Reflecting on Zeitgeist Part 1

Like this at Facebook! Hello there. A while ago, I watched a very interesting “documentation” called Zeitgeist. Yesterday I watched the sequel Zeitgeist Addendum. If you don’t know what these movies/documentations are then please go google it or torrent it or whatever. You won’t hurt the makers of the movies, because they want you to watch it, no matter how. This post is about how this movie’s theories and statements relate to my personal experiences. Well, I’d rather classify these movies as “visual/audible essays”. Their aim is to convince you of a point that isn’t stated clearly at the beginning though. It deals with politics, religion, science and more of that kind. It features visual effects, a narrator, interviews and various footage of TV shows and recordings of various significant events (9/11, etc).

I personally could do without a lot of the cheesy visualization techniques that really border on attempts to manipulate the audience into agreeing with the message of the movie. It does the movie more harm than good, at least in my eyes. Maybe there are some people dumb enough not to get the idea by the argumentation alone.

Anyways, I’m not american, I’ve never been to the US, so I couldn’t really talk about the political views much. If the american banking system is truly this fundamentally flawed as shown in the movie, then there is NO other way than to agree with the logical conclusion that labor as we have it in today’s societies is a very very effective form of slavery. I do feel that the need to earn money to simply survive out there is the main whip that drivers today’s slaves to work. Of course, not all people are in this hard a situation. Many, but sadly not enough people, are able to receive a quality education that allows them to pursue the goals and do the things they want to, in which case I wouldn’t necessarily call those activities “work”. My passion for game development doesn’t feel like work to me at all. When I was working on an ERP system, even though I was just starting out, I got incredibly stressed out with having to do something that I didn’t have the remotest interest in. THAT felt like work, and I despised it. Well anyways, what is clear though is that such quality education is  currently mostly available only in the richer countries. Scholarships and supportive institutions aim to offer help especially in countries that aren’t that fortunate (like my country), but that still isn’t enough. Countries need to be able to help themselves.

To many people in the USA, or Europe maybe, who live in a clean city where there are garbage bins on the streets, where it is unbelievable to meet an adult who can’t read, where there are parks, and almost everybody has access to a computer and the internet, who are able to receive 2 meals a day, everyday, to those people the word “poverty” might remind them of the homeless people they see on their streets. You know, those people who sit by the pavement asking you for money, who can’t find a job and have to sleep on a bench in a park, or somewhere else where there is some warmth. Now these people are poor, no question. But you wouldn’t call your country poor because of that, right? I invite you to come to my hometown, Ulaanbaatar then. Or at least, just look at the satellite picture of it, on Google Maps. You will see a portion in the middle that is a bit grey, and it’s clear those are buildings built in cement. Then all around it, you see little cells of brown-ish area with lots of little roads winding through. That is the area where people just settle in because they can’t afford living in an apartment building. Call them slums, if you want. They bring up their traditional Mongolian tents (Ger) and live there, suffering from all kinds of problems, such as air pollution, crime, floods when rainfall hits hard and generally getting from there to their work, if they’re lucky enough to have a job, is a pain in the ass. I think the statistic was that 70% of Mongolians in the city live below the poverty limit.

Imagine this. Picture it.

The existence of homeless people isn’t some saddening symptom of the problems in our society, this poverty is the crux that is destroying the future of my country. Of course, the poverty is caused by other factors. For example, the lack of really good education that everyone can partake on. There are a ton of schools in my town, that is fact. But do those schools really help the children learn? Do they provide a quality education that brings out the best of them? No, no and again NO! I’m not dissing the teachers. I’m dissing the fact that teachers don’t get enough salary here and the fact that corrupted managements install teachers that are less qualified than others, because they have “connections”. Which is just a thing happening in all kinds of institutions. I’m dissing the fact that the government doesn’t have the money to support those public institutions that are so vital to our society, because politicians constantly steal the funds given to them.

Even if there are politicians who mean well and fight for their beliefs, they will be overpowered by the other ones. When they taught me about democracy in high school, they didn’t mention that candidates need to be funded by lobbyists so they can sell out their power in case they’ll be elected. This business side of politics is what disgusts me to no end. This is one of the reasons why I have a fundamental distrust in politicians. Most of them are corrupt and the good ones don’t have the chance to advance in that kind of environment. They make promises that are as dumbly designed or lied about as dumb as the people are who’re supposed to vote them. If you want to do something meaningful and something that lasts, please don’t go into politics. You’ll either become an asshole or you’ll work your ass of until you’re stressed out to death, maybe accomplishing something, but even then it’s not sure it’ll last. So that’s my take on politics.

Another thing is this economical colonization that the USA is doing, in order to keep poor countries poor and to practically steal their resources to fuel the wealth of the few rich people in the US. This is globalization and if you live in the US, you might not be aware what damage your government is doing indirectly and directly to countries like mine. Fair trade isn’t possible, and debt that is forced upon us keeps our economies down. It’s not even that the US government has to actively keep the process going. It’s the status quo, the way things are and are done. Here in Mongolia, we have a lot of copper and coal. We lack the know-how of extracting it. Our moron government makes a deal that lets foreign private companies make a ton of cash with our resources, while employing Mongolians to do the work and only a bit of the profit goes to the government. In return, these companies provide know-how. It’s ridiculous, and it’s shameless how this project is advertised as providing jobs to the people. There are better ways to doing that. Like this, so many other companies are making money in the Mongolian market and the profit flows outside our borders. It’s exploitation made possible by the globalization and creation of dependency of nations on others. But it isn’t fair dependency. It always benefits the stronger ones, for that is the way capitalism works. The stronger ones have more leverage to bully and bullshit the weaker ones. In capitalism, profit comes first and the respect for human lives and “fairness” comes last, if at all.

In Zeitgeist, this basic argumentation is embodied in the statement that such “monetary” systems are the crux of humanity, it is is what keeps us from developing in to a better society.

As stated in the movie, the common argument for profit-seeking is the creation of competition and therefore drive for constant advance, which benefits the people. Actually, as also stated in the film, the monopolies are doing their best to stop innovation from happening if they’re endangering their business. Why else would the German Telecom try their utmost to stop Skype telephony from being enabled on the iPhone? Skype embodies the destruction of the traditional telephone networks. Why do you think are electro cars only coming along so slowly? Because fuel companies have the power to hinder progress in the area. The moment that single corporations become SO big that they have the power to stop technological advance which would truly benefit us all is the moment that we have to realize that this system is outdated.

“Money is the drive that lets people do their daily work” is another common argument. Nope, I can clearly see that people who are driven with a humane motivation of helping others out for the sake of it, do better work, and have more satisfaction and happiness from it. I mean, come on, compare the Ubuntu Forums with the Windows customer forums. I myself don’t sell the work I do on my FlashPunk tutorials. I do invest a lot of time into it, but I’d never sell it. As soon as another person’s work becomes a product for you to buy, you have a business relationship with the other party, and every element of human connection gets lost in between the cash flow.  That’s the reason Open Source projects are constantly improving when Microsoft needs 6 years for Vista to come out with a ton of problems and angry customers.

I’m in agreement with a lot of the points raised in the movies, and with some I’m not so okay with. I’ve connected things said in the movie to my own experience and a lot of it makes sense. How about you? What do you feel about those issues? Let’s hear it!
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