The decline of the West

The real battle now is nation-states vs. the global economic system, says John Robb. The economic system will win. Nation states will hollow out and become mere shells of themselves.

The clear and unambiguous message to every citizen of the West will be:

You are on your own. You are in direct competition with everyone else in the world, and your success or failure is something you alone control.

For those that think that this will bring about a surge of peaceful economic vigor, you will be wrong. It will fragment society and lead to perpetual stagnation/depression, endemic violence/corruption, and squalor. For absent any moral basis (a social compact), stability, or (widely shared) prosperity: new sources of order will emerge to fill the gap left by the demise of the nation-state. These new sources of order will be first seen in the rise of the criminal entrepreneur, whether they be the besuited corporate gangster or the gang tattooed thug. For in the world of hollow states (without a morality that limits behavior) and limitless connectivity to the global economic system, these criminal entrepreneurs quickly become dominant, violently coercing or corrupting everyone in the path to their enrichment.

However, you have a choice.

1. You can stand alone and do nothing. Thereby suffering the predations of this new criminal class (these global guerrillas).
2. You can join them and prey on your former compatriots, enriching yourself in the process.
3. Or finally, you can build something new. A resilient community based on freedom, prosperity, and a new moral compact.

For resilient communities to function, they will have to have a political component. That’s what’s missing from Robb’s otherwise incisive (if bleak) analysis. Politics. Weak or compromised governments means predators will abound, so resilient communities must be able to deal with them. This means some kind of self-defense as well as active political activity.

Robb is correct when he says that nation-states are hollowing out, increasingly unable to perform basic functions. The bumbling and inept US government response to Hurricane Katrina demonstrates this clearly. However, Robb seems to imply that resilient communities can, like hippie communes in the 60’s, do their own thing mostly separate from the society at large. Maybe some will, but mostly they, for their own survival, will have to be engaged with groups and events around them.

Most important though, sometimes the people really do rise up and depose the current ruling class. It’s happened before, it’ll happen again. Maybe here. Maybe soon. For Robb’s third choice to happen, there also must, at the same time, be a sustained fight-back against the global plunderers.

Robb has said he is essentially apolitical, so his analysis would miss the political component. Once you factor in politics, then things get considerably more optimistic.

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