Dear Thrive Network,
Over one million people have watched THRIVE since its launch on 11/11/11!
And, as expected, our film has created some lively and deep conversations. While there have been many reviews, I wanted to address one particular article that was authored by Charles Eisenstein, as I have written a detailed response to some of things he states in his commentary (which you can see by clicking here).
I chose Charles’ piece to respond to at this level as it covers a myriad of issues that lead to pivotal conversations that can help shape the direction we are going.
I hope this is useful and as always, I welcome your comments and questions!
Foster Gamble’s Response to Charles Eisenstein’s Critique of THRIVE:
Charles Eisenstein, the author of Sacred Economics, has written an article (Synchronicity, Myth and the New World Order) and a critique of THRIVE: What on Earth Will It Take?, that has engendered much discussion. I welcome this opportunity to have a broad and public conversation to look more deeply into some very important issues that he and THRIVE raise.
I took the time to read Charles’ book in depth, and though I disagree with much of what Charles proposes, I think his work has important offerings. My intention is that this on-going conversation further our mutual quest for core ethics, truth and effectiveness in transitioning to a world where all can thrive.
Correcting Some Inaccuracies
Before diving into the philosophical and strategic discussion, I want to clear up some initial inaccuracies in the review of THRIVE. The title of the review (“THRIVE: The Story is Wrong but the Spirit is Right”) immediately casts our discussion into the polarization of right and wrong. I recommend some different distinctions going forward: 1) more or less USEFUL, and 2) ETHICAL or NON-ETHICAL.
Charles’ assumption that I was invoking (p.3) and trying to wage a “war against EVIL” (p. 1) is contrary to the tone and claims in THRIVE. I do not believe there is some separate force in the Universe called EVIL. Perhaps he confused this with his own observation in his conspiracy article, “Evil and its expression as The New World Order...has like all other things its place in the world.” (P. 15) I do observe that some people, in certain mental/emotional conditions and self-justified by certain worldviews and institutions, do intentionally mean and destructive (“sinister”) things to others. I am very interested in protecting life by neutralizing the aggression of those individuals and transforming the systems and obsoleting the agendas of which they are a part.
Next, I want to be clear that THRIVE is not advocating or counting on some sort of “Technological Utopianism.”
“...the film’s contention that the main reason for the misery of the Third World masses is lack of access to energy, and that unlimited clean energy would be a near-panacea for humanity’s problems and would usher in an era of abundance. The story here – call it “technological utopianism” – is that technology is going to rescue us, create a new and better world, and solve our problems.”
I believe that having cheap, clean and safe access to energy all over the planet would be a huge boost economically, ecologically and would provide useful evidence for a new paradigm of universal abundance. It supplements, but does not replace shifts in consciousness as well as financial and other systems. Access to energy and means for healthy commerce (i.e. an honest money system) are currently bottlenecks through which people can be impoverished and forced to put all their attention on subsistence instead of thriving. Thrivemovement.com goes into the myriad issues that accompany the liberated global access to energy and economic solvency. We emphasize the core transformation of energy and commerce systems because without that other changes are insufficient.
Though Charles writes in his book that “free energy technologies have been in existence for at least a century,” (SE, p.443), in his THRIVE review he contradicts himself by taking a swipe at our credibility in saying, “I won’t consider here the scientific plausibility of such technology, which appears to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics.”Let me clarify that first, a toroidal technology, like an atom, a human or a galaxy is an open system and the 2nd Law applies to closed systems. It’s not the motion of the machine which is perpetual, (all matter wears down) it’s the source of energy! Second, what is the explanation for the fact that these inventors are getting raided, shut down, threatened and sometimes killed if they are actually all charlatans? It’s documented that the US Government has denied and confiscated over 3000 patent applications for alternative energy devices. Doesn’t it make sense that they might actually know something about how and which devices actually work?
In his book, Charles goes so far as to excuse J.P. Morgan’s suppression of Nikola Tesla’s radiant energy tower by writing “Perhaps Morgan was even on some level cognizant that humanity was not ready for Tesla’s gift.” (Sacred Economics, p. 443).
Wow. I wonder how all the people suffering from lack of energy and all the species rendered extinct in the course of dirty energy proliferation feel about that.
Eisenstein refers to THRIVE having attracted a “cult following.” This strange and inaccurate term, of course, has been seized upon and often repeated by government trolls and would-be debunkers to try to undermine the credibility of the thrive movement. More accurately, the movie has been seen by over a million people all over the world in its first month with over 95% rave approval and appreciation for providing coherent, fact-based information and grounded solution strategies. I request that intelligent critical thinkers who appreciate THRIVE not be dismissed as cult followers. There is no cult here and the people finding value in this critical information deserve more respect.
Charles has obviously done a lot of research for his book. I especially appreciate his detailed look into the history of money, alternative currencies, localization and his efforts to come up with some out-of-the-box thinking about what approaches might restore healthy lives and ecologies. It’s well worth the $16 he charges for it on Amazon – especially for its value in triggering critical thinking and exploratory interchanges just like this one.
My two biggest concerns about the Eisenstein perspective are that:
a) It can serve to lull people back to sleep and provide the temporary comfort of denial, while distracting from what is really going on...and
b) Many of its proposals, though sounding good at first blush, are ultimately based on government intervention backed by threats of violence - rather than the true protection of the rights of each individual.
Although Eisenstein acknowledges on page 13 of his book that a totalitarian one world government seems to be approaching, he then goes on (pages 3,5,8,9,14,91) to undermine others from taking it any more seriously than to work on our egos and remember our oneness. An example:
“What if our emotions and beliefs actually attract experiential data that fits them...so that it looks like a conspiracy even if there are no conspirators?” (NWO, p.8)
No conspirators? People conspiring to accomplish certain goals is undeniable- the question is at what scale and to what end. Check out 33 Conspiracy Theories That Turned Out to Be True. I am personally encouraged to know that what we experience as systems-wide failure is not random or just the cruelty and incompetence of all of humanity, but instead the consequence of our unwitting participation in an agenda that we have the power to obsolete through non-violent non-participation.
Belief in conspiracy theories is a ...victim state. (NWO, p.5)
If we ignore the agenda for domination, we will end up experiencing a whole new level of meaning to the term “victim state.”
In one of his most unlikely conclusions, Charles states:
“A nefarious power, inimical to human well-being, manipulates the course of human events from behind the scenes, seeking the total control of every human being. Rather than an evil Illuminati, could that power be money? Could it be that it is rather the money system that controls the global elite?”
This is like saying the gun was guilty of the murder. Are the banking elite unaware of the unfair advantage the money scam gives them? They have the power to remedy it if it is not their intention. Our corrupt money system did not create itself, nor will it get rid of itself without dedicated effort.
“ Give me control of a nation’s money system and I care not who creates the laws.”
Mayer Amschel Rothschild
“Who controls the food supply controls the people; who controls the energy can control whole continents; who controls money can control the world.”
Henry Kissinger, 1973
Charles writes that...”conspiracy theories eventually bring most people to a kind of despair, even paralysis...” (NWO, p.14)
Gratefully, this is not the reaction we are getting to THRIVE. Viewers report that the tone, the coherence, the honoring of nature and the human spirit, and especially the in-depth solutions, provide a sense of motivation, traction and viable things to do with the energy that arises. Many people feel validated in their perception and more hopeful than ever now that we have thrivemovement.com through which to share vital information within a context of hope and activism.
He says: “The conspirators are not others, they are we, you and I and everyone...”
This is an example of where I think it is vital to remember our unification, while simultaneously recognizing our individual distinction. Why do we take care to avoid a dangerous street if we are walking alone at night? Some people are desperate and will harm others. That is true on small and large scales and pretending otherwise is dangerous.
When I search for viable solutions being suggested by Eisenstein’s “sacred” approach, unfortunately a great number of them seem to play directly into the hands of the agenda for global control and undermine the individual’s rights and ability to take action.
Charles writes that:
“The dark energies have nearly run their course... Though some might try to hold onto it a little longer, sooner or later they will accept that their time is over, and they will bow out of service...” (NWO, p.15)
What is the evidence for this? I do not see any indication that they are going to go away on their own. In my experience, it always comes down to individuals waking up, speaking up and taking action if we are going to expose and transcend tyranny.
Choose a Belief that Feels Good
“I suggest we choose a belief, and the corresponding psychological state accompanying it...consider how each belief-state feels, what it implies about the world, about human
beings, and about oneself.” (NWO, p. 12)
How about logic and observation? How about going through the uncomfortable feelings that may come up around facts we wish weren’t true? Shall we pretend no one is starving because it doesn’t feel good to acknowledge it? I believe we can be empowered by feeling the discomfort - as anyone who has successfully navigated grief or rage can attest to. On the other side we feel the strength of knowing we are not victims and that we have the right to control our own lives, as long as we do no harm to others.
“I, however, don’t live by principles, nor do I recommend it.”(NWO, p. 398)
I believe that in order for people to live without rulers dominating their actions, we need clear rules instead - based on the core principle of non-violation - that no one has the right to violate another person or their property except in true self-defense.
Just for the record, there are numerous principles Eisenstein recommends. Some of them follow.
“To charge a fee for service, or even for material good, violates the spirit of the Gift.” (SE, p. 401)
“The key to right livelihood is to live off gifts.” (SE, p. 397)
“Musicians, artists, prostitutes, healers, counselors, and teachers all offer gifts that are debased when we assign them a price...the only honorable way to offer it is as a gift.” (SE – 412)
“Most corporations and business owners are not ready to step into a gift-based business mode. That’s OK – you can give then a little push! Simply implement it unilaterally by “stealing” their products, for example by illegally downloading or copying digital content like songs, movies, software, and so on.” (SE, p. 411)
To imagine that people’s lives are going to be restored by others stealing from them is dangerously incomplete and self-serving in its logic. If you want to gift your goods then gift them. But to impose your choice not to on the creator of them is violation, and exactly what gives you the right to impose that violation?
Though Charles has written, “When we convert ‘have to’ into ‘want to’ we are free,” (SE, p. 358), many of his proposals seem to be ultimately based on force.
The state could determine by fiat who gets credit...” (SE, p. 456)
And we have confidence in this why? Every State in history has grown to violate its people. I believe people have the right to determine their own systems of exchange and that those that serve the real needs will prevail without State imposition or subsidy.
Charles states: In a fractional reserve system, one way to view what happens is that banks are not creating new money at all, but simply allowing existing money to be in two places at once. (SE, p. 454)
This notion has reached its ludicrous exposure in so-called “naked short sales” where up to 300 people have been documented to be claiming to own the same shares of stock. It has been used by investment banks to manipulate markets to the disastrous destruction of many individual’s financial well-being.
He then says: “Is the money in your savings account “really there” or not? That is the question that bothers “real money” advocates, but ultimately it is not a useful question.” (SE, p.455)
”In a credit system, most of the credit should go to those who will put it to good use.”
(Who decides what “good” is? To prevent abortion? To support it?)
He goes on to say, “The “social function” I describe doesn’t dictate to whom it goes; it merely sets the conditions so that it will be most likely to go to a certain area that represents the social consensus of good use. This function can be adjusted.”(SE, p.456)
By whom? – The enlightened? Property is based fundamentally on our right to own ourselves, our bodies...and then the fruits of our labor. As soon as you eliminate property and give authority to a state, much less control over a fiat credit system, you have all the key historical ingredients for tyranny. I assert that the fundamental unit of wholeness at the human level is each individual, not the “social consensus.” It is of grave concern to me that Charles writes that the Marxist solution “does not reach deeply enough.” (SE, p. 185) If there is no valid property, do you endorse violating a person’s body? How about their home, their bank account, their income? Where exactly would you draw the line? What rights do you think an individual should be free to defend?
“We are using money to destroy money...
The time for the mindset of wealth preservation is over. Wealth preservation brings to mind a swarm of rats, each clamoring over the others to reach the top of the mast of a ship that is sinking.”
The desire to “kill” money, I believe, is better channeled into having an honest money system with no lending of money one doesn’t have, no printing of money that doesn’t correspond to value. It is about sound, honest and accurate money (medium of exchange) rather than, in effect, raiding someone’s investments, grain silo, or rainy day savings to re-distribute it against their will. This coercive approach is, I believe, based on the very notions of scarcity and fear that Charles is trying to overcome and ignores the creative capacity of humans to innovate how to do more with less (lighter building materials, more capable shrinking computers, zero-point energy devices, robotics, virtual communication, electric cars...) In agrarian societies of old, women managed banks based on honest interest repayable with the fruits of the harvest – fruits, grains, and offspring – tapping the creativity of nature. The Sumerian word for interest meant “calf.” (Web of Debt, Ellen Brown, p. 58)
Preservation of Existing Financial Structure
Charles says: “Perhaps most importantly, a credit-based system can accommodate all of the proposals of this book without the revolutionary destruction of the existing financial infrastructure and rebuilding of a new one.” (SE p. 457)
I suggest the key word is voluntary. It is not what kind of monetary system is the best for some to impose, but how do we preserve the freedom to have people be able to try different currencies, different kind of banks, different kinds of insurance and dispute resolution organizations so that the ones that are most trustworthy rise to the surface, and without state subsidies or bailouts, the less sound ones disappear. Is a “sacred economy” one where a few individuals who consider themselves wiser than the rest centralize control and try to manage markets, prices and money supplies, or is it the on-going flow of free individuals exchanging by reciprocal and mutual agreement?
On page 78 of Sacred Economics is a dangerously misunderstood interpretation of liberty. It implies that the liberty perspective is somehow “dependent on impersonal and coercive institutions that govern from afar.” My research leads to exactly the opposite conclusion. I recommend to Eisenstein that he read more carefully the one person in his bibliography, Hans Hoppe, who does not write in favor of state controlled economics, and also to explore Stefan Molyneux, who will show countless viable alternatives to government that foster just and thriving community.
Charles has written, “Ultimately, I envision decentralized, self-organizing, emergent, peer-to-peer, ecologically integrated expressions of political will.” (SE, p. 187)
Here is an ethical level on which I believe we can all meet. I look forward to potential future collaboration in such an endeavor.
Consciousness growth is not a substitute for activism. I think that for us to be free and thrive, they need to be able to proceed hand in hand. I agree that to focus on the meta-psychology is of great value. There is no reason for that to impede or distract those who are waking up and standing up to take highly-leveraged, non-violent action.