Every educated and concerned individual on the planet appears to be puzzling over the web of debt problem in Europe. Many instinctively know that because of our interconectedness the austerity package in Greece and the riots in Rome will be coming to a city near them soon unless this dilemma is solved. The grotesque web of debt graphic published on the BBC News website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15748696 is authoritative and clear. It shows that Greece owes to France, US, UK, Germany, Portugal and Italy and does this for each country.
We first need to understand that bailout packages aren’t bailouts really – they are just further loans. But anyone will know you can’t solve debt with more debt. Sooner or later the crisis is going to come back and each round it gets worse. And it is rather like the poor having to borrow from loan sharks to pay their interest on their complicated hire-purchase obligations – the further they get into debt the more interest they pay.
How come so many owe so much to so many? Companies, governments and individuals have been borrowing across borders for years. Why couldn’t they rely on their own country instead? Are there no boundaries between countries any more? Is capital to roam free across the globe in search of the best returns? Oh yes, in the current system it is. Borders mean little these days when it comes to capital flow.
So what to do? Put bankers and economists in to run Italy and Greece?
Einstein said you won’t solve the problem with the same thinking that created it. I have just read an article by a permaculture teacher on energy flows between living organisms. Instead of inviting bankers to their conference to solve the Eurozone debt dilemma, European leaders should have invited permaculturists. They would have learnt that all living systems have semi-permeable borders to control the material and energy flowing in and out. If too much energy (money) flows in the system expands and implodes. If too much energy flows out the system winds down and collapses. This is the principle of reciprocity.
There are other principles but the only one I will touch on here is the idea of holarchies. This, in contrast to hierarchies, means that in Nature there are wholes within wholes within wholes. Each whole-part has its integrity and each is constantly in negotiation with other whole-parts in a dynamic dance to maintain system balance. You can read more about holarchies at http://www.jaredbhobbs.com/holarchy-the-nested-hierarchy-of-holons/ and about the principles of living systems at http://www.lindaboothsweeney.net/thinking/principles
We will put aside the issue of the gigantic derivatives market for the moment. Suffice to say Merkel and Sarkosy in their proposal for a financial transaction tax are on the right path.
Now if we apply the holarchical organisational structure to currencies, we need currencies for small areas, currencies for larger areas and currencies for the whole globe. In an ideal system (and private corporations are still I am afraid still in charge of the issuing and controlling a country’s money supply), to ensure there is always the right amount of money the public body issuing each currency will be in a constant state of negotiation with the others. It brings complexity and resilience to a system.
So all this talk of “leaving the Euro” or “joining the Euro” might have to be replaced by other thinking. If we were to imitate Nature we would have a holarchical system. We would have currencies within currencies within currencies. So the Euro would co-exist with the drachma and the mark and the franc. Now, that will take some thinking out, but it is Nature’s model and we are part of Nature aren’t we?
There are many other critical questions like the ridiculous and unfair system where the global currency is effectively still the US dollar and the as yet unquestioned usurious money creation system that allowed all this compounding interest to take place. But let’s leave that for another time. Just get in the permaculturists!