Why trade and not scarcity?
So these days we had a TROM-Cast, like we usually do, but this time we discuss about our new trade-free.org project. It got the attention of some people, and new ones participated for the cast challenging the idea. To make it super-mega short, I “created” this path now for “social change” via “trade as the source of most problems”, and some think is not a good idea. I’ll keep it all extremely brief since I already wrote thousand of pages on the topic.
How I got here?
1. Since high-school I realized that money fucks things up. Pretty much all problems were due to money. No money for food, rent, science, exploration, whatever. My parents had lots of debt and I saw what influence money had over people. I was angry.
2. I saw Future by Design in 2006 – it was about an old man saying the same things: the monetary system creates these bad behaviors and we need to go beyond money, and build a different world. He called it The Venus Project. I agreed. I was intrigued. I forgot about it.
3. In the meantime I opened a personal blog where I was writing about today’s problems and how they are mostly created by money and that we can think of a different kind of society without money. I didn’t remember TVP much. I was writing. I liked it.
4. In 2009ish I saw Zeitgeist Addendum, a continuation of the first Zeitgeist that caught my attention years before. I saw this old man again and I loved it. It resonated with me a lot. Fuck yeah, there are people out there thinking the same as I do and want to change this world. I felt happy and motivated. In the documentary it was emphasized even more that money is the problem and a solution could be this Resource Based Economy envisioned by the old guy. But the old guy kinda made it clear that this is just his view of this kind of world, not like the world should look like that. He seemed very humble. The following 2 years I wrote more stuff, watched/read everything with and about TVP, and I realized that maybe it is possible to create a different kind of world beyond the monetary system. I was dreaming. I liked that.
5. In 2010 I decided to make a series of videos about all of this since I felt it was nothing of the sort out there. I spent 1 year watching and reading and listening to whatever it was online about TVP, TZM, and the like. So much that I remember (even now) some videos word by word. I was engaged.
6. In 2011 I released the 14 hours documentary I made. My idea was this: present the problem and then what solutions there are to this problem. The problem: the monetary system. The solutions? Multiple, although I focused a lot on TVP since it was the only coherent idea about how a future beyond money could look like.
Now I knew: the monetary system is the problem and TVP is a solution for it. Moreover, I understood that scarcity creates systems of barter/trade/money, and that the solution (generalized) is abundance. But I didn’t get a very clear picture of none of these from TVP/TZM. I refined further: scarcity and poor education created this monetary system, and the general solution seems to be abundance (a resource based economy as a model for it) and a scientific education. I became more knowledgeable. I felt like growing up mentally.
7. Next 2-3 years I orbited around such ideas and I started to dislike something: the notion of a Resource Based Economy. Why? For one, because the term implied too much emphasis on resources and this creates confusion (people associate it with “going back to the ol’ living”), and second because people misinterpreted what TVP was talking about (I would say). I always saw RBE as TVP. Same thing. Like, “Look, TVP’s idea of an RBE!”. But some people were saying that an RBE is not necessarily TVP, although not really showing any other RBE out there except interpretations of TVP’s RBE. TVP and RBE were splitting apart in people’s heads. I was also becoming skeptical about TVP’s ability to “build this world”, and actually I never thought that’s how it is going to happen. Even in TROM I said: if most people understand such ideas, this kind of society will emerge. I became doubtful and a bit confused. It was a war of words out there and interpretations.
8. From 2012 to late 2016 I had the ‘opportunity’ to work closely with TVP. I was excited! It was happening. I managed TVP’s magazine and helped them with a lot of stuff. I wrote a lot for the project. I wrote more and better sourced articles than on my blog.
But TVP and those following the project became so obsessed with taking TVP too literally that it made me sick. These people proclaim to have “the solution” for this monetary system, yet they lack any relevant details about it. You just have to trust them. This attitude sparked many to dream about this new world and a transition towards it. I felt like they forgot that TVP’s RBE was a reaction to the “monetary system” problem and it was A solution – at least that is what I got from Jacque… TVP people focused too much on this RBE that it got ridiculous to the point of hearing some proclaiming an X year transition plan. I didn’t even mention RBE in these years since I found it ridiculous to be taken as literally as “this is the world we will build”. These 4 years or so working with TVP made things more confusing for me. It was not anymore a problem needing a solution, like the monetary system needing to be changed into something else, but it was “follow TVP and RBE”. From “one of the solutions”, TVP became THE SOLUTION in many people’s heads. I didn’t like it. I started to doubt TVP’s intentions quite a lot. I always felt like TVP is a great inspirational project but didn’t think that they really proclaim to actually build this world themselves. That I did not see as feasible at all.
9. One book that changed everything for me: The Money Game and Beyond. I said, look….my initial thinking was that money is the source of most problems and we need to go beyond that somehow. TVP’s RBE is a great set of ideas, but not to be taken so literally since they had nothing to back up such a massive plan. They struggled to composed a few teams here and there for infinitely smaller task than building a city, and were all very inefficient from my experience….if TVP can’t even put together a team to make a good website, how in the world are they going to build the world? TVP blew 200.000 dollars (from donations) on a movie script…imagine that. 200.000 dollars gone, and no movie script. I found them to be very incompetent and yet they pretended to be capable to “build the world”. I honestly don’t want to be a jerk with them. I love TVP’s ideas, but they got too cocky about this “We, and only we, can build this new world” attitude. So then I said: I don’t know anymore what the fuck we are we doing….so let’s write a book about this monetary system “problem”. I want to understand what this is and if/how others tried to change it for the past 200 years, plus how TVP compares with that. And boi’ … I learned a lot! 1 year of intense work, and my views changed (read as in: improved). How?
a. Money is just one of the many trades out there. That I got since before writing the book, but I didn’t realize how confusing it has become over the years to focus on money and not on trade. People got so confused that they thought a solution to money is bitcoin or other forms of trade. The focus on money was thus very confusing. People around TVP didn’t even understand (at least some) why cryptocurrencies might be a bad idea for example. So, focusing on money was super confusing and very incorrect. Therefore I switched to “trade” from that moment on. The monetary system was not the problem anymore, the trade system was. I hoped that TVP would switch to that too, to cut from the confusion, but they never did. They focused on this “monetary system” entirely.
b. Scarcity leads to trades. That was the conclusion. When you have everything you need and want, you don’t need to trade anymore. I knew that before, but I solidified that idea into my head quite a lot and I explained it in length.
c. The solution is still abundance, like I presented in TROM Documentary, but I better defined it in the book. I can summarize it as: abundance means fulfilling most requests. TVP does a bad job, in my view, to detail what abundance may mean, so I felt it was necessary to explain it better. TVP never improved on this aspect as far as I know, even after this book that was written for TVP Magazine.
d. TVP is not such a unique set of ideas. Others like Technocracy, Communism, Socialism, Metabolism, or Bucky Fuller, had very similar ideas. Very similar!
e. Top-down change seems not possible. The world is too complex. Despite Jacque saying TVP is neither top-down or bottom-up, it seems to me that for the past years TVP is certainly a Top-Down approach. Again, they proclaim to have the blueprints for this new kind of world and they want to build (demo) it. Technocracy proclaimed the same. I became very skeptical about this approach. Maybe, maybe, I agreed that a test city can showcase the technology and some aspects of human behavior in action in such an environment, but I could not take TVP seriously anymore. It started to smell like any other organizations before it who imagined this “brave new world”.
f. Focusing on a problem is more important than any solution out there. This didn’t grow as much in my head back then, but it will in the next years, so much that it became the central point of my understanding of the world.
In all, this book made me realize that trade is the source of most problems (sure, scarcity drives trade), and that imagining the future is just that: imagining the future. Change does not come like that, by planning like TVP does. Others tried and failed and for good reasons since the society is too complex for a group of humans to try and re-organize it. The overall solution still seems to be abundance so that we make scarcity irrelevant. However, I started to also get that you can sell abundance in today’s world….and that was confusing…somehow there seems to be trade even when there is abundance…hm….ok…weird…maybe we need abundance everywhere so we don’t see this kind of an outcome. Anyways, I finished the book.
It was the book that made me 100% go from: Money as the problem and TVP-RBE as model for a solution, to Trade as the problem and Abundance + Education as a solution. And maybe that we could try and build some test cities to prove that this kind of world is possible, but I completely gave up to the ‘dream’ that TVP is capable of such a task (if I ever had any such “dream”). I pushed TVP away from my mind, mainly because I could not agree that TVP is anything more than an inspirational idea. To me TVP was/is an inspirational idea, a model of how a society that makes trade obsolete could look like, based on an educated guess. But that’s all.
Although I presented money (and slightly mentioned barter and such) as the problem since 2011 documentary, and abundance + scientific education as a solution, I had a very weak understanding of these notions up until I wrote this book. Therefore, this book made the situation a lot more clear to me. 370 pages of mental cleansing.
10. The biggest mental change. Breaking up from TVP allowed me to be more mentally free and express myself better and in my own rhythm. Something “lurked” inside me from the last book…..this thing about focusing on the problem not the solutions….trade not money…..and what about this scarcity and abundance thing…are these that important? People want an RBE…some want the money free party….some TVP’s RBE specifically….some a gift or open economy….some want a new currency….wtf…confusing. So, I said, let’s spend another year or more focusing more on the problem. Because if we don’t know the problem in great detail, then what the fuck are we doing?
I wrote The Origin of Most Problems (over 1 thousand pages long), and I learned a shit ton:
a. This “trade” thing is bloody important. Many people have no idea how many trades there are out there. The “Money Game” is irrelevant at this point. It is the Trade Game that we need to be aware of and fight against. Data trade, influence trade, social credits, cryptocurrencies, the world of trade is much bigger than I realized in the previous book. And in today’s world is crucial that we get this, else we will get tricked by this massive tsunami of currencies and trades that is inundating our society everywhere. I can’t stress enough how important “trade” is if you want to know what creates most problems in the world.
b. Trade is not solely a result of scarcity – trade can be seen in abundant systems like online platforms that are an abundant stream of content for the users, yet users are paying for that with their data. I give many examples in the book. I realized this: we already live in an abundant environment from clothes to software, food to services, and everything in between. It’s just that we distribute this abundance in a very very unequal manner. Mostly via trades. People need to trade to get this abundance. We rarely have scarcity in this world. So saying that scarcity creates the problems is confusing, despite you calling it “artificial scarcity”. Like there are so many cars yet I don’t have one ‘cause I can’t get it. Call that as “artificial scarcity”, but is confusing. You better define that situation as: there is an abundance of cars but I can only get one if I TRADE for it. If that car would be available as trade-free for me, then that would be a good situation. An abundant one for me in terms of cars. If all cars would be available as trade-free to everyone, then that would immediately mean an abundance for all. See? We don’t need to focus on scarcity. Focus on trades and it makes things much easier to define and more clear. Citizenship, social credits, and the like are also trades that are forced upon you. Hard to explain that with “scarcity”. People are forced to give away their freedom for accessing whatever (roads, water, etc.). It is a trade-off. It is a forced trade.
c. If scarcity is seen as the problem and we want to fix it, then abundance is a great solution to it, except it is unrealistic to do anything with that. Some people told me: look, youtube is an abundant stream of videos for people but the reason they still want trades (like data mining or attention grabbing) is because they LACK something. Google doesn’t have access to what it needs and wants, and so it engages into trades to be able to get that. It is true, however it is pointless. Google can and will always grow and want more, so in that sense they can never have access to what they need and want. It can grow indefinitely. So what do you propose? To give Google what they need and want in order to make them not want to engage into trades? The theory is nice, the practicality of doin’ something with it is null.
Probably TVP people might say that this is the reason we need to restructure our entire society so that entities like Google will not even exist in this abundant society. Again, nice theory and I agree, but that translates to me into: “Wait for the BIG change, one that TVP will bring on a global scale”. Sounds too unrealistic and leaves people in limbo. Understand that I agree with the theory, but there is no practicality to it unless you dream about this different kind of society that TVP envisions.
A second argument I’ve heard: Google wants people’s data because data is scarce. If data would be abundant, Google won’t want that. This is a bizarre argument that is again on the fantasizing realm. For one, data is either abundant or it will never be abundant. You pick whichever you want to believe. So one can say data is already abundant for so many – but google decides to use it to make profits (trade), because Google has the means to build these big bloody servers and AI systems to take advantage of this abundant data that anyone has access to (think of billions of websites, can you create a search engine out of them that is better than google?). On the other hand, data can never be abundant. If Google had access to all the data it wants, then tomorrow it needs more data because it is another day and more data is being produced by people. Of course Google cannot have access to ALL THE DATA it needs/wants. Ever. Like data means anything: heartbeats, people having sex, breathing, walking, sneezing, gadgets and all their sensors, whateverthefuck. These mental-theories are ridiculous.
Actually these mindsets pushed me away from TVP even more, since TVP people seem to like to give these “out of this world” examples and analogies that can never be true. “What if Google had all it needs and wants, will it trade? What if Google had access to all the data?” What if sharks had legs, would they participate to marathons? Ridiculous thoughts that have nothing to do with the real world.
d. Speaking of being unrealistic, I realized even more how unrealistic it is to want to change the society in this TVP-way of building a “model society” and having this BIG change. I looked at what changed society for the past thousands of years and it was never a big change. And please don’t argue that: “well the past is not the present, maybe now we can do it in this big way.” Because if that’s the only argument then it is meaningless. What changed society were problems. We had the X problem and it bothered us, until we came with a fix for it. That’s how it happens, and it happens in small steps. Lots of solutions. So, if say we focus on scarcity as the problem, then we might be able to eventually create abundant systems here and there, although people could still make a trade off of them, however this seems like a bloody hard task to do. How can you honestly do that? Unless you have a shit ton of power in this world I don’t see such systems emerging anywhere.
Here is a simple example:
Back to Youtube with their abundant system and trades.
Adam says: “Scarcity is the problem in this case! Of data, of what youtube wants and needs.”
Tio: “I agree Adam, but what can we do about it?”
I have no realistic answer for this. Do you? If so please tell me, Adam. Can we say: let’s create an abundant Youtube service? Well, it is already abundant for people. It leaves me without a solution.
Eve says: “Trade is the problem in this case! Of data, of attention, of currency.”
Tio: “I agree with you Eve, but what can we do about it?”
Eve: We have to create a trade-free video platform or stop the trades with Youtube. Oh, look, Archive.org. Peertube. Webtorrent and Bittorrent. Archive.org pushes no trades into people’s faces despite them lacking a lot in terms of resources or not even having an abundant content stream like youtube does. Compare Archive with Youtube and you’ll see how one is much better than the other. Youtube incentivize moronic content and competitiveness, Archive does not. Archive won’t push you to stay as much as possible on their platform because they need attention, or ban videos because it is inappropriate for their advertisers. That’s the difference!
So my point here is, that if you want realistic solutions then take trade away from goods and services as much as possible. A video platform that wants something from the users (like data, attention coins, whatever) is going to become like Youtube, regardless if they provide an abundant service. A video platform that does not engage into trades with the users, it is like the Internet Archive. And so it will happen to any domain in this society.
Less trades, better: science, entertainment, human values, products, etc.. Less trades, less: crime, waste, corruption, and the like.
The chicken and egg dilemma.
This is an interesting discussion but maybe it is pointless. Is it trade the source of most problems? Is it scarcity? Is it profit? Is it ownership? We can argue for years, but one thing you should give me is a path forward if we focus on any of these. Because at the moment what I know for sure is that focusing on trade will, for one, highlight a problem that creates a billion other problems (so the focus is on point), and second that it allows me, and you, and others to DO SOMETHING about it. I am creating trade-free services like TROM Tools, I can advertise my site as being trade-free because I want nothing from anyone, and if you give me 1 billion dollars I can do a billion things with that in this direction. Actually I will write an entire book about what would I do with a few billion dollars if I had them.
I think is a lot more unrealistic to think that any organization out there can create a small-scale world to showcase how the future will be, and then that to spark a world-wide change. Sound intriguing, but not realistic at all in my view, and I think my view is supported by history.
It took me many years to realize these things and I best explain them in the materials I created over the years, especially in The Origin of Most Problems book. If anyone disagrees I ask to please first read that book because that is my argument. Else is like I would decide to not listen to 90% of what you, whoever you are, say.
A brief message to TVP-folks:
Look guys and girls, I don’t disagree on fundamentals with Fresco at all. I was a TVP watchdog for many years and Jacque and Roxanne themselves told me several times that I understand TVP so well in their view. Jacque was perhaps the only human that had a big impact on my way of thinking and I fuckin’ miss the old dude. I wish he would have lived for 600 years. But I feel like TVP today is not what I understood form Jacque. To me Jacque was a sharp minded, well-educated and humble person, who wanted to show us, the mortals, what is the problem in our society and what society we could build. This is why he focused so much on the behavior aspect to showcase that this fucked up monetary system makes us despicable, and we need to change that environment in order to change these behaviors. His TVP-RBE vision was an educated vision about the future but even he said that’s not how it should be built. If the concept/fundamentals behind his vision were abundance and an intelligent management of Earth’s resources as a solution for our current system, and TVP currently pushes the same concepts, then TVP is doing a good job. But I feel like TVP is taking Fresco’s ideas too literally, and regardless, as I explained, I don’t see this path forward with abundance leading anywhere realistically. In theory it sounds great and I agree with the concepts 100%. In practice I doubt it sounds like anything.
1. I honestly cannot see anyone able to create a model of society and that to be relevant in any way….I just can’t because I know about medical studies, and Bittorrent, and GMO debates, and Vimeo, and traditions, corruption, sports or whatever other trillion things that make up a society, and I feel like you cannot model anything that would be relevant, even if you build a “test” city. On top of that I don’t think there is any piece of unique technology or implementation out there that TVP can demo. Modular designs, self driving cars, automation, are all demoed in today’s world in abundance. Thus, I think that you cannot “model” – showcase – how a society could look like, or that this is relevant really.
2. Any organization that gets billions in funding, because you need a lot of money for such a project, is subject to trades. I find it hard to believe that anyone would give a lot of money to any such project and not want anything else in return. So I fear that such a massive project, even if funded, will have many strings attached to many organizations and rich individuals. I even heard Roxanne talking about these model cities being like a theme park and selling tickets for those who want to visit. I think that’s a very slippery slope.
3. I observed how TVP is incapable of many things in terms of doing something. They could not create a movie script with 200.000 dollars. I cannot trust that they can create a model of a society with a few millions dollars. I am sorry, but I simply can’t.
I don’t want to spend time debating over these topics, unless people also listen. I listened to TVP for at least 13 years now. Maybe others should to listen to TROM a bit too. Then discuss. But be open minded and ready to upgrade your “operating system”.
In the end, if our method with “trade” succeeds in making the world a bit better, then amazing. If TVP’s method works for the same purposes, amazing. But I am not waiting for TVP and RBE, I am doing something now, that will both educate and help people, and also project this big plan underneath the skin of this approach (of this massive change to a Trade-Free society – eventually), because removing trades from this complex world-wide society seems way more realistic to me than trying to rebuild it from scratch. What we do is volunteering combined with a protesting mind about this fucked up society. Addressing the (or if you want to say “a major”) root cause of today’s problems is not patchwork.
If TVP builds the world, then I’ll still pay attention to trades within their system 😉 – ’cause where there are trades, there are problems. Cheers!
Just a human on this planet, creating trade-free stuff 😉 I mainly write at tiotrom.com. I made TROM Documentary back in 2011 and since then I am writing books, make videos, websites, or customize Linux operating systems :D. Or curate the world. I am furious and curious. Furious at how this society is, and curious about the cosmos we live in (from plants to quasars, from atoms to galaxies).