Why I Left the Venus Project

Personal Story

When I was a kid, my father took my brother and me to places like Tunisia, Morocco and Mexico, where we saw other kids living on the streets and begging for money, or begging us tourists to buy bananas or souvenirs. I noticed homeless people everywhere, from Moscow to New York, to almost any place we visited and I couldn’t help but wonder, how can people just be ok with other people living on the streets like this? How can our society be so careless? Does it really have to be like this?

As I got older and traveled more, I saw more waste, more destruction, more people living in worse conditions, and I never wanted to just accept or ignore this, but I had no idea what I could do about it.

In 2010, I (accidentally) got into a course called “International and Global Studies” at the University of Sydney in Australia. This degree spanned across many different faculties in order to give us an understanding of the global and international world that we live in. I studied everything from the global economy, to global environmental issues, global politics, international conflicts, international business, laws and agreements, international cultural dilemmas, indigenous land rights, environmental disasters, deforestation, climate change, sustainability, sustainable development and more.

Basically, I learned more about how fucked up the world was, but this time from an institutional point of view. I learned a lot about how different people and organizations were trying to solve big global problems today, and how none of it was working.

I learned that more than half of the population is being exploited; enslaved, basically, to work in horrible conditions in clothing factories, mines and wherever else. I learned that our planet is being exploited. I learned that we have no global control over anything, no global limits to deforestation, no global limits to fishing the oceans, we have all the technology we need to solve climate change, but not the international or global cooperation that’s needed to put this technology in place. The best we have today are some international agreements, which are almost completely useless.

Some of my courses promoted the need to develop third world countries. I never quite understood this.  I mean, I don’t want people to suffer, I don’t want human beings or anything on our planet to be exploited. But how is developing these areas through capitalism going to help? Ok you give these people some business opportunities and perhaps their business will thrive and they will do better, but businesses require resources, so the more successful businesses there are, the more resources we will need. There’s no global control over the resources we use, so this will inevitably lead to more and more exploitation of the land and therefore, more problems. That means no sustainability. Real sustainability has to be global.

I quit university several times to travel around the world and try to make sense of what I had learned. One day, I flew to Morocco and reconnected with an old friend who introduced me to the Venus Project (TVP). He showed me the documentary, “Paradise or Oblivion.”

The first part of the documentary was like a trailer to what I learned in the degree I was studying- it outlined some of today’s global problems and showed that our current methods of solving these problems weren’t working. It also made it clear that the entire structure of our global society was not sustainable and it needed to change, which I completely agreed with. The second part of the documentary showcased an alternative holistic solution for these problems: a global resource-based economy (RBE). That is an economy that’s not based on money or trade, but on the carrying capacity of the Earth’s resources.

After we finished watching the documentary, I turned to my friend and said, “that is really nice :), but you know this will never happen.”

He replied with something like, “but Sasha, if someone like you says that it will never happen, then it definitely won’t.”

I grinned. I continued to be skeptical but decided to keep an open mind and look further into Jacque Fresco’s work and ideas. I spent the next few months watching every Fresco lecture I could find. I was intrigued by this little old man, he was so funny and charismatic, I loved his criticism of our culture and society, I loved his ideas and I agreed with almost everything he said.

I still didn’t necessarily believe that a resource-based economy was achievable, but after I read Fresco’s book, “The Best that Money Can’t Buy,” I decided that it was necessary.

So basically, it went something like this (except in a longer time frame :)):

I decided that whether an RBE is achievable or not, we need to do something -anything- to at least try to make it happen. If we don’t, we’ll very likely bring ourselves and most other living creatures to extinction in the not-so-far-away future.

I decided to go back to Sydney University and finish that damn International and Global Studies degree. I graduated in 2014 with even more confidence that we really do need a global resource-based economy. I also had more confidence that there was absolutely no point of “joining the system” and wasting my precious time on Earth trying to create some kind of career for money, or trying to fix these big problems from within the system (like through business or politics).

I was exhausted from this degree and I didn’t really know what to do or where to go so I ended up traveling for the next couple of years and just having fun. I spent time in Indonesia, Australia, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, California, the Caribbean, Russia and Europe (mostly just being a dirtbag, living on $10-15/day and doing extreme sports). After those two years of just having fun, I started to feel a little guilty :). I couldn’t forget about those kids begging on the streets, the entire disaster I learned about in university and all the problems that I saw around the world. I also couldn’t forget about Jacque and his ideas.

He put so much effort into designing a better future for us, and here I was, doing absolutely nothing useful…

I felt like I needed to make a change in my life and do something more important than just traveling around the world for fun. I couldn’t think of anything more important than the Venus Project, so I bought a flight to Florida to visit the TVP research center and meet Jacque Fresco in person.

   –

Meeting Fresco

It was 2016 when I met Jacque, so he was already 100-years-old. He was frail, skinny, and even smaller than me. He couldn’t walk on his own, his hearing and vision were very poor, and he could barely hold a stable conversation, yet he was still participating in these weekly seminars and still talking shit about humanity :).

It was sad to see him in this condition. It was also sad to see that only two other people came to this tour. Jacque had such great, big ideas… but nobody seems to care, I guess.

The research center seemed kind of old. The building designs were dome-shaped and looked interesting, but nothing else about the place seemed unique or modern. The buildings were cooled by these big old loud window air conditioners, it didn’t look like anything was automated and it just didn’t feel like all that much was going on there.

That made me a little sad, but not hopeless- that just means that we have A LOT of work to do! I’m ready! :D

I figured it was hard for Roxanne and everybody else to take care of Jacque at that age, and that was their priority, which makes sense.

I couldn’t have much of a conversation with Jacque, but I did get to speak to Roxanne and a guy named Saso about volunteering. I told them a little bit about my background and they said that they were actually looking for a bilingual Russian-English volunteer. They told me that the Russian-speaking team was the biggest TVP team in the world (20-30 active volunteers and over 200,000 supporters), but they had some communication issues with the rest of the teams and needed a good “link.”

That got me excited! I could be the missing link! :D I immediately volunteered to help and gave them my contact information. Saso said that they would get me into the next “orientation process” (OP) to become a Point of Contact (PoC) for TVP, but that this would take a few months.

Volunteering for TVP

Nine months later I got an email from Saso, saying that they were ready to start the next OP and that if I wanted to be a volunteer Point of Contact, I had to take this quiz, have an interview (or “video chat”) with a ‘TVP Support’ admin and then I’d be able to start this 5-month long “OP,” which meant watching some TVP material, taking notes and then discussing this once a week with an admin and other potential volunteers. After I finished all of that (and signed a document with a bunch of rules), I would be an official “PoC” for the Venus Project.

I was a bit surprised to find out that there was such a long process just to volunteer, but I was very excited to get involved so it didn’t bother me.

The quiz was extremely easy, sometimes in a comical way, and the video chat went well. Then as soon as I started this “OP,” I was also added to the main admin chat of the Russian-speaking team. And what happened next, I did not expect at all.

It turned out that there were big BIG problems (not just communication problems) between the teams, and I was thrown right into the middle of a huge mess. I was introduced to problems upon problems upon problems. All internal issues, having to do with bureaucracy, laws, rules, trust and so on. The issues were so problematic that I actually flew to Florida a second time to meet Roxanne and talk about these problems with her in person. That didn’t end up solving anything, so then I wrote and translated a 22-page document to better explain what the Russian-speaking team wanted to communicate. But that still didn’t do much. Then I got into a series of long conversations with Roxanne and other TVP admins about all kinds of problems.

This is one example of one of the problems I tried to deal with:

As a result of a legal issue, Roxanne asked for all of the teams to change the name of their social media pages from “The Venus Project” to “TVP Support.” This might not seem like a big deal to an English speaker who knows that “TVP” stands for “The Venus Project,” but this is extremely confusing to a non-English speaker or anyone that has no idea what “TVP Support” means.

Just imagine this: a Russian speaker hears her friend talk about the Venus Project and wants to learn more about it, so she searches for “The Venus Project” in social media. If our team is not called “The Venus Project,” she will not be able to find the team’s social media page. If she sees a page called “TVP Support” she will probably ignore it because those letters mean nothing to her.

Just imagine if the English-speaking Venus Project page was called “Поддержка ПВ” -would you click on it if you were looking for information about the Venus Project? ..Probably not.

Even worse, there are “fake” groups in Russia who are working under the Venus Project’s name to make money or get attention. They say that they are the Venus Project (but don’t know anything about Jacque Fresco or TVP), they collect donations from people, and are even building “eco-villages” on the outskirts of Moscow, getting people to work for them for free- claiming that they are the Venus Project, and confusing the general public. The Russian-speaking team used to be able to block these scammers, and blocked 357 scammer groups back when they had “official status” but, about 3 years ago, one of Roxanne’s “close people” took away the team’s “officiality.” This apparently happened because of some rule violation, but as far as I could tell, it was because of a personal conflict, and as a result, the team is unable to block scammers. So now these scammer groups are on the rise, getting bigger and stronger. This is one of them, for example -this video has over 50,000 views. So, if the group changed their name from “The Venus Project” to “TVP-Support,” people would search for “The Venus Project” and instead of finding our “official” team, they would only find these scammer groups. Imagine how that would ruin the reputation of TVP.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, if you’re really interested in reading about these problems, you can read more here.

At the time that I was involved in this mess, I thought that solving these problems was the most important thing in the world, but in hindsight, I can see that it was really just a huge waste of time. I basically spent almost every minute of every day writing and translating messages, contacting different people from TVP and digging into as much information about the organization as possible (*note- I was not focusing on learning about or promoting Jacque Fresco’s work or ideas). I wrote and translated over 100 pages of texts and documents to try to fix these internal issues. I tried so hard to be this “missing link” but nothing worked and nothing changed, and eventually I realized that it wasn’t actually a link that they were missing.

I realized that the people running the main (English speaking) organization of TVP were very incompetent and were contradicting what Jacque used to talk about. They were just “normal” people with “normal” lives and “normal” values, emotions and ways of communicating. I realized that the whole organization was a strict hierarchy, with Roxanne at the top, and barely anything could be done without her permission. I realized that TVP was stagnating because of all of this. Jacque used to tell people to always question everything and everyone, to take in new information and keep yourself updated, to let experts in their field make decisions, to arrive at decisions through research, and so on, but it seemed to me that no one dared to question Roxanne or any idea behind TVP, and that Roxanne’s word was the final word, whether she was an expert on the subject or not, and other people’s advice and opinions weren’t really considered.

Then I found stories and resignation letters from other ex-TVP volunteers, which were all similar to my experience:

Lucy

Tio

Steven

Auravana

Ritta

Roberto

Response

 

So eventually I just stopped trying.

I finished the OP and became an “official” “Point of Contact” at the end of 2017. I stayed in the PoC chat because I still valued Fresco’s work, but I gave up on trying to fix these ongoing problems between TVP and the Russian-speaking team. The Russian-speaking team made some changes that Roxanne asked for but they were also fed up with TVP’s inability to communicate and collaborate with them, so they also took a step back from these endless discussions. I felt like the Russian-speaking team was much better at communicating and collaborating among themselves and with others, they functioned more how I would have expected the main TVP organization to function, except that they were restricted by the dozens of rules that TVP imposed on them. I stayed in their chat as well but didn’t participate much.

At the end of 2017, I decided to start my own blog and I also found out about the TROM project, which I was extremely impressed by. It was similar to TVP but much more detailed, with a 13-hour long documentary, dozens of free e-books and a bunch of other great tools. Then I realized that the person who made TROM had also worked with TVP and went through a similar experience to mine, but even more intense. I contacted this guy, showed him my new blog, and offered to help with TROM.

I spent the next year and a half learning more and more about TVP and TROM, writing blogs and hosting meet-ups on the TROM documentary and some Fresco lectures, both online and offline in Siberia. I called my TROM and TVP- based English Club “Better than your Average Conversation in Irkutsk” :D because it was :).

The Plan

I didn’t give up on the idea of an RBE after learning about how TVP was run, but I did understand that it was extremely unlikely that this organization would be able to do anything to substantially impact society. Aside from having a rigid hierarchical structure centered on Roxanne (who I do not see as a competent leader) and being unable to communicate and collaborate, they also have a poorly detailed and, in my opinion, unrealistic plan for working towards a resource-based economy.

This is the plan: https://www.thevenusproject.com/faq/what-is-the-plan/

Here it is summarized by me (Sept, 2019):

Phase 1: raise awareness through things like books, documentaries, videos and the TVP research center in Florida.

Phase 2: raise more awareness through a major motion picture.

Phase 3: build an experimental research city.

Phase 4: build a theme park to raise more awareness.

*As far as I understand, another big part of TVP’s plan is to build a new “Center for Resource Management” and eventually build more and more technologically advanced and mostly self-sustainable experimental cities. You can find more information about that here.

So most of the plan has to do with raising awareness and educating people about Fresco’s work and the idea of an RBE. I agree that this is important and that’s probably the reason that I didn’t officially leave TVP until just last month.

The other part of the plan is a bit more complicated.

-Let’s say that we raised enough awareness for most people to understand the need for an RBE- now what? How do we make it happen? Tell me more about the plan!!

I assume that TVP battled with this question a lot and this is what they came up with (again, this is still just my summary, if you’re curious about this, look it up for yourself):

    • Build efficient, automatic, self-sustainable cities where people are well educated about their environment and Fresco’s work, and they do not have to work meaningless jobs (because most of those jobs will be automated).
    • If this city is successful, another one can be built. Then another, then another, then another and so on. If the environment is what influences values and behavior, then such an environment (these cities) should “breed” saner people. If there are enough of these cities and enough well-behaved people that come from this environment, then perhaps the world can eventually become a saner place, and perhaps eventually the cities can connect to form a global resource-based economy. As far as technology and physical resources are concerned, we do have what it takes to rebuild the surface of the Earth with efficient and sustainable cities.

This all sounds very nice and the more you listen to Fresco, the more you may be convinced that (maybe) this really can work.

But let’s not forget to ask questions!!!

Here are some important questions that come to my mind:

*The answers are the conclusions that I personally arrived at after having studied TVP, after being involved with them, and talking to PoCs and other volunteers. Again, if you’re really interested in this, go find out for yourself :)

 

1. How will TVP build such technologically advanced cities? Where will they get the funds or resources?

-Right now, the plan is to start small and not to build an entire city, but a ‘Center for Resource Management’ the size of a university campus. TVP estimates that they will need 18 million USD for this project and the plan is to raise 3 million USD in donations by the second half of 2019 and another 15 million by 2022 (source).

-8 years ago, 200,000 USD was raised to write a movie script (thevenusproject.com), but this movie still has not been made (I think even the script still hasn’t been completed). I understand that there were difficulties with this movie script, but there will certainly be more difficulties with a ‘Center for Resource Management,’ and of course with an entire city and future network of cities. If TVP hasn’t been able to produce a movie script in so many years with $200,000 of donations, then I just cannot be confident that TVP will be able to build such an expensive ‘Center for Resource Management,’ let alone an entire city and a network of cities that are supposed to change the entire world.

I’m not saying that this is 100% impossible, but in order for people to take this project seriously, TVP needs much much more detailed information available to the public about the entire project. I don’t see any transparency on the website- how much money has been raised so far, what, exactly, has been done with this money, etc., the best I can see are some very vague graphs (source).

I learned a lot about TVP’s incompetence when I tried to communicate, collaborate and fix problems between the Russian-speaking team and the main organization. Sure, we were dealing with some complicated issues, however, building an $18 million center (and an entire city!) will inevitably be more complicated than running some social media pages, so there will certainly be more (bigger) problems ahead. If TVP already can’t handle problems, I can foresee this entire ‘building something’ as a disaster and a huge waste of time and resources. Again, if TVP had detailed transparent information about this project, then maybe I could change my mind (maybe).

2. Let’s forget about TVP’s incompetence for a moment and pretend like they really are capable of raising millions of dollars and building something. The next question that comes to my mind is:

Is it really worth it? In other words, is this plan likely to actually bring about the change we want to see in this world? More specifically, how will you ensure that the people living in these “experimental cities” are any different from “normal people” with “normal values” and shitty behavior?

– My main concern here is the influence of our global culture and society on the people living in TVP’s cities. Human behavior is extremely complex, and almost anything can influence the way you think and behave. If the people living in these experimental cities are not completely cut off from the outside world, they will inevitably be influenced by it. Even if the entire city was automated and self-sustainable, the internet will still surely continue to influence the people living in these cities.

– When I raised this question in the PoC chat, the replies I got were very vague. This is one example (you can read the whole discussion here if you’re interested):

“If my basic needs were met, meaning that if I had a home, food, water, and utilities at the ready for me; then you can absolutely say that my priorities would change. The whole reason for us working everyday is to be able to obtain and maintain the fulfillment of our basic needs. The shift in the paradigm of day to day living would change, people would start to focus more on their goals, hobbies, enjoyments, etc. Social media would most likely discontinue at some point, but you’re referring to a post-transition mentality.”

– In my opinion, maybe this could work in a small community living in such a great environment, however, I’m afraid that the more you scale it up, the more influence you will get from the outside, the harder it will be to control people, their influences, values and behavior. I’m afraid that having your needs met may not be enough to change most people’s values if they are still influenced by Facebook, Instagram, dumb YouTube videos and smart advertisements.

Other people brought up the Sociocyberneering Education Project (SEP)– TVP’s only educational course, saying that this course will be one of the important factors that influence the values and behavior of the people in TVP’s cities (or “Center for Resource Management”).

– If you happen to have read through the dozens of pages of discussions I had with Sue and Saso, you may have noticed this course come up as a topic of conversation. I also had discussions about the SEP with Roxanne and Theofilos, the guy that’s teaching the course.

I started talking to them about the SEP because Roxanne told the Russian-speaking team that they couldn’t post anything except direct translations of what was on the main TVP Facebook page or website onto their own social media pages, unless somebody in the Russian-speaking team had taken the SEP. I told Roxanne that I could take the SEP and share it with the team so they could translate and automate it. She didn’t seem so thrilled about that idea and she also said that the SEP was not available. – There is only one teacher of the SEP (Theofilos, a pilot from Greece) and back then (2017) there were only two people taking the SEP- Sue and Saso, and Theofilos did not have enough time to teach it to anybody else (plus there was a huge waiting list anyway). As far as I’m aware, no one has ever completed the SEP, even today.

– So again, I have very little confidence in this SEP since I’ve never heard of anyone completing it, the PoCs don’t seem to know much about it and there is very little information about it on the TVP website. If it’s so important then there should be plenty of information about the details and progress of this course available online.

But what concerns me the most about the SEP is not the lack of detailed information about it, but the aim of this course. The aim is not really to educate the general public, it is to create “mentors” who can accurately represent TVP.

This is a document I received from Theofilos when I proposed to automate the SEP. It says:

“The Sociocyberneering Education Project, is a carefully planned educational course attempting to achieve a particular aim. This aim is in summary: To have people who must be able to discuss and teach The Venus Project material comfortably and with no requirement of any guidance from a mentor or founder. The student must be completely autonomous with producing new material, arranging events, representing The Venus Project in interviews, debates, discussions and events.”

The fact that the aim of the SEP is to create “mentors” is scary in many ways. If you’re interested in reading more about this, see page 18 of this document.

Since the SEP is taught from person to person and seems quite inefficient (and there is very little information about it), I have very little confidence that it will have much impact on the people living in TVP’s center for resource management or experimental city.

But let’s pretend like TVP actually did create a fantastic course and most of the people living in this automated experimental city got to take it. You must realize that that’s still not enough!

Since humans are influenced by everything in their environment, it should be obvious that one course will not be significant enough to bring about a big change in the general population of an entire city. Yes, the people taking this course will be influenced by it, but 1- how can you ensure that everybody (or even most people) in this city takes this course? And 2- these people will not only be influenced by the course, they will also be influenced by their peers, their family, the social media they use, videos they watch, and surely by the internet and the outside world (unless you totally cut them off like North Korea :P ). Education and employment is by far not the only thing that influences your values and behavior.

More Problems

Now let’s go a little further- let’s pretend like TVP is able to build a super technological, automated and self-sustainable city with a great educational course for all its people. Most jobs are automated, the people are well educated and have the time and opportunity to focus on challenges, goals, projects, problem solving and hobbies.

I still see big problems:

Mainly- Resources

Even if this city is super efficient and self-sustainable, it will still require some resources from the outside world, therefore, it will still have to use money and trade with the outside world.

– People may need certain building material, software, new gadgets, healthcare specialists for rare diseases and many other things.

– This means that people will still need to use money, regardless of whether they’ve made money obsolete within the city. And that poses a dilemma: now the citizens of this city have to figure out a way to make some money, whether as a group or through individual jobs.

If these people are still concerned about how to earn money so they can get some stuff from the outside world, then I really don’t see how building an “experimental city” would change anything.

We can already see many examples of self-sustainable communities in our world- Kibbutz in Israel is one example that started off as self-sustainable communities that provided for most of the needs of its members, but because these communities were still influenced by the larger society and still dependent on the outside world for some resources, eventually, many Kibbutz members had to get jobs and basically just become “normal people” again. They wanted to change the world by example, but after a few decades, the world changed them instead.

TVP would be naïve to believe that they are exempt from the influences of the outside world, especially if they depend on it for some resources.

It’s important to understand that an RBE is nothing more than an idea.

Sure it’s a great idea, but unfortunately, that’s all that it is.

There have been many great ideas about how to better organize our society- technocracy, socialism and communism- were all nice ideas! But the implementation of all of these ideas was a whole other ballgame and, in every case, it was a great big failure.

See this documentary about the rise and fall of socialism and notice how the idea of socialism was never actually implemented:

The idea of a resource-based economy could never be “implemented” or demoed through experimental cities; and the structure of our global society has never changed through demoing a better way to organize itself. Instead, society changes through problem solving.

Take a look at any problem- transportation: how do we get from point A to point B quickly and efficiently? – This was a problem and people dealt with this problem by coming up with different solutions. People didn’t envision an entire world of airplanes, trains and self-driving cars, they took the problem and created solutions- horses, bikes, cars, etc., eventually these solutions evolved. Today there is by no means a great transportation system, but it surely is much quicker and more efficient than walking.

Another problem: how to connect people over long distances? Radio waves, then fiber cables and the internet, today we have satellites and other means. How to fix infectious diseases? Again, tons of solutions. Problems change our society.

And the change comes gradually almost all the time- through education + infrastructure. Ford didn’t demo how a society based on cars is better than one based on horses. Stallman didn’t showcase how a free and open-source software society could work, he started to create free and open source software and educate people about it.

So that’s the next challenge: Identifying the Problem

When I brought this up in the PoC chat, I realized that the PoCs didn’t have a unified agreement about the problem they were trying to tackle. I think that they generally agree that “the entire system” is the problem, but what does that really mean? What about the system is so problematic? Some said it was money, some named scarcity.

So let’s analyze these problems:

Money.

– Money is a medium that people use to store value and to trade goods and services. We can try to focus on getting rid of money, but since money is just a medium, other mediums can take its place without actually changing what it was used for. If you buy products with cryptocurrencies as opposed to traditional money, not much will change; if you trade your data instead of your money to use certain websites, there will still be problems; if money is replaced with social credits, this will solve nothing. By focusing on money, you ignore other mediums (trades) that could be used to replace money, but will not solve the actual problem.

But even if you forget about the previous paragraph and say that TVP wants to tackle the ‘core problem of money,’ how will this be achieved through TVP’s current plan? If there is still a need for the people in TVP’s “experimental cities” to buy some resources from the outside world, then you’ll still need to use money in the first city, and the second, third, hundredth, thousandth… and surely people will get corrupted by their need to use money. Society is extremely complex and TVP should not brush that aside too quickly.

Scarcity.

Jacque talked a lot about scarcity and some of the PoCs named it as the ‘core problem,’ saying things like:

“Trade and/or the use of money comes from scarcity, and scarcity can be real, created or perceived.”

I agree that scarcity is a problem; scarcity usually leads to shitty behavior (fighting/domination/etc.) or to the need to trade (which leads to an imbalance of power). However, I don’t think that trade and/or the use of money comes only from scarcity, since in today’s world, we do trade things that are not scarce at all.

Think about what’s actually scarce in our world- not much. Take any example- H&M – it makes an abundance of clothes! There is no real, created or perceived scarcity of clothes in our world, yet H&M convinces millions of people to buy more and more clothes because its main incentive is to trade (to make a profit). You can sell bottled water even in countries that have perfectly clean and abundant drinkable tap water.

We already produce an abundance of food- we throw away something like 40% of it, yet people are still starving to death. If you go to any supermarket you will notice that food is not scarce, it’s just that some people don’t have access to the food because in order to get access to food or almost anything else, you need to trade. You can trade money to get that food, you can maybe trade bitcoin, labor, sex, other products or anything else, but if you don’t have something to trade in return for the food that you require, then you might starve to death.

How about the internet? YouTube- it’s abundant! There are hundreds of hours of YouTube videos uploaded every minute. But YouTube collects data from you- that’s a trade and this causes problems. Same with Facebook- it’s abundant (and ‘money-free’) but is based on data trading.

There are more empty homes than homeless people, so that means we already have an abundance of homes, but people don’t have access to these homes because of the need to trade (not because there is scarcity). Same goes for electronics, transportation and almost everything.

Some people pointed out that it doesn’t matter if there’s an abundance of YouTube videos, apartments, clothes or any particular item because the reason that trade happens is because something else is scarce, and in this case, that something is money.

I can’t really disagree with that, so I would say that scarcity -in this sense- can be seen as the root cause of most of today’s problems. However, the issue with this scenario is that focusing on scarcity like this gives you a completely unrealistic problem to work with. If the abundance of any particular item/service is not enough to solve the problem of scarcity in this world, and you need an abundance of absolutely everything, including money and anything people might be persuaded to want, then what can you possibly do about this problem? Even the richest person in the world wouldn’t be able to solve such a problem today.

*Notice that I’m not talking about abundance in an RBE, but in today’s world.

And, again, how is TVP’s plan working towards solving this problem of scarcity? If there is still a need for the people in TVP’s “experimental cities” to buy some resources from the outside world, that means that scarcity still exists and human values and behavior will still be influenced by it.

In general, I think it’s a big red flag that TVP doesn’t have an aligned and detailed idea of the core problem their organization is trying to tackle. If you “have the solution” but you don’t know much about the problem, then your solution is nothing but a nice idea or fantasy. Compare this to the medical field- people with “solutions” but little knowledge of the problem are your shamans, chiropractors and spiritual healers. On the other hand, doctors who perform surgery or develop medicine for any specific disease have studied the disease in great depth- and that was how they arrived at a solution.

So what’s the problem then?

Well, we analyzed money, which is one medium of trade, and we analyzed scarcity, which usually leads to trade. Some people say that “ownership” is the problem, and although that could theoretically be true, again, there’s just not all that much you can do about this problem; that’s similar to saying that “imagination” is the problem, since we wouldn’t be able to use money or hoard much wealth without our imaginations :).

So let’s just choose one core problem that we can actually work with. How about trade itself. The entire structure of our global society is based on trades. You go to work to trade your time and skills for money, you trade that money for food, shelter and other things. You trade your attention and data to use platforms like Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, so they can trade this data for money; you may trade cryptocurrencies for goods or services; you may trade your freedom for a good social credit score or a passport. There are tons of other trades, and if you pay attention to this, you will notice that the more that something (or someone) is influenced by this “force of trade,” the more corrupted it tends to get.

Trade encompasses many other big problems (such as money) and it actually gives you something realistic to work with. If trade causes shitty behavior, then make trade-free stuff so that people are less dependent on trades. And also, don’t forget to educate people about the problem.

Remember, problems are solved gradually, through education + infrastructure.

A very interesting thing to note, by the way, is that if you manage to solve this “trade problem,” you will consequently solve the “money problem” and probably also the “scarcity problem” because when something is trade-free, it is usually also abundant.

This idea of pinpointing “trade” as the problem is well described in this book, so if you’re interested in all of this, I would recommend reading it. And don’t worry, it’s trade-free ;)

Conclusion

I feel like my “TVP journey” was really intense, but that’s not a problem because that’s usually what happens to me in life :D. I am very glad that I went through all of this because I learned a lot.

I learned that:

  1. Fresco’s ideas and the organization of TVP are two very different things.
  2. TVP (the organization) has a rigid hierarchical structure centered on Roxanne. Almost everything that goes on in TVP has to be approved by Roxanne, who is by no means an expert on everything.
  3. Many TVP people (especially “old-timers”) are so bad at communicating and collaborating with others that they actually contradict what they teach/ what Jacque used to talk about.
  4. Many TVP people are so emotionally attached to TVP that they will not question it (neither the ideas behind TVP nor the organization). I brought up topics like “how will the values of the people living in TVP’s experimental cities change if they are still influenced by the outside world” in the PoC chat before I left and some people replied that it was “inappropriate” to discuss this and/or TROM in the PoC chat. You can read my entire last discussion with the PoCs here.
  5. The aim of TVP’s only educational course (the SEP) is to create “mentors” rather than to educate the general public.
  6. TVP seems extremely incompetent and lacks transparancy in its projects; as a result, I doubt that they are capable of raising enough funds and building a multi-million dollar ‘Center for Resource Management,’ and later an entire city and network of cities.
  7. If they do manage to build anything, I doubt that it will have much of an impact on the world; most likely, the world will have a much bigger impact on it instead, making the whole project a huge waste of time and resources.
  8. TVP (the organization) seems to brush off the complexity of this society and its influence on human behavior.

*”TVP” refers to the main (English speaking) organization, not the Russian speaking team. The Russian speaking team is continuing to do what they can to popularize the work of Jacque Fresco.

Despite all of this, I still respect Jacque and the work that he did. I still see Jacque as a very inspirational character and I still agree with a lot of what he talked about. If I was in Roxanne’s shoes, I would forget about building anything, and instead would concentrate on educating the public about Jacque’s work. The most efficient way to do that would probably be through a free online platform.

However, the most important thing I can take away from this big long blog and my saturated experience with TVP and TROM is that society changes through problem solving, not through envisioning or demoing a better society. Realizing this was the last straw that made me see TVP and even the idea of a resource-based economy as irrelevant- and that was why I finally left TVP.

Maybe we don’t know how to solve these gigantic problems of trade, scarcity, money, ownership or whatever else, but if we can identify the problem, then we will at least be one step closer to solving it.

59 thoughts on “Why I Left the Venus Project

  1. Hi Sasha :)

    This is a very interesting and thought-provoking post, thanks for letting people know of your (mis)adventures with the Venus Project. I can sympathize all too well with what you went through, and I hope other potential TVP-volunteers read this post to get a better idea of what they’re getting themselves into by joining.

    I’d like to ask something regarding a particular passage you wrote, but I’m aware the topic has spawned some problematic discussions in the past, so I’d like to keep it short and simple if possible.

    You wrote: “(…) if you manage to solve this “trade problem,” you will consequently solve the “money problem” and probably also the “scarcity problem” because when something is trade-free, it is usually also abundant.”

    Does this quote not imply that the abundance of something is a precondition that must be fulfilled before it can be made trade-free? Looking at it from the other side, would it make sense to make something trade-free when it is scarce?
    I hope this doesn’t come off as a mere rhetorical question, I’m genuinely searching for a clarification.

    I agree with you that abundance is not enough. As you pointed out, there has to be at least a second component to the formula, namely the ability of people to access that abundance. Jacque talked about “access” to resources, while you talk about “trade-free” resources. Is there a difference between the two, or are they the same thing expressed in different words?

    Thank you for your answer :)

    1. Hey Rob, thanks for your comment and good questions! :)

      I would say that it would be hard (probably impossible for many things) to be made trade-free if they are scarce and I think that most of the time the abundance of something would be a precondition that must be fulfilled before it can be made trade free- so of course abundance is important, however, I think that you won’t solve problems just by making things abundant. Right now we have an abundance of almost everything but people don’t have access to that abundance because they need to trade to get that access.

      “Access” to resources, as opposed to “trade-free” resources is the same thing, just packaged differently :). But I think that the packaging is important because 1- it talks about the problem and 2- I think it clears up a lot of confusion in regards to what we actually have access to in our world (trade-free access I mean). Facebook is “free” (money free) and almost anyone has access to it, but it’s not trade-free because if you want to use Facebook, you have to trade your data and privacy for it. So this “trade-free” label hopefully will make people think a bit more about how they are able to access things. Do you have trade-free access to something or do you have access to something only if you trade your data, pay for it, or do something else in return for that access?

      And just another thought, I think that a trade-free good or service that’s not abundant is still better than nothing. One example of this is the service provided by Doctors without Borders- it’s limited by volunteers, equipment, etc., but they still provide a good trade-free service to people in need. They can’t solve everyone’s medical problems, but they do help some (millions actually) and those people don’t have to trade anything in return for that service.

      We’ve had a lot of discussions in TROM and elsewhere recently about this trade & scarcity topic, if anyone is interested in more info, here are some links: https://www.tiotrom.com/2019/07/why-trade-and-not-scarcity/ https://www.tromsite.com/videos/#fvp_62,2s https://www.tromsite.com/videos/#fvp_63,0s

      I hope that answers your questions :)

  2. “Think about what’s actually scarce in our world- not much. Take any example- H&M – it makes an abundance of clothes! There is no real, created or perceived scarcity of clothes in our world, yet H&M convinces millions of people to buy more and more clothes because its main incentive is to trade (to make a profit). You can sell bottled water even in countries that have perfectly clean and abundant drinkable tap water.” It seems like you don’t understand what is abundance. It’s not abundance if we have to pay for something… If we have to pay or trade our data, then it is artificial scarcity, but not abundance…. Abundance is if fruit trees grow everywhere enough for everyone, then no one can sell, buy, extort (gov taxation), generally steal or punish for it… :)

    1. Abundance means “a great or plentiful amount.” Just because something’s plentiful doesn’t mean that it can’t be traded. In the same way, just because something is traded doesn’t mean that it is artificially scarce. Artificial scarcity is when an item is purposely limited (made to be scarce) even though the company producing that item has the technological capability to create an abundant amount of that item. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artificial_scarcity But that’s not really what happens with most items in this world. Most items are not limited, they are abundant but people do not have access to that abundance without having to trade something for it (usually money). McDonald’s doesn’t limit how many hamburgers it produces, it produces an abundant amount of burgers but you don’t have access to those burgers unless you trade money for them.

      If fruit trees grow everywhere, enough for everyone, they will be abundant (in relation to how many people need fruit) and people may have trade free access to them because they are abundant and readily available. If someone claims that those fruit trees are theirs and wants to sell the fruit, people will not have access to the fruit unless they trade money (or something else) for it. The quantity of the fruit does not change, so the fruit would still be abundant, but people won’t have trade-free access to this abundance.

      Think about this- from a technological perspective, what is actually scarce in this world? Not much, right?

      Don’t forget that Jacque talked about the need to create abundance AND for people to have access to this abundance without money, barter, or servitude of any kind (i.e. without the need to trade anything). So let’s concentrate on the second part of this equation ;).

      1. You are wrong. Using wikipedia BS doesn’t make you right. It’s not abundance if we have to pay for something and that “abundance” doesn’t belong to all of us. If we have to pay or trade our data, then it is artificial scarcity, but not abundance. It’s not abundace if we can’t and just pick a free fruit. It’s not abundance, if some one or few people own “abundance” of fruit trees– it is artificial scarcity — meaning that someone has most or all of the resources, but restricts the access to that “abundance”.

        1. So what I’m saying is that you are talking about fake abundance. True abundance is when all of us have full free (incl trade free — it’s not free, if we have to surrender our data for capitalist for trading. with our data) access to abundance. :)

          1. lol that’s the definition of abundance, just look it up in any dictionary https://duckduckgo.com/?q=abundance+definition&t=ffab&ia=definition and it’s not only wikipedia that defines artificial scarcity that way- just look it up! :P. But regardless, let’s say we put definitions aside and go with your idea of “artificial scarcity”. Why is it that so much stuff is “artificially scarce” but not actually scarce from a technological and resource perspective? What’s in the way of us having access to all of this stuff? – Oh yeah, we need to trade something to have access to stuff.

          2. Come on… Are you going to use today’s bs and sick society’s dictionaries definitions of abundance and artificial scarcity…? :D Both of these terms are relative and more complicated than these bs dictionaries state… Abundance doesn’t mean great or plentiful amount and the condition of being in rich supply. More correct is to say relatively great or relatively plentiful and relatively rich… And the question is to who and how… So there is difference between abundance and abundance… and artificial scarcity and artificial scarcity… Abundance can be piled up by criminal corrupt capitalists like most of them are and today’s bs and sick society’s dictionaries ignore that it is artificial scarcity also that Earth’s resources are stolen, occupied, assimilated and piled up by some of the society who hold it in hostage and demands money… or totally corruptly think it is righteous. Just because some state made theft and piling up of the resources legal, doesn’t mean it’s righteous, but today’s bs and sick society’s dictionaries ignore that… So like I said the answer to your last questions is that capitalists hold resources in hostage and demand money… Sure we can give out services for totally free, but that most likely wont change world particularly much… The most rich capitalists most probably will not release most of the worlds resources from hostage… So it seems even TVP and other similar projects and TROM and other similar projects will not change much until here will be political support from majority of the people…

          3. I don’t think you should get so worked up over definitions. Sure the society is sick and language is super problematic, but definitions are just agreed-upon meanings of certain words. If the general definition of a word doesn’t express what you want it to mean, you should express what you want using more words, otherwise you’ll just make communication even more confusing and that won’t help you fix problems.

            “Capitalists hold resources in hostage and demand money” – right, so like I said- trade. A few people/companies hold resources and they demand that you trade (money) with them for those resources. Yes, this is a problem- exactly what we’re saying ;). Maybe giving out services for totally free is not the solution, I can’t say what is for sure the solution, all I’m saying is that the first step is to acknowledge the problem- this trade game.

            The reason I think that (maybe) creating trade-free goods and services could be a solution (if it was practiced by enough people and for long enough) is because (maybe) that could make the resources of those capitalists irrelevant. Right now, only a few hold most of the power, money and resources. How are they able to do this? Because the structure of our society allows them to hoard resources and demand the rest of the population to trade (money, data, crypto, etc.) to get access to those resources. As a result, they are able to acquire more and more wealth and resources, and the rest of the population gets fucked because they’re dependent on trading with these assholes. But if people had trade-free access to the resources that they need, then they wouldn’t be dependent on trading with those assholes :D. It’s just an idea, and actually, the most important part of this idea isn’t to have a “grand plan” to change the entire system, it’s simply to use trade-free goods and services to spread the message that trade is a problem. If the majority of people understood this problem, then maybe we could make some serious changes.

          4. It seems the biggest flaw about that idea is that we would still depend of services that cost money — electricity, water, food etc etc… And the most logical is to make that trade free in a whole community settlement…

          5. If those services costs money then they’re not trade-free, so that’s the flaw with the society that we live in, not the idea. If you can make all of those things trade-free in a community, that would be great :)

          6. That’s the idea of CfRM and even practice of other similar RBE transition projects to make services trade free.. ?

          7. If the idea was not only to make things trade-free, but to educate people about why trade is such a big problem, I’d be all for it ;)

          8. Imperative to define the words used, it might be worth making that a communication standard. Vagueness, ambiguity and cultural/regional variations can make a misunderstanding an argument when problem solving might be more beneficial or even intended. Lacking common definitions in any given conversation, why even bother to attempt, might as well rename The Venus Project to TVP Support and then not really care about anyone who doesn’t speak english. Isn’t human language fun? WTF?! This predation cannot be the only way for us to exist… right?

            My apologies, I’m just reading Sasha’s insight… assuming Sasha’s correct in her dissent, well needless to say I’m disappointed in Roxanne and Co. I have more questions… this just kinda pissed me off. No offense or insult intended

          9. haha well even if English is your native language, you might have no idea that “TVP Support” means ‘the Venus Project” support/activism

          10. Very true… I was merely pointing out and agreeing with you that human language tends to be problematic as evidenced above, if common definitions are not established during any given conversation. :)

  3. To say resource based economy is irrelevant (is absurd), is to say trade-free TROM is irrelevant, because trade-free is resource based economy… :D :)

      1. RBE is when people have access to resources without using money, trade etc. So TROM is partly RBE.
        And so your statement that RBE is irrelevant (you didn’t even explain and prove why is that so…) is still totally absurd, and even more so that there is no other comprehensive solution to all problems like RBE. If all the people would be doing similar thing like TROM — offering free and trade-free services, then that would be relatively rudimentary RBE, because of the chaos…, while TVP like RBE would be relatively highly advanced RBE… :)

        1. TROM is not “partly RBE”, TROM is just saying that we have a problem: trade. Now let’s see what we can do about this problem. If you want to discuss further about what is or isn’t TROM, feel free to join the public TROM chat or come to TROM Cast and talk to Tio and others. Find the links here under “participate”: https://www.tromsite.com/act/

          The reason that I said an RBE is irrelevant (for me) is because an RBE is just an inspirational idea. Sure, it’s a great idea, but that’s all that it is. For me, it’s important to understand how society changes- through problem solving- not through envisioning an entirely different world. There have been many great ideas about how to better organize society; sure, none of them were as complete as this idea of an RBE, but nonetheless, none of these ideas were implemented the way that they were envisioned. In the same way, I don’t think that an RBE will ever be implemented in the same way that it was envisioned (and I think Jacque talked about this too). So to me, understanding the problem (trade) and focusing on trying to solve this problem is much much more important and relevant than envisioning an entire different society that has solved this problem (no matter how wonderful that society may be). Again, bring it back to Tio’s germ analogy (from The Origin of Most Problems)- millions of people died from infections before they knew that germs existed, but once people learned that germs were a problem, they came up with all sorts of solutions to fix the problem. If a group of people had envisioned a world with no germs, that could be nice, but it wouldn’t fix the problem unless they actually studied the problem and tried to get rid of it. The people that came up with solutions (vaccines, antibiotics, soap, etc.) didn’t need to envision an entire germ-free world to do that, and they probably would have wasted a lot of time if they did concentrate on that. Same goes for trade and an RBE. If we understand that trade is the problem, then we don’t need to envision an entire trade-free world in order to try to solve this problem. That’s why an RBE is irrelevant for me. If TVP understood this trade idea and used their inspirational vision of an RBE to spread the message that trade is a problem, then perhaps it could be a bit more useful :P

          1. My mistake. I should have said that TROM is a publication that uses the most important resource based economy’s principles — price and trade free access to resources… But sadly it won’t change particularly much except for that people will be more educated about resource based free from money and trade etc economy… Center for Resource Management and other similar projects and ecovillages will change and solve he problems of society more than TROM like projects, unless TROM starts it’s own partial rbe ecovillage…, in my view. Due to todays global society’s chaotic structure, it’s relatively little help just by going free from trade… So it is still required that we build at minimum ecovillages similar to TVP designs and even more better cities similar to TVP designs, in cooperation with TVP and without. All of us don’t have to cooperate with TVP if it is possible and better due to some reasons to make another similar project…. Scientific method will help us to learn from all of these projects… And naturally we will unite… :)

          2. What is a partial rbe ecovillage and how would this solve problems?

            I agree that making trade-free stuff on a small scale wouldn’t do much in this society. Maybe if this trade-free idea was practiced by many people and for a long time, then it could have an effect. But again, the point of making trade-free goods and services is more about bringing attention to the idea that trade causes so many problems. In my opinion, education is much more important than infrastructure at this point (although you do need both in the long run). If your ecovillages or TVP-style cities will also bring attention to the problem, then go for it- do something, don’t just talk about it! :P

          3. RBE ecovillage or city similar to TVP would solve all the problems in the long run… It would allow for people to leave the current system and start the new… I really don’t understand why or how can you answer that kind of question… You are so concerned about trade free… RBE ecovillage or city similar to TVP and CfRM can be relatively trade free… Even TROM is asking for donations… So does TVP and any other npo etc while offering some stuff for free and partly without trade…

            Sure it wouldn’t and I would agree that the more people offer services for free and without any trade would make the transition into RBE that is tradless world more painless and the job of TROM about the point about trade is relatively helpful, but if we don’t unite in smaller and bigger scale, then that effort will only make the chaotic system relatively better.
            Of course there needs to be education before anything can be practiced… But surely you don’t want to live in this absurd chaotic system offering free and tradeless services while we could build TVP style automated cities…?

            If I will build ecovillage (relative term…) it will be relatively hi-tec… and that’s why I went to learn telematics and smart systems… So if the time is right I will build and participate in some project to plan and build RBE settlement and I don’t rule out contributing for the CfRM. :)

          4. I’ve been working with TVP for several years and I fully supported this idea of “let’s build the new”. Up until I wrote the TVP Magazine Special edition “The Money Game and Beyond” and doing a bit of research about ideas that tried to change the society and why they failed. I thought I can see a difference in TVP. After all I managed their official magazine and was trying to be supportive to them and bring some explanations to the table. I realized that TVP or any other such grandiose idea are great for inspirational purposes but that’s mainly it. The society doesn’t change like that, by building “new cities” and that to inspire the world to migrate to this “new”. Society changes in small steps, and mostly when you focus on a problem. We explain it in detail in The Origin of Most Problems book that Sasha links to.

            I also remember that Jacque used to hate “ecovillages”, and such RBE “communities”. They are not TVP he said many times. TVP was more about the problem (money), than any city, from my understanding. And I wrote a lot for and about TVP that Jacque himself checked and many times congratulate me for understanding TVP so well. I know now TVP wants to build cities to prove something, but they were not able to create a movie, so I am skeptical they can build a city. Plus, if they forget to focus on the problem rather than on a solution, then they will quickly loose focus and aim.

            TROM and donations….we talked about this so many times. That is not a trade. It is a gift. A support. TROM promotes and creates trade-free services. If TVP were to be smart and understand what the problem is they would focus on trade as the problem and say that their cities are an attempt to showcase how a world without trade is possible.

            If you understand that trade is the source of most problems you go ahead and build ecovoillages that do not rely on trades between them and the inhabitants. Or do other such services. Even your ecovillage is part and inside of this same system that our trade-free services are part of. You cannot separate yourself from that. My “hope” is that the more we educate people about this “evil” force of trade and also create trade-free goods and services, the more chances we have to see big changes.

          5. CfRM and ecovillages and other similars are relatively small steps…
            Hate seems to be too strong world. If anything he was little bit jealous that some people actually live relatively without trade, but he mostly talked about it.. ? Of course ecovillages are not TVP but relatively similar to RBE..
            Sure I would agree that TVP has not explained enough the thing about trade, but even their definition of RBE says world without barter etc.. Barter is synonymous to trade..
            Of course we all are part of this trade world and no one can donate anyone anything without money that comes from trade..
            But I very much agree with your hope. I would add that CfRM and ecowillages etc are to educational.. ?

          6. If TVP would say a similar thing like you do, and see their RBE approach as an antidote to the problem named “trade” and it aims to educate the world about the problem and solutions to it, then they would be more realistic I’d say. I don’t see that from TVP. Jacque indeed talked about “barter” or “any servitude” being the “evil” incentives and approaches we should aim to avoid, but throwing a bunch of words like “barter, money, servitude”, etc., makes it more confusing I’d say. Trade encompasses them all. In the end, if we understand that “trade” is at the base of all of today’s major societies and “it” incentivizes people to create most of the problems we see today, then we will seek to fund solution to this “trade”. that could mean new cities (as models), services, goods, education, etc..

          7. It seems to me that if we do not find or create a path to transition away from barter/trade which essentially birthed modern capitalism, that path will be forced upon us all when the money economy collapses, and it will, under its own grotesque weight or the disparity becomes so unbearable the masses resort to violence like every single human attempt to persist through capitalism in history. Like the violence capitalism drives in war alone isn’t incentive enough already,…?

          8. I doubt the monetary system will collapse. I see no evidence for that. It will morph and hurt people. If you call that a collapse, ok, but I don’t see how that pain is different from today’s constant pain that so many accept and endure. I cannot see a “transition”. There was no transition from proprietary software to open source software, from horses to cars, from generalized medicine to personalized medicine. It is a constant movement. Many changes over many years.

          9. With all due respect Sasha, such evidence is easily discovered. Historically, every single human society which has existed and developed a barter/trade —> money economy, (which seems to be nearly all significant societies thus far), every one of them, has failed because their monetary system was unsustainable, eventually currencies became worthless, they ran out of resources and had nothing to trade. No matter the details, all societies have failed directly or indirectly because their money failed.

            Summary Examples:
            The following article talks about the end of six different civilizations;
            https://www.history.com/news/6-civilizations-that-mysteriously-collapsed
            In each of these examples, the loss, overuse and depletion of resources is a contributing factor for societal demise. Resources being the the currency of barter/trade societies, one could say that their “monetary” systems collapsed rendering that society unable to carry on.

            The Roman Empire ultimately succumb due to their currency losing its worth to the point it was displaced by neighboring societies. Source: https://www.ushistory.org/civ/6f.asp

            The Ancient Greek society “could not sustain long-run growth because a multitude of independent small city-states prevented the exploitation of economies of scale and stoked continual wars that exhausted them financially and militarily, and because of a culture valuing landholding, self-sufficiency and collectivist attitudes.”

            Source: https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/journal-of-institutional-economics/article/failure-of-ancient-greek-growth-institutions-culture-and-energy-cost/096D382C1EF128430249293D95B5AB70
            The above paper can be downloaded free on Sci-Hub; sci-hub.tw/10.1017/S1744137418000188

            The modern money economy, arguably a form of capitalism, is and always has been, unsustainable. Not only environmentally, as most seem to relate the term unsustainable to environmental issues, it is fundamentally unsustainable because in order to function, capitalism requires endless and constant growth of the economy. Our world is a finite one,

            A crash summary of why… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ve_bHsscQQE
            and a more technical explanation, albeit dated from 2012, of currency failure…
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18LYC-bQfeY
            a more entertaining explanation of how/why systemic monetary collapse is inevitable in this paradigm…
            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mII9NZ8MMVM

            … well amidst writing this, the Governor of my state just announced an Executive Order mandating the closure of public gathering places and businesses due to Coronavirus. As I am a proponent of calm awareness and understanding, I’m compelled to be sharing this information. Please excuse me while I do so… I will return to make sure my comment isn’t completely incoherent. Thanks.

            Hopefully my point in commenting comes through… it seems that our money’s collapse is quite obvious with just a quick survey of the world around us.

          10. That was Tio, not me :) But I think what Tio means is that he doesn’t see the collapse of the entire global trade-based (“monetary”) system, not the collapse of certain tribes or economies. Different civilizations have “collapsed” (or morphed) in the past but did they ever stop trading with each other? Did they stop using money? Not as far as I know. I’m sure that things will get worse and more people will suffer, but I’m not sure that would make the trade-based system collapse. I’m sure that people will keep on trading using money (or whatever else), and things will probably just get worse and worse as climate change and a billion other problems hit us. Bright future :D I agree with you that all of this is unsustainable. However, the only “solution” I can see right now is to first understand the problem (and then try to solve it). Tio did a great job describing the “trade” problem that I talked about in this blog here: https://www.tromsite.com/books/#dflip-df_6562/1/

            Money is just a medium that we use to trade (you trade many hours of your life for money, you trade money for food, clothes, housing, etc.) but money is not the only trade in our system. If the “monetary system” morphed into a different system that was still based on trades (like say a social credit system) we would still see the billions of problems that exist in our society today.

            So I also don’t think that the “collapse” of the trade-based system will happen (maybe the monetary system will morph into something else but that won’t solve problems). More likely, bad things will happen and we will continue trading (using money, data, social credits, etc.). Resources will probably eventually get more scarce, but we will continue trading them. Maybe certain groups of humans will die in large numbers and some might call that a “collapse” but we will continue trading… So in my opinion, if you want to make a better world, you shouldn’t wait for any collapse, but instead should understand the problem (what’s wrong with the world in the first place?), tell other people about this problem, and work to try to fix it. I recommend the book I linked to ;)

  4. It sounds to me like we need a single point of truth for our official groups and sites. I suggest having a directory on the main website to list the support groups run by TVP.

      1. Hmm, this is weird.
        You mentioned how they were grouped under languages, to eliminate unneeded divisions, but they seem to be a hodge-podge of language-based groups, country based groups(even if they share the same language), and sometimes even US state-based groups.

        I think they just made the whole thing ad-hoc, in response to the Zeitgeist Chapters, and scrounged up whatever groups they could.

        1. Yeah that’s true “TVP Support” (previously TVP activism) is just a huge mess altogether. I’ve told them many times that they shouldn’t separate themselves based on currently existing political borders but should only have different teams for different languages so that the content is understood, but no one seemed to pay much attention to that. Except the Russian-speaking team- who was doing that already. That’s the one team that has one page for one language and does not divide itself by countries or states. The team is run by many Russian-speaking people (some Russian, some Ukrainian, some Kazakhstani, Azerbaijan, etc.) and appeals to anybody that understands that language. They’ve been telling “TVP Support” to do that for years but unfortunately nobody listens.

  5. You really nailed it with how focusing on money is stupid, since it’s just a medium of exchange between actors with products of varying abundances.
    But that’s easy for the regular folk to understand(“money is evil!” and we all hate billionaires), and if Fresco started talking about abolishing the division of labour, and collectivising natural resources, land, factories and tech, it would have shown that his resource-based economy is thinly-veiled communism with a new paint job, and some mainframes.

  6. IN MY UNDERSTANDING, YOU DO NOT LIKE THE STRUCTURE OF TVP – BUT NOT THE IDEA OF TVP, WHICH IS A MONEYLESS SOCIETY. AM I RIGHT? I AM AN ADVOCATE OF MONEYLESS SOCIETY OR RBE.

    1. I think it’s a great inspirational idea and Jacque talked about a lot of very important things, but I feel like TVP doesn’t go far enough because they don’t address trade as the problem- and that was what I wrote about in this blog, and also why I linked to this book: https://www.tromsite.com/books/#dflip-df_6562/1 A society that uses no money but is based on other trades (say social credits or something else) will likely be no better than today’s society (it could be much worse actually).

      1. Sasha, of course TVP has addressed barter/trade as a problem: “Specialists are produced today due to the established trade-based systems.”
        https://www.thevenusproject.com/multimedia/jacque-fresco-problem-solving/
        “The term and meaning of a Resource-Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic social and economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter (equals trade) or any other system of debt or servitude.”https://www.thevenusproject.com/multimedia/the-venus-project-resource-based-economy/
        But I would agree that it is too little mention and yes TROM has focused more on it and it is very appreciated. ?
        You might be interested of this: “The funds will be used to:
        1.) further convert Jacque Fresco’s lectures into a more accessible form
        2.) begin engaging scholars to perform formal research on our behalf” https://www.thevenusproject.com/soul-campaign/

        1. Yes Jacque talked about all of those things- the use of money, credits, barter, any other system of debt or servitude- which are all trade (by trade, I mean any means of exchange, not just barter), and maybe Jacque’s mentioned the word “trade” in a lecture or two, but I don’t see TVP focusing on trade as the problem, or even being open to understanding this concept. I had a super long conversation with the PoCs about this before I left the chat and nobody seemed to get it. Someone even said that it was inappropriate for me to talk about this and/or TROM in the PoC chat. When I asked them what they thought the main problem of the structure of the society was, some of them said money, others said scarcity, and others said that the problem wasn’t so important because they “have the solution.”

          Maybe if Jacque was alive, he would be open to understanding this idea, since it was basically what he was talking about. But unfortunately, he’s not around anymore and the ones left in TVP just repeat what he used to say and they don’t build upon any of his ideas, as far as I can see.

  7. Jacque wanted us to declare all world resources to all the people of the world. No one owns anything, and He never wanted to build an city in monetary system as far as I know. He wanted to talk to people first and get them to agree to the direction. He also mentioned that Never in our society that we thought about a future direction that we need to take to avoid the problems, we always react to problems which is just not optimal.

    1. Building a city is a part of TVP’s plans, you can see it here: https://www.thevenusproject.com/the-venus-project/aims-and-proposals/ “Phase 4: Experimental Research City & Network of Cities”
      “A circular city would be a transitional phase and could evolve from a semi-cooperative money-oriented society to a resource based economy…”

      I don’t think the problem is that people react to problems, I think the problem is that in this society, people almost never dig deep enough to the root of the problems they react to. They think that corruption is a problem, so as a reaction they make more laws that don’t work, rather than asking “why is corruption a problem?” “is it because of human behavior?” “what causes human behavior?” “is it the environment?” “what is it about the environment that causes humans to behave in a corrupt manner?” “how can we change that?” etc.
      Jacque was also reacting to problems, but what I liked about him was that he thought much deeper about where these problems come from.

  8. Hi,

    I can see your point. I’m into TVP since 2009 and saw the same problem with hierarchical structures and people that are not far away from todays
    values and it often didn’t fit with the values that Fresco talked about. I still support the ideas of TVP and talk to people about them but I can’t support all the people who manage it today.
    Trade is of course the basic problem that Tio is focusing with TROM and I still have the original TVP maganzines he wrote. Very good work.
    Nevertheless I think the ideas of TVP are still the best bet, because it is a good starting framework for a better society. We actually don’t have any better framework, at least that I’m aware of.
    Last thing I want to say is about your concerns that people get influenced by the world today when they life in an experimental city,
    even if they know directions like TVP, TROM and so on. I can say for me at least it is hard to get back to old values completely,
    even if you need a job for a living because of the society we have today.
    So maybe an experimental city or campus could be a waste of time and ressources but we don’t know that till we tried such a project.
    And if it fails we should learn about what was not working instead of saying that was a bad idea overall.

    Greetings Stephan

    1. Hey Stephan,

      You can find all the TVP magazine articles that Tio wrote on tromsite as well :) https://www.tromsite.com/books/

      I think TVP has many great ideas, including a great idea about a framework for a better society, but as I wrote in this blog, unfortunately, all of this is nothing more than an idea. And you can’t just “implement” an idea about how to better organize society without understanding the problem of your current society. Like, how is today’s society organized in the first place? Why is this a problem? etc.

      If you understand the problem, then you can try to tackle it in many different ways. Some ways may work, some may fail. Maybe an “experimental city” could be useful, but only if the people living in that city understood the problem and aimed to solve it.

      1. Money is the root cause of all the problems directly or indirectly. This monetary system creating more problem than solution.

        1. I agree with the second sentence, but I think you can take the first sentence one step further.
          Ask yourself, “what is money, anyway?” Money itself means absolutely nothing. On its own money is nothing but some pieces of paper or numbers on a computer screen. The harm that you see (like corruption and much more) is not created by the money itself, but by the action that money is being used for.

          As I wrote in this blog, – Money is a medium that people use to store value and to trade goods and services. We can try to focus on getting rid of money, but since money is just a medium, other mediums can take its place without actually changing what it was used for. If you buy products with cryptocurrencies as opposed to traditional money, not much will change; if you trade your data instead of your money to use certain websites, there will still be problems; if money is replaced with social credits, this will solve nothing. By focusing on money, you ignore other mediums (trades) that could be used to replace money, but will not solve the actual problem.

          So I would say that trade is the root cause of most problems directly or indirectly, rather than money.

  9. Hi Sasha, This was a well articulated and very informative read. I was researching cycle and resource based economies when I stumbled upon TVP. There’s honestly just so many issues with the world currently but most stem down to money. After reading your blog, I realized that it’s more to do with trade and the solution is to problem-solve through education+infrastructure. This read gave me a lot of hope as I discovered an individual such as yourself, who is so passionate about change and solving big problems with the world. I admire your journey and hope you continue to do great work in the future with the same dedication and spirit. Best wishes!

  10. This post was enlightening, as well as the discussions in the comments! Gave me clarity about where to direct focus and energy: pinpointing a specific and clear problem, spreading awareness of it, and finding incremental ways to solve it. Good point about all enormous changes being a result of small, incremental solutions to immediate problems rather than a grand unveiling of an entirely new, intricately planned system. It’s easy to dismiss such analysis as not applying to such a large change as the Venus Project is seeking… but if we look back at any of those situations (e.g., transportation and communication and electric power in the early 1900’s), it would have been similarly easy to dismiss the solutions we have today as being impossible to realize without a grand, comprehensive plan (such as a pre-planned network of roads across the country, a planned global satellite network for communication, telephone lines, etc.).

    1. Thanks Cameron, nice to hear that you understand my point :) I guess people really like to “picture” a better world as an entire package. Maybe in the 1900’s some people pictured an entirely different world with a grand plan for transportation or communication. Would that picture resemble the world that we live in today? Probably not. That’s because society is extremely complicated. -it’s important that we don’t brush that aside.

  11. Hm, interesting text. And a long one :). I am not a big fan of long blogs like this, because I find it harder to get the universal point/message of the author. So, without much more words, is your point that the ideals and proposals of TVP (or Jacque’s ideas if you wish) are excellent, but the organization itself (people currently managing it) is not up to the task in terms of organization, implementation, education and in particular – idea’s advancement?

    What I mean by idea’s advancement is basically one of Jacque’s most important principles of his lifetime: Constant upgrade, change and hopefully betterment of the idea with new scientific and technological discoveries and advancements in most practical and logical ways. Even you mentioned that, in slightly different expression. You’ve said: Building upon his ideas.

    If that’s your point, even remotely, then I agree. I think that since Jacque’s death in 2017, TVP proposals weren’t upgraded very much. Maybe, I repeat, maybe I’ve missed something, and maybe there wasn’t big need, for now. Perhaps they are much more concentrating on funds for that infamous Center for Resource Management. But still that’s not excuse, it’s not very much in accordance with what Jacque was talking about, it’s not what TVP is about, and it’s extremely unlikely that during last few years there weren’t at least some new and potentially useful scientific discoveries which they could use and implement into the overall design to make it better.

    I’ve myself tried to become a volunteer, I’ve passed tests (quiz) quite easily, but in the last moment I’ve changed my mind. After detailed research I became a little bit disillusioned. This text of yours was just a confirmation. I was disillusioned not with the ideas and overall concept/proposals, nor with Jacque, but with the flawed organization. I had my doubts when I first got to know about TVP, I got my doubts about the organization and its efficiency, all that when my opinion about them was at its highest, but after my findings (pretty much 90% of your criticisms here) I’ve come to the final conclusion that Jacques ideas (RBE and other things) are truly and unquestionably worth studying, advancing and advocating, but it would be better and much more useful for me, hopefully for them and all of us :) that I remain on the sideline, to be a big, sincere, open but at the same time objective and independent supporter and advocate of TVP, not under the umbrella of the organization and volunteer team, both of which are managed by a good percentage of people who are, as you said “normal” people with “normal” values or way of thinking. Uneducated about what TVP/RBE is really about. Some of them, are even groosly incompetent. TVP is stagnating because of them. Sad reality is, as you’ve said: “The ones left in TVP just repeat what he (Jacque) used to say and they don’t build upon any of his ideas”.

    Sad but for now true, at least as far as we know. That way they are indirectly but essentially making religion or ideology out of TVP, which is the worst and the most erroneous thing they could do.

    Roxanne is not particularly incompetent, she is smart, very educated in many fields, but there shouldn’t be any hierarchy or authority, with or without her at the top. She should enjoy the respect from others as one of the founders, and should be notified, consulted about new ideas and asked for the opinion, but nothing more than that. Personal opinions after all, are essentially worthless if it is scientifically clear that the idea/proposal works.

    I do have one objection to your writing. I think you are too much underestimating the usefulness of the so called “grand, hollistic idea” approach. I’m not saying that it is the right or totally possible way, far from it, I agree that the world is changing in very small steps, by identifying individual problems and their roots and solving them. Jacque did emphasize that. His new world would actually be revolutionary in a sense that it would actually by itself encourage problem solving and constant learning. That would be the essence of that new civilization/society. He often said that if the “transition” ever happens, he was almost totally sure that world would be far from identical to his designs or assumptions. He said his project was just a basic framework – new beginning or new starting point for a new society and on global level. If his ideas are ever to be established with the level of success he had hoped for, it is very probable that that new “TVP world” would be, visually at the very least, incomparably more advanced and different than what we know today as The Venus Project in just few years after that “transition” comes to an end (if it ever comes to an end).

    I’m also under the impression that their “4 stage plan” for slow transition (evolution) is going to work only under some conditions. The one is that the first ever experimental city-university survives long enough to stand on its own feat and actually succesfully presents all advantages of that new RBE lifestyle. The other, is that they right know invest much more of their resources into education, but, as you said, not into mentor-making. For the success of the city, I believe it is essential that people who will first try to live in that city are honest supporters but at the same time objective and educated about the potential or prospects of that undertaking. It is not enough to “love” or even worse, “worship” TVP. Jacque was clear that he didn’t want that. Unquestioniably worshiping TVP/RBE that happens today is undesirable and bad for the project itself. Jacque wanted to be questioned as hardly as possible. To him, the biggest blessing would be if someone asked him the question about TVP that he couldn’t properly answer. Again, about experimental city, as an inhabitant, you should support the cause, but be scientifically educated, as objective as possible, truly understand TVP’s philosophy and most importantly, be ready for everything – potential failure, success etc…

    As Stephan Sauerwald here said, if that city fails, it should be thoroughly analyzed why it failed, how it failed, mark the advantages it had and try again, but differently, with new knowledge, instead of simply giving up and saying how it was a bad or nearly hopeless undertaking as you seem to say.

    Btw, I must admit I didn’t know about this other project TROM, I will look it up and see what its about. From your words, I’ve understood that it’s something like a fraternal twin sibling project to TVP (in my country Serbia, fraternal twins are called two-eged twins), which is understandable since as you’ve said the founder was in TVP and is therefore heavily influenced by it. But as the main difference, it concentrates on limited number of problems with much more detail and insight, if I’m not mistaken.

    Best wishes, Lazar

    1. For someone that doesn’t like long blogs, that sure was a long comment :P

      To answer your question, I think that most of Jacque’s ideas are really great but the organization TVP is very poorly managed in my opinion and even contradicts some of Jacque’s ideas. In particular, two things that you mentioned here: “Constant upgrade, change and hopefully betterment of the idea with new scientific and technological discoveries and advancements in most practical and logical ways.” and “making religion or ideology out of TVP” Jacque wanted to be questioned, as you said, but the people in TVP don’t question anything that Jacque used to say or anything that Roxanne says (and they don’t really allow anybody else to do that either within the organization). That’s my perspective anyway, sadly.

      And the other point was that I don’t think they really understand what they’re fighting against. Some say that “money” is the problem, some say “scarcity” – I went over this in this blog. Some say “the entire system”- which, trust me, I agree with, but you kinda need to think deeper. Ask, what is it about the entire system that’s so fucked up? The fact that it’s based on profiting at the expense of everything else? Well what allows people to profit? Those are the kind of questions that we ask at TROM and after a ton of research, we came to the conclusion that this entire global society is based on the need to trade (I have to go to work to trade my time and energy for money, I have to trade money for food, clothes, shelter and anything else I want. I trade my privacy/data to use Facebook, Facebook trades this data for money. And so on) and this is a problem. You can read about this idea in detail in the book I linked to https://www.tromsite.com/books/#dflip-df_6562/1/ – and that’s the main idea behind the TROM project.

  12. Wow , this blew my mind away , that someone else thought about the trade and problem solving just like me , I’m speechless , I’m a 22 year old person who just lost the last hope I had of RBE fully , what do you Suggest I do , should I become a capitalist myself and watch the world burn or should I focus on problem solving that no one cares and starve , your answer will he life changing for me!!!

    1. Haha definitely don’t become a capitalist :D That’s really great that you’ve been thinking the same about trade and problem solving! Super happy to hear that! :) You’re always welcome to participate in or get in touch with us at TROM – this idea about trade and problem solving is the core idea of this project. You can see http://www.tromsite.com We also have a big book about this subject: https://www.tromsite.com/books/#dflip-df_6562/1/ So maybe we’re just a few people but we do care ;) but don’t starve either! I made a page that explains how I manage to not starve, maybe it would help :) https://www.bigworldsmallsasha.com/traveltips/

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