David Orban highlights the inverse proportional relationship between efficiency and resilience. When you have a fully efficient process it won’t be able to cope with even small changes in surrounding conditions. Whereas a system with some redundancy built in to cope with changes in conditions is less efficient (because that redundancy means increased costs for the same output).

Resilience I think can be decoupled from efficiency sometimes, but then it is usually coupled with effectivity. When the input/output ratio isn’t impacted, but the quality and utility of the output temporarily diminishes. Resilience is a component in how I think about networked agency.

Processes and systems that have been slimmed down to high efficiency as a result are often very brittle. In current affairs Brexit and the Corona virus are colliding with that brittleness, the first is a slow speed collission hard to look away from and the second one a more high speed collision. Whether it is disruption of (JIT) production or transport processes, or whether it is overwhelming healthcare systems, or both. The biggest impact on you of e.g. Covid-19 is likely not that you individually might fall ill and die, but the brittleness of systems that are impacted by it (production, delivery, mobility, healthcare availability also for other things than Covid-19) and how it impacts your personal life (running out of your meds, opportunity loss, slowing down of business, goods not arriving). Cascading system failures because of all the interdependencies.

I for instance have 3 products to be delivered from China, and the factories involved have been closed for well over a month now. One factory is now allowed to re-open and will take 6 weeks to get back on track. For me that is a trivial issue, but if you run a company that sells these products, or produce things that depend on a specific part that comes from a now closed factory, it isn’t trivial but a real and present issue.
More directly a healthcare system overwhelmed or even just starting to get impacted by Covid can lead to higher fatality rates amongst Covid patients (visible in Wuhan at the moment) as well as others. Currently there are 20 Covid patients in the Netherlands, and already three different ICU’s are closed for new patients. Not because they can’t handle the numbers, but because they had a Covid patient without realising and are now closed until they are certain there is no more risk of infection. This directly impacts e.g. where other types critical patients can go and be treated.

In that light the following articles are worth reading, about numbers, the likelihood of a pandemic, and brittleness of systems.

On the spread and transmission of Covid-19: Coronavirus’s Genetics Reveal Its Global Travels
On the impact of numbers: Forget about mortality rate, this is why you should be worried about coronavirus
From a business continuity perspective: Coronavirus Predictions and Business Impact: How Fast It Will Spread, Creating a Business Continuity Plan, and What You Should Stock Up On

And then think about what you can do to increase your personal resilience. E.g. by ensuring you have a month worth of your regular meds, or by having larger stocks than usual. At worst you’ve done your shopping a few weeks early, at best you are all set should you be required to isolate yourself at home for two weeks or more. Tthere’s not much of a down-side to taking such measures, while it prevents a large potential down-side.

Chris Grey’s Brexit blog is a very worthwile read, bringing up the energy to weekly take a detailed look at what is happening in the UK regarding Brexit. Where many others run screaming frustratedly, or deludedly shout ‘get it over with’ as if there’s a simple Gordian knot style solution to solving the complexity of Brexit, especially as it has become based on mutually exclusive notions, as per the quote. Getting it over with simply means you return to the exact same issues the next day, after having needlessly created a gaping hole in your legal framework as well as economy which do nothing but undermine your ability to solve those issues, merely having taken them from ‘important to solve’ to ‘extremely urgent to solve’.

Read Revolution and counter-revolution (chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com)

Brexit makes liars of everyone who tries to enact it, even if they are not by nature as mendacious as Johnson or as destructive as Cummings. For it derives ultimately from the lies within the Vote Leave campaign itself which, at heart, promised that Brexit could be done without negative consequences. This led May into such tortured positions on, for example, maintaining ‘frictionless trade’ whilst leaving the institutions that make that possible. It is still present in Johnson and the Brexiters’ underlying position that there can be an open border in Ireland whilst leaving the institutions that make that possible.

The Irish government started planning for Brexit in 2014, a full 2 years before the UK referendum, and lobbied both EU and Cameron to secure a yes vote. In contrast it seems the UK started debating the impact of Brexit on the Irish border in earnest about two weeks before the 29 March cliff-edge. “Easiest deal in history” and all that.

Bookmarked How the Irish backstop emerged as May’s Brexit nemesis (the Guardian)

Ireland was streets ahead of the UK when it came to planning for Britain’s exit

What a bleak description from the inside of the House of Commons. There really is no gap between voters and politicians, they’re all blindly groping in the dark. The dread is palpable, with Brexit being a way to express it more than its cause. The dread expresses itself differently elsewhere. We sense change is coming, is here, we sense our institutions and structures are ill equipped for it, while individually we feel change is affecting us like the weather, rolling over us, powerless to change it. The question is does that dread push you to reactionary positions and fear, melancholia for something that never existed in the first place? Or do you look around you for the tools that are within your grasp and start building, disregarding what has no immediate meaning for your own agency? The MP in this article seems to think the existing structures can’t be challenged, even while acknowledging the structures show themselves to be made of sand. Lamenting a lack of agency in the midst of where (in)decision will determine the outcome. Feeling trapped like this MP’s constituents themselves, not realizing the potential tools scattered around her/him. That makes this MP part of the problem, not the forced-to-be-passive-bystander s/he claims to be.

This definitely aligns with what I’ve seen in my network in the past two years. Whether it is just relocating the company to Estonia administratively, to run it online within the single market, or upping sticks and relocating with the company and the family to the EU27. Or getting a EU27 nationality to be able to keep doing what they’re doing within the EU27. While some of the bigger companies moving HQs or starting new subsidiaries is more visible, I already wondered when and how the invisible shift of a few jobs here, a handful there, to the EU27 would become a major news item. As they say here in the Netherlands, SME’s are the motor of the economy, not the juggernauts. Seeing a steady trickle of those SMEs move away from the UK can’t but end up having a big impact economically.