Peter Joseph is the founder of the Zeitgeist Movement, a grassroots, worldwide organization that advocates an alternative economic system based on sustainability, cooperation and human need. His most recent book, ‘The New Human Rights Movement,’ delivers a startling exposé about the violent oppression that defines our economic order, while issuing an urgent call for global activism to unite to replace it. Abby Martin sits down with Joseph to talk about the contradictions and crises of capitalism and the solutions he proposes in order to avoid future environmental and economic catastrophe.
Peter Joseph & Abby Martin on Abolishing Capitalism
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.
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 U.S. 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 detrimental to 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 system of those that can afford desired goods and those that cannot. We see this phenomenon magnified in today’s culture with a sitting U.S. President maintaining a lavish lifestyle that has been praised and lauded by the media for years. We now have a President that profits off the primal desire of humans to need and want material goods in order to belong.
This ingroup-outgroup notion of material desire has been purposefully magnified in order to normalize 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 instead of basic human welfare for all.
Abby and Peter go on to discuss the purpose of the stock market — a system that creates profit for the rich, yet no material goods for society at large, how the concept of debt is viewed throughout the world, Wall Street’s covert control over U.S. politics, the ability for automation to free humans from labor, and proposed solutions to change our current unsustainable economic system.
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