” Our vast, corrupt and unsustainable political economy would just have to collapse from its own internal contradictions… ”
That’s a quote from my Homepage. ~R
Touching on the similar idea from an alternative perspective.
On The Breakdown Of Nations
Leopold Kohr was born in the village of Oberndorf in central Austria (population approx 2,000).
Kohr went on to study with the likes of fellow Austrian thinker Friedrich von Hayek.
In 1938 he left Europe for America, a place he would make his home for the next 25 years.
In September 1941 Kohr wrote the first part of what would become his masterwork; The Breakdown of Nations.
In it he argued that Europe should be “cantonized” back into the sort of small, political regions that had existed in the past, and that still persisted in democratic hold-outs like Switzerland. It all comes down to scale.
As Kirkpatrick Sale puts it in his foreword to ‘The Breakdown of Nations’,
“What matters in the affairs of a nation, is the size of the unit.
“A nation becomes too big when it can no longer provide its citizens with the services they expect – defence, roads, post, health, coins, courts and the like – without amassing such complex institutions and bureaucracies that they actually end up preventing the very ends they are intending to achieve, a phenomenon that is now commonplace in the modern industrialised world.
“It is not the character of the building or the nation that matters, nor is it the virtue of the agents or leaders that matters, but rather the size of the unit: even saints asked to administer a building of 400 floors or a nation of 200 million people would find the job impossible.”
Kohr showed that there are unavoidable limits to the growth of societies, in the real world, there are finite limits beyond which it does not make sense to grow. Kohr argued that only small states can have true democracies, because only in small states can the citizen have some direct influence over the governing authorities. When asked what had most influenced his political and social ideas, Kohr replied: “Mostly that I was born in a small village.”
The euro zone in particular is an object lesson in an unwieldy, oversized, dysfunctional political construct haphazardly cobbled together among irreconcilable cultural entities.
Wherever something is wrong, wrote Kohr, something is too big. The answer is not to grow, embracing even more disparate states within a failing currency union with make-it-up-as- you-go-along rules. The answer is to stop growing.
The answer to the ‘too big’ problem lies not in ever greater union – but in division.
“We have ridiculed the many little states,” wrote Kohr, sadly; “Now we are terrorized by their few successors.”
Of course it is in the nature of bureaucracies to grow – uncontrollably, like a cancer.
And there is a degree of power (military and financial) that comes from being bigger.
Hence our current Too Big To Fail problems.
But I would argue that it isn’t just our macro institutions, but the regular ones as well that would benefit from being broken up and downsized.
That would certainly be seen as a threat by many who work in these areas, but they would also be the first to admit that the job they are supposed to be doing, gets swallowed up in the bureaucratic requirements of “accountability” (sic). The paperwork reporting they have to do, takes more time than the actual job. Teaching is a classic example here, but they strenuously resist any move to change the system (I’ll concede that a part of that is because the ‘change’ often offered, comes with a whole raft of other hidden agenda issues…)
Yes, change would be difficult, but seriously what is the alternative. Too big to fail hospitals, schools and militaries for example – that still fail anyway.
By any measure they fail already.
Some sort of version/variant of Cantons has to be imagined, tried, tested and implemented.
At least then if a part fails, it can be addressed and fixed.
Too-Big-To-Fail, means they are Too-Big-To-Be-Fixed as well…