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1 May 2015 | Draft

Global Civilization Near Failure?


Inspired by (and extensively adapted from) La Belgique près de défaillir? (in French) by Jean Quatremer, Brussels Correspondant of Liberation (Paris, 28 April 2016 ). Subway, airport, telephone system... From the restarting of infrastructure maintenance daily, attacks revealed a decline of central government, torn by more than fifty years of struggles between Flemings and Walloons.


As noted above, the following text was inspired by that of the Brussels Correspondent of the French newspaper Liberation (Jean Quatremer, La Belgique près de défaillir? Liberation (Paris, 28 April 2016 ). The procedure was to use an automatic translation to provide a basic English version. This was then extensively adapted to the theme of global governance rather than to Quatremer's focus on the governance of Belgium.

For an outsider, Quatremer's controversial text with regard to the failure of governance in Belgium is remarkably perceptive from many points of view -- as indicated by a proportion of the comments it evoked. The fundamental inadequacy of the original text, as explored here, is that the criticism could be far more usefully applied to the governance of most countries (including France), if not to that of global governance as a whole at this time. This too was reflected in some of the comments made.

Hence the procedure adopted here of switching from a Belgian focus to a systemic golobal focus by duly modifying the original text (as translated), whilst taking account of the arguments made with respct to the Belgian situation as but one example. As the effective capital of Europe, the example is especially appropriate. This does not however justify the pretence that problems there are systemically more problematic than those in other countries -- or of global governance in general.

Collapse of governance globally

A global civilization collapses under the incredulous eyes of its people. The recent attacks in various countries have burst the bubble of denial in which the world has reveled for so long. The decay of global givernance, undermined by constant strife between various majorities and minorities, came to light to light following recent killings developed and developing countres --as publicized by the media. Citizens worldwide discovered that diisdence had been allowed to develop in the heart of capital cities, whether to buy an illusory peace or through clientelism and political calculation.

Curfews imposed for unprecedented periods by public authorities in a state of total panic have highlighted the unreasonableness of national and global governance. For example, no rational explanation has been provided to date for the unprecedented lockdown which in Belgium cost 0.1% of GDP. It is however especially the attacks and their consequences that have ensured the relative indifference of the citizens to the processes of governance. In the case of Belgium, after 4 months of searching, the hideout of a suspected assailant was discovered only 500 meters from his family home -- a location long known to the head of police who had not seen fit to transmit the information to the relevant authority. Worse, it appeared that the federal government had deliberately ignored the reports of the European Commission pointing out the serious shortcomings in airport security.

As a a consequence of such incidents, mismanagement does not cease. Rather it is intensified. More competent governance fails to emerge. There is little evidence of a popular sense of unity as manifested in the case of incidents in the not so distant past. The remaining capacities of governance are overwhelmed, if not stunned. Multiple nonsensical directives are formulated to the point of jeopardizing the economy of the country and paralyzing its capital. So a month later, without knowing exactly why, Brussels airport, lung countries is only partly operational, whereas only the lobby was hit, authorities even advising come the day before his flight to register. Brussels Airport is served by rail again that since Monday, although the station was not affected, no one in provide reason. Similarly, the metro has remained very disturbed until Monday (closing half of the stations, traffic disruption to 19 hours and 22 hours access to the stations limited to one or two mouths) by "security measure" prompting people to clump together to enter or to pile on trams and buses, which are nevertheless all potential targets. In this poisonous atmosphere, the airport police officers managed to strike a week after the attacks, followed by road hauliers, who for several days blocked Belgian roads to protest against the toll disc, and to do good measure, by air traffic controllers ... and what about the impossibility of using a mobile phone on the day of the attacks (including emergency services), the network having fallen stranded without, again, no knowing why.

It would have been a shame to stop there way. The Interior Minister, Jan Jambon, of the Flemish separatist party N-VA, first formation of the country, reminded the world that he had extreme right undigested roots. After comparing ingenuously Islamic terrorists to the Jews who "managed to stay four years in hiding, despite the fact that the scary looking regime continuously" to justify the impotence of the police, he said without shred of evidence that a "significant portion of the Muslim community had danced on the occasion of the attacks," putting the evil attempts to renew ties between the communities. Never the gap has appeared as big between the north and the south, between faith communities, among Belgians "strain" and those from immigrant.

The impotence of the state and its many subdivisions also came to light on a less dramatic fashion but also painful economically, when some of the tunnels and viaducts, the legacy of all-car 50- years 80 which disfigured Brussels and threatens to collapse, had to be closed from the end of January for lack of money to maintain them. The disrepair of crucial hated both by Flanders, which accuses him of not speaking Flemish, as Wallonia, centered on its provinces, then appeared as a symbol of Belgian ailments. A capital which is also that of the EU, to his despair. And what about the nuclear plants of the country coalisentles neighbors, increasingly concerned about the consequences of a "Chernobyl-sur-Meuse". For now, the only answer to the "State" Belgium is considered to distribute iodine pills to its citizens ...

Who would deny that Belgium has bottomed and is led by politicians who have lost all sense of the state, they are too preoccupied to increase their local sinecures? Fifty years of community struggle between Flemings and Walloons and unwinding of the central government to the regions (six constitutional reforms since 1970) led the kingdom into a dead end: impotence, incompetence, irresponsibility. From there to call it a failed state ( "failed state"), there is a step that many have taken, including in Belgium, which is totally new.

But politicians refuse to draw any lesson: the N-VA, a senior member of the ruling majority, which lost points in the polls in favor of the extreme right Vlaams Belang, has just harden the your. Against all evidence, its officials say the attacks have proved the failure of the central government and should therefore accelerate its evaporation. Terrorists of all stripes can rub their hands: what better than a lack of state to prosper?

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