Introducing The “Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy” (or “NLRBE”) Model

Published January 7, 2014
Hands touching a globe

I’m now more excited about the Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy (“NLRBE”) model than I am about the Resource-Based Economy (“RBE”) model.  This post will explain why.

I was just introduced to the term “NLRBE”.

By “NLRBE,” I mean core resource-based economy (“RBE”) concepts, as fleshed out and expanded by Peter Joseph and his organization, “The Zeitgeist Movement” (“TZM”).

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By “RBE,” I mean the original economic model, as presented by Jacque Fresco and his “Venus Project” (“TVP”). My take on his RBE model is more fully explained in my last blog post, “What Do I Mean by ‘Resource-Based Economy’ (or ‘RBE’)?”

Given what I heard in a recent talk by Joseph, I am now sorely tempted to begin using the term “NLRBE,” rather than “RBE,” to refer to the new economy I’d love us to work towards.

Literally just after I had published my last blog post, “What is a ‘Resource-Based Economy’ (or ‘RBE’),” my husband and I sat down to watch the video of Joseph’s talk (to the right). The talk was called “Economic Calculation in a Natural Law/Resource-Based Economy.” Joseph gave it in November of 2013, in Berlin. (While the full video of it to the right, is about 2 hours and 40 minutes, the talk itself is only 1 hour and 44 minutes, followed by an hour long Q&A session.)

We were absolutely floored watching it. We especially enjoyed several specific parts. Those portions are excerpted and explained, farther down in this post.

As alluded to above, it’s not that I now believe the core meaning of the two terms “RBE” and “NLRBE” differ.1

It’s just that, under the banner “NLRBE,” Joseph-TZM is fleshing out, defending, and adapting the RBE model in a way I have more confidence in.  In other words, I have more confidence that Joseph-TZM is responding flexibly and fully to emergent scientific developments and other’s input and questions.

More confidence compared to what?  Compared to how I’ve seen Fresco-TVP handle the “RBE” model.

Here are a few examples, from the aforementioned talk, of the kind of fleshing out, defense, adaptation, and responsiveness I’m talking about. However, I recommend first reading my definition of the “RBE” model, to best understand what follows.  That’s because, as noted earlier, the NLRBE model shares so much in common with the RBE model:

  • From minute 0:00 to 29:00 of “Part II: Post Scarcity,” excerpted to the right, you’ll see how Joseph has moved on to describing in great detail exactly how we could meet the needs of all the world’s people. That is, he has begun to go through basic resources like food, water, and energy, scientifically and mathematically demonstrating how currently utilized technology could enable abundance for all the world’s people. This is a level of detail that I believe could really increase confidence in the “do-ability” of the new economic model. And it’s a level of detail I have not seen Fresco-TVP go into with the RBE model. I and others have gained confidence, seeing Fresco-TVP’s 3-D rendering of Fresco’s designs. However, I think people would also value more demonstrations integrating hard data and currently-utilized technology. So I’m grateful to see Joseph-TZM move in this direction.
  • From minute 29:00 to 40:01 of Part II, just above, you’ll see Joseph give us new details on how we can do more with less, via: 1) focusing on property access versus ownership; 2) designing in a whole new level of recycle-ability; 3) considering, during product design, not just how appropriate proposed resources are for the desired functionality, but also how abundant they are, and, if scarce, what substitute materials might be available; and 4) considering, during product design, how automate-able production of the design could be.  Fresco-TVP has discussed such things as well, but I found Joseph’s level of detail refreshing.
  • THIS ONE’S BIG: Throughout, but especially from minute 11:12 on of, “Part III: Economic Organization and Calculation,” excerpted to the right, you’ll see how Joseph has now clearly embraced, and massively fleshed out, the idea I expressed in my prior post, of “an egalitarian, consensus-based, software-facilitated, open-source-software-like, world-wide, direct democracy – which may or may not, over time, delegate more and more to AI.” Specifically, he outlines a “collaborative design interface,” primarily for the monitoring of raw materials and the open source design, manufacture, and distribution of products for all the world’s people. I experience Joseph-TZM’s proposal as thrillingly responsive to the growing open source and decentralization movements (e.g., open source software, and crypto-currencies, although the latter is still firmly market/trade based). And I am so excited too, about the way he has fleshed his proposal out. That is, I was excited to hear him, in the Q&A, inviting us all to participate, open-source-style, in the creation of the open source software we’d need to make this economic decision-making interface a reality. By contrast, I have not heard Fresco-TVP give anywhere near as much detail about exactly how “governance” or economic decision-making would work. At least this has not happened in a way I have felt as much confidence in. And certainly I have not heard Fresco-TVP invite collaboration on the building of needed infrastructure.
  • From minute 5:15 to 9:00 of Part III, above, you’ll see Joseph go into great detail about how the aforementioned open source system would compare with our current use of the market, private ownership of the means of production, and price discovery.  I found this section particularly compelling.
  • And, finally, in both Parts II and III, above, Joseph seemed much more responsive to technology trends, and technology designed by others, as alluded to earlier.
    • THIS ONE TOO IS BIG: For example, from minute 9:30 to 11:00 of Part III, I witnessed how fully Joseph has allowed recent 3-D printer technology development to influence fundamental elements of how he believes an NLRBE might work. And he’s done this in a way I haven’t seen Fresco-TVP do. Specifically, he’s moved away from the pure “library and delivery” system of property access, originally envisioned by Jacque-TVP.  Instead, he’s introduced a dual-track system. He suggests it would retain library and delivery distribution for high-demand goods, but on-site production for low-demand and/or custom goods.

I am not saying Fresco-TVP doesn’t believe in being flexible, adaptive, or responsive to emergent scientific developments or other’s input. It just seems to me that he/it doesn’t in fact visibly act on that belief as much as it seems Joseph-TZM does.

Why might we be seeing this distinction in approaches, assuming I haven’t missed something (which is definitely possible)?

Perhaps it’s partly the result of Joseph’s relative ability to 1) take in and adapt to new input, with one caveat2; and to 2) “lead by following.” That is, perhaps he’s simply more comfortable acknowledging, responding to, and taking fuller advantage of outside input. And perhaps this greater comfort enables both better integration of emergent scientific knowledge and other’s technology, and the generation of more responsive answers to questions that have confronted the RBE model.

Perhaps such abilities come more easily to those who grew up closer to the age of the internet and the open source collaboration phenomenon?

Who knows.

But, whatever the reason, I am eternally grateful for Fresco-TVP’s huge contribution.

And, at this point, I find I want to hitch myself primarily to the vision as it’s being developed under the “NLRBE” banner.  Again, this is because of my desire to be seen for my alignment with the kind of adaptation, responsiveness, and specifics I see being continually offered by Joseph-TZM.


  1. Indeed, I believe Joseph-TZM’s terminology shift was more about a request Fresco made of Joseph-TZM, at least initially.  So, I don’t believe it represented a fundamental disagreement on the basic “train of thought,” as Joseph would say. Here’s why I take this position:

    • Joseph-TZM and Fresco-TVP used to work together. At that time, Joseph-TZM adopted Fresco-TVP’s term “RBE.” But a rift ultimately occurred between the two, a few years ago now, I believe it was. Since then, apparently Fresco-TVP asked Joseph-TZM not to use the term “RBE,” for various reasons.
    • Joseph has always downplayed the need for different terms for every evolved version of the basic vision. Rather, he’s been content to know we all are on the same basic “train of thought,” even as we suggest modifications to the model. The idea is that modifications are inevitable, given our desire to constantly integrate the emergent knowledge that science continually reveals. And, generally, I agree with that position, as suggested by my previous post.

    That said, Joseph does mention, in TZM Defined, that he appreciates the substantive implications of the added clause “Natural Law.” He believes it clarifies our need to work in sustainable alignment with, not just the resources we have at our disposal, but also the laws of nature. But I’m confident Fresco-TVP wouldn’t disagree with the need to accommodate the laws of nature. So, again, I don’t see any fundamental “train of thought” disagreement between the “NLRBE” and “RBE” models.

  2. That is, I believe Joseph-TZM could do even more, in terms of meeting the need for responsiveness to input. Indeed, my departure from TZM relates to this. I desired more built-in organizational responsiveness to TZM members. But, seeing Joseph’s increasing interest in open source, and seeing he mentioned, in the Q&A, of opening up the text of the first TZM book for Wiki-style editing, I’m thinking Joseph-TZM’s responsiveness will only increase with time.

3 responses

  1. Thnx for the nice blog. I was wondering what nl/rbe was. Now I know. Tvp and tzm are both great organizations. Keep up the good work!

  2. I am unsure of how it is we can call ourselves a civilized species while operating in such a structurally violent social environment. The suffering on our planet is immense and the only way to resolve the inequality and degradation that I can see is a move away from money and towards an NLRBE.
    Great post.

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