Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.
- Rosa Luxemburg, "Junius Pamphlet" 1916

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Ecological causes of the chaos in Greece

Athens, Greece. February 2012. From

From Dan Bednarz, a policy analyst specializing in energy issues related to health care and public health, this interesting bit about underlying forces driving the social upheaval in Greece:

From the limits to growth perspective Greece is a harbinger of economic contraction and debt deleveraging that is a logical outcome of net energy decline –or the arrival of unaffordable energy prices- in industrial societies.  The energy status of Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Italy, all deep in debt, shows that each nation produces little or no domestic oil. Bluntly put: they have been borrowing to buy increasingly expensive oil; and the cost (oil was $10 a barrel in 1998, now it fluctuates around  $100 per barrel –and it can crash with further economic decline) now exceeds the potential for wealth and value generated by using the oil to manufacture goods and deliver services.  Greece, as one of the world’s energy poorest nations, is the canary of forced energy decline and, it follows, reaching the limits to growth.

In other words, the shrinking global supply of net energy, plus loan-sharking practices by European banks, drove Greece into the abyss. It wasn't lazy people sucking the tit of big government. Now, with Greece's systems for health care, commerce, and much else disintegrating, most of the population is being strangled by poverty, hunger, crime, and other symptoms of social and ecological collapse. Hence the explosion of violence in Greece this week, after the country's parliament passed another "austerity" plan that will leave the elite financial managers comfortably well off as the emaciated populace withers away.

In Greece, we are probably witnessing a preview of America later this decade or sometime next.


  1. Thanks for the update, Ed! I've not been paying enough attention to the Greek situation, but it bears watching. Sorry I haven't been around much; I don't know if I mentioned it, but I helped found a chapter of the Communist Party here in Eugene late in December, and organizing a brand new chapter of a political party, especially a nearly universally despised one, takes some doing. :P I'm hoping to write something about it for the blog shortly. Cheers!

  2. Hey Steve, no worries at all! I've been totally swamped myself, and I'm appallingly uninformed about the details of world events. I just try to keep an eye out every now and then.

    I would love to read about your organizing efforts! I hope your peak oil talk turned out okay, sorry I couldn't provide more detailed direction on sources. It seems like there's always some new update on production figures, discovery, field depletion, allegedly proven reserves, and so on, hard to keep up with it all.

    Take care and hang in there!