Degeneration of the welfare states
The aspirations of citizens in the majority of the EU member states have been promoted and strengthened over decades by the development of the states' social services. The decoupling of achievement, as well as the decoupling of entitlement to assistance and its "earmarking", have raised the level of citizens' expectations. This goes hand in hand with a de-solidarization of societies, insofar as the individual first wants to assert their claims. Naturally, they see their fellow citizens as direct competitors in their struggle for social resources.
Driven by continuous economic growth and – by historical standards – a very long period of peace, the member states have developed their social systems and thus contributed directly and indirectly to the diminishing solidarity of their societies. Proven social structures and networks have been sacrificed on the altar of redistribution. The policy of European integration has acted as an accelerant by linking the entitlement to social benefits with EU fundamental freedoms. Internal migration from the weaker to the stronger social systems has been the consequence. This development puts pressure on the national economies to such an extent that no consideration is given to whether the states concerned can actually finance this additional expenditure on social benefits.
Last autumn, for example, Austria passed a law that would index family allowances for children of employees living in other EU countries according to the cost of living index in these countries. In a joint letter, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovenia called on EU Labour Commissioner Marianne Thyssen to examine whether the Austrian measure was in line with EU law. In an initial statement, the European Commission emphasised that indexation was not permitted under European law. The Brussels authority threatened Austria with infringement proceedings.
This is just one example among many, but it clearly demonstrates that the social systems of EU states are degenerating. The ageing of the population, economic and financial crises, increasing unemployment, but above all the massive influx of immigrants from third countries are intensifying the fight for increasingly scarce social resources. Through their integration policy, the EU states have restricted their own room for manoeuvre: due to the principle of non-discrimination a reduction in social benefits must always affect everyone, including the citizens of their own country. If the EU economies want to be able to continue financing their social systems, they will have to continue redistributing social resources. Where redistribution is no longer possible, the only option is to raise taxes en masse.
It was mentioned at the beginning that humans tend to simplify complex issues and break them down into causal chains. With reference to the yellow vests movement in France, there are numerous explanatory patterns in public discourse that illuminate one or the other aspect. It would probably be too much for human understanding to portray these incidents and the related effects in all their complexity. However, no one is stopping us from learning from history. "One of the most important lessons from Rome's fall is that complexity has a cost"  While for decades the historical view was cultivated that the Roman Empire was destroyed by invading peoples, experts today see things in a much more differentiated way. "As stated in the laws of thermodynamics, it takes energy to maintain any system in a complex, ordered state – and human society is no exception. By the 3rd Century, Rome was increasingly adding new things – an army double the size, cavalry, subdivided provinces that each needed their own bureaucracies, courts and defences – just to maintain its status quo and keep from sliding backwards. Eventually, it could no longer afford to prop up these heightened complexities. It was fiscal weakness, not war that did the Empire in."