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The Venus Flytrap - Renovating People

Chapter 2.
Because The Venus Project is trying to renovate people.


2-01 Summary) Individualism nowadays is suffering disgrace of being linked to egocentrism and egoism. However, individualism has no inevitable relationship with egocentrism or egoism. Individualism is the belief that individuals can have their own views and preferences without interference of others. It is no exaggeration to say that conviction to protect the rights of minorities and desire for freedom of expression were born from this individualism.

2-02 However, unprecedented diversity brought by individualism means corruption of civilization to those who always try to force their own values in others. They do not hesitate to define all values different from their own as evil or disease that requires treatment. These two are described as different things, but they are the same in reality. They share the same premise that their own value is correct and other people's values are incorrect.

2-03 The idea of Jacque Fresco to eliminate conflicts by integrating the wishes of people around the world is a typical example of collectivism. Such collectivism may start with the banner for protection of individuality, but it strictly destroys individuality by suppressing freedom of idea. It may start with the banner for protection of science and technology, but it strictly destroys science and technology by transforming fields of study into slaves of ideology.



2-04 In traditional economics, competition is mostly about competition of producers - corporations in the capitalistic economy. This is unrelated with companies creating competition among workers using incentives. If people become more efficient through cooperation than competition, corporations with cooperative systems will survive. Corporations will emphasize cooperative mind, and schools will teach students to become as cooperative as possible. This is right in many cases.

2-05 Within capitalism, people are engaged in many competitions, as well as cooperation. The same is applied to animals in the nature. All people being selfish is not beneficial to capitalistic economy, because it precludes cooperation among workers, which is required to increase productivity of corporations. The reason why many people believe that capitalism makes people become selfish is a mystery.

2-06 In any case, our thoughts and ideas are affected by the surrounding environment. Fresco is correct about his criticism that people today have prejudices, though details of these prejudices are extremely suspicious. The problem is in the program he presents to remove prejudices from our society. He boasts to permanently get rid of prejudices by changing our environment.

2-07 Changing environment does change people's thoughts and ideas to some degree. The problem is there is no guarantee that these new thoughts and ideas do not contain a new prejudice. Jacque Fresco does not acknowledge this. Such attitude results in the inability to cure a new prejudice when it occurs. His social prejudice treatment program is wrong for the exactly same reason as his personal prejudice treatment program. It is dogmatic.


2-08 Popper's insistence that prejudice can only be removed through argument and communication is not only applied to science. It is also applied to society. If we were to truly treat social prejudices, we must accept methods of argument and communication. We must throw away the arrogance that we can reach the truth through introspection. We must be actively engaged in exchange with others.

2-09 Scientific problems are guaranteed to be resolved by argument, but problems of ethics and values are not. However, this does not prove that nothing can be resolved through argument in ethics and values. Through argument with an opponent, we can arouse the outcomes of his idea. As a result, we can show the opponent that his idea cannot coexist with another idea he has.

2-10 Such argument can only solve a few problems. Argument cannot be made if two people have fundamentally different values. In this case, we have to acknowledge that our perspective can differ from the perspective of our opponents, as scientists do about the problem of ideology which cannot be resolved through scientific argument. Tolerance must be regarded as the most important virtue of our society.

2-11 Accordingly, Popper draws the following conclusion. We cannot expect all people to have the same value. We should not try to eliminate conflicts by making everyone have the same thought. This actually increases most of conflicts rather than removing them. We need to remember that numerous religious wars broke out because of this wish. No matter how much the religions emphasized love and peace, it was unable to change the devastating consequence of wars.


2-12 We prohibit evil deeds through laws in order to maintain social order. Furthermore, we must punish people for violating laws. Nevertheless, there is a very important limitation to this. We do not punish someone just by the fact that he has an evil mind. We take for granted the fact that only actions, not minds, can be the grounds for punishment.

2-13 In fact, laws and punishments are the only means to make someone become obedient to the society without changing his mind. He probably cannot perform all actions he wants to do. However, at least he has the ultimate freedom. That is, he has the freedom to be evil. We do not believe that a community should interfere with individual's mind. As a result, we use laws and punishments as alternatives of personality education instead of using personality education as an alternative of laws and punishments.

2-14 Individualism is a belief that each human being can have his own preferences. [10] Collectivism is a belief that a community must pursue at least one common goal. We already recognized the former view. The latter view is sometimes compared to understanding of an entire community as a living organism. An organism cannot sustain if its hands and feet pursued different goals. According to collectivists, so is the society.

2-15 Here, I briefly described two ideas that have long been confronting: Individualism and its opposing concept, collectivism. These two represent two social programs for treatment of prejudice rather than representing two social prejudices. In this Chapter, we are going to review the outcomes of each idea when it is applied to the society and find the direction we need to follow.


2-16 First, we must ask the following question. Is it even possible to accord the preferences and goals of all members of the society? Look at how many people's personality supporters of The Venus Project think they need to educate. Those who are interested in stories about celebrities instead of the mankind rescue project by Jacque Fresco will be educated. People who do not acknowledge that we are connected and fight over sports are immature, so they will also be educated.

2-17 Someone might say that such education is unnecessary once resource-based economy is completed. This argument is disproved by scientific studies. Diverse tribal ceremonies in hunting and gathering societies existed to inspire a sense of community and create a fantasy that everyone is united. This was the most uproarious education method devised by mankind, and it was not completely successful in preventing deviations of tribesmen.

2-18 Even more horrible thing would happen if we were to apply this method in the modern world. We have already seen the same thing occur in Germany and Italy during 1930s. It can only become something like thousands of crowd marching with a flag or collective art performances in North Korea that arouse disgust in people living in liberalistic nations.

2-19 Therefore, the plan of Jacque Fresco is confronted with a difficulty at the beginning. There is no doubt that relatively small communities are advantageous over large scale communities in uniting the goal of their members. Despite this, tribes in hunting and gathering societies failed. Modern collectivistic nations saw greater failure by using more stupid methods. Much more, Jacque Fresco and his followers need to accord the goal and means of the entire mankind. How can that be possible?


2-20 It is uncertain as to when the resource-based economy will be completed. It is not easy to create a rich environment in which everyone can naturally become altruistic. During this endless period, 'patients' who threaten the resource-based economy will be ceaselessly treated. The term patient does not only include people whom we refer to as villains. It includes all people who believe in values different from Jacque Fresco.

2-21 Fresco may argue that his alternative is special because it doesn't punish people. But in a matter of fact, there is no difference between calling something a subject of punishment and subject of treatment. [11] In fact, the latter causes worse result. The former can coexist with the perspective that even though it is an act that must be punished, this punishment is a necessary evil required to maintain the society. The latter cannot coexist with this perspective. It is simply a disease, and it must be corrected by a good educator.

2-22 In an individualistic society, freedom of thought is often regarded as one of the most important principles of freedom. We punish lawbreakers according to law. But we don't obstinately try to change their conscience. We just acknowledge that they have a freedom to think as they want. Which gives more respect to offenders between Fresco's alternative and this? The answer would differ depending on your values.


2-23 But our concern is more practical. Fresco describes the process of educating criminals beautifully. Educators would find the environmental factors of criminal behavior with a series of scientific methods and remove it. Educators would change them not by punishing them, but understanding them. All of this sounds very appealing. But are they really feasible in the environment of his alternative system?

2-24 We do not believe that we can cure every villain without any exception through education. No scientist, no psychologist, no psychiatrist makes such a claim. But Fresco's plan of replacing every laws and punishments with education can't be justified without such an extreme assumption. How can we prevent crime of criminals to whom the education doesn't work?

2-25 If somebody were to receive an education for having raped a child, can this education on him be performed peacefully? It may be at first. However, can we still stick to peaceful method after he repeats the crime two or three times? Would the public approve of it? Won't the treatment inevitably become increasingly oppressive and authoritative?

2-26 Even on the assumption that a treatment will always succeed, problems still remain. An education takes time. We would have to protect majority of people from brutal criminals until their treatment is done. We would have to isolate them until the treatment is finished. However as prisons of today suggest, such isolation is itself a punishment. It inflicts the freedom of body to move anywhere they want to.


2-27 But collectivistic society has no objective standard to determine who is to receive education and through which method. When the treatment ends? Punishment is carried out based on action, but treatment is based on mind. How can we judge someone's mind? Perhaps methods of science and engineering can be used. This generally means the following: Method that cannot be understood by most people.

2-28 We have laws to clearly distinguish between what are subject to punishment and what not. If a policeman arrests us without reason, we have the right to protest. We cannot expect the same from resource-based economy. The fact that laws do not exist practically means that the planners can isolate and treat people without any clear standards.

2-29 Can this get worse? Yes. There are much more actions regarded as diseases that need treatment in resource-based economy than actions being punished by laws today. Violence and addiction as well as selfish and non-cooperative behaviors will of course be considered as subjects of treatment and education. Moreover, all ideas other than the idea of Jacque Fresco will probably be considered as potential subjects of treatment and education. People who fell into ideologies are the ones who need treatment and education the most.


2-30 This is not a fiction. I am talking about actual events that happened in most of collectivistic nations. North Korea does not have prisons. It only has institutions called correctional centers. Everyone today knows that correctional centers of North Korea are spaces of oppression that violate human rights. The problem is that these centers were created with the same purpose as the behavioral correction program promised by The Venus Project: Removal of psychological diseases through treatment.

2-31 Perhaps one may protest that the method of education pursued by The Venus Project is different from North Korea's. But then, was Marx's ideology similar to current North Korea's? What we know is that Marx's ideas were spoiled in North Korea and every other communist country which tried to change people's mind. Even punishments which never meant to be in Marx ideology were justified so easily as a means of education.

2-32 We can't prevent our system from spoiling because of human imperfection without law. If we anyway have to isolate somebody and do something to them they don't want, we must have clear standards. And it must be based on action, not mind. The reason why we have to reject Fresco's suggestion is not that his view of education is wrong, but rather that his view of education is incompatible with the system he's proposing in the long term.


2-33 Supporters of The Venus Project would still not think things that happen in clearly erroneous totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin can also happen in resource-based economy. However, they fail to realize that such clearly erroneous ideas did not start out as clear errors at the beginning. Communism began with an ideal as noble as The Venus Project.

2-34 This is what supporters of The Venus Project must explain to argue that The Venus Project is different from communism fundamentally: Psychological corruption of communism. Supporters of The Venus Project might say that it occurred because communism failed to completely remove the environment that corrupts people. Okay. What can you do if the process of creating a perfect resource-based economy, or the transitional process, is a process that corrupts people in the same way?

2-35 The Venus Project creates a fantasy that ideas are fixed by identifying their idea with the laws of nature. The truth is that ideas change, even in the most stagnant societies. How would they educate a villain for whom cure program does not work at all? If he has murdered dozens of people, would supporters of The Venus Project still be able to use moderate means? Won't the efforts to protect their idea become increasingly authoritative?

2-36 As soon as we give up on individualistic belief that everyone can have his own views and preferences, it becomes impossible to treat prejudices. Experience of becoming united with all things is as helpless as revelation of God in removing prejudices. Even if we start out by removing all prejudices, a new prejudice will grow. Therefore, the belief that the noble ideal of The Venus Project will be maintained forever is very uncertain.


2-37 The belief that the entire mankind is a single body may not appear bad, but this can be combined with any other thoughts. Think about the father-ship of North Korea. If all citizens of a nation were members of a family, their leader can be compared to the father of family. It was not a surprise to see all North Korean citizens cry when Kim, Jong Il died. It is only natural for children to respect and love their father.

2-38 Plato saw citizens as cells that compose an organism called nation. The king must be like a king, citizens like citizens, and slaves like slaves. Struggle between social classes is not allowed. It is similar to how feet cannot become hands and heart cannot become head in an organism. Plato's comparison of social class to body organ was made over 2,000 years ago, but it is still very simple and attractive.

2-39 Meditation to realize that the entire mankind is connected is not at all helpful for breaking these arguments. [12] Vague realization can be used in any way. Therefore, we should not believe that we are essentially different from residents of North Korea. North Korea, like The Venus Project, promised its residents to provide a nation equal for everyone. When this noble ideal is being corrupted as the most vulgar religion, only a small minority of North Koreans recognized it.


2-40 Jacque Fresco is actually right when he points out that we cannot think outside the society to which we belong. The only reason why we think that totalitarianism of Hitler and Stalin is absolutely wrong is because we are not living in a totalitarian society. Supporters of The Venus Project tend to believe that when their idea becomes corrupt, some kind of human nature will rescue them from error. Unfortunately, such nature does not exist.

2-41 The truth is that it is not only possible for ideology maintaining collectivistic society to be spoiled but that it is inevitably spoiled. Ideology can only be copied from a person to another through education. However in this process, ideology is not perfectly copied. We all watched the same video, but everyone has slightly different idea about what the resource-based economy is. [13]

2-42 It is so naïve to think that conflicts will disappear when everyone accepts resource-based economy. Many factions will appear to argue that they are the only ones who succeed Jacque Fresco's idea. They will fight each other, as Stalinists and Trotskyists did in the past, saying that they can apply scientific method to the society. What we need to learn from the history of religious division and conflict is not that conflict is bad. It is that the collectivistic attempt for unification cannot permanently unify ideas.

2-43 Anyway, let us stop discussing about how the idea of Jacque Fresco will give birth to conflicts. I am more interested in evolution by individual variation than speciation. Ideologies change as they are duplicated. In this process, attributes that can be duplicated faster will prosper, and other attributes will disappear. As Richard Dawkins correctly pointed out, ideology evolves. We can refer to this as meme.


2-44 However in general, evolution of meme is not something that improves quality of our life. Genetic position of meme is identical to virus. Since virus genes cannot reproduce once their host is dead, they share at least a little bit of benefit with the host. But they do not consider survival as important as genes in our body do. If there is a trait to reproduce faster by putting the host into danger, this trait is chosen by natural selection.

2-45 Meme is selfish. Instead of evolving the trait that helps us to question everything with critical mind, it evolves the trait that makes us accept everything without criticism. For ideology, the trait that encourages blind belief to sacrifice one own and other people's lives will be naturally selected. The most self-deceptive trait that can be described as love and justice while most cruelly punishing competitors will evolve.

2-46 Natural selection is not the only one that can change ideology. Changing of ideology can be intentionally performed by planners who have obligations and rights to educate such ideology to us. If they are careful enough, they will slowly but surely draw the wanted result. Exactly same thing happened during 1930s in Germany and Soviet Union.

2-47 Of course, meme is as selfish in individualist society, but it applies a brake on meme's deluge. The thought that we can only reach the truth through reason and logic makes it possible for us to question meme. We are still a bit dogmatic about the mainstream ideology of our society, but it is nothing compared to that of medieval Europe, North Korea or former Soviet Union. The lesson is clear. Idea to which nobody can raise objection tends to corrupts. And absolute idea corrupts absolutely.


2-48 There cannot be academic freedom without freedom of idea. Since in many cases ideas are based on academic knowledge, studies must be controlled in order to control ideas. Can evolutionary psychology survive in the system of The Venus Project? Isn't this field of study presenting interpretations on human beings that cannot coexist with Jacque Fresco's interpretations a subject of disposal like economics? [14]

2-49 Supporters of The Venus Project would say that evolutionary psychology must disappear because it is based on prejudice. It may be true, but the problem is they believe that there is absolutely no prejudice in the idea that led them to this conclusion. Supporters of The Venus Project measure validity of all fields of study through idea. To them, studies can always be incorrect while idea - which they never refer to as idea - is absolutely true.

2-50 Critical thinking disappears when studies only volunteer for ideas and society. If a lie is needed to strengthen an idea and maintain social harmony, it will be accepted. The phenomenon that Plato called noble lie will exist all around. Instead of truth changing idea, idea will determine the truth. This practically means death of studies.


2-51 Evolution of meme is not always bad, as long as it is properly controlled. Also as correctly pointed out by Hayek, successful ideology can drive out inappropriate ideology and be naturally selected by improving life quality of people who follow it. Scientific theories can be considered as a type of meme in that they develop based on mutual competition. However, evolution of scientific theories as memes actually improved life quality of their hosts or human beings.

2-52 What I would like to emphasize is that it was not easily obtained. The argument that evolution of scientific theories contributes to life quality of human beings was made possible after rise of new competition called liberal criticism and discussion. Selfish meme shares some benefits with its host, but it simultaneously tries to prosper itself by exploiting its host. Natural selection of positive meme requires a special environment in which the former tendency becomes advantageous and the latter becomes disadvantageous.

2-53 We may need to continuously control the evolutionary environment of meme so that it does not threaten peace of mankind. This is not a totally new story. Within the market economy, we hope corporations that supply better goods at lower prices to be naturally selected. On the contrary, we do not hope unjust corporations to be naturally selected. We must adjust the environment of competition by introducing fair trade laws. This is not different from adjustment of competitive environment between memes.

2-54 To some degree, we know how to make such adjustment today. Allowance of liberal criticism and discussion is one of the methods. However, the prescription suggested by Jacque Fresco is the opposite. He attempts to erect an idea unquestioned by anyone that grants the right to censor and distort natural sciences. This is practically the same as returning to the medieval age when there was no progress.


2-55 Supporters of The Venus Project say that only technological development brings improvement in quality of life. As discussed in detail later on in Chapter 4, the possibility of this being true is low. Many things we currently enjoy that support quality of life, such as fair trade and labor standard laws, are political system. We generally accept that they contributed as much in improving quality of our life as water purifiers.

2-56 However if Jacque Fresco intended to say that technology mainly contributed to improvement in life quality, it is correct. Nonetheless, there is an unresolved mystery. The reason why we believe that market economy or individualism contribute to improvement in our life quality is because it occurred around the same time as technological development, the actual thing that improved quality of our life. Why did this happen?

2-57 When Western Europe quickly developed its technology through industrial revolution, did remaining countries stay still because they are inferior to Western people? Technology and also culture always developed fastest in places where individualism was most developed. Excluding modern civilization, the civilization that gave birth to the great philosophers like Socrates and Plato and great scientists such as Euclid, Eratosthenes and Pythagoras was Athens, one of the most individualistic civilizations.

2-58 Many people have excessively romantic thoughts about primitive collectivist societies. As verified in Chapter 9, such thoughts hardly helped us in removing social classes, wars and egoism. The great ancient civilizations to be respected by us are not the same. It was always individualistic generations that succeeded in boosting the rights of citizens, developing science and technology, and improving quality of life.


2-59 Individualism is deeply related with economic liberalism. It showed that order can be formed without controlling individual's efforts. Instead of a system, the market was a spontaneous structure created as a result of allowing personal freedom. Each individual freely produced and exchanged goods by ownership of oneself. As a result, those who produced goods most desperately wanted by others gained profit, and efforts to gain profit created abundance.

2-60 Hayek wrote, "From the commercial cities of Northern Italy the new view of life spread with commerce to the west and north, through France and the south-west of Germany to the Low Countries and the British Isles, taking firm root… the general direction of social development was one of freeing the individual from the ties which had bound him to the customary or prescribed ways in the pursuit of his ordinary activities."

2-61 And "Perhaps the greatest result of the unchaining of individual energies was the marvelous growth of science which followed the march of individual liberty from Italy to England and beyond… Only since everything could be tried - if somebody could be found to back it at his own risk - and, it should be added, as often as not from outside the authorities officially entrusted with the cultivation of learning, has science made the great strides which in the last one hundred and fifty years have changed the face of the world."

2-62 If science and technology are the only things that can improve quality of our life, what we need to do is obvious. We must accept the prejudice removal program that developed studies, arts and sciences in all places, not the prejudice removal program that suppressed liberal thoughts of human beings and destroyed studies in all places. It is individualism.



[10] In this sense, individualism is not necessarily proportional to economic laissez-faire. The two have deep correlation, but this correlation is only probabilistic. In fact, the United States right now with the greatest number of Christian fundamentalists and patriots - mainly those who try to teach their ideas to others - in the world is far away from an ideal individualistic nation. It is surprising to see Fresco criticize patriotism of the United States and even totalitarianism while regarding the United States as an individualistic nation. He is not interested in the original meaning of individualism. When he talks about individualism, he is only referring to economic laissez-faire. If he were to maintain minimal consistency, he should have included nations that selected planned economy in 'collectivistic' nations such as the former Soviet Union and China. He did not.

[11] Thinking that a gay became gay because of environmental influence and helping him is not helpful for him at all. If we try to fix his disease, it would actually harm him. It is not surprising to see gays hate people with this attitude more than people who oppose homosexuality. However, supporters of The Venus Project have the same view on different values. They are not subjects of punishment, but they are subjects of education. Setting forth generosity by emphasizing treatment over punishment seems to be a universal characteristic shared by religious ideologies. When Christians pity gays and say they pray for their souls, they are not telling the truth. Such thought can never be innovative. I doubt whether it ever occurred in the past.

[12] Mystical experience mostly fails to correct our prejudices and incorrect ideologies. The psychological state praised by Zeitgeist as the great experience of realizing connection of all things is nothing different from the psychological state of Mahomet when he created the Islam after receiving revelation of God. In fact, the conclusion we draw from such mystical experience is determined by the environment in which we grow up.

[13] We cannot believe that we can prevent such spoils by specifically recording Jacque Fresco's ideas through books and video clips. Remember religions that teach contents written in the scriptures as the only truths ended up with greatest number of denominations. Fresco's plan is more distant from concreteness than the Old Testament. Nobody knows about structure of the provisional government which will command resource-based economy during the transition period.

[14] Evolutionary psychology deduces human psychology today from instincts that were advantageous when people lived hunting life. Such instincts were beneficial when the mankind lived by hunting, but they collide with the complex society of today. The problem is that they also collide with the cooperative society of Fresco. Fresco's claim that human behavior is determined by interaction between environment and human nature cannot refute evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology is actually involved with such interaction. I will expose in Chapter 9 that Jacque Fresco's thoughts on human behavior contradicts with thoughts of most modern natural scientists. His thoughts are closer to thoughts of those studying humanities which were refuted by Steven Pinker in Blank Slate. In reality, most of studies he cites were conducted by humanities scholars. They rarely received proper verification by natural sciences.