With the concession that today's climate of fast paced and high volume information transfer may render a discussion of Zeitgeist, the Movie completely obsolete, I would like to share my reactions to the film.
Part I: The Problem
First, for any readers who haven't seen the film, Zeitgeist is a free documentary with three broad subjects: The history of religion and especially modern Christianity, the events surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Center in 2001, and the formation and impact of the Federal Banking Reserve. “Zeitgeist” is a German phrase that defies translation- it is literally “spirit of thought” and refers to the collective paradigm of a people with respect to a particular area. It is embedded here if you'd like to watch it.
In nearly all the meta-literature surrounding Zeitgeist the phrase “conspiracy theory” is applied to varying degrees, from documenting public opinion on the film to classifying its genre. In the interest of a potentially unbiased answer to the question “Does Zeitgeist rely on conspiracy theory,” let's first look for a definition of the phrase.
According to the Random House Unabridged, via dictionary.com:
a theory that explains an event as being the result of a plot by a covert group or organization; a belief that a particular unexplained event was caused by such a group.
the idea that many important political events or economic and social trends are the products of secret plots that are largely unknown to the general public.
If you accept the first definition, then it seems perfectly obvious that Zeitgeist is a conspiracy theory. Used in that unemotional way, the phrase truly consists of an adjective attached to a noun and doesn't carry with it the associations that “conspiracy theorist”, for example, does. The second definition, which interestingly is not featured in the American Heritage dictionary, is usually employed by someone attempting to slander and marginalize a particular viewpoint or group of people.
Conspiracies, according to the first definition, clearly have and therefore most likely still do occur. One uncontroversial example of this resulted in Nixon's resignation. On the other end of the spectrum, many fringe enthusiasts go around believing, or at least claiming to believe, that Hitler's regime did not, in fact, engage in genocide.
After seeing Zeitgeist it seems necessary to place it somewhere on the conspiracy spectrum. Are the claims that the creators make sustainable or even meritorious of consideration? Since there are really three separate subjects to the film, perhaps we must consider each separately. Because I will from here forward make the case that Zeitgeist is meritorious of consideration and perhaps even an urgent call to action, I will play the devil's advocate and err on the side of stating the proposed conspiracies in a more extremist fashion.
The organized monotheism of the modern world has pagan roots and, although some of its supporting assumptions may derive from human nature, groups of powerful people have always used religious paradigms as a tool to control their constituents.
Personally, I have a very hard time respecting religious apologetics, but the debate of theism vs. atheism doesn't really come to bear on this conspiracy theory. Either a secular ethicist or a religious apologetic must needs condemn disingenuous acts by our leaders. So the question remains: do powerful people such as Viktor Bout, George Bush, King Richard the Lionhearted, etc. believe in God? Or do they merely profess to?
In a study published by the Journal of Religion and Society, the following quote appears:
“...the populations of secular democracies are clearly able to govern themselves and maintain societal cohesion. Indeed, the data examined in this study demonstrates that only the more secular, pro-evolution democracies have, for the first time in history, come closest to achieving practical “cultures of life” that feature low rates of lethal crime, juvenile-adult mortality, sex related dysfunction, and even abortion.”
Inasmuch as the people responsible for leadership of the masses are knowledgeable in political theory, this concept must not have slipped by them. It is, however, in the most truly democratic and secular societies that small groups of individuals are least likely to control large percentages of the wealth. Countries such as Ethiopia, Cuba, and increasingly the United States, are poster children for this concept.
You might stop reading right now if I proposed that, in a strict sense, Jesus Christ (if he existed) was an atheist. What about the question of the Christ's literal existence? Zeitgeist proposes that the story of Jesus of Nazareth is a deception that relies on the proliferation of incorrectly referenced, if not completely fraudulent, texts. Considering literacy rates in the alleged time of Jesus Christ, as well as the number of people who supposedly had personal contact with Him, this conspiracy theory isn't as far-flung as, say, the Roswell landings. However, the scope of the Jesus myth's impact seems much larger, and has certainly been much more resilient.
The destruction of the World Trade Center towers in 2001 was an organized demolition perpetrated by a small group of individuals who continue to benefit from the resulting public opinion trends.
Part 2 of Zeitgeist is by a long shot the most accusatory, controversial, and compelling section of the film. Many people, especially citizens of the United States, probably take personal offense at the utterance of this conspiracy theory. Such emotional devotion to a concept such as The United States of America testifies to the success and prevalence of today's Zeitgeist.
The film brings up a plethora of compelling evidence to support the second conspiracy theory, most notably in my opinion a statement by one of the architects of the World Trade Center buildings that they designed the towers to withstand the impact of a Boeing 747 jet.
Perhaps it is prudent to consider the magnitude of the September 11th events in an attempt to place it on the conspiracy theory spectrum. Just under 3,000 people perished as a result of the terrorist acts of 9/11 (no matter who perpetrated them). That number is remarkably similar to the casualties at Pearl Harbor in 1941. Many historians challenge the schoolbook suppositions that United States politicians were unaware of Japan's imposing threat to national security and that the Pearl Harbor attacks were unprovoked and surprising. Such historians meet with plenty of opposition but we do not label them conspiracy theorists. At least, not to the extent that we admonish proponents of the so-called “Loose Change” 9/11 conspiracy theory. According to the Associated Press, at least as many U. S. soldiers have died in Iraq as civilians who perished on September 11, 2001. Our brave leaders have frittered away billions of tax dollars fighting the War on Terror. Where is that money going?
The Federal Banking Reserve is in the control of a deceptive, uber-powerful cartel of select individuals who slowly but surely widen the gap in available resources between well-meaning patriotic citizens and the elite ruling class.
Because I am not well educated in macroeconomics, if I tried to expound upon Zeitgeist's claims I might do the cause more harm than good. Truly, much of the specific information in this part of the film slipped by my consciousness, but the main message is clear: if you participate in our economy of currency, it matters very little whether you barely scrape by or you excel to a fairly remarkable degree. Due to the bastard union of “civil servants” and banking interests, you will always fall victim to rising inflation and usury in its most pejorative form. Indeed, participants in the least dynamic economic systems will suffer more cruelly than citizens of “first world nations,” but if you use currency issued by the Federal Banking Reserve you will always be running to catch up.
In placing Zeitgeist's final argument on the spectrum of conspiracy theory extremism, it seems clear that its scope and extent are the greatest of the three. Logic would dictate that with enough dedicated research the economics of the Federal Banking Reserve would become transparent. But the reality of the Federal Banking Reserve makes the information and "laws" (resulting from closed-door consensus of very few individuals) related to the organization are unavailable to the public. Indeed, the creators of the film admit that the proposed conspiracy is the greatest act of public fraud ever accomplished- we have nothing with which to compare it. Please do your own research on this subject.
Part II: The Solution
One drawback to watching Zeitgeist (and also a prime reason for labeling the creators as “conspiracy theorists”) is that if you are open to its information it leaves you with a very gloomy picture of the world in which we live. If you subscribe for just a moment to the conspiracy theories I have just outlined, you may find yourself feeling very helpless, persecuted, and claustrophobic. The film doesn't provide any action plan to solve the problem- it leaves you to draw your own ethical conclusions.
With the aid of logic through use of Punnet Squares, I will now propose several practical solutions to the apocalyptic results that must follow if these conspiracies do, indeed, exist. And, in the interest of science, results are also posted in the case that the theorists are wrong. Compare results to make your own decisions on these questions we cannot conclusively answer. The diagrams should be mostly self-explanatory, and the resulting conclusions are merely one person’s interpretations of their implications.
Do not give money to religious institutions. As long as you make ethical decisions when you disperse your resources, you don't have to worry about the fiery wrath of God coming down upon you. Give your tax-exempt donations to secular institutions. They are more accountable to the general public.
Don't waste your time attending a church, synagogue, or mosque. If you avoid breaking the ten commandments, you will probably stay out of jail and besides, you can always repent on your deathbed. A just creator is much more concerned with the consequences of your actions than your belief in Him.
Refuse to vote for politicians in major parties. The difference between Democrats and Republicans is negligible and lulls the populace into the assumption that we have the ability to effect change through the current, two party voting system.
Support local political movements that have the potential to positively impact the legislation process, however narrow the focus might be.
Become involved in the political process. Run for office or campaign for a non-traditional candidate.
Make changes toward a sustainable lifestyle. Reduce your carbon and economic footprint. The less you depend on Big Brother and his currency the more free you will be.
Participate in barter economies. Trading goods and services is a great way to get off the grid.
Reduce your income. It costs surprisingly few dollars to achieve a basic standard of living if you plan carefully.
- Vote with your fork. The food we buy is one of the most important ways we can leverage our power.
George Orwell said it best:
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”
I wholeheartedly welcome any responses, comments, or challenges to the viewpoints I have espoused as I grapple with these questions in an ongoing search for like-minded, motivated allies.