The Venus Project - resource-based economy

❝Why Jacques Fresco's ideas on the resource-based economy in The Venus Project may be closer to reality than we might realize.❞

In “The Third Industrial Revolution (VICE)”, Jeremy Rifkin points out that – in general – things change for the better. Humans are (generally) better off than before these advancements. However, he also mentions that we are at an interesting point in time, because we have attained certain advancements that do not interoperate well with the framework of capitalism. He mentions two aspects: “zero-marginal cost” and “resource-sharing economy”. The former is about products or resources that have no practical cost to be (re)produced after its initial creation so that people do not want or expect artificially high costs. The latter is about the shared use of resources, such that it is more cost-effective, and resources are used more efficiently.

Jacques Fresco, in his The Venus Project, has invested decades in idea of a resource-managed society. Many of his ideas sound like an idealistic utopia. However, it is important to understand that Jacques Fresco never intended to envision a utopia. He has clarified this repeatedly, he is not a utopian. Instead, the ideas a based on the premise that: with sufficient resources, we can focus on solving the most urgent and fundamental problems without the need to include monetary gains in the equation.

A selection of videos from The Venus Project:

Starting off, this short introduction to a resource-based economy gives an impression of their ideas.

What if you are assured that you can acquire anything you need to survive, with plenty of surpluss – but maybe not everything imaginable – that you want for your entertainment/hobby/research/experimentation? At that point, you no longer need to take acquiring money into account as motivator for survival. It means you can shift focus to other activities, maybe utilitarian, maybe artistic, maybe experimental, maybe something else. Therefore, his ideas may seem more foreign than you are used to. It takes some consideration to see how all pieces fit together, and some “getting-used-to” the idea as a whole.

Now, it is important to realize that, if you spend decades to find solutions for the most urgent, obvious, prevalent problems, to an outsider hearing these ideas for the first time, it would seem like “all problems” are solved. It might look utopian. It would require a deep-dive to find weaknesses and problems that are inherent to this new design for society. We are trained to look for kinds of problems that are inherent to our current society, not so this foreign design. In addition, it is worth mentioning that Jacques Fresco himself points out that his focus is on solving the real problems in society with simple, practical solutions that can just work. It is important to take this into context though. This work started decades ago. A critical effort to discredit ideas will certainly succeed on multiple occasions. It is important to understand the mindset, rather than superficially evaluating one or two ideas he mentions. In a way, his mindset – the thought process and the rationales he explains in his interviews – are a blueprint in itself.

Considering all this, Jacques Fresco’s “Resource-based economy” may not be such a far-fetched/idealistic/futuristic/utopian/dream-like idea. (Take your pick for your preferred criticism.) The talk by Jeremy Rifkin already hints at (early) beginnings of a similar transition: the resource-sharing economy and the zero-marginal-cost “problem” are first big indicators. These aren’t the first signs. However, they seem to be the first pervasive signs on a scale for which their presence is undeniable.

This post is part of the Human Advancements series.
Other posts in this series: