Most analysts (at least the ones that are worth reading) contend that the sovereign default crisis (Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc.) in the EU is about the collapse of a system that created monetary union without a political union. It isn't. That's actually a narrow, parochial view. Instead, the current sovereign debt crisis is about something much more interesting: it's another battle in a war for dominance between "our" integrated, impersonal global economic system and traditional nation-states. At issue is whether a nation-state serves the interests of the governed or it serves the interests of a global economic system.
Who's winning? The global economic system, of course. The 2008 financial crisis, the first real battle of this war (as opposed to the early losses in skirmishes in Russia, Argentina, the Balkans, etc.), generated a very decisive outcome. It was a resounding defeat for nation-states.* The current crisis in the EU will almost certainly end with the same results.
When this war ends, and it won't be long, the global economic and financial system will be the victor. Once that occurs, the nation-states of the West will join those of the global south as hollow states: mere shells of states that serve only to enforce the interests of the global economic system. These new states, more market-states than nation-states, will offer citizens a mere vestige of the public goods they offered historically. Incomes will fall to developing world levels (made easy to due highly portable productivity), and wealth will stratify. Regulatory protections will be weak. Civil service pensions will be erased and corruption will reign. The once dominant militaries of the West will be reduced to a small fraction of their current size, and their focus will be on the maintenance of internal control rather than on external threats. 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 hollowing out 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.
As this occurs, you have a choice.
- You can stand alone and do nothing. Thereby suffering the predations of this new criminal class.
- You can join them and prey on your former compatriots, enriching yourself in the process.
- Or finally, you can build something new. Resilient communities and independent economic networks based on freedom, prosperity, and a new moral compact.
* An ambush that yielded: excessive debt, endless deficits, state guarantees (against financial system failure), and moral ambiguity/corruption.