Peak Oil Ass-Backwards (part 3):

Forget Austerity and Grexit –

it's Time for a Gretaway!

"Taaaaake myyyyyy moneeeeey! Pleeeeeease!"
"Taaaaake myyyyyy moneeeeey! Pleeeeeease!"

So here we are on this precipice of sorts, staring upon the twilight of the industrial economy due to peaking energy supplies and thus peaking credit supplies (as explained in part 2 of this 3-part series).

Simply put, being on the peak oil plateau, and with fossil fuel supplies in general reaching their limits (and getting more expensive to extract), there's going to increasingly be less and less of the stuff to go around. This means one of two things, the first being that what's left gets spread around thinner and thinner between all the participants. However, since people of the West (and especially those in the richer parts) have become quite used to their energy-intensive lifestyles and seem to have zero intention of giving them up, this likely implies the implementation of the second approach: cut back on – if not cut off – the fuel supplies to people and nations on the lower rungs of industrial civilization. That way, as the fossil fuel pie continues to shrink, those on the higher rungs don't have to reduce their share too drastically. In effect, this allows for those in the upper echelons of contemporary civilization to hold on to their Nyet-Flix feeds and iGizmos just a bit longer, until the triaging inevitably hits them as well and/or the bottom just completely falls out.

This triaging can be accomplished in more than one way, but for the time being two methods stand out as the most popular. The first is what we know as austerity – cuts are made upon people's pensions, hours, welfare cheques, whatever, so that they have less credit (read: money) to buy and indulge in the spoils of industrialization. Unfortunately, living in this modern world of ours means that the basic necessities of life (such as food) also often fall under the umbrella of industrialization, so being triaged can entail much more than an inconvenient loss of iGizmos.

Using Europe as the example, Greece is on the lower rungs of European industrial civilization as not only is it not a fossil fuel superpower, but it isn't a manufacturing superpower either. It does have a lot of olive oil to sell and/or trade, but olive oil (and the rest of their exports) can't get Greeks the crude oil (and crude oil manufactured products) to the degree that countries on the higher rungs get to imbibe in. Since the manufacturing prowess of Germany places it on the higher rungs of European industrial civilization, this means that it can dish out credit/loans thanks to its manufacturing base. Greece, however, can't dish out credit/loans like this, because not only does olive oil not provide much relative earning potential, but having ditched the drachma for the euro a few years ago, it forwent with its financial sovereignty and put much of its economic destiny under the dictates of others. (Thinking of the issue in terms of "financial sovereignty" can be a bit misleading, but I'll get to that in a moment.) One result of all this is that Greece has an even tougher time affording the most indispensible input to industrial civilization – fossil fuels.

This being the case, when energy supplies become tight enough, Germany's penchant to extend credits to countries such as Greece will be significantly reduced once that means cutting into its dwindling hold on energy supplies. But for the time being Germany has been willing to string Greece along with further loans, not so that old Greek ladies can have enough money to feed themselves, but primarily so that Greece has the funds to service its debts to Germany and so avoid contributing to the eventual implosion of Germany's/Europe's/the world's Ponzi scheme banking system. Furthermore, while the bailout energy credits that do stay in Greece are predominantly accessible only by the upper crust end of society, those credits do of course come at a price. And that price goes a little something like this:

Well I'll be. That Parthenon thing sure does look pretty! But you know what would make it look ever prettier? If it was in Germany.

Facetiousness aside, that's austerity, and you do as you're told. For if you don't do as you're told, and try to give some of the energy credits you've been granted to the needy (so that they can eat), then you're likely to see your country get cut off from the credit lines altogether. Legalities aside, this is the second form of triaging (which has yet to happen to an industrial nation), and so rather than the poorest end of a poor nation getting cut off, the entire nation is cut off instead.

In Greece's case, this form of triaging is the forced version of what has been called Grexit (coined by Citigroup economist Ebrahim Rahbari), which is in contrast to the voluntary form of Grexit whereby the Greek government voluntarily pulls itself out of the eurozone and returns to using the drachma. The general Greek populace is vehemently against a voluntary Grexit, since more than anything the Greek people want to maintain their position within the world of progress promised by industrial civilization (regardless of whether or not they understand that this is their underlying desire).

For what the Greek populace (and for that matter every populace) generally believes to be going on is that the world of today is by and large facing a crisis of politics. In effect, to a large extent they then proceed to vote in to power whomever can best tell them what they want to hear – that they can maintain their industrial prosperity (or get it back if that's the case). However, and as I've previously explained (see here and here), what Greece (and ultimately the rest of the world) is facing is not a political crisis, but a resource crisis. In other words, no variant of political scheming is going to be able to return those on the to-be-triaged front lines to former levels of (industrial) prosperity.

In the meantime, political parties such as Greece's Syriza – who promised the moon during election times (Syriza was initially voted in on a no-bailout platform) – have been shown to be full of hot air. In Syriza's case, its referendum promise of winning the Greek electorate a better deal with Greece's third bailout was exposed as a complete sham, likely because it was threatened by the Troika with either accepting the terms on the table or being cut off from the credit (read: energy) lines, resulting in Greece being virtually thrown into a peasant-agrarian economy overnight. Not wanting to go down in history as that guy, Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras capitulated and accepted the dictated terms (which were even worse than the ones turned down by Tsipras a few weeks earlier).

In effect, all that the so-called progressive politicians (and their counterparts) can really accomplish is perhaps a slight lowering on their interest rates and the stretching out of their repayment schedules. So while Greece's most recent prime minister was initially voted in to revive Greece's crippled economy, he's now gone from the bailout rebel to the bailout enforcer, having recently been re-elected with the mandate of implementing yet even harsher tax hikes and spending cuts.

(photo by Alehins)
(photo by Alehins)

However, and continuing with the Greek example, not all political parties appear to be so averse to a Grexit, since those on the extremes – the far left Communist Party and the far-right Golden Dawn neo-Nazis – seem very amenable to pulling Greece out of the eurozone. A rise to power by either of them, as should go without saying, would most certainly be an extremely unfortunate turn of events. But seeing how there is very little realization in Greece and other countries as to what the underlying factors at play are, and seeing how Syriza and whichever other party that comes along next is going to be unable to stem the austerity tide, one hopes then that frustrations of hungry and desperate populaces don't result in xenophobic parties such as Golden Dawn coming to the fore.

How can such outcomes be avoided? For starters, this would ideally entail a broad-based understanding that resource crises are at the heart of increasing austerity policies. Supposing that such a realization were actually possible in the near future (which is extremely unlikely), what then? Well, seeing how one way or another Greece is going to end up leaving the eurozone, preparing for such an outcome would be the wisest thing to do. Simply returning though to the drachma may not be much of an option. Yet as one piece in the progressive media put it,

I think the fundamental problem [with Syriza's capitulation] was in the fact that Syriza never spoke out about an alternative to the European Union. Syriza's members accepted the European Union as the framework; they accepted paying the debt as a framework, and they never formulated an independent policy. They overestimated their capacity to negotiate a progressive solution within the European Union, and absolutely nothing suggested that.

However, for progressive parties (particularly those in power, such as Syriza) to have failed in speaking out about "an alternative to the European Union" (as if the progressives just weren't progressive enough) would likely result in a quick world of pain, outcomes ranging from a coup by financial interests to topple the incumbents (so as to protect their loans and Ponzi scheme), to a rather quick crash in said country's stock markets and the progression from bank holidays to grand ol' bank retirements.

Instead, and elaborating on what I mentioned earlier, what progressives need to realize is that the issue isn't simply one of financial sovereignty, but of energetic sovereignty. As I've mentioned before, money is a proxy for energy. Because of that, the more we move down this road of energy supply curtailment, the more that energy supplies are going to be sourced closer to their point of harvest ("harvest" not simply being a cute metaphor). In effect, and with money being a proxy for energy, it make makes sense for currencies to parallel this move.

In other words, and for those aware of the current situation's underlying factors, a crucial undertaking is the setting up of alternative currencies. Not just on the national level (such as a reissued drachma), but also at the regional and community levels. Since international and even national currencies will increasingly become less and less accessible by those on the fringes of society (this is what happens when you get triaged from global and national energy supplies), turning away as much as we can from these currencies and cutting back on seeking them out may be the best option for an increasing number of people – as well as a good idea for those who want to get ahead of what's coming down the pipe (or rather, what won't be coming down the pipe any longer).

What I'm proposing then is instead of a Grexit, what is needed is a Gretaway – a concerted movement away from international (and to a certain extent even national) financial systems. This would entail the purposeful attempt to fly under the radar of international banking as cushions are set up for the increasing number of people who will be triaged from major currencies and so from access to basic necessities – supposing, that is, that such necessities are even available (and there's no guarantees of that).

As even the New York Times has pointed out, the alternative currency TEM in Volos, Greece, was "inspired... by a need for solidarity in rough times," a currency that would be "prepared to step into the breach" "if Greece does take a turn for the worse and eventually does stop using the euro." That's not to say that the TEM is merely a fall-back plan, as it has already allowed for local business amongst veterinarians, opticians, seamstresses, music teachers, language teachers, bookkeepers, computer technicians, hairdressers, and of course, farmers. And, I might add, all legally sanctioned by Greece's federal government.

"Madonna!? Shame on you!"

Make no mistake though, alternative currencies don't imply a continuation of business (nor "culture") as usual. As one butcher who was having much success with another alternative currency in Greece put it, "One person wanted me to trade a Madonna CD for a chicken. But I said no. The Madonna CD was definitely not worth a chicken."

"Madonna!? Shame on you!"

Ultimately, and as Jan Lundberg (who lives in Greece) recently put it in his piece "Why the Cash Economy in Greece May Be Ending,"

At some point, cash can become quite secondary to a sharing economy based on achieving local resiliency.

The take home story? There's no better time than the present to get working on our Gretaways.

Ce post a était traduit en Français par online publication Le Saker Francophone. Il apparaît dans Le Saker Francophone ici ou dans From Filmers to Farmers ici (arrive bientôt). Pour d'autres traductions en Français, s'il vous plaît voir la page de traduction Française.

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Comments (34)

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Lucifers Taxi
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Oct 2015
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Well said! (You are here in Toronto-and so am I. Since I don't personally know anybody else who is onto this......howzabout dinner and drinks at my expense?)
What ELSE are you onto?
Regards,
D
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Norman Pagett
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Oct 2015
i've been banging on about this for years---but get mainly blank stares when I try to explain that we live in an energy economy, not a money economy. It is a concept that is beyond our comprehension, because we have lived in an environment where energy is fed into the 'economic system' at an ever faster rate to give us 'infinite growth'.
this is what our politicians promise, and we are so locked into the system that we have no choice but to take our pick from the concoctions of lies on offer.
maybe the economists and politicians believe it too---they are mere mortals after all.
it is plainly obvious that the majority believe that prosperity can be voted into office.
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vera
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Oct 2015
This is a really enjoyable and lucid post. But!

"But seeing how there is very little realization in Greece and other
countries as to what the underlying factors at play are, and seeing how
Syriza and whichever other party that comes along next is going to be
unable to stem the austerity tide, one hopes then that frustrations of
hungry and desperate populaces don't result in xenophobic parties such
as Golden Dawn coming to the fore."

I am sick and tired of the common phenomenon in western press: the people who actually speak out systemically against the insane tide of refugees they have to deal with IN ADDITION TO the austerity policies and other chaos they are smacked with, are called xenophobes and neo-nazis.

Secondly, the whole paragraph is insane. The people writing it KNOW (and say so) that there is no effing chance in hell that the populace at large will understand the way these con games are being played, and yet they are "hoping" that the frustrations of hungry people will not turn, um, to those parties that actually express those frustration in public political life -- in sharp contrast to politically correct progressives and greenies and peak oilers like themselves.

There is hopium for you.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Lucifers Taxi: Glad you liked it! About Toronto, although I grew up just north of the place and then lived there for several years, I don't actually live there anymore (I'm currently way over in New Zealand). Regardless, economics certainly isn't my forte (if I even have one), and other posts on this page attest to my interest in beekeeping, agriculture, and much more. Being from Toronto, "the most multicultural city in the world," you might find my 4-article series on authentic multiculturalism rather interesting. As well, and as I linked to on the page for the one podcast I've done so far, the city with the highest amount of listeners for podcasts from the Doomstead Diner (whose posts this article rather parallels) is Toronto. So they're out there!
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Norman: I couldn't agree with you any more. About the economists and politicians believing we live in a money economy rather than an energy economy, I think I agree with the statement that if you're forced to choose whether something can be chalked up to conspiracy or ignorance, chances are it's stupidity. Probably helps one sleep slightly less worse at night as well.

And thanks for the link you left. I just read your two articles over on Collapse of Industrial Civilization the other day, and although I don't have an e-reader, I'm looking forward to reading your book in the future.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Vera: Glad to hear you found at least part of the piece enjoyable, and I can understand where your relevant criticisms come from. I was toying a bit with how to write that "one hopes then that..." sentence, as I certainly didn't want to give the impression that "don't worry, it's all going to work itself out!" That being said, I see the word "hope" as a verb and so implying action. This is why I said:

"for those aware of the current situation's underlying factors, a crucial undertaking is the setting up of alternative currencies."

Whether or not enough of these get created and used to stem the increasing triaging I can't say, although I'm not about to hold my breath. I don't know if I would call that hopium so much as doing what one can amongst a grim reality.

In regards to "'hoping' that the frustrations of hungry people will not turn, um, to those parties that actually express those frustration in public political life," as you put it, I don't see those parties talking about the underlying issues causing all this anymore than the more mainstream parties. (The exception to that, from what I've noticed, is the British National Party, which will likely be what my next post will address.) All they really do is say "you've got the wrong skin colour or language or religion or eating habits or whatever, and besides, we were here first." All that results in is bloodshed. As far as I see it, the mainstream political parties as well as the xenophobes all believe in silver-bullet solutions, their cures being either austerity, Keynesiamism, or expulsion of the "other." None of that will work.

And regardless of whether or not refugee crises (of which we've hardly even seen the tip of the iceberg yet) are a result of blowback, there's probably little that can be done to stop people abandoning their homes -- be they in Syria or California -- and trying to make their way to where people seem to be living "the good life."

Tough call.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Allan, I am delighted you engaged. I was fearing another bout of vilification, as I have gotten from other web places with similar points. Or silence. Loved all you had to say about the currencies, and I don't really disagree with trying to do what one can in the face of grim reality.

Still, though, I think it behooves us all on alternative media to be as honest as we can, and calling people who fear the tide of refugees and destruction of their home culture "xenophobes" seems mean to me. And not quite honest.

Yes, their message may be close to what you say, but that is how people on the street feel, that is their frustration, said simply. (And political parties are not known, in general, for the honesty and acuity of their political analysis.)

For example, similar sentiments are expressed in the Baltic republics. Here you have people whose ancestors were persecuted and died in the gulag for standing up for their culture against the Soviets. Now their economies have been done in, in part by EU policies, their young people fled in search of jobs, and now they are being forced to accept hordes of people with whom they have little in common and who will undo all the sacrifices made to hang on to their culture, and to keep it alive and even thriving.

No, there is little to be done when people want to abandon their homes. But there is plenty that can be done to defend the other people's homes that are being invaded. And if it's not done, then there will be bloodshed. And western Europe has been singularly unwilling to defend the cultures that "have been here first" and bends over backwards to favor the newcomers from far away lands. I don't have a good analysis of this, but find it extremely troubling.

And finally, I will go out on a limb and add this: are they going there because that's where people are living the good life? I have myself been among those who fled from the iron curtain, and we sure did not behave with the contempt and disregard many of these newcomers have shown to the Europeans that welcomed them with toys and food and shelter. They behave more like people who come to trash and crash what good is there.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Just occurred to me: in Canada, the Indians are called First Nations, and the implication is that those who were there first, their cultures are worth protecting. How come they are not worth protecting in Europe for the same reason? How come that sort of an appeal is to be scoffed at?
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Dean
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Aug 2014
Excellent writing mate
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RDG
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Oct 2015
RDG
I don't find this article satisfactory. The energy economy is a dangerous misnomer because the word 'energy' is an overloaded term. Laypersons are deluded into believing that electrification and substitution in general easily resolves the various resource contention problems. We have all seen the false claims: just put up a lot of breeder fission reactors and voila, energy problem solved (and thus money too). The layperson assumes electricity (energy) contributes the same wealth effect as crude oil.

To me the essential fact is that crude oil is a source of perpetual growth in hard collateral rather than merely embodied dense energy.

And certainly alternative local currencies are a hopeless avenue.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: Very good points you bring up, but having re-read your comments a few times, I'm rather flummoxed with what to say.

But before I start, I should point out that although there's a lot of grey area here, when I mention xenophobic, I'm referring to the hardliners who accept nobody but their kind. With your talk about people in the street, although perhaps I'm wrong, I envision a bunch of people who don't have much of a clue as to what's ultimately going on, and just want to maintain normality. But normality is going the way of the dodo bird, for everybody.

Me, I'm from the 'burbs north of Toronto, so the only culture I can really say I grew up with is fossil-fuelled consumer culture. That way of life is coming to an end, and I imagine people will ultimately be evacuating the place where I grew up rather than gravitating towards it. Where are they going to go? Who are they possibly going to run over?

Likewise with the (middle-class) Syrians evacuating their homeland. As Nafeez Ahmed pointed out a couple of years ago, their oil supply peaked a few years earlier, which was their major export. As well, they're going through a major drought. So an overpopulated land, made possible due to fossil fuels and all its manifestations, is being evacuated by those rich enough that can afford early tickets out. Once the even bigger stampede starts, where are they going to go? Who are they going to overrun?

You say that "there is plenty that can be done to defend the other people's homes that are being invaded." Really? I have no idea what that would be besides having a massive body of water between you and them (as is the case with New Zealand, where I currently am, but will be leaving in a few weeks). Other than that I can only imagine machine guns and the like as fences aren't going to cut it.

You say next that:

"western Europe has been singularly unwilling to defend the cultures that "have been here first" and bends over backwards to favor the newcomers from far away lands. I don't have a good analysis of this, but find it extremely troubling."

I think John Michael Greer explained this very well two weeks ago when he said that:

"Whether allowing mass immigration to the United States is a good idea or not, it’s fair to say that sharply limiting the number of legal immigrants and then turning a blind eye to illegal immigration lands us in the worst of both worlds. The only people who benefit from it are the employers who get to pay substandard wages to illegal immigrants, and the privileged classes whose lifestyles are propped up thereby."

It's all been in the name of growth and keeping up business as usual (read: the fractional-reserve, Ponzi scheme banking system).

In effect, once things get hairy, out pops those who blame all the troubles on immigrants, when really it was business as usual that effectively brought them in in the first place.

Perhaps I was incorrect in inciting "the good life," and should have stated that they're blindly going to wherever seems prosperous and to places where people seem to have things figured out (but don't, and just aren't on the front lines of current and upcoming crises).

Sure, in Canada the natives are called First Nations, and it does imply something, but it's all lip service and is actually a very bad example to use. Their cultures and ways of life have been decimated, replaced much too often with many young women turning to prostitution who then are then disappeared and murdered, and young men sniffing gasoline. Their land is often ripped away from them, razed for tar sands extraction and such, the recompense being a casino or two. People may talk admirably about the natives, but really, they got the ass end of the deal.

What we're facing is a world of 7 billion people which is quite possibly overpopulated by several billion. With fossil fuels now peaking, and which made most of those 7 billion lives possible, well...

To say then that European ways of life are somehow above all this is rather short sighted. Not only that, but I would venture to guess that even if there wasn't any refugee crisis to speak of, those European people you speak of are going to be in for a rude awakening nonetheless. I imagine their way of life is more resilient than the one I grew up with, but not by much.

Perhaps you might want to read my four-part series on authentic multiculturalism that I wrote last year, starting off with Culture and the Land.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Dean: Thanks!
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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RDG: I'm not really sure with what you're saying here. You seem to be saying that fission reactors and other forms of substitution are a crapshoot. If that's the case, I agree. But I have no idea where you go from there to claiming that "crude oil is a source of perpetual growth in hard collateral rather than merely embodied dense energy." Actually, I don't even know what that means, unless it's just a bunch of gobbledygook.

To say then that alternative currencies are but a hopeless avenue simply shows your prejudice. Sure, alternative currencies aren't going to buy us another Mercedes, but if you're expecting to hold onto that way of life, you're going to be in for a rude awakening. Moreover, if you followed the links I gave (both from the New York Times), you'd see that they most certainly are not hopeless. And as international and national currencies fall apart, for an ever increasing number of people, they will most certainly not be hopeless, but reality.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Allan: well, yes, but what you say does not address my points. I know all about Indian and Eskimo decimation. That does not change my query about why "we were here first" should not be respected. It only indicts those whose "First Nations" approach is mere lip service.

Look, if someone owns a home, people who try to move in, are generally not allowed to do this by the whole interlocking system of customs, laws, police, judicial, militias, and neighborhood self-protection. I (or my parents or grandparents) were here first, and yet, it counts. If someone tries to squat it while I am away for the weekend, I have this network to lean on.

But in Europe, this system of custom and protection has been undermined, for decades. I don't see very far into it at this point. I am just glad that I found a blog where it can be explored in peace.

I think out of control immigration always helps those who want to keep wages down, and their middle/lower orders in distress. Then, they created the Ponzi retirement schemes, and instead of fixing that, they invited young migrants in. But now jobs are disappearing... where will these people work in Spain, where unemployment is insanely high?

In the older days, they created endless refugee camps. Now Turkey opened the border, and the people smugglers are getting big money from somewhere, the refugees from Africa have gobs of money to pay their way through the mafia and gypsy networks that ferry them... It's far far bigger than anyone in the mainstream press is willing to say. And the "welcome the refugees" people, you can't even talk to them. It's like their mind in a one track groove.

I think there would be one way to slow this down to a trickle. Divvy the immigrants among all UN-belonging nations of the Earth. That is the only fair solution, and one that would discourage those set on western Europe, it would be somewhat manageable, and it would give the leaders a chance (if any are left) to come up with a solution at least to Syria, and then to the various other devastations. Perhaps there is some bit of light with Putin and China wanting to be involved in that project. And the rich Arab states and Israel would have to take some too. Everybody.

But frankly, IMO, the only real solution is to get the pathocracies out of power. That's the hard one.

What about the kink I just read about where a prominent Islamic preacher in Jerusalem preached about stealth conquest of Europe via Islamic invasion?

Well, I am not here to make your life more difficult. Looking forward to your next post, and will read those you recommended. Thank you for listening.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Allan, my reply just got eaten by the internet gremlins. So I will be brief. You seem to agree that in Canada, first cultures are worth protecting and preserving. You are outraged that this worthy ideal is more honored in the breach, that lip service prevails. I am too.

Yet you are unwilling to apply the same ideal to European cultures, and scoff at the Europeans who appeal to it. How come?

I will read your other posts. And thank you for listening.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: Glad to see your longer comment didn't disappear. I seriously hate when that happens on whatever site and so always copy and paste my comments to my email or something before I hit submit, just in case.

On to your comment, okay, I see where you're coming from now, and that's a fair argument. At the same time, and although it doesn't override what you're saying, I do wonder how many of those people that are currently there actually have much connection to their places (that their ancestors had) and whether or not they're more like itinerants in their own land. I know people in Canada whose ancestry in the place goes way back, and I'd have a hard time telling them apart from someone like me who is first-generation.

What about all the immigrants in places like Spain who are now jobless like many other Spaniards and such? I hate to say that the Spaniards (and the like) made their own bed, but it's not as if they didn't welcome with open arms the immigrants to come in to work the menial jobs so that a significant portion of them didn't have to. Vast messes have been created, and I don't see why the immigrants should be singled out as having any lesser rights. But to what? The hovels they rented out?

If you look at Canada, there's hordes of (female) Filipino nannies that do a vast larger job of raising many children than there parents do. Why? So that the parents could be dedicated to their careers, and perhaps so that they didn't have to deal so much with the drudgery of raising their own children. It would be a bit stupid to say that the nannies are more deserving of the place than their corporate-acquiescent employers, but really, what do you say or do? Do the Filipino nannies, who raised those children, have less of a stake in Canada? I don't think so. They were invited to come in, and when resource shortages start to hit those places as well, the Canadians who were there first are going to have to deal with the situation that they created themselves.

What you say about divvying up immigrants between UN countries makes sense. Although I won't speak for you, I wouldn't hold my breath on that one. More likely, little is actually going to happen, and the waves are going to get bigger and bigger. Fact of the matter is, we're overpopulated, possibly by 3, 4, 5, or even 6 billion people. I think that that's ultimately going to be the big problem.

And about that link you read. I myself was thinking, and nothing inherently against Syrians, that what's to stop several unpleasant people from embedding themselves amongst the refugees and infiltrating various nations? The day after I had that thought, even the pope said it.

Tough times.
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Norman Pagett
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Oct 2015
to add another line to this ongoing oil to money thread, today the Nigerian ex oil minister Diezani Alison-Madueke was arrested in London for laundering $20 billion. A few million would have been enough to live on in comfort for life---but when presented with unlimited opportunity, greed is also unlimited. This was oil cash looted from the Nigerian people, the majority of whom are in dire poverty, lacking hospitals schools and so on. The oil companies were no doubt complicit in it too.

she has left Nigeria to stew in its 'resource crisis', even though that country is a major oil producer. Nigeria is the 3rd richest country in Africa, but with 60% of its people living in poverty.The term resource crisis is applicable to the majority of the population who never had access to modern resources in the first place.
Which adds to my point that people have a tendency to grab what they can while they can, knowing that nothing lasts forever, and when the oil has gone any producer goes back to being what it was a century ago. You can put this scenario on most oil producing nations, to a greater or lesser degree.
This directly and specifically relates to Syria, where rival militias are grabbing what they can while they can too, and to hell with everyone else. This will go on as oil declines and poverty climbs further up our ladder of prosperity.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Norman, it is not "people" who have a tendency to grab what they can while they can, it is the conscience and empathy impaired among us that stand out and excel in this particular endeavor. "To hell with everyone else" is a psychopath motto.
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Norman Pagett
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Oct 2015
Vera, I take your point, but nevertheless it happens in every society and in every era, that resources are taken by those with the power/cunning/inclination to do so. Roman emperors, conquistadors, slave traders, fascist/communist dictators, Rockefeller, Carnegie, empire builders of every kind--the list is endless, but the thread is a common one, the grabbing of resources for self.
bear in mind also that the grabbers cannot do it alone. they need thousands of like minded people to do the dirty work for a share of the spoils. Capitalists of the last century had no qualms about employing police to break strikes with extreme violence.
Maybe I don't have a very good opinion of humanity in general, but when Hitler tried to grab Europe for himself, his millions of helpers had Gott Mit Uns inscribed on their belt buckles.---had they not been stopped by a greater force, they would have swept into asia and met up with the japanese coming the other way. And proceeded to declare war on them too in due course.
right now, the collective psychopathy of isil is screaming exactly the same thing, and committing the same brand of evil
In the long run it may not do them any good, but it doesn't stop it happening
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vera
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Oct 2015
No so, Norman, sapiens is 200,000 years old, and for most of that time, we shared, cooperated closely, and kept a close watch on those who would take advantage. The anthros call this system "vigilant sharing."
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Norman: Yeah, I don't argue that a lot of pillaging for personal benefit goes on. At the same time, not only does it take people with similar stature to turn a blind eye, but it requires a large part of the populace to be giddy enough in the spoils they get to give de facto approval for the pillaging and theft to go on (I'm talking about first world countries rather than places like Nigeria). Perhaps I'm being naive, but that's why I tend to think (hope?) that as cultures inevitably become more localized, people will have a better opportunity to have a more direct role in their communities and become accountable to one another. I'd say that the re-emergence of commoning will be the most viable way of keeping those with such reprehensible tendencies in check.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: Apologies about your comments not going through straight away. Once I approve your first comment the rest are supposed to just go through automatically. I don't know why yours are the exception.
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Norman Pagett
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Oct 2015
One might say that 'grabbing for oneself' came about with the advent of farming.
Land is the ultimate capital, and if one individual has worse land (or none) than another, in order to produce sustenance, then the incentive is there for conflict.
Taking that point, we are faced with capitalism as the problem. Everything I've mentioned in previous comments has been about acquiring capital, that didnt start until the concept of capital came into existence---ie the enclosure of land, and rolling that up into the creation of nations.
we wil become more 'accountable' to one another certainly, but only when the means to be anything else has been exhausted.
we have 'learned' the seeming benefits of conflict, even though that learning has been a dead end--literally. we cannot 'unlearn' it, so for many years to come there will always be those who are prepared to use warfare for gain.
eventually that must cease---''when'' is the great unknown
for 'localised cultures' read prehistoric settlements maybe?
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Norman: Yeah, I can't deny that warfare will continue to be used for gain, particularly in the upcoming years when people find themselves with less and less booty than they were previously accustomed to. Hell is going to have no wrath like somebody being forced to make an honest, non-fossil fueled, non-slave-based living. For those trying to somewhat make their way down "to [not] be anything," I suppose that the best options available in the meantime will be commoning, and crossing your fingers in hopes that your neighbors over in the next township are also kind of nice.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Whew! Allan, glad you told me, I was about to ***** about having been put on moderation. :-) Another good lesson for keeping my beak shut at least some of the time!

Norman, it came about with the advent of luxury surplus. Before farming.

Allan, gotta do better than crossing our fingers. ;-)
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Vera: Well I'm glad we have half of it straightened out, but I still can't see what I can do on my end. I'm using an open source comment script called Commentics (which I host myself and get to control), and this is the first issue I've come across. Like I said, once your first comment goes through, everything else is supposed to automatically as well. If I'm not mistaken your second comment went straight through, but none of the rest. I'll keep looking, and worst case scenario I may just reset the whole thing again, which would mean that I'd lose my list of blocked spammers that I've built up. We'll see.

And yeah, I was being a bit facetious there with my cross our fingers comment, although at the same time I was kind of acknowledging that we don't always control all the circumstances around us.
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vera
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Oct 2015
That's a weird one, Allan...

I have to share this funny story. When I was falling asleep yesterday, my mind went went, hey! They censored b...ch (synonym for complain)! You look away and there is another politically correct deletion from my vocabulary. If this keeps going, I will have to abandon English, it having fallen prey to the language police, and cleave unto Lithuanian. Or Finnish? Haha!
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Vera: Well, when it comes to my two backgrounds, Danish and Colombian, I do know all the swear words and can name all the food in their respective languages, as well as cook a few dishes. I've got a strong feeling that that's really all our unauthentic multiculturalism comes down to.
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vera
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Oct 2015
Eagerly looking forward to your post on refugees. What a mess! If you need input into anything you've written, just ask. We all sorely need some perspective on this issue.
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Joe Clarkson
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Jan 2015
Two to four posts a month?
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vera
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Oct 2015
Forget about Gretaway. The Greeks will be begging the EU hat in hand to do something about their border until the lights go out.
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vera
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Oct 2015
I hear a bus run you over. Man... I am in mourning...
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Aug 2014
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Vera: Sorry for the tardy reply (see the first comment in the next post). I'll try and get to a post or two on the refugee thing once I get rid of the backlog I've now got.

And yeah, you're right about Gretaway being a long shot. But it's worth mentioning.
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Allan Stromfeldt Christensen
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Joe: Sorry about the silent absence (see the first comment in the next post). Irregularly scheduled FF2F posts are now in swing again.

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