(MR) — Abby Martin sits down with Peter Joseph, the founder of the Zeitgeist Movement, to discuss his most recent book, ‘The New Human Rights Movement’ and his urgent call for global activists to replace the violent oppression that defines our economic order.
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Founded in 2008, the Zeitgeist Movement is “a global sustainability activist movement presenting the case for the needed transition out of our current unsustainable economic model and into a new sustainable socioeconomic paradigm based on using the best that science and technology have to offer to maximize human, animal and environmental well being in accordance with the natural world.” The movement utilizes a network of regional chapters, teams, events, charity work and media to conduct community based activism and increase awareness.
Having a background in advertising and equity trading has lent to an informed and unique perspective on capitalism in the United States. According to Peter, without advertising, a necessary piece to our consumption based economy, “you wouldn’t have people aspiring to things that are highly irrational.” Our susceptibility to advertising is written into our biology, it is a matter of social inclusion. We identify by how others see us and therefore desire things that others have and desire, causing this need for material things to spread like a virus. Advertising thus manipulates this primal biological human desire to belong, in order to make a profit.
A false sense of progress has emerged from our hypercapitalistic society— an abundance of production and ownership is perceived as a sign of progress despite it being at the detriment of human psychology and the environment. The term “cultural violence” applies directly to this manipulation of human psychology for the benefit of the economy. Cultural violence helps justify structural violence so that it feels “right” and acceptable.
Capitalism supports the destruction of the environment and promotes significant structural violence, creating an ingroup-outgroup of those that can afford desired goods and those that cannot. We see this magnified in today’s culture with a sitting U.S. President immersed in a lavish lifestyle that has been paraded through and praised by the media for years, a President that profits off the primal desire of humans to need and want material goods in order to belong. Advertising and the flaunting of material goods can barely be ignored in U.S. culture today.
This ingroup-outgroup phenomenon of material desire has been magnified to the extent of normalizing control of the economy by the wealthy and elite when, in reality, the economy should function to benefit and provide for all Americans. However, a system controlled by the rich lacks the sympathy to function in this way as profits remain the sole focus without a critical eye questioning why the have nots are unable to have.
Abby and Peter go on to discuss the purpose and current state of the stock market, a system that creates profit for the rich and absolutely no material goods or other benefits to society at large, the concept of debt throughout the world, Wall Street’s covert control over U.S. politics, the ability for automation to free humans from labor, what he advocates to save the planet from catastrophe and more.