Tim Price: Think small
Comment of the Day

October 03 2012

Commentary by David Fuller

Tim Price: Think small

My thanks to the author for his latest letter. It is splendid, as you will see from this sample:
Roughly a year ago we first wrote about Leopold Kohr. As a reminder, Kohr was an Austrian Jew who only narrowly escaped Hitler's Germany just before the outbreak of the Second World War. He had been born in Oberndorf in central Austria, a village of just 2,000 or so. Oberndorf's lack of size came to play a crucial role in Kohr's thinking. Kohr graduated in 1928 and went off to study at the London School of Economics with the likes of fellow Austrian Friedrich von Hayek (see also Stephanie Flanders' recent documentary about Hayek, here).

In September 1941, Kohr began writing what would become his masterwork, 'The Breakdown of Nations'. In it he argued that Europe, far from expanding, should be "cantonized" back into the sort of small political regions that had existed in the past and which still existed in places like Switzerland, with a commitment to private property rights and local democracy. "We have ridiculed the many little states," wrote Kohr sadly, "now we are terrorised by their few successors."

Kohr showed that there were unavoidable limits to the growth of societies, not least to the complexity that is a natural part of larger systems:

"Social problems have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of an organism of which they are a part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio."

But as the European Union and its common currency bloc grow ever larger, it collides horribly with Kohr's thesis. Take José Manuel Barroso's 2012 State of the Union address as President of the European Commission:

"Globalisation demands more European unity. More unity demands more integration. More integration demands more democracy."

But the words he smears together - unity, integration, democracy - have no meaning in this perfunctory Orwellian doublespeak. Democracy demands the primacy of the individual over the unelected Brussels bureaucrat.

David Fuller's view Democracy and especially pan-European peace may have been the buzz words but the euro's creation was also about empire building. Unfortunately, Euroland was used as a gravy train before its economy had even left the station.

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