The view from Venus
Jacque Fresco designed a society without politics, poverty and war. Will it ever leave the drawing board?
Published: October 13, 2011
To the west are two workshops filled with Fresco’s 400-plus models, painstakingly shaped over the course of two decades from foam, fiberglass, plastic, wood and Plexiglas. Despite the fact that the models have long been rendered obsolete by computer animations of Fresco’s inventions (thanks in part to Doug Drexler, visual effects artist for the Star Trek movies), they are still a requisite part of the Venus Tour, serving as historical relics, as well as proof of Fresco’s scientific prowess and creativity. One workshop houses shelves of aircraft powered by ionic propulsion, dumbbell-shaped space stations and earth-movers that Fresco says could melt rock into obsidian with powerful lasers. In the other workshop – the one for which Gazecki’s film is named – are the majority of Fresco’s model buildings, including a cone-shaped hurricane shelter that he plans on marketing to state authorities.
Fresco’s numerous and outlandish models suggest that although the Venus Project’s campus of unconventional structures – four of them domes and three of them in the semi-cylindrical shape of a barrel vault – offers a glimpse into Fresco’s futuristic society, it is an infinitesimally small realization of his plans. The most common representation of Fresco’s grander scheme is the “transitional city” of his living room coffee table: between one and two miles in diameter, the city features at its core a massive dome that houses educational facilities and the provision of health care. Cultural facilities, like museums, theaters and libraries, compose the inner ring around the central dome, and parks and recreation areas are located in the verdant periphery; residential areas are found in between. Cars would not be needed in the city; a train would transport citizens almost exactly to their destinations – once at a halt, specific cars would separate from the main body of the “transveyor” and scale the sides of buildings. The city is a perfect circle, composed of a smaller “radial segment” replicated over and over again like identical slices of pizza. Easy replication and uniformity are obsessions of Fresco’s – it’s for that reason that New York City, pointedly devoid of such homogeneity, would be scrapped for its steel. “It’s chaos,” he says. “Every building is a different size.”
The heart of the Venus Project is its focus on the dissolution of the monetary system and subsequent societal transition to Fresco’s “resource-based economy.” This radical new system would be initiated by a sweeping survey of the earth’s resources, from the depths of the ocean to the bedrock of mountain ranges. After that, doling out the necessities of life would be a simple matter of mathematics, performed by an impartial “socially integrated computer.” (Think of an omnipotent, self-directed Internet, immune to hackers.) Private property would not exist – musical instruments, cameras and tennis rackets would be checked out like books from a library, which Fresco believes would mean “the end of most juvenile crime.” Many more jobs would be rendered unnecessary by automation, but in Fresco’s society, this would translate into more free time for meaningful work, or for the continued pursuit of education, which, obviously, would be free. Surely, the word “communism” comes to mind for many when first introduced to Fresco’s system. “Communism has armies, navies, prisons, police, banks, money – we don’t have any of those things,” Fresco replies. “We have nothing in common with any system.”
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