If you’re looking for reasons to think we’ve fallen over the cliff, you don’t need to look very hard. It’s on our television screens, all over social media, it’s in the queues now for petrol, and the jittery sense that prevails in retail outlets even far from areas of unrest and looting. It’s the dull sounds that puncture the day: faraway explosions or just daily activity?

The opinion pages of this newspaper in recent days, seeking to capture the lawlessness and criminality that have taken hold and the resulting national mood, have been replete with metaphors of mazes and dark woods. It would be naive indeed to pretend that what we’re confronting isn’t deeply sinister and of the shadows...

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