Some time ago, I linked to the trailer of Banlieu 13: Ultimatum, and asked is this our future?
You may have thought I was being dramatic, but the economic data keeps on suggesting that it may not be far off. The US is effectively bankrupt at every level; the Automatic Earth bloggers are pretty good at tracking the numbers, and yesterday’s entry is particularly sobering (skip past the first part about the Arizona shootings; the bulk of the post is about the financial state of US states, counties and cities).
There’s one report they reproduce that contains the following quote: “Clearly the markets don’t think we’re Argentina, but we should send them a signal that they are right, that we will address the issue.” That’s kind of on the money. I spent a week in Buenos Aires in the autumn of 2001. I loved it; it was a beautiful city, full of elegant people. Clearly, there was a fair bit of money around; the shops were packed, the tango was fantastic, and everyone was dressed to the nines. A month later, their economy collapsed. There’s an inhabitant of BA called Ferfal, who blogs about life following the crash, and a recent post of his is worth a read: Life in Argentina, 9 years after the 2001 Collapse. Remember, Buenos Aires was very definitely a first-world city.
Today’s headlines in the UK are all about the record, and unexpected rise in prices. They talk about ‘inflation’, which is a bit misleading, since inflation is caused by an increase in the money supply. Despite quantitative easing, that isn’t what’s happening here; these price increases are being caused by rising energy (read: oil) prices, plus expensive food due to climatic events. Unfortunately, these factors are only going to get worse. All the figures I read suggest that global oil supplies are likely to drop off a cliff around 2015; demand will still be increasing, so prices will go through the roof. That’s when we’re likely to get our ‘Argentina experience”…
Hence (one reason for) the new focus on systema: it’s easy to teach, it’s effective, and its links to theatre and dance make it accessible to a wide variety of people. Unfortunately, the Chinese martial arts would be harder to sell to a population undergoing extreme economic and social stress, whereas I’m convinced that systema, properly packaged, could become a social glue.
We’ll find out, of course. Perhaps I’m being too negative, and it would be far from the first time. However, if in 5 years’ time I’m right, then I’ll be ready. If not, I’ll still have lots of useful skills!