A brief introduction: We can have stronger economies if they are smaller
After many articles critiquing and berating nations for being too large, we must here at Local Matters discuss the big question of smallness. If we were to break down our nation into more human-scaled regions healthy for the people within them and which are incidentally also historically our original political units, what about the economy? In the real world would small states be viable?
We have previously said that people cannot cope with such bigness for the simple reason that we are too small for it. All globalisation has done is change unemployment to mass unemployment, crime to crime statistics, industry to pollution, traffic to traffic jams, population to overpopulation, flu to a pandemic, war to world war. The infections of society have scaled with the size of the host body. We must therefore form a new question.
Are Big States Viable?
Big states are the ones that are most obviously not viable. They are in constant need of assistance in order to save themselves from collapse. The assistance can be foreign aid, loans, police or military action. With every increase in size the problems go up at a more than proportionate rate. Take for instance Chicago which in one week can experience one thousand robberies, five hundred muggings, thirty rapes, and fifteen murders. This is not because the people of Chicago are more violent, rather it is because of the size of the place. Crime experts are able to accurately project crime rates and schedule the crimes by estimated time due to this being a predictable trend. In England we make calculations daily for the National Health Service of the expected amount of accidents that will occur on the road, we can predict the number of accidents to a mean figure.
But as nations grow this is why they seek ever-larger systems to lean on, the common market, NATO, the EU: They feel that ever-growing problems need ever-growing solutions rather than figuring out the optimum ‘Human Scale’ for their citizens. The smaller nations such as Switzerland, Iceland, the Netherlands are in fact doing very well. If Russia invades Czechoslovakia, it is because Russia needed the land or the Czech people, not the other way around – the overweight giant is the one that feared her own demise. The trim Czechs rather felt they may be better off not carrying Russia.
It is the big nations that are hounded by the pound crisis, the euro crisis, the dollar crisis, inflation, traffic, crime rates, demographic changes, pollution, nuclear war and so on. Europe has been ravaged by failed ideologies, communist mass murder, capitalist promises of property, liberty and wealth. The problem was never poor distribution of wealth or imperialism: we misdiagnosed the cause time and time again. Like with all ills that plague our bloated nations it was the bloating that caused them.
The Breakdown of England and Great Britain
A country such as Britain would benefit from breaking down into smaller, more self-sufficient regions rather than being in the overloaded markets of the world waiting to collapse with all the heavyweights on board (the size of those markets being what causes their difficulties also). Large markets will collapse in time as they constantly have to change to new economic environments: they contract parts, enlarge parts, build factories here, demolish factories there, create transport and communications facilities, new admin facilities, new offices, new centralised offices. All of this eventually is overstimulated and falls and another large world market takes its place and continues to destroy lives.
But this same amount of new activity can be made to work for the small by breaking up large economic areas into organisations of many small ones. Since the main source of prosperity is a new activity, it doesn’t matter how it is brought about. For example, the greatest economic progress comes when nations gain their independence from a larger system, such as when the United States was formed or when the African colonies were liberated. The same is not true of when previously independent nations unite.
Independence gives areas the opportunity to duplicate all over again, as we now know splitting up creates more prosperity than unity; it is actually considerably more productive to be divided into more self-sufficient regions than to unite into a centralised economic plan.
An analogy of how this works would be the division of a house when one’s children get married. When they grow up and marry they will gain an additional household for themselves and their partner. The total product of homes in the family will now be higher than if you had all been in one house desperately borrowing extensions from others. The aggregate overall income of the houses is higher than that which could have been achieved by the single house.
So does it work?
I wouldn’t write here if I didn’t think it does. Julian Huxley was an evolutionary biologist who called this kind of economic growth ‘adaptive radiation’ (growth by splitting) and observed it is the very way by which nature progresses within its bounds. The current systems of expansion and integration are more akin to a virus that seeks to destroy the tired host by growing ever larger and consuming it.
“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.”
― E.F. Schumacher