Archive for September 25th, 2008

Hollowed Out

I happened across this post by chance yesterday:

The basic issue is not that the “state” is going away, but that the constitutional basis of a “state” in providing for the welfare of a contiguous “nation” is increasingly invalid, leading to the rise of the “market-state” (where the constitutional basis for the state comes from its ability to provide market opportunity to those within its borders) and a growing conflict with disenfranchised and marginalized nations (and other non-state groups) that exist wholly or partially within the borders of the new market-state.

And was going to develop my own thoughts on it, and then I came across this post from Global Guerrillas, which expresses things far better than I ever could:

The shift from a marginally functional nation-state in manageable decline to a hollow state often comes suddenly, through a financial crisis. This crisis typically has the following features:

  • Corporations and connected individuals systematically loot the nation-state of financial assets and natural resources through a series of insider/no cost deals. These deals are made to “save” the nation’s economy or financial system from collapse.
  • Once the full measure of the crisis is known, the nation-state’s currency falls precipitously, it’s debt becomes expensive, and it is forced to submit to international oversight/rules.
  • The services the state provides rapidly evaporate as its bureaucracy is starved for cash/financing. This opens up a window for the corruption of government employees unused to deprivation.

The Dynamic of Primary Loyalties

The decline from functional but weak nation-state is extremely sudden. For individuals, there is a rapid and sustained decline in the standard of living. Additionally, there are spot shortages of critical items and commodities — particularly food, medicine, and energy (since these are globally fungible). Large and small business fail across the board, or become prey to connected companies/individuals with access to the remaining coercive power of the nation-state. As the deprivation becomes commonplace, people turn to primary loyalties for support and services — loyalties to a corporation, tribe, gang, family, or community. These groups, energized by new levels of loyalty but deeply obligated to reciprocate this loyalty with support, become extremely aggressive in pursuit of their survival. Once this shift in loyalty is made, a self-generating cycle of violence, crime, and corruption (fueled in large part through connections to the global market system) becomes entrenched. The nation-state, at that point, becomes irretrievably hollow.

Not going to be a fun ride, I fear.

The IT Boy

Immortal Technique is playing in Dublin on Sunday. Alas, I can’t go.

The above is Hollywood Driveby, from his latest album The 3rd World, my favourite rap album of the year to date. Unusually for a rapper, he’s also a Marxist revolutionary, and on this track he adopts a rather confrontational stance toward faux-gangsta rappers. ‘I got bullets that’ll rip through your ribs/More painful than watching R. Kelly piss on your kids’, sez he, and who am I to disagree?

Looking Glas

The new Glasvegas album. Not that impressed by it, to be honest. Hype unwarranted, though I can understand why the Glasgow mean streets schtick might appeal to bored public schoolboys in Harrogate and Richmond. Beyond the obvious references -Phil Spector, the Jesus and Mary Chain- I think there’s more than a passing similarity to The Frank and Walters (nothing wrong with that, of course).


It is vital that our industrialised nations seek urgently to develop practicable and renewable sources of energy, not as some imaginary counter-measure to global warming, but because of the threat posed by growing competition for rapidly depleting resources.

Such is our inflated notion of ourselves that when we refer to the dangers of global warming or nuclear warfare, we talk of running the risk of destroying the planet.

Humans are not capable of destroying the planet. However, we do run a real risk of destroying ourselves (and whatever other species we happen to bring down with us). If man were to disappear completely, the planet would keep trundling along as it has always done.

He’s right, of course. Imagine, if the world was convulsed in deadly cataclysms, and you find yourself clinging to a lump of advertising hoarding amid a sea of filthy water after a tsunami had struck Dublin. Sound awful? Now try imagining the same thing, only this time you’re thinking ‘Holy shit! I remember reading an Irish Times article about this by David Adams!’

It doesn’t bear thinking about.

I on Twitter

September 2008