In response to an FT article by Martin Wolf on 26th January 2016, entitled 'The economic losers are in revolt against the elites'
Throughout history, when major political and economic problems surface, a few things at least are common:
1. Problems are not isolated, they form part of a trend. Governments and elites typically approach issues as individual items, missing the pattern or the trend - hence the old saw, 'can't see the wood for the trees'
2. Major dislocations don't just appear, they 'surface' over time and accelerate exponentially in the final stages until they enter a 'phase transition'. On a graph this looks like a hockey stick that goes vertical - look at a graph of central bank balance sheets for a current example. The potential for societal collapse, which you are rightly concerned about, when it happens - occurs in the same manner as bankruptcy - very slowly then all at once
3. The actions of 'elites' are always at the centre of events - that is where the power is - it could not be any other way. Typically the elites identify the problem as 'populism' and focus their attention on how to nullify or discredit the mouthpieces for this 'populism' - this is missing the point - the people who hold power need a mirror not a list of suspects
4. The 'elites' demonstrate a desire to hold on to power until that power is removed, sometimes and in more recent history, through the ballot box, sometimes though violence and the collapse of order
5. As society nears the final stage of the process, the denial and complacency that categorises earlier stages morphs into panic in private, strong words in public, and policies which attempt to 'control' the 'masses'. This may work for a time, but ultimately it fails because on some level people get the experience that 'the people running things just don't get it'
Reading your article I'm not sure you get it yet, and I'm pretty sure that most, if not all, of the elites you spent last week with are clueless. For example, and hopefully without getting bogged in the rights and wrongs of the Syrian crisis and the knock-on effects of that, it is clear that Mrs Merkel's absence in Davos last week is symptomatic that she doesn't 'get it'. If she did, she would not have made a unilateral decision, as it turned out, on behalf of 28 member states of the EU. You can see the same syndrome of blinkered policies leading to massive unforeseen consequences going back to the Bush/Blair war, to name another example.
It is difficult, probably impossible to name one factor that explains the populist trends that are surfacing around the globe right now, but I find it quite amazing that one of the phrases that doesn't appear in your analysis is 'global debt crisis'. Neither does the phrase 'bankrupt global monetary system'. It used to be said, 'who has the gold, has the power'. For the past forty years that has not been true, but what has been true is 'who controls the debt, calls the shots'.
We have a global monetary system which centralises power in the hands of a global elite, which favours the rich over the poor, and which requires an ever expanding pile of debt to stop it collapsing in on itself. The folks in Davos last week, run this system, and are the beneficiaries of it - yet I didn't hear one word coming out of Davos about that.
The monetary system is a Ponzi scheme Mr Wolf, managed through a rigged deck. It effects everyone's life whether they are aware of it or not:
a) It is totally unsuitable for the maintenance of an economic system that creates wealth, after a certain point - that point is 'peak debt' and we have reached it.
b) It is totally unsuitable for the maintenance of a political system that gives people an equal voice
c) It is unsuitable for a political and economic system that gives people the experience that they are being told the truth - why? Because it's a con Mr Wolf, and cons have to be run in the dark
And the 'elites' don't get it. They need a mirror, not a list of suspects.