Practical Resilience: Europe is at war. It’s not obvious until you know some history, but Europe is at war.
“Overconsumption is reducing our planet’s ability to support life. Seven of us exist for every person alive 200 years ago! Nuclear war, bioweapons, even plain old conflict are driven by resource scarcity.” - Vinay Gupta
Vinay Gupta | EdgeRyders | Vinay:HowtoLiveWiki | 17 May 2012
Europe is at war. It’s not obvious until you know some history, but Europe is at war. There are three critical pieces of information you need to master to understand this fully, and what it implies.
The first is that Spain and Greece very nearly had totally different political systems in the 20th century. Spain very nearly went Anarchist (not violent-chaotic, but without central control from government) but during the Spanish Civil War they were forced into Fascism. Greece very nearly went hard-line Communist after WW2 but was went down an entirely different path after the armed struggle.
Right now, both countries are clearly pre-revolutionary. Greece has school children passing out in class from hunger due to “austerity measures” and may be in the process of ditching the Euro so they can inflate the Drachma to devalue their currency and remove the weight of their debts - and sod whoever they owe the money to. Spain is at 50% youth unemployment and nearly 25% total unemployment, with 20% being the tradition unemployment figure associated with civil unrest.
Both of these societies fought wars for an alternative to capitalism, lost those wars to capitalism, and are now being shafted by capitalism. It’s time we seriously thought about what this might mean for the European Union, and our personal lives.
Distinguishing War and Revolution
The Libertarians have a very good analysis of war. They think of the fundamental human right as the right to “self-ownership” - that your body (and mind) are yours and entirely yours and nobody should be able to force you to do what you do not choose to do. As with many simple principles, this is subject to the Calculus of Competing Virtues. “Your freedom to swing your arm ends at the start of my nose” as the famous saying goes. A very great deal of effort is spent trying to square Libertarian self-ownership with, for example, planetary ecological limits - it’s not clear that a system which assumes the fundamental political truth is about human freedom is capable of navigating the extremely severe limits to action which appear to be necessary to protect the planet, for instance.
But back to the analysis. Libertarians model most political problems in terms of property rights, in terms of theft. Theft of property is theft of the Past, of the work you did to create or acquire something. Murder is theft of the Future, of all the future potentialities of the being killed. Imprisonment etc. are theft of the present, denying people freedom to do what they will with their property, their body and mind. This model is appealingly uni-polar, a single principle from which all (political) truth can be generated, and I don’t buy it, but it’s as useful as a flashlight in the dark when we want to ask what War fundamentally is, and Revolution to boot.
"War is the continuation of Politik by other means" - Carl von Clausewitz
In this analysis, War is when one State attempts to steal or destroy the property of another State.
Revolution is when the People of one State attempt to reassign property within that State.
Right now, Europe appears to be in a position where some countries are approaching Revolution. However, I think this is an inadequate political analysis - in fact, the truth comes much closer to war.
The problem is that the Euro does not belong to the Greeks or the Spanish - or even the Germans. Euros, individual units of currency may belong to them, but The Euro does not. The Euro is property of an entirely nebulous entity of uncertain political definition. The problem we have is that they are sloshing around the continent like water in a bath-tub, and the usual fiscal measures taken by governments to keep the water in their own national bucket are not working. Money lent to the Greeks accumulated interest, long bets did not pay off, and pretty soon they owe more than they have to nations they have no control of. Because the Euro is the Euro, they can’t use inflation to escape this trap which is the classic strategy, and we have an accidental economic war, in which Greek property is being reassigned to the Germans and many others by implosion, in an environment where EU membership requires them to keep their assets available for on the market at firesale prices. The good ship Europe sailed well in times of growth, but was never designed for Recession - any more than the Titanic was designed to stop Icebergs with its hull.
In a Revolution, the action is within nations. The property rights being reassigned are within a pre-existing national political unit. Although the revolutionary factions in Greece and Spain may see their struggles as purely national, the Euro is a shared asset of many governments, and everything which affects its destiny bridges borders. There is no way to confine the situation inside of national boundaries, any more than pollution in a river can be confined upstream.
We are all in this together, regardless of whether or not there are boots on the ground, and the unique confluence of nation-state interests bound together as the Euro is a unique political asset. There is no more National boundary on Revolution, it’s all War now.
Now let us consider our options here.
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