The art of governing without government

First, watch this Bruce Lee video

Belgium "had no government" for 535 days. Lots of people use the same words to describe the situation in Belgium.

The odd thing about this period of no government was that Belgium’s government was very busy. For example, the non-government nationalized one of the country’s largest banks. Less importantly, your humble blogger had numerous meetings that were attended by representatives of Belgium’s non-government.

How is this possible?

The answer, of course, is that Belgium’s government functions fine – fine enough to bail out a huge bank! – without significant input from elected officials. If elected officials are around to validate the decisions of the permanent government, that’s great. If not, the government gets on just fine.

Call it the art of governing without government.


9 Responses to The art of governing without government

  1. ThomasT says:

    About 2 months ago there was a very amusing discussion on the lefty blog “Crooked Timber” about just that. Several commenters approvingly noted how the absence of an elected government prevented Belgium from passing austerity measures. The Moldbug truly was strong in some of them.

  2. Belgian politics emphasizes more on the regional level. Say if there’s an agreement between the Flanders and the Walloonia, a bank is bailed then. The regional government takes good care of their own region with or without a central government in Belgium. In my opinion they should either set the beef straight between each other (which is unlikely to be settled for good) or split up in the end.

    BTW, enter the dragon, a fantastic movie.

  3. […] Belgium is governed without government (i.e. elected officials). Published: December 7, 2011 Leave a Comment Name: Required […]

  4. sardonic_sob says:

    Slightly off this topic, I thought this article might Amuse you:

    Money quote: “…[I]f Bolton kicked off his tenure as Secretary of State by attempting a “complete, thoroughgoing transformation” of the agency, including the culture of its employees, the certain outcome would be that he’d accomplish nothing.”

  5. Alrenous says:

    You made me realize I made this mistake again here.

    If I were a top politician, I would be in position to know roughly how irrelevant I am to actual governance. I would quite likely not feel responsible at all about any particular bad outcome.

    Second, bureaucracies are designed, among other things, to psychologically isolate the bureaucrats from feeling responsible.

    So…well, that’s everyone who might actually feel responsible.

  6. dearieme says:

    There’s a famous story of some old bird being told that the Labour Party had won the British general election in 1945. “Never mind” she said “the government won’t let them do too much harm”.

  7. Taggart says:


    Don’t know if you saw this. You said a while back that now people can buy GLD, and it’s beyond FDR’s reach. That’s true, but it looks like a lot of gold ETF’s are defacto privatized fiat currency as well. Physical gold seems like the best route (or Swiss Francs). Love the blog.

  8. Doug1 says:


    Yeah there’s a very funny in a dry British sort of way BBC I think TV series called Yes Prime Minister about just that.

  9. […] Surely the Conservative party won the elections, but they don’t run the government. It runs itself, as Foseti can tell you. It all makes much more sense if you take the parties out of the […]

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