28 Aug 2013
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world”
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
WB Yeats .
Is Everybody safer after the Police has arrived (including the criminals) ? This is the Definition of Civilization and a Non-Failed Society . Usually seen as the Rule of Law .
1.Is South Africa failing ?
“South Africa at present ranks a lowly 66 and falling,” See appendix C
2. Is a successor state to a Failed State more prone to failure ?
See Appendices A and B below .
This is the critical question , as most States in the World has a failed state in its ancestry.
Germany – Reichs
Japan – Co-Prosperity Sphere
USA – British Colony
France – Ancien Regime
Russia – Tsars
Britain – Kings (up to James II)
RSA - Apartheid
Etc , etc .
So , a failed state does not necessarily mean failed successor states .
Since all present states are descended from previous failed states , the mechanisms to prevent repetition are the important ones .
3.Ab-initio attempts are almost certainly doomed to failure .
This is what is happening in RSA . A Brave New World , but an inexperienced one . Cf Education , Jurisdiction , etc .
Good intentions , but surrounded by experienced jackals .
4.Where to look on how to do it ?
Try China . They have been through it numerous times . The most glorious example is the Ming Rebellion against the Mongols .
5.Why you don’t want to be near it .
Enormous energies are unleashed . It is not safe to be near . Exciting place to visit .
6. Percentage of failed states :
Yes , you guessed it . 2/3 of close-successor states fail . Sum this and it becomes 100% . But these end successor states are quite different from the old previous ones .
The USA is not Athens or Rome .
7.All states fail .
The trick is to pick the ones with the least catastrophic failure , or at least the smallest rate of change .
Unless you are a Fate Surfer .
8.An example :
Ireland during the collapse of the Western Roman Empire .
Roman refugees from North Africa , Brittannia and sundry other parts of the Empire took their money and decamped to Ireland .
Known as the Irish Flowering . But they did not take any Legions . The Vikings destroyed them . Yet they were rich enough to easily defend themselves .
9.Peace flows out of the barrel of a gun .
“Those who want peace , prepare for war” Vegetius .
10 .Minimum GDP expenditure on War
Do not go to a place that expends less than 1/3 of 1/3 of 1/3 =3.7% of GDP on keeping the varmints at bay .
South Africa today spends about 1% of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, in comparison to the global average figure of 2.5%, reported auditing and consultancy firm Deloitte on Tuesday. This low level of defence spending is exemplified by the fact that the South African Air Force has placed 12 of its 26 Gripen fighters in long-term storage. In the 1980s, defence expenditure absorbed 4% of the country’s GDP.
If Police are included , the figure is 1.3% of GDP .
This is woefully inadequate .
11. The quickest way to prevent a Failed State is to ramp up Police+Army Expenditure to 3.7% of GDP . The ripple effects work through .
12 Conclusion :
RSA is drifting into a Failed State , but the Zuma Emperor Scenario could prevent that .\
Best to be watched from afar .
The definition of a failed state according to the Fund for Peace is often used to characterize a failed state:
· loss of control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein
· erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
· an inability to provide public services
· an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community
Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
Ochlocracy ("rule of the general populace") is democracy ("rule of the people") spoiled by demagoguery, "tyranny of the majority", and the rule of passion over reason, just like oligarchy ("rule of a few") is aristocracy ("rule of the best") spoiled by corruption, and tyranny is monarchy spoiled by lack of virtue. Ochlocracy is synonymous in meaning and usage to the modern, informal term "mobocracy", which emerged from a much more recent colloquial etymolo
What, then, is a failed state? In its terminal form, a state fails when it implodes, leaving only a shell. Max Weber defined the state as the entity that possesses "a monopoly on the legitimate use of force". This is a vital part of any definition of the state, but modern usage stretches the definition to incorporate the idea of sovereignty over a territory.
Others insist that the idea of the state embodies a commitment as the "institutional representation of the people’s will". The more limited notion of the state would exclude, as failed states, countries such as North Korea or Zimbabwe, where the state is intact, possesses a monopoly of force, but lacks the essential ingredient of legitimacy. Somalia is one of several cases where the central government has imploded and controls only a small part of the country.
South Africa is far from such extreme situations. There is no threat to its territorial integrity, no threat of a violent overthrow of the government or even of a conflict that threatens to get out of hand. It enjoys democratic institutions (however poorly they perform), the rule of law and protected civil liberties.
There are, however, some disquieting signs. State failure occurs along a continuum: dysfunctional institutions, popular protests (such as the regular service delivery protests), illegal and often violent strikes and the evident growing alienation of young, urban blacks, who face a lifetime of unemployment. Other symptoms will be obvious to anyone who studies the demographic landscape.
It is generally reckoned that constitutions that survive for 20 years have put down roots that render them resistant to destruction. But there are exceptions. A danger South Africa faces is less the abolition of the constitution than its being hollowed out, that is, its key (supposedly) independent institutions being staffed by politically reliable people. The judiciary may be a prime candidate, followed by the public protector. We should never forget the wise warning in The Federalist Papers that a constitution is a "mere parchment barrier".
There are other danger signals of threats to key institutions: cadre deployment, which has already played havoc with the efficient running of the government in all spheres; the weakness of parliamentary oversight; and the reluctance to answer probing parliamentary questions. The list of manifestations of a reluctance to heed the constitutional requirement of transparency is long.
Much of this stems from the nature of nationalism, African in this case, but applicable also to Afrikaner nationalism in earlier times. What has occurred since 1994 is the steady development of a fusion between party and state, accompanied by a refusal to fully accept the legitimacy of opposition parties.
The African National Congress (ANC) appears to believe it has a divine right to rule, which is the only inference one can draw from some of the statements made by President Jacob Zuma.
The quest for hegemonic control of all the levers of power has gone far. Increasingly, independent sources of information will be shackled, with consequences for the freedom of the press. Obstreperous civil society organisations will feel the heat — remember: a strong civil society is one of the best guarantors of a democratic political system. Our democratic institutions have survived, but longer-term threats are apparent. Endemic corruption is having a corrosive effect. Whether Planning Minister Trevor Manuel’s stirring calls for public servants to mend their ways will have any effect is debatable.
While it is true that the complex of factors that lead to the failed state mutate into a vicious cycle, there is nothing inevitable about failure. But strong corrective measures are required and those require strong leadership, which is precisely what we lack. The ANC is faction-ridden and its alliance with the South African Communist Party and Congress of South African Trade Unions makes it difficult to take decisive steps.
Many African nationalist parties begin to fragment after 20-25 years in office. The period of fragmentation is also a time of huge danger to democratic institutions, as threatened politicians flail about in search of scapegoats and other imagined causes.
These days, "failed state status" is a term of art in the analysis of geopolitics and global economics. Twelve criteria are used to determine the chances of failure and an index of countries around the world exists so those interested can make a study of the phenomenon, decide where to invest or even where to take their next holiday. Of the 10 countries least likely to fail, only three come from the English-speaking world — New Zealand, Canada and Australia. South Africa at present ranks a lowly 66 and falling, but stands well away from the tail-enders, Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Pakistan, to name a few.
It is instructive to examine the criteria used to calculate the index. There are four social indicators. Demographic pressures, such as those created by disputes over the ownership and occupancy of land, redistribution of land and environmental issues, such as access to water and food, count. So, too, the presence of refugees in the border and urban areas of South Africa is considered, as are internal migrations. The internal displacement of people who live in squalor in informal settlements for long periods is regarded as a symptom of failure. A "legacy of vengeance-seeking group grievances", such as those harboured by locals against foreigners (xenophobic attacks) and locals against Afrikaner farmers (farm murders), as well as nationalistic political rhetoric ("the land was stolen from us") feature. Flight from the country under scrutiny, by its intellectuals and its middle class, is the last of the social factors. The shrinking size of the "white" population and its own demographic profile bear testimony to this factor.
Then there are economic factors that are regarded as relevant — a high Gini co-efficient such as South Africa’s and disparity in the development of groups. In short, high levels of inequality contribute to failure. Education levels and the state of the education system are vital to economic success and are considered, together with the rate of economic decline of the country being assessed. Poverty, unemployment and inequality nurture failure while prosperity, full employment and the achievement of equality in a sustainable fashion through proper education and long-term job creation are the conditions for success. Measures such as the infant mortality rate, gross national product, per-capita income, devaluation of the currency, commodity prices, foreign investment, the size of the drug trade and, of course, the prevalence of corruption are relevant to economic health.
There are six political indicators that bear mention: the delegitimisation or criminalisation of the state; the progressive deterioration of public services; the widespread violation of human rights; the security apparatus as a "state within a state"; the rise of factionalised elites; and intervention of other states and external factors.
Overall, our picture is not a pretty one, and Sunter’s scenario-planning prognostication appears chillingly accurate. The legitimacy of the state depends on the wholehearted embrace of its value system as reflected in the constitutional dispensation in place. Our constitution is sound, but it is constantly being undermined or hollowed out by the tenets of the "national democratic revolution", which is being pursued by those in the ANC who do not genuinely subscribe to the National Development Plan embraced by the ANC in Mangaung. Without genuine fealty to constitutionalism, our slide down the ratings is likely to continue.
• Welsh is a retired professor of political science. Hoffman is a director of the Institute for Accountability in Southern Africa.