"The reason I'm no longer a doomer is simply that I got tired of being wrong. And I started to feel contempt for other doomers who shamelessly made the same wrong predictions year after year."I can understand that; I've tried to call out what I call "peak oil derp" over the years.
But I think it's less about being wrong than the fact that people misunderstood what collapse was and how it unfolds. Ran's right when he says people's predictions about what would happen were all over the map and hard to pin down. But were the kollpasniks really wrong? Surveying the global scene just now, it seems like they should be taking a victory lap instead. Bringing this to mind was this article yesterday in The Guardian using the 'C' word: Greek economy close to collapse as food and medicine run short
The survival of the Syriza coalition, formed just over five months ago to repudiate five years of austerity programmes, was in doubt as Greece started to suffer shortages of basic provisions, including the sale of vital drugs in pharmacies nationwide.
Food staples, such as sugar and flour, were also fast running out on Friday as consumers started to feel the effect of the restrictions.
“We have shortages,” said Mary Papadopoulou, who runs a pharmacy in the picturesque district of Plaka beneath the ancient Acropolis. “We’ve run out of thyroxine [thyroid treatment] and unless things change dramatically we’ll be having a lot more shortages next week.”
Greek islands, where thousands of holidaymakers headed this week, have also been hit, with popular Cycladic destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini reporting shortages of basic foodstuffs. More than half of Greece’s food supplies – and the vast majority of pharmaceuticals – are imported, but with bank transfers now banned, companies are unable to pay suppliers.
Queues were reported at every cash machine in Athens on Friday night and business groups warned that the economic shutdown in the week since Tsipras called the referendum had already caused lasting damage to the economy.
“Imports, exports, factories, firms, transport – everything is frozen,” said Vasilis Korkidis, who heads the national Confederation of Hellenic Commerce. “The only sectors in demand are food and fuel.”For another take on the ground, see this: Grexit Crisis (June/July 2015): What hardships are Greek citizens facing under the ongoing economic crisis? (Quora):
Believe me, that is a big difference: young greeks today are put in front of an immigration decision, which is surprisingly attractive for *skilled workers*, the very people that the country needs to increase its competitiveness. Please, take a note of this.
Surprisingly, this immigration wave is sustained by the very aid that is provided to the country by its EU partners; unfortunately, that aid pays back for the country's past (hello German taxpayers, please check that line out, because much of the expenses are for french & german banks) rather than the country's future. This is more serious than it appears at first sight: a continuous recession has increased (registered) unemployment to 27% and completely drained economic activity in so many forms. If you walk central streets in Athens, you might be shocked to find more than half of the shops being closed (yes, that kind of closed) in a major commercial street.
The only reason that society still holds together (whatever it holds) is due to family ties - other europeans could be surprised about how many people may be assisted by an old-ager's pension... that's why that is a battleground.
Now, focusing on the hardships, here's a list of what I've seen evidence of:
* wages compression (this is the "better" outcome, really)
* living below poverty line (choose electricity or bread)
* missing mortgage payments, due to any of the above
* losing a house due to the above, even after several years of faithful pay
* people who maintain businesses have to make the arduous decision of "choosing" between paying their obligations and firing an experienced employee. It might seem like a rational choice but it's not that simple in a country that provides inadequate unemployment benefits.
I kept the worst for last:
You might have seen homeless people in many other countries and have become familiar to the view, but this was not the Greece in which I grew up...back then, there was NO chance a homeless would ever be seen in daylight approaching a garbage bin for food. People would jump from all corners to prevent such thing happening. Unfortunately, the preventive forces of society are no longer functioning since quite a while, due to massive poverty...
The latter picture stands in sharp contract with the (technically, more poor) Greece in which I grew up, which has been a jewel under the sun, when it came to social cohesion.
Something is wrong with finance in the modern world, that's pretty clear; and, something is seriously wrong with persistence to fix the numbers, when the humanitarian aspects are left on their own. It's simply called inhumane?
I wonder how many and who of other Europeans think alike in this.I've just been rereading Dmitry Orlov's Five Stages of Collapse, and it's eerily spot-on to what the Greeks are experiencing right now.
Sounds like collapse to me, doesn't it? And many experts are saying that it's only a matter of time before much of Southern Europe will follow suit.
I wrote What If A Collapse Happened and Nobody Noticed? a couple years ago now. My predictions have held up pretty well. Back when I wrote that, Greece and the Levant were arguably in better shape than they are now. Back then, I didn't mention ISIS because it wasn't even a thing (at least not in the news) and now look at it. Japan continues to stagnate and shrink; the reason the crisis in Greece is as acute as it is is because Greece happens to be in the uncomfortable position of not having its own currency (compare also to the U.S. and Great Britain).
A few weeks ago I wrote about Nigeria which was undergoing something that looked an awful lot like the Peak Oil predictions that the doomers made for America. And similar to the Middle East, this week has seen a pretty bloody spate of attacks in Nigeria by the Muslim fundamentalist Boko Haram movement.
Boko Haram attack caps week of bloodshed in Nigeria (BBC)
Greece, Nigeria, Syria, Iraq. And those are just the most acute cases. The list of failed states has grown since 2005-6 (Peak Petroleum)
Even China, the bright, shining example of prosperity through globalized capitalism, has been hit by a stock market slide which has been almost entirely unreported in the West for some odd reason:
China share slump: Dealers to spend $20bn to halt slide (BBC)
I am, of course, anxiously awaiting the results of Greferendum, although the next few days in Greece will be terrible whoever wins. But we shouldn’t lose sight of other risks facing the world. Some of us have been worrying quite a lot about China — an economy that at market exchange rates is 40 times the size of Greece, and is severely unbalanced. And in the past month, mainly in the past few days, the Shanghai stock index has fallen almost 30 percent. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the feared crisis has come, but it’s definitely not a good sign.Meanwhile in China (Paul Krugman)
Closer to home, Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, is also on the verge of default. Many people have had to leave to find work, even though the rich are doing just fine.* Meanwhile, in the U.S. "recovery":
Here is the reason to be somewhat happy with today's jobs report: In June, U.S. employers added 223,000 workers to their payrolls, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics...Also, the unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent, from 5.5 percent...Here are the reasons to be less happy with today's jobs report: pretty much everything else. The labor-force participation rate suddenly dropped to a new post-recession low of 62.6 percent, after holding more or less steady for roughly a year. (That's part of why the unemployment rate fell—a smaller fraction of people in the job market.) The last time participation was this low was 1977, when women were still entering the workforce.Today’s Jobs Report: Cloudy With a Chance of Labor Market Slack (Slate)
It's worth noting that the peak oil movement was out front in arguing that debt defaults were going to wrack the global economy as the ability of the global economy to grow could not keep pace with the exponential growth of debt. I've expressed skepticism that the underlying cause is Peak Oil rather than just the regular crashes of capitalism that happen for a variety of reasons (elite greed, bubbles and manias, economic shocks, debt repudiation, etc.). I could be wrong though, and others like Ugo Bardi make a case that it is related.
What's wrong weren't predictions of collapse, just what it would look like.
People underestimated the ability of extend and pretend. People underestimated the ability of elites to suck wealth into imperial centers even as the living standards of most people deteriorate. People underestimated how normal it all looks from one day to the next. It's less of a wildfire than a glacier. It's like walking across a minefield - if you're not the one who steps on the mine, you just keep pressing forward, and avoid looking too hard to what's going on around you.
But does anyone doubt it *is* happening. How many years have we been waiting for "recovery," at least seven or so?
Greece has rejected the harsh austerity terms offered by the banking cartel. This could mean an exit from the Euro. If the Euro goes down, this could be the end of the many-century long march toward larger and more unified systems, and the beginning of the breaking up and disunification that is one of the harbingers of the breakdown of the existing centralized social order, along with movements around the world toward separatism and secession. As Orlov points out, the nation-state is a very recent creation with a fairly shallow track record historically.
Finally, somewhat related, I've claimed that Stoicism is the ideal philosophy for the age of unravelling that we are going thought. The BBC has an article on that very subject: Putting the Greek back into Stoicism. See also Why Stoicism is one of the best mind-hacks ever (Aeon)
*Ironically, I bumped into a former colleague recently who is moving TO Puerto Rico. He's from Wisconsin, but his wife is from P.R. and actually moved back there recently when she got a job. He's planning on selling the house and moving down there soon. So, again, everyone's circumstance is different.