not need to come up with lies to hate your enemy. Just look around you. Look at how many lives the US government has ruined, count the number of people they killed, count the number of people they enslaved, count the debt they brought upon the public. You do not need to come up with lies to hate the US government. They have done plenty of stuff to be despised for.
The next conspiracy (still in the first movie) is the claim that the bankers of the world (thank Science that Zeitgeist did not blame the Jewish bankers, though many of these bankers are Jews) manipulate the currency. It is true that the currency is being manipulated. This is done through central banks of the world. In the US, and the most powerful bank in the whole world, this is done through the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve is not part of the US government, it is its own separate entity. It is a "private" bank. How exactly is it not part of the US government, I have no idea, but from what I read about the Federal Reserve it said that the Federal Reserve is a private bank entirely separated from the US government. It is true that the Federal Reserve and the US government futt buck each other every day with their pong lenis, but they are somehow not the same. Yes, it is also true that the Federal Reserve system does manipulate the currency. By the way, Ben Bernake happens to be Jewish. His predecessor, Alan Greenspan was Jewish also. Oh no, Jews are controlling all the world's money! But is there a conspiracy theory? Are the bankers and the government in on the whole manipulation of the monetary system? Not consciously. There is no conscious part of the government nor the bankers to control the money system. They do manipulate it, but there is no banker meeting. The bankers of the world do not sit around a large round table and say, "haha, we will use the Federal Reserve system to steal the money from the rest of the world". They do steal money from the world. And in the process lead to economic instability, but there is no conscious effort on the part of the government nor the bankers to control this. Consider for example the 2008 economic collapse in the US. It was caused by artificially low interest rates in the housing market that were set by the Federal Reserve. Why did this happen? Because some politicians thought it would be a good idea to push the public into becoming homeowners. These politicians decided that the interest rates were too high and they lowered them. This economic collapse and the manipulation of the currency that inevitably followed was not done with bad intentions, but with good intentions. Free market economists call this the "unintended consequences of good intentions". Though not all consequences are from good intentions. Some are the result of bad intentions. There are politicians that are brided. The government does sometimes move into a direction of more power or more profit itself. So some intentions are also bad intentions. What I am saying is that it is not as simple as the Zeitgeist movement describes. It is not just politicians and bankers deciding to screw the people. Sometimes that does happen. Sometimes it happens with good intentions. Sometimes it happens out of pure incompetence. Together all of these failing of the currect system come together and emerge into a system that does manipulate the currency. However, just like with religion, there is no conscious effort on anyone to make this kind of manipulation. This is just the nature of the beast, known as statism.
The first Zeitgeist movie ends with the claim that the media is being controlled for the sake of the government (and I guess the bankers too) being able to seek and secure power for themselves. I can certainly understand why it is tempting to propose this. If you see the media covering celebrities and what politician says what (by the way, politicians are just another form of celebrities) then I can understand why some people get very furious with this broadcast and feel that it is purposely being controlled to dumb them down. Yes the media and the news do dumb you down (which is part of the reason why I never watch news). The conclusion that some people reach is that this is proof that the media system is being controlled by the government (or the bankers, or the corporations) to prevent the people from having accurate access to information about what is going on. If this is true I see no way how to demonstrate this, instead I have a different explanation to why there is so much dumb content on the media without creating any conspiracy theories. It is very simple. The population is dumb. The population wants to see celebrities and entertained by what politician said what. If you go to the CATO Institute YouTube channel and watch their top most viewed videos you will notice that the most viewed videos are all flashy media news from their perspective. The actual intellectual video content, which gives brief talks on economics, does not even have a 1,000 views, it is just so boring to watch that people rather watch the flashy fireworks on the media then to sit through a boring economics video. Is the government controlling CATO's YouTube channel by limiting the number of people who can access their content? No. The people are just not interested. People rather have quick one liners than long boring explanations. The media simply reflects the desires of the people. If you make your own media program which was an intelligent program, it will never take off. Because people do not want to sit through one hour of boring intelligent presentation. Yes, the media is controlled, but not by the capitalists nor the government nor whoever, there is no need to assume a conspiracy, it is controlled by the wishes of the people. The public sucks, the public is dumb, so what do you expect? If media is showing Michael Jackson for 2 months, then do you not think this is because that is what brings in a lot of ratings? So even though it is tempting to suggest that the media is being controlled by some Illuminati it is just not a necessary hypothesis when there is a simpler one that explains this phenomenon well.
This ends the first Zeitgeist movie and I want to finish off my criticism of the first movie by saying that all of its conclusions point to a conspiracy. But just keep in mind that the supposed conspiracy masterminds that Zeitgeist claims are so incompetent of doing anything their job is to do that it is very hard to imagine such a global conspiracy from ever happening. The spontaneous (and non-conscious) alternative explanations that I proposed to a better job at explaining the supposed conscious action of the conspiracy masterminds.
The next Zeitgeist movie is a follow-up to the first and it there were the Venus Project is first introduced as an alternative to the other model's of the world. I am not going to tell you what I think of the Venus Project because I have already gave my reviews of the Venus Project. If you want to read why I consider the Venus Project to be a utopian fantasy build around terrible economics read this.
Now we reach the most recent Zeitgeist movie that was released about two weeks ago. The summary of its positions, that I will be reading from, is what I found on Wikipedia here. The first part of the movie is about human nature. What this has to do anything with anything else that was mentioned in this post before I have no idea, I guess there is some sort of connection, but I cannot see it. The position that is presented is that the environment has influences over human behavior. I am not sure what is the intent of Zeitgeist to bring this point up, perhaps they are trying to say that we need to strive to equality. I wish I knew more about what they are trying to say here, but I just have no idea why they start off with saying that environment has an influence over people. I will just say that humans also have a nature to them that is not influenced by the environment at all, it is inherent in how people are themselves. Anyway, I have to skip over this point because of my ignorance.
The second part of the movie is a criticism of modern economics. The movie starts by saying that the current economic model is based on John Locke and Adam Smith. This is not true. First of all, John Locke was not an economist. He was a political philosopher who laid down the ideas of classical liberalism (libertarianism). But the world does not follow this kind of political structure. So John Locke has very little to do with the current political world and therefore should not be mentioned. Second of all, nobody follows Adam Smith. Adam Smith was a classical economist, there are no classical economists anymore. Adam Smith was mostly a laissez-faire advocate when it came to economics. There are modern economists today who are laissez-faire, the more popular ones are from the Chicago school. But the Chicago school is not popular at all when compared to mainstream economics, and it is far away from classical economics. There is also the Austrian school which is also a free market economics school but it is even less popular than the Chicago school. Laissez-faire economics is just not mainstream at all. The most common economics that are practiced in the world today are either from the neo-classical school (which, despite what the name suggests, has little to do with classical economics) and Keynesian economics. There is even Marxian economics, but I rather call it Bullshit economics. Okay, those are the economics schools of thought today in the world. Very little has anything to do with laissez-faire economics and nothing has anything to do with Adam Smith. So Adam Smith, just like Locke, has little to do with the world today and should not be mentioned.
Zeitgeist goes on to criticize free market economics by alluding that it is like a religion. Because the "invisible hand" of Adam Smith is like the "hand of God" that magically solves any problem.
Before I say anything I have to state the obvious. As I explained just above the world does not follow free market economics, and the few free market economists do not follow Smith. So Adam Smith and the free market have nothing to do with the mainstream world at all. Would you stop bringing them up? How would you feel if I criticized the US for being Marxist? You would think of me as a fool who has no sense of economics to possibly think the US uses Marxian economics. That is exactly how I look at you. Every time you keep on criticizing the US for free markets or the world for those principles, I look at you as a fool who has little sense of economic theory to make such a statement.
The other thing I want to mention is something I really hate. It is comparing what you disagree with to a religion. I see this done by atheists all the time. When atheists become atheists they think they became some deeply superior intellectuals because they finally realized there is no magical magic man in the sky. So they think that atheism is this deep intellectual position. Hence, when they want to refute their opponent's position they are likely to compare it to a religion, because comparing something to a religion, in their view, automatically disqualifies the other viewpoint as entirely foolish. This is what Zeitgeist is doing when it compares the invisible hand of the market to the hand of God, they want to present it as a religion, they want to paint it as magical superstitious thinking. This tactic of comparing something to a religion is neither right nor wrong, it is just a tactic, I hate this tactic a lot, so I am only bringing this up to say how much I hate this tactic of comparing ideas you disagree with to a religion. It has nothing to do with the review at all, but I wanted to say it anyway.
Let me get back on topic. Is the invisible hand of the market like the hand of God, as Zeitgeist claims? If the producers of Zeitgeist actually understoond the metaphor of the invisible hand I doubt they would ever make this comparison. The entire metaphor of the invisible hand is that the market system needs no designer. Adam Smith's argument was that the market is a spontaneous system of order, it is self-emergent, it needs no designer at all. He describes the principles that drive the free market as the "invisible hand" because it seems as if there is a hand organizing the markets, but there is no such hand, this organization is spontaneous, hence the "invisible hand". That is to say, it seems as if there is a hand, as if there is a designer, but there is no designer, hence the word "invisible". Free market economics is the atheism of economics. Because free market economics says that there is no need to have a designer and no need to assume a designer. This is like saying natural selection is the "invisible hand" of life. Evolution works in such a manner as if it seems there is a designer, a hand, over life, but there is no such hand, that is, it is "invisible". It is therefore, a lot more accurate to compare free market economics to atheism, than to a religion. On the contrary, the central planners and the socialists who claim to be able to design society with a hand, are the ones more likely to be called "religious". Anyway, it is a silly point to determine who is more "religious" when it comes to economics. But I did not go there, the Zeitgeist movie went there, and so I played along with their religious game.
Zeitgeist continues to ask whether private property is really necessary, and do we really need money? Of course these are necessary. I will give you brief explanations to why they are necessary. Property is necessary to deal with the problem of scarcity. Almost everything in the world is scarce. There are some things which are not scarce. Air for example. There is no property system over air because there does not need to be one. But 100% oxygen is a scarce resource, and so there is a property mechanism for 100% oxygen. Property is necessary to deal with the problem of scarcity. The market economy functions in such a way so that people would be able to trade scarce resources. Hence, the necessity of property and hence the necessity of a price system. Price systems require money, hence the necessity of money. Money is also a tool to increase the efficiency of trade. If you would like to know what money is, and why it is dangerous to abolish it, you can read this.
Zeitgeist also criticizes the free market for wasteful resources. Waste occurs in a non-free market. You have a lot of waste in government programs, for example, because there is no free market system there. If supply meets demand, which is what happens in a free-market, there is no waste. If supply exceeds demand then there is waste. The problem of waste is inherent to any system of social planning, the free market, through it self-emerging price system, is able to handle the problem of waste most efficiently, the same cannot be said for any other kind of a system.
The next criticism of the movie is "planned obsolescence". Planned obsolescence is the idea that businesses purposely make bad products so that they will break after a certain time period in order that their customers will continue to shop there. What is up with Zeitgeist and conspiracy theories? At every turn they need to set up a conspiracy theory. There is no need to assume that businesses are doing this on purpose. There is a much much simpler explanation for bad quality products. People want cheap products. Cheap products are usually of low-quality therefore they are likely to break apart after a few years. There are high-quality products out there too. Why do people generally not buy them? Because they are expensive. There is no need to introduce the hypothesis of a planned conspiracy theory, when this simple explanation does fine. Businesses supply what people want. If people want cheap stuff instead of expensive stuff then it is likely that the products will last only a few years. The economist, Walter Block, in his book "Defending the Undefendable" wrote in detail about the false theory of planned obsolescence. You can read the book for free (Block does not believe in copyright laws) here, if you go to pages (on the PDF, not the book) 231 - 238 you will read an in detail explanation.
The movie then turns to the monetary system. It claims money is evil (to briefly summarize) because its supply is manipulated, the interest rates are controlled, and it will eventually destroy its value through hyperinflation. Can you say that guns are evil because bad people use guns? Can you say that knifes are evil because bad people use knifes? No, because guns are knives are fine, the problem is the abuse which results from them. The money system is fine, the money system is important, it is the blood of the economy. The problem is not money. The problem is not even fiat currency nor fractional-reserve banking. The problem is central control over currency. The problem is having the state (well more specifically the Federal Reserve) control the currency, to control the interset rates, and to be inflate the money supply. That is where the problem lies. Not in money, and not even so much in the banks, but in the central authority over currency.
Now we reach the third part of the movie which describes the "resource-based economy". What is that? I am not even too sure. That seems to be a certain kind of economy where the problem of scarcity is solved and there is no need to have property anymore. A review that I watched of the new Zeitgeist movie humorously called it "Marxism with robots", a forum that I seen called it "Marxism 2.0". Basically, replace the proletariat not with people but with an automated city. What exactly is the difference between what Zeitgeist advocates as an economic system and Marxism?
There is a reason why Marxism and socialism always are much less efficient when compared to a market based economy (even a heavily regulated one as in mostly everywhere in the world). Because socialism cannot get passed the calculation problem. How do you calculate exactly how much needs to be done with what given price with a scarce number of resources? In a market economy this problem usually settles itself through the competative and pricing system. But what about a "resource-based economy"? This is never addressed. Unless, you claim there will be no need to perform economic calculations. Well, if you really believe in that then you are just utopians who think this is not a serious economic problem. There is no place where socialism functioned as efficiently. Why should I assume that socialism in the Venus Project would prove to be the exception? Of course, you are not calling it "socialism" but a "resource based-economy", however this resource-based economy is a centrally planned and operated economy.
Finally, we reach the last part of the movie. It mentions that the world is running out of oil. I agree that this is a problem but I cannot see how one can blame the free market on this. There is a finite amount of oil in any given fixed economy system. What makes the free market so special? You think there will be no oil problem in a "resource-based economy"? Everyone needing oil is a problem that is universal and independent of an economic system. If anything the free market is the best way to deal with this problem. The market based system, as explained above, is the best way to deal with shortages and waste. Having a central agency decide just how much oil is needed is a terrible policy to use. Consider this potential problem with oil in a non-free market economy. There are alternative fuels out there. I am sure over time they will become more popular. But I would like to illustrate how state intervention with the market can prevent this change from happening. Say alternative fuels cost $3 per gallon and gasoline costs $2 per gallon, for sake of argument. Gasoline is more preferrable because it is cheaper. As gasoline depletes the dimishing supply will push prices up until it exceeds $3 per gallon. If the state decides "oil is too important" and legislates price fixing back to $2 per gallon, gasoline is still more preferrable to alternative fuels. But if the market price is not manipulated with it will become more preferrable to use alternative fuels. And it is at this time when people will start to look for alternative sources of energy. But if the state decides to prolong the illusion that everything is alright it will hinder the progress of looking for alternative fuel. This is the danger of having state control over fuel (just like state control over anything). Again the free market is revealed to be the best way to deal with this serious problem.
The movie blames the free market on pollution. As explained, for the n-th time, there is no free market operating at this moment. But let us just consider how pollution and environmental questions are settled in a free market. Pollution is a form of intrusion into the property of someone else. If I pollute I am producing waste that will do harm to another's property. That person has the right to demand a price for my pollution or insist that I end my pollution. The best way to deal with the problem of pollution is by using private property. If property is respected and there are defined laws on what constitutes property and how pollution damages property then pollution will be an imposed cost on the polluter. It is in this manner that environmental policies and pollution problems can be settled through the free market system.
Deforestation is another problem that is blamed. There are two questions here. Why is it inherently assumed that deforestation is a bad thing? It can be bad in certain contextes and good in other contextes. Deforestation is not something which is always bad. The best way to decide at whether deforestation is positive or negative is by considering cost vs benefits, which the free market, by its mechanism, is again the most efficient means of doing. The second question is, are you sure deforestation is happening? Last I checked the number of acres of forests in the United States has increased since the 1900's or something like that. I also read that lumber companies which sell their lumber for paper end up reusing their land by replanting new trees. In other words, they are not just consuming up trees and moving to a new forest. Rather they have their own plot of land which they keep on reusing and reusing. I am not sure about the state of forests in other countries but I think that in the United States forests are doing fine, there is no deforestation crysis on our hands.
Zeitgeist also blames climate change on the free market system. I do not want to go into climate change now because that would be way off topic but I just want to say that the government is the biggest polluter in the world. You just admitted, and I agree with your conclusion, that the US government has no interest in your welfare or your safety or your money. What makes you think they have an interest on your climate? None. Looking at the government to "solve" climate change is like asking them to watch your bank account so that it is not stolen from.
Next it talks about the overpopulation problem. There is no overpopulation problem. And the overpopulation problem is a precieved threat that is not a threat at all. If you want to read why there is nothing to fear from overpopulation read this.
War is also blamed on the free market. How? Why? Do you really think there will be no war in Venus utopia? Say some Muslims are unhappy that the citizens of Venus utopia approve of gay relationships. They decide to declare war on Venus utopia. This cannot happen? Note that this has nothing to do with the free market. War does not have to be about profit nor about seizing resources. It can be just dislike and hatred. War can also be an excuse of more power for yourself. The Nazis wanted more power and world domination. What is to prevent this from happening in Venus utopia? The Nazis hated various groups of people, not for profit, not for resources, they just hated them, and wanted to kill them, what will prevent this from happening in Venus utopia? My point is that war does not need to have anything to do with wanting resources. So you cannot blame war on the free market system. Furthermore, the free market is what prevents war. Trading prevents war. If no trade takes place then war might follow. Think about this. I have a call girl that regulary comes over to my house and I fuck her. I pay her well and she is good looking, nice to fuck too. Say she decided to kill me one day and steal my $200 instead of fucking me for that money. What happens? She will lose a costumer. Her short term gain is $200 but her long term gain is a lot of money. What happens if I kill her to steal my money back after fucking her? I will lose a call girl and my business would be terminated. So I would be in a long term loss too. So even though I have no feelings for her and she has no feeling for me, she still fucks me without killing me, and I still pay her without killing her. Business keeps on going. And we end up trusting each other. Trade is what creates trust between people. The free market is the most peaceful method of interacting with people, and it is the best means to maintain peace.
Zeitgeist claims the wellbeing of people of the world is worsening by using some statistics. As you know I hate statistics. They are not reliable and give no causation argument. Zeitgeist says that 18,000 people day a die from starvation. This is, of course, terrible, but we need to ask the question of how many people would die a day if it was not for at least a semi-capitalist system? A lot more. The socialist experiments of the world that tried to centrally control farms, for example, have ended up starving millions of people to death. So as bad as those numbers are they will be a lot worse if it was for a non-capitalist system. Consider that the population of the world has greatly increased since 1900's. And it is still on the raise. How can it if the economic system is as brutal and inefficient as you claim it is?
There is an interesting statistic from Zeitgeist which says that global poverty has doubled since 1970's. Everything that I know of points to the overall wealth of the world improving. So I started to wonder what this statistic can mean. I am going to make some suggestions to the problem of this statistic (which once again shows why statistics are often not reliable). Perhaps the definition of "poverty" in the 1970's differs from the definition of "poverty" in 2011, therefore, it is possible to gain higher numbers of poverty by simply changing the definition of "poverty"? Perhaps the number of people from 1970's has greatly increased in number resulting from the improved efficiency of capitalism and so those in poverty are only there because they were born into already poor homes (in other word's there are more people in the world, so can it be that this is why poverty has doubled)? Perhaps the rich got a lot wealthier over 1970's that the larger formed income gap redefined more people as "poor" even though their real wages have improved? Do you see how many questions and possible refutations are available to this statistic? Perhaps the UN is a secretly controlled by the new world order and all their statistics are made up lies? I know, the last one is a conspiracy theory, but since Zeitgeist loves conspiracy theories I figured I might use one too. It would be ironic if the Zeitgeist movement is anti-UN (not sure if they are) by saying they want global government and in the same time use their statistics which are reported as unreliable.
The last thing I do want to get to is the gap between the rich and the poor. I do think there is a gap between the rich and poor, I also think it must always increase. For purely mathematical reasons. Say I am a billionare and you are poor. If I increase 2% of my assests and you increase 10% I will have way more money than you do. The rich getting richer at a faster rate than the poor is not some conspiracy of the market, but just a mathematical necessity. Is this an inherent problem of free markets or capitalism? No. I explained why wealth inequality is no problem at all here. Inequality is one of those terms politicians throw around to appeal the masses without any of them giving any critical thought about what it means. Inequality and equality is a bullshit measure.
Let me end with something positive about the Zeitgeist movement. It is nice to know there are other people, like me, who are strongly against the status-quo. It is healthy to distrust authority. Good for you in doing that. But you do not need to invent non-sensical conspiracy theories to defend your own viewpoints. I have very anti-mainstream views too but I do not create unnecessary hypothesis to explain the problems that are happening in the world. I hope you see me more of your ally than your enemy. Because I have no problem if like-minded people such as yourselves in the Zeitgeist movement want to find people to test your ideas with (even though I think they are going to be utter-fail).