Tag Archives: Decentralization

Which Nations Will Crumble and Which Few Will Prosper in the Next 25 Years? by Charles Hugh Smith

Decentralization runs contrary to the centralizing trend of the last century or so and is steadily gaining strength. The smart money bet is that very few governments will survive it. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Adaptability and flexibility will be the core survival traits going forward.
What will separate the many nations that will crumble in the next 25 years and those few that will survive and even prosper while the status quo dissolves around them? As I explain in my recent book Pathfinding our Destiny: Preventing the Final Fall of Our Democratic Republic, the factors that will matter are not necessarily cultural or financial; being hard-working and wealthy won’t be enough to save nations from coming apart at the seams.
Here are the factors that will matter in the next 25 years:
1. The ability to engage and survive non-linear change, which is rapid, unpredictable and systemic, as opposed to linear change which is gradual, predictable and limited in nature.
None of the current political systems are decentralized enough and adaptable enough to survive the non-linear era we’re entering. As I explained in What If Politics Can’t Fix What’s Broken?, the politics of centralized compromise and incremental, top-down adjustments are wholly inadequate to dealing with non-linear disruptions.
2. The nations that cannot jettison their parasitic elites will fall; the few that find the political will to jettison their parasitic elites will have the wherewithal to survive and possibly even prosper as the global status quo collapses around them.
The problem, as we all know, is the parasitic elites rule the centralized hierarchies of wealth and political power, and they will cling to power even as the nation they rule crumbles around them. The hubris, complacency and greed of the ruling parasitic elites is near-infinite; the idea that the political and financial structures that they dominate will not survive simply doesn’t exist in the parasitic elites, with the exception of a few outliers who are constructing remote bugout compounds with landing strips etc.
Unfortunately for these outliers, they can’t escape satellite and drone imagery, or the loose tongues of employees, contractors, etc.

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The Sheriff Revolt on New Gun Laws Shows Why America Needs More Decentralization, by Justin Murray

The structure of the United States is archaic. From Justin Murray at mises.org:

Recently, a dozen sheriffs in Washington State announced that they would refuse to enforce the newly passed referendum 1639 which raised the legal age of purchasing a firearm of any sort to 21, expanded background check requirements, increased the waiting period and mandated weapon storage when not in active use. Predictably, political proponents immediately threatened these sheriffs, who were hired to enforce county, not State, laws, with legal action. Of course, when I say passed, what I really mean is that 14 of 39 counties in Washington decided the referendum was a good idea.


Based on actual voting patterns, the victory of this particular bill can be almost entirely explained by the margin of victory in King County (506k), where Seattle is located, which accounted for 87% the margin of victory of the State-wide referendum (580k). This is a common phenomenon in many States that have a large single urban population. Another classic example is New York and the political dominance of the City in State-wide politics.

What the refusal of the 12 county law enforcement officials is doing is voicing displeasure with what amounts to a distant population dictating how they’ll operate in their own homes. Why are people in Seattle, who may never even set foot on the Eastern-side of the Cascades, let alone actually make that region their permanent home, imposing law on residents of Omak?

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The Southern Critique of Centralization, by Donald Livingston

Decentralization is the wave of the future. The question is whether it will be fairly orderly or chaotic. The latter is the betting favorite. From Donald Livingston at abbeyvilleinstitute.org:

The Southern political tradition, in practice and theory, is one of its most valuable contributions to America and the world. The one constant theme of that tradition from 1776–through Jefferson, Madison, John Taylor, St George Tucker, Abel Upshur, John C. Calhoun, the Nashville Agrarians, Richard Weaver, M. E. Bradford, down to the scholars of the Abbeville Institute–is a systematic critique of centralization. Nothing comparable to it exists elsewhere in America or in Europe.

A criticism of centralization presupposes that decentralization is a good thing. But why is that? The answer is complex and requires viewing what was happened in 1776 from a trans Atlantic perspective. The Declaration of Independence is merely the American version of a conflict that had been going on in Europe since at least the 17th century between the emerging centralized  modern state and a revived interest in  the classical republican tradition which goes back to the ancient Greeks.

There are four principles to this republican tradition: First, republican government is one in which the people make the laws they live under. But, second, they cannot make just any law. The laws they make must be in accord with a more fundamental law which they do not make but is known by tradition. Third, the task of the republic is to preserve and perfect the character of that inherited tradition. And finally, the republic must be small. It must be small because self-government and rule of law is not possible unless citizens know the character of their rulers directly or through those they trust.

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Decentralization Is the Solution to the Government Shutdown, by Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken is correct as far as he goes: decentralization in government would be a wonderful thing. Not much analysis, though, on why centralization occurs (hint: it’s in somebody interest for it to occur), or how decentralization can happen. From McMaken at mises.org:

The partial shutdown with the federal government has helped, perhaps more than any other recent political event, to illustrate some of the biggest problems that come with centralizing an ever-larger number of government activities within a single, centralized institution.

Were the US government more decentralized, we’d not now be facing a nationwide systemic failure that has continues to cripple the private sector in many ways.

Held Hostage by a Shuttered Regulatory State

The federalization of resources and regulatory power over the past century has created a situation in which numerous industries depend on licensing and regulatory approval from federal regulators to function. And yet, thanks to the shutdown, these industries can do little when facing a federal government that imposes mandates, but won’t provide the agency “services” necessary to allow agencies to function under those mandates.

For example, As The Washington Post has reported , those areas where the federal government has a large regulatory footprint — such as Alaska — are at the mercy of politicians thousands of miles away.

Most (61 percent) of Alaska is government land managed by five different federal agencies, according to the congressional Research Service. The state’s main industries, including fishing, tourism and oil and gas, all depend on the day-to-day actions of federal workers and regulators.

The fisheries have so far avoided major disruption, despite a few close calls. Most boats are still getting by on licenses and inspections which occurred before the shutdown.

But time is running out. Major commercial boats are required to carry onboard observers to monitor their catch. But when they return from a trip, those observers must be debriefed by the National Marine Fisheries Service — and it’s not holding debriefings during the shutdown.

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2019: Fragmented, Unevenly Distributed, Asymmetric, Opaque, by Charles Hugh Smith

The powers that be desperately want to keep the rest of us in the dark. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

Add up Fragmented, Unevenly Distributed, Asymmetric and Opaque and you get a world spinning out of centralized control.

Here are the key dynamics of 2019: fragmented, unevenly distributed, asymmetric, opaque. Want to know what’s happening with inflation, deflation, recession, populism, etc.?

It depends on what you own, when you own it, where you own it and its relative scarcity and stability–assuming you have trustworthy information on its scarcity and stability.

By ownership I mean all forms of capital: cash, tools, skills, social capital, trust in institutions, etc. Whatever forms of capital you own, the returns on that capital and its relative stability depend on the specifics of context and timing.

Will there be deflation or inflation? The right question is: Will there be deflation or inflation in my household?. In a rapidly fragmenting economy and society characterized by opacity, asymmetric information and unevenly distributed results, generalizations are intrinsically misleading / false. The only possible answers arise in a carefully limited context: my household, my neighborhood, my industry, my company, etc.

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Hayek’s Case for Decentralized Communities, by Allen Mendenhall

After centuries of increasing centralization, decentralization is the wave of the future. From Allen Mendenhall at lewrockwell.com:

This talk was delivered at the Abbeville Institute’s conference on Secession and Nullification in Dallas, Texas on November 10, 2018.

My talk today is about decentralization and epistemology. At the outset I wish to disclaim any specialized expertise in this subject. I’m a lawyer by training who loves literature and earned a doctorate in English. It would be a stretch to call me a philosopher or a political theorist, hence this anchoring disclaimer to prevent me from sailing too deep into philosophical seas.

I have divided my argument, such as it is, into two parts: the impersonal and the personal. The former is a philosophical case for decentralization; the latter involves private considerations about intimate human relationships around which communities of common purpose organize and conduct themselves. In the end, the two approaches are mutually reinforcing, yielding, I hope, benevolent and humane considerations. Presenting them as separate, however, signals to different audiences whose tolerance for appeals to feeling may vary.

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Why Secession Is a Big Problem — For Politicians, by Chris Calton

Big government, and big taxes, big regulation, and big programs are a lot more difficult in smaller political subdivisions. From Chris Calton at mises.org:

When the southern states were debating secession in 1861, there was one other proposed secession that almost always gets overlooked in history: New York City. The Mayor of New York at the time, Fernando Wood, saw disunion as an inevitability at the start of 1861, and in a January 6th address to the city council, he advocated New York City’s secession.

“When Disunion has become a fixed and certain fact,” Wood asked the council, “why may not New York disrupt the bands which bind her to a venal and corrupt master — to a people and a party that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin her, take away the power of self-government, and destroyed the Confederacy of which she was the proud Empire City?”

Although Wood did cite slavery as among the reasons for the city’s need to secede (he believed New Yorker’s benefited from trading with the slave economy, and the city was home to a respectable number of slave traders who continued to operate their not-entirely-clandestine businesses for places such as Brazil and Cuba), he did not propose joining the Confederacy, which had yet to be formed. He wanted to establish New York City as sovereign entity — the Free City of Tri-insula, referring to the islands of Manhattan, Long, and Staten.

The Common Council agreed with Wood, and the city looked poised to secede. They only changed their position after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, not because they objected to the Confederacy’s actions as much as their desire not to be surrounded by territories that would view them as traitors during the oncoming war.

But New York’s near-secession is an example of what many people in the North — particularly Republicans — feared from secession; they were not worried about severing their nation, but rather that it might dissolve altogether — or at the very least, break into multiple smaller countries. The relatively new Republican Party had grand plans for the country, rife with economic interventions such as infrastructure projects, a transcontinental railroad, a protective tariff, and a homestead act.

The only thing that had prevented such reforms taking place in the past was sectional disagreement on various policies. Southerners, for instance, supported a transcontinental railroad, but they wanted it to be built in the South, and no compromise was ever successfully made. Southerners also supported homestead legislation that would have sold public lands, rather than granting 160 acres for only a standard clerical fee. Infrastructure and economic protectionism were more widely rejected by southerners, and Southern Democrats continually blocked the passage of such bills.

To continue reading: Why Secession Is a Big Problem — For Politicians