Brutalism sums it up really. Unsurprisingly, many of those crumbling schools in England and Scotland are of the "Brutalist" brand of architecture.

If, like me, you grew up on a housing estate in the 1970s, brutalism was life’s backdrop; monstrous concrete everywhere, lines as hard as the lives of the working class: your family, your neighbours. That was the purpose: art imitating life. The schools and the homes built of rotten concrete were only for the poor. Why make their lives beautiful, or even passable for that matter? This was "make-do-ism" of the worst order; class as architecture.

A taste for Brutalism usually lies among the same bunch who find Buckfast cocktails funny and ironic. As Jarvis Cocker said, though, everybody hates a tourist. Especially when they holiday in other people’s misery. Brutalism makes me think of broken glass and stabbings, not some high watermark of egalitarian design.

But, I suppose, at least homes, schools and hospitals were built in decades gone, even if they were cheap and perishable for the masses. Where are the homes for the masses today? They’re crumbling too, like our schools. You’ll recall the case of two-year-old Awaab Ishak who died from exposure to mould in his Rochdale housing association flat.

Read more: We are sacrificing our children. What's become of this country?

Is there a better metaphor for the state of this country - England, Scotland, all of us in Britain - than a crumbling school? We’re a nation falling apart at the seams, a country which cannot even send its own children to class without the risk of a ceiling falling on them.

How many times do you now hear the words "everything just seems broken"? Workmen were at my home recently and as we sat over tea the talk was almost exclusively of national collapse. At family parties, in the pub with friends, bumping into acquaintances at the shops or park, all you hear is: "Everything’s broken".

This refrain isn’t some nihilistic counsel of despair. It’s the inescapable truth. It’s not just schools crumbling, every other pillar of society seems to be coming down too.

Our frontline public servants are at breaking point. Police officers can barely police as they now act as a form of mental health care. Why? Too few social workers, and not enough mental health capacity in the NHS.

There aren’t enough teachers to teach - even in dilapidated and dangerous classrooms. Nor are there enough support staff for children with special needs: youngsters now going to the wall through lack of help.

Our NHS is on its damn knees. None of us can see our GPs when we want. Dentistry is out of reach for so many there’s been a spate of DIY treatments.

The media is broken; trust is gone, it operates not in pursuit of truth but of clicks. Journalism now adds to the confusion and rage in society rather than finding a way through.

Militarily and on the world’s stage we make a disgraceful figure: we cut and run from Afghanistan leaving a people we occupied to fend for themselves against the Taliban.

Our streets are littered, there are rats, our roads are pot-holed, there is sewage on beaches and in rivers. There are food banks, there are warm banks. Mothers and fathers go hungry to feed their kids.

And worst of all, we’re an atomised people. Life in those brutalist housing schemes in the 1970s was grim, but there was unity among communities. Today, so few of us know even our own neighbours. An epidemic of loneliness abounds. Social media has divided us down to the solitary human alone with their screen. We crumble just like that concrete.

Read more: Neil Mackay: A tale of two Britains: the bankers and the broken

Politics and government crumble too. The UK Government rails against the failures in society - a society it has been in charge of since 2010. Prime ministers arrive, cause damage, create chaos and then go. In Scotland, our Government cannot build a ferry. Laws that are meant to pass never pass. Government in Scotland and England has divided the people on constitutional grounds: politicians have turned us against one another.

And every day the sense of stability for ordinary folk, let alone the poorest in society, is eroded that little bit more. Energy prices go up, food prices go up, but your wages don’t, and Christmas isn’t far away now, so what happens then?

And what do our politicians do? Bang the drum of their private obsessions - whether that’s independence or unionism; woke or anti-woke. They throw corrosive acid on a social edifice that is already rotting away.

It’s no consolation to say that we’re part of a wider global breakdown. Whether it’s in mighty America, coup-rattled Africa, or European nations watching fascism rise, the foundations are rocking everywhere. What is global mass migration but proof that people are running from collapse in their countries?

Read more: Cat-children, Lewis Capaldi and the truth about today’s kids

And the greatest breakdown is all around us: the global climate. Disaster isn’t just coming, it’s here. Yet how do political leaders react? With delay, with diversion, with doubt.

The sense that everything is broken is deadly. Faith in democracy is shaken all around the "free! world, at the very time when dictatorship is on its hind legs in Russia and China, howling and power-hungry. The very greatest risk from this sense that "everything’s broken"? Enough of us simply despair of democracy and look to strongmen for answers.

That’s when things really start falling apart.

There is a solution though, a way of addressing all our problems from broken schools to broken politics. And it’s not revolutionary. Just days ago, the Nobel laureate for economics, Professor Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank, was contemplating how to rebuild from this mess we’re in: fixing economic and political inequality is the only means of protecting democracy.

Taxation, education, and regulation all favour the rich, the media - both old and new - is dominated by billionaires. Public investment has stagnated. The scales need rebalanced.

Listen to the voices saying "everything’s broken". It’s not the rich. It’s the rest of us. But, as Stiglitz says, rebuilding requires dramatic economic reform. “We can begin to enhance the wellbeing of all citizens fairly,” he says, only when we create “shared prosperity”. Nobody is asking for revolution, just some bloody fairness before it’s all too late.