Buckminster Fuller


You never change things by fighting the existing reality.
To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
R. Buckminster Fuller

On the Shoulders of Giants
Buckminster Fuller

by The Zeitgeist Kid

The Zeitgeist Movement is engaged in a great endeavor to create a future for humanity that is sustainable environmentally, economically and culturally. Just like the manner in which Buckminster Fuller organized his life, our focus and method has also been upon educational awareness and activism. We plant the seeds for future generations to harvest and nurture. If you take the time to watch the two videos embedded at the bottom of this post “Buckminster Fuller - Lost Interviews, part 1 and part 2” made towards the end of his life, you will gain a deeper understanding of his motivations and of the train of thought for his efforts. Here again, there are striking similarity to the “train of thought” within TZM. His approach was scientific and technical while maintaining a focus of systems thinking and analysis. He motivation was focused primarily for the benefit of the entire human family of “Space Earth” as he liked to refer to our only home. Buckminster Fuller spent his time working for the benefit of his family rather than for profit. He viewed humanity as his extended family and the technical solutions he proposed, taught and demonstrated throughout the course of his life clearly reflect his love for family. It is upon the shoulders of giants like Buckminster Fuller that we will build the new model for humanities future.

What will that model look like?

From an economic perspective, within TZM, we like to call that new model a Natural Law Resource Based Economy(NLRBE). Like Buckminster Fuller, we also view humanity as our family and the Earth as our home. Buckminster Fuller gave his vision for the sharing of technology and ideas in a way that we now call “open source”. The world is run by the business community around the monetary market economic model with the focus on personal and corporate profit. We call this “business as usual”. Just like TZM, Buckminster Fuller viewed this model as increasingly obsolete.

We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

By focusing on humanity as family, TZM and Buckminster Fuller both recognize the unique importance of the individual within human society.

Never forget that you are one of a kind. Never forget that if there weren't any need for you in all your uniqueness to be on this earth, you wouldn't be here in the first place. And never forget, no matter how overwhelming life's challenges and problems seem to be, that one person can make a difference in the world. In fact, it is always because of one person that all the changes that matter in the world come about. So be that one person.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

TZM suggests we question everything we have learned culturally by reexamining everything we think we know under the rigorous standard of a scientific train of thought.

Everything you've learned in school as "obvious" becomes less and less obvious as you begin to study the universe. For example, there are no solids in the universe. There's not even a suggestion of a solid. There are no absolute continuum. There are no surfaces. There are no straight lines.”
― R. Buckminster Fuller

TZM recognizes the fundamental flaws in our hierarchical government models that are all clones of the underlying hierarchical business model of private property and ownership that we call capitalism and that promotes private profit over all else. We seek to promote a more horizontal, leaderless structure for our efforts recognizing the value of individual integrity and understanding. The educational awareness and activism approach seeks to nurture that integrity and understanding. We recognize that all activism is voluntary and self motivated and therefore entirely dependent upon the understanding and awareness of each of us. As activists, we don't look to leaders to implement our 'great ideas' for us.

"When I was born, humanity was 95 per cent illiterate. Since I've been born, the population has doubled and that total population is now 65 per cent literate. That's a gain of 130-fold of the literacy. When humanity is primarily illiterate, it needs leaders to understand and get the information and deal with it. When we are at the point where the majority of humans them-selves are literate, able to get the information, we're in an entirely new relationship to Universe. We are at the point where the integrity of the individual counts and not what the political leadership or the religious leadership says to do.”
R. Buckminster Fuller, Only Integrity Is Going to Count: Integrity Day, Los Angeles February 26, 1983

As volunteers, we shoulder responsibility and work within the TZM community and within our local communities, recognizing our common humanity and the common ground upon which we all stand as the foundation for our efforts. Basic human needs are universal. The need for access to resources to meet those needs is universal. Thus the value of an economic foundation for our efforts with a primary focus on meeting needs rather than on personal or private profit. Rather than a competitive economic model, we promote a collaborative and cooperative model that benefits everyone, not the few.

These are all high ideals. For a long time, one of the primary criticisms of the Zeitgeist Movement and of our sister organizations like the Venus Project has not been our lack of vision but our lack of a concrete plan for realizing that vision. In my opinion, those criticisms are unfounded because they lack the understanding that until the understanding and the integrity of those seeking to implement that vision are solid, there is zero chance of success. Thus the primary focus on educational and awareness activism. The seeds are being planted within global human culture. We are those seeds. Whether or not we will bear fruit and the quality of the fruit we will bear are entirely dependent upon the individual understanding and integrity of each of us. The broad general outlines of the new paradigm are beginning to emerge even as the old paradigm slides more and more quickly towards oblivion. I would like to offer a few insights into how a NLRBE might begin to emerge from within the decaying corpse of the monetary market economy.

Energy as an Example

One of the fundamental basic needs of everyone within our modern technologically advanced civilization is energy. The awareness of the impacts of our traditionally evolved energy production and distribution systems upon our global environment and upon the quality of all life upon our beleaguered planet are of great concern for humanities future. A new and better model for producing and distribute energy is sorely needed. Let's think about this problem from a technical perspective, as did Buckminster Fuller in his time. He suggested that by interconnecting the power grids all around the world, we could greatly reduce the amount of energy production needed to supply our needs. This is equally true today and equally unrealizable because of the vast national and idealogical disparities and economic competitions still in existence. Many have still not learned to think holistically in terms of natural systems as did Buckminster Fuller. That must change before any such global technical solution could be implemented.

As holistic systems thinking emerges in more and more individuals, it begins to become possible for local solutions to emerge. As individuals, we can install solar systems on our roofs to decrease or eliminate our demand for increasingly obsolete modes of energy production, like coal, oil, gas and nuclear. We can build or retrofit our homes with energy saving technologies that greatly reduce our need for energy. As communities, we can begin to support community based efforts through energy cooperatives that promote similar technical solutions to local energy production and use. If those cooperatives, and this is a big if, are aware of the hierarchical nature of traditional business models, they can also steer their efforts towards access rather than profit models of energy production and distribution. As more individuals are able to produce their own energy, connecting to the community grid makes the technology more viable as excess can be distributed where it is needed and deficit can be accommodated with minimal need for local energy storage that is still problematic in many ways though improving by leaps and bounds. The for profit business models that pretty much exclusively dominate the energy markets, even within energy cooperatives, inhibit at many levels the technical sharing of renewable energies between individuals, within communities and between communities all the way up to the international level that Buckminster Fuller envisioned.

Let's imagine for a moment, that using existing technologies, a community decided to develop and support an energy cooperative with the sole aim of providing access to energy for all community members. Let's begin with the individual who produces some renewable energy. Technically speaking, we need to track the amount of energy each household produces and consumes in order to know how much energy needs to be made available to meet everyone's needs. Every household connected to the grid has an energy meter for this specific reason. So, the energy used and the energy produced by each household is tracked. For the community, if the energy production is less than or greater than the energy demand at any time, a technical problem exists. Technical problems need technical solutions. Within our present paradigm, money is nearly always used as the metric to measure the relative value of various solutions. As the present economic model generates ever increasing economic inequality across our communities, this becomes increasingly problematic. Affordable access to energy is becoming more difficult for many. Remember, the founding goal of our energy coop, providing access to energy for all community members?

From a strictly technical solutions perspective for a moment, the more renewable energy our coop members produce the better as far as insuring as much access as possible to clean renewable energy is concerned. If we were to have an ideal balance of production and consumption with adequate adequate storage for times of greatest demand or least production, we could provide energy access to our entire community. With increasing automation at all levels to minimize labor costs associated with infrastructure maintenance, the only real monetary costs are those that must be provided outside the community. We could potentially have isolated community islands of NLRBE like activity. Because we must buy much of our energy from private companies external to our communities, we must charge a premium and have little or no control over how that energy is produced or provided. Just like in the 'business as usual' world, arranging supply monopolies decreases internal costs. If we connect with other community energy cooperatives in power sharing arrangements, the monetary costs to both communities could be further minimized. However, unlike in a 'business as usual' monopoly where the business owner reaps the benefits by being able to control both costs and market to maximize profits, in a cooperative community model, we move increasingly towards the capacity to provide access without cost to the entire community. So a truly community oriented cooperative might install solar panels on many homes at cost to help balance the energy load and demand and minimize the long term cost to coop members for access. By minimizing the monetary cost of providing energy to coop members, the burden of assimilating the costs associated with those who cannot afford to pay is also minimized. This can never happen within a for profit privately owned business or even within a cooperative business that functions within a traditional business model of meeting its costs by selling energy to its consumers. With the goal of providing access to energy for everyone, the decision making at ever step of the process are driven by a different set of parameters. More specifically while still having to existing within an overarching monetary market system, minimizing monetary costs both to the coop and to the coop members moves us ever closer to a costless access system aka a NLRBE.

Instead, as long as we exist within the context of a monetary market economic system, some community family members will be unable to pay for access. So as a coop, we are faced with a decision. We can either demand payment for service as monetary economics demands, or let it slide as we often do in family situations, having recognized the value of our family beyond their mere capacity to produce monetary income. As a privately owned and operated business, the community has no say in how a businesses operates, but as a community owned business, we get to decide. If a private energy company decides to cut the power from a non paying customer, the burden of responsible still falls on the community for the consequences regardless of whether or not we had any say in the matter. The same is true of bank foreclosures that deprive individuals and families of resources needed to function effectively in our communities. Homes standing vacant are allowed to decay while the burdens of the homeless fall on our communities. The way we treat our families and our extended families has always been and will always be our responsibilities if we wish to live in safe, healthy extended family communities. The institutions of monetary market economics try to condition us otherwise while foisting the inevitable consequences of actions onto our community families as externalities. So industrial pollution and distressed communities become the norm rather than the healthy, sustainable extended communities we all dream of for our own families.

In an ownership system, like monetary market economics, only owners are guaranteed access to resources. The hierarchical and unequal rights of access are inherent to the cultural system of monetary market economics. As long as we live within an ownership system, community or commons ownership of all resources and processes of production for all basic human needs is necessary to guarantee access for all community members. Community owned and managed energy, water, food, housing, education and health care is the place to begin at any level. We already do this within our functional nuclear families. We need to focus more and more on providing the same access for the family members of our extended communities. That is what a Natural Law Resource Based Economy would be designed to accomplish from the ground up by sidestepping monetary market economics. If enough people clearly understood these processes, this is immediately what we would set out to accomplish across our global community. However, because of our present cultural lack of awareness, the piecemeal approach to more local community oriented efforts is much more likely to have at least some limited success. Until the memes of resource sharing and access begin to replace the ideas of private property and profit, we must work within small communities of those who get it now to convince those who do not to join us.

We serve our families out of love for one another, out of mutual respect and a recognition of our mutual interdependence. Our contributions are rarely if ever compensated monetarily. In our extended global human family, we are beginning more and more to recognize our growing mutual interdependence. The love and respect is coming more slowly. This is the value shift we often talk about within TZM and that Buckminster Fuller adopted as his lifestyle. As a global human community, we will survive and flourish if we are able to provide access to the basic needs of all people rather than fighting among ourselves over who has the right to flourish and who should be left to fend for themselves. There are no individuals that are external to the human family. If they are discarded they will fight you as though their lives depend upon it because they will. Humanities great strength is in our community. Human culture is the vehicle for that community. Helping to create the cultural shift needed to secure a sustainable and prosperous future for a global humanity on our home planet is the primary purpose for the Zeitgeist Movement.

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