TZM Chapters Organizational Culture
An Experimental Proposal
by The Zeitgeist Kid
The Zeitgeist Movement is involved in a far reaching effort to liberate humanity from a violent and unsustainable global culture with multiple interrelated physical, historical, governmental, military, social, political, religious, psychological, economic, and international factors. The unsustainable culturally motivated behaviors appear to arise as unintended consequences of traditional values and outdated modes of understanding concerning our relationships with one another and with the natural world. Additionally, because of the extent and because of the rapidity with which our behaviors are detrimentally impacting the natural environment, an existential crisis exists that necessitates a rapid cultural shift in the motivational drivers of those behaviors. Helping humanity to achieve this rapid behavioral shift is one foundational purpose of TZM.
The grand strategy of TZM involves the global implementation of what has been known under various names as a Resource Based Economy(RBE), a Natural Law Resource Based Economy(NLRBE) or a Natural Law Economy(NLE). Through the extensive use of technological innovations to create more abundance with fewer resources, called “ephemeralization” by Buckminster Fuller, while removing unnecessary scarcity constraints imposed by money and markets, efficiencies of production can be maximized while constraining the use of natural resources within sustainable natural limits creating a relative access abundance for all. As automation accelerates, labor for income, profit, property, ownership and money become increasingly obsolete cultural concepts that only serve to block access abundance while generating constant wealth inequality and unnecessary poverty, endless wars, disease, hunger and suffering among a rapidly growing majority of people. The socially destabilizing influences alone should be enough to convince any rational human being of the necessity to change our cultural values sooner rather than later, but cultural traditions are often resistant to change until circumstances make change absolutely necessary.
As Peter Joseph talks about it in his new book, “The New Human Rights Movement, Reinventing the Economy to End Oppression”, creating a Natural Law Economy is the easy part. Much of the needed technology already exists. What is missing is the political will to apply those solutions and the necessary underlying cultural awareness and values needed to make an access economy possible. Recognizing and embracing the basic human needs of all people and the rights of access to the resources necessary to meet those needs is equally important. Thus the declaration of the Earth's resources as the commonwealth of all life for which the Earth is home as a foundational premise for realizing a Natural Law Economy. A peaceful, nonviolent transition to a Natural Law Economy can only happen through the common understanding and willing consent of people everywhere.
Thus the explicitly and strictly nonviolent educational and awareness activism efforts of TZM as the primary component of our campaign strategy. Nonetheless, we are dedicated to revolutionary cultural change. We work to create a network of interdependent self organizing and self motivated local chapters of volunteers to manage educational and awareness activism efforts in communities around the world. We work to create a holographic chapter structure that reflects the shared understanding of the “train of thought” that has led us to Zeitgeist Movement activism. We work together whenever possible to support, empower and reinforce each other's efforts. We seek to unleash the creativity of volunteers to inspire the needed cultural changes.
Perhaps the greatest challenge facing TZM chapters is the all pervasive influence of the existing culture. Since birth, we have all experienced a deep cultural conditioning. Simply recognizing the needed cultural revolution is not the same as living those values in all of our actions and relationships. I know that every serious TZM volunteer regularly experiences the deep cognitive cultural dissonance that arises more and more frequently as our awareness and understanding grows. We have had a loose system in place for recognizing “official” chapters that involves the vetting of coordinators concerning their degree of understanding, awareness and willingness to live the cultural change we wish to see embraced by the global culture. We refer to those cultural understandings in a general way as the Zeitgeist Movement “train of thought”. We talk about “arriving at” a consensual understanding of that “train of thought” through a process of empirical reasoning. Generally speaking, the cultural forms, traditions and institutions that support an empirical approach are immature or non-existent outside the scientific community. This creates an immense challenge for TZM chapter activism.
Since the earlier days of TZM chapter activism, our efforts have been plagued by schisms like the break between the Venus Project and TZM. Occasionally, a rogue chapter veers of in entirely dissonant directions and must at times be disassociated from the clearly stated directions of the movement. For example, a strict adherence to nonviolence as a necessary method is clearly understood, if we are to entertain any hopes of ever “arriving at” any type of broad consensual cultural understanding. Another somewhat less critical example of this type of internal dissonance is the recurring discussions concerning the roles of “coordinators” within our chapters. How can we reconcile the idea of “coordinators” with the ideas of a horizontal rather than a hierarchical power structure within the chapters and still hope to be effective in our efforts? Practically speaking, coordinators are often self selecting by their own initiative and their willingness and capacity to volunteer their personal time and resources for the overall efforts of TZM. Because each volunteer always exists somewhere along a broad spectrum of understandings of the “train of thought” that serves to define TZM, regular interactions with other volunteers is immensely beneficial for helping nurture a deeper overall understanding and awareness of the consensual common ground awareness we hope to share through our educational awareness and activism efforts across the greater global culture. We are seeding ideas in the hopes of creating a fertile soil in which to grow a peaceful, nonviolent and sustainable future for all humanity. Our hope is for a richer cultural environment that is supportive, nurturing, tolerant, diverse and collaborative to gently displace the divisive and systemic cultural violence existing today.
Be The Change
With all this in mind, I would like to suggest we experiment in our chapters with a new organizational structure that more closely reflects our desires to “arrive at” a consensual culture. At Zday2017 in Australia, the suggestion was made that we don't need a leaderless movement, as much as we need a “leader full” movement. In recent years, there has been an increasing amount of experimentation with a great deal of success even within the traditionally hierarchical, top down business environment with consensual decision making processes. One such approach that seems to be appropriate for our needs is called “Sociocracy”, “a system of democratic self governance”. Rather than relying on coordinators to direct and organize our activities, I would suggest that we experiment with the interlocking circular framework for managing our decision making processes within and between our various chapters levels through the formalized “consent” process defined within Sociocracy 3.0. Rather than having a single coordinator and/or contact person, we can share the needed roles through a process of arriving at consent within each chapter or specific purpose oriented group within our chapter network. Within Sociocracy, these ‘groups’ are known as ‘circles’. Within each circle consent for decisions are “arrived at” through a clearly defined horizontal process of sharing and discussion between the members of the circle. Circles connect with other circles through overlapping participation and two way feedback. By formalizing this structure, an entire organization like TZM chapters can “arrive at” decisions through a system of participatory consent.
The Seven Principles
Sociocracy is built on seven principles that shape organizational culture. Since the seven principles are reflected in all of the patterns, understanding these principles is helpful for adopting and paramount to adapting Sociocracy 3.0 patterns.
Practicing Sociocracy 3.0 helps people appreciate the essential value that these core principles bring, both to individuals and organizations.
- Effectiveness: Devote time only to what brings you closer towards achieving your objectives.
- Consent: Do things in the absence of reasons not to.
- Empiricism: Test all assumptions through experiments, continuous revision and falsification.
- Continuous Improvement: Change incrementally to accommodate steady empirical learning.
- Equivalence: People affected by decisions influence and change them on the basis of reasons to do so.
- Transparency: All information is available to everyone in an organization, unless there is a reason for confidentiality.
- Accountability: Respond when something is needed, do what you agreed to and take ownership for the course of the organization.
I think it is well worth noting that all seven principles upon which this organizational culture are built are often discussed and promoted within the TZM community. Experimenting with a Sociocracy organizational culture would require some effort on the part of chapter volunteers to familiarize themselves with the new patterns that define the process of “arriving at consent”, but the effort could offer great returns on the invested efforts in terms of increased chapter engagement, volunteer understanding, willingness to assume responsibilities and overall commitment in our combined efforts. Essentially, we will be working to demonstrate within and between our chapters the type of value shift in terms of trust, mutual respect, commitment and sharing in our relationships we seek to foster within the wider culture.
Let me offer my personal reasons for wanting this internal chapter organizational shift to work. I have been active as a volunteer within the US chapter network since early 2011. Throughout those years, I have seen many volunteers come and go. In more recent years, activities at the level of the the US chapter have been erratic with infrequent meetings and sporadic responses to those reaching out to make connections to local chapters. I think TZM chapter activism in the US has suffered as a consequence. As a dedicated volunteer, I am motivated to step up when I see a need and try to fill that need, but I don't consider myself to be particularly talented at being a US chapter coordinator. None the less, I think the job needs to be done. So I have begun to take on various aspects of the role, like fielding contact requests passed down from the global chapters administration and attending International Chapter meetings. I have even recently taken it upon myself to replace and update the Zeitgeist Movement US Chapter website that has been dormant since the last US chapter coordinator became inactive. You can see the new website here: https://www.TheZeitgeistMovement.US. I am also making an effort to re-establish some regular monthly meetings for all US chapter coordinators. I think the need to fill the roles of a US chapter coordinator is a wonderful opportunity to experiment with democratic self governance and decision making by “arriving at consent” within the US chapter. If it works, we may be able to create an active, vibrant and responsive US chapter. If not, well, we won't be much worse off than we already have been for the past couple of years. So this is a shout out to all TZM volunteers and supporters in the US to become active and engaged again by connecting to the US chapter and through us to all other US chapters and all other TZM chapters globally. I know you are all aware that there is a great deal that needs to be accomplished yesterday rather than today to move us closer to creating a sustainable global culture.
The new US chapter website is a membership website. You can join and connect with other US volunteers there, see our calendar of events, join our meetings, connect with local chapters through the forums, become a participant in this experiment in chapter organization and help us build from there. We need volunteers to help build a strong and effective US chapter presence. Join us and help us to “Become the Change!”