Progressive Think Tank Slams Thrive’s Political Agenda

This blog has not dealt much with Thrive’s political ideology. That has been by design. The main focus of this blog is to evaluate Thrive from a factual standpoint: are its assertions and underlying assumptions accurate as a matter of objective fact? Discussions of politics are mostly beyond the scope of this inquiry. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that Thrive has a strong political undercurrent, and the orientation of that undercurrent is strongly libertarian. Foster Gamble, creator of Thrive, has endorsed Ron Paul for President in 2012. Furthermore, some of the “solutions” proposed by Gamble in Thrive, and on the associated website, are similar to libertarian planks.

This week, the Praxis Peace Institute, a progressive think tank founded by musician and longtime political activist Georgia Kelly, issued a 56-page pamphlet entitled Deconstructing Libertarianism: A Critique Prompted by the Film Thrive. Because several readers of this blog have directed me to the pamphlet, I thought I would do a brief article on it. It’s impossible to avoid touching the political implications of the film in an article like this, but I do want to stress that, regardless of my personal political beliefs, my primary arguments with the film are factual, not political.

Praxis Institute’s Critique of Thrive: The Basics

You can see the Praxis pamphlet here (note, clicking that link will begin a download of the pamphlet itself in .PDF format). As suggested by the title, the main purpose of the pamphlet is to address libertarian philosophy and explain why, from the point of view of a political progressive, it doesn’t work. Georgia Kelly is the editor of the pamphlet. She came into conflict with Foster Gamble and Thrive back in December when she posted a sharply critical review of the film on Huffington Post. In the pamphlet, she and other writers from the Praxis Peace Institute deliver a double-barreled blast against the film and its political agenda, analyzing many of the assumptions and philosophies behind libertarian thought.

Ms. Kelly states in the introduction why Thrive prompted her to issue this pamphlet:

“Through discussions of the content in the film and the written material on the Thrive website, we realized that many people viewing the film would not readily perceive the libertarian political agenda behind the film. Because many people are confused about libertarianism and its impact on the current political landscape, we felt it important to plumb this political philosophy, particularly during an election year. The articles written in this booklet cover a range of topics that deconstruct libertarianism and place it in the context of our current political environment.”

A bit later, in an article within the pamphlet entitled “Deconstructing the Political Agenda Behind Thrive,” Ms. Kelly writes:

“The website’s “Liberty” page (in the “Solutions” section) is a real shocker. Peppered with quotes from Ayn Rand, Ron Paul and Stefan Molyneux, the page even includes an attack on democracy. Gamble lumps democracy in with bigotry, imperialism, socialism, and fascism, and claims all of these — including democracy! — violate the “intrinsic freedom of others.”

The pamphlet proceeds through several articles written by various authors critiquing the ideological assumptions behind Thrive in much the same terms that Ms. Kelly uses. For example, in an article by Ben Boyce entitled “Challenging the Hidden Political Underbelly of Thrive,” this criticism is given:

“Make no mistake, the actual policy solutions in the documentary constituted the norm in the first Gilded Age of ‘laissez faire’ capitalism, that is, the McKinley Era at the end of the 19th century, for which the libertarian/conservative movements seem to still pine. That was a time when there were minimal taxes on corporations, no worker’s rights, no pesky EPA environmental regulations, no minimum wage, no social safety net to prevent families from tumbling precipitously from marginal employment and insecure housing to abject penury and homelessness. Everywhere in the world where the libertarian ideology has been put in practice, this condition of mass immiseration and concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1% has been a consistent historical fact. This ideology has been tried and failed.”

Another contributor, Gus diZerega, argues:

“[M]y problem with Thrive is the movie’s failure to adequately understand the principles it itself advocates in order for us to create a more humane and sustainable society. It presents one dimension of a problem that is multi-dimensional. The core insight lacking in libertarian thinking is the failure to grasp the centrality of relationships as constitutive of individuals, and to recognize that relationships are the key to understanding property rights and just politics.”

My Take on the Praxis Critique

Having read the Praxis critique, I think it’s self-evident that it is primarily a political document. Its purpose is to criticize the underpinnings of libertarian political thought that surface in Thrive and its milieu as opposed to really critiquing the movie point-by-point. Indeed, while I think the Praxis pamphlet is a very useful tool in evaluating the political agenda of the film, I’m somewhat disappointed by Praxis’s lack of engagement with factual matters asserted in the movie. There is very little discussion of conspiracy theories at all or their relationship to libertarian thought. I think this is a missed opportunity, and could have opened an interesting discussion on the role that conspiratorial thinking plays in political movements both historically and in contemporary society.

Case in point: the Federal Reserve. Mr. Gamble leaves no doubt that he absolutely detests the Federal Reserve, as most libertarians do; he blasts it as a tool of the “Global Domination Elite” to control the money system and hence the world. As a matter of economic policy, what the Federal Reserve does and should do is certainly a legitimate political issue, but aside from that, it is an absolute magnet for conspiracy theories. (Don’t ask me to opine at length on the Federal Reserve. I hate talking about it because it’s intensely boring. For a very good debunking of most of the popular FR conspiracy theories, go here). Mr. Gamble’s hatred of the Federal Reserve may be ideologically oriented, proceeding from libertarian thought, but I suspect at least part of his animosity may also stem from his obvious belief in Federal Reserve-related conspiracy theories. Here we have a prime example of a libertarian political goal—“End the Fed!,” as politicians like Ron Paul like to sloganize—that is being advanced through the spread of paranoid conspiracy theories. I would have liked Praxis to address how, from a progressive political standpoint, this could best be handled. How do you separate legitimate and rational political motivations from illegitimate and irrational belief in conspiracy theories? The pamphlet doesn’t go there. Indeed there are only a few perfunctory mentions of the Federal Reserve at all.

The conflation of conspiracy theories with politics is a dangerous trend and one of the main reasons why I push back against conspiratorial thinking. It is well known, for example, how an undercurrent of anti-Semitic conspiracy thinking in Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries provided a fertile breeding ground for the rise of Nazism in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s. Those theories are still with us—in fact David Icke, one of the chief talking heads in Thrive, pushes a thinly-veiled science fiction redress of these anti-Semitic conspiracy theories with his ludicrous “shape-shifting reptilian alien overlords” theories that, while they do not refer specifically to Jews, are eerily similar in tone and function to those traditional anti-Jewish theories. Conspiracy theories corrode the ability of people to think rationally about real political solutions. The rise of fringe candidates, like Ron Paul, spouting bizarre philosophies and openly employing racist and conspiratorial language to motivate supporters, is a disturbing effect of this tendency. I would like to know what the Praxis Institute thinks we ought to do about this trend.

Personally, I oppose libertarianism as a political philosophy. I don’t like its emphasis on so-called “free market” principles, its hostility toward taxation and responsible government, and its demonization of any form of collective societal action toward social justice. However, my political beliefs are small issue to Thrive, and are not the primary motivation, or even a significant motivation, for me to push back against the film on this blog. Even if Thrive’s politics were squarely in agreement with my own I would object to its use of conspiracy theories and conspiratorial thinking to advance its aims. Georgia Kelly and the Praxis Peace Institute seem to care much more about Foster Gamble’s politics than I do. That’s not a criticism at all; different viewers of the film will have different approaches in reacting to it. Nevertheless, in their critique of Thrive from a political standpoint, I would have liked to have seen more emphasis placed on the ethical dimensions of using demonstrably false conspiracy theories to advance whatever agendas—be they political, social or religious—lay at the heart of this deceptive film.

Foster Gamble’s Response to Ms. Kelly’s Original Huffington Post Article

What does Foster Gamble have to say to Georgia Kelly? To my knowledge he has not (so far) come out with a response to the Praxis pamphlet itself, but he did respond to her original Huffington Post article, an expanded version of which forms the basis of the first chapter of the pamphlet. Here’s how Mr. Gamble responds:

“Georgia Kelly, founder of the Praxis Peace Institute in Marin County, has posted a fearful review of THRIVE on the Huffington Post. Ms. Kelly has been active in Liberal Democrat politics, and she mistakenly assumes that I am a covert Right-winger, and then goes about attacking that position and me. Her supposition is not true, so she seems to end up missing both the value of THRIVE and critical insights that can inform breakthrough solutions strategies to help humanity escape our lethal situation and flourish…

Ms. Kelly has mislabeled me as “right wing” and started lobbing word grenades over a self-created ideological fence. What I want to explore is “What is just” and “What works?” So I challenge Ms. Kelly and any who are interested in this conversation to answer the most fundamental moral question I know of:

Just exactly when, for you, is it OK for one human being to take your property — be it your body, your wages, or your privacy — against your will and under the threat of violence?

That is what mandatory taxation is…”

This is only a tiny portion of Mr. Gamble’s response, and I encourage you to read the rest for yourself. It’s lengthy, and deals mostly with ideas of political philosophy, which seems to be the primary battlefield on which Ms. Kelly wishes to engage Thrive. I do not find, anywhere in Mr. Gamble’s blog, anything that addresses the factual problems with the film. As Ms. Kelly on Huffington and Praxis Peace Institute in their pamphlet did not focus on factual issues, I see the debate between them and Mr. Gamble on ideological matters to be essentially a political argument, and thus only tangentially relevant to the issues raised on this blog.


Speaking only for myself, I would rather engage Thrive in the arena of what is provable fact as opposed to what is desirable public policy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my own opinions on political philosophy or public policy, nor does it mean that I whole-heartedly endorse (or condemn) either the political agenda of Thrive or of the Praxis Peace Institute. My political opinions are not very relevant to the matters I created this blog in order to explore. In short, I’ve read the Praxis Peace Institute pamphlet. I agree with some of it, I disagree with other parts of it, but, while it’s certainly an interesting take on the Thrive phenomenon, if your main interest in the film is (as mine is) whether it is a credible source of factual information about what’s happening in the world around us, the political argument is largely irrelevant to that concern. Let’s certainly be aware of Thrive’s political agenda, but I for one don’t intend to make political disagreements with the film or its makers a significant point of contention. I’m willing to let others, like Georgia Kelly and her friends at Praxis Peace Institute, do that, and I wish them all the best in doing so. The movie has enough problems simply stating what it thinks is factual truth before it even gets to the realm of politics and policy.

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44 responses to “Progressive Think Tank Slams Thrive’s Political Agenda”

  1. Gus diZeregag says :

    Thank you for the review. Your point about libertarians and conspiracy theory is a perceptive one and actually I wrote an analysis of just that point. The pamphlet was getting long and I decided to save it for later use. Here is the core of my argument.

    Because libertarians see people as self-contained they expect them to be either good and informed, good and ignorant, or bad in some way. Character is intrinsic. Think of Ayn Rand’s characters that got increasingly black and white. When they hear and understand the libertarian critique good people become libertarians. Before that they are uninformed. Bad people seek power over good people and create states and bureaucracies to exercise their domination. These institutions exist because powerful people want them to, and these powerful people are the conspirators running our world.

    Conspiracy theory is very harmonious with extreme atomistic individualism.

    I do want to take exception to one point.

    I think your distinction between politics and facts is not quite accurate. Where one stands on a specific issue of public policy or a general approach to issues depends on both values and the things you believe are factually true. However, where you stand on a model for understanding the social world, which is what an ideology is, can be entirely or largely factual. An ideology is in many ways analogous to a theory or hypothesis in natural science. If libertarian beliefs are rooted in a theory of individuality that makes no sense logically and has considerable factual evidence against it, this is not a “political” weakness. This is one of social science. It says nothing about what my own actual policy preferences are.

    There is another point that I do not know how to address this other than to say “Never attribute to conspiracy what incompetence and pride can explain.” Once one gets into a conspiratorial mindset all evidence against the conspiracy simply suggests how devilishly clever the conspirators are in covering their tracks. Of course how could such devilishly clever people run an incompetent government? Then we enter into the “evil people” side of libertarian thinking.

    This long for a reply but brief for covering the topic will have to do for now.

    • muertos says :

      Gus, thanks very much for your response. I think you’ve raised some very good points. I’m glad to hear that you did analyze the convergence of political ideology and conspiracy thinking. And I agree in general with your thoughts on it.

    • Treok Walker says :

      you say,”Of course how could such devilishly clever people run an incompetent government? Then we enter into the “evil people” side of libertarian thinking.”
      The government isn’t incompetent. They are criminal. They are looking after themselves very competently. Look at the billions of dollars the oil companies make. Look at the billions of dollars the banks received. Look at the top government officials getting jobs with these private corporations after they are done with politics.
      Very competent criminals.

      • Gus diZeregag says :

        I agree. I am not the one who rails about incompetence, although it exists in any human endeavor and I suspect increases over time in any human organization, public or private. But criminality does not need vast conspiracies encompassing most of the world for hundreds if not thousands of years to account for it.

        Thrive in my opinion does such a bad job of diagnosing the CAUSES of our problems as not to contribute to their productive solution. BTW I agree with their
        stage one” for the most part, which many other people advocate versions of and which do not require either libertarian ideology nor conspiracy theories to justify. Common sense does well enough.

  2. Georgia Kelly says :

    Thank you for writing about our pamphlet, “Deconstructing Libertarianism: A Critique Prompted by the film Thrive.” We focused on the politic agenda because that is our area of knowledge. As for the conspiracies and fact checking, I am grateful that you are doing that. We all have our roles to play and we do our best work where we are most knowledgable.

    One correction from my side. I have been an active citizen but not just as a Democrat. I have also been an active member of the Green Party. Though I support progressive Democrats, I do not support the Democratic Party (because it has become part of the problem).

    I think between us, we’re deconstructing both the film and the libertarian ideology. The progressive worldview is very different from the libertarian one and it is important that people realize this difference before we loose public education, Social Security, Medicare, public roads, and all the things that the Thrive website rails against.

    • muertos says :

      Georgia, thanks for your post. Also thank you for clarifying your political background. I’ll make a correction to the text of this blog.

      I’m glad there is someone out there taking on the film’s political agenda. Obviously that is very important. I agree that between the two of us we have many of the bases covered. Also, you may be aware that Rob Hopkins has been critical of Thrive as well from an environmental activism standpoint. If you haven’t seen it already, his article criticizing the film has a lot of good material too.

    • Treok Walker says :

      Georgia, did you watch Thrive. Nowhere did I see it railing against education, social security, medicare and roads. Maybe you fell asleep.

      • Georgia Kelly says :

        I saw it twice. That’s why I examined the website where the real damning information is. Most of my criticism is directed to the details he makes clear on the website. He only mentions these things briefly in the film, but it was enough to make me suspicious — and, rightly so. I suggest you read the website — under the “Solutions” section. You will find all of the evidence there.

  3. Fawn says :

    The only reason I’ve been following this blog is to read your critique of Thrive’s take on central banking, fractional reserve lending, and the Federal Reserve. Yet, you mention in this post, “I hate talking about it because it’s intensely boring.”

    How disappointing. The message about monetary policy in Thrive was the primary lesson worth taking home. Perhaps monetary policy is boring, but it seems imperative to me that we all start discussing the subject. We’ve been on the brink of worldwide economic collapse for some time now, yet most people don’t want to discuss the nature of money. People complain for a brief moment about massive bank “bailouts” and then their attention span snaps and they go back into debating about health care or some other wedge issue.

    Maybe you don’t agree with Thrive’s proposed solution to the economic problems we are now facing today, but I think it’s foolish to write off concerns about the Fed as mere conspiracy theories. It’s obvious that there are people in the world that are most concerned with gaining power and control. That’s as true today as it has ever been in the past. It’s also true that manipulating and controlling the money supply at the ignorance of the population at large provides very special advantages to the very few, which only serves to further increase the divide between the ultra rich and everyone else.

    The dated and brief Federal Reserve conspiracy theories article you linked to addresses only the most extreme views on the Fed, leaving out all of the Fed’s policies that have a very real effect on the world economy and everyone’s personal economic health as well. The impression I get from reading that article is, “everything the Fed does is fine, permitted by law; the people whining about it are conspiracy nuts; let’s move on to something important.”

    The monetary policy we all live with today is not the way it’s always been in the past. In fact, the governing body and policies over the production and distribution of money has changed many times over the course of human history, at times setup in ways that favor the people and at other times setup in ways that favor the banks and corporations. It’s worth discussing, boring or not.

    • muertos says :

      I’m curious, if you think Thrive’s message on the Federal Reserve is so important and positive, are you bothered at all by the fact that the movie employs demonstrably false conspiracy theories about other subjects (UFOs, “Global Domination Agenda” etc.) and other distortions in order to present this message? Do you feel that the message Thrive advances on banking and the Fed is so important that the other problems of the movie are worth overlooking because that one message is so important?

      Put another way, if Thrive’s message on banking is so important, why does it need to stoop to the level of pushing fake conspiracies in order to get people to pay attention? If its banking message is so self-evidently important and true, why would it risk diluting the credibility of that message by packaging it with a bunch of New Age woo garbage and false conspiracy theories that can easily be debunked?

      • treok says :

        More rhetoric from Muertos who likes to evade real issues such as the Federal reserve,,,,why not try debunking Aaron Russo’s great doc. “America, From Freedom to Fascism”. Ever seen it Muerto? I wonder what stupid rhetoric you would have to say about Aaron.
        Foster doesn’t have to remake that movie which is mostly about the fed. and the illegal tax system, so he made his own, with his own opinions, and the Global domination agenda is to you ridiculous, bu not to many. Ever heard of Nazi Germany. Many brainwashed people such as yourself in germany in the early 1940’s said that “people are not being sent to death camps, that is just a conspiracy theory, those are just work camps. so, I’m sure if you were in Nazi Germany, you’d be calling death camps, a conspiracy theory. ” They are just work camps” reports Muerto’s in his death-camps debunked paper.
        Many people have seen ufo’s or other forms of life, myself included. Your brain is too closed to see much of anything. How about you try reading a book called MY Big Toe, by nuclear Physicist Tom Campbell, to see what he has to say scientifically about other life. There is a lot more to existence than just humans, and just because you have no experience, doesn’t mean everything is a conspiracy theory.
        So, watch “America, from freedom to fascism” and check out some of Thomas Campbell on you tube, to save you from reading his 800 page book, and see if your brain can expand a bit, but it doesn’t seem likely. If you can debunk Aaron Russo, that should be good for a laugh. check what he has to say about one of the Rockefellers that tried recruiting him to their elite club in a talk on you tube

      • Fawn says :

        No, I’m not bothered by Thrive’s presentation of what you refer to as “demonstrably false conspiracy theories.” Why would I be bothered by it? As I see it, Thrive is one person’s expression of their particular and individual worldview. As with anything I see, read, or hear, I take all of it with a grain of salt. Do I believe everything that Foster conveys in his film? No. Does it keep me awake at night knowing that he has (according to some) made a film that might influence people in ways that some might perceive to be, at best, unhelpful? No. As with any form of media, it’s up to the individual to decide how to decode and assimilate the presented information.

        Some people who watched Thrive may have seen the information on banking and scoffed, writing it off as conspiracy theory. Some may have believed it verbatim. For others, it may have sparked their interest, causing them to delve deeper into the subject. Perhaps it led them to other more historically based films , like The Money Masters, or perhaps films more educational and informative in nature, like the Money as Debt series. Or perhaps it led them even deeper into the writings, texts, and philosophies of various leaders and schools of thought in monetary policy. And of course, for some, it may have caused them to have such a reaction to the presented ideas that they completely reject considering any possibility of truth in the underlying message. It can go even further, where the person not only rejects the ideas, but instead of creating a dialog about the ideas, they instead spend all of their time criticizing the original purveyor of the ideas for their failure to accurately depict the truth. Perhaps you fall into that category? I think there is value in any of the aforementioned positions that the person may land in after watching Thrive.

        Personally, I’m the kind of person that appreciates taking in all kinds of information, from many different sources and viewpoints, and then using whatever peaked my interested in the material as a guide for what to further research. That’s part of the reason why I check in on your blog periodically, even though I don’t agree with all of your criticisms I’ve read here. Does everyone do this? No. Do I feel the need to heavily criticize Foster for misleading, misguiding, deceiving (or however you view his approach) the watchers of his film? No. Not anymore than I feel the need to shout out and convince the world that Fox News really isn’t fair and balanced. It’s 2012. We are all bombarded with all sorts of information from every direction at every hour of the day. It would be futile for me to expect this information to be 100% completely rational and neutral from every source.

        Perhaps I’m mistaken, but it seems to me like you view Foster as some kind of malicious propagandist, hell bent on pushing fake conspiracies just to get his message across. For what reason you seem to think he is doing this for, I’m not sure. But, I see him a bit differently. My impression is that he genuinely cares about the subjects he talks about and has created the film in order to create a dialoge on those issues. And in that same vein, I say good for him for putting his reputation on the line by presenting ideas that he surely knew would cause many to heavily criticize and/or ostracize him.

      • muertos says :

        Fawn, given your answer here, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this article which I don’t believe you’ve commented on:

      • Fawn says :

        Muertos, I had not read that article. Thanks for the link as it answers some of the questions I posed in my previous reply.

        I now understand that the purpose of this blog is to “bring to light the many errors, distortions, and inaccuracies contained in the conspiracy theory documentary Thrive.” Given that purpose, perhaps it is too much for me to expect you to also consider and evaluate the topics in Thrive separately from how Foster has presented them. In other words, instead of just debunking them and then moving on to the next, you could debunk while also shedding your own perspective on any given topic. Given that, I also believe that it’s fully in your right to express yourself in whatever way you want. It’s your blog.

        I don’t think you should be praising “what some people view as the movie’s positive message” nor did I mean to imply in my previous post that I believe the movie has an overall positive message or that I think you should recognize it for that, etc. I also do not mean to argue that your “good intentions should insulate [you] from criticism for doing what [you] do on this blog.” In fact, as I said in my previous reply, I think your reaction to the film probably lands you in the category of a person that would “spend all of their time criticizing the original purveyor of the ideas for their failure to accurately depict the truth.” And as I said after that statement, “I think there is value in any of the aforementioned positions…” I do think there is value in what you are doing here on this blog. I also think there is value in Foster putting his ass on the line by making a film presenting ideas that he surely knew some would lambast him for.

        But, here is the part that I don’t get. On your other post, you state: “I believe that conspiracy theories impair peoples’ ability to think rationally and thus participate meaningfully in public discourse. Therefore, refuting conspiracy theories and promoting the facts is something I feel is a strong social good.”

        That’s all and well, but I think that the complete and immediate dismissal of any topic promoted by “conspiracy theorists” makes your “good intention” just as flawed as the very conspiracy theorists you are crusading against. You seem to be throwing the baby out with the bathwater here. For if there is any underlying truth contained within any of the given conspiracy theories, you would never know, as you have analyzed the ideas not based on their merit, but instead as a reaction to how they were presented. You may have dismissed it based not on what the conspiracy theorists are trying to point a person to, but instead dismiss it because the idea itself happens to be promoted by what you deem “conspiracy theorists.”

        Maybe what I just stated isn’t as true on some of the topics you have made effort to debunk here, but it is certainly true on the topic of fractional reserve banking, central banking, and the Federal Reserve based on your statement, “I hate talking about it because it’s intensely boring” followed by a link to an article on the Fed that I have seen many people like you link to (for years) in effort to dismiss the topic without giving it a fair analysis.

        In other words, some of the topics pointed to by Foster deserve to be considered and analyzed not solely in reaction to Foster’s ideas about them, but instead on their own.

        I try not to expect too much from Thrive and Foster and the same for you and this blog. But, what I do hope for is a bit more of a balanced perspective from all involved. For example, I hope that Foster has read some of your articles and as a result has learned how his presentation of ideas he cares deeply about may have turned off a certain category of people which has hopefully given him insight on how to more effectively communicate. I also hope that at the other extreme, people like you for example, don’t outright drop any idea presented in the movie simply because it came from a person that you consider to be fringe and out of touch with reality. There’s something in the middle there, obviously, based on the extreme passions on both sides of this (Thrive promoters vs debunkers). I think it deserves consideration.

        In particular, I think that the concepts of debt money, fractional reserve lending, and central banking are the most important topics of debate and the most crucial in determining the level of well being for everyone on the planet. The underlying history and understanding of how money works most certainly adeserves consideration, boring or not, surrounded by conspiracy theories or not.

      • muertos says :

        Fawn, thank you for your comment and clarifying your thoughts. Also thanks for a comment that proceeds from the realm of reason as opposed to most comments that are made on this blog.

        I hear you making two main arguments. The first is that you’re you’re disappointed I don’t talk about the Fed and monetary policy. I’ll get to that in a moment. The second argument is an appeal I hear often, which is, “Don’t dismiss conspiracy theories, because there might be something true in there!”

        Intellectually this is a compelling argument. As a matter of pure theory you’re correct–every idea, regardless of its source, should be at least given a chance to prove its merit. Where this argument breaks down in relation to Thrive, however, is the simple fact that there IS nothing new in Thrive. Every single conspiracy theory that Foster Gamble throws at the audience–every single one–is not only a theory that’s been around the block multiple times, but has been discredited multiple times.

        I’ve been debunking conspiracy theories for seven years now. While I don’t claim to have “seen it all,” I’ve seen enough of it to recognize that Mr. Gamble is simply throwing together a smorgasbord of conspiracy tropes as traditional and well-worn as vaudeville acts in an old time minstrel show. Where is there a single new idea in the garbage he fire-hoses at the audience, from ancient astronauts to Rockefellers-run-the-world and free energy suppression? All of this has been done before. Multiple times. The only thing that’s new is the packaging.

        When I dismiss the Federal Reserve conspiracy claims as boring crap that I don’t want to talk about, you seem to be under the impression that I have never looked at them at all and the material is new to me. That’s not the case. I have looked at them, years ago. Weeding through conspiracy theorists’ endless rhetoric on the Federal Reserve, and finding nothing of substance there, was such a hateful experience that I just don’t want to go there again. It’s like getting the drill at the dentist’s office. I don’t fear the drill because I’ve never had to endure it. In fact, the opposite is true. As soon as I open the Pandora’s box of Federal Reserve and fractional banking, I know exactly what I’m in for. Life is too short. I have a job, a significant other, and a life off the Internet. It’s just not worth my time.

        As for these subjects in general, perhaps this is unfair of me, and perhaps it is intellectually dishonest to say so, but when someone comes to me very eager to discuss the Federal Reserve and fractional banking, what I think they really want to talk about is Austrian economics. It is true, not all Austrian economics is bound up inseparably with conspiracy theories. It usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. Nevertheless, I have also investigated Austrian economics and I don’t want to go there either. In its pure form Austrian economics is not a conspiracy theory, but it’s certainly baseless crankery. If you don’t want to talk about Austrian economics, I will offer my apologies in advance, and say, more power to you–in fact, I wish you the best of luck at making your case against the Federal Reserve without resorting to tropes from von Mises or other toxic associations. We need someone out there doing that.

        I like your thoughtful ruminations on how you think Foster Gamble should react to this blog. Yes, maybe he’s sitting there reading this and thinking, “Gee, I really underestimated how this movie could turn people off. Maybe I should rethink my approach.” But I do not think he’s thinking that. I’ve seen Mr. Gamble refer, in statements responding to his critics, to “government trolls.” (He has not addressed this blog specifically in those terms, but he’s used the term). That tells me that he thinks someone out there–whether it’s me or someone else–is being paid by the government to trash this movie. That’s the level of paranoia we’re dealing with here. You confess perhaps you expect too much of Mr. Gamble. I venture to say–perhaps, again, unfairly, as I don’t have the benefit of knowing what he thinks of efforts like mine–that you may be right.

        Thanks again for commenting.

      • Treok Walker says :

        “You have to understand…
        most people are not ready to be unplugged and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.” — Morpheus

      • Mycenae says :

        “It is true, not all Austrian economics is bound up inseparably with conspiracy theories. It usually is, but it doesn’t have to be. Nevertheless, I have also investigated Austrian economics and I don’t want to go there either. In its pure form Austrian economics is not a conspiracy theory, but it’s certainly baseless crankery. If you don’t want to talk about Austrian economics, I will offer my apologies in advance, and say, more power to you–in fact, I wish you the best of luck at making your case against the Federal Reserve without resorting to tropes from von Mises or other toxic associations.”

        Okay, first of all, I have read many articles on Austrian economics, and watched a few Youtube videos on the subject as well, and I have seen exactly one Youtube video on Austrian economics that even mentioned conspiracies, and it was neutral on whether or not they were actually real. Everything else I have seen on Austrian economics relies entirely on theory.

        Your personal attacks on Austrian economics, which you do not back up with any arguments whatsoever, also indicate that you’re basically repeating establishment propaganda without thinking about this stuff for yourself. As a result of this, combined with your dismissal of widely accepted evidence that America is turning into a dictatorship, I have to conclude that you are either completely clueless, or that Gamble is, in fact, right about you, and you are being paid by someone with a vested interest in maintaining the current system to attack dissenters.

      • muertos says :

        So, because I reject Austrian economics, I must be a paid disinformation agent. What flawless reasoning! Thanks for the laugh, I just posted your comment to my Twitter.

    • Treok Walker says :

      Thanks Fawn, it’s nice to have some intelligence on this site.

  4. Treok Walker says :

    Hollywood Tomfortas is another hate-mongerer. How do you get antisemitism form anything I’ve said. You are one sick person trying to discredit people with your sick accusations. You are very sick, and need some serious Therapy, but even that probably wont help you. I feel sorry for you.

    • Hollywood Tomfortas says :

      Greetings Treok! Please allow me some time and much comment space here to explain why I believe that your are being anti-Semitic here.

      The first impression you give Treok, as I read through all your comments here, is of a young person who is extremely frustrated in life and who requires a scapegoat upon which to upload his frustration.

      Then I noticed that muertos made this comment yesterday.

      Just this morning I received a threatening message insisting that I’m Jewish (I’m not) and that I personally participated in 9/11.

      Now I am not accusing you, Treok, of being the person who called muertos Jewish, but I am setting the tone and context of your remarks which I shall quote below.

      You see, during the Vietnam War era, I was in the army, but I never went near Vietnam. Instead I was trained as a German linguist/interpreter and assigned as a Military Intelligence operative in Germany where I was able to study the PsyOps techniques of the Nazis, mainly their success at propagandizing the population from the mid 1920s until the end of the war in 1945.

      And now, 40 years later, I have been quite startled and amazed to see these very same propagandizing techniques come back to our alleged political discourse in the USA, especially since Obama was elected in 2008.

      And so, your invocation of Nazi Germany in your railing against muertos in two of your following comments really caught my attention:

      Treok wrote:

      Foster doesn’t have to remake that movie which is mostly about the fed. and the illegal tax system, so he made his own, with his own opinions, and the Global domination agenda is to you ridiculous, but not to many. Ever heard of Nazi Germany. Many brainwashed people such as yourself in germany in the early 1940′s said that “people are not being sent to death camps, that is just a conspiracy theory, those are just work camps. so, I’m sure if you were in Nazi Germany, you’d be calling death camps, a conspiracy theory. ” They are just work camps” reports Muerto’s in his death-camps debunked paper.

      Many people have seen ufo’s or other forms of life, myself included. Your brain is too closed to see much of anything.

      (to muertos)
      You are just like a person in WW2 in a German occupied country, collaborating with the fascists, probably for monetary gain, or fear. One day, you will be defeated, or wake up.


      So the Nazis are on your mind, Treok, but please be assured that I do not believe that you are consciously manifesting Nazi-like antisemetic attitudes, but you are doing so on an unconscious level that I recognize from my own past study of the phenomenon.

      However, before I go on with my supporting evidence for your unconscious antisemitism, let me bring it all back to the THRIVE movie itself, and give you an opportunity to speak for yourself first about the issue. Also, this will avoid the perception that I am singling you out, since you are but one example of many.

      Therefore, I’m curious how comfortable you are, Treok, with Foster Gamble’s implicit endorsement of David Icke whom Foster interviews in the movie? First of all, do you know much about the ideas and agenda of David Icke? If not, I suggest that this recent article of his is a good place to start, especially because it is so recent, published less than a month ago, meaning that it appeared 3 months AFTER the premiere of the THRIVE movie on that fated date of 11/11/11.

      This article is from the David Icke newsletter and it is dated January 29, 2012. Do you agree with Icke’s assessment of things “Rothschild Zionist” here?

      I will copy two short quotes from David Icke.

      Well, how blatant, how in our face, does it have to be before the elephant on the sofa is acknowledged for what it is? Rothschild Zionism is leading the world into yet another war and this time with the serious potential to explode into a third global conflict – what they have long sought to engineer.

      I refer to Zionism as ‘Rothschild Zionism’ to constantly expose who created this expression of undiluted evil and who controls it to this day – the House of Rothschild, named after the German words for red shield or red sign because of the red six-pointed star (Saturn) on their original house in Frankfurt.

      Here is a section about banking, which is a deep concern of yours, Treok.

      The global banking system was purposely crashed by Rothschild Zionists like Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke at the Rothschild Zionist-created US Federal Reserve and by Rothschild Zionist Treasury Secretaries, Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, in league with Rothschild Zionist Timothy Geithner whom Obama named as his Treasury Secretary to sort out the problem that these people had created.

      Obama also named crash-architect Larry Summers in ‘his’ (the Rothschilds’) economic ‘team’ and what followed was the biggest transfer of wealth from the population via governments to the tiny few in known human history – aided and abetted by the Rothschild-created International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank.

  5. Treok Walker says :

    More laughs from Muertos as he says “Weeding through conspiracy theorists’ endless rhetoric on the Federal Reserve, and finding nothing of substance there, was such a hateful experience that I just don’t want to go there again”
    No surprise Muertos can’t talk about one of the the biggest problems we face, Economic slavery, and the part the Federal reserve, and our monetary system plays in it, and instead can only go on about conspiracy theories….
    Too bad you can’t deal with reality Muerto’s…..I guess my work here is almost finished, as your mind is so closed, it will probably not open in this life. Better luck next time.

  6. Treok Walker says :

    Hollywood Tomfortas,
    I suppose you support the rothschilds, the rockefellers and any others that want to control the masses for their own gain, as obviously your brain is totally sick to call me anti semitic…hahahahahah just because someone speaks against zionists as you quote David icke, doesn’t mean that he is against jewish people… is a link for your sick mind. from real jewish people against zionists….
    Your whole comment above is asinine, linking me to a comment to muertos about being jewish. WOW. You guys are more screwed up than I could have imagined.
    I can only laugh……………..You must have suffered heavy abuse as a kid to be so f’ed up. Poor you.

    • Hollywood Tomfortas says :

      Zounds, my good man, Treok! I am amazed at how perspicacious you are! Dude, with your insight and compassion, you really ought to consider a career as a psychotherapist. How did you know that I was so stark-raving bonkers? Now, mind you, I didn’t suffer abuse as a child, but I did have a traumatic birth which eventually made me certifiably schizophrenic in my adult life. Hey, I’ve got the fMRI brain scans to prove it!

      But let’s get back on topic to the Jewish question in THRIVE as brought to us by David Icke. Personally, Treok, I owe my life to the Jewish doctor who delivered me in a Jewish hospital in NYC when I was born. And I was Roman Catholic. Yes, I had a traumatic birth that made me bonkers now, but if it were not for that Jewish doctor, I would have died right then!

      But now, when I read what David Icke writes, I have to wonder if my doctor was really authentically Jewish. Therefore, I’m glad you posted that link that distinguishes the True Religious Jews from the False Zionist Jews. So let’s tackle that critical distinction.

      I begin with an excerpt from David Icke’s recent “Rothschild Zionist” article:

      Rabbi Emmanuel Rabbinovich, is reported to have said this in a speech at a special conference of European rabbis in Budapest in January, 1952:

      ‘The goal for which we have striven so concertedly for three thousand years is at last within our reach. I can safely promise you that our race will soon take its rightful place in the world, with every Jew a king and every Gentile a slave.’

      First of all, Jewish people have not striven for this for three thousand years – the bloodlines operating under the cover of being ‘Jewish’ have done so. What are called Jewish people today overwhelmingly originate from a land called Khazaria, once located close to the Caucasus Mountains from 652 to 1016.

      Bulan, the king of Khazaria, oversaw a mass conversion of the population to Judaism in 740 and these people eventually settled in Eastern and then Western Europe to become known as ‘the Jews’. They had, and have, no historical connection to the land of Israel.

      Now just who are those Gentile Khazars who converted to Judaism 13 centuries ago? They are sons of Ashkenaz, known today as Ashkenazi Jews. Therefore, Treok, it’s time to open up your Bible to Genesis, Chapter 10, and read about the 3 sons of Noah: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Now Shem of course is the father of the Shemites, which we know today as the Semites, both Jews (sons of Isaac) and Arabs (sons of Ishmael) alike. And in the next chapter (Genesis 11:10-26), you can read the all-important genealogy of Shem to Abram, who later becomes Father Abraham.

      But now go back to Genesis 10:1-3 where you read that Shem’s brother Japheth begat Gomer, who in turn begat Ashkenaz.

      And Ashkenaz is of course the prime ancestor of the Ashkenazi Jews who lived in the Caucasus region known as Khazaria and converted to Judaism in the 8th Century AD. Later they migrated into eastern Europe and then central Europe and that’s where the Yiddish language developed a thousand years ago.

      I quote from the wiki about “Yiddish Language”

      Yiddish (literally “Jewish”) is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages. It is written in the Hebrew alphabet. The language originated in the Ashkenazi culture that developed from about the 10th century in the Rhineland and then spread to Central and Eastern Europe and eventually to other continents.

      The point to make here is that while not all Ashkenazi Jews are Zionists, it is pretty clear that just about all Zionist Jews are Ashkenazi Jews. And Ashkenazi Jews comprise about 85% of all Jews living today.

      You with me so far, Treok? Good. Now I quote from the “True Torah: Jews Against Zionism” link you gave us above.

      We implore and beseech our Jewish brethren to realize that the Zionists are not the saviors of the Jewish People and guarantors of their safety, but rather the instigators and original cause of Jewish suffering in the Holy Land and worldwide. The idea that Zionism and the State of “Israel” is the protector of Jews is probably the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the Jewish People. Indeed, where else since 1945 have Jews been in such physical danger as in the Zionist state?! . . .
      . . . It has been the age-old intention of Zionism to intentionally stir up anti-Semitism anywhere possible, and even more commonly, to take advantage of any Jewish suffering anywhere in order to enhance its cause. Indeed, hatred of Jews and Jewish suffering is the oxygen of the Zionist movement, and from the very beginning has been to deliberately incite hatred of the Jew and then, in feigned horror, use it to justify the existence of the Zionist state – this is, of course, Machiavellianism raised to the highest degree. Thus, the Zionists thrive on hatred and suffering of Jews, and seek to benefit thereby through keeping Jews in perpetual fear, causing them to ignore the true nature of Zionism, and instead to consider the Zionist state is their salvation.

      OK, Treok, let’s cut to the chase. I hope you can now see why you are genuinely anti-Semitic in the modern connotation of the word, which is anti-Jewish. You see, you try to weasel out of your venomous anti-Semitism by compartmentalizing.” You deny to the Ashkenazi Jews their Jewishness by conversion and so you feel justified in hating them and blaming them for the banking and economic crises in the world today. To you the only true Jews are the ones who have real Jewish blood /DNA in them, i.e. the direct descendants of Jacob/Israel, the so-called Sephardic Jews who are truly Semitic, i.e. sons of Shem.

      But Treok, you are using against the Ashkenazi Jews the very same criterion of blood that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis used against them. If you agree with the 6 million figure of the Holocaust, and you accept that Ashkenazi Jews make up 85% of the population of all Jews, then you must believe that Adolf Hitler only killed 1 million true Jews while the other 5 million Jews he killed were not real Jews.

      How dare you desecrate the memory of the Holocaust like this, Treok! How dare you believe that 5 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust were not true Jews! I can only thrust out my right arm into the air, click my heels together and say: Heil Hitler, Treok, you THRIVEr Neo-Nazi you, Heil Hitler!

      • Treok Walker says :

        Truly psychotic you are Hollywood.
        I don’t care if someone is christian, jewish, atheist, or buddhist. We are all humans, ONE RACE, you religious bigot. There are those that seek power over others, and hide behind religion and politics to get that power
        More than 6 million people were killed by the Nazis, Jewish and non-Jewish, because they were considered undersirables, just like the amercian government treats millions of people today, no matter what religions they are.
        Real Humans promote the idea of all Humans Thriving, and you promote Hate and Lies.
        If you weren’t so sick and dangerous, you’d be funny.
        And yes, I’m not surprised you have certification to prove your insanity, and it looks like this life is going to be pretty much a waste of time.
        Lucky for you, in your next life, you can have another chance at being a Loving human Being
        Good Luck my Brother.

  7. Hollywood Tomfortas says :


    I just posted this for Foster Gamble’s laughing and scratching pleasure on our Arthur Young Yahoo forum.


    SUBJECT: Cute Tomfoolery on Foster’s Blog


    Hi Foster,

    God knows we need a little comic relief around here with all these godawful conspiracies afoot, so I thought I’d share with you some cute little tomfoolery I performed on your THRIVE-Movement blog today. A serious commenter named “thrivehelp2” wrote in an affirmation of you as his hero. I thought he was writing about me.

    (PS scroll down 2 more responses and read my spirited defense of Georgia Kelly’s rear end. I kid you not!)



    thrivehelp2 wrote:
    So sorry I had doubted you. I keep investigating and watching and I now believe you are real and the true hero of our time. Please keep doing your incredible work that is helping all of us,

    Tmas (aka Hollywood Tomfortas) wrote:


    TMAS: Dear thrivehelp2, Thank you so much for your kind words.

    THRIVEHELP2: So sorry I had doubted you.

    TMAS: Well, I graciously accept your apology and please don’t feel so bad. You’re not the only one. Why, even my own mother doubted me, referring to me many times in my childhood as “Doubting Thomas.”

    THRIVEHELP2: I keep investigating and watching and I now believe you are real and the true hero of our time.

    TMAS: I’m so glad of that because at first glance I do seem to be phony or counterfeit, but once anyone really investigates me thoroughly as you have, then you cannot help but arrive at the truth concerning my absolute reality and genuine heroic essence.

    THRIVEHELP2: Please keep doing your incredible work that is helping all of us.

    TMAS: I shall indeed! You know, it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it, and yet I feel very humble about the fact that when we look at all this from the vast spiritual/cosmological perspective, the work has really chosen me. That’s known as karma or destiny and I mean to fulfill my destiny in this great work. Therefore please read my modest offerings in the comments section on the THRIVE Debunked blog here:
    [muertos URL]

    Gratefully yours,

    Hollywood Tomfortas,
    Thriver to the Stars

  8. Ty says :

    I’ve just finished watching Thrive on youtube and dear me, its like someone has taken the hard-right paranoia of Alex Jones and threw in some gooey New Age platitudes to appeal to anyone who classes themselves as ‘of the left’. As usual with these sorts of documentaries they mix interesting information with complete nonsense and then throw up a few solutions which tend to coincide as if by magic with Libertarian free-market fundamentalist philosophies. Its pretty clear this kind of thing is a dog whistle recruiting tool whose surface rhetoric may appeal to people who have neither the time nor inkling to study a diverse collection of political thought.

    Let’s look at the example of education. In the world of Thrive state education is bad. Education should be voluntary, but they don’t explain what that even means. Do parents make a voluntary choice to make their kids go to school? Can a six year old say ‘School sucks, so I volunteer to play baseball and eat burgers instead’? Okay we all know there’s huge problems with parts of the education system, but is the alternative Thrive version any better? I’d wager not and the voluntary system will basically mean rich people ‘volunteer’ to send their children to the best private schools, average people get in debt to educate theirs and the poor are left with watching TV documentaries or being indoctrinated by religious fundamentalists or corporations. You can kind of see this in Internet political discussions (i.e. spend some time reading the political stuff on ATS) where the private/homeschooled types are often even more polticially biased and extreme than their state counterparts but pretend otherwise. For instance Thrive purports to be a critique of the current economic system but the only opposing voices are of the Von Mises-hyper libertarian school. No quotes from J K Galbraith or Ha Joon Chang, Steve Keen or many others from the political center/left. Its just like those ‘net discussions where everyone references the same couple of texts Jones/Beck/Rense told them about and anything else is ‘socialism’.

    Similarly Thrive doesn’t explain how abusive monopolistic businesses are dealt with in a world of shrunken government. Individuals volunteering not to buy their products? Kind of tricky if the monopoly in question is for something its almost impossible to do without (like water or food).

    So we don’t do the hard work and make democracy operate better, instead we shrink the government and hope for the best. Am sure those nice businessmen wouldn’t profiteer from desperate people in need or overcharge for the previously taxpayer-funded public services they now own…

    Before I go there’s one thing am not sure if you’ve addressed on your blog about the nature of modern conspiracy theory – how its mutated into a clever way of parting the well-off middle-classes from their money & seem to be proposing a future of neo-feudalism for the rest of us. Was reading Chris Martenson’s Crash Course – not really a conspiracy text as such, but the author was doing something very similar to Jones and his ilk – selling fear to a select group. There’s certainly real issues with energy supplies, the cost of mining and environmental despoilation however the Crash Course solutions could only really be adopted by someone (get out of debt, buy land, buy gold etc.) with a lot of spare funds. It kind of ties in to the survivalist mentality and libertarian ‘every man for himself’ philosophy. Mike Ruppert proposes similar in his film Collapse. What about the billions of us who can’t quite afford a farm & a few bars of the yellow metal? It seems we can either rot or become tenant farmers to the landowners.

    Perhaps the tenant farmers will be happy paying no tax to the government thus leaving more profit for their landlords and perhaps a bit of cash left over for them to teach one of their kids how to read (the others will ‘volunteer’ to ditch reading for ditch digging in the fields).

    When you look closely that seems to be the thriving future presented to us.

  9. Bryant says :

    “If a Nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization,
    it expects what never was and never will be….
    If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free,
    it is the responsibility of every American to be informed” (Thomas Jefferson).

    So long freedom!

  10. Anne says :

    You could definitely see your expertise in the work you write.
    The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid
    to say how they believe. At all times go after your heart.

  11. xweaponx says :

    I want to thank Georgia Kelly and bunches of others that have drawn the “arrows” of this thing for me. When I watched the film, I was excited about it, I liked it, I wanted to DO it. I would have if a friend had not immediately challenged me about it, I even tried to defend it, maybe I do want to defend parts of it, This was only a few days ago, but in the meantime I have read tome after tome of pro and con and con and pro about this heap, the inescapable conclusion is that it points directly to Ron Paul, and from there directly to the Tea Party. And from the Tea Party directly to the policies of Obstructionism of the last Senate, which appear to me as being a form of misguided and misused Passive Resistance.

    I would love for that impression to be totally wrong, but I just can’t dismiss that the only person if leadership who supports this is Paul Rand, I cannot ignore that connection and it infers all kinds of unpleasant things to me.

    I enjoyed the FILM: I do enjoy things about Aliens, and Toruses, and I love good conspiracy Theories: I love Science Fiction and I love Spy novels and Movies. But to build a whole philosophy around that? I am drawn to the idea of New Energy, but I want to SEE examples of it. I hear about things being done on the Fringe of scientific groups, experiments in “Cold Fusion/Anomalous Heat Sources” being lit up once more, and even better: In garages, not Government Funded Labs, But why does it have to fall under the covering of Aliens and World Governments?

    Honestly, If I had not thought there maybe was some good ideas in there, I would not have gotten as interested so quickly. Is this the intent of the film, to draw boarders who will join without much consideration?

    Thankfully that is not me. I posted on one of these pages, that enough negative energy was being produced to oppose this thing, that I could power my home for 10 years. Well, it can be opposed using positive energy, if you want to use that analogy, by offering better solutions. That is what got me interested in it,

    I just need to know if my mind has drawn this connection correctly: Why is Paul rand supporting this and No One Else? That makes no sense to me, unless this thing is beneath everything at the core?

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