May 28, 2015


Political Giantism: The Threat to Democracy? (Joseph Pearce, 5/28/15, Imaginative Conservative)

Clearly the legacy of political giantism leaves much to be desired. What then is the alternative? Essentially it is that the principle of small is beautiful must apply to politics as much as to economics. Whereas believers in the politics of scale call for centralization, politics-as-if-people-matter demands decentralization. Whereas believers in big is best look towards the evolution of ever larger, supra-national political bodies to govern humanity, those who seek the human scale in human affairs call for devolution of power to smaller nations, or to regions or states within nations. In political terms the establishment or re-establishment of genuine small-scale local and regional self-government is nothing less than the re-emergence of genuine democracy.

Since democracy is a political dogma to which most governments in the world claim allegiance, it is necessary to differentiate between nominal democracy and the genuine article. Nominal democracy, the form practised in many of the world's largest countries and in supra-national bodies like the European Union, works more in theory than in practice. At best it is inefficient and inadequate; at worst it is little more than a sham. In order to understand what is meant by genuine democracy it is helpful to reiterate the words of Aristotle: "To the size of states there is a limit as there is to other things, plants, animals, implements; for none of these retain their natural power when they are too large or too small, but they either wholly lose their nature or are spoilt."

The largest "democracies," like the largest nations, are either wholly losing their truly democratic nature or are being spoilt by the imposition of the politics of scale and the political giantism it serves. True democracy needs to be brought closer to the people through the reinvigoration of local and regional government and the devolution of power away from alien and alienating centralized bureaucracies. In politics, as in economics, small is beautiful!

40 million seems to be the upper bound.

Posted by at May 28, 2015 9:13 PM

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