June 16, 2011

Greeks Bearing Gifts

Filed under: Freedom — Russ @ 5:45 am


The people of Greece are fighting back against the most extraordinary daylight robbery yet. Wednesday they launched a coordinated set of protests determined to prevent the rogue parliament from voting on the latest “austerity” assault. They’ve temporarily stalled the process, but the criminals vow to continue the assault.
There’s nothing to do but fight. I think in a context like Greece, where protests are at or near critical mass, fighting has to mean permanent General Strike. (By contrast, a “one day general strike” makes little sense even in theory, and those who call for it are generally unionists who are already planning to sell out. They’re looking for a way to appease their rank and file and perhaps get paid off themselves, but they plan from the outset to submit in the end to the top-down assaults. Just look at France. We’ll see if the Greek union “general strike” calls follow the same pattern.)
Beyond that, once it’s clear we’re being politically dispossessed and economically liquidated, what other than fear itself stops a people from simply renouncing the system? What if a critical mass were to withdraw recognition, go on a permanent bottom-up Work to Rule strike against all elites, stop paying taxes, take over centralized political and economic facilities and start operating them ourselves, while using systems like barter, time banking, and other ways to replace the economy of the dominant currency?
I don’t think the vision I just laid out is absurd. In theory, we could do it at any time. Nor does it depend upon defeating the forces of the criminals. And yet in practice it seems unachievable? Well, why not take the idea as possible and doable, and then try to reverse engineer the strategy for how to get there.
If the peoples of any Western country (the consciousness in parts of the non-West is already well-advanced, as in South America and now the Arab world) are to liberate ourselves and take back what’s ours, it’ll have to mean total commitment, and it’ll have to mean permanent commitment. Does the capacity for this commitment exist? Only the lack of it, and what I above called “fear itself”, are the things which can doom the world to enslavement. Certainly a handful of criminals can’t do it themselves.
But if we find the commitment and defeat the fear, we’re invincible. Victory would then be certain.


  1. The uncertainty and ignorance that feed the fear, not to mention the very skillful disinformation and FUD, are important. This is uncharted territory. We’re talking about initiating anarchy, demarchy, or autarky, whatever you want to call it, of which we have but little experience. So, while I agree with everything you say, we have to be realistic about the challenge. It is enormous. Events will not unfold neatly. We are political infants, babies even, in the sense that we would be learning self-governance from scratch. The folks who have been experimenting with anarchic systems are scattered across the planet, are a tiny minority, and would have the stupendously difficult task of imparting their wisdom and experience to millions of others, if not billions, most of who will be in a state of fear and confusion. Let’s not underestimate that.

    These are dangerous and exciting times. The potential for destruction and creation is equally large, historically unprecedented I believe.

    Timebanks … how do we price food in hours? How many people are there with farming skills? What need IT guys when no electricity is flowing, when communication networks are down? What need accountants, lawyers, advertisers, bankers, insurers, secretaries, PAs, etc.? There’s going to be an enormous scarcity of relevant skills which will make Hours difficult to keep egalitarian. The artificial scarcity nurtured by capitalism for centuries has profound consequences, and we are about to start suffering them keenly.

    So transport, food chains, plumbing, water purification, hygiene and energy are, I suspect, going to have to be seen as necessities shared equally (to the extent possible) so as to fuel the very difficult, likely multi-generational transition to a more egalitarian system. And staying networked so learning happens faster, and groups don’t drift too far from one another. Hoermann’s group are releasing a booklet this summer with survival tips for the coming breakdown. They say it will be about 30 pages long, but in German. I will of course be buying it, and will translate as much as possible into English over at econosophy. It’s going to be the small, clever, practical ideas that keep the transition going, while developing the new vision in a spirit of direct democracy and consensus building. Somehow we have to minimize the recriminations, the chance of multiple civil wars, or wars at all.

    It is not going to be easy. The ignorance and anger are profound.

    Comment by Toby — June 16, 2011 @ 6:46 am

    • Yes, the potential for transformation or total destruction has never been so profound. It’s no wonder there’s so much ignorance and fear. The work before us is extraordinary, but its success shall depend on the simple factors of will.

      Time banks, so far, seem to work better for exchange of services than of goods. But they can work synergistically with barter. Of course skills can also be encompassed within barter, but I was forecasting that the people who are involved in organizing new modes might include those of us familiar with the time bank system of reciprocal gifting. It has the added quality of emphasizing community bonds over the sociopathic mercenary grasping encouraged by capitalism, which has to be one of the malevolences we’re trying to overcome. I’m not saying a time bank is definitely the best way of organizing this; we’ll probably build on the idea and find better ways. But it’s a conceptual start, and more and more people are already putting it to work in real life.

      I agree that where, for example, electrical skills are at a premium, it will be difficult to maintain egalitarian exchanges. Of course, anyone living amid a “He who does not work shall not eat” ethic won’t be able to lord it over others with his allegedly (morally) superior skills. Growing food, meanwhile, will have to become a near-universal activity, though you’re right that there too skills like the supervision of soil-building will be critical for a time. I assume you’re joking about the advertisers and bankers and such.

      So transport, food chains, plumbing, water purification, hygiene and energy are, I suspect, going to have to be seen as necessities shared equally (to the extent possible) so as to fuel the very difficult, likely multi-generational transition to a more egalitarian system.

      That sounds likely. The real work, in fact, comes after the initial successful fight for freedom.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 8:31 am

      • My point about advertisers etc. was that the need for those skills will collapse to around zero, but that right now such people are around in their millions — our economy has a high demand for them for systemic reasons. That’s a lot of mouths to feed in return for little value added, to be crude about it. I’m not for population reduction, nor anything like it, I’m just trying to anticipate the load, thinking out loud. And of course I can’t know from this distance which soft skills will unexpectedly turn out to be useful, and which will prove useless — flexibility and creativity will be key, on all levels.

        As regards electricians, there I meant they only have use if electricity is being generated somehow, if “The People” have sufficient access to and control of energy generation and distribution infrastructure, as well as manufacturing plants, etc. Huge topics, and I feel a little over-dramatic for raising them, but it’s unclear how these things will play out. Perhaps those with jobs will cling to their perceived security, like police and army, employees of utility companies, and so on. If society splits along such lines, the side with infrastructure control has the best chances. I think this is key. The general sense, even conviction, that a new way is feasible, not in argument but in practice, must take root. There needs to be a broad appeal to all sections of society, otherwise it is haves against havenots, and that gets us nowhere.

        And I agree with your point on time banks as supplements to other elements, no doubt there will be a variety of money types to experiment with. There are no silver bullets, no road maps.

        Comment by Toby — June 16, 2011 @ 9:08 am

      • If society splits along such lines, the side with infrastructure control has the best chances.

        If that’s not the democratic people, it wouldn’t be much of a transformation.

        You’re right that it’s hard to predict how anything will play out, so thinking out loud is as good a way as any to go about things.

        But at least where it comes to feeding everyone, we have enough information to do more than just think out loud. As I’ve discussed in my recent posts on agriculture, we know how to maximize food production post-oil, and we know which politico-economic dispensation will be necessary to put it onto effect.

        The general sense, even conviction, that a new way is feasible, not in argument but in practice, must take root.

        That’s the critical need, more than anything else. With it, anything is possible. Without it, nothing is.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:05 am

    • Toby, are you familiar with “The Archdruid Report”? I find that he writes calmly and cogently about these transitions.

      Voluntary population reduction is key: it MUST be on the table, always. it would buy us enormous amounts of time and reduce much human suffering.

      Electricians can be employed in the near term in projects like local power production for immediate necessities, in building and maintaining low-power communications like ham radios… low-voltage solar projects, LED lighting? On my darker days I reject these things out of hand, and then I realize that they will have value—as Russ imagines re. MMT—as a bridge.

      Russ, even small conceptual changes, like preventing the runoff and waste of nutrients (concentrated manure and chemical fertilizers) that cause the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico, could increase the amount of food produced and available (up to a point) through smarter more well-managed farming and fishing— even before we get into organics and soil-building and permaculture. We know we’re in a hole, but we haven’t even stopped digging on this front, it appears. Then you have to take into account the huge amount of food that is thrown away by supermarkets, industrial contamination issues (and fears), and the consumer-convenience mentality… there really is so much resource waste at every step of the system, yet to each individual player they are doing “what makes sense”, frustratingly enough.

      Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 11:24 am

      • Corporate agriculture sure is a hole where we keep digging. But solving the nitrogen runoff problem isn’t a small change. It would require the complete transformation of agriculture, since that runoff is endemic to the intensive use of synthetic fertilizer.

        You’re right that a huge amount of potential food is currently wasted by the corporate system, and that redeeming this loss will in itself constitute a major calorie boost.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 11:51 am

  2. Hmm, now the old reply box is back. I hope it stays that way.

    Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 8:31 am

    • Nope. I spoke too soon. Fuckers.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 9:58 am

  3. The “fear itself” is giving me an ulcer.

    Comment by paper mac — June 16, 2011 @ 9:59 am

    • I used to feel that way, and sometimes still do. But I feel like action is the best medicine, even though so far it’s just writing out ideas and stuff like working at the farmers’ market.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:09 am

      • You’re 100% right about that. I wish I had more time to do non-work things. The level of cognitive dissonance I’m experiencing on a day to day basis has been increasing steadily for years now. I’m attending a stem cell conference at the moment. Thinking about all of the dominoes ready to fall and knock us into the next phase of this transformation is bizarre in this context. Sitting in a room full of hundreds of people with more letters after their name than common sense, all believing that their 20-year plans for working out methods of growing new organs (“for whom?” of course, is never asked nor answered) are buffered somehow from the real world, I find it impossible to concentrate on or even care about any of it. Detailed technical information that I’ve received years of schooling and training to process and integrate, and all I can think about is how I *still* don’t know how to grow a tomato plant, or what the effects of a Chinese real estate correction might be on the price of land here. It’s a strange thing to feel so totally alone while completely surrounded by your “tribe”. I think I’ll screw off early today and get some bicycle repair work done, that at least feels real.

        Comment by paper mac — June 16, 2011 @ 10:55 am

      • I met a biologist at a wedding affair the other weekend: she said she was doing chromosomal research for some pharma company. She thinks she’s “doing good” for somebody in the future. I can’t even talk coherently about such things anymore; I literally feel like I want to vomit. The best I could muster was a gentle word about sponsored research not necessarily being conducive to true breakthroughs because of the needs of the sponsor… you know, just to keep things “light” ;-))

        I got rid of my various tribes, so now I just feel out of touch with the entire world!

        Comment by Lidia — June 16, 2011 @ 11:37 am

      • @paper mac: Bike repair sounds great. I don’t even have a bike right now, and it’s a lack I sometimes feel keenly. (Not that there’s much practical use for a bike around here right now.)

        @lidia: I suppose new tribes will be forming. They always have.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 11:55 am

      • You’re not alone, just more alive.

        Comment by Strieb Roman — June 17, 2011 @ 2:55 pm

      • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Strieb ._.

        Comment by paper mac — June 18, 2011 @ 7:03 pm

  4. A simplier solution is end banking as we have know it. Take back the printing of currency, end all bank or priviate loans unless they have the currency on hand to loan. Most of our problems are related to debt based currency. Make it crimimal for anyone including ploiticians to cause inflation. Simply base the currency on the past years GNP. With the only exceptions, war or an act of God.

    Comment by jwbeene — June 16, 2011 @ 10:17 am

    • Hi jwbeene,

      I agree on those as necessary, but far from sufficient. The problems – kleptocracy and Peak Oil – are structural, and no mere reform can avail for either of them. We need a complete transformation away from all centralization, including command economies and command currencies.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 10:23 am

      • Russ, have been enjoying you’re thoughts for a little over a year.

        But, on the suggested method, it will have grave outcomes. A people without clear defined and enforceable limits tend to be dangerous to order, and themselves.

        There is little we can do about the influence of Kleptocrats (financiers), as they have and will always be with us.

        Best of luck


        Comment by jwbeene — June 16, 2011 @ 11:37 am

      • Thanks, Jim. Sorry to hear about your defeatism. I got news for you – right at this moment we’re under the tyranny of “people without clear defined and enforceable limits”.

        As for order, if you think that’s what we now have, oh well…

        What I call the Status Quo Lie comes to mind right about now.

        Add: To extend on that a bit, it’s we who are seeking to establish a human order, in seeking to overcome the chaos of a world ruled by corporate gangsters.

        Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 11:59 am

  5. Hello,

    I’m another disillusioned soul who wonders how things ever got to be so bad. I now live in Sweden and My partner are looking to establish a self sufficient small holding Sweden is such a large country and the population so small it is actually very exciting and seems more than feasible. A need for cooperative networking is obviously important we tried a similar direction in England but the system there particularly planning is very much against anything that smacks of Self sufficiency the EU and generally the Capitalist system promotes dependency and fear.

    My partner is Swedish and we wanted our Children to grow up away from the very ego centric English system of education, How to think and not what to think are watch words for educational objectives for me. Strangely I am optimistic alternative energies and farming methods suppressed by Capitalism since the Land Clearances in England and since in Industrialised economies are really rather easier to catch on to Oil Companies and Banks have really done a great deal of damage.Ruskin had it right when he said that Wealth can be created with 90% destruction but virtuous systems can create a common wealth which is nurturing and I believe that that message can be promoted and shown to be workable.

    The best thing I think people can do is start to keep an allotment start to learn about practical skills around alternative energies get a plot of land and make progress towards partial self provisioning. Thats my plan and I’ll keep reporting back on our progress. For now it seems like a distant goal but slowly I am working towards it Unfortunately I feel like the wealth I built up in a successful career in Business is being confiscated by the current strangulation of the money supply but I am trying to remain focused.

    Stepping outside of the tribe is a very lonely place as Neitzche pointed out but there are lots of people with similar goals and experiences to share. I guess the more people that just get on and do it the harder it will be to stop.

    On another positive note I don’t think that Ad men bankers administrators of all kinds will somehow be extinct in the future I hope Capitalism will be but a more social credit type of society and economy is perfectly feasible it just takes a different mind set we all will be working for each other not against each other in the future or we will all be dead. I’m an optimist so I’ll be trying to do my bit for an Everyman ecology based community.

    If you don’t mind having an optimist around I’d very much like to share thoughts and doubts about the future and what is happening now.

    Best Wishes


    Comment by rogerglewis — June 16, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

    • Hi Roger, I’m glad to hear about your plan and wish you the best of luck with it. I don’t know anything about homesteading and farming in Sweden, so it’ll be interesting to hear those progress reports.

      Sure, it’s great to have optimists around. We all have to be such, one way or another, to varying extents. Otherwise we couldn’t believe any of this stuff.

      Comment by Russ — June 16, 2011 @ 2:44 pm

  6. Greetings all, I discovered this blog through nakedcapitalism and enjoy the discussions here. This, and the one run by Charles Hugh Smith, have been my preferred places to gather knowledge over the last few months.

    Comment by greenie — June 16, 2011 @ 7:33 pm

    • Thanks, greenie. Glad you like the place.

      Comment by Russ — June 17, 2011 @ 4:59 am

  7. Russ – regarding the loathsome internet doldrums, have you tried disabling javascript? I use a browser plugin that disables it on all sites by default. While the comment box here has changed in appearance I don’t see any other doodads or annoyances. Just a textbox I can type in, and that’s really all I need.

    An easy way to control whether javascript is turned on or off in your browser is to install the NoScript plugin for FireFox. You can whitelist sites or turn javascript on/off right from the main browser window. You can enable functionality temporarily if you need it. Disabling javascript cuts out a lot of advertising and also protects your computer from unscrupulous sites.

    If you dislike ads I also recommend the FlashBlock plugin for FireFox, which disables flash from coming up automatically. If you want to see something you just click on it, nothing displays automatically. Many ads are flash-based. Of course FireFox is the preferred browser because it’s open source software.

    Finally, if you’re in Windows you might consider preventing your computer from even connecting to ad sites by editing your “hosts” file. This is extremely easy to do and will speed up your internet connection since you won’t even be downloading the ads. Google for “ad block windows hosts mvps” and the page will be the first hit. Your computer will silently not connect to blocked sites so it may occasionally interfere with internet video that forces you to watch ads.

    I have these installed and I almost never see ads anywhere (including Naked Capitalism), unless I want to. On my install text ads still come up, but I don’t mind those. Cuts down on all sorts of javascript annoyances, flash ads, and privacy invasions.

    Comment by reslez — June 18, 2011 @ 5:31 pm

    • Thanks for the suggestions, reslez. I can endure the ads, as annoying as they are.

      The worst thing is how this comment box doesn’t even work. Every day it’s a new glitch, while none of the old ones are fixed. I’m already at the point of composing my longer responses as e-mail drafts and then pasting them here.

      And then earlier this morning the box stopped working completely. No cursor attainable, nothing.

      (And now as I write the characters are running under the hideous buttons, which fail to move with the lower bound of the box.)

      So I’m at my wit’s end with it. I saw how you came over to paper mac’s new SMF forum. I’m thinking of turning off comments here and directing discussion to the forum.

      Comment by Russ — June 19, 2011 @ 4:50 am

  8. anybody knows anything regarding online browsing
    I encountered several fails before
    if mulberry drew

    Comment by fanemulberryc — November 9, 2011 @ 11:25 am

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