Is The Zeitgeist Movement A Cult?

Oh, Come On!

Are we brainwashed? Did Jesus poop? Who won the football game? Can we have a fair wage and also get tips? If you pray to the Buddha, what do you get? How many shares in Microsoft does a given coal miner own? Why do we have to borrow so much money? Will liquid fuels last forever and ever? Are you prepared for a grid down situation? Does it matter if your son feels more comfortable identifying as a girl? If you are Catholic and you marry a Jewish person, will the blood of your children be impure? Does "The Sixth Extinction" matter to a good shopper? If the global average temperature of the Earth increases to 5c above the 18th-century baseline, could we still use airplanes to travel? Should we remove all regulations on fishing? Why do we need the Amazon rain forest? What would happen if most people in rich countries bought a pair of jeans once every three years, instead of buying five pairs a month? When groundwater tables have been depleted, how much will a loaf of bread cost? Again, why do we have to borrow money? Why?

Is The Zeitgeist Movement a cult? Why do I ask? Well, I stumbled on the Wikipedia article on the movement and found it terribly out of date. Someone should update it. The first three references in the article are from The Daily Telegraph, The Journal of Contemporary Religion, an international journal concerned with the discussion and analysis of contemporary aspects of Religion, focusing on significant trends, developments, and processes of the past 20-30 years, and Tablet Magazine, an online publication about Jewish life and culture. Then there is a reference to a New York Times article that's a bit more balanced than the views above.

Peter Josephs on, The Young Turks

Peter Josephs on, The Young Turks

There's nothing more to say about the Wikipedia article. It's hopelessly out of date and extremely biased. Peter makes an anti-establishment art film regarding sustainability, and our "cultish" financial system and the movement is characterized as a whacky cult. I am sure that the people who contributed to the Wikipedia article have not done the slightest first-hand reading on the subject.

If you want to know what the movement is about, read The Zeitgeist Movement Explained and The New Human Rights Movement. If you do, you will understand that Peter put a lot of work into those two books. The first one explains the movement in great detail. The second one is even better and describes many ways we could improve the lives of the many without hurting, in the slightest, the lives of the few at the top.

Why are we so unable to imagine a world different from the one we are accustomed to? To find an answer to that question, one would have to read up on anthropology, psychology, neuroscience, medicine, sociology, and many other domains of interest to develop a context for the question. Then one could start to think about it. Massive Online Open Courses from MIT, Harvard, Yale, are readily available, many schools around the world offer massive open online courses, and they are free. We all need to be grounded in many subjects so we can be more creative when thinking about new ideas. To be able to update one's prior understanding of things, one must have previous knowledge of things and be able to think critically about them. We all need a foundation upon which we can build out our understanding of how things work.

Humans are learning machines. Any human denied the opportunity to continually learn and grow is suffering. Any wasted intellectual energy is a tragedy. If all people had access to the resources needed to educate themselves, the challenges facing human civilization would be easily solved.

It would be foolish for me to reinvent wheels here unless I thought I had something new to add so for now, I would like to refer you to two YouTuber channels who have some exciting things to say that might help inform your opinion on the question in the title above.

First, let's find out what a cult is. Here I'd like to refer you to GENETICALLY MODIFIED SKEPTIC on YouTube. He has some great videos on the subject of cults.

Next, I'd like to refer you to ZERO BOOKS and their new series, "We Live In A Society."

You see, context is essential.

Is our current economic system the best of all possible commercial orders? Where's your imagination? We can do better than this and we must.

Note – I'm a fan of Peter's work, and I like the Zeitgeist community. I am not a member of a cult. I'm not a member of any TZM organization or chapter. However, I do feel it's urgent to help educate people on these subjects so we can begin to have a broader conversation on what could be done to meet the challenges of human civilization moving forward. More people need to be talking about these things. 

Also, we can talk about Marx, Socialism, Cults, Religion without labeling ourselves. I am fascinated by Religion, and yet, I am not religious. I can read Marx and learn from his social criticism without being a Marxist. I can recognize that I am part of a society without being a socialist. I’m a businessman, and yet, I’m not a “capitalist.” Sticks and stones, right?

Marx was not a Marxist, Jesus (if he existed at all) was surely not a Christian, and Buddha was not a Buddhist. If you want to know what Peter and the people who get his "train of thought" think, talk to them.

I don't speak for TZM, but I know they are trying to discover ways of sustaining human civilization while at the same time improving human health and the health of all ecosystems on Earth. What's wrong with that? It's not scary. It won't hurt you to be curious about unfamiliar ideas. We all need to think about the direction we’re headed. We all share and depend on this one amazing ecosystem.



Steven Cleghorn

Steven is an autodidact, skeptic, raconteur and film producer from America who has been traveling since he was a zygote. He's a producer at The Muse Films Ltd. in Hong Kong and a constantly improving (hopefully) Globe Hacker. He's seeks the company of interesting minds.