Friday, January 30, 2009

Romania to have violent street protests

"In a few months there will be people in the streets, that much is certain," said Luca Niculescu, a media executive in Bucharest. "Every day we hear about another factory shutting or moving overseas. There is a new government that has not shown itself too effective. We have got used to very high growth rates. It's an explosive cocktail."
-From this article in the Observer a couple of weeks ago

Blimey. Jason Burke is an excellent journalist who until recently was the most informed man on Al Qaeda, Afghanistan, etc etc. I have no idea why he's been redeployed to Europe, especially when it seems that this article is just a bunch of vague possibilities strung together and presented as some kind of prescient "be very afraid" type article.

2 comments:

Gadjo Dilo said...

Oh, great, that's thank the person who introduced the phrase "explosive cocktail" here.

Rick Spurway said...

There are many reasons why I feel sure that there are serious problems ahead for all of Europe - including Romania. Yet, the Romanian media are not reporting much of what is happening globally. In most Romanian shopping malls life seems to continue regardless. Reading the international media, and speaking to friends around the world, it is fascinating to watch the world falling apart so fast. We seem to be rushing headlong into a huge black hole and the bottom is nowhere in sight. For me, and others I know, the solution is becoming obvious. The world must stop thinking about growth as being fundamental to our survival. Stepping back from our little planet for a moment, it's obvious that continued growth will eventually outstrip supply in everything. What we need is ZERO growth.

In much of Romania many people exist within a totally sustainable environment. There is a continuous cycle of agriculture where farmers reinvest in the land which supports them. Yet, our governments are determined to try and maintain the financial structures which have finally proved to be unsustainable. They are throwing the very last fuel on the fire. When we have lost everything, life will not be so easy for anyone. We have already mostly lost all the old survival skills - having depended for generations on fast food, instant this and that, with a myriad of labour-saving devices, and of course, seemingly unlimited energy resources. The way I see it, we need a totally new system - urgently. Our structures of life are leading us like lemmings towards the cliff-edge. We need to apply the brakes and stop.

If I was operating at a level of national security - and most developed countries will have an organisation such as the American National Security Agency (NSA) - then I would be deeply worried right now. The potential for World War 3 must have escalated beyond belief over the past few months. For sure, at the moment, nationalist reflexes are tearing the European Union apart. Yet, in the long run, all the resources we normally assume to be necessary for our survival, suddenly become meaningless when you assume ZERO growth.

If we sat down and had a long hard look at ourselves, and our own personal survival, we would realise that so much of our lives are spent in trying to impress others with material objects we do not really need. For example, winding the clock back, there were times not very long ago when people were quite happy without cell-phones, cars, trains, exotic fruits, plastics, telephones, and even television etc etc. Yet, we are addicted to many of these items as though our lives really depend on them. Whereas I feel the opposite is true. In reality, all these luxury items have served to make us less flexible, less imaginative, less creative, and less independent. We really COULD do without them - if we really had to. As you may know, the British Channel 4 TV is bankrupt. People are saying "we do not need television now, we need roofs over our heads and food to eat. So let Channel 4 die". As a child, I remember reading endless books, playing with simple toys, running in the fields, and climbing trees. My imagination was running free. Nowadays, young people sit in front of all kind of displays watching irrelevant, sometimes violent cartoons, and playing mindless computer-games which turn them into addicts before they are 10 years-old. Over the years, since it came into being, television has been fun, and often extremely creative. The BBC still exists without any advertising, but today 99% of television in the world is designed to brainwash the public into becoming good consumers. To make them feel dissatisfied with themselves and their lives, and make them want to spend money to improve the situation. Which I feel is a very negative influence. Yet this sophisticated brainwashing technique has worked, perfectly – especially in Romania. Nowadays, the programs are merely gaps between the advertising and publicity. And so television has largely driven the economies of the world - increasing GROWTH to where we are now. In Eastern Europe the levels of selfishness and greed are shocking. I feel the lack of control of television is very much to blame. Yet, in rural Romania, there are people who are still largely untouched by materialism, and who are mostly self-sufficient. It is extraordinary that this is still wonderfully true within the European Union. Despite this, there is a general hostility towards the farming community, who are mostly forgotten by Bucuresti.

At the moment the world governments are in crisis because they feel they must represent the needs of the financial community and big business - which are falling apart before their eyes. So, what money still exists, is being redeployed to save big business. Meanwhile, there is a dramatic deterioration of public finances across the European Union, and I read also in parts of the USA, such as California - where the State is threatening to hold back Government taxes. Soon, there will be no money left to pay for basic services like public transportation, highway maintenance, garbage collection, water supply, and the police. People need a massive re-education to learn to survive through their own efforts, and be dependent on nobody. Self-sufficiency, as is still practiced in the Romanian countryside, and particularly in Transylvania, is fast becoming the order of the day. We need to start growing our own food again. But all this assumes that everyone will behave nicely under stress. Which experience shows, we will not. There will be an increase in crime for sure. It is already happening. If you cannot get what you urgently need to survive, then you will be tempted to steal from others. So, I predict that as we slide ever onwards down the slippery slope, we will see draconian new laws introduced to protect those who HAVE, from those who HAVE NOT.

At the end of the day, each developed nation has sustained its economy through globalisation – with the endless shipping of resources and products from around the planet to satisfy local needs. I am constantly amazed at the food products available in Romanian supermarkets which have been flown at vast expense across Europe and even from as far away as South America. It is a hash reality that most developed nations do not possess the local resources to sustain their national economies, or the lives of their many citizens. And here is the cause of all these problems - too many people. The planet has almost reached the point of saturation - which is leading very fast towards starvation. We are running out of food production capacity - and even water. And if we can't pay for the shipment of food, law and order will break down very fast. Which is why there are suggestions of rioting on our streets.

But the situation is still very different in Romania than from other countries. It is not necessary to import so much food into Romania. There is fertile farmland that is totally under-utilised. The only reason we are forced to buy imported goods in Romanian supermarkets is that the owners are vast Western European businesses, who are committed to selling products they acquire internationally in bulk. So Romanians are being encouraged to become good consumers of Western European products to keep Western European businesses alive. Also, it is a sorry fact that a large number of Romanians believe that everything from "outside" MUST be better. Which is really not true. The truth is that Romania could be totally self-sufficient in food.... and water. Transylvania holds the largest reserves of spring water in the whole of Europe. It is a precious resource.

So, there is no real need for rioting on Romanian streets. If the Romanian Government stopped thinking about importing so much from outside the country and concentrated more on locally produced food and clothing, then the country would be more self-sufficient. But I sense there is too much self-interest here. The Dacia car workers are in a sense correct to demand the protection of a local industry - even though it is dependent on investment from outside the country. But there is no justification in sustaining car imports - just to throw a lifeline to the many car showrooms in Romania. There are clearly enough cars in Romania already, and it is not necessary to change a car every year, just to keep up appearances with our neighbours. Romanians have been quick to become good consumers, and the marketing business must be proud of what they have achieved in Romania so quickly. But this is not the way forward, in my opinion. The world is crying out for ZERO growth, and in parts of Romania a sustainable lifestyle has been practiced for generations. The time has come to feel proud of Romanian agriculture, and see it as a way forward for Europe. Not something backward. There is a huge prejudice to overcome, by people in Romania who feel they have left "primitive" agriculture behind for a better life in the city - and maybe outside Romania too. The future is not in the urban jungle of concrete and asphalt, but in the beautiful peacefulness of the Romanian countryside. Romanians should feel proud of this. Most Romanians have their roots in the countryside, and are still part of it. They should try to keep one foot firmly on the Romanian earth, because when times get rough in the urban environment, the countryside will be the best place to survive.

I was speaking recently to an energy expert in London. He advises governments in energy strategies. With increasing populations, he is very concerned about the global decline in energy resources. Despite the recent hype over plummeting prices at the pumps, the harsh reality is that we are fast running out of oil and gas - which is why energy is becoming very political – especially in Russia. I asked this energy consultant where he would live in the face of declining resources. He told me about a composite photo of Europe at night, which showed all the energy hotspots across Europe as glowing clusters of light. He said the bright areas would suffer the most, because they are dependent totally on energy for their survival. The darker areas are the ones to seek out as a place to live – because they are less dependent. And guess what, Romania is much darker than most of Western Europe. See here.