Tag Archives: Decentralization

Flying Blind, by James Howard Kunstler

We’re transitioning to a more decentralized way of life, and nobody in Washington gets the joke. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

Events are in the driver’s seat now, not personalities. Gil Scott-Heron was right way back in the day when he said, “the revolution will not be televised.” Only what he called “revolution” turns out to be collapse, led by the disintegrating news business, so that the people of this land are flying blind into a maelstrom of hardship. Everything is going south at once here, and you probably don’t know it.

If you think we’re headed into a transhuman nirvana of continuous tech-assisted orgasm, social equity, and guaranteed basic income, you are going to be disappointed. Our actual destination is a neo-medieval time-out from all the techno-dazzle of recent decades. It’s not as bad as you might think. The human project will continue at a lower pitch, probably for a good long while, but minus most of the comforts and conveniences we’re used to, and with very different social arrangements. You can waste your energy hand-wringing and wailing over all this, or summon the fortitude to go where history is taking us and make something of it.

The old economy is wrecked. Many Americans already know this because they’ve lost their businesses and their livelihoods. What used to be there isn’t coming back. But there will always be ways to make yourself useful providing things and services that other people need, just not within the crumbling armature of the economy we’re leaving behind. There will be a lot of debris left in the way to overcome, especially the crap we’ve smeared all over the landscape.

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Decentralize New York City! by Gregory Bresiger

New York City’s other four boroughs haven’t been too happy about being governed from Manhattan, since long before Bill de Blasio was mayor. From Gregory Besiger at mises.org:

New York’s Forgotten Borough Is Persecuted

Some New Yorkers have a devolution message for our Manhattan elites: let us go.

The battle between liberty and runaway big government is a history of imperious empires crushing political, economic, and geographic minorities. We see such a battle in New York City, whose Manhattan-based municipal government, operating in a mostly one-party system, persecutes a unique part of the city called Staten Island as well other distant areas.

The city’s enforcement of covid regulations has been harsh on the island. Staten Island’s bars and restaurants have been badly hurt by city and state regulations. But Staten Islanders, whose political preferences are different from those of the city’s ruling powers, had had many grievances for years before the covid lockdowns.

A Battle for Local Liberty

Staten Island is so unlike the rest of New York City that many of its citizens have been trying to win a decentralization battle for decades. Indeed, in the 1993 municipal elections Staten Islanders voted overwhelmingly to leave New York City.

Ultimately, Staten Island and some other overtaxed New Yorkers in this mismanaged sprawling city hate being governed by a Manhattan ruling class that often scorns and misunderstands “outer borough” residents. (i.e., those not living in Manhattan). This Manhattan ruling class quietly regards most of us as bunch of Guidos, Archie Bunkers, or local Babbitts. We are the New York City version of “deplorables.”

It is the essence of imperious government: a big political unit will not let a small unit quietly succeed. The nature of imperial government is always to hold on to everything.

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Forecast 2021 — Chinese Fire Drills with a side of French Fries (Jacobin-style) and Russian Dressing, by James Howard Kunstler

Jim Kunstler has a long list of provocative and contrarian predictions. From Kunstler at kunstler.com:

As I write, the presidential election is still not resolved, with dramatic events potentially unfolding in the first days of the New Year. I’m not convinced that Mr. Trump is in as weak a position as the news media has made him out to be in these post-election months of political fog and noise. The January 6 meet-up of the Senate and House to confirm the electoral college votes may yet propel matters into a constitutional Lost World of political monsterdom. The tension is building. This week’s public demonstration by one Jovan Hutton Pulitzer of the easy real-time hackability of Dominion Voting Systems sure threw the Georgia lawmakers for a loop, and that demo may send reverberations into next Wednesday’s DC showdown.

There may be some other eleventh-hour surprises coming from the Trump side of the playing field. As I averred Monday, we still haven’t heard anything from DNI Ratcliffe, and you can be sure he’s sitting on something, perhaps something explosive, say, evidence of CIA meddling in the election. There have been ominous hints of something screwy in Langley for weeks. The Defense Dept., under Secretary Miller, took over all the CIA’s field operational functions before Christmas — “No more black ops for you!” That was a big deal. There were rumors of CIA Director Gina Haspel being in some manner detained, deposed and…talking of dark deeds. She was, after all, the CIA’s London station-chief during the time that some of the worst RussiaGate shenanigans took place there involving the international men-of-mystery, Stefan Halper, Josepf Mifsud, and Christopher Steele. Mr. Ratcliffe seemed to be fighting with the CIA in the weeks following the election over their slow-walking documents he had demanded.

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Why I’m Hopeful About 2021, by Charles Hugh Smith

The object is not to restore the 2019 status quo, but to let it crash and replace it with something better. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

What we need is not a return to the corrupt, tottering kleptocracy of 2019, but a re-democratization of capital, agency and money.

I’m hopeful about 2021, and no, it’s not because of the vaccines or the end of lockdowns or anything related to Covid. The status quo is cheering the fantasy that we’ll soon return to the debt-soaked glory days of 2019 when everything was peachy.

The problem with this “brand” of magical thinking is that stripped of self-serving PR, the world of 2019 was an autocratic kleptocracy stripmining the planet to enrich the few at the expense of the many. Viewed through this lens, what’s hopeful isn’t returning to an autocratic kleptocracy but moving beyond it.

The most hopeful thing in my mind is that the Status Quo is devolving from its internal contradictions and excesses. Here’s the status quo in a nutshell:

The solution to too much debt is more debt.

The solution to autocratic elites hogging wealth and power is to give the elites more wealth and power.

And so on: every status quo “solution” boils down to doing more of what’s failed spectacularly because it serves the interests of the few at the top of the wealth-power pyramid.

The Great Reset is a perfect example of this insanity: now that we’ve destroyed the planet with our private jets, greed and corruption, give us even more power over you.

The status quo is a perverse, intensely destructive system with powerful incentives for predation, exploitation, fraud and complicity. That’s the world of 2019; do we really want to go back to that? And even if we could, how long would it last? Another year or two? And at what cost to social cohesion and the planet?

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The Benefits of Secession Are Becoming Increasingly Obvious, by Ryan McMaken

As SLL has said before, it’s time for a divorce. Split American into two or more countries. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

If it seems like the topic of secession is increasingly in the media in recent years, it’s not just your imagination. From “Calexit,” to Brexit, to Catalonia, and to Scottish independence, the topic of breaking up nation-states into smaller pieces has increasingly forced itself into the foreground.

In the United States, the discussion has become muted in the past two years—but has not disappeared—as activists on both left and right have decided to wait and see how the next election turns out. But expect a resurgence of secession talk from the side that loses the presidency once the race is over.

But thanks to relentless growth in federal power over American states and American communities, this issue is unlikely to go away. It appears that Americans are increasingly fearful that national majorities and national political institutions can be used to attack the culture, legal rights, and lifestyles of those who might find themselves a part of a national minority.

Unless these powers are scaled back, it is increasingly likely that secession or some other form of national disunion will become the last option for many who fear the destruction of self-rule and self-determination within the United States.

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Doug Casey on Whether It’s Possible to Find Freedom in an Unfree World

The short answer is no, it’s not possible to find freedom in an unfree world, the best you can do is have enough money that you can in some measure protect yourself. From Doug Casey at internationalman.com:

Freedom

A growing number of people are interested in using the State’s power to tell others how to live. They are also voting themselves freebies at the expense of others.

It’s clear that those who want to be left alone won’t be. Is it possible to find freedom in an unfree place?

Doug Casey: Back in 1973, my old friend Harry Browne wrote a really fantastic book called How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World, where he dealt with exactly that question.

Remember, that was almost 50 years ago now—a lifetime.

The book was timely, even though the world was much freer then than it is now. We now have vastly more financial and travel controls, however—many new penalties for saying, or even appearing to think, the “wrong” things. You’re now monitored in many more ways.

Harry’s book is brilliant and actually more important to read now than it was then. His answers to how you find freedom in an unfree world are useful and relevant.

But the fact is that you can run but you can’t hide.

That’s because the world has been infected by a virus. I don’t mean the ridiculous COVID virus. I mean the virus of statism and collectivism.

There’s really nowhere you can go to be safe from it—only some places that are better than others.

For instance, the so-called Five Eyes countries—the US, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. They were once the major bastions of Western Civilization, the only civilization—ever—that held personal freedom as an ideal. But now they’re the very ones leading the route downhill.

It’s a real problem for freedom lovers. We’re a smaller and smaller minority. Most people, however, prefer a strong leader promising the illusion of safety and security. Nothing has changed since the days of Rome. It devolved from a yeoman republic to a multicultural empire with onerous taxes in order to pay for bread and circuses to keep the capite censi under control.

In the latter days of the empire, many of its citizens attempted to escape, to live among the barbarians—even while the barbarians were taking over the empire itself. Pretty much the same thing is happening now in the West in general and the US in particular.

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Nationalism and Secession, by Hans-Hermann Hoppe

This article is from 1993 and makes a strong case that secession and smaller political units are freer and more compatible with trade, production, and capitalism. From Hans-Hermann Hoppe at lewrockwell.com:

[Published in Chronicles, Nov. 1993, p. 23–25]

With the collapse of communism all across Eastern Europe, secessionist movements are mushrooming. There are now more than a dozen independent states on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and many of its more than 100 different ethnic, religious, and linguistic groups are striving to gain independence. Yugoslavia has dissolved into various national components. Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia now exist as independent states. The Czechs and the Slovaks have split and formed independent countries. There are Germans in Poland, Hungarians in Slovakia, Hungarians, Macedonians, and Albanians in Serbia, Germans and Hungarians in Romania, and Turks and Macedonians in Bulgaria who all desire independence. The events of Eastern Europe have also given new strength to secessionist movements in Western Europe: to the Scots and Irish in Great Britain, the Basques and Catalonians in Spain, the Flemish in Belgium, and the South Tyrolians and the Lega Nord in Italy.

From a global perspective, however, mankind has moved closer than ever before to the establishment of a world government. Even before the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States had attained hegemonical status over Western Europe (most notably over West Germany) and the Pacific rim countries (most notably over Japan)—as indicated by the presence of American troops and military bases, by the NATO and SEATO pacts, by the role of the American dollar as the ultimate international reserve currency and of the U.S. Federal Reserve System as the “lender” or “liquidity provider” of last resort for the entire Western banking system, and by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. Moreover, under American hegemony the political integration of Western Europe has steadily advanced. With the establishment of a European Central Bank and a European Currency Unit (ECU), the European Community will be complete before the turn of the century. In the absence of the Soviet Empire and its military threat, the United States has emerged as the world’s sole and undisputed military superpower.

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When Giants Fall, by James Howard Kunster

The Greater Depression has resumed after its hiatus since 2009. Will the economy that emerges be more decentralized and localized? It’s a good bet that it will. From James Howard Kunstler at kunstler.com:

It was only a few decades ago that Walmart entered the pantheon of American icons, joining motherhood, apple pie, and baseball on the highest tier of the altar. The people were entranced by this behemoth cornucopia of unbelievably cheap stuff packaged in gargantuan quantities. It was something like their participation trophy for the sheer luck of being born in this exceptional land, or having valiantly clawed their way in from wretched places near and far ­— where, increasingly, the mighty stream of magically cheap stuff was manufactured.

The evolving psychology of Walmart-ism had a strangely self-destructive aura about it. Like cargo cultists waiting on a jungle mountaintop, small town Americans prayed and importuned the gods of commerce to bring them a Walmart. Historians of the future, pan-frying ‘possum cutlets over their campfires, will marvel at the potency of their ancestors’ prayers. Every little burg in the USA eventually saw a Walmart UFO land in the cornfield or cow-pasture on the edge of town. Like the space invaders of sci-fi filmdom, Walmart quickly killed off everything else of economic worth around it, and eventually the towns themselves. And that was where things stood as the long emergency commenced in the winter of early 2020, along with the Covid-19 corona virus riding shotgun on the hearse-wagon it rolled in on.

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Localism in the 2020s, Part 5 (Pandemic) – It All Starts With You, by Michael Krieger

Dire as things may look, the current coronavirus outbreak and financial stress will add substantial impetus to the burgeoning trend towards decentralization and localism. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

And it was in the midst of shouts rolling against the terrace wall in massive waves that waxed in volume and duration, while cataracts of colored fire fell thicker through the darkness, that Dr. Rieux resolved to compile this chronicle, so that he should not be one of those who hold their peace but should bear witness in favor of those plague-stricken people; so that some memorial of the injustice ad outrage done them might endure; and to state quite simply what we learn in times of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.

– Albert Camus, The Plague

It’s likely the past few weeks have been some of the most surreal you’ve ever experienced; I know it’s been the case for me. The largest cities in the U.S. are essentially on lockdown, the stock market is in free fall and grocery stores are being stripped bare. It feels like a very dark moment, but in such darkness I see the light of a new beginning. A new beginning that starts with each and every one of us.

One of the things that helped me navigate the last couple of months in a state of relative calm is a longstanding understanding that something of this sort was inevitable. Not a pandemic necessarily, but something was bound to come along and slam us unexpectedly, and that when it did, the impact would be shockingly disruptive given how completely brittle and phony our economies and societies have become.

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“Political Anarchy” Is How the West Got Rich, by Ryan McMaken

One of the main and generally unattributed factors behind the West’s rise since the Middle Ages was the lack of political centralization. From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

It is not uncommon to encounter political theorists and pundits who insist that political centralization is a boon to economic growth.  In both cases, it is claimed the presence of a unifying central regime—whether in Brussels or in Washington, DC, for example—is essential in ensuring the efficient and free flow of goods throughout a large jurisdiction. This, we are told, will greatly accelerate economic growth.

In many ways, the model is the United States, inside of which there are virtually no barriers to trade or migration at all between member states. In the EU, barriers have been falling rapidly in recent decades.

The historical evidence, however, suggests that political unity is not actually a catalyst to economic growth or innovation over the long term. In fact, the European experience suggests that the opposite is true.

Why Did Europe Surpass China in Wealth and Growth?

A thousand years ago, a visitor from another planet might have easily overlooked European civilization as a poor backwater. Instead, China and the Islamic world may have looked far more likely to be the world leaders in wealth and innovation indefinitely.

Why is it, then, that Europe became the wealthiest and most technologically advanced civilization in the world?

Indeed, the fact that Europe had grown to surpass other civilizations that were once more scientifically and technologically advanced had become apparent by the nineteenth century. Historians have debated the question of the origins of this “European miracle” ever since.

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