Tuesday, August 09, 2011

The true cost

Simon Walker has some interesting thoughts in his excellent book on the things we have witnessed in our nation over these past days:

"The true cost of losing social capital

Healthy societies have always relied to a great extent on their social capital to contain their underclass; but if that capital is reduced, more people—young, elderly, sick, unemployable—slip down, into the ‘nether world’ inhabited by the likes of Paris’s invisible old people in 2003 and the poor of New Orleans in 2005. As I have argued above, in the absence of the informal social care provided by our social capital, the state has to take responsibility for policing, supporting and caring for the community. It is inevitable that, for both financial and logistical reasons, it is not going to be able to do so.

If it is true that the underclass in the West is being swollen both by the dispirited migrant communities and as a result of the loss of our social capital, we are in trouble—for two reasons, one economic and the other to do with security. First, our society will not be able to afford the cost of care for all those who need it. Second, it will become increasingly difficult (as well as expensive) to police the global underclass, which is the primary source of the growing criminal population, dehumanized by a mix of cynicism, boredom, hopelessness and anger. Dealing with this population worldwide will be far costlier than addressing the causes. However, the really insurmountable obstacle to containing the global underclass is that it now wields an unconventional power of its own.

Ironically, the very technology that so often we have assumed to be accelerating our progress towards a more humane society is also enabling the forces of chaos to work towards its destruction. Mobile phone technology, for example, allows al-Qa’ida’s loose network to coordinate its activities and to manage its funds. Technology is morally blind, and the opportunities the Web provides for invisible, untraceable flow of information helps a group of terrorists to operate just as much as it helps a group of social entrepreneurs."

Simon P Walker, Book Three, The Undefended Leader Trilogy: Leading with Everything to Give, Lessons from the Success and Failure of Western Capitalism, 2008 and 2011

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