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The Venus Project advocates for a resource-based economy)

The term and meaning of a Resource Based Economy was originated by Jacque Fresco. It is a holistic socio-economic system in which all goods and services are available without the use of money, credits, barter or any other system of debt or servitude. All resources become the common heritage of all of the inhabitants, not just a select few. The premise upon which this system is based is that the Earth is abundant with plentiful resource; our practice of rationing resources through monetary methods is irrelevant and counter productive to our survival.

Communism as envisioned my Marx in his Communist Manifesto

the management of industry by individuals necessarily implies private property, and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form in which the control of industry by private property owners expresses itself, it follows that private property cannot be separated from competition and the individual management of industry. Private property must, therefore, be abolished and in its place must come the common utilization of all instruments of production and the distribution of all products according to common agreement – in a word, what is called the communal ownership of goods.

Though I see that dogmatic Marxists concentrate on the instruments of production, I see that the idea of communism (and many communists) is not limited to that. com-unism means "to unite" that all people on the planet must be brothers rather than consider each other as rivals and tools to make wealth. This is what J.Fresco promotes. Both Zeitgest and communists unveil us how capitalist market and greediness create problems in our society, both advocate the common property along with rational social planning (socialism) based on natural resource and science rather than money (education of Nature is a source of tensions Marxists with church). This implies creation of global technological superstructures-based (public) infrastructure in both cases.

. Might be you noticed even more common properties.

Is it right to consider the communism as such a broad category? (not just as dogmatic Marxsim?)

How to determine if movement falls into the category of Communism or not?

In what way does Zeitgest differ from Communism? (might be the anarchist branch of it)

Why cannot we say that J.Fresco is a communist and promotes the communism?

  • I'd love to have Samuel Russel answer this one, if it was narrowed down and cleaned of speechyfying. – user4012 Sep 25 '13 at 16:56
  • In which direction do you want it to be narrowed down? What is the speechifying? I do not like the manifestos that somebody has added here. I think that I've managed to condense the basic principles that both parties are based on and struggle for: competition -> com-unity (brotherhood), money -> resource-based, market -> rational planning in the global interest, private property -> public property, private housing -> common superstructures and public transport, wealthy few & private interest accumulation -> common good and survival of the mankind. Are these that you want to delete? – Val Sep 25 '13 at 17:21
  • @DVK I hope my answer is sufficiently narrow and free of speechification. – Samuel Russell Sep 29 '13 at 22:36
  • It is not different than Communism. We discussed this on the Mises Institute a while back (I'll include a link to the discussion if I have time to recall my comments there); The "Venus Project" is nothing more than Communism on stilts. As with Communism, it is supported by those who believe they will be the ones holding the chain rather than those at the end of the leash (its also supported by morons) – K. Alan Bates Jan 20 '16 at 17:39
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com-unism means "to unite" that all people on the planet must be brothers rather than consider each other as rivals and tools to make wealth. [...]

Is it right to consider the[sic] communism as such a broad category? (not just as dogmatic Marxsim?)

No. Dictionary definitions are not appropriate theoretical categories in social science.

Engels discusses Robert Owen's social thought as "Communism" extensively at the end of part I of Socialism, Utopian and Scientific. The definition Engels provides at the end of the book is useful, chiefly for denoting some of the high points of the most commonly used definition of communism: the society that results from common democratic ownership of the industrially productive tools of society by society.

In this sense communism requires:

  • Advanced productivity. Discussions of utopian agricultural communes in the United States or post-Anabaptist communal economic endeavour isn't really appropriate.
  • Holding of productive property in common. Being part of a fruit-and-veggie coop where someone ensures everyone gets half a head of cauliflower out of the weekly buy isn't relevant. Common property in a market garden is.
  • That property being democratically controlled: the common property must be substantively not merely formally common. I'm a member of plenty of mutual societies in capitalism; but, I can't exercise effective control, alongside others, of these mutuals for various reasons. A corrupted Rochester coop isn't worth considering.
  • That this nature of economic relations be society wide. It is not reasonable to consider as communism a society where, for example, the production of shoes is common; but, media is owned by capital.

How to determine if movement falls into the category of Communism or not?

Any movement that advocates for an advanced productivity society, where property is held in common should be considered a communist movement.

Sadly this means that many, if not most, "Communist" parties have in fact been non-communist movements.

Personally, I view the immediacy of achieving communism in an organisation's behaviour as an important part in whether an organisation is communist or not. The Fabian Society, for example, viewed the possibility of achieving communism as an eventual thing. (I am too too selfish to be bothered with the "eventual" rather than the "actual.") If someone believes in something, and advocates for it, but acts as if it isn't going to happen that doesn't seem like belief or advocacy to me.

Similarly, I don't trust organisations with pure and utopian plans for the universal reorganisation of society on the model which our glorious leader has discovered (see again Engels, Socialism, Utopian and Scientific here). My experience and reading of "pre-figurative forms," of moments when communist behaviour appeared in my life, or in historical records, strongly indicates that there's more genius in the working class as a whole, than in any particular worker. I don't trust utopians with grand plans. This is, however, because I'm a historical materialist.

In what way does Zeitgest[sic] differ from Communism? (might be the anarchist branch of it)

No, the anarchist branch of communism is anarchism. You might want to start with Proudhon, Bakunin (whose conflicts with Marx in the First International were fraught), Kropotkin, Makhno, Malatesta. I'd recommend George Woodcock's Anarchism : A History Of Libertarian Ideas And Movements.

If we can take this document: http://thezeitgeistmovement.com/orientation#faq5 as a reasonable discussion of Zeitgeist's beliefs you'll notice in the section 'The “Prima Facie” Fallacy' that this particular branch of Zeitgeist argues directly for a technocratic and anti-democratic control over production; as opposed to the humanism that the collective author claims to see in Marxist communism.

Honestly, Zeitgeist claims to be, and appears to me, to be an inheritor of the Technocratic movement. It is not communist because it does not advocate for a society where the commonweal is the commonwealth: Zeitgeist advocates for a technocratic class society.

Why cannot we say that J.Fresco is a communist and promotes the communism?

Because J. Fresco does not want goods or production held in common. He appears to want production and distribution controlled by "science." (See the previously cited faq). My understanding of critiques of technocratic "new classes" are that this kind of class society would be, and potentially has been (in the "soviet-style" societies) an inhuman monstrosity like all previous class society where one class claimed control over the social product or the socially productive forces.

Engels praises Robert Owen for overcoming his technocratic impulse:

From 1800 to 1829, [Robert Owen] directed the great cotton mill at New Lanark, in Scotland, as managing partner, along the same lines, but with greater freedom of action and with a success that made him a European reputation. A population, originally consisting of the most diverse and, for the most part, very demoralized elements, a population that gradually grew to 2,500, he turned into a model colony, in which drunkenness, police, magistrates, lawsuits, poor laws, charity, were unknown. And all this simply by placing the people in conditions worthy of human beings, and especially by carefully bringing up the rising generation. He was the founder of infant schools, and introduced them first at New Lanark. At the age of two the children came to school, where they enjoyed themselves so much that they could scarcely be got home again. Whilst his competitors worked their people thirteen or fourteen hours a day, in New Lanark the working-day was only ten and a half hours. When a crisis in cotton stopped work for four months, his workers received their full wages all the time. And with all this the business more than doubled in value, and to the last yielded large profits to its proprietors.

In spite of all this, Owen was not content. The existence which he secured for his workers was, in his eyes, still far from being worthy of human beings. "The people were slaves at my mercy." The relatively favorable conditions in which he had placed them were still far from allowing a rational development of the character and of the intellect in all directions, much less of the free exercise of all their faculties. [Cited in Engels as From "The Revolution in Mind and Practice," p. 21]

Owen knew that to direct another's labour is to make them your slave. I see no difference when the director is "science" or rather, and of course, "scientists."

  • Aside from listing Makhno (whome anyone USSR-born, left or right wing, generally considers an evil butcher warlord as opposed to a libertarian-anarchist thinker), excellent answer. – user4012 Sep 30 '13 at 0:22
  • I would like to think that we ought to hold all evil butcher warlords to account, regardless of their politics; and, closely inspect people purporting to be anarchists or libertarians for evil butcher warlord tendencies much like we ought to inspect all purported politicians for the same tendencies. – Samuel Russell Sep 30 '13 at 1:00
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    There's nothing "non-aggressive" about the principle of hanging the last boss with the guts of the last bureaucrat; sentiments that go back to the beginnings of libertarianism. "Non-aggression" is a limited conception within libertarianism broadly, though it seems very very popular with contemporary US activists inspired by the Manchester School of liberalism. – Samuel Russell Sep 30 '13 at 14:44
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    Exactly. I started school in the Soviet Union and we were taught to manage natural resources: teacher explained why it is important to conserve resources and why do we place power plants and factories near the raw material/energy sources in educated way and it was mostly planned by technocracy rather than "workers". Liberals have criticiezed the soviet society for their giantomania. However, megalomania (efficient infrastructure) and technocracy is what I see promoted in the Zeitgeist. Might be my association with SU makes me to falsefully think that this is a communism should look like. – Val Oct 1 '13 at 12:38
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    But I also see that this is communism that allows the people to specialize. When you compete with everybody, you must be self-reliant and do everything yourself and, thus, have no time to specialize. You do not trust other people and others do not trust you, since you are rivals and want to cheat each other. In communism, in contrast, you trust the others, including experts, and can rely on their decisions. Consider a life organism (cells in body and bees in hues are literally brothers). But this is this communism of cells that allows them relay on the brains (technocracy) and support it. – Val Oct 1 '13 at 12:45
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The definition of communism includes the ownership of the means of production which is given to the people. That entails an effective abolishment of private property. That is the key difference to the Venus Project. The Venus project is a society of abundance which is accomplished using technology and automation. It means every good and product is available in abundance, your individualized house included. That doesn't change the status of property. It only changes how we view property.

  • Interesting. So the Venus project is actually just an idea about what society would look like with vastly cheaper technology than what exists now? I always assumed they had some sort of agenda or idea about how to create their utopia. – lazarusL May 18 '15 at 0:44
  • @lazarusL It doesn't have to be a utopia. The multi-awared Gaviotas ecovillage and the 100yr old almost twice as productive Kibbutz(look them up) are already there for us to contemplate. Those primitive forms of a RBE are thriving already. Also enough data has been extracted from the prematurely shutdown Mincome experiment to prove that absence money does NOT cause disincentive to work. Technology is just part of the equation and we already have all the prerequisites at hand. The agenda is to get enough funds to build a new city on those proven blueprints and principles now. – Ziad Jul 25 '15 at 10:11
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I do see many differences between RBE and communism, in fact I converted from syndicalism to RBE. There are a few differences, namely that RBE is explicitly technocratic (intelligent and rational social planning by a technically competent administrative body) and Jacques Fresco is pretty clearly anti-democratic. I know that's probably just upset some people, due to our conditioned obsession with the term and the idea of "popular sovereignty". However, Fresco states, "people with no technical competence have no place in decision-making" (or something along those lines) and "this whole idea of 'what's your opinion, what's my opinion' should've been gone in 1927." That and we use cold, hard, indisputable facts and reason rather than philosophy.

  • But the people are allowed to vote for those qualified in decision making thus making the RBE a democracy. A technocracy doesn't allow voting and can be as opaque as the leaders want it to be. It is money and state based. A RBE is purely vote based, fully transparent and doesn't rely on money or a state to thrive. Those are huge differences already! – Ziad Jul 25 '15 at 10:29
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I will try to answer fully the 2nd and 4th question. I am not so well educated in Zeitgeist Movement but have a fairly good understanding of the Venus Project (however still based on external study) and a rough knowledge of communism.

The answers of David P, typicalguestname and Samuel Russell are crucial here.

At first we will look at what the TVP itself has to say about its difference from communism (FAQ and the links from that page):

Although Marx was a brilliant man for his time, he did not foresee the methods and advantages of a high-tech resource-based economy. Communism used money and labor, had social stratification, and elected officials to maintain the communists’ traditions. Most importantly, Communism did not eliminate SCARCITY nor did they have a blueprint or the methods for the production of abundance.

[...] While Marx offered a bold new direction in his time, it falls far short of what can be accomplished with today’s technology applied with human and environmental concern.

But we can still argue that here it compares itself not with the communist ideal but rather with the actual practice of it. In this discussion we analyze how it compares to the communist ideal of a classless and propertyless society without money.


If you read Jacque's books (namely Looking Forward) you might see that the many aspects of the Project presented are only his ideas of the possible realization. But what TVP *could be like* does not necessarilly mean the same thing as what Fresco imagines. The crucial thing is the mode of thinking. The actual final look of the Project is secondary and certainly not well-worked since the nature of the project requires the input of many different experts.

Yes, TVP is not occupied with the idea of social classes. It is a project intented to assimilate the entire social spectrum. It does not prescribe any type of culture or does not occupy itself with the problem of property. It leaves that on people because TVP could be characterised truly as a project we could undertake if we were decided to. It does not describe the optimal state of the society for the transition. It only defines its priorities (see its Aims and Proposals).

To other practical aspects in which it differs from communism: it doesn't believe in revolution. It does not base the access to articles based on one's contribution to the system. (There truly are no restrictions.) Believes in the power of education, nurture and behavioural science to accomplish natural incentive to solve the problems of mankind and to make a contribution in life. (I admit this point is the same in communism.)

But another two important points we have to consider:

  • TVP explicitly seeks to develop the individual to his/her full potential while communism leads to a strong suppression in individual's wants or postpones their fulfilment to future. (Source: Masaryk: The Ideals of Humanity)
  • The engine behind TVP is innovation in thought and design (again the book Looking Forward). The ultimate goal is to stimulate advancements in all areas of society. To teach people critical thinking, creativity and openness to new ideas. In this respect (but it is only my humble opinion) communism is not interested in unending restructure of its systems as well as thinking. Communism views itself as complete.

To the matter of "science rule":

The Venus Project would replace politicians [understand: in technical and material manners] with a cybernated society in which all of the physical entities are managed and operated by computerized systems. The only region that the computers do not operate or manage is the surveillance of human beings. This would be completely unnecessary and considered socially offensive.

It means that we would like to develop the best artifical systems that will do the work better than us and so be the extensions of our own abilites of decision-making. In today's world: expert systems, comprehensive measurement and so forth... It is already a priority of computer research.

Unlike communism, TVP doesn't really work out the problem of transition. It waits for it instead, as a consequence of global technology-economy development.

The economy in TVP is in fact planned but fully expects the use of advanced computer systems to do the economic calculation since otherwise this task is - as it is well known - considered impracticable in complexity.

So in the end, communism differs from TVP in subtle ways but these can show themselves as crucial. To say that it is a form of communism is in my view too rough.

I apologize for any personal bias since knowledge is always finite. :)

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In the zeitgeist movie they claim the difference between communism is that they don't believe in unlimited resources, though I don't recall communism or any economic theory claiming there's unlimited resources. A key difference I may have noticed is that they don't make any clear call to violence against the wealthy and religious to establish their commune like in the communist manifesto, though whether they are willing to use violence against peaceful people to establish and sustain themselves is unclear to me. An absence of violence against innocent people would mean there's freedom to trade, but their ignorant bashing of free trade, the failure to mention that great violence as a least one of the sources of today's immense poverty, and their declared need to control the whole world for it to work, seems to say this is nearly exactly like communism. On the other hand supporters have told me they would tolerate peaceful trade societies which would eventually disappear as they move into the much better "resource based" cities, but it's still all dangerously ambiguous. I've just sent them a question to help clarify this.

  • I agree with everything. The anarchists do indeed ignore the controversies: non-revolutionary expropriation of wealthy, individual freedom vs social planning, no use force against criminals. Marxist-Leninist realaize these controversies and try to be more pragmatic and whether to use violence against antisocial/bad or not is the cornerstone of conflict between liberal anarchists and authoritarian Marxist-Leninist. But dont they share the same goal, the communism? Aren't Venus just anarchists who mistakenly associate Communsim with Marxism-Leninism? – Val Sep 26 '13 at 13:40
  • Adding up a name: Thomas Robert Malthus. Read the related wikipedia article and follow the links: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Robert_Malthus Venus project and Zeitgeist focus is on managing the available resources, and not concentrating on freeing up proletariat and give them the power. Zeitgeist is more close to technocracy, and remember, it is an idea, not a working model yet. – CsBalazsHungary Sep 26 '13 at 14:15
  • The thing is that almost everyone is for an advance community and therefore we could all be called communist, but the "communist" differ on use of violence to achieve their goals, though it has the opposite result. Communist and Capitalist both focused on better managing the available resources which would free up the proletariat, though they disagreed on how it's done. – Hiddenrecon Sep 26 '13 at 18:50
  • @Hiddenrecon Thank you for this revelation. I asked the question precisely because your comrades tried to convince me that communism ≈ capitalism since both are monetary-based, despite it is opposite and easy to check regarding the Com. I thus, decided that you have to resort to such terrible distortions just to claim that ZG is different. I see that you have made great progress. You do not say that white is black and, evenmore, render Marxists as anarchists compared with totalitarian technocratic dictatorship of Zietgeist. This now makes sense and I even see it more attractive than Marxism. – Val Oct 1 '13 at 12:17
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I came across this thread and thought I'd add my 2 cents. My knowledge is fairly limited in the specific references utilized thus far, so please accept my apology for a laymen's point of view. This is more to further emphasize the difference between The Venus Project from Zeitgeist and the Communist Manifesto cited. The major focus in the Venus Project is to develop solutions to the problem of the use of commodity as a basis of currency and/or trade. Elimination of the working class through automation is a tenant. All people need access to the information to improve and develop society. The first step of this has already begun as more and more underprivileged people have gained access to the internet. Public property. This is probably the easiest step to implement. Like books in a public library, most goods aren't needed 24/7. Pretty much anything at the goodwill, right now, could be made available to "check out" for the period of time needed reducing the demand to buy product. This brings me to a HUGE goal for any of the movements... the end of planned obsolescence. There is no reason for this to continue as it is completely unsustainable. Although the Sociocyberneering/technocracy/scientocracy of the Venus Project may on one level be a form of "communism", it is THE complete democratization of the planet. By the time it could be completely implemented, even the plants and animals would have a "voice" through mainframe analytics. From what I've gained from the movement is a change of attitude. A literal revolution may not be necessary, just a revolution of thought. Math doesn't have an addenda or dogma, and that's what TVP is based on.

  • That's about the only answer free from subjectively uneducated opinions I've found here even if it's not the best. – Ziad Jul 25 '15 at 10:41
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Seems like most people here make a distinction between the technocratic RBE, and the democratic communism, but doesn't that just make RBE the socialism stage (at least as the version defined by Lenin), before the communism stage of material abundance which naturally leads to a society which doesn't require government or "democracy" as it is known today? Another distinction seems to be that RBE does not define a way towards the next stage - Communists argue that a revolution is needed, and some believe that violence is unavoidable. How will the educated elite of scientists get hold of the power by which to change society? Do they (RBEists) think this can happen naturally by a progressive change in political discourse? Personally, I think the main difference simply is that Americans are so terrified of "socialism" and "marxism", that to admit having sympathies towards such ideologies is a akin to committing suicide as an opinion leader.

Though I'd like to support both versions, I'm afraid I'm too pessimistic about the immediate future of humanity. We are too ingrained in our monetary belief-system to change before the crash (the big end-all one). We have no straws left to hang on to. No community to join. We are sailing at full speed towards the edge, racing each other - because why not? It's not like my pain and efforts alone could ever amount to a big enough influence to stop the commercial machine. Better make the best out of it, by living and dying as a simple-minded animal, with survival and consumption as the only concerns.

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A Venus Project society would differ from Communism as it would not have money/banks, politics/government, military, prisons/police, and social stratification.

Not sure if I have missed something.

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    Welcome to SE. You don't need to acknowledge ignorance in a response, although if you think you might not have enough information to answer the question, it might be better to post a comment (which will be opened to you as soon as you get enough reputation) than to answer the question outright. – The Pompitous of Love Jan 21 '16 at 16:52
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The Venus Project can only be viewed as utopian unless it can realistically addresses how the dictatorship of finance capital can be annihilated.

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    Welcome to Politics.SE. Your answer sounds like some kind of rant, and does not really fit the expected value of answers here. I'd recommend to read the tour to get more familiar with the concept, and also expand your answer to explain why you see things that way. – bilbo_pingouin Sep 16 '16 at 7:39

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