This post was originally on the Anticultist blog which was flagged down. Mirroring it here so it’s safe from further retaliation from the TZM/TVP crowd.
I have compiled all these comments made by Euripide Sneed from the Earth 2 blog, where they appeared here and gave us an insight into what it was like being a member during the 1970′s-1980′s, this is for ease of reading. More comments and information may very well arrive, and be added should they feel the inclination.
Welcome to the club. Literally hundreds of people gave their blood, sweat and tears, since the 1960’s, to help make Fresco’s dream possible. Once these followers are parted with their money, their services are no longer required, and they are dumped, and he leaves town. Marxism (by any other name)cannot tolerate spiritual beliefs, because you need to break a few eggs to make an Omelette. Just ask Pol Pot or Fidel Castro. Ask Fresco where the money came from to purchase the Venus Property in the first place. And what happened to the investors who never got their money back. Fresco’s favorite line is “The Venus project IS NOT a DEMOCRACY”. It’s his way or the highway. Imagine if he was in a position of power where he could “really” do some damage! It’s great being an avowed Atheist, morality is “relative” regardless of who is hurt in the process. The rules of morality are made up as you go along. That being said, his reading list is still well worth looking at, artistic drawings have their limitations without foundational information.
In reference to your question, I don’t want to elaborate to the point that it sounds like I want to bash Fresco. Because, in fact, there are many worse people in this world. And, he lives a life of frugalness, having survived the depression. So, those of us who invested in his projects do not have the interest in ever taking him to court, because he has been and always will be a “grandfather” figure to us. That being said, “fool me twice, shame on ME”. He doesn’t solicit money from people to buy fancy cars (as do some religious leaders), almost ALL the money he receives goes back into his art work, and toy models. So, under the circumstances, I gave him a “pass” for his actions, a long time ago, and in fact learned a lot from his various lectures. I learned to think straight, and corrected many of my metaphysical “assumptions” about the universe. But, like many eccentric “creative types”, he has a sort of tunnel vision when it comes to remembering who his friends and supporters are. You’re IN today, OUT tomorrow!
In the 1970s he was having regular membership meetings at his home in Miami. With a weekly group of maybe 10 to 12 followers. Up until then, everything was only on paper, with “nothing” to show the rest of the “non-believing” world. So, the group (called Sociocyberneering at the time) signed an agreement to purchase some land (near Miami where they all lived) and they agreed to make regular monthly payments until the land was paid off. It would take several years to complete the payoff. The group had the vision to “live the dream” in their own little dome community. The community was to be self-sustaining with agriculture and other manufacturing products Fresco had designs for. They even donated funds for some small dome molds, which could be used for acquiring government grants. The group made regular payments, many of them making only minimum wage (most of members were low income, well meaning do-gooders). Whatever it took to make the monthly payments was done, even if it meant skipping a few meals a week. The goal was to show the world “what is possible with futuristic science on your side”.
One day, without discussion, the land that was purchased was sold. A new “legal entity” was created in the middle of nowhere (Venus), so that the investors would not be able to live there and commute to work at the same time. The new entity was called the “Venus Project”. The proceeds from the sold land was “funneled” into this new entity. The original investors in Sociocyberneering would have no “standing” or voting rights in the new entity. There was no other reason to change legal entities except to protect the funds from those who had built up the fund. If the goal was just to locate a nicer neighborhood, the Sociocyberneering entity could have continued to have control and voting rights of the new land. But, not so if you “dissolve” (under the attorney’s advice) the first entity, and create a second entity. Those members who were upset about this surprise move were assured that they were still welcome to “visit” the new entity and new land “anytime” they wanted to. But, they would have NO voting privileges as to how the money would be spent with the new entity. In the beginning, the 2 hour drive from Miami was tolerated, just to “visit” the new property. But, in the end, most of the investors cut their losses, and stopped contributing further, and said goodbye to any money they had deposited. The bottom line is that we are talking about events that happened over 30 years ago. Some of the members of the time are no longer alive. Most have all lost contact with each other. But, it is safe to say, in spite of all the financial disappointment that happened, most if not all the former members would like to see Fresco succeed. BUT, they prefer to admire him from “afar”, in the same way you can watch and enjoy a “Kung Fu” demonstration on stage, without having to jump on stage in the middle of all the “Kung-Pow” and get kicked by a “well meaning” performer. I would recommend anyone who has not heard any of his lectures to do so. He is one of the best of what he does, namely, explaining “systems approach” methodology to those students who never heard of the phrase. And also he helps people understand “TEC” (total enclosure) systems, as found on cruise ships, and applied to small futuristic communities. I’m sorry I have no other specific details about what happened 30 years ago. I am a strong believer that people should “experience him” directly, on their own terms, and determine yourself what he is or “is not” in terms of his personal behavior. I was particularly moved by your “experience” at the beginning of this blog, and how your well meaning words just “bounced off” him. But, to be honest, if I were to meet Einstein in person, I can’t guarantee that he would be any easier to deal with on a “human” level. “Uncommon people” many times cannot relate to us “common people”, and maybe it has always been that way…..
As far as Venus Project is concerned, there is no voting membership that I know of. Just Jacque. That was the main advantage of dissolving Sociocyberneering, no more “votes” to contend with.
In reference to your other point about forgiveness, I must confess that I WAS distressed while it was all happening, and it DID take several years to cool down. The same is true for the other members. It is “not” his goal to bite the hand that feeds him, it just happens with him “naturally” out of habit. He is focused on the goal, and not the intricacies of “give and take” which is all a part of working with a team. He works best when he is alone, period. He just wants someone to hand him a billion dollars and “shut up”, and not ask any questions. Consequently, none of the multiple millionaires who were introduced to him in the past, by some of his supporters, were interested or enticed to “buy in” to an “offer/relationship” like that. It’s almost funny that he seems “surprised” that no one in a position of responsibility wants to just “dump” a bag of money on his lap, with no questions asked. We try to explain to him that this only happens in the movies, but he is never amused by this observation. Anyway, keep up the good work, and I will enjoy reading your updates in the future…
There never was any classroom. People sat on a couch in his living room at the peak of the membership in Miami. Over half the pictures in the video, including classrooms, is “stock video” that the film maker took from some video library. The people you list were all volunteers who tried to contribute to his cause at one time or another. They come and go like a revolving door. They come in “excited” and “inspired”, and leave “despondent”, knowing that the organization is about teaching, but not necessarily about “team work” and “doing”. It has always been a one man show, and always will be. I compare it with “grade school”. It’s a “crucial” experience towards teaching us the 3 “R”s, it prepares us for the real world or college, but the course is fixed and limited. You will never learn Calculus, Chemistry or Physics there. It’s a nice place to visit, “but I wouldn’t want to live there” as the old saying goes. But, I must stress that it is up to the individual, to decide when they have had enough. Some people have had enough after 1 lecture, others continued to learn for several years before leaving. 90% of the lecture content has not changed since the 1950’s. And that’s OK. That’s what grade school is about. Should we stop teaching basic math in grade school simply because it was taught 100 years ago? No, children still need to learn 1+1 before they move on to Calculus. We can’t start children on Calculus (at least, not with current technology). We need Fresco to pull us out of the “mental mud” that society exposes us to as children, in that he teaches us to think more clearly, with our “brains full of mush”. BUT, then that moment must come, and only “you” will know when that time “is”, and you are told “time for you to leave” (either by Fresco, or your inner voice)….
for many adult minds, there is no lightning bolt listening to Fresco. Fresco’s entire “lecture circuit” is a combination of several influences in his life: The (ancient) movie “The shape of things to come” (Wells), The Technocracy Movement, The works of BF Skinner, The works of Buckminister Fuller (modified by Monolithic Dome concepts), and books such as Tyranny of Words, The Natural History of Nonsense, Science & Sanity, Mechanistic Conception of Life, Pavlov, Prefabrication theory using space age plastics, and finally “Engineers & Price System” (Veblin). There are 100 more books, but these are the core concepts of his lecture circuit. Many students graduating high school today or in College will probably “never” read most of these books in their life time. And they probably have no desire to. So, a lecture from Fresco puts all these concepts together in just a few hours. But, I agree, it is best to read the books directly if you have the time.
The property near Miami was was purchased for approximately $16,000, which was a lot of money in the 70’s, when people were trying to live on minimum wage. I don’t know how much it was sold for, since it was still undeveloped. Probably approximately the same price. The property in Venus was approximately $40K, because it was more acreage. I believe that the property in Venus is under his own name so that there is no distribution requirement if he sells the property. When he sold his home in Miami for over $100K (or maybe $150K?), there was enough money to pay for the Venus property, with the help of the Sociocyberneering funds. So, he did put up a few buildings on the Venus property which would serve as his new home. But, the value of all the buildings “combined” would be under $100K because they are sort of made of metal and gunnite, as opposed to more expensive materials like bricks or lumber. So, the asking price of the land is a little high compared to values of the surrounding acreage. Yes, I had read someplace that some politicians in Ecuador invited them to live there at their own expense, and maybe help with tourism. It is possible they may have even offered him a grant to build some safer housing that could survive disasters of weather or earth quakes. But, I’ve been out of the loop for many decades.
The housing prices in Miami have always been higher than the “Florida” average. There is a lot of unused land in Florida. A chart of “Miami” that only goes back 20 years gives a closer approximation, as follows:http://mysite.verizon.net/vodkajim/housingbubble/miami.html
The home was actually a 2 bedroom, in a borderline neighborhood. It needs to be understood that he never “made it big” doing what he does. He mostly was, and is, unemployed. His income from giving lectures at his home was only $10-$20 per lecture, 2 or 3 times a week. Roxanne, being an unemployed art major, helped a little with the rent. But, no, I don’t envy his current financial status. This recent “lecture circuit” is probably more lucrative than anything he has done before. But, I have NO idea what his going rate is these days to be a “guest speaker”, plus per diem? But, it definitely helps to pay the bills, compared to what he was making doing “odd jobs”. Now, if he actually gets $700K for that land, I will change my opinion about him being poor. That would make a nice nest egg. But, I think the actual value might be closer to $200K-$300K, if they can get that much.
Id say that they are doing OK, since the land is already paid for with no mortgage.
It was very common to bring a tape recorder to the lectures. Sometimes 1 person would bring one. Other times several people would bring one. Admission varied between $1 per lecture session to $3 per lecture session depending on what year it was. In the 70’s it was $1 per session, in the 80’s it was $2-$3 per session. It was affordable to most people, and if they couldn’t afford it, they could attend any way for free. Part of the fun was just meeting some of the other attendees after the session, and going to a restaurant for a snack. I haven’t heard the quality of the sound, but normally the microphone was only a few feet away, since it was in a small living room (informal). If the price is high, you may be able to get a used copy on eBay for a few dollars. The lectures are well worth listening to if you never heard them. Especially if you don’t want to read the hundreds of books that some of the information is extracted from. The problems came when we started to invest in the “futuristic commune”, living like Captain Kirk, with beds that make themselves, and robots that would plant the crops, harvest the crops, and using only organic pest control and fertilizers. In those days organic foods were expensive, so it would be great to get it at a low cost through automation. Star Trek was big in those days, and most of us would pay anything to live that life style immediately, rather than wait 100 years when the rest of the society would have it. But, it wasn’t meant to be, as you know….
Some of my statements were tongue in cheek. I definitely wasn’t there in the beginning. Just mid-seventies forward. He began many of his public lectures in the 60’s. I’m not really worried about his return to public speaking. I believe it is a temporary thing. Eventually, things will gradually begin to implode as the lecture audience begins to thin out. The cult following will probably continue to market his materials even after he retires. For example, his first book “Looking Forward” now sells from $200-$400 each. I remember I had 10 or 20 copies, years ago that were $6 each. But, they got lost over the years…
Anyway, part of being a fanatic is to NOT listen to reason, to get angry with friends and family who are trying to warn you that something is wrong with this guy. But, like “religion”, when you fill one “crutch” (religion) with another crutch (promises for tomorrow), in the end, you are still with a “crutch”. You defend your crutch “to the death” (symbolically), imperfections and all.
Then when you finally find your pockets empty, and the “crutch”, cheating on his first girlfriend, with the second girlfriend (Roxanne), the light goes on that you are dealing with “two” people. One “on stage”, one “off stage”. But, in fairness, isn’t that true for all “performers”? It’s part of the “gig” you are trying to “sell” for your “bread and butter”.
While you are looking at the left hand, the right hand will getcha. Just follow the money…. Ciao…