The sacking of the Chancellor is a symptom of the escalating incoherence of Liz Truss’ Government – not a sign that it is changing course to become more coherent, writes Nafeez Ahmed
I have spent two decades studying the dynamics of social crisis and societal collapse. It’s now clear to me that Prime Minister Liz Truss is leading Britain into a convergence of crises that is likely to culminate in an unprecedented social and economic collapse that cascades across the government, economy, housing markets, energy, health, the judiciary and beyond.
Worse, these crises risk triggering a global financial crisis bigger in scale than the 2008 crash – one that, like that crash, could have potentially irreversible impacts on global civilisation.
The sacking of her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, after 38 days in office, is unlikely to significantly reverse these prospects. In fact, it signals a systemic level of incoherence the only outcome of which, at this stage, can be continued breakdown. The danger is that, as this Government collapses, it brings the rest of Britain down with it.
Systems collapse when they are unable to adapt to change. The policies of the Truss Government are not only accelerating conditions of change beyond the capability of British institutions to adapt, they are generating crises across multiple institutions simultaneously in such a way that they are overwhelming the overall system’s abilities to respond.
When a system is overwhelmed in this way, we start to rapidly run out of options within the existing framework. The more it moves in different directions to quell the crisis, the more it inadvertently stokes the crisis. As a result, the system itself becomes an accelerator of its own collapse – and this is exactly the predicament that the Truss team has managed to pull Britain into.
These ingredients are critical preconditions for the collapse of complex societies. Such collapses have taken place over decades, in some cases centuries, in others. While collapse doesn’t necessarily entail the complete evisceration of a society, it involves a breakdown of institutional complexity. This results in a loss of societal capabilities, potentially entailing reductions in living standards and population.
Liz Truss’ agenda is accelerating the risk of such a collapse in a way that is unprecedented. While, to some extent, this can be explained by a penchant for disaster capitalism designed to benefit elites at everyone’s expense, the deeper problem is that the Truss Government appears to be fundamentally incapable of grappling with complexity.
It doesn’t realise that our systems are tightly coupled in complex ways; that these interconnections mean you cannot tinker with one element of the system without upending the entire system; that pulling the rug out from under critical institutions or public services can unravel social cohesion in a way that could generate chronic instability from which there is no easy recovery – leading to a spiral of escalating costs and diminishing returns.
Britain is on the brink of spiralling out of control.
Article continues with sections on The Economy, The Housing Market, Energy, The Collapse of Critical Services and finally A Vicious Cycle.
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