What does (a solution to) state failure look like?


*The following article is an abridged version of the piece How can business chambers fight back against state failure? Click here to view the longer version.

The reality of state failure

The state is rapidly losing the ability to govern at all levels of government and across multiple functions. Most notably, we see total mismanagement of national, provincial, and municipal infrastructure and a steady loss of policing capacity to combat crime.

The result is severely deteriorating business conditions as disintegrating shared economic infrastructure and worsening violent and organised crime raise business operating costs and risks to untenable levels, harming productivity.

These conditions of failure and economic hardship lead increasingly to a financially stressed state. In the state’s desperate attempts to wrestle more funds and resources from productive, wealth-creating businesses and communities, we have seen an escalation in corruption, patronage, and harmful legislation and regulation designed to bring private assets more under its control and direct resources to state-favoured cronies.

However, these actions of a desperate government have hastened its failure and seen state and governmental authority recede from many spheres and in some cases virtually disappear altogether – whether it be from the running of local municipalities, the management of regional or national infrastructure like railways, the maintenance of safety and security, and much else.

The opportunity (and threats) of state failure

The gaps, or vacuums, of order and governance left by the receding state constitute both a threat and an opportunity. A threat because in their place can result chaos, disorder, and organised criminality. This is an opportunity because these gaps can be filled by organised groups restoring order and governance in the public interest.

Sakeliga's Mission: Building Scalable Solutions to State Failure

Three keys to harness the opportunity

Business communities can realise this opportunity if they become organised, and ready and willing to:

  1. Take responsibility for creating a favourable business environment (not relying on the state or government structures).
  2. Act independently with or without permission from the government.
  3. Have a vision to take control of the essential structures that allow for flourishing businesses, communities, and local economies.

A new mindset for business chambers

Many business communities in local towns continue to expect their failing local governments to reform and fix their own mess. This is a strategy with a poor track record. Many try to build wide consensus among various stakeholders or “get government buy-in” before they act, which tends to mire their plans in endless meetings, politics, and community apathy. And many have not yet realised that organised business communities have the know-how, funding, and direct interest to take control of the essential structures that allow for a more flourishing environment for businesses and the communities they serve.

Thankfully, this is changing. Business chambers and organisations in the Sakeliga Business Chamber Support Network have realised the opportunity they have to fill the gaps left by the receding state with focused and realistic solutions. This network is growing, forming a collaborative knowledge hub for scaling local economic reform, with or without permission from the state.