Letter to the Editor: “Thrive” Filmmakers Foster & Kimberly Gamble Respond

On August 21, YES! published an article by John Robbins about the film called “Thrive.” The article described the reasons why ten progressives interviewed in the film, including himself, had dissociated themselves from it. In the letter below, “Thrive” filmmakers Foster and Kimberly Gamble respond.
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Editor's note: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of yesmagazine.org.


Disaster by Design? What's Wrong with the Thrive Movement
A popular new film claims a secret elite create our most troubling problems to advance a “global domination agenda.” Why Amy Goodman, Vandana Shiva, and other progressives are calling it “dangerously misguided.”

In what appears to be a combination of sincere concern, remarkable misunderstanding, and blatant disinformation, John Robbins has engaged in a dangerously deceptive  campaign to undermine the message and movement of Thrive.

With appreciation for his genuine care for humanity and respect for his excellent research into the corruption contaminating our food system, we challenge his misleading assertions against Thrive, a movie which has been widely acclaimed by the more than eight million people who have seen it in the last ten months. YouTube “likes” run at over 99%.

1. Conspiracies exist and can hurt you and your loved ones whether you believe in them or not.

Robbins writes that "the Thrive movie and website are filled with dark and unsubstantiated assertions about secret and profoundly malevolent conspiracies based on an ultimate division between ‘us’ and 'them.'"

At the same time, he acknowledges that “powerful economic interests often collude with one another to deceive and defraud the public.” He goes on to admit that

It is also certain that networks exist among the most powerful that enable a remarkably few people to shape the world’s economy, to determine what is known and what is not, which views are accepted and which are not, and what priorities and policies will prevail...” [Italics ours]

By definition, that is a conspiracy: “a secret plan by a group to do something unlawful or harmful.” (Oxforddictionary.com)

The very notion of a “conspiracy” has been so cleverly insulted by those who control the media and thus dictate the norms of our society (i.e., “determine which views are acceptable”) that many people, especially if they bank on their fame, are afraid to call it out. (Check out these “33 conspiracy theories that turned out to be true.”)

It is at great peril that we would ignore the clearly documented power structure outlined in the Thrive “Follow the Money” pyramid that shows how the government, and even the corporations, are dominated and controlled by more powerful forces.

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John blames the global financial collapse on “our collective consciousness,” saying “the real source of the problem is in all of us, and in the economic systems we have collectively produced.” This demeans everyone while letting the perpetrators go free. It shows a lack of respect for the integrity of most people and how they would behave if they had sufficient information. When Robbins was ripped off by Madoff’s ponzi scheme, he did not hesitate to name the perpetrator publicly and try to get his money back. Now, as billions of lives are being ruined by the greatest Ponzi scheme in history (the global “fractional reserve” banking scam), Robbins wants us to refrain from naming who, how, and why, and instead he tries to undermine the dynamic solutions movement that we are facilitating to help create honest systems that nurture true freedom and well being.

Nowhere do we advocate harming those who are perpetrating the crimes. We simply expose them so that we can stop unwittingly empowering them, and can instead obsolete their controlling influence in our lives. 

Everyone in the movie has sworn by their own statements, including the dissociates and the many who refused to sign John’s letter. None has disputed a single fact in the movie, which have all been third-party verified. Undisputed facts indicate that we are careening toward World War III and a police state. We do not believe we have time for everyone to get enlightened as a strategy for survival. Nor do we believe it is wise to cling to cherished illusions that Obama, or Romney, or anything short of a complete restructuring of our economic systems, will avert this trend.

What is the relationship between Iran selling its oil for gold and the collapse of the dollar? Thrive offers tools for discerning what’s really going on by “following the money” because understanding what is happening behind the scenes with global currencies is what lifts the veil on our real foreign policy and the loss of our hard-won rights. 

Unlike John Robbins, we have chosen to step outside the comfort zone by naming the conspiracy so that we can create strategic solutions that are at last a match for the problems that we face.

As to Robbins’s claim that we make “unsubstantiated assertions,” the global domination agenda section of our website will take you as deep as you want to go in substantiation.

 

2) Critical thinking makes it possible to learn from each other without having to agree 100 percent.

Unfortunately, Robbins has resorted to rhetorical fallacies like guilt by association (“Ed Griffin was a member of the John Birch Society”), outright falsehoods (“Gamble says HAARP caused the Fukushima Earthquake”) and attacking people and things we have not included in our film at all (“Eustace Mullins has been called anti-Semitic.”)

Since when can we only learn from someone with whom we agree 100%?  We believe our capacity to learn depends on our ability to discern from any source what is of value and what is not. That is step one of critical thinking.

We read articles and watch broadcasts from both the Left and Right, as well as a ton of independent, voluntaryist and whistle-blowing media. We are committed to learning whatever we can help to solve problems that seem intractable from the old political polarity trap.

Ed Griffin has done seminal work on exposing the truth about the private Federal Reserve. The Birch Society has been a critical force in exposing the hidden agendas behind the Rockefeller and Rothschild-created United Nations. Taking value from that is not the same as condoning all their conclusions. Mullins has done important work uncovering who controls and manipulates the U.S. mainstream media, and learning from his research does not mean we align with any of his other views. We certainly don’t condone racism of any kind, which we state repeatedly and explicitly in Thrive.

We included David Icke because he is a courageous researcher whose investigation of how the world and money really work allowed him in the 1990’s to predict accurately that there would be a false flag event (9/11) followed by the dismantling of the Constitution (the PATRIOT Act), the invasion of the Middle East (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran?), a fake pandemic (Swine Flu) and a financial collapse (2008). In Thrive he unpacked complex financial information in an easy-to-understand way, which helps people to see how their everyday financial realities are connected to the larger global demise.   

As for the Fukushima earthquake, we never said the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) caused the Fukushima quake, because we have seen no evidence of that. The Chile and Haiti quakes, on the other hand, immediately followed maximum charging of the HAARP antenna—which was cut off just as the quakes started. In the case of Haiti, the U.S. just happened to have 10,000 troops at the southern tip of Florida, who moved quickly to take over the Haitian capitol airport. Bill Clinton and George Bush Sr. took over the relief effort, which has done little, while the gold and oil discovered in a recent resource assessment by President Aristide before he was ousted in a CIA-backed coup, are now looking more like they will end up in American coffers. The China quake was preceded by a rainbow aurora in the sky, characteristic of HAARP. This is not some high-school debate. There are lives on the line. HAARP is well-documented. There are many pictures, patents, videos, books, contracts, etc., to prove it. Is this worth looking into? It’s all on our website here.

Smearing the source helps Robbins avoid confronting the critical information. Debating information when facts can be known is a dangerous distraction from the more important conversations and actions that are called for. Toward this end, we created a “Reality Check” for you to check on your understanding of critical information.

Robbins continues to ignore our corrections to the distortions and deceptions in his once again re-hashed article. We regret this, especially because we see a consistent pattern where Robbins likes what he understands about Thrive, and actually does not understand where we are coming from on the things he is attacking.

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3) Nonviolence isn’t just a goal. It’s the way.

Most of us think if we could just get people to do what we believe in, things would be fine. Some believe we need to require people to pay more for education, others believe we need to require employers to pay higher wages, and still others believe the government should require citizens to pay an even higher percentage of their earnings for war, whatever the cost, in order to maintain what they see as America’s hard-won position of authority in the world. One of the problems that shows up right away is that we don’t all agree with what that right requirement ought to be that’s going to solve our problems. It’s interesting to see how righteous people can be about imposing their will on others while resisting having another’s will imposed on them. That is actually the essence of the two-party polarity when it comes down to it.

Nonetheless, most people have accepted that involuntary taxation is simply what’s needed for humanity to function with some semblance of civility and order. And because people in need are currently dependent on government support, paying taxes to provide that support is one of the ways we demonstrate our compassion. That is partly why it is so challenging to suggest that we examine the ultimate value of this tax-based ruling system—and why John can stoop to claims of class bias when we dare even suggest that we examine another possibility. However, it is only by ignoring Thrive’s transition strategies that Robbins could fabricate such an argument. Thrive includes strategies that support people in the process of becoming independent and prosperous, and has as its goal the freedom and empowerment of everyone, not just the majority.

Most of us would agree that democracy represents a great stride from royalty and dictatorship. We believe it is the best system the world has known—to date. That does not mean it should be our end goal. So following the thread of inquiry wherever it might take us, we allowed ourselves to think about and research alternatives to governments and the involuntary, violence-enforced taxation that supports them. Some questions we began with, and which John has repeatedly refused to answer, are:

  • What is the relationship between fairness and freedom? Is it right for some to decide what is “fair” and use force to impose it on others, or is individual freedom primary and in fact the core ethic from which ultimate fairness emerges?
  • Do you believe human compassion and community will only arise if it is mandated and enforced by an authoritarian state?
  • If there were a way to have accessible education and healthcare, help for those in need, a respected system of justice, accessible and good roads, etc.—without a coercive government to provide and enforce them—would you want that?

In our ensuing research, we found whole philosophies based on the notion that if people organize around non-aggression instead of coercive taxation, an entirely new kind of human existence becomes possible. The principle of non-violation means that no one can violate another except in true self-defense. It’s the one thing we have found that everyone agrees upon: none of us wants to be violated against our will.

Can you imagine that if people had enough money and time and freedom from coercion and suffering they could come up with a variety of systems for successful self-organizing that do not depend on the immoral initiation of force? We do.

In this scenario, individuals or corporations who infringe on this right not to be violated are prosecuted. So pollution and theft and any kind of violation would be prosecuted—not capped and traded or otherwise allowed. This is the vision of liberty—not libertarianism—that Thrive proposes. Because we are so far from people having the freedom and prosperity needed to do without government support, we propose an essential transition strategy from here to there. By holding liberty as the beacon of where humanity can go, we avoid creating short-term “fixes” that will inadvertently prevent us from getting there.

Every government throughout the world has relied on involuntary taxation to sustain itself, and the taxes have been used primarily to grow the governments instead of providing for the increased well-being of their citizens. Furthermore, governments are responsible for more death and destruction than any other entity on the planet: over 200 million deaths in the twentieth century alone.

Giving Robbins the benefit of the doubt, we assume he has genuine concern that the impact of Thrive and these considerations will somehow encourage heartless right-wing elitism and bring more suffering to the poor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Thrive specifically outlines a strategic transition to address the needs of the people and the environment on the journey to a new paradigm of life on Earth.

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4. Thrive Offers a three-stage solution strategy that includes the primary progressive ethic.

Thrive’s “3-Stage Solutions Strategy” begins by empowering the core of the liberal/progressive /democrat approach—taking care of those most in need while transitioning to prosperous self-sufficiency. This phase is funded by cutting the bloated military budget, by stopping wars of aggression, and by ending the unnecessary and destructive interest paid by taxpayers to the Federal Reserve—instead of by creating new violations by taking more hard-earned wages from already-struggling people. (See the solutions section of our website where we spell out this “3-Stage Strategy” in every major sector of human endeavor.) 

To achieve this phase, we need to have elected officials who are accountable, so campaign finance reform is a key first step—as is getting accurate news and stopping the poisoning of people through geo-engineering. Those are among the top 10 actions we propose. 

John Robbins writes:

In my view, the deregulation of the economy and the demolition of government programs that Thrive proposes would take us even further in the direction of a winner-take-all economy in which wealth would concentrate even more in the hands of the financial elites. This is something that I and the other signers of the statement repudiating Thrive find deeply abhorrent.

This is a drastic misunderstanding of the Thrive perspective.

We believe there should be strict regulations on financial transactions that enforce contracts, and prosecute fraud, counterfeit, theft, or coercion, thereby protecting individual rights as primary and enforcing integrity. So such rackets as “fractional reserve” (lending money you don’t have), bailouts, subsidies, fake currency, derivatives, credit default swaps, and involuntary withholding of wages would disappear. Pollution would be prosecuted as the violation of our individual right to clean air and water. The banks that helped cause the global financial collapse would be out of business and the individuals responsible, as in Iceland, would be prosecuted.

It is just the opposite of a “winner take all” scheme, which is precisely what we have now. It is a win/win world where everyone is free from coercion, violators have to make reconciliation and people would be so prosperous that they could easily take care of those who ran on hard times.

Political and economic freedom lead to increased prosperity and security. The Economic Freedom of the World Report consistently reveals that the more economic and political freedom a society has the healthier, safer, and more prosperous they are.

Robbins also confuses the Thrive freedom approach with traditional libertarian politics and totally misrepresents our proposals as lacking compassion. This link will help dispel those myths.

Our allegiance is to freedom for everyone and for integrity in all our dealings with one another. Those are the regulations that we believe deserve standing and that align with a “universal morality” of non-aggression to create a sustainable, thriving civilization.

5. Thrive provides informed, strategic, and nonviolent solutions

We are thrilled to report that in just the last three months, over 300 self-creating action groups from over 40 countries have signed up on our Thrive Solutions Hub. Far from being “disempowered and undermined in our accountability” by Thrive, as Robbins seems to fear, thousands of “solutionaries” are tackling dozens of key issues in grounded, practical, collaborative and nonviolent ways. In every city we have visited, Thrive audiences are relieved and invigorated to move on to reality-based and morality-based strategies. Finally we can transcend the impotent two-party polarity—the coercion-based political platforms (the most pervasive “us vs. them” game) about who gets to control other people and their money. This is one of the reasons the Thrive movement's Solutions Hub has been approved as an action by Occupy Los Angeles's Affinity Outreach Group.

Shortly after Robbins’s letter was published, a Thrive enthusiast sent us this quote: “Those who don’t think it is possible would do well to stay out of the way of those who are making it happen.” Check out what Thrive–inspired “solutionaries” are doing all over the world.

Our lethal predicament presents an existential challenge for each of us—where we could be having the difficult, innovative conversations that allow us to learn from one another as we go. We once again extend an invitation to John Robbins and other dissociates to engage with us—at any time—in an open, constructive public discussion of these critical issues.

We talk about what what the experience of dissociation was like in this video.

Fortunately, after all our research and experience, we both agree that the authoritarian state will be seen historically as just a temporary, though lethal, concept and the fundamental force of freedom will prove to be unstoppable.