Zeitgeist: Moving Forward is the third and final installment in Peter Joseph’s Zeitgeist film trilogy. The film was launched for free on the internet starting January 26, 2011. As of December, 2012, the film had over 19 million views on YouTube.
The film is arranged into four successive parts. Within each part is an amalgam of interviews, narration and animated sequences.
Part I: Human Nature
The film begins with a brief animated sequence narrated by Jacque Fresco. He describes his adolescent life and his discontinuation of public education at the age of 14 to study under his own will. He continues to express that his radical views developed as a result of experiences during the Great Depression and World War II. Studying the social sciences, mechanical and social engineering, architecture among numerous other fields of study for 75 years have, Fresco states, failed to alter this initial, radical, disposition, which he continues to outline in greater detail later in the film.
The discussion turns to human behavior and the nature vs. nurture debate. This portion begins with a small clip with Robert Sapolsky summing up thenature vs. nurture debate in which he essentially refers to it as a “false dichotomy.” After which he states that “it is virtually impossible to understand how biology works, outside the context of environment.” During which time the film then goes onto describe that it is neither Nature nor Nurture that shapes human behavior but both are supposed to influence behavior. The interviewed pundits state that even with genetic predispositions to diseases, the expression and manifestation of disease is largely determined by environmental stressors, including topics such as epigenetics and Gene–environment interactions. Disease, criminal activity and addictions are also placed in the same light. One study discussed showed that newly born babies are more likely to die if they are not touched. Another study which was mentioned claimed to show how stressed women were more likely to have children with addiction disorders. A reference is made to the unborn children who were in utero during the Dutch famine of 1944. The “Dutch Famine Birth Cohort Study” is mentioned to have shown that obesity and other health complications became common problems later in life, due to prolonged starvation of their mother during pregnancy.Comparisons are made by sociologists of criminals in different parts of the world and how different cultures with different values can often have more peaceful inhabitants. An Anabaptist sect called the Hutterites are mentioned to have never reported a homicide in any of their societies. The overall conclusion of Part I is that social environment and cultural conditioning play a large part in shaping human behavior.
Part II: Social Pathology
The origins of our modern economic paradigm are explored, beginning with John Locke and Adam Smith. In Two Treatises of Government, John Locke lays out the fundamental principles of private ownership of land, labor and capital. In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith mentions the invisible hand balancing out supply and demand leading to trade equilibrium. The argument becomes religious as the invisible hand is interpreted as the hand of God. A critical view of economic theory is made by questioning the need for private property, money and the inherent inequality between agents in the system. Also seen critically is the need for cyclical consumption in order to maintain market share which results in wasted resources. Planned obsolescence is shown to be another important side-effect of the market system, where goods are deliberately made defective or not having sufficient technology in order to maintain a large turnover rate. The economic paradigm is then termed anti-economy due to these profligate activities. The above described process of individuals and groups exchanging goods, labor and capital is mentioned as the market economy.
The other component is the monetary economy. The monetary system regulates the money supply and interest rates by buying/selling treasuries. More critical views of the monetary system are explained. According to Zeitgeist, in the final analysis the current monetary system can only result in default or hyperinflation. This is because when money comes into existence it is created by loans at interest. The existing money supply is only the principal. The interest to pay the loan that created the money does not exist in the money supply and must be borrowed repetitively in order to service the debt. Due to this exponential money supply growth, Zeitgeist predicts the value of money is eventually destroyed as evidenced by the 96% devaluation of the U.S. money supply since the Federal Reserve was chartered in 1914 and 80% devaluation since the U.S. ended the Bretton Woods agreement in 1971.
Part III: Project Earth
As with Zeitgeist: Addendum, to improve the human condition the film presents a “resource-based economy” as advocated by Jacque Fresco. The dialogue leads to a train of thought on how human civilization should start from the beginning. Imagine an exact copy of Earth somewhere in space: conduct a survey of the planet, to assess the resource types, locations, quantities, to satisfy human demands; track the consumption and depletion of resources to regulate human demands and maintain the condition of the environment; localize the distribution of resources, to control environmental impacts and maintain self-sufficiency; place an emphasis on recycling and the use of public transportation, in order to avoid resource waste. Through the global application of existing revolutionary technologies in the manufacturing and distribution sectors, labor and money will eventually become obsolete; thereby establishing the foundation of a resource-based economy. Various technologies for improving civilization under the resource-based economy are described. The city structure will consist of concentric rings, every ring serving one critical function necessary for the function of a self-sufficient city: agriculture, energy production, residents, hospitals, schools, etc. For agriculture, hydroponics and aeroponics are mentioned as a possible solutions for food shortages. Maglev trains provide transport for the city residents. Manufacturing and construction become automated with mechanized technologies, such as three-dimensional printing and computer-aided manufacturing. Mentioned energy production methods: photovoltaic paint, wind turbines, pressure transducers and geothermal power plants.
Part IV: Rise
The world state of affairs is described in a dire light. The peak oil phenomenon is seen as a threat to civilization’s progress, potentially resulting in extinction. A case is presented that pollution, deforestation, climate change, overpopulation, and warfare are all created and perpetuated by the socioeconomic system. Various poverty statistics are shown that suggest a progressive worsening of world culture. According to the United Nations, currently 18,000 children a day die from starvation. Also according to the UN, global poverty rates have doubled since the 1970s.
The movie closes with a standoff between protesters on the streets of Times Square in New York City facing off against police in riot gear while in the midst of global economic depression. People withdraw trillions of dollars from the world’s central banks, then dump the money at the doors of the banks. The police stand down. The final scene of the film shows a partial view of earth from space, followed by a sequence of superimposed statements; “This is your world”, “This is our world”, and “The revolution is now”.
Dr. Robert Sapolsky, Dr. Gábor Máté, Richard Wilkinson, Dr. James Gilligan, Dr. John McMurtry, Michael Ruppert, Max Keiser, Dr. Behrokh Khoshnevis, Dr. Adrian Bowyer, Jacque Fresco, Roxanne Meadows, Dr. Colin J. Campbell, and Jeremy J. Gilbert.
A review in the monthly publication The Socialist Standard criticizes several aspects of the film, suggesting that the analysis of the economic system was shaky, that Karl Marx has already undertaken a more scientific and thorough critique of capitalism, and that a strategy of how to get from our current system to the new system proposed in the film is lacking.
Fouad Al-Noor in Wessex Scene said that the film has more of a focus on solutions than the previous film. Calling it a modern phenomenon, he noted that while there are controversial elements, he challenged those using labels to describe the film to watch the films first.
In her article on the Zeitgeist Movement, published in Tablet, Michelle Goldberg felt that the film was silly enough that she suspected at times that the film was a satire about a technological utopia but noted the large following of the movement that produced the film, saying “it even seems like the world’s first Internet-based cult, with members who parrot the party line with cheerful, rote fidelity”.
Andreas Exner in Social Innovation Network said, that global cooperation might be useful, even partly necessary, but it cannot and should not rely on people functioning like machines, obeying the allegedly natural constraint of resource management which might be enforced by a scientific steering committee.
Hitler was one of many Germans who believed 1918 marked a betrayal of Germany by its leaders. Corrupt politicians, not army, were accountable for Germany’s sufferings. Hitler’s contempt for bureaucracy was expressed when he wrote; “Was this the meaning of the sacrifice which the German mother made to the fatherland when with sore heart she let her best-loved boys march off, never to see them again? Did all this happen only so that a gang of wretched criminals could lay hands on the fatherland? (Hitler 1925-1926) Hitler’s sense of betrayal was potent because of the aspirations of the German nation.
Germany became a unified sovereign state in 1871 after Otto Von Bismarck led, through clever manipulation and deceit, Prussia to victory over Denmark, Austria and France; these successes persuaded Germans to accept the King of Prussia as emperor of a United Germany; “From a pessimistic perspective, even the triumph of 1871, as time passed, seemed an incomplete victory and only a partial fulfilment of German ambitions in Europe.” (Cramer 2006). Germany came into being as a powerful military ‘Reich’ under Prussia. After 1870 the new German nation competed with other European countries for new territories including the scramble for Africa.
Imperial rivalry was not a creator of war but most certainly was a major influence upon it in the lead up to World War One. When war broke out in 1914 the Germans embraced the opportunity with intense commitment and they saw this as a golden opportunity to prove the greatness of their nation with a mighty victory which, in the fullness of time, never occurred. In fact, Germany had to engage in a bitter war of attrition with Russia on the east and France and Britain in the west. Drained and exhausted Germany were forced to agree to an armistice and the struggle into which the German people had entered with such enthusiasm and confidence had brought them not triumph but disaster.
Germany were punished by the victors of World War I, principally France, Great Britain, Italy and the USA under the terms of the Treaty Of Versailles of 1919. The main terms of this treaty included Germany having to give up parts of France, Germany to be demilitarized and placed under occupation, Germany to lose West Prussia, Posen to Poland which denied the Germans access to parts of the Rhineland through the Polish corridor. Furthermore, the treaty deprived Germany of 4 million citizens by declaring Danzig an international city. Germany also had to surrender all its overseas colonies, and was to be deprived of its warships and aircraft and to have its army limited to 100,000 members. On top of all this Germany also had to pay reparations eventually amounting to in excess of 6 million pounds. What the Germans resented most was the manner in which they were not allowed to negotiate any terms and were forced to accept all conditions under threat of further warfare. The Germans were also angered by the fact that they had to accept full responsibility for the war.
All of these humiliations became a source of strength to Hitler and turned him from a failed Bohemian to an aggressive military dictator. Hitler, an Austrian citizen in 1914, signed on as a member of the German army and won the Iron Cross for bravery later that year. He was very much disliked by his comrades who saw him as a weak coward showing little ability for leadership or oration.
The National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP or Nazi) came into being in 1919 and quickly attracted Hitler with his extreme nationalist ideas. The key demands of the Nazi party included the unification of Germany based on the right of self-determination, the revocation of the Versailles Treaty, land and territories to feed the German people and settle its surplus population, the recent tradition of state citizenship to those of German blood and Jews to be denied membership of the nation. Hitler joined the fledgling party and very quickly rose to a dominant position. He developed his skills for public oration and rabble rousing which perfectly suited the atmosphere of the beer halls where the party held its meetings. There was always an aggressive air around Hitler’s speeches and he could capitalize on this by whipping up he’s audiences into a frenzy of hatred and contempt for those who had betrayed the Fatherland in recent years. Violence was central to Nazism and Hitler portrayed the party as being at war against the nation’s enemies both internal and external. Under Hitler, National Socialism was essentially organized hatred and it drew its powers and inspiration from the desire to destroy. It would be a mistake to differentiate between Naziism and Communism in this era. Both parties were anti-each other and both equally as brutal and violent. However, in Germany, it was simply that the Nazis won anti-Communists lost. Nazis and Communists were so alike that day detested each other.
Hitler was more than impressed by Mussolini in 1922 when he heard about that “March on Rome” and its success as to dictator took over Italy. In November 1923 Hitler attempted to seize power in Munich, with Mussolini’s success in mind, he would then “march on Berlin”. However, Hitler had miscalculated as the Bavarian police stayed loyal to the government and fired on the Nazi marchers killing 16 of them. Hitler was arrested, brought to trial and sentenced to five years imprisonment for treason. Hitler was not unimpressed at the failure of the putsch and saw it as an excellent way to spread Nazi propaganda. Hitler only served less than a year in prison and this convinced him even more that not only was the putsch a success but his power and influence were on the rise.
During his time in Landsberg Castle prison Hitler wrote ‘Mein Kampf’, and mixture of autobiography and ideology in which he set out his main political ideas. The book would become a Bible for National Socialism; it elaborated, in extraordinary detail, on Germany’s destiny as a great Aryan nation, rejection of the Versailles Treaty and a profound hatred for Jews and Communists. The book was an emotional appeal to the German people to identify their enemies and follow the Nazis in destroying them.
In the early 1920s Germany was in the depths of a depression but as the decade progressed the depression receded as industrial production increased and unemployment fell. Germany was also enjoying better relations with its wartime enemies, which allowed it to come to more reasonable terms regarding reparations payments. In this prospering economic climate the Nazis made little headway. However, by 1930 Germany begin to feel the impact of the global recession that had started in the USA and all but destroyed the demand for manufactured goods. Despair was rampant throughout Germany and the Weimar government rapidly lost the confidence of the German people who were feeling angered and impoverished and demanded change.
The recession was the redemption of the Nazi party and they rose in popularity amongst the lower middle classes who felt most threatened by the economic collapse. Frustrated at the Weimar system, weak political parties and poor decision-making, the petite bourgeoisie elevated the Nazis to the status of the redeemers of the German economy. This class provided the backbone of Nazi support from this point until its demise at the end of World War II.