We’ve had ‘Signs of the Recession’, and then ‘Signs of the Depression’.
I propose a new thread, ‘Signs of the collapse of the State’.
This thread isn’t for signs of recession or depression, but signs that the State itself is entering distress. It’s early days yet, so the signs might not be so obvious. I thought it would be good to catalogue them to see how it all unravels.
The refusal of 600,000+ people to pay the household charge (civil disobedience)
Gulf between rich and poor widening (I read recently that societies where there is a large gap between rich and poor are likely to fall, like at the end of the Roman Empire)
Draconian tax grab under way
What really brought it home to me on many levels was what happened a couple of weeks ago. A council worker was fixing the road, but only a small portion of it. I enquired why he wasn’t fixing all of the road. Apparently, there was only funding to pay for a small portion. Here’s how the conversation went:
me: “why aren’t you doing all of the road?”
him: “we only have funding for this bit”
me: “why are you only doing that bit? - how do you choose which but to do - that bit is worse”
him: “it was paid for by the local councillor”
me: “out of tax payers’ money”
him: "yes. but it was allocated out of the local councillor’s budget. This is the way councillors buy votes. "
me: “why isn’t this bit being done”
him: “You’re not entitled to it. Everyone would be looking to get the road fixed if we did this bit too”
me: “And all those people should get it fixed too. I pay taxes…”
him: “I’m sick of hearing that. We all pay taxes. I pay more tax than you do, and my road isn’t being done”
me: “you’re probably being paid more than me, that’s why you’re paying more taxes”
him: [look of incredulity] “I should think that I’m being paid more than you!”
Now this really wound me up - he didn’t even know what I did for a living. He just expected that he should be paid more than me.
(Incidentally, as a self employed person I pay proportionally more taxes than he does)
How can a society like this survive?
Similar to the roads issue - it seems grass and hedging is cut far less frequently. Often very overgown by the time its attended to. I noticed a local rugby team trying to train in grass half way to their knee - i reckon they ll bring their own lawnmowers the next day.
What would a collapsed State look like? What would a sign of this be? Are there any examples of States collapsing before? I know Argentina had an economic collapse but the state is still there, maybe not as it was but it’s still there. When we talk about the collapse of the State are we talking about Somalia? I think this scenario would be highly improbable.
Well, we don’t even make the third category [alert, warning, moderate] according to the Failed States Index - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Failed_state. There’s a list of indicators there and some definitions. Some of the indicators (Chronic and sustained human flight, Uneven economic development along group lines) might in a qualified way be said to be happening here.
At the risk of derailing the thread, and I’m not indicating whether I subscribe to this position or not; Perhaps the concept of the Nation State, as it currently exists, that is, very much the modern revision of the medieval kingdom, has run its course. Maybe, in the post cold war, post European wars, post globalisation world, the future is the ‘super state’, with less ‘local’ democracy and representation, more centralised operation with a pooling of resources and what historically would have been considered sovereignty. Yes, it has overtones of Orwell’s 1984. Yes it could be seen as the old USSR or modern Russian Federation or even China, but it is where the US sits, arguably where Germany is and where the EU is attempting to get to. Historically, counties, provinces and other smaller ‘fifedoms’ have been joined together under strong rulers or for their leaders gain into kingdoms that later became modern nation states. Could it be that the collapse of the current state is just part of that evolution?
Thanks Hairy. I think we’re well on our way on indicator 4 - chronic and sustained human flight. We’ve well started on indicator 6 - Sharp and/or severe economic decline. On indicator 8 - Progressive deterioration of public services, it’s hard to tell if we’re on a downward slope or they were always just below par with the rest of Europe. The final indicator number 12 - Intervention of other states or external factors it looks like we are well on our way there but not as put in the description. Our fate is now the plaything of the European powers.
Consistently less month on month numbers in the labour force (I watch this figure, not unemployment)
Consistently rising debt.
Increasing taxes, stagnant wages, and rampant inflation
Changes in the way inflation is measured to cover it up.
Consistently increasing annual averaged energy costs for all fuels
You should check out the roads in the north. Substantially worse than here. I couldn’t help get the impression that things were beginning to fall apart there, especially since they were relatively good 10 years ago. It will take a bit of time for those effects to be seen here, given the relatively recent investment levels in infrastructure
I think you’re right. I think this evolution is not only a necessary evolutionary tendency due to much increased sophistication in organisational and technological function, but desirable too - really we are getting increased democracy, since the areas of decision get delegated to the most competent decision-maker. It is not democracy to ask someone about something he knows little about. And we are talking about a much evolved form of centralisation - it is called subsidiarity, and indeed it is a form of federalism.
In other words, as BH says, the state is not collapsing - it is evolving.
19 posts on this thread and six of them mention the state of the roads or the cutting of grass. That looks to me like an indicator that Ireland is quite some way from qualifying as a state in collapse - people who live in collapsing states tend to have other things on their mind.