Duane Elgin's Letter to Thrive Filmmakers

By Duane Elgin

To see the full dialogue between the Thrive Filmmakers and Pioneers, and to add any comments, please visit: www.thrivemovement.com/public-dialogue-between-thrive-movie-filmmakers-and-pioneers.

Dear Foster and Kimberly,

Thank you for your invitation to communicate publicly regarding my desire to not be associated with the Thrive film and movement. Importantly, although I do have very serious concerns with the film and 'Thrive movement' it seeks to catalyze, I have always affirmed my deep respect, love, and friendship for both of you whenever I have spoken with others. So, this is not a personal matter but an important issue of paradigm and perspective.

In terms of speaking about the film, I don't know anywhere near enough about the conspiracy theory that you weave to speak intelligently about it, so I have been clear with you and others that this is not an area that I want to speak publicly about. I have also been up front with you about my views on the aspects of the film that I do feel knowledgable about: on March 6, I wrote to you and said that I did have 'strong disagreements' and expressed them as follows: 

. . . I completed a master's degree plus all the course-work, etc. for a doctorate in economic-history at the University of Pennsylvania (in the late 1960s) but chose not to get their additional letters (PhD) as I felt so disconnected from their worldview that celebrated materialism and consumerism. However, those years of scholarship in the field of economic-history give me a vantage point from which to consider a world run by a free market economy and voluntary action/association. I was quite surprised to see such an extreme perspective in the black and white letters of writing (which was in contrast to your softer, warm and inquiring presence on video). I see the views expressed in your online paper 'Liberty' as idealistic, naive, narrow, shallow relative to world realities, and focusing attention away from more productive areas of engagement. It would have been useful to have this conversation in the years while this film was in development but now that it is completed, I'm not drawn to going back into my 'doctoral days' and doing the research (as you have done) so I could feel in integrity debating the issues THRIVE raises. 

Importantly, I now see the views expressed in your film more clearly in the statements on your Thrive website (see: http://www.thrivemovement.com/solutions-liberty) regarding the movement you want to create. I see we are on very different tracks. Your stated goal is "to follow the money." My stated goal is "to follow the meaning." You want to talk about conspiracies of finance. I want to talk about catalysts of collective awakening. You want to know what is stopping humanity from Thriving. I want to know what is starting a flourishing Thriving movement around the world. Clearly, we are starting from very different places and seeing the world through very different lenses. Now that your film is done and being presented to millions, as you say, I see no point in having a conversation from your premises that are so contrary to my own. You had years in which to engage in a conversation and clearly chose to keep the conspiracy messages of this film secret. This taught me an important lesson and, in the future, I will not agree to participate in a film like this without getting permission to view the larger context within which my views are placed.  

Taking responsibility for my own views, looking back, I now realize that without any feedback from you, I was inappropriately projecting my views of a self-organizing universe onto the likely expressions of your film. As I wrote to you in March, "The architecture of the universe (toroidal) displays the central activity of the universe: creating self-organizing systems at every scale. In turn, consider two story directions:

Story 1. Toroidal systems depend upon the continual flow through of energy to maintain them. We can use toroidal principles of self-organization to design "free energy" technologies and make limitless energy possible for everyone. However, rich and powerful families want to keep making money from oil, coal, gas, and nuclear, so they bend the politics of the world, and then manufacture crises, that will keep the world on their track. So, to thrive, we have to challenge the systems of the rich and powerful. Overall, I'm sure there is great truth in the abuse of power and money; however, to me this answer is disempowering of us as citizens of the Earth at this time and does not reflect the self-organizing activities of citizens, visibly and powerfully expressed in the Occupy Movement, and beyond. I could say much more but you get the direction of my concern.

Story 2. A visible project of the universe is to create self-organizing systems. With that principle as a guide, how can we become more consciously self-organizing from the individual to the collective level?  To organize ourselves we have to reflect upon ourselves -- and the scale of required reflection is increasingly global.  To what extent is our mass media the vehicle of collective reflection? How can we awaken ourselves at this utterly critical time and actively choose a future of sustainable prosperity? To thrive, we have to imagine what the self-organizing activity looks like that creates, for example, eco-villages everywhere of radically different designs, both physical and social, etc, while at the global level engaging in the electronic commons for policies for a sustainable future.

You chose Story line #1 and I have invested nearly 40 years in Story line #2. You could have chosen the second line of inquiry: To illustrate how your movie could have taken a different direction, here's a clip that did not make it into the film but which illustrates the transpersonal dimension from a toroidal perspective and a direction for 'story 2' above: "The center of the torus": 42 seconds from the "Thrive" movie:


To me, the 'Thrive movement' misses the deep story of a self-organizing universe and species and, instead, veers off into free energy and global conspiracy, dismisses devastating climate disruption as no more than a hypothesis, etc.  Basically, I see this as a missed opportunity to connect the deep architecture of the universe with the emergence of self-organizing and self-reflective systems at every level, and then to tell the story of humanity's journey of collective awakening and self-organizing activity. 

I also profoundly disagree with your views regarding climate change. Because I grew up on a farm, I saw how vulnerable our food supply is to small variations in weather. Whether we are in a warming or cooling cycle, we are certainly going into a period of climate disruption at the very time we have billions more people to feed. To ignore the climate instability and impacts is awesomely dangerous and profoundly in denial of data (I went to my first professional briefing on global warming in 1975 at the Dept. of Energy while doing a year-long study for the President's Science Advisor, so I've been looking the numbers on this for 37 years). 

Thanks for hearing these concerns and my choice not to be associated with the 'Thrive' movie and movement.

With abiding love,

Duane Elgin

To see the response from the Thrive Filmmakers, Foster and Kimberly Gamble, go to: http://www.thrivemovement.com/foster-and-kimberly-gamble-response-to-duane-elgin-critique-of-thrive-movie