What about “Democracy” in an R.B.E.M.? by Peter Joseph

What about “Democracy” in an R.B.E.?

[Originally posted in Aug 2011's TZM Newsletter]

Before we begin, the subject of social participation in an R.B.E. is extensive, and to those unfamiliar with other discussions of this issue in our materials it can seem complex and foreign. It isn’t the scope of this essay to be definitive as it would be substantially long. The following presents a basic overview along with select points for consideration.

The participatory structure of an R.B.E. is very different from what we know today. While the system of social involvement in the current model (for most countries) is given the title of “democratic”, a thorough review of these traditional practices and effects tends to find that the so-called “democratic process” we see in the so-called “free nations” of the world is really a misleading notion.

A common point made within The Zeitgeist Movement is that our social problems are, in fact, “technical” and not “political”. Poverty, war, educational imperatives, starvation, cancer, energy scarcity, unemployment and the like do not exist as “political” issues in reality, even though they are generally addressed as such.

They are, in fact, technical by nature and hence each issue can only be resolved by a technical/physical solution. This goes virtually without exception when one is able to see past the cloud of distracting political noise and hence “opinionated” rhetoric coming from both the hardened public norms and archaic political machine - stubborn “baggage” from our ongoing social evolution.

Social Engineer Jacque Fresco was the first to ask me, when the subject of “democracy” was brought up, “Did you vote for the wars? Did you vote for the president’s cabinet? Did you vote for the space program?”, etc. His point is very simple: In the current system, we don’t vote for anything but other people - politicians, to be exact - who also are often devoid of any applicable technical skill set.

It is worth noting that politicians who are voted in today also have no legal obligation to fulfill any of the “promises” they made to the public when running for office, and they can usually only be removed from their positions when their term ends. This can take years. So, to say we live in a “democracy” is quite a stretch from the standpoint of the public actually contributing to society in a meaningful, active way.

Furthermore, politicians, along with everyone else, are “victims of culture”. We cannot consider the integrity of any human without considering the integrity of the environment within which they were raised and live. The reinforcement mechanisms of that environment generate and amplify intent and motivation. This understanding, when considered in detail, explains why those in positions of power within the current social system lend themselves consistently to monetary and power-oriented corruption. It is rewarded, reinforced and invariably needed to sustain select groups and their values.

Remember, generally speaking, the human being is no different than most other animals on this planet, as we are governed by certain laws of nature which facilitate our survival. Evolution has made it clear that animal behavior, and hence human motivation, is largely a direct, learned consequence of external conditioning and reinforcement. (Please note that we are not denying genetic or biological attributes here. There is no “blank slate”. We are simply pointing out the minor relevance they have when it comes to specific human thought, active referential experience, values and hence so-called “moral” or “amoral” decision making.)

For example, as a child, we might innocently stick our finger into a flame and get a painful burn. This operant conditioning typically secures the understanding that “fire burns and causes pain” and hence we learn to stay away from touching fire. This basic "organism to environment” interface has come to be known by modern psychology as likely the most critical factor in human behavioral expression.

Sadly, however, it still isn’t given the social weight it deserves, for to view ourselves and each other as extensions or products of a given culture and environment is to detach from the traditional “freewill” and “genetic predisposition” theories which often ignore the environment as a relevant factor of any given human behavior. These implications are like saying a tree is “guilty” of destroying a house it falls on ... after it is hit by lighting.

In other words, it irrationally puts the blame on the individual and dismisses the environment. In fact, this is how the entire American legal system intrinsically operates, for example, as it imprisons more and more people every year, ignoring the circumstances which generate their behaviors. So, given this physical reality, coupled with the self-serving, socially Darwinistic values reinforced by today's global social system of open market competition - we find that humans acting as “political officials” are really little different from board members of a corporation in mentality. They operate on the same basis of self-preservation and financial influence. If they didn’t, for example, monetary “lobbying” would be illegal. It isn’t, because money is the ultimate facilitator and government as we know it is really a business, in part.

It is often erroneously assumed that government is more powerful than the corporate/monetary establishment. This is naïve and illogical. Government can only operate through the monetary system and hence it is equally as subservient to the imposed structure as the individual. This is why we hear the words “moral” and “ethical” within the political sphere constantly. Such notions become moot when the “reinforcers” of this causal behavior are taken into account. These reinforcers ensure that monetary, and hence power, corruption within the political circles will continue, just as they do with general “common” crimes that we see on a daily basis.

There really can be no such thing as “ethical” on this level. Animals will generally behave in a manner that supports their survival, and in the current monetary, scarcity-based paradigm, human beings become socially isolated and serve as slaves to the need for more and more money, and the means to get it have no boundary. Morality and ethics are empty ideas.

In fact, the correct orientation to judge any human act/value would be if it is “sustainable” or not. More on this as we proceed.

Now, as most know, the USA is often called a “democratic republic”, meaning the democratic process as we know it is bound by a series of seemingly immutable statements and rights declarations upon which most everything else is built. The founding fathers of America did understand the importance of not relying exclusively on “mob rule”. In the other words, a pure democracy, in the context we know today, can be cynically exemplified by considering that 10 white men hanging one black man by consensus is a “democratic” decision.

So, it is critical to realize why the “republic”, and hence the constitutional structure, exists; It is there to try and deter mass mistakes with the assumption of pre-existing empiricals by which the legal and democratic processes must adhere.

Not to mention, as an aside, that mass behavior, or “herd” behavior, is far more malleable and controllable than individual behavior. Historically, mass consensus is all too often often wrong and misguided. Numerous studies have been done on this issue and the book, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” by Charles Mackay, is recommended for review. The majority, in concert, can behave in a far more destructive and irresponsible way than the individual, and the founding fathers likely understood this.

So, they created the U.S. Constitution. But, who is to say that the U.S. Constitution is “universal”? Is there anything in this document that shows a chain of reasoning? Can it be quantified? No; It is an intuitive document, not a technical one. Yet, there is a very important gesture which the U.S. Constitution alludes to, and that is the assumption that there are, indeed, governing empiricals - or at least “near empiricals” - upon which all other choices must reference. It is here where we'll bring in the subject of the “Scientific Method”.

The Scientific Method, which respects the orders of Natural Law such as physical science and mathematics, the need for nutrition and clean water, and everything else required for our personal and social survival and progress, can be considered the real “constitution” of social governance for species survival on the planet. It is the methodological referent that has stood the test of time. It is likely the greatest intellectual human discovery ever, and each year scientists perfect and refine these understandings through it's processes.

Given this, we now find that there is a real, near-empirical, emergent, testable measure upon which all our concerns can be contextually considered. This, then, is the platform for true social participation, and an R.B.E. presents this method as the basis for “arriving” at any and all decisions. It is the inherent “Social Constitution” by which our decisions must be referenced for clarity. Majority opinion is secondary to Natural Law. It doesn’t matter how many people vote on outlawing gravity; Nature doesn’t care. Nature is not a democracy.

Given this reality, participation in an R.B.E. is hence not to simply “vote” for a person or idea; It is to also interface with the process of logical inference and tested, proven proofs which show what works and what doesn’t in the natural world. In other words, it is not based on the whims or opinions of an ideological group - but based upon physical law and causal reasoning.

As noted in our materials, we present what is termed a “Central Database” - a referential hub for all human ideas to be evaluated. This database operates through pattern recognition known today as A.I. (Artificial Intelligence). For those who are not familiar, A.I., on a basic level, is nothing more than code which can find and link relevant patterns for the logical culmination of a particular recognition.

When you spell check a document with a word processor, a simple A.I. engine is referencing a series of patterns which seeks to correct a misspelled word based upon searching around the fragment presented. It is that simple. A more complex version of this idea, which closely mirrors the T.Z.M./T.V.P. model, has been created by Wolfram Research [www.wolframalpha.com].

Now, on a more tangible level (for example), in the future, automobiles and the like will not be “designed” by anyone. They will be generated by A.I. in one shot, based entirely on the desired function and maximum efficiency/sustainability. All that would be needed is essentially the insertion of this “function” into the program, and with its built-in and ever-updating database of knowledge, it can generate the needed vehicle design for production as a single equation/solution.

Again, it is a technical process. We humans only recognize and react to patterns, and nothing we do today, on this level, cannot be technically emulated by A.I. in the future. In fact, trends show that machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence in the near future in certain ways. This is not a threat, but a powerful tool we can use to help ourselves in ways we can barely consider today. It allows for the removal of dangerous human opinion, replacing it with a quantitative feedback mechanism that arrives at conclusions based on as much input as possible; That is what an educated decision really is - to logically take into account all known variables.

Now, if at this point you're asking, “What does this have to do with democracy?!”, once we realize that all real problems are technical and all solutions are resolvable by taking in as much data as possible, organized by causal reasoning and pattern recognition and evaluated/tested by the scientific method, we then begin to understand that true social involvement is mostly only relevant in the process of subjective human need. What do we want and why? Here is where values come into play and why values, as have been discussed at length in T.Z.M. materials, are the central concern in the current stage of The Movement.

The need for this is due to the “baggage” we have left over from prior periods of ignorance - not to mention the despotic reinforcements existing in the current monetary paradigm which continue to perpetuate social warfare (un-sustainability) on a daily basis. This is why T.Z.M. pushes to remove the system as fast as possible. In fact, we will likely self-destruct, otherwise, for the maturity level of our current society is too poor for us to handle these new advanced advents in a responsible way, given the selfish perpetuation inherent in the current model ... but that is for another essay.

So, democracy is really about finding consensus with values and, I’m sorry to say, values are not equal. Some are more “correct” and hence sustainable - while others are outdated, wrong and unsustainable. While the prior statement might seem like an opinion, it is not in the broad historical view. Demons do not cause illness, we don’t need to burn “witches” and people with Tourette’s syndrome are no longer considered possessed by the devil, as they were in the past by a culture who didn’t know any better.

Hitler’s values were not sustainable because they generated division, and any value that generates human division will generally lead to conflict, and conflict is a staple of unsustainability. If the goal is human survival, then values can be assessed and qualified based on how they affect that process of survival. Those values that interfere should be overcome. For example, if you value being able to pollute a local stream with toxic waste, you have a value which is unsustainable to nature/yourself, as the longer consequences benefit nothing and create possible harm.

Values are not equal, and the real revolution is the revolution of human values shifting toward scientific understandings, to put it simply.

To summarize the issue of democracy within an R.B.E.:

We arrive at decisions via The Scientific Method, not mass consensus, using a referential database which can calculate technical solutions. Since democracy as we know it incorrectly assumes the mass public is adequately informed on every given technical issue, along with the historical reality that mass influence (propaganda) can steer the public in an entirely irrational way, we also see that “mob rule” simply cannot be trusted.

Now, this isn’t to say public opinion has no place, if they are correctly informed of the variables. In this context, public opinion has a place, but it must stand up to the test of the “Natural Constitution’, which is The Scientific Method. Another caveat with this issue, beyond the issue of value consensus, is the recognition of the emergent nature of reality and how our informational database (the totality of human knowledge) will always be incomplete in some way. It is in this context that public consensus/new research and input is also needed.

In other words, during periods/contexts where variables are not clear/complete enough, a solution is generated by the perspective of the people with as much assistance from objective calculation (A.I.) as possible. Beyond that, demands of human opinion will always be second to the demands of physical law if our collective species’ goal is to survive on this planet.

We cannot impose our views on the world; We can only extract them from it.


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Wed, 06/27/2012 - 8:51am | This is a fantastic essay, (Score: 2 Interesting)
Will Matthews's picture

Will Matthews

Karma: 1

This is a fantastic essay, all points well made. My only comment would be that once you have used the scientific method to establish sustainability, is there a way that you can show there is no space in which 'immoral' but not unsustainable acts can be permitted? The two examples here, given to demonstrate the lack of morality that democracy can have (lynching), and the lack of sustainability that immorality can have (Hitler), doesn't really assure me that there are not more problematic issues which the scientific method cannot answer.

In other words, I had the impression that sustainability was the one law in the 'natural constitution', which the scientific method (or just plain old logic) reveals to us, beyond which all else is permitted. Was it your intention to suggest that sustainability can provide guidance in all cases, or that there are (many) other laws to the 'natural constitution' which the scientific method can (and will) discover? In the case of the latter, surely there are other laws besides sustainability which we can demonstrate now? Perhaps it would be useful to tackle the permissibility of a moral problem or two which we currently have no way of answering besides opinion. In the case of the former, I think more exhaustive work is required to demonstrate how sustainability is the one requirement for permissibility. (- In order to demonstrate this, you would have to find a way of showing how an answer to all of even the most tricky moral questions could be derived from the sustainability of an option, and that in all cases the option indicated is one which we are not unhappy with).

Please know that I think you and Jacque are onto something big (indeed, the paradigm shift of all paradigm shifts), but I do have my concerns as to the completeness of the RBE idea. I think there are problems which have good answers which will only enhance the vision of the RBE, but these problems are still ones which I have not found addressed by the RBE, the methodology of which I have not yet been able to use to satisfactorily explain to myself why they are not permissible.

To allay my concerns, here are a few problems which I would like to hear your reasoning as to how exactly an RBE can find them to be impermissible, if you care to address them. I understand that these are problems which the current systems of governance are equally bad (or much, much worse) in addressing, but I think they are important to consider...

--Sustainability from whose perspective?--
If the data available to the centralised system of A.I. indicates that we can create a sustainable system of discarding clean waste water, and allows for an unclean waste water disposal facility every now and again without this affecting the sustainability of the whole, is this permissible?
If the data available to the A.I. indicates that once we can establish a sustainable population of any given species (it has no threat of extinction), what is there to prevent the system treating the surplus of population in that species as expendable? (If it is much easier to kill and harvest a cow than to artificially produce meat and leather, why not protect a small, sustainable population of cows and kill and harvest any surplus to that number?)
If we imagine an RBE society which is heavily influenced by the idea of eugenics, is there a way in which the scientific method can authoritatively say that it is not permissible for such a society to kill or sterilise those of its population considered the 'weakest'? If it is sustainable (even beneficial) for a society to sequence the genome of every member of its population before they procreate, and select those which carry mutations in their DNA which will curse any offspring with a bad heart, or vulnerability to a particular type of cancer, is there anything the scientific method can do or quantify which denies the permissibility of that society choosing to forcibly sterilise those with the mutations?

--Treatment of the incurable--
What can the scientific method say about how the incurable of our society should be treated? Is there a good answer as to how we should treat the psychopaths, the (physically/mentally) handicapped, and people whose genetic defects mean they require constant medical attention?
If despite the best possible environment, there are still occurrences of people who have no intuitive moral compass (or more precisely, something dysfunctional about their ability to empathise), and these people are as such cursed to be a perpetual menace to society if allowed freely into it, what should that society do about these occurrences? (Perhaps you can say that such human nature, even with genetic indication, is never so predisposed as to be inevitable, and a nurturing society would avoid all possibility, but it is only hypothetical). Would it be permissible for termination of these hypothetical occurrences of psychopaths to occur?

So those are a few questions which I have posed in trying to expose more about the RBE philosophy (not in a bad way). They are extreme examples which are only hypothetical and are not well-addressed in this society anyway, so don't feel too cautious about being direct. It's mainly the basis of the reasoning about which I am curious to find more.

Sorry for such a long comment and thank you for a great essay.

Wed, 06/27/2012 - 11:48am | There is a link between (Score: 1)
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 12:52pm | Will Matthews Response – My (Score: 2 Interesting)
Just's picture


Karma: 1

Will Matthews Response – My thoughts are somewhat inline with yours and probably most people as well if they try a ‘reduction ad absurdum’ style of thinking. By posing these types of questions and meditating through all logical avenues we can definitely arrive at a crisper understanding.

I agree that there are most likely many questions that the scientific method and critical thinking cannot answer, but what’s the alternative. The scientific method with a referential database approaching all that we know seems to be the best way of answering our hardest questions; and if they cannot be solved that way then clearly more time needs to pass in order to collect more data etc so questions will have to be left open – an agonising proposition to some.

Your comment “that sustainability was the one law…which the scientific method (or just plain old logic) reveals to us, beyond which all else is permitted” I don’t think, was what Peter was implying. At the most stretched I would say that it could act as a foundation, a gatekeeper that only allows possibilities that are sustainable to pass through due to the end goal always being continuation without degradation. But by no means could it form as a mono-law as you pointed out with immoral acts having the possibility of sustainability.

Let’s take a wild example from my imagination. Let a curtain exist in your mind that when stabbed or damaged in any way, absorbs sunlight and immediately repairs itself. Posing the question of: Is it immoral/moral to stab the curtain? Takes us to the gatekeeper question of: Is that activity sustainable? Because the curtain takes energy directly from the sun (a very long term ‘sustainable’ source of energy) the answer is clearly yes. Now we move onto other questions like: does the curtain use any other resources to repair itself? My imagination informs me that it doesn’t. Is the behaviour and action of damaging the curtain addictive to the person doing the act? No. And on and on to compile a very large data set. And because it’s an inanimate object with no hopes, dreams, pain receptors, non-addictive qualities, no toxic outgassing, uses no resources and generally doesn’t perturb the environment in any way whatsoever, the conclusion is pretty straight forward that it’s a moral act.

Now let’s change that example to a curtain that uses exactly 83% of the oxygen that exists in the air if damaged in any way. Opening with our first question, Is that activity sustainable? No, clearly more than one action that damages the curtain will deplete the air of oxygen and kill all oxygen-dependant life. And built into the question of sustainability is the concern for the wellbeing of all conscious creatures. Performing an act that will cause such vast amounts of suffering (simultaneous suffocation of billions of creatures) is clearly not a moral act and cannot be justified.

I realise that many of you use the criteria of human sustainability with the subtext of caring for the environment knowing that if you don’t humanity will suffer as a moral guideline. I agree with the logic but taking a human centred view is just another form of bigotry and is equivalent to sexism, racism, classism and is generally called speciesism - where humans view the interests of their species above members of another species. Let’s remember that there is no such thing as a ‘species’ in the real world – there is a chain of child-to-parent running all the way back to the first life forms and to put a line between any child and parent and call them a different species is absurd. Just as it’s absurd to say that this person is white and this person black because of a few percent difference in melanin and to treat them differently based on that fact alone. Of course I am aware of the utility of the word species and how it’s used, my point is that thinking that you can treat an animal how you please just because it’s a different species has no logical basis.

Which leads nicely into your point about “what is there to prevent the system treating the surplus of population in that species as expendable?” The fact that these animals clearly suffer pain, demonstrate an aversion to pain when they comprehend the situation, take joy from group interactions if they are social animals and many other activities, with some having a primitive form of culture and the ability to suffer pain from the loss of a relative. In other words many non-human animals are complex, conscious beings that overlap and share many characteristics with humans. Just as it’s wrong to kill a hypothetical mentally retarded orphan that has no family and won’t develop an advanced emotional bond or intellect, it’s wrong to kill an average pig just because you view it as part of another species or you like how it tastes. This comparison is not meant to cause offense, I just find it obvious that certain animals such as pigs etc. can be more autonomous, emotionally engaged and ‘intelligent’ than some humans yet there is an unjustified moral gulf in attitude towards them that can only be justified through the bigoted lens of speciesism.

This should also cover your points about eugenics I hope.

And in terms of how we treat incurables etc. I think this comes down to these people still being able to experience many of the joys in life and obviously we have to treat them as best as we can with the aim of rehabilitation. To do otherwise, I find not logically sound. But it may be that if they are not mentally sound then society (the individuals that compromise it) will have to take the role of parent and make decisions for them as we do for children if they are not able to fully comprehend the options before them. In the case of psychopaths that are of immediate threat to society, they will have to be separated until they can be rehabilitated otherwise their life has to be spent in relative separation. This is not to say that the individual’s life will be unhappy. They will have access to all of human knowledge and relatively comprehensive lifestyle facilities that will allow them to enjoy and contribute for the rest of their lives if they need to remain separated from the general population. Basically restrictions will only be put in place where there is the possibility of harm to others due to their disposition.

That’s all I’ve got for now, but hopefully it’s jarred a few more thoughts and questions.



Wed, 06/27/2012 - 3:37pm | For a very long time i wanted (Score: 1)
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 3:51pm | "What about “Democracy” in an (Score: 1)
Wed, 06/27/2012 - 7:50pm | I would first like to say (Score: 1)
Thu, 06/28/2012 - 4:04am | I highly recommend the book (Score: 1)
Fri, 06/29/2012 - 7:05pm | Very, very, very, very... (Score: 1)
Fri, 06/29/2012 - 7:07pm | This revolution of (Score: 1)
Fri, 06/29/2012 - 9:32pm | Peter, thank you for writing (Score: 1)
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 2:25am | Hi everyone. I hope you are (Score: 1)
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 10:14am | A very acute observation from (Score: 1)
Sat, 06/30/2012 - 9:35am | Thanks for this article (Score: 1)
Sun, 07/01/2012 - 11:35am | Thanks Justin. As you could (Score: 1)
Mon, 07/02/2012 - 12:55am | The one point about democracy (Score: 1)
Mon, 07/02/2012 - 6:16pm | Great article. PD: One doubt, (Score: 1)
Sat, 07/07/2012 - 10:44pm | This article was first (Score: 1)
Tue, 07/10/2012 - 2:52pm | I totally disagree. First, (Score: 1)
Tue, 07/17/2012 - 12:32am | I mostly agree, bobbito. (Score: 1)
Tue, 07/17/2012 - 12:33am | *casting one measly little (Score: 1)