stealth of nations
Bob Neuwirth’s book on the economies that operate completely independent of the State is an indictment on State effectiveness, and State Legitimacy.

In considering the concept of state legitimacy, we need to understand why is it so important?  I’ve mentioned before that there are two kinds of legitimacy as I see it, an internal legitimacy and an external legitimacy.  External legitimacy is that conferred upon a sovereign state by the international community, affording it standing in the community of nations, making it entitled to trade and interact in international affairs.  Internal legitimacy is that internal relationship between the state and its people, wherein the state is recognised as representative, or authoritative in matters such as justice, taxation and (to a greater or lesser degree) morality.

In order to understand why legitimacy is important, we should consider what happens when it disappears.  We need to consider this in respect of both internal and external legitimacy.  External legitimacy is perhaps easier to consider, as there are so many well documented examples, and because the legitimating forces are clear and easily measurable; when the international community describes a country as a failed state, it is primarily in relation to its external legitimacy.  Sanctions are usually the first indicator.  The International Community decides, in its wisdom, that due to some breach in the rules – formal or otherwise – a State, and in particular its régime, needs to alter its behaviour in order to be considered persona grata.  The State becomes isolated, trade opportunities become limited, and economic progress is retarded.  This happened in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, North Korea, Syria, Somalia – the list goes on.

Passport_to_Pimlico_film
Scotland, Northern Ireland, maybe Wales? What about Pimlico?

The United Kingdom is under tremendous strain of late.  It may not appear to be at first glance, but considering the following points.

First, there is the long struggle as retrenchment from Empire finally reaches its apotheosis, and the multicultural misfit that has wracked both The Netherlands and France.  Legitimacy amounts to different things for each cultural grouping, whether that is the legitimacy of the police service (amidst allegations of institutional racism), or the problem with British Muslim representation.