Wednesday, January 11, 2012

If Greece is going through a Cuba-like meltdown, what will be their chosen route forward?

I'm reading this article on the NY Times website, With Work Scarce in Athens, Greeks Go Back to the Land, and it's making be think of the meltdown in Cuba and as well makes me think of the prediction many are making of a societal collapse from one or more of a variety of causes:  stresses induced from climate change, stresses induced from peak oil, or stresses induced from inability of the financial system to maintain itself.  The thing in Greece is billed as a result of financial system problems, too much debt in Europe causing serious problems in Europe's financial systems.

The NY Times article follows some Grecians who are turning back to agricultural work in order to survive.

The collective inability to remember the past may have caused us to forget what happened in Cuba not too long ago.  Or maybe the way Cuba has been spun in the media, that they're just an evil dictatorial communist country, has made Americans unable to properly understand what happened in Cuba.

Many see the events which unfolded in Cuba as a dress rehearsal of what will happen to the rest of us due to one or more of the causes I listed earlier.

Cuba's meltdown was artificially induced when their patron, the Soviet Union, itself collapsed and was unable to keep propping up Cuba.  Another aspect of Cuba's meltdown was the U.S. led embargo of that country, which prevented many countries (the ones who want to stay on positive terms with the U.S.) to forming any relationship with Cuba.

As a result they lost access to international financial markets, and to supplies of oil.  Under the influence of the Soviet Union they'd developed a dependency on oil-driven machines to drive everything, and having lost access to oil the machines ground to a halt.  In particular this hit the agricultural system hardest because the tractors etc could no longer run.  Also their agriculture was focused on exports and not for local self-reliance, and Cuba was not feeding itself.

Cuba is spun in Western media as a dictatorship but the path Cuba chose to navigate their meltdown was not a top down dictatorial YOU MUST DO THIS sort of response.  Instead the country took a grass roots community centric response, where each village or each neighborhood was organized for local resilience.  Every nook and cranny of Cuba's cities were converted into community gardens growing healthy organic local produce so that Cuba could become self-sufficient.

An excellent documentary movie that shows how Cuba navigated their collapse is "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil".  The problems they faced are clearly described such as how Cubans collectively lost 20-30 lbs or more over a period of a few years.  The country went from being as modern as the Soviet Union allowed them, to literally overnight forcibly reverted to the way our great grandparents lived.  (One of my Great-Grandmothers lived in a dugout in Western Kansas .. Dugouts were, well, a hole in the ground)

I haven't read too much on what's happening in Greece but the NY Times article linked above sounds eerily like the period Cuba survived, and depicted in The Power of Community.

What isn't covered in The Power of Community is that Cuba wasn't the only country to undergo an imposed collapse.  Another prime example is North Korea and it appears that Greece will be a modern example.  Hence what I asked in the title of this piece is, what path will Greece be taking.

North Korea with their imposed collapse took a different path than Cuba did.  They went for the actual top down ruthless dictatorship with a reliance on the iron fist of the military crushing any dissent.  There's been a lot of news coverage about North Korea so I won't go over the details here.

The point is to demonstrate - artificially induced collapse has happened in several countries around the world.  It happened to Cuba, they choose a path of grass roots community oriented self reliance.  It happened in North Korea and they chose a path of iron fisted military dominance.

What will Greece choose?

BTW many of us think that the U.S. is not safe or immune from this sort of thing happening to us.  What will the U.S. choose when(if) it happens here? 

BTW I'm really fond of the Transition Town movement for the reasons just described.