Envisioning success in an RBE

I am new to TZM. I find PJ and TZM critiques of property and monetary exchange compelling. But before I can commit to activism, I need to envision what success looks like. I watched the orientation video. I read TNHRM. I’m almost done with Essay 8 in TZM Defined, which kindle says is about 21% through with the book.

I’d like to ask a series of questions to explore how other people within TZM imagine success.

Let me start with Venus style cities. Suppose they became wildly popular, and most people wanted to live in them. That raises many questions in my mind, but let’s start with just one.

What happens to all the obsolete infrastructure?

Does it get abandoned?

If it’s abandoned, does it become a source of raw materials for constructing more Venus style cities?

Does any of it get preserved, as a tourist attraction, or as monuments to former capitalist stupidity, or just as archeological artifacts?

If it’s preserved as a tourist attraction, do caretakers need to move in? How will they manage without the amenities of a Venus style city?

Or if I’m thinking about this all wrong, I’d like to hear about that, too.


Hi @CarrollLewis, these are excellent questions that will spawn interesting discussions. We like seeing that. But before I’ll give my perspective I must underscore that we are just a community, we’re not official representatives. We simply subscribed to the train of thought put forward in the books and documentaries. A train of thought that has an open ending, we’re not dogmatic, what has been written or said before is not forever, we need to evolve our understandings with new information. Just like nature. With that out of the way, let me give my perspective :slight_smile:

Like PJ once said “to be proven wrong should be celebrated, because then I’ve learned something new”. Okay, that sounds a bit dogmatic by quoting him now :slight_smile: Just trying to say that it’s okay to disagree and give your perspective. And like Jacque often said “don’t be polite”. Alright, that’s enough quoting :nerd_face:

Before we can build these cities we need to shape the understanding that our success as a species on this planet is bound to how well we manage our resources in order to fulfill our needs in society as a global family. Otherwise these cities will in time transform into the cities of today. Waste flying around on the streets, homeless people, scarcity because people take more than they need, things like that.

People with the current mindset of short term personal success goals, regardless of the consequences for the environment and society will not do well in a city designed to take care of nature and people for the long run.

It’s like placing native tribes from the Amazon in the heart of New York City and expect them to find a job, pay rent and watch TV while eating some kind of microwave snack. They are not adjusted to that way of thinking and life. They’ll probably flee the city or maybe try to create a community in Central Park.

This is also why TZM is an educational movement, trying to shape a new cultural understanding that we need to solve our problems in a different way. Not based on politics and money, but based on statistical information about the carrying capacity of the Earth, the scientific method and what we actually have on this planet. Of course the level of efficiency given by modern technology can stretch the carrying capacity.

So I personally think that yes, we would recycle these cities. But only when we severed the emotional bond with it. That may take a generation. Some may indeed be museums. Who will maintain that and how is speculation at this point. I could fantasize about a level of automation where no people will be needed. Or that some people would prefer living in these old cities out of sentiment and maintain the city well. But like I said, that’s speculating.

But if we ever reach a post-scarcity economy with the level of efficiency of an RBE. Then having a few of these old city centers is doable to maintain. Like e.g. Lower Manhattan or just the city center of Amsterdam. I don’t see the point of having many full size cities as a museum.

While we’re speculating. I think by then advanced virtual reality/augmented reality technology exists as well. And people don’t care much about the real thing and they will be happy with a realistic simulation to get an idea of the past. Less is more would be more appreciated I guess :slight_smile:

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If the sole mission of TZM is to shape a new cultural understanding, I think it isn’t enough to overthrow the current train of thought. People need to imagine what they are aiming for.

Here in the U.S., even people who self identify as progressive or liberal are unlikely to accept a train of thought that doesn’t have Capitalism at its core, never mind an economy free of money and exchange. I’m not even thinking of talking to conservatives or moderates. Even the relatively open-minded will need some spark of imagination in order to even consider such a radical change.

That’s why I framed my question as a thought experiment. Suppose Venus cities became popular. Not that they “should”, or “must”. But if they did, what would life in a Venus city be like? And what would happen to the obsolete habitats?

I started with the second question. Maybe I should start with the first. But any broad answer to the first is too vague to spark the imagination.

Suppose we just talked about clothes. Who doesn’t wear clothes?

They must be made, fitted, warn, and cared for. How might that happen? Here is another mental exercise. It doesn’t have to be this way, but would this idea fit within the framework of the RBE train of thought?

Clothes in an RBE city
2 baskets worth of clothes are dirty. The clothes were a bit small on the five-year-old this week, so Mom takes the five-year-old along to the clothing “store” (store in the sense of storage).

Mom sorts the clothes into 2 batches. The main batch contains clothes that they don’t care about getting back. The smaller batch contains clothes they really want back, such as Daughter’s hand-knit sweater, and Dad’s hand-sewn flannel shirt. The latter batch gets bundled and tagged, and all of it goes into the laundry chute, where robots sort according to care instructions.

The console asks Mom to review the last batch of clothes. Mom says they’re mostly fine, but the five-year-old has grown, the collar of one shirt gave Dad a rash, and Daughter is sick of pink. At the console’s prompt, Mom ushers the five-year-old into the measuring space, where he is scanned in 3D.

The console then offers a virtual display of clothes for each member of the family using profile data on sizes, color palette preferences, styles, fiber preferences and sensitivities, etc. Mom picks out the clothes for the whole family. Those that are in stock are immediately served up. They are also served up another hand-knit sweater that was dropped off last time with instructions to have it returned. Those that are not in stock will be delivered to their home the next day. Mom and the five-year-old go home with a bundle of clothes, some of which might be new, all of which are clean and within their tolerance of wear.

Okay, is that a reasonable RBE scenario?

Certainly not the only possible scenario, but I’m not looking for the future so much as looking for a future.

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Sounds very RBE to me.

“People need to imagine what they are aiming for.”
I’d say people need not only to imagine what they are aiming for, but typically people need to see it happening - small scale, test city, hybrid communities. In InterReflections we have a glimpse of this topic, at the very end.

We have 10 years on our backs, of “spreading the word” about this train of thought and we have very little tangible manifestation of it to show for. I’m talking WE as in TZM activists, RBE proponents.

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I think this train of thought adjustment is difficult, not just in the US. I personally tend to stay away from the hypothetical life in an RBE. The reason for that is because it’s speculation. We could do the same thing with the *isms (capitalism, socialism, communism) where we invision those systems as better than they perform today.

I would also not focus too much on technology. Technology will always change. 20 years ago we would not have predicted how smartphones would’ve changed our lives. So it’s hard to make a prediction that is far in the future. Because like you mention and realize as well, this change won’t happen within 10 years. But it is happening incrementally, so if we can highlight those trends and their potential, we may help people realize what’s possible. So I think it’s better to evaluate how we do things today and how they could be done differently. So that one day we can reach something like depicted by TVP. However, we’re not that dogmatic that we aim to satisfy those pictures from their books. The future could be very different.

In order to become more aware of the flaws of the current system and society, we need to put it in perspective with our culture, which is shaped in large by our economy.

One way of doing that is by looking at technological innovation. In News we sometimes share these trends. Some technological innovations are great, but may be incompatible or underutilized with our current socioeconomic system. Like for example automation, strategic strategic_access to our needs via e.g. localization of production and distribution. The amazing benefits of an open-source culture and how technology could help with mapping our resources with a digital twin of our Earth via a digital digital_feedback sensor network. This digital twin of the Earth can then be used to visualize what we truly have and how those resources regenerate. Based on that information we can arrive at decisions, not based on opinion, but reality with the assistance of the scientific method.

An example I often use are the Mars and Moon colonization projects. What we do there is map out the resources before doing anything else, especially on Mars since it’s too far from Earth to get a quick resupply. Mars needs to become self sustainable, with the limited resources over there. So they plan around the resources available. And use technology to stretch that carrying capacity of that planet to the max. Opinions about that are not that important, what really matters is what the scientific method produces with the information provided by the digital feedback network that maps out the needs of the colonists and resources available. Because that reflects reality. Those colonization projects are basically RBE projects on a small scale.

Also, when becoming aware of this contrast between an infinite growth economy on a planet that doesn’t have infinite resources. And seeing this distortion in society to never be satisfied and keep consuming these short lived products that by design are not made to last. And considering the advertisement industry that spends billions to keep people dissatisfied with what they have so they want to buy a “new” product because they think they “need” it. I quote that, because “new” is not really the case, they’re small incremental improvements over the previous model. If only we applied a modular design, then we could just replace the part that’s broken or in need of an upgrade. But such a strategy is not as cost effective (in this current system’s method of cost calculation).

That money for advertisement could be spend on other things, like improving products to last longer. But that won’t fit the current socioeconomic system of personal short term profits. Solving the climate crisis in a system that requires infinite growth is also kinda utopian. Lowering crime rates in a system that produces a lower and upper class is also kinda utopian. Nordic countries are relatively successful in that regard. But they do that by creating equality, the best they can in this system. By providing free or affordable healthcare, education, housing and transportation. Imagine if this was systemically a goal.

My reply is getting a bit long now. But I hope this is more of an answer you’re looking for. But again, no one here is a representative or an authority of the “true vision of an RBE”. We all just do our best here to create this cultural awareness, which in effect may influence our behavior and thus economy. I know it sounds ineffective compared to Extinction Rebellion where they shut down whole city centers or Greenpeace that occupies oil rigs. Or similar organizations that demand in-system changes (law/regulation changes). But I personally see it the other way around. (Not saying that those organizations are not doing a great job, I just don’t see their methods as effective if their goal is a long lasting change and not just an outburst of rage and then continue business as usual).

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I’m taking time off from the forum in order to finish TZM Defined. It seems that the New Human Rights Movement lifts some material from that book verbatim, might update some material (since it was published four years later), but doesn’t cover the blue sky and transition parts near the end. Not done yet, but getting close, I think.

To change people’s values, thought patterns, or behavior, check out the book Change: How to Make Big Things Happen by Damon Centola.

I’m trying to figure out how to apply the social theories in that book to make change in my community. My community leans blue, but it’s filled with armchair environmentalists and lawn sign racial justice supporters, and devoid of any energy to actually do anything. I’m theorizing that I’m witnessing The Bystander Effect in action.

I brought up a post-scarcity world at a dinner party. One person understood what I was talking about. The others were so bewildered, I couldn’t find words to clarify before - dinner party conversations being what they are - the subject moved on. This is why some sort of vision is necessary.

Here’s another way to think about it.

The abstraction of an NLRBE needs to be tested somehow. Live tests are great, but they’re expensive, few and far between, hard to discover, and impossible to single-handedly create. Thought experiments are free, easy to reason about, and simple enough to visualize. I would guess that there are dozens if not hundreds of NLRBE scenarios that would address the simple day to day problem I described in my thought experiment. But the ability to even describe one, that meets NLRBE criteria AND addresses the problem is all you need to prove that it could be done.


Aren’t the planned moon and Mars colonies good examples? Thinking in terms of maximum efficiency of resource management and making decisions based on the carrying capacity of your environment. Where science and technology can influence this carrying capacity in a positive way. It’s also not based on opinions, there is a sensor network that monitors the situation, where the scientific method is used to arrive at decisions.


Good point, Kees. I’ll look into them. I wonder what differences would arise between planning a colony in a completely hostile environment compared to the giant colonization of the abundant planet Earth. People psychologically process the threat of instant death differently from the threat of gradual annihilation. My intuition is that some of the moon/Mars planning would apply to earth, but not all. Not being a trained psychologist, I don’t know how to distinguish.


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