The suicide of Daniel Desmond Amofah, better known as Etika, has become a hot topic a few weeks ago. As his personal belongings, and then his body, were found along the East River, more information on his mental state and prior activities were brought to light, including his membership in an organization I first heard of in an infamous series of documentaries.
His suicide was was foreshadowed by bouts of mental health issues that were seen by the public through his online activities. The popular YouTuber had lost two highly-subscribed channels due to actions that may have been spurred on by manic episodes. He has even talked in the past about his wish to be buried in front of YouTube headquarters.
There are now speculations on his mental health issues being at least partially caused by being a member of what many consider to be a cult.
The Venus Project (That I Know)
Based in Brooklyn, the Venus Project was founded in 1995 by American futurist Jacque Fresco and his partner Roxanne Meadows. It’s a non-profit (I doubt it) organization meant to carry out Fresco’s vision of an alternative future with a new and sustainable socio-economic system.
They advocate a “resource-based economy,” which sounds like it was ripped off of a Sid Meier game. Perhaps the closest video game analogy to it is Path of Exile’s currency system, which uses crafting items as functional mediums of trade.
Their value is linked to their usefulness and rarity. It’s like how money used to be linked to the gold or silver standard before banknotes became the money itself. Since they have a common use, there’s little to no chance of inflation.
Our current monetary system of fractional reserve banking came about to address scarcity in distribution, funding of public works, etc. It’s then topped off with the US Dollar becoming the world’s primary reserve currency after a chain of events that followed the end of World War 2 and Richard Nixon’s abolishment of the gold standard.
There are many problems with it, including the elephant in the room that is inflation. In Zeitgeist Addendum, it was repeatedly emphasized it as a system based on creating debt, thus locking the masses in a perpetual state of servitude.
For a 20-something, that sounds mind-blowing. But for someone who has since dug a bit deeper into the history of money and finance, the truth is a bit more complex than that. It’s not to say that our paper money and economic system are absolutely fine, but stating that it enables modern day corporate slavery is half true and half fear-mongering with an agenda.
The Venus Project had been previously connected with the Zeitgeist Movement, founded by filmmaker Peter Joseph, who directed the Zeitgeist documentaries.
The Zeitgeist Movement soon cut ties with the Venus Project due to philosophical and political differences. That’s pretty much what I had known of the Venus Project until this event made me want to dig a bit deeper.
Is It Really a Cult?
Jacque Fresco passed away in 2017 at the age of 101. His partner Roxanne Meadows had been working with him since 1975 and can be seen as the de facto leader of the organization.
Fresco was a fairly intelligent man, a futurist a bit like Buckminster Fuller. However, he may have already been past his prime for decades.
When the Venus Project was founded, he was already 79 years old. While he was the figurehead, he most likely delegated its management to Meadows and other high-ranking members.
That reminded me of the Rajneesh movement—tackled in the Netflix docu-series, Wild Wild Country.
He had been an aerospace engineer, but he wasn’t the sort who would just follow orders—he wanted his voice heard and ideas acknowledged.
He opened a psychological consultancy business in the 1950s with no formal training. He was forced to stop it after being heavily criticized by the American Psychological Institute.
On a tangent, Scientology’s main selling point is “auditing”—which is more or less a bastardization of psychoanalysis. You can learn more about that from Going Clear, which I’ve previously reviewed.
He would then author books and produce films to spread his ideas about his ideal future—a society rid of material desire and menial labor, devoid of need for personal possessions and individual gratification is the primary concern in life.
Like a comic book version of Ayn Rand’s “philosophy” of Objectivism, but mixed with the socialist ideology that Rand so hated. Think of Vulcans in Star Trek.
The Venus Project is the amalgamation of his life’s work and ideas over the decades.
The main difference between the Rajneesh movement and the Venus Project is the former being an alternative religion of sorts and the latter being more of a coalition for social change. But once you get into the guts and skeleton of both groups, you may find the same basic parts.
Did the Venus Project become “Discount Scientology” as it worked to cultivate a loyal following over the years?
While not foundationally religious, its quest of an alternative future through its futurist doctrine is being used like how Scientology uses auditing and the Rajneesh movement (now Osho International) used dynamic meditation to bring in and keep hold of members.
So, is it a cult? It may be, at least by technical definition of the word.
It’s likely that Etika had pre-existing mental issues prior to his membership in the Venus Project, which he may have joined due to a need to find a sense of purpose and belonging.
But as I continued to write this, I came upon a twist.
During the search for Etika, esports insider Rod Breslau got word from a representative of the Venus Project, stating that they have no ties with Etika.
There are two Venus Projects, both based in New York. It turns out that Jacque Fresco’s Venus Project has nothing to do with the Venus Project that Etika had been talking about.
The most important difference is that this one is the Venus Project Foundation. Adding that last word to search queries is crucial to digging into this case.
You may now think that what you read in the preceding portions of this piece has been a waste of time, which I refute. I’ve always wanted to talk about that organization anyway since I had once been a fan of the Zeitgeist films (I’ve watched Zeitgeist Addendum several times).
The coincidences don’t stop with the names. Both organizations are based in New York, both share roughly the same beliefs, and both are not that well known in the mainstream.
My best guess is the latter took the name from the former to mislead prospective recruits—a pretty despicable tactic.
Etika Being a Member of the Venus Project Foundation
Let’s first get to know Etika. Basically, he was a black dude with a high top fade who made videos about mostly Nintendo stuff. He was fairly entertaining, being a black weeaboo who really liked his Nintendo Switch and made amusing reaction videos.
Months leading to his death, he showed signs of mental health issues, which ultimately led to him jumping off the Manhattan Bridge. Prior to that, he posted a video on YouTube expressing suicidal thoughts, which was taken down due to violating community guidelines.
There are now also speculations of him being a member of the Venus Project having a part in his deterioration. He had mentioned the group by name before, has briefly talked about its doctrines, and was heard droning on about “The Revolution.”
Apparently, he has also posted an anti-semitic tweet. This is in line with the Foundation’s belief that 9/11 was perpetrated by the Israelis. (I will not link to the article and their website here. You can look for that yourselves.)
The difference between Fresco’s Venus Project and this one is the cheesier conspiratorial mumbo-jumbo being spouted by the latter. While the former has been somewhat linked with conspiracy theories due to its one-time association with the man who made the Zeitgeist films, the link is not that strong.
What Does This All Mean?
From what I can gather thus far, if this really was what caused him to voluntarily exit Planet Earth, then Etika went crazy, pretty much.
I don’t wish to make fun of the dead, but looking into what happened that led him to take his own life is warranted. Since he chose to be a public figure at some capacity during his life, scrutiny of his actions is called for.
I’m not sure as of now if this link with the VPF (not the VP) plays a major enough role in his eventual suicide. However, from most evidence thus far, it may have been more from mental illness and depression.
If you’re beset by maladies of the mind and don’t know what to do, please seek help. You are not alone (I’ve suffered from the same condition) and there are people qualified to assist with figuring it out.
Here in the Philippines, the National Center for Mental Health has a 24/7 mental health hotline:
Please consider giving that a call if you’ve been under psychological duress, whether it’s from issues related to gender identity and sexual orientation, school and career, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, and so on.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have on the comment section below.