What is the Zeitgeist Movement?
The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement many thanks for bringing up what only a few years ago was perceived as obscure and peripheral ideological leanings closer to the mainstream of society. The Zeitgeist films have been seen by tens of millions of people, and The Zeitgeist Movement today enjoys hundreds of thousands of followers. That is an impressive development, given that TZM is hardly six years old.
Yet, despite that TZM by far has become the largest organisation advocating the stream of theories to which we - amongst others - are adhering to, we have decided to not formally join them despite what could be seen as obvious benefits. The purpose of this article is to outline where we are disagreeing with The Venus Project and The Zeitgeist Movement, as well as discussing my personal impressions of what The Zeitgeist Movement today could be properly defined as.
Zeitgeist - The Films
Without understanding the two Zeitgeist Films, "Zeitgeist the Movie" and "Zeitgeist: Addendum", it is not possible to understand the sudden and unexpected rise of The Zeitgeist Movement. Other factors did of course weigh in. No matter where you stand on the political spectrum, it is impossible to not admit that the second term of George W Bush saw a gradual erosion between the political establishment and large segments of the population. This underlying sense of alienation transferred itself from criticism of what many perceived to be an inept administration into an assault and severe questioning of the core values of the established society in America.
Zeitgeist the Movie was originally intended as an experiment, which the film-maker Peter Joseph never intended to broadcast openly. When the film was leaked, it immediately became very popular due to its criticisms of what many - Americans and lots of other people - believed to be "holy cows" of the establishment. The first movie focused on criticising christianity, questioning 9/11 and trying to deconstruct the mythical qualities of money.
While the first film didn't correspond to the creation of a mass-movement, it spurred vibrant discussions in nearly every internet community and even beyond to the real life society. During the period between the first and second film, Peter Joseph became accustomed to The Venus Project through his documentary film-maker colleague William Gazecki, thus prompting an inclusion of a chapter on The Venus Project in the second film, Addendum, which premiered in late 2008.
Addendum is a much more elaborate and detailed documentary than the first Zeitgeist film. It begins with a damning criticism of the central banking system of America, as well as actions undertaken by contractors in Third World nations. Then, it showcases The Venus Project - an organisation previously not that well-known - as an alternative to the dysfunctional system we have today.
The Venus Project was originally a splinter group from Technocracy Incorporated, which Fresco left at an early stage due to disagreements with chief engineer Howard Scott.
At the end of Addendum, Joseph offers the viewer some practical advices on how to be able to overcome the current system, of which the last one - number six - is to "join the movement", thus advocating a form of collective action previously not seen in the earlier film - which focused on individual enlightenment. Thus, it could be said that Zeitgeist - which started off as yet another diverse faction within the underground - became an effective movement by the time Addendum was launched.
The Zeitgeist Movement is defining itself as "the activist wing of The Venus Project", meaning that it is existing to advocate for the ideals espoused by TVP. A third movie, Zeitgeist III: Fear or Love, is scheduled to premiere in October this year, and would subsequently focus almost exclusively on TVP.
It is hardly surprising that The Zeitgeist Movement, given the Big Bang-conception it originally underwent before any organisation was in place, is marred with tendencies. A quick walkthrough through their forums is giving the impression that the forum is really rather a political forum with a focus on alternative thoughts, than a forum belonging to a unified ideological current.
TZM has thousands of presumptive members and what appears to be an insufficient organisation to keep the focus on the goals for all members.
Yet, no one could deny that the association with for example the 9/11 Truth Movement is hurting TZM, which is risking to be permanently associated with a current that won't achieve anything. The reason why truthism is a failure, is that it - not unlike the Phoenix model - is assuming that information is enough to get people activated and out in the streets. I will not reiterate my earlier criticism here, but advices anyone who would contest my claim about the inefficiency of truthism to check up this article.
As long as new agers and truthists are allowed to roam freely on the TZM forums and to organise within TZM, there is a profound risk that they could corrupt the goals of the movement and render it ineffectual. At the same time, there are many movements within TZM which must be said to be very benevolent and necessary, and we would always leave the door open to cooperation with TVP and with segments of the TZM movement which do not condone new age or truthism.