garden of delights by Bosch

Last week’s summaryIn 2012 EVT, the deepening chronic budget deficit and the rising need for liquidity of Everstate (the ideal-type corresponding to our very real countries created to foresee the future of the modern nation-state) give an increasing power to the lenders elite group, allowing for new forms of appropriation of public power. Everstate sinks into a vicious circle.

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On the difficulty of cooperating with elite groups

The second phenomenon driving Everstatan political authorities’ incapacity to deliver security is a related creeping new appropriation of public resources and a weakening of the strength of central public power to the profit of various elite groups, the first of which was the lenders’ nexus. As many needs beyond liquidity remain, Everstate’s rulers (the modern state, the elected governing bodies and the nation) have no other choice than to turn to those who hold the resources needed, the elite. The need for cooperation with the elite is increased because the new pressures on Everstate mean that new staff is necessary for governance.

Meanwhile, the intensification of the various kinds of pressures implies a renewed need for manpower, which has been so far used by various elite groups (manpower includes here military, police and civilians part of the monopoly of violence of the state; staff includes all other civil servants). For example, the strengthening of cyber threats and the new cyber security field, as Everstate wants to preserve its monopoly of violence, implies that IT specialists and experts that were up until now mainly working for IT multinational groups are now also needed and recruited by the state. Similarly, all military techniques impact the need for manpower of the state. Meanwhile, the capability of the governing bodies to meet this need affects the performance and the size of the army.

Because elite groups seek to protect and increase their power, status and resources, this need for cooperation with the elite has led and is still leading to series of negotiations between Everstate’s government and Parliament on the one hand, and the elite on the other. The result of those negotiations impacts directly the army’s size and performance, the formal bureaucracy of the state, as well as, of course, the various ways to appropriate public power.

Since the 1990s EVT, Everstate has regularly lost to its elite, notably through an extreme form of the phenomenon known as outsourcing. Although, for a state to contract private firms and experts is not a new phenomenon, and is indeed necessary,a delicate balance must be maintained. In Everstate, outsourcing started taking a new dimension during the 1990s. Entire areas directly related to governance are now in the hands of private firms, notably the powerful Everstatan Company Novstate, specialised in strategy and technology consulting. Year after year, Novstate is awarded the same contracts, which end up being seen as almost proprietary, and wins new ones. Yet, a legal bid system to compete for and be awarded public markets exists and is respected. Even the direct security apparatus of Everstate is not anymore fully public, as a few private companies, Everstatan and international, play there an increasingly crucial role, from multi-involvement in the army, which is challenged by its reduced size, to various security functions such as logistics or the screening done at airports.

Everstate’s formal state bureaucracy is powerless to struggle against this new type of appropriation of public power unless it should be seen, as many Everstatans believe as “achieving an efficiency that can only be obtained with private management.”. Indeed, first, this bureaucracy was created and established to face bygone conditions. Then, as it became progressively impacted by outsourcing and as the overall power of the ruling bodies of Everstate weakened, it came to see outsourcing as the norm, even as the sign of a renovated and forward looking bureaucracy. This was even more the case as some of the nation’s representatives, politicians, and political appointees, on the one hand, some of the senior level civil servants, on the other, increasingly often joined those outsourcing companies. By entering this system, they legitimate this extreme form of outsourcing as they are still endowed with the status of their previous position when they make their choice. In this way, those entering the extreme outsourcing system keep their previous status as they continue participating in the country’s governance, while they gain new status, resources and privileges by joining the private sector. As such, they constitute a specific elite group.

Meanwhile, as the same people keep the same functions without allowing for the usual generational change to play its role, entire age classes of younger Everstatans, despite their high level of education are neither incorporated within the political authorities apparatus, nor even, fairly, within the outsourcing one. Volunteering and unpaid internships are promoted and almost the only way new highly educated youth can access to experience and work, even if this increasingly leads only to other internships. As a result, a crucial element of the upward social mobility in Everstate is stalled. In the meantime, the formal modern bureaucracy that had characterized Everstate for so long is nothing else than starting to disappear, even if it keeps its name and pretence.

As renewal and rejuvenation are blocked, outsourcing companies that are also meant to be in touch with new ideas and the evolution of society cannot anymore play this role. How could it be otherwise as Everstatan elite groups that have achieved power are certainly not ready to accept to see any of their privileges diminishing? Any idea that could imply, really or apparently, a loss of relevance would be relenting of the possibility to disappear as elite groups and this, they cannot accept. On the contrary, they are building ever-larger and stronger strongholds based on those resources that gave them, initially, their elite status. For example, Novstate does not only advise governance bodies but also supplies governance services, often in areas where there are also advisors, as it unites in its network of “friends’ companies” – a new business concept derived from social networking – small security firms, quasi armies, high tech start ups, biotech laboratories, etc.

Hence, any new negotiation between the governing bodies and the elite groups is a rush for more appropriation of public power and enlarges the elite groups’ strongholds.

Meanwhile, these struggles for the benefit of exclusive groups just add further pressures on the overall society.

Everstate is in a situation similar to what happened with liquidity, but with different elite groups, even if sometimes connections exist between groups notably through “friends networks.” If the ruler’s power continues to grow weaker than the elite’s power, then the elite will go on appropriating part of public power in a manner that is only hidden by the existing socio-political model and by the way it gets around the still existing norm on the separation between public and private. As a result, the new resources extracted will most likely remain insufficient, with consequences on the state’s infrastructure, on governance and on the army’s size and performance thus on the monopoly of violence of the ruler (the nation, the government and assemblies and the state that assists the former in their tasks), as well as on budget deficit.

Negotiating in such increasingly difficult conditions with elite groups  only leads to an appropriation of public property, to a further weakening of the central power and thus to an increased power of elite groups, in a vicious circle. Yet, no other option seems to be available.

As a result, the dissatisfaction of the population increases. The very legitimacy of Everstate’s system has already started suffering. If nothing changes the risks to legitimacy will only increase.

To be continued