It seems the first two posts of this blog in 2012 are meant to provide correction and clarity. Two posts ago, in my 2012 Forecast, I mentioned the film Thrive. Here is some of what I said:
"We are facing a long decline as the resources to maintain the life we have grown accustomed to grow ever scarcer. At the same time, I read the work of Charles Eisenstein, and watch the film Thrive, and I want very much to believe that I will see the world they envision in my lifetime."
There have been a flurry of reviews about this film, by several writers I admire, including Eisenstein, and they have all been profoundly negative. Rob Hopkins called it "horrifying". John Michael Greer called it "meretricious nonsense". Strong statements. I agree with Greer more than I do Hopkins, though I can see why Hopkins has had such a strong reaction, in that the movie may have the effect of encouraging people not to concern themselves with the actual crises that face us, in favor of empty anger against fictitious crises, and false hope in the salvation of physically impossible energy schemes. That is basically Greer's argument, that Thrive is little more than an extreme form of the narrative of progress, a means to hide from the failure of the narrative of progress.
I liked the film. I think that's because I didn't take it very seriously. How can one? If you've seen it, you know, the thing is preposterous. I mean, David Icke is the most prominent interview. Seriously? I remember thinking, I wonder if Vandana Shiva knew what this film is about, that she did this interview for? Whenever I heard Foster Gamble talk about the principle of non-violation, I kept thinking, well, I probably wouldn't put the word violation in any slogan around which to structure a movement. And, I wonder what all those rich dude's are going to think about your slogan, when you put them on trial and take their money to build your fancy world?
Just about every conspiracy theory making the route through the underbelly of the culture, makes an appearance in Thrive. (Aliens, too.) Basically, some bad people at the head of a few families, are engaged in a conspiracy to dominate the world, to the point of engaging in plans to exterminate whole populations. That last bit I hear more and more about these days, governments and elite conspiring to kill billions. I think it's an idea welling up out of our collective unconscious, a low level awareness of the trials humanity is likely to face in the not so distant future, with the decline of available energy - including and especially rich people. It's easier to blame shadowy banking figures, than the Western standard of living. If I blame the Rothschilds, I don't have to question my lifestyle. Throw the specter of free energy into the plot, and now I'm free to live however I will forever and always.
Possibly the most insidious aspect of this film is the idea of free energy. His evidence for free-energy isn't evidence at all, but anecdote, and hypothesis. Even so, he asserts that the only reasons we are not awash in free-energy, are the machinations of elite perpetrating a global domination agenda. It's not that I don't believe such energy schemes may be possible. I just wonder, has it occurred to those who truly believe, that it might be a hundred, or a thousand generations, before we figure it out? Has it occurred to anyone but Rob Hopkins, that we aren't ready for free energy? Do we really think the cruel, capricious, petty, monstrous, ugly, exploitative people who inhabit this time, are capable of the responsibility of free energy?
Damn. I just wrote all that, and now I go back to my forecast post and all I said, and now I'm asking, how could I have liked this film?
Because I want everybody to thrive. I don't want people to have to go through what we are going to go through, the next few decades.
Georgia Kelly of the Praxis Peace Institute accused Thrive of a "reactionary, libertarian agenda." I consider this a hopelessly mundane perspective. Because what Foster Gamble is advocating, though he doesn't know it, is the Anarchist utopia, in which everyone is living in the fullest expression of their purpose. Which is inevitable, but no more a possibility now than free energy. The Libertarian dream of everybody living without the interference of government or rulers is the fantasy of a future world with a lot less people in it, who are a lot stronger than we are today. About all the Anarchist and Libertarian can do now is live responsibly, according to one's principles. Government we know has failed us miserably, which neither Kelly nor Hopkins seem able to comprehend. They want to believe government is a solution, because a sudden Libertarian fix in this time is truly horrifying (just as would be a government without free enterprise). Someday however, there will be no government, nor any rulers, capitalists or democrats or otherwise, because we will have transcended the need. But that might be a hundred thousand generations from today.
Meanwhile, if we are to thrive, we are going to have to choose to, individually, because the culture is not going to help. The culture is like Thrive the film; to paraphrase Greer, an exposition on the inevitability of progress, a refusal to acknowledge the actual world we actually inhabit. Which is why it's a good idea to enjoy Thrive, without taking it very seriously.
And as I corrected a quote of mine, I would also like to add that I feel I have done Charles Eisenstein a dis-service, putting his book and the film Thrive in the same context, as if they were equal.