Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blog 8: My First Contribution to Refuting the Venus Project's Economics

Simply stated, a resource-based economy utilizes existing resources - rather than money - to provide an equitable method of distribution in the most humane and efficient manner. It is a system in which all goods and services are available to everyone without the use of money, credits, barter, or any other form of debt or servitude. 

It is not money that people require, but rather free access to most of their needs without worrying about financial security or having to appeal to a government bureaucracy. In a resource-based economy of abundance, money will become irrelevant.

If all the money in the world were destroyed, as long as we have sufficient arable land, the factories, the necessary resources, and technical personnel, we could build anything and even supply an abundance.

Instead people will be introduced to limitless opportunities to explore, create, participate, and learn.

Distribution of goods and services without the use of money or tokens would be accomplished by establishing distribution centers.

The Venus Project's major concerns are producing products with limited labor and eventually eliminating labor and at the same time giving people all the amenities of a prosperous, high energy society.

–From the Venus Project’s Website

To fully disprove why these quotes are completely contrary to sound economics would require me to write a full essay on economics.  I do not intend to do so.  But I will give enough evidence to demonstrate why the Venus Project’s views on economics are utterly nonsense.

The first major point that I want to make is that these quotes are not new.  The Venus Project is not a new vision of society; it is the Soviet Union’s vision of society.  As a student of economic history, I find nothing original in the Venus Project’s proposals; I have read them all before in my books on economic history.  I recognized these quotes right away as being simply regurgitated 1920 arguments coming out of the mouths of socialist dreamers. 

For example, here is a textbook example from Ludwig von Mises’s Liberalism:  The Classical Tradition (1927, p. xxxi) based on a 1925 quote from Leon Trotsky (Literature and Revolution).  All socialist propaganda promises a world of human bliss and abundance.

Socialist authors promise not only wealth for all, but also happiness in love for everybody, the full physical and spiritual development of each individual, the unfolding of great artistic and scientific talents in all men, etc.  Only recently Trotsky stated in one of his writings that in the socialist society “the average human type will rise to the heights of Aristotle, a Goethe, or a Marx.  And above this ridge new peaks will rise.”  The socialist paradise will be the kingdom of perfection, populated by completely happy supermen.  All socialist literature is full of such nonsense.  But it is just this nonsense that wins it the most supporters.
All hardcore socialist propaganda calls for the abolition of money and prices.  Take a look at Chapter 12, starting on page 127 of Richard M. Ebeling's book Selected Writings of Ludwig von Mises, Volume 2.   The essay was originally published on November 17, 1920.  This quote from the Soviet Union is exactly what the Venus Project wants, namely, no money and goods to be given out at distribution centers.

According to a report from Copenhagen, the Soviet government has abolished money.  In the future, payments are no longer to be made in rubles but in requisition vouchers that the state distribution facilities must honor.

History teaches us that attempts to abolish money and prices are utter failures.  Even the Bolsheviks realized fairly quickly that the Venus Project approach of abolishing money and establishing distribution centers cannot work. Keep in mind, the Bolsheviks were hardcore communists; they stood for revolutionary communism.  I take this quote from Murray N. Rothbard’s essay entitled, The Myth of Monolithic Communism.

When the Bolsheviks assumed power in late 1917, they tried to leap into full "communism" by abolishing money and prices, an experiment so disastrous (it was later dubbed "War Communism") that Lenin, always the supreme realist, beat a hasty retreat to a mere semisocialist system in the New Economic Policy (NEP).

The Venus Project seems to think that by abolishing money it can eliminate hardships, problems, and suffering.  It thinks that it can create abundance and bliss.  It assumes that mankind can be liberated and freedom will come, but only if we first abolish money.  These views are contrary to historical evidence.  In fact, history teaches us that one of the first things that dictators do is abolish money and prices.  The quote above from Lenin and the Bolsheviks certainly proves that point.  To hammer away at the historical link between dictatorship and the abolishment of money, I will now cite Murray Rothbard’s essay entitled:  Messianic Communism in the Protestant Reformation. Notice also that these communists promised, just as our present day Venus Project promises, that they would create a world without manual labor and work (emphasis mine).

After two months of severe and unrelenting pressure, a combination of propaganda about the Christianity of abolishing private money, and threats and terror against those who failed to surrender, the private ownership of money was effectively abolished in Münster. The government seized all the money and used it to buy or hire goods from the outside world. Wages were doled out in kind by the only remaining employer: the theocratic Anabaptist state.

This compulsory communism and reign of terror was carried out in the name of community and Christian "love." All this communization was considered the first giant steps toward total egalitarian communism, where, as Rothmann put it, "all things were to be in common, there was to be no private property and nobody was to do any more work, but simply trust in God." The workless part, of course, somehow never arrived.

In summary, the Venus Project is just a restatement of failed Soviet and communist experiments.  There is not one original idea in the entire project.  If Lenin were still alive, he would be proud to know that his autocratic and dictatorial plan is still being sold to the naive public.  The best part of this propaganda is that it is sold as liberty and freedom when it is, in fact, a textbook recipe for dictatorship, poverty, and privation.  Please keep in mind, that I have ignored many of the reasons as to why the Venus Project’s plans cannot work.  The purpose of this short essay was to stress two points:  1.  The Venus Project is not new, and 2. The Venus Project is Soviet Communism repackaged.  Simply, this plan cannot work because it is in direct violation of the fundamental principles that make a society work, namely, the division of labor facilitated by indirect exchange.  These are the concepts that make a civilization work.

The Venus Project is what happens when people forget (or aren't taught) to follow Santayana's advice:  "Those who do not remember the past are condemned to relive it."  

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