2012 EVT: Rising Discontent (The Chronicles of Everstate)

Last weeks’ summaryEverstate (an ideal-type for our very real countries created to foresee the future of the modern nation-state) is part of the international liberal order and ruled under a democratic parliamentary regime. Lately, its governance started being less efficient and as a result began to fail to ensure the security of Everstate’s citizens. Meanwhile, its economy showed sign of losing efficacy and its powerful elite groups fought hard to keep their status although they do not believe to be really at risk. The various degradations and tensions have started being felt and registered by the population. However, most Everstatan actors considered those as temporary crises and difficulties that will be shortly solved. At worst, some envisioned a serious crisis that would last a few years, maybe a decade of slow growth before everything went back to normal. Are they right? What does the future hold for Everstate?

(The reader will find detailed explanations on the methodology applied to this post at the bottom of the text and can click on each picture to see a larger version in a new tab). 

Dissatisfaction and tension of the population

Confronted with various mild but growing inefficiencies in terms of governance and economy, Everstatans are increasingly dissatisfied. They perceive the overall security provided by their political authorities as having started to decrease. At the beginning, it was imperceptible. Now, their discontent increases and cannot be ignored anymore. Indeed, more and more people feel relatively deprived as they contrast what they remember about their past satisfaction, what they had sought to achieve and what they now manage to obtain, whatever their efforts.

First, obvious new external military threats have arisen from foreign groups trying to implement their own state power. Those threats are widely labelled and known as “terrorism” or sometimes “radicalization” and have been partly solved through various efforts, notably those made in the areas of domestic security and law enforcement. Other threats have emerged from states that are considered as unfriendly, indeed at times dubbed “rogue states.” Both have started introducing an element of permanent and pernicious fear and unease in the population.

Then, the satisfaction of the population is affected by other factors that are not yet perceived and even less considered, integrated and successfully dealt with by Everstate’s political authorities.

The evolution of society has, over time, affected the ecological milieu, which has given rise to new types of pressures. In Everstate and in international settings, the reality of those pressures is still debated, which often leads to ignore or minimize their importance. Among those controversies, we find the end of cheap energy, notably oil-based energy, the safety of nuclear energy, food and water availability, climate change, the increase of various types of pollution, and the return of the fear of deadly pandemics. Furthermore, because those pressures are new or have not been felt for centuries, the existing normative models do not consider them. Those models, indeed, focus on other matters, those issues that were crucial when the norms were constructed. Considering the importance of normative models and related thinking, the lack of possible concern integrated within the normative model also contributes to minimise the perception of and interest in those new pressures.

Meanwhile, natural uncontrollable catastrophes such as earthquakes or volcano eruptions, linked to the fate of geography, are still hitting societies blindly. Everstate fears no volcano on its territory, but some areas, by the seashore notably, are prone to earthquakes, although no severe one has occurred for more than two centuries. Typhoons and hurricanes, floods and droughts are still devastating worldwide, but Everstate’s climate makes such happenstance quite impossible. And yet… an increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events started being registered a few years ago (e.g. Munich-Re, 2010). Although the scientific understanding of many of those phenomena is still imperfect, a similar trend was registered in many countries of the world. Increasingly, it was identified as related to those changing conditions brought about by human activity.

Furthermore, previous evolutions have affected natural resources. Those that are finite have now been used by the population and thus are obviously not available anymore. Those that are considered as renewable have also sometimes been altered in a way that makes them unavailable for a specific location. For example, if water is fundamentally a renewable resource, the depletion of groundwater in some areas, or pollution, which can only be removed over centuries, in others transform water for specific areas and lapse of time into a finite resource. Such shortages directly impact the population, as people cannot benefit from those resources anymore, be it in terms of direct use or because whole sectors of activity disappear leading to unemployment and general impoverishment. Furthermore, by bearing upon the overall ecological setting, they contribute to create new kinds of pressure for survival. Meanwhile, other potential resources are emerging but are not yet fully integrated into ways of life. Thus, they cannot fully take the place of the past, used resources, when replacement is possible. They cannot either help face the whole range of new pressures for survival. So far, in Everstate, no complete shortage in response to a need had to be faced. On the contrary, in a still recent past as when coal mines were closed, whole sectors of activity have been swept away.

At the same time, evolution has generated new capabilities that are progressively used against society in a deadly and damaging way. Thus, new threats appear. Everstate and its allies have so far labelled those threats as unconventional, which definitely underlines their novelty, even in terms of thoughts. A few of them – but by all means not all as they permanently evolve –  have been identified and range from cyber-security (linked to the digital and communication technology and their use) to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

As long as Everstate has not designed the way to deal (through governance) with those new multiple pressures, the degree with which those pressures impacts society progressively increases, while the level of satisfaction of the population decreases. Now, this way cannot even start being imagined because those stresses are not fully registered and thus even less understood. Indeed, the Everstatan system, as the system of other countries, was built to deal with other – past – pressures.

Thus, dissatisfaction is bound to increase for some time in Everstate. This discontent itself, feeds progressively into a domestic escalation spiral. In turn, it increases incrementally the degree of pressure that is exerted on Everstate as a whole.

Meanwhile, Everstatans continue to seek a security that is appearing as increasingly distant and elusive…. to be continued.

How to? Application of the methodology used to construct the narrative.

The variable that will serve to start the narrative is “pop level of satisfaction (sec) s3,” i.e. level of satisfaction of the population regarding security for the third phase or step of our dynamic model. To help the reader understand the methodology, the words corresponding to an influencing or influenced variable or node for the main narrative will be in bold in this post.

When needed, to obtain more information on those nodes, we shall display the corresponding ego network that will hep nourishing and constructing the narrative.

In terms of outline, we start with the variables causing what we try to narrate (the discontent of the population), looking first at those linked to s2 (the previous step, temporally), then moving to s3. Once all the causing variables have been seen, then one progresses to the impact variables, which will allow us moving the story forward, with the exception of groups of variables, both influencing and influenced, for which the story is clearer if told as a group or system, e.g. the first paragraph. The task of detecting those groups of variables is eased by the use of network visualisation tools as those groups are literally shown by the lay-out (here Force Atlas).

———–

References

Munich Re, “Extreme Weather Events – Signs of climate change?” 5 August 2010:

“These facts show that global warming is playing a significant role in the rising number of extreme events. Analyses performed by Munich Re’s natural catastrophe database, the most comprehensive in the world, substantiate this increase: the number of extreme weather events like windstorm and floods has tripled since 1980, and the trend is expected to persist.” [my emphasis]