Without a significant change in government direction, my feeling is that civil disobedience/unrest is all but inevitable this autumn and winter over fuel prices, rampant inflation and the consequent poverty many are being forced into.
In an odd way, civil disobedience has already become a common thing on our roads since the first Covid lockdown. I refer of course to red light jumping and excessive speeding which has become all but the norm for too many drivers. So we’ve already got a section of our society who frankly have taken the view that the rules of the road are just not for them and that’s a simple choice they’ve made with no pressure upon them to do it.
The next stage in the breakdown of our social order will be by folk with nothing, who probably can’t even afford to run a car, who can’t pay their fuel bills and may not even be able to eat regularly due to the cost of living. Our governments have been growing this section of our society for quite a while now as the ever-expanding use of food banks attests to. Now, however, the numbers being pushed into poverty are growing hugely due to inflation and fuel costs. This winter could prove to be a breaking point and it may well start with large numbers of people simply refusing to pay their fuel bills, indeed campaigns to organise such civil resistance are building right now.
But will refuse to pay stop there? How about folks stopping paying their council tax bills, their water bills, TV License bills etc. etc. Surely, those will follow and pretty soon our whole civil society will be breaking up. The wealthy will, of course, weather the storm or will they? Depending on how things develop we could see the rebalancing of wealth within our society although our politicians will fight hard against such a move. What I’m saying is that this process could well put our unbalanced capital-based society/economy under threat and many would be happy for that to happen. You never know Universal Basic Income (UBI) may well be a positive outcome from the chaos.
Politicians in power can of course put in place mitigating measures to stop the worst from happening but can you see our weak government and ineffective opposition pulling significant levers and putting the interests of those with little or nothing first? That goes against pretty much everything our governments have stood for as long as we can remember. And the small levers they’ve pulled so far? They’ll hardly make a dent in the economic hardship many will face.
Just look at Sri Lanka to see how a reasonably well-ordered society can collapse due to shortages of pretty much everything and rampant inflation. We are nowhere near that sort of collapse but we are in the foothills of such an economic catastrophe.
If I had a God I’d probably now say, as Dave Allen always did, ‘may your God go with you’ because if you’ve got little of nothing the outlook looks bleak indeed. I hope I’m wrong and that we can find leaders who will make poverty and its causes a major priority, but I’ll not be holding my breath.