[Site notice: Re-posting this now (originally posted 7/19/2011) due to a timely observation (of an older post) from Disinfo.com commenter SuddenlySpam.] A blast from the past for all you newshounds. Enjoy via the Times:
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Modern civilisation may not be quite as safe as we thought. Britain’s security services have been privately warning their staff that western societies are just 48 hours from anarchy. MI5’s maxim is that society is “four meals away from anarchy”. In other words, the security agency believes that Britain could be quickly reduced to large-scale disorder, including looting and rioting in the event of a catastrophe that stops the supply of food.
The maxim will provoke debate over whether MI5 is over-egging the threat, partly to justify its rapidly growing budget. It also opens a wider question as to whether civilised societies could so quickly revert to primitive behaviour. MI5 — whose motto is “regnum defende”, defend the realm — uses the “four meals” rule to assess the threat levels from attacks on strategic installations, such as computer networks and power stations; natural disasters; or widespread strikes and civil disobedience.