A New World System is a 2012 socio-critical documentary written by Jacque Fresco and directed by Roxanne Meadows, which gives an outlook of how our world could look if we redesigned our entire society for the needs of human-beings and a sustainable future of our planet. Fresco’s views and criticism of the system that we are living in has strongly impacted my personal worldview, thus, I would like to share this documentary.
The documentary summarizes the ideas of the so called Venus Project launched by Fresco and Meadows in 1995 in Venus, Florida. The Venus Project proposes a resource-based, rather then a monetary-based economy with technology and science guiding society instead of politics and religion. Fresco, who considers himself a social engineer, was born in 1916. His interest in social engineering arose from observations he made during the Great Depression, starting in 1929. During the Great Depression, Fresco realized that all required resources that people need were still available. People just did not have the money to buy them. Thus, the depression was not connected to any shortage of food or water but only created by the failure of the financial system. This is where Fresco’s life long quest of redesigning our society began.
In the beginning of the documentary Fresco criticizes our debts-based monetary system. He points out that we have the chance for a sustainable future but we are approaching a point of no return, which will result in a social collapse if we remain on the same path. Fresco primarily criticizes the fact that money is valued higher in our society than the well-being of people. He also points out the materialistic nature of American culture – a point with which I totally agree. As a European, I have observed that especially in the US the media and society are extremely consumer oriented, conditioning their people to buy the newest and most up-to-date products in order to pump more and more money into the monetary machinery. Most of those products are designed to fail after a certain period of use. This is what Fresco describes as planned obsolescence; a total waste of resources and energy.
So how could we redesign our system in order to create a sustainable future for all of us? Fresco believes we need to learn to adapt to changing conditions like nature does, instead of repeating the same mistakes over and over again. We need to realize that managing our resources by monetary control is no longer relevant and in fact, is counter-productive to our survival. We do have the knowledge and technology to solve almost all of our problems. Also, we do have enough resources for all people on Earth; we just have to learn to manage them intelligently. This is where Fresco sees a resource-based economy as the best alternative. All goods and services have to be available to everyone without the use of money. In other words: Earth’s resources have to be declared as common heritage for all of the world’s people. I personally see a strong connection to nature here and a closer look through a biomimetic lens could make us realize what is going wrong in our culture: In contrast to our society, nature adapts to the level of resource availability. Biological organisms only consume what they need and are locally attuned to what is available. To allow us to learn from those principles in nature, we would have to change our mindset and accept that not all resources are available in unlimited quantities at every location on our planet. As Roxanne Meadows says: “We have to understand that we are a part of nature and not separate from it”.
More into detail, Fresco imagines a new world system as follows: All planning must be based on the carrying capacity of the Earth. This defines the redesign of the infrastructure using system’s thinking. First of all, global resource surveys are needed to analyze which physical resources are available. Based on the surveys, production centers have to be built at the right locations. Resource production and distribution has to be coordinated by a dynamic cyber network control system. Electrical sensors access the information of resource availability in every city, warehouse etc. All decisions have to be made for the needs of the society.
Fresco also has plans for how cities of the future should look. He holds the view that it is better to build a new city from scratch than maintain an old one. Fresco’s cities of the future would be embedded in nature and have an efficient transportation system, automated and self-assembling housing structures, resource centers, recreational areas, agriculture farms etc. All structures should be built from reusable materials and powered by renewable energy. Everything should be available to everyone without a price tag due to a high production rate that does not allow any scarcity. This would also lower crime rates. More critically, crime would be avoided by the right education, which is the basic foundation of every modern society. Fresco points out that education and experience shape human behavior. Behavior is not genetically predetermined and genes have no influence on the values of the individual. According to Fresco one of our highest goals has to be the education of our people to the highest possible level.
People might think now: “How should a system work where all resources are free for everyone? Why should I go to work if I don’t need to earn money to buy stuff?” Fresco points out that the incentive to work for most people is passion rather than money. All famous inventors or scientists were driven by curiosity, creativity, and the search for the next challenge. This is our human nature and every person would work with passion if there would be the opportunity for everyone to pursue their intended career. In such a society all boring repetitive jobs would have to be automated by technology. Today our technology would already be able to realize that, but in a monetary-driven system, unnecessary jobs are maintained, rather than abolished, since a reduction of jobs would have negative effects on the economy and the individual. Thus, we need to realize that our society has to be problem solving-oriented instead of money-oriented.
All in all, A New World System presents an impressive futuristic concept of a visionary man who is willing to break the chains of our society and to give an outlook of how the future might look if we try our best to make a change. According to Fresco, a society without a vision of how the future could be will make the same mistakes over and over again. Fresco also states that he does not have all the answers to the question of how to build the “perfect” society but he knows that we can do better than we are and make improvements through incremental change – I agree.