Why the Movie ‘Thrive’ is Just Another Crock of Libertarian Bullshit…


From ROB HOPKINS
Transition Culture

[This silly magical-thinking propaganda garbage pisses me off because these smooth smirking self-aggrandizing jerks so dishonestly and deliberately prey on those who care... -DS]

What do you do when you are the heir to the Proctor and Gamble fortune and you have spent years surrounding yourself with new agey thinking and conspiracy theories? You make a film like ‘Thrive‘, the latest conspiracy theory movie that is popping up all over the place.  I’ve lost count of the number of people who have asked me “have you seen ‘Thrive’?” Well I have now, and, to be frank, it’s dangerous tosh which deserves little other than our derision. It is also a very useful opportunity to look at a worldview which, according to Georgia Kelly writing at Huffington Post, masks “a reactionary, libertarian political agenda that stands in jarring contrast with the soothing tone of the presentation”.

Visually the film is like some kind of Star Trek fan movie crossed with a National Geographic wildlife film, and is largely built around Gamble’s own years of ‘research’ into the question of what it is that “stops life on earth from thriving”. A reasonable question to ask, but his approach can hardly be called ‘research’ due to the low standards he accepts as ‘evidence’ and his all-round lack of critical analysis. His research, such as it is, is cherry-picked to deepen and support his established worldview, rather than the worldview being built from a careful analysis of the evidence. As we’ll see, this is a dangerous foundation.

So here’s the film’s argument in a nutshell. Humanity is killing itself and the world around it because free energy sources are being deliberately kept from us, cures for cancer are being kept from us, all because we are controlled by an invisible elite who want to create a ‘new world order’ to control us all and prevent us from thriving. So let’s look at some of the film’s central arguments in turn.

Free energy machines

One of the key threads of the film revolves around free energy, the idea that we can generate unlimited clean energy by just tapping into the ‘torus’, a shape that supposedly pervades the universe, and which could yield endless free energy. ’Thrive’ would have you believe that there are dedicated independent scientists around the world bravely defying the laws of thermodynamics only to have their work seized by the FBI, their patents bought up and ‘lost’, or harassed into silence.  Yet all we are offered as evidence is some grainy film of machines that could be anything doing anything, and some smart computer graphics of spinning torus shapes.

If this amazing breakthrough that would rewrite science and win Nobel Prizes for anyone involved were actually a reality, and if you were going to spend huge amounts to make a film to argue for their existence which you would then put out into the public arena, surely you would get a working model of such a device into the studio with some impartial scientists to verify it in operation?  If they actually exist, and actually work, then this wouldn’t be a big challenge surely?  As Kyle Hill writes in his review of the film, “wanting something to be true does not make it more possible”, and “someone wanting to invent such a device is not evidence”.  ‘Free energy’ is a world notoriously riddled with charlatans and cranks.

Gamble argues that these technologies could provide “enough energy to transform the entire earth”, and here’s a key point I want to challenge. The idea that free energy would be a universal good (even if it were feasible, which it’s not – the US Patent and Trademark Office gets so many nonsensical requests for patents on perpetual energy devices that they now refuse to even look at them without a working model) is deeply dubious.  Kimberly Carter Gamble, Foster Gamble’s partner, states at one point in the film that:

“… so much of the pain on the planet has to do with the lack of access to energy”.

Wow, now there’s a statement. How many people on this planet would argue that much of the pain on the planet has to do with the developed world having lack of access to energy?  While of course for millions in the developing world, lack of access to energy is a huge impediment to being able to attain a reasonable standard of living and to move beyond poverty, in the developed world, cheap energy (you could argue that for the past 150 years fossil fuels have been so cheap that they might as well have been ‘free energy’) has allowed Western nations to conquer, plunder, colonise, mine, clearcut, dominate and oppress.

While it has also allowed us to do many good things, energy cannot be seen in isolation from our relationship with other resources.  Free energy would mean we would drain the aquifers faster, degrade the soils faster, work our way through the earth’s other depleting resources at an accelerated rate. Nowhere in the film is the idea of limits even mentioned, apart from occasional mentions that believing in ‘scarcity’ is one of our problems.

Can anyone seriously argue that the United States (which is principally the focus of this film) with a new free source of energy would be a more responsible member of the global community?  Would they happily share it with the rest of the world? (the current stand-off about Iran’s nuclear energy programme rather indicates that they wouldn’t).  I would argue that it is only the realisation that we are nearing the end of the age of cheap energy, cheap fossil fuels, that is finally bringing some sense, some awareness of the fact that we live on a finite planet and that we need to live more responsibly.  Gamble’s argument that we could have enough free energy “to transform the entire earth” fills me with dread and foreboding rather than excitement.

We are told that oil companies are spending “huge amounts of money” suppressing free energy, with no evidence presented to support that at all.  I would hazard a bet though that if even any money at all is spent on such things, it is a tiny fraction of what is spent on climate change denial, funding dubious organisations which attempt to undermine climate science, all of which gets no mention here.  Of course we already have technologies that can harness natural energies and which provide clean energy – they are called renewables, we know they work, and we can install them today.  ‘Free energy’ is a fantasy, and will always remain so.  As Kyle Hill writes in his review, ”just because the universe is hard to understand and many times mysterious, does not mean that anything goes”.

Down the conspiracy rabbithole

Then we are bombarded with the full range of conspiracy thinking.  9/11 was an inside job, there is a conspiracy to suppress natural medicines, “Big Brother’s not coming, it’s already here”, we are one step away from a “military dictatorship”, a climate treaty in Copenhagen would have been “a tax base for tyranny”, there are ‘chemtrails’ in the sky to deliberately poison us, there is a deliberate attempt to reduce the world’s population underway, there is only a cancer epidemic because all the cures have been suppressed, etc, etc.

UFOs are also brought into the picture, which is odd as they serve little to deepen his argument, rather the argument seems to go like this: there are UFOs and they are extraterrestrial craft, and in order for them to have got here, they must have free energy machines, so therefore the Elite must know about this and be keeping it from us. As he writes on the film’s website, “if we can expose the suppression, reveal the truth about ET visitation, and further develop new energy technologies that ETs apparently rely on, then we can decentralize power and make massive strides toward a thriving future”.  I’ll leave you to decide whether that 2+2+2=9 kind of logic makes any sense to you, and whether the word ‘apparently’ constitutes an evidence base.  Naturally, no evidence is presented to support this other than a few fuzzy videos of lights in the sky in different parts of the world.

Wheeled out as ‘experts’ to support the film’s arguments are Deepak Chopra and David Icke, among others. Gamble is keen on talking about “my research”, yet his research, such as it is, is so undemanding that I am reminded of Sir Terry Frost’s words, “if you know before you look, you cannot see for knowing”.  Gamble wheels out the classic conspiracy theorists’ gambit, “could I be wrong? Perhaps. But what if I’m not?” No, you are wrong. And even if you were right, you have presented us with so little evidence to back up you claims that you would have no way of knowing whether you were right or not.

He also does the other classic conspiracy theorist’s trick of saying “don’t just take my word for it, do the research yourself”, offering links on the film’s website that all back up his arguments, rather than giving a rounded balanced view of arguments and counterarguments.  There’s some dreadful rubbish on there, the film ‘The Great Global Warming Swindle’ is presented as evidence that climate change is probably not a problem, for example, and the appalling section on climate change beautifully states “those who point to solar activity as a cause of global warming are often ridiculed and accused of being funded by the oil industry, even when that’s not the case”.  “Even when”?

Ah, so that’s what ‘Thrive’ is all about …

Then, at the end of the film, we finally get into Thrive’s manifesto, it’s vision for the future and how we might get there.  There is lots in there that I wouldn’t disagree with, more local food, renewable energy, local banking, local shopping and so on, apart from free energy being thrown into the mix too.  But now, it is in this final section of ‘Thrive’ that the dark side of the film emerges.  One of the things put forward, alongside local food, renewables and so on, is “little or no taxes”.  Eh?  Where did that come from?!  Ah, now we get into the real agenda of the film, a kind of New Age libertarianism, a sort of cosmic Tea Party, and it all starts to get deeply alarming.

Gamble sets out his 3 stages to get to humanity’s being able to thrive.  Firstly, he argues, we need to hugely scale back the defence industry and the Federal Reserve.  Well I could go along with that, but then the second is “shrink government’s role in order to protect individual liberty”, and the third is then, because we are now freer, with “no involuntary tax and no involuntary governance” and with “rules but no rules” (?), we can all now thrive. OK, whoa, let’s pause here for a moment. Indeed the film’s website goes further, describing ‘involuntary taxation’ as “plunder” and ‘involuntary governance’ as “tyranny”.

Thrive’s vision of a thriving world: no taxes, no government, ‘free energy charging stations’ and community markets.

In her review, Georgia Kelly quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying “taxes are what we pay for a civilised society”.  In spite of all it’s cosmic graphics and pictures of forests from the air, it is in essence a kind of New Age Tea Party promo film, arguing for a society with no government, no taxes, no laws, alongside “interplanetary exploration”, which somehow combine to create a world that respects the rights of all. Apparently, this would lead to a world where “everyone would have the opportunity to thrive”.  In reality, it would lead to a world in which the wealthy would thrive, but the rest of us would lose healthcare, social welfare, libraries, public transport, pension entitlement, social housing etc etc.  Sounds more like a surefire route to the kind of Dickensian world that led to the creation of a welfare state in the first place.

Responding to any of the truly global issues, such as climate change (which ‘Thrive’ clearly dismisses as part of the conspiracy), would no longer happen due to intergovernmental co-operation presumably being interpreted as steps towards a ‘one world government’. The film presents its suggestions in complete isolation from any notions of ‘society’ and community, presenting a vision of the future where the entire global population is living the same lifestyle as Gamble, the resources to enable this presumably being imported from other planets, or perhaps created afresh using magic?

Nowhere in the film do you hear the words ‘less’, or anything about reduced consumption in the West.  Just as free energy and cures for cancer are our birthright, so, presumably, is the right to consume as much as we like – to think otherwise is to lapse into a ‘scarcity’ mindset.  What I find most alarming about ‘Thrive’ is that most of the people who have asked me “have you seen Thrive?” are under 20, and they seem genuinely excited by it.  Perhaps it is the simplicity of the message that appeals, the “all we need to do is” clarity of its ask.  But having to discuss why free energy machines are impossible and the shortcomings of conspiracy theories with otherwise educated young people who are inheriting a warming world with its many deep and complex challenges is deeply depressing.

How we might actually help the world thrive

‘Thrive’ is dangerous because it invites us to put our faith for the future in a fantasy.  A fantasy that free energy is possible, a fantasy that the only thing that is preventing us from creating a benign and enlightened society is a handful of powerful families.  Things that are already very successfully preventing the world from thriving include:

  • climate change (you try thriving in a world with a world whose temperature has risen 11°F, as the IEA warned this week)
  • the fact that we fail to see reducing our oil demand as a key as a key aspect of energy security, oil prices having quadrupled since 2003 and going nowhere other than up, UK North Sea oil production falling by 22.5% in 2011 (a record fall) and North Sea natural gas production falling by 29.5% (a record fall) in 2011
  • Social inequality, which as the book  ‘The Spirit Level’ so brilliantly showed, underpins many of our other social problems
  • Our economic system, designed to channel money upwards rather than downwards and to enrich the 1%, but this is a sufficiently abhorrent system (see, for example, Nicholas Shaxson’s brilliant ‘Treasure Islands’, review coming soon) without invoking secret societies and conspiracies to explain it

The solutions are already out there, there are proven technologies, proven strategies, and we need to work on all levels, as indeed the film argues, and to withdraw our support from a corrupt and ineffectual model which is taking us over the brink, and put that support into creating a more resilient, localised and accountable model.  However, it’s not about ‘interplanetary travel’, it’s about finding our feet, here and now, in the communities and the soils that surround us.  It’s not about ‘free energy’, it’s about learning to appreciate what a precious thing energy is and learning to live well with less of it.  It’s not about ‘no involuntary taxation’, it’s about taxes that disincentivise the things that are narrowing our future options, and incentivising the things we need to get in place urgently.  It’s not about ‘no government’, it’s about truly democratic government using its considerable powers to build resilience, decarbonise society, shift the collective focus.  The few countries in the world that are actually seriously engaging with the climate issue are those with stronger government, not weaker government.

I have occasionally been interviewed for a film and then squirmed with embarrassment when I have seen the final context in which my interview has been used.  I can only imagine that some of the progressives, such as Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman, who appear in this film, are similarly horrified with ‘Thrive’.  It is a film that offers us nothing, and which, taken to its logical conclusion, would lead to our having thrown away the few options for actually thriving that remain open to us.  It is the film equivalent of a self-published book, with no critical editor rounding off the corners, and as a self-funded film a sense that you can do what you like.  Avoid.
~~

5 Comments

I agree with everything in this article. The movie was a waste of twenty-five dollars. What was left out of the contrived mess was religion. I’m an anti-theist, and the world’s populations must rid themselves of the mass delusion of an omnipotent overseer and life-after-death. Living in your once-in-a-lifetime body beside other humans in cooperation will instill how incredible this awesome adventure truly is.

Though I have a lot of respect for Rob Hopkins and Dave Smith it pisses me off when we, who do our own deep research, who think our own independent thoughts, who think critically, who come to our own conclusions, who work tirelessly to be the change we must see, get labeled a (pick one or more) libertarian, egalitarian, liberal, conservative, tea party hack, red, blue or ‘jerk’ because of our independently derived beliefs that there really is an Agenda to deceive, control and depopulate the many.

It is accepted fact by many that Nikola Tesla did discover, and was able to create, ‘Free Energy’ in 1905…and then had his lab and his life destroyed by the Robber Baron J.P. Morgan (see J.P. Morgan Bank of today) because the powerful elite at the time would not be able to make money on ‘free’.

It is also fact that our school books teach that Thomas Edison discovered electricity when it is actually the alternating current we use today was of sole the design of Mr. Telsa. In gruesome capitalist fashion, Mr. Edison used to torture and willingly killed puppies and other small animals at World’s Fair’s using Telsa’s AC to discredit him. He also maneuvered to have the first electric chair in prison use AC to show the world how ‘dangerous’ it was.

One should also re-search the work of Eugene Mallove, former MIT Chief Science Writer, who was murdered after he was ridden out of MIT and founded the publication “Infinite Energy” in 1995.

Now am I going to be labeled a ‘jerk’ because I feel is truly incredulous that we still run on combustion engines that have not been improved upon in 110 years, that in the 1920’s we had hyper efficient electric trains everywhere until GM, Firestone, Mack Trucks and Standard Oil (Rockefeller) formed the United Motors Transportation Corp. and bought up all the electric trains in America so that the consumer must purchase only personally polluting vehicles (PPV’s) and that the same companies are in power today?

Bottom line is that we do have the ability to biomimic Nature’s ways of creating limitless energy but that it will never be made available to the masses in a capitalist, endless profit, endless war, economic structure that exists.

As for the ‘one size fits all’ attack on Foster Gamble. Is it really hard for people to understand that Mr. Gamble is speaking out directly against his own family interests when he speaks of a planned eugenics program and a conspiracy (two or more people planning a crime) to depopulate the world through vaccines, food chemical crapification and metal soil spraying, light defusing, chemtrail programs?

Especially when it was his family that was/is? working with the Rockefeller Agenda as evidenced here:
“Eugenics was a scientific theory that grew in popularity during the 1920s. Eugenicists believed that poverty, promiscuity and alcoholism were traits that were inherited. To eliminate those society ills and improve society’s gene pool, proponents of the theory argued that those that exhibited the traits should be sterilized. Some of America’s wealthiest citizens of the time were eugenicists including Dr. Clarence Gamble of the Procter and Gamble fortune and James Hanes of the hosiery company.”

http://cryptogon.com/?p=25893

Now some of us independent thinkers have followed closely the propagandist piece by Al “Global Warming” Gore and was awarded the same Nobel Peace Prize as Endless War Obama. Then suddenly the terminology, without question, gets renamed to ‘Climate Change’ without questioning, which closely follows the chill of 2010 when snow blankets the Northern Hemisphere and snows in 49 states on the same day. Co-incident name change or what?

Additionally questions in my mind were raised when the Climategate Scandal occurred directly before the Copenhagen Climate Summit, where the elite at the Climate Research Unit of East Anglia are caught directly falsifying data to fit the elite Agenda to develop a Carbon Trading Exchange in Chicago (home to Obama, Emanuel) to be run by …wait for it..wait for it…..Goldman Sachs, et al. Another Co-incident?

Yes, we as anthropogenic humans are causing destruction of our planet through our polluting, smogging, chemtrail spraying, rain forest burning ways. How can we not be?

Yet, we also must understand that the Earth does change temperatures over history, significantly at times. The polar caps have melted previously, long before man came along. That natural occurring earthquakes do occur as the planet grows and expands and that sun spots and solar flares, do continue to cause changes in our weather and lives.

Yes, we must re- learn to conserve, reduce, renew, recycle, localize our economies and take personal responsibility for our health of our OneWorld. We must re-learn the ways of the true natives of America, who cared for these lands, where the fish still came up the Navarro river for over 6,000 years, if we wish for our children to have a chance with what a mess we are leaving them.

As for the credibility issue of ‘Thrive’ the most significant blowback I get comes from his discussion of the alien issue. Well if I were to believe someone who would know i would believe a guy like Edgar Mitchell, who was commander of Apollo 14, who upon return to Earth in his space shuttle had a ‘epiphany’ about the plight of Man (see his DVD ‘Message from Space’) who quit the Apollo Program upon his return to Earth to form the highly acclaimed Noetic Science Research Institute located down the road in Petaluma.

One can also google ‘Astronauts, Pilots, etc. and UFO’s’ to see other spacemen who willingly admit that we are not alone and you can re-search the excellent work of William Cooper, who was a top security cleared Navy Intelligence expert, who was ‘allegedly’ murdered for his work in disclosing the truth about the UFO’s, the true reasons for the creation of the NSA and CIA.

Another extremely credible expert in the excellent movie ‘Thrive’ is Nassim Harimein, who after being derided and dismissed by the science world due to his outlandish theories of Unified Fields, was awarded by the same physicists in 2009 for his work to out ‘Einstein Einstein’ on his work titled “Quantum Mechanics, Relativity, Field Theory and Gravity. That Mr. Harimein completely agrees with Mr, Gambles ‘Torus’ model should not be dismissed so readily.

Now as for the question of can the few control the many for so long?…would I also be called a ‘jerk’ for asking the question of an alternative Agenda, that if I wrote a document starting with the words ‘We the People’, why would I then, with my fellow elite white guys, only put laws into effect entitling 4% of the population (white men owning land) to be able to vote as well as willingly write law allowing enslaved African Americans to be described legally as 3/5th’s of a person?

…and if I and my fellow Patriots had just fought a bloody war of succession for independence from the hated Brits, knowing if I lost I would die, just after achieving my independence, why would I then go and choose the exact same colors of the enemy flag to symbolize my new nations colors???

Signed,

Another silly magical-thinking, self- propagandizing, smooth smirking, self-aggrandizing Libertarian bullshitter..

…who questions everything

….who cares deeply.

    Well, it can’t be denied that silly thinking is the current style. To my mind, any approach that fetishizes radical individualism isn’t just silly, it is completely around the bend. It is as if someone was trying to make bread without flour. A somewhat convincing facsimile might be produced, but it would only satisfy a need for appearances. Anyone that denies that we are social animals only capable of existing in mutual support and caring is just displaying a particularly prevalent form of mass insanity. Routinely Kerala, India is awarded the prize for most advanced on the basis of a per capita GNP of about $350. “Kerala has the highest Human Development Index[5][6] in India, higher than that of most developed countries (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kerala). Having and using more energy, whether or not free, is obviously not the answer to a livable future. All this radical individualist, hyper-consumption thinking is just a throwback to the gross inequalities of the past with folks indulging in fantasies of aristocracy. Once people start thinking about grandness they slip into the shoes of the nobility and aristocracy that democracy and basic human decency continues to fight against. There is no better source to understand these anti-democratic sentiments so common in the US than Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America. Not much has changed in US thinking in the past couple of hundred years. Hence, we are always at war with the poor of the world to steal their wealth. The aristocratic mind wants slaves, be they human or machine, not friends.

    Not that I think the article itself was very good. If someone is discouraged from taking this film seriously then it is not a waste. But it is too much of the same misdirected materialist story for me to be very interested. Anything that focuses on material well being rather than social well being is part of the problem, not a solution.

    The argument of radical individualism is fundamentally reactionary and illusory. Radical individualism does not deserve our attention in any way except to enable, by increasing our understanding, our need to confront it everywhere and with everyone, particularly those closest to us.

    herb

“we are controlled by an invisible elite who want to create a ‘new world order’ to control us all and prevent us from thriving”? Sounds just like the megabank, military-industrial complex, and fossil fuel megacorporation CEOs and their intermingled boards of directors, a tiny handful clearly attempting to squeeze the last ounce out of us. Can anyone think that this is only a conspiracy theory and might not actually be a conspiracy to grab it all? We can only guess what they are hiding from us, but my estimate would be quite alot. They evidently want us to fight amongst ourselves, which takes our minds off of them. On the other hand, we all have a propensity to shoot from the hip and often widely miss the target. This includes not only Gamble, Ron Hopkins, Jamie Lee, most bloggers and commentators, and probably myself if only because everything is so go-awful complex and we are so ignorant. But, even so, we must make our own decisions – even accepting others’ ideas is a personal decision – and mustn’t be afraid of owning them, including admitting that we simply don’t know, which is the hard one..

Never saw “Thrive” and probably never will. And while I can understand and even agree with some of Hopkins’ points, he dismisses out-of-hand an awful lot of stuff that appears to have an obvious reality to me. The overall impression is of an angry guy with a very limited and impoverished cosmology.

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