The Informal State

logo-undpI posted just yesterday about the Informal Economy described by Robert Neuwirth as System D, where it is projected that by 2020 two thirds of the world’s workers will operate.  That’s an economy almost entirely independent of the state, and the nation state structure.  It all harks back to the Industrial Revolution, which spawned Marxism and the labour movement, a movement that brought communism and great intellectual struggle.  We have to believe that within those workers there will be able leaders; English as a language is increasingly unifying peoples.  It could be an interesting century yet!

I mentioned in passing yesterday that ‘In Africa, many tribes operate … with their own systems of justice’, though I did not have a reference.  This morning, my attention was brought to a recent UN Development Program (UNDP) report entitled Informal Justice Systems.  In it, the report states that ‘…80% of disputes are resolved through informal justice systems in some countries’. The claim is based on research by Ewa Wojkowska .  The combination of the Informal Economy and Informal Justice is of course mesmerising.  If those two beasts can find some resonance with an Informal Security apparatus, then hey presto, you have a de facto State, but not one in the conventional family of nations, rather is it more like some globalised feudalism, a million miles from Manhattan.

Given the scale of this structure, perhaps we are beginning to see the socio-political representation of the gap between rich and poor, between the establishment and the people.  The emergence, or persistence of informal structures of justice and economy could be perceived as symptoms of state failure, or state illegitimacy; or indeed they could be seen as precursors to the disintegration of the State.  So many people with a community infrastructure entirely independent from the infrastructure of State – and, by extension, of the Nation State system, represent a potentially awesome force.  The liberal democratic global cosmopolitan ideal may just be a dream, doomed to failure just as Communism failed.  Whisper it – freedom may not be all it’s cracked up to be!

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