People who control governments and want to maintain their positions would and could make the decision to do so if they felt it to be jeopardized (by people not paying their debts and paying back what they owe them for stuff that they’ve bought, etc.).
As you’ve said, it’s happened before. It could happen again. It wouldn’t be the first morning that I’d be worried about. It would be the following ones.
At the moment in socialist Europe the way it is that even those who don’t work get incomes. Some of them get incomes more than those who would work for less. There is actually a strong impetus at low earning levels in this country to choose not to work and to enjoy relatively better conditions (in some respects, not all admittedly).
So it’s actually those who are unemployed that are holding onto power. They’ve become used to handouts. And the receiving of them. They are likely to vote and to swing in a political way to those who ensure their payments.
If unemployment goes to 50% (we’re near enough to that already in this country if you consider unemployment without age boundaries). Note that we’ve got more people not working than we do who are (not necessarily unemployed (i.e. include children, the sick, the old age etc), but the economic end point is essentially the same).
It’s a very sad state of affairs.