On the eve of a potential "government shutdown", whatever that is, the answer lies in what the "system" really is. That in itself, is a subject worth a book or two let alone a simple diary. I have been silent for a while and I think I'll take another crack at defining the system as I see it.
Systems theory has been around for a long time and has many versions. The particular version I use is rather unique as it comes from the complexity theory developed initially by Robert Rosen. It is a direct attack on the Cartesian mechanist/reductionist model of the world that provides the popular model of the system.
With that introduction come with me below the break and we will compare my model with the, popular model and try to give a short answer to the big question posed in the title.
The "law of unintended consequences" will be in full force if this shut down actually occurs. Beyond the obvious political theater, this whole episode promises to reveal much more than its perpetrators are bargaining for. Language is very peculiar thing at times like this. Both the words "government" and "shutdown" have been thrown around like mad yet are relatively without meaning other than as slogans.
The very fact that congress will continue to collect pay is one small example. No, the government is there shut down or not. Some services may halty, yet even there what percentage of the total?
So what exactly is the system and how much of it is actually under the control of agents like congress and the executive? The,opponents of government may actually over estimate its importance in the system. They have worked hard to remove any agency that serves to let the people stay in some small measure of control.
Meanwhile the corporate monster that has no limits to its appetite grinds on unimpaired. Is that the system? Oddly not even it can claim that title. We can see it attempting to control more and more, especially in the area of food production for it can not exist if we have no food. It already controls production and energy sources. So what makes the plutocrats that pretend to control the corporate beast so uneasy? Could it be that they are beginning to realize that even with total control the beast can not be tamed? Are they learning the main lesson of relational systems theory, namely that the human component to the big system is more under its control than controlling it?
Buried in all this is the economy, profits, etc. Try to imagine the basic core of what must happen to avoid collapse. People must eat and drink water. They need shelter of some kind. Certain kinds of health care need to be provided. Certain things need to be produced if these things are to be accomplished. So what is going to be shut down? ANY of this? If so the result should be chaos. But in fact what is being shut down has little impact on the system.
The plutocrats will continue to stuff themselves. The press will continue to obfuscate and distract us from the men behind the curtain. Little do they know how unnecessary this really is for the system is using those men rather than the opposite.
Complex adaptive systems are indeed marvelous things for you can remove parts, block pathways, and try to disturb them in many ways only to see them go on using unexpected means.
That is my answer to the question posed in the title of this diary. No it is not even broken. What seems to be giving way is the false model of of what it is. The illusion of control is fading fast. The illusion that one course of action or another can get us out of this mess is also fading. If the consequence of all this theater is that this reality begins to become visible we may see some really important unintended consequences.
What puzzles me most is that the human agents in all this are willing to risk that. Could it be that they have no clue?