Tag Archives: Devolution

The Future Will Be Decentralized, by Michael Krieger

Michael Krieger takes up one of SLL’s favorite themes. From Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

I heartily accept the motto, “That government is best which governs least”; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — “That government is best which governs not at all”; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

– Henry David Thoreau, Civil Disobedience 

Some people live their existence in a great state of dread, convinced a totalitarian, centralized world government of sorts is in our future. Not only do I not think this is going to happen, but I predict the exact opposite will occur. I believe the world has already hit “peak centralization” and decentralization will be the defining trend of human existence on this planet going forward.

Naturally, this is just one man’s opinion, but I strongly believe it and will make my case in this piece. When I look around and think about the major trends of our time, they all point in the direction of decentralization, something which invariably scares the living daylights out of authoritarians worldwide.

Irrespective of what you think of Donald Trump, the fact he was elected proves the power of decentralization in the modern communications and media realm. As was well documented throughout the campaign, the mainstream media came out in clownish and historically lopsided fashion in favor of his opponent Hillary Clinton. We all remember seeing headlines like the one below and then reading stuff like the following.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has received fewer endorsements from the editorial boards of the nation’s largest newspapers than any major-party presidential candidate in history.

Among the top 100 largest newspapers in America, just two — the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Florida Times-Union in Jacksonville — endorsed Trump.

To continue reading: The Future Will Be Decentralized

Catalan Bid for Independence Seen in Broader Context of European Disintegration, by Alex Gorka

Yes, Europe is disintegrating, because it must. Massively centralized structures are dinosaurs awaiting an extinction event. From Alex Gorka at strategic-culture.org:

Catalonia’s secession movement has been growing in Spain for decades. The region has its own language and culture. On August 28, two pro-independence parties in Catalonia, the Junts Pel Sí («Together For Yes») coalition and the radical-left Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP), submitted a bill to the regional parliament, which outlines the legal framework for the transition to independence. The two parties currently hold the balance of power in the assembly and, therefore, control the regional government.

The bill is set to be passed before the next referendum on secession will take place on October 1, fulfilling a pledge made by a majority of Catalan MPs. According to opinion polls, a majority of Catalans favor holding a referendum on their status.

While Catalonia has been steadfast in its determination to hold a separation vote, the idea of referendum has been firmly opposed by the central government in Madrid. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government is attempting to use the courts to prevent it from happening. Spain’s Constitutional Court has previously quashed Catalonia’s resolution to hold a referendum. 

The court and Spanish government have also warned Catalonian officials that they could face legal repercussions and sanctions if they help organize the vote. The war of words between Catalonia and the central government has escalated recently. The recent terrorist attack in Barcelona has failed to bring unity against a common foe. The Catalans are reluctant to comply with Spanish courts’ rulings and the use of force by the central government is hardly an option.

Catalonia, a prosperous region in northeast Spain, which generates a fifth of Spain’s GDP and already has wide sovereignty, managing its own education system and police forces. But it lacks the privilege the Basque Country enjoys, running its own taxes.

To continue reading: Catalan Bid for Independence Seen in Broader Context of European Disintegration

 

Doug Casey on “The Diamond Age”, by Doug Casey

Science fiction writer Neal Stephenson envisions a future of dissolution, devolution, and decentralization. From Doug Casey at caseyresearch.com:

Science fiction has always offered both a more accurate and more timely look at the future than any think tank. For one thing, a good book is the product of a genius, not a committee of suits trying to reach a consensus. And a format of fiction allows one to speculate in ways that a “serious person” can’t do in nonfiction.

Every educated person should have read the classics by Jules Verne, Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Arthur C Clarke, among others. Add Neal Stephenson to that list. I’ve been a fan of Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age since it was published in 1995. I strongly recommend you read the book.

There are many themes in Diamond Age, which refers to a near-term future (I’ll guess around 2050) when nanotechnology has transformed much of life. Although not nearly as radically as I believe will actually be the case. (See my essays on the future here and here.)

But one theme in the book is quite a breakthrough, and spot-on. It posits the creation of “phyles” as the major form of social and political organization. The word comes from the same root as phylum, from the Greek, meaning “tribe” or “clan”. But I think it’s also a pun on the word “filial”, with its connotations of family.

The book posits, I believe correctly, that in the near future most nation states will have broken down. Many will have ceased to exist. It’s quite logical, because they’re a dysfunctional way for people to organize. And it’s happening right before our eyes. None of the countries in the Mid-East, Africa, or Central Asia have any coherence. They’re just the result of some ruler’s military prowess, or some politicians drawing lines on a distant map. Nation states themselves have really only been around since the 17th century. Before that, people weren’t loyal to a country; they were loyal to a chief, a king or an emperor.

To continue reading: Doug Casey on “The Diamond Age”

California, Nestle and Decentralization, by Antonius Aquinas

California is driving out businesses and productive people with its onerous taxes and regulation, but California’s liberals assume everything will turn out okay, because things are always golden in the Golden State. Until they don’t. From Antonius Aquinas on a guest post at theburningplatform.com:

Nestle USA has announced that it will move its headquarters from Glendale, California, to Rosslyn, Virginia, taking with it about 1200 jobs. The once Golden State has lost some 1600 businesses since 2008 and a net outflow of a million of mostly middle-class people from the state from 2004 to 2013 due to its onerous tax rates, the oppressive regulatory burden, and the genuine kookiness which pervades among its ruling elites.* A clueless Glendale official is apparently unconcerned about the financial repercussions of Nestle’s departure saying that it was “no big deal” and saw it as an “opportunity,” whatever that means!

The stampede of businesses out of what was once the most productive and attractive region in all of North America demonstrates again that prosperity and individual freedom are best served in a political environment of decentralization.

That the individual states of America have retained some sovereignty despite the highly centralized “federal” system of government of which they are a part has enabled individuals and entrepreneurs living in jurisdictions that have become too tyrannical to “escape” to political environments which are less oppressive. This, among other reasons (mainly air conditioning), led to the rise of the Sun Belt as people sought to escape the high taxes and regulations of the Northeast to less burdensome (and warmer!) southern destinations.

This can also be seen on a worldwide scale. The US, for a long time, had been a haven of laissez-faire economic philosophy, which, not surprisingly, became a magnet for those seeking opportunity and a higher standard of living. No longer is this the case as increasing numbers of companies and individuals are seeking to avoid American confiscatory tax and regulatory burdens and move “offshore” or expatriate to more favorable economic climates.

To continue reading: California, Nestle and Decentralization

Break Up the USA, by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr

The centrifugal forces of decentralization and organic adaptation grow ever stronger, a point made by SLL in “You Say You Want a Devolution?” Why not break up the USA, there’s not reason set in stone why the US has to be united and presided over by a monstrous blob of a central government. From Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. at lewrockwell.com:

Some of our assumptions are so deeply embedded that we cannot perceive them ourselves.

Case in point: everyone takes for granted that it’s normal for a country of 320 million to be dictated to by a single central authority. The only debate we’re permitted to have is who should be selected to carry out this grotesque and inhumane function.

Here’s the debate we should be having instead: what if we simply abandoned this quixotic mission, and went our separate ways? It’s an idea that’s gaining traction – much too late, to be sure, but better late than never.

For a long time it seemed as if the idea of secession was unlikely to take hold in modern America. Schoolchildren, after all, are told to associate secession with slavery and treason. American journalists treat the idea as if it were self-evidently ridiculous and contemptible (an attitude they curiously do not adopt when faced with US war propaganda, I might add).

And yet all it took was the election of Donald Trump for the alleged toxicity of secession to vanish entirely. The left’s principled opposition to secession and devotion to the holy Union went promptly out the window on November 8, 2016. Today, about one in three Californians polled favors the Golden State’s secession from the Union.

In other words, some people seem to be coming to the conclusion that the whole system is rotten and should be abandoned.

To continue reading: Break Up the USA

Populist-Nationalist Tide Rolls On, by Patrick J. Buchanan

You Say You Want a Devolution?” The devolutionary impulse gains momentum. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Now that the British have voted to secede from the European Union and America has chosen a president who has never before held public office, the French appear to be following suit.

In Sunday’s runoff to choose a candidate to face Marine Le Pen of the National Front in next spring’s presidential election, the center-right Republicans chose Francois Fillon in a landslide.

While Fillon sees Margaret Thatcher as a role model in fiscal policy, he is a socially conservative Catholic who supports family values, wants to confront Islamist extremism, control immigration, restore France’s historic identity and end sanctions on Russia.

“Russia poses no threat to the West,” says Fillon. But if not, the question arises, why NATO? Why are U.S. troops in Europe?

As Le Pen is favored to win the first round of the presidential election and Fillon the second in May, closer Paris-Putin ties seem certain. Europeans themselves are pulling Russia back into Europe, and separating from the Americans.

Next Sunday, Italy holds a referendum on constitutional reforms backed by Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. If the referendum, trailing in the polls, fails, says Renzi, he will resign.

Opposing Renzi is the secessionist Northern League, the Five Star Movement of former comedian Beppe Grillo, and the Forza Italia of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a pal of Putin’s.

“Up to eight of Italy’s troubled banks risk failure,” if Renzi’s government falls, says the Financial Times. One week from today, the front pages of the Western press could be splashing the newest crisis of the EU.

To continue reading: Populist-Nationalist Tide Rolls On

 

You Say You Want a Devolution? by Robert Gore

The Civil War, as it’s known in the north, or the War of Northern Aggression, as it’s known in the south, supposedly “settled” an issue for time and all eternity: that the smaller political units known as states could not leave the larger political unit known as the United States, at least not without the larger unit’s consent. Unless they emigrate, 320 million people are bound to a political arrangement from which there is no other escape hatch, and the 50 states don’t have the option to leave. Similar strictures are in effect around the world. Why?

Centralization, command, and control—the tendencies that defined the twentieth centuries—are in their death throes, done in by their failures and the residual progress they’ve failed to kill. The signs are everywhere. If war is the health of the state, then states are sickly indeed. The most militaristic government on the planet, that of the United States, has not cleanly won a war since 1945, unless one wants to call Grenada a war. What has stymied the US has not been superior military force—the US has the world’s biggest arsenal and most technologically advanced military—but the force that is stymying centralization at every turn: decentralization.

Multimillion-dollar aircraft, tanks, and aircraft carriers can be destroyed by missiles fired from a variety of platforms, their cost a trivial fraction of that which they destroy. Small, diffuse terrorist cells inflict mayhem, destruction and death, especially when they have members willing to die for their cause. The major military powers upgrade their counterinsurgency and counterterrorism efforts and buy ever larger, more costly, and complex weaponry and systems. Both approaches have been self-evident failures, the former a losing game of whack-a-mole, the latter leading only to chaos, political instability, blowback, and the spread of terrorism and refugees, but no discernible victories. Large, complicated, cumbersome, and expensive keeps losing to small, simple, nimble, and cheap.

Governments’ economic incompetence rivals their military ineptitude. They and their central banks have almost emptied their bag of tricks: fiat debt and currency production, monetization of debt and other financial instruments, interest rate suppression, central planning, negative interest rates, financial market manipulation, and the possible elimination of cash. When the bag is empty, they will be left with global depression, massive debt, bloated central bank balance sheets, fabricated financial market prices and signals, yawning economic inequality, and widespread discontent. The western welfare states and Japan are de facto bankrupt. China is frantically administering hair of the debt dog to forestall the debilitating hangover from a two-decade borrowing binge. Economic entities that consume more than they produce eventually have to produce more than they consume. The bizarre and desperate measures either implemented or contemplated confirm both centralized incompetence and looming collapse.

The Information Revolution drives decentralization. A smart phone puts vast computing and communication power in the hands of its owner. The Internet and search engines allow directed access to virtually unlimited news, opinion, video, photographs, and data. Historically, governments have used control of information to control their citizenries. No one will argue that modern governments do not try to influence or control the Internet in their jurisdictions, or that they do not have some success in doing so. However, success has been, at best, partial and information technologies are the beating heart of advanced economies. How do you separate their central role in innovation, production, and commerce from their central role in disseminating information, fomenting dissent, and coordinating communications and protests?

We have real time experiments in China, Turkey, and other authoritarian states, where governments try to retain the economically beneficial aspects of information technologies but not their “unacceptable” political drawbacks. This have your cake and eat it approach is doomed, and the governments trying to enforce the division will move decisively towards freedom or repression. The latter outcome is not a foregone conclusion, simply because repression is costly and technologically challenging, and will become more so as the world becomes more decentralized and power continues to devolve toward smaller units and individuals.

The most important election this year is the British referendum June 23 on EU membership. The EU has followed the US’s disastrous policies in the Middle East and Northern Africa and has been unable to deal with the refugee and terrorist blowback from those policies. It has no strategy for resolving the issues stemming from the debt of its de facto bankrupt members, other than have the ECB buy it. Growth has been smothered by taxes, regulations, cronyism, and monetary idiocy. European youth have the “opportunity” to pay some of the world’s highest tax rates to fund the world’s most generous welfare state benefits. Those looking for other opportunities—private sector jobs, leaving home, starting families, building wealth—must look elsewhere.

Why would Great Britain want to plight its troth with this gang of incompetents? Why would anyone think it can’t do better by going it alone? These are questions the political establishments in Europe, Great Britain, and the US would rather not have asked, much less have to answer. The animating impulse behind the Brexit movement is one no political power can acknowledge—the desire for more freedom from that political power. Does life become more or less free for the British if they subject themselves to cabbage regulations of 26,911 words? Individuals generally have more of a say in a smaller, closer governmental unit than a larger, more remote one. For anyone living in Great Britain, both literally and figuratively it’s a shorter trip to London than it is to Brussels.

At least the British have a chance to decide this question by a peaceful political process. In the US, smaller political subdivisions have no way to opt out, and this type of restriction characterizes political arrangements in much of the rest of world, leaving violence as the only way to sunder them. In that respect, the non-secession stricture needs urgent reconsideration. Centralization is collapsing under its own weight, discouraging its many proponents not at all. A decentralizing reversal will not be sufficient to restore freedom, but it will be necessary. Almost certainly that reversal will be accompanied by chaotic violence, as current arrangements leave no other choice.

Today’s behemoth governments secure few advantages to their productive and honest citizens, and exact myriad and substantial costs. If the collapse of centralization is accompanied by balkanization and devolution, then among the many smaller political subdivisions, enclaves devoted to liberty, limited government, and individual rights become real possibilities, provided they can secure their territories. Such enclaves of freedom would be havens for the productive and honest, at the forefront of innovation, economic progress, quality of life, and political expression. Smaller can be far more beautiful, peaceful, and prosperous than the current blobocracy.

The Brexit vote is more important than the US presidential election because whoever wins in November will be chained to the failing US government, while the British have an opportunity to shed some of their chains. Regardless of who wins in the US, the government will not relinquish its resources, power, or corruption. Centralization has advanced so far and so destructively that every expression or potential expression of a revolutionary desire for devolution—the transfer of power to lower levels and smaller subdivisions—is to be welcomed, be it Brexit or other countries leaving the EU, various separatist movements within countries, or mass disobedience to the dictates of centralized governments. As the Brexit vote and electoral insurgencies in the US and Europe make clear, the underlying pressures continue to build. Something’s got to give, and when it does, decentralization and devolution will give those seeking liberty a rare opportunity to build the kind of society they’ve always envisioned.

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