Tag Archives: ecological setting

A Beautiful Timeline Visualisation: TimelineJS by VéritéCo

Last week, as I was looking for good websites and twitter users to follow the students’ movement in Quebec, its support by and links to the other worldwide opposition movements, and to try to assess how it could evolve, I found this really useful, informative and beautiful website displaying a timeline of the events done by Xavier K. Richard, @xkr.

Today, I found that this timeline, or rather the incredible tool to make such a timeline, TimelineJS, created by VéritéCo, is a free web-based application. I could not resist the temptation to try it, continuing on the series of timelines created for “the Tragic Events that strike Everstate.” It is truly very easy to use (just use the Google spreadsheet template provided on the website, and enter your data instead of those given as example), then follow the directions given on the TimelineJS website and, finally, embed it on your website. You can include videos and photographs, and, compared with the two others that were previously tried, you can create as many timelines as you want, which is a great advantage.

Here is the result:

Garden_delights-1 3 part 2014

2018 – 2023 EVT – From Grievances to Political Mobilisation (Mamominarch)

Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. To face the various difficulties and widespread discontent, in a first scenario, Everstate’s governing bodies implement the Mamominarch programme of drastic reduction of state spending over five years through devolution, privatisation and outsourcing. By 2018 EVT, the result is involution, with a fragilised governance including and implying the rise of lawlessness domestically, an abandoned mastery over international security, an inefficient economy and, as consequence, a rising insecurity for most Everstatans. The first set of tragic events - a tornadoes outbreak followed by a heat wave – that hits the West of Everstate soon becomes a complex catastrophe with dramatic direct and indirect impacts.

(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).

Faced with destruction and a difficult and very slow reconstruction, Westerners are definitely dissatisfied with the way their political authorities, entrusted with the mission to ensure their security, have dealt with the complex catastrophe that befell them. Many are forced to leave as their survival is threatened and start moving towards other areas. However, they nevertheless expect recognition of their hardship, help and solidarity when they arrive somewhere else.

Yet, nothing is organised nationally. The way they are greeted varies greatly according to areas and even towns. In some cities, local authorities engineer emergency support for newcomers in the name of national solidarity, while everything is done to help them find temporary shelter and work. In others, only family network, when they exist, are active, and the refugees are not only ignored, but also rejected as they are seen as swelling the mass of the poor, homeless and unemployed, as potential criminals, as people lowering wages when they end up taking any job to survive. In those areas, as the refugees remind inhabitants of a selfishness they do not want to confront and of problems they want to deny, rejection hardens quickly.

All Everstatans, finally, feel unjustly treated, one way or another, which only feeds grievances. Those multiply as central political authorities do not acknowledge problems, give no recognition, and do nothing in a timely way. The victims are not supported in those areas where they are best welcomed and those who help them are left to their own device and funding, while the central administrative machine and policies continue as if nothing had happened, sometimes thus enhancing difficulties. Elsewhere fear is not assuaged, its roots are not dealt with. Notably, no one wants to face the fact that the refugees have become a disturbing symbol of a dysfunctional and outdated model of socio-political organisation, when so much hope had been invested in the Mamominarch system.

Over the summer, oil prices surge, with some spikes even reaching 200$ a barrel, as a result of renewed international tensions in the Middle East. This trend intensifies the overall situation in Everstate, as for most Everstatans, save the richest and best connected, life becomes increasingly difficult. Indeed, whatever the efforts the people have previously made, the result of their actions to improve or to the least stabilise their life is reduced to naught by the severe disturbance implied by the energy price. As, furthermore, the food produced in Everstate has become suspect – and sometimes rightly so – because of the industrial disasters, many Everstatans feel that they are left with only two bad choices: either starve because they cannot afford imported food, or kill themselves with polluted food.

The legitimacy of the Mamominarch system is now overtly questioned, and all remember that the governing bodies that decided to convene the Mamominarch commission were already facing similar problems, which only contributes to further de-legitimize the system.

The rising tension spreads throughout the whole country. If all have grievances, those accumulated complaints tend to coalesce and join along different fault lines according to areas and groups, because there is not anymore one national situation but many, notably as a result of the devolution (spatial variations) and of the privatizations (end of the concept and practice of public good). With time, events and a large variety of responses, the conditions have grown to be very diverse.

External observers are surprised when, building on the tension existing in 2012 EVT, then on those that simmered over the past five years of Mamominarch system, and triggered by the recent events, a Movement for the Independence of the Trueland, a region covering the South-East of Everstate (notably the mouth of the river and the seaside), is created and rapidly takes off. The usual inflow of money that used to bring wealth, and, during the last years, release, to the country with tourism is abruptly halted by the complex catastrophe, as tourists fear coming to Everstate. The inhabitants of the seaside area being relatively richer were thought as much calmer and less likely to mobilise politically. But this is without considering the sudden relative deprivation they feel, which is, furthermore, from their point of view, none of their making.  Other small areas, sometimes only cities, follow suit and also start voicing their desire for local independence and direct membership to the Regional Union.

Yet, not all citizens of those areas share the same views, and those who are dissatisfied with the two main political parties, spearheaded by Occupy Everstate, respond by creating a Movement for the Renewal of Everstate, which is soon joined by large parts of the Westerners, by the refugees and many in those towns that put solidarity first. The CEO of Evernet, as reported by international media, decides to join the movement she sees as prefiguring the future. She offers the technical support of Evernet, providing even funding and sometimes directly hardware to the Renewers, as they are soon called, when those cannot afford anymore access to social networks considering the degraded overall situation.

Meanwhile, Novstate and its friends companies make sure they remain officially neutral, offering their services to all, while they continue promoting the system that made their fortune.

Many of those joining the new Movements did not belong, previously, to any political party. They had even often abstained during previous elections. Yet, the two main parties, the conservative and the social-democrat, with still their headquarters in the capital, start losing sympathisers. The classical elite groups remain faithful to the two traditional parties, which have created the Mamominarch system, and start worrying about the evolution of the situation. First, the Western quagmire has marred the international ideological standing of the Mamominarch system, which seriously limits the opportunities offered to the elite.

Then, those new Movements imply a loss of power for the two parties that constitute the usual political framework of the elite, indeed the way its members think and live. The elite groups initially try to dismiss the new Movements because they do not enter the familiar right/left, conservative/social-democrat way to think and thus, certainly, do not correspond to anything serious… yet the political mobilisation is there, as well as the grievances and the tension and altogether they completely deny everything the elite has ever believed in and stood for. The new Movements have not even tried to include them.

The Renewers then pick up on a report according to which a terrorist group has infiltrated a Novcybio laboratory in its home country a few weeks ago, stolen some deadly pathogens and manipulated others, mixing them with some of the genes experimented. Considering the existence of Novcybio Everstate, the news goes viral through social networks, among Renewers initially.

To be continued

Garden_delights-1 3 part 2014

2018 – 2023 EVT – Complex Catastrophes (Mamominarch)

(update 14 Feb 2014) Any type of similar natural events and catastrophes can be imagined to strike countries, as, for example, storms and floods in Western Europe or snow storms in the U.S. during the Winter 2013-2014.

Last weeks’ summary: In 2012 EVT, Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of governance and of the modern nation-state) knows a rising dissatisfaction of its population. To face the various difficulties and widespread discontent, in a first scenario, Everstate’s governing bodies implement as policies the conclusions of the Mamominarch Commissiona programme of drastic reduction of state spending over five years through devolution, privatisation and outsourcing. By 2018 EVT,  the result is involution, with a fragilised governance including and implying the rise of lawlessness domestically, an abandoned mastery over international security, an inefficient economy and, as consequence, a rising insecurity for most Everstatans. A series of tragic events then strike Everstate. 

(The reader can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab – a navigating map of posts is available to ease reading).

The tornadoes outbreak that hits the Western part of Everstate in May, as well as the other tragic events of the year, results of global pressures accumulated over the years, including in terms of ecological setting.*

Two of those tornadoes  are deadly. They are rated EF5 on the Enhanced Fujita Scale and have a very long track reaching almost 70km.

Hundreds of power transmission towers are taken down, and, as a result, electricity outage occurs in a large part of Everstate’s West.** The scope of civilian disaster is huge. So much of the population is hit. To the fatalities, casualties and people unaccounted for, must be added people finding themselves overnight without shelter. Furthermore, as all communications are severed, evaluation and first emergency is terribly difficult. The tornadoes also hit two industrial sites in this recently industrialised part of Everstate. A corner of the dam of a reservoir containing liquid waste collapses, releasing toxic muds. First, the wave of mud reaches a nearby small town, miraculously spared by the tornadoes and then spills inexorably to reach the Everstatan main river.***

Not far from there, one of the storages of an agrochemical company is ground to pieces. Highly toxic levels of pesticides are released in the air.****

Panic presides to the outbreak and to the first days. Then comes the extreme difficulty of dealing with “complex catastrophes.” In the words of Paul N. Stockton, the assistant Secretary of Defense for Homeland Defense and Americas’ Security Affairs,

“Complex catastrophes differ from normal disasters in two ways. First, the scale of destruction is vastly greater… Second,… complex catastrophes may create cascading, region-wide failures of critical infrastructure, starting with the disruption of the commercial electric power grid….This loss of power could create cascading effects on communications and other critical infrastructure. From a public safety perspective, the most immediate concern might be the impact on municipal water systems, ..  Transportation infrastructure could be degraded as well; gas and diesel fuel pumps, for example, depend on electric power to function. While many hospitals and other facilities critical to disaster response efforts have backup diesel-powered generators, we anticipate few will have sufficient fuel on hand to offset power outage lasting weeks to months, and that companies responsible for resupplying them could face a radical mismatch between supply and demand.” in Stockton, ”Ten Years After 9/11: Challenges for the Decade to Come,” Homeland Security Affairs, Volume 7, The 9/11 Essays (September 2011).*****


Locally, as the Western areas have never known any natural catastrophe, are not located in a seismic zone, and are not considered as sensitive defense-wise, no preparedness for any natural or even man-made emergency exists.

Novstate, which is contracted for the management of crisis and emergency response nationally, should have had at least the beginning of an emergency plan ready, and should start implementing it. However, it is without counting with a few crucial factors. First, the electricity outage considerably slows and delays all communications, evaluations, transport and logistics, while rapidly increasing hazards to the population as hospitals, notably, will soon run out of fuel for their backup diesel-powered generators. Second, Novstate has not planned for any type of such multi-risk emergencies spreading on large areas, both urban and rural. It has mainly focused on terrorist attacks in the major Everstatan cities. Finally, the involvement of many different companies responsible for so many types of infrastructures, including hospitals, and in charge of various outsourced services creates a highly complex picture of independent intervening actors that have to be identified, organised, and put to work on an emergency, solidarity and not for-profit basis. Furthermore, Novstate’s mandate includes no specific authority to act in such a way. Meanwhile, the political authorities who do have this legitimacy have now to do with a reduced Everstatan central administrative staff, soon overwhelmed by a catastrophe of a type and scale never envisioned.

Finally, after 4 days, prompted by international calls from his counterparts and from the Regional Union, Everstate’s Prime Minister finally asks for international help. Meanwhile, thousands of Everstatans lost their lives; the Everstatan main river has become severely polluted, toxic mud spreading towards the agricultural South and the touristic mouth of the river. The toxic dust has spread with the very strong winds and the full extent of damages will only be discovered with time, but have created health hazards for human beings, biodiversity and most probably impacted soil and water.

Again, the initial absence of overall coordination runs contrary to the efficiency of the assistance, and the Regional Union, incorporating in the lead team Everstatan regional civil servants to respect Everstate’s sovereignty and the Novstate executive responsible for emergencies, has to firmly take over.

Thanks to international help, the crisis is finally contained, but it takes a few months before such services as electricity, which were previously taken for granted, are fully reestablished. Worse damages such as epidemics are avoided. Yet, the terrible environmental impacts are there.  Furthermore, the drought that follows dries up the river helping spread the toxic mud changed in dust over even larger areas of the country.

The Everstatan quagmire has highlighted the high difficulty of complex catastrophes’  management and intervention, notably in a context of privatised infrastructures and outsourcing. It is reviewed and criticised internationally by multiple instances. As a result, Everstate’s model begins to be seriously questioned, which has indirect negative effects on the export of services, as the Everstatan Mamominarch-type of knowledge and skills is now considered as inadequate. Yet, Novstate manages to turn the tragedy to its advantage, and can now sell its unique expertise.

The overall direct and indirect cost of the tornadoes outbreak is very high. Security has definitely not been ensured and, seeing the slow rate of reconstruction, the absence of hope of much help considering the already overall difficult situation of Everstate before the tornadoes, Western refugees start moving towards other areas.

To be continued

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* According to Munich-Re, “A sequence of devastating earthquakes and a large number of weather-related catastrophes made 2011 the costliest year ever in terms of natural catastrophe losses….With some 820 loss-relevant events, the figures for 2011 were in line with the average of the last ten years. 90% of the recorded natural catastrophes were weather-related – however, nearly two-thirds of economic losses and about half the insured losses stemmed from geophysical events, principally from the large earthquakes. Normally, it is the weather-related natural catastrophes that are the dominant loss drivers.” Munich-Re, “Review of Natural Catastrophes in 2011,” 4 January 2012. Download pdf.

** The video was published on Nov 17, 2011 by AssociatedPress and posted on YouTube: “A tornado ravaged three neighborhoods in the outskirts of the Bolivian city of Cochabamba, damaging dozens of private homes and warehouses but was not responsible for any deaths. (Nov. 17).” For a recent example of a very destructive tornadoes outbreak, see the U.S. 2011 Super Outbreak, which occurred from April 25 to 28, 2011.

*** Inspiration for this part comes from the Ajka alumina plant accident in Hungary (4 October 2010) – The video on YouTube ”VÖRÖSISZAP” – “RED SLUDGE” was uploaded by  on Oct 14, 2010.

**** The idea came from the sadly famous Bophal disaster in India (2–3 December 1984). Watch “Seconds From Disaster – Bhopal nightmare [Full Episode 45:05],” National Geographic Channel.

***** Stockton also emphasises that local authorities would need to ask for (in the case of the U.S., federal) help.

“Responding to those requests in a timely manner could create complex challenges for the department [of defense] in sourcing the requested capabilities, transporting them, and then providing for their reception, staging, onward movement, and integration in a severely disrupted environment.”

Featured image: Part of the third part of the Triptych The Garden of Earthly delights by Bosch via Wikimedia Commons

Garden_delights-1 3 part 2014

2013 – 2018 EVT – Tragic events

The tragic events that strike Everstate are instances of the various conditions presiding to Everstate’s destiny, considering what has been done, or not, globally, regionally and within Everstate. The same set of events will be used to stress test each scenario (respecting, of course, the logic of the scenario, in case it impacts the plausibility of the event), starting with the Mamominarch scenario. Keeping in mind the importance of design and delivery of product, two web-applications to present timelines have also been tested in this post (see pictures below, click or use embedded app – warning: the embedded app returns an error message on tablets and mobiles, sorry, just skip it until the text).*

A typical year

Pressures and events that could take place in the short to medium-term future (up to 10 years).

  • In May, tornadoes, which, previously, had never occurred in Everstate, devastate for a few days some parts of the West. A few cities are badly hit. (1)
  • Tornadoes are followed by a 6 months long heat wave and drought. (2)
  • During the same summer, oil prices surge with some spikes even reaching 200$ a barrel. (3)
  • Novcybio is a foreign international company developing new biotechnologies; an Everstatan company, Novcybio Everstate, has various commercial and industrial relations with Novcybio. In August, global media report that a terrorist group has infiltrated a Novcybio laboratory in its home country, stolen some deadly engineered pathogens and manipulated some of the genes experimented, altering and recombining the DNA sequence of some of the transgenic plants created. (4)
  • In October, a new episode of the global financial crisis starts. (5)
  • In November a war starts in the Middle East.

Ideally, up-to-date and available scientific knowledge should guide the choice of events and the design of their occurrence. The related variables in the initial model (e.g. ecological setting, natural new events/conditions/evolution, new external military threats, etc.), which are actually cluster variables, could themselves be developed as specific models for each issue. The different models could then be synthesised to obtain a better understanding and foresight capability. For example, what we know of sea level rise could be linked to the model developed here. Ideally, assuming sufficient resources, we should aim towards the creation of such synthesised models.

Most of the time, when impacts are envisioned, it tends to be done according to only one perspective; in the case of environmental changes, this means most of the time direct costs, sometimes with a larger economic perspective. Even current fashionable approaches through vulnerability and resilience tend not to be holistic enough, sometimes giving up on foresight and warning, most of the time oblivious of political and geopolitical dynamics. Such partial approaches are absolutely insufficient. Indeed, as we shall test with the three scenarios here, and as shown by the cases of Haiti and Japan, both ravaged by deadly earthquakes (2010 Haiti earthquake, 7Mw – 2011 Tohoku Earthquake, 9Mw), it is more than likely that polities in different political conditions will use different capabilities, in various terms, to face changes and duress.  Likewise, what will result will probably differ. Only such multidisciplinary approaches can let us hope to reach resilience.

It follows that the timing of those events will generate different consequences. We are again faced with the same challenge as usual, timing (see research note and Evertime). Ideally again, considering different sets of likelihood and timing for each event should allow us combining different sets of events. Each should be tested against the conditions of the polity for this very specific timing. Adequate computing facilities would be necessary.

Anticipating other events

You can imagine other sets of events that could befall Everstate the same year, or the following years. Then, the method and the various posts can be used to develop other sets of narratives.

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* For the first test, click on the image to open it in Tiki-Toki and experiment with the timeline. Only one free timeline can be created. For the second, Timeglider, the timeline can be embedded in a webpage with the free version, which is a great advantage. It is however best seen in full screen. Three free timelines can be created. Credits to photos will be given at the bottom of the post as they do not appear in Timeglider.

(1) See List of European tornadoes and tornado outbreaks by Wikipedia. The Tornado & Storm Research Organisation.

(2) See, for example, the European Drought CenterGlobal drought monitor at the Benfield Hazard Research Centre, Department of Space and Climate Physics, University College London; DESERT action of the EC Joint Research Centre, Institute for Environment and Sustainability; Professor Lena M. Tallaksen, in her keynote speech ”Drought and Low Flow in Europe: Observations and Multi-model simulations” (Abstract) for the 2012 International Symposium on Climate Impacts on Low Flows and Droughts, p.10:  underlines that

“Observations suggest that drought in Europe has occurred more frequently in the latter part of the 20th century, however the scientific understanding of the driving forces behind largescale droughts is incomplete. Climate change projections for Europe further indicate that drought is likely to become more frequent and more severe due to warmer northern winters and a warmer and drier Mediterranean region…”

(3) Scenarios on oil prices related to a potential war with Iran and the closing of the Strait of Ormuz led to the following forecasts

By Pimco republished as ”Pimco’s 4 “Iran Invasion” Oil Price Scenarios: From $140 To “Doomsday” by Zerohedge on 29 November 2011:

“i) Scenario 1: Exports minimally effected. Concerns would drive initial price response; Oil could spike initially to $130 to $140 per barrel and then settle in a higher range, around $120 to $125; ii) Scenario 2: Iranian exports cut off for one month. In this case, we would expect prices could reach previous all-time highs of $145/bbl or even higher depending on issues with shipping; iii) Scenario 3: Iranian exports are lost for half a year. We think oil prices could probably rally and average $150 for the six months, with notable spikes above that level; iv) Scenario 4: Greater loss of production from around the region, either through subsequent Iranian response or due to lack of ability to move oil through Straits of Hormuz. This is the Armageddon scenario in which oil prices could soar, significantly constraining global growth…”

By Societe Generale: “SocGen Lays It Out: ‘EU Iran Embargo: Brent $125-150. Straits Of Hormuz Shut: $150-200‘”published by Zerohedge, 8 January 2012:

1) “Scenario 1: EU enacts a full ban on 0.6 Mb/d of imports of Iranian crude. In this scenario, we would expect Brent crude prices to surge into the $125-150 range.” 2) “Scenario 2: Iran shuts down the Straits of Hormuz, disrupting 15 Mb/d of crude flows. In this scenario, we would expect Brent prices to spike into the $150-200 range for a limited time period….”

(4) See, for example, National Research Council. Biotechnology Research in an Age of Terrorism. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2004, notably pp.22-24; Gigi Kwik, Joe Fitzgerald, Thomas V. Inglesby, And Tara O’toole, “Biosecurity: Responsible Stewardship of Bioscience in an Age of Catastrophic Terrorism,” Biosecurity And Bioterrorism: Biodefense Strategy, Practice, And Science, Volume 1, Number 1, 2003; Danny J. Llewellyn, M. Brown, Y. Cousins, L. Hartweck, D. Last, A. Mathews, F. Murray & J. Thistleton. CSIRO Division of Plant Industry P.O. Box 1600 Canberra City A.C.T 2601, “The Science Behind Transgenic Cotton Plants,” Proceedings of the 6th Australian Cotton Conference Broadbeach Qld August 1992; Glenda D. Webber, Office of Biotechnology, Iowa State University, “Insect-resistant crops through genetic engineering,” Biotechnology Information Series, 1995; K.S. Jayaraman, “India investigates Bt cotton claims Research council launches probe into how Monsanto gene ended up in its indigenous transgenic cotton.” Nature, March 2012, doi:10.1038/nature.2012.10015; B. M. Khadi, “Impact of Bt-cotton on Agriculture in India,” GMO Safety

(5) This renewed financial crisis would come from the assumption that nothing – beyond reducing state expenses – or not much has really been endeavoured in the word to tackle the financial crisis started in 2007. Thus the crisis regularly surges after temporary lulls. It would be worsened by the impact of oil prices’ increase and spikes on the real economy; read, for a recent paper on this latter point: Dr. Mingqi Li (associate professor of economics at the University of Utah), “Has the Global Economy Become Less Vulnerable to Oil Price Shocks?” The OilDrum, 14 March 2012.

garden of delights by Bosch

Everstate: Setting the stage (I)

For explanations regarding the methodology used to develop the narrative, see the post “Constructing a foresight scenario’s narrative with Ego Networks.”

Geopolitical situation*: Everstate, a middle-range power

As a medium state power located on the Eurasian land mass, Everstate had not seen its geopolitical position fundamentally altered since the end of the Cold War, and even since the end of World War II. However, recently, some tensions had begun building up and Everstate had to start contending with them as they could easily transform in very concrete new external military threats.

What had contributed to maintain its geopolitical position were different factors. If the impact that its ecological setting could have had on its geopolitical position was remote and long forgotten, it nevertheless still played a part. Similarly, its continental climate, soften for the southeastern part by the influence coming from the sea, was not seen as a factor influencing geopolitics anymore. The harshness of the snowy and mountainous North had long been perceived as a bounty for tourism. The large river crossing the country from Northwest to Southeast was seen from the perspective of  industry, trade and tourism and no longer as a possible way in for invaders. Finally, it had been centuries since the rich agricultural eastern plain had not attracted invaders or greedy neighbours looking for rich lands.

Everstate’s army was efficient, considering military techniques, expertise and previous experience, even if its size had been reduced. The previous period of peace, as well as the evolution of society and the size of the population had led to this downsizing. The defence forces could thus carry out with success very specific and targeted missions, but not deploy extensively and exhaustively.

In Everstate, central order was relatively strong. The governance was quite efficient although some areas were starting to be less effectual. As a result, evidence of discontent, so far apparently limited to complaining and grumbling, had started being recorded, letting believe that the security of citizens was not anymore fully ensured. We were, however, apparently quite far from civil war and major domestic escalation of violence, which could   impact the geopolitical situation. Furthermore, as none of the latter events had occurred for the last century or so, they were deemed to be impossible: people had become unable of such actions because of the comfortable life they had enjoyed for so long.

At the beginning of this second decade of the 21st century EVTEverstate was well in line with the most common winning international norms. This gave the country international legitimacy and implied that it did not have to face any major normative war with the dominant order. Its society was modern; it believed in material well-being, constant improvement thereof and in the virtues of constant and rising economic growth; it obeyed the law of the market and of capitalism, economics being quite foremost.

Meanwhile, the old traditional monotheist religions still existed but their institutional and political role was marginal, as most of society was mainly concerned with other matters, more materialistic than spiritual. Nevertheless, as in other countries, some tensions existed between small groups of one or the other monotheist religion and sometimes flared up.

Everstate’s governance starts displaying a creeping loss of performance

Governance was thence still quite efficient, with nevertheless a slow, creeping loss of performance.

The state was organised according to a formal and rational-legal bureaucracy, upheld by a legal apparatus. It was subdivided administratively according to both geography and major domains of interest (defence, foreign affairs, homeland security, agriculture, trade and industry, tourism, finance, etc.) related to the security of Everstate, as identified throughout the previous ruling periods.

Everstate was governed under a democratic parliamentary regime. As a result, Parliament was involved in political decision-making, would it be only through the restraining power it exerted over the executive. The political game that was played within Everstate’s ruling elite was classical, involving not only the search for power of the nation’s elected representative, but also the too often forgotten effort of the nation, this imagined body of citizens (Anderson, 1991), to also protect its power.

As part of the international society and obeying to its norms, Everstate was a full member of the various international institutions that upheld those norms, from the United Nations, to the organizations of the Washington Consensus (IMF, World Bank) and to the World Trade Organization (WTO) (Watson, 1992). Everstate, as many other states in the world, was also a member of a regional institution, a Regional Union of independent and sovereign democratic states, it had joined freely in the decades following World War II. The Regional Union is neither a Federation, as the United States, Canada, India or Germany, for example, nor a Confederation, but something different, in the making. Its mission, shape, organisation, membership, areas of exclusive or only shared competence and consultative responsibility are being continually reworked and redesigned through various treaties and pacts. It adds one more layer of complexity to the overall governance of Everstate.

The power of the ruler (the nation and its representatives) was neither weak nor strong. However, as, by comparison, the power of various elite groups was relatively strong, then, some appropriation of public power was taking place. Because the separation between the public and private domains had been achieved for some time, this appropriation of public power was either hidden as rampant corruption and nepotism or taking new forms that were still difficult to unmask and name. The appropriation of public power had direct consequences on governance as it lowered its efficiency and perverted its objectives.

The nation-state’s income had been slowly but steadily growing over the past decades. However, it had to be seen in the light of the necessary expenses that seemed to grow uncontrollably faster. Indeed, as society had lived at peace and developed over the last 60 years, it had grown more complex. Conditions had changed, from the way to live and relate to each other with urbanization and digital and communication technology, to food availability and quality, to health behaviour. Meanwhile new threats had emerged. This led to a more complex situation in terms of governance. While governing implied more tasks and more complex ones, it became more costly. Hence, a few decades ago, the various resources extracted for governance and for ensuring the security of the citizens had started to be insufficient. This phenomenon was accentuated by the appropriation of public good and power by elite groups.

If the legitimate monopoly of violence of the state was still there, it was nevertheless weakening as it had started being affected by the reduction of overall available resources. Even if such events were thought to be improbable by most, any evolution involving rising grievances up until an escalation towards civil war would be affected by this weakening monopoly of violence. In turn, if such an unlikely and unfortunate spiral started, it would further impact the army’s performance, the monopoly of violence and governance.

The legitimacy of Evertstate’s political system, inherited from past dynamics, was still strong and its impact was thus positive. As a result, despite a security to the ruled – or the citizens – that was starting to be less than perfect, no risk of strong rising discontent and polarisation was thought to be possible.

To be continued next week…

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* We shall not here dwell in-depth on the nodes (variables) containing s4. Indeed s4 concerns the future and will be developed with the rest of the scenario.

References

Anderson, Benedict, Imagined communities: reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, (New York: Verso 1991).

Ertman, Thomas, Birth of the Leviathan: Building States and Regimes in Medieval and Early Modern Europe, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Taylor, Robert The State in Burma, (London: Christopher Hurst, 1987) – notably for the separation between public and private domain, see p.66.

WatsonAdamThe Evolution of International Society: a Comparative Analysis, (London: Routledge, 1992).

Zellman, Ariel, “Birth of the Leviathan by Thomas Ertman” Blog post.