The economic crisis in which we have been living has been especially acute in Greece. Due to a variety of internal and external factors, and the ever-presence of Goldman Sachs whenever there is a financial crisis, has turned Greek society upside down. The country’s credit card was cancelled and the government did what all neo-liberal governments do, they cut services for the middle and lower classes.
The resulting social unrest has led to an extremely volatile environment.
Herein lies an extremely valuable example of the idea of death and rebirth. Amongst the chaos and frenzy of a country’s life turned upside down comes a story of economic rebirth.
Greece’s alternative economy with bartering
19 January 2011 Last updated at 02:35 ET
Bartering networks have sprung up across Greece in an effort to create an alternative to cash.
Swapping services and goods is allowing for some flexibility and control over personal finances.
Malcolm Brabant from Athens.
So what are the relevant lessons to take away from this beautiful story of economic revival? I see these lessons:
- When human beings who are in need decide to come together and form supportive communities, the solutions they develop actually solve their problems
- It takes a crisis for people to be shocked out of their debt induced coma and ACT
- Little by little, as local communities develop solutions, they are able to replace fiat currency as the only medium of commerce
Another outcome that can only be observed in the long term is the enlightenment that will occur amongst the participants in this new economy. Even in a label conscious society such as Greece, the people will find that perhaps the iPhone 4 is not a necessary element in the quest for happiness.
“Social exclusion is becoming invisible”, as the founder of a time bank explained. Engaging in economic activity with your neighbors brings you out of that exclusion and gives you an opportunity to re-engage with people. The isolation that accompanies joblessness and economic exclusion is the greatest impediment to getting back on one’s feet.