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 Commission: a programme of drastic reduction of public expenses over five years through devolution, privatisation and outsourcing. By 2018 EVT, the policies do not lead to a current account surplus as expected nor to a reimbursement of public debt but to a rising current account deficit as well as to the withering away of the nation’s income.
(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 – research note at the bottom of the post).
The withering away of the nation’s income would imply, under a system other than Mamominarch (minimization of state’s spending as core principle), an acknowledgement of the need for new resources and income. Here, however, considering the core beliefs upheld, this is impossible. Yet, taxes still exist, including the new, temporary ones decided back in 2012 EVT. Those should allow bridging the gap until the budget situation becomes balanced again and a large part of overseas debts is reimbursed. Now, as the overall income of the nation shrinks (added to other linked factors) and as no new resources are looked for, the overall level of resources extracted decreases, despite the 2012 EVT supplementary taxes. This, in turn, does not lead to a balanced budget as hoped, but to a renewed deficit, although smaller. Meanwhile, debts cannot be reimbursed.
Going on trying to balance the budget through the Mamominarch system will only lead to a regressive spiral of further reductions of state’s expenses, which, in turn, will mean less income for the nation, which will imply further slahes in state’s expenditures, etc.
The shrinking of the income of Everstate as a nation also impacts the power of the ruler, i.e. the nation and its governing bodies. This weakens, unsurprisingly, the bargaining position of the ruler regarding the elite and the strength of the central order. Those impacts are in line with the Mamominarch system, which promotes privatization and outsourcing on the one hand, devolution, on the other.
Another factor seriously undermines the power of the nation and of its governing institutions: the dissolution of the legitimate monopoly of violence. First, outsourcing spreads when external military pressures and threats do not relent. Meanwhile, outsourcing added to an ever weakening central order and power means less control over the way threats are perceived, monitored, labeled and faced, while the entities perceiving, monitoring, labeling and acting on the threats are driven by profit and not by national interests.
Then, local criminality and organised crime are on the rise. In the poorest areas of Everstate, the minimal level of local public funds makes it difficult to hire the police force necessary to face rising difficulties, and impossible for private contractors to take over as benefits would be too low. Nationally, despite Novstate’s central database and communication system, the delocalisation of police force and the use of multiple private contractors makes it extremely complex to follow, analyse and understand flexible criminal organisations used to take advantage of weaknesses of central power, while coordinated action is even more difficult. As a result, spreading pockets of lawlessness develop, while Everstatans start experiencing very different lives according to where they live.
True enough, devolution, increased reliance on the Regional Union and management by the private sector were meant to compensate such probable impacts. However, as seen, things did not work this way on the whole territory and governance increasingly becomes fragile, and less efficient.
As further example, the sudden inflow of capital and arrival of highly paid foreign executives at the beginning of the Mamominarch period led to a sharp increase in real estate prices in those areas favoured by foreign investors. As it had not been anticipated, and as, anyway, it favoured real estate owners, notably elite groups, it was considered as positive. Yet, the real estate boom also created a difficult situation for local people, as wages remained frozen considering the otherwise uncertain and even negative global context. In those cities, areas and villages where the real estate boom occurred and where prices still remain very high, demonstrations and protests take place.Yet, they are never of a national scope – as different places are impacted differently – and rarely mentioned beyond local news. Those responsible for local governments do not either report them to central authorities as, anyway, at national level, there is no one in charge of this problem anymore. Each locality deals with the problem solely according to its own idiosyncrasies, and with its own resources, which impairs the implementation of sustainable solutions.
In those areas of the East and South, which have not attracted foreign investment, unemployment rises, poverty and inequality increase and a feeling of injustice deepens and spreads. Yet, these provinces used to be rich as they were those where agriculture had traditionally been done. But now, even rising food prices do not allow smaller exploitations to live properly considering the surging cost of life, notably generated by unmitigated new resources’ conditions. Left to their own device, without any help from local administrations too poor to do anything, people migrate away to richer areas, where they are used as cheaper labour. As the situation is far from full employment, they generate hostile feelings from the indigenous populations who cannot compete. Completely new tensions, declined in nationalistic terms, start appearing, when none existed previously.
Meanwhile, some wealthy Everstatian entrepreneurs start buying land in those areas at a very low price. For example, one of them is contracted by a foreign company, Novcybio, which develops new biotechnologies, to test its products on his land for a high premium.
Everstate’s economy has grown very inefficient for the vast majority of Everstatans. The security provided to Everstatans has not only not been improved but, on the contrary, is degrading.
We are thus back to dynamics similar to those existing in 2012 EVT, before the Mamominarch Commission, but to those must now be added the unintended unfavourable impacts specific to the Mamominarch system.
This is when tragic events strike.
As we progress in the scenario, it becomes obvious that the initial model could be improved along at least two lines:
- As noted initially, if the model was computerised, we should be able to truly follow dynamically, time segment by time segment, the evolution of the situation. Here, because of the absence of such a computerised power as well as for the sake of narration, we have to take a much less detailed approach and to synthesise it by broad themes. This leads us to reflect upon the way we are used to organise and present our thoughts, more according to categories than to dynamic processes, and that could, in itself be an impediment to a proper handling of transition situations, when “everything seem to happen at once.” Research on other ways to present situations, that would nevertheless be appealing and cognitively understandable could be rewarding.
- Recalling the difficult problem of levels of analysis, as identified by Waltz (1959), it would be interesting to develop also the model on different layers, i.e. global, regional, central and national, local, according to the various existing layers of governance.
Kenneth Waltz, Man, the state, and war: a theoretical analysis, New-York: Columbia University Press, 1959.