Size/Scale

 


 

[1835]  Alexis de Tocqueville,  De la Démocratie en Amérique, vol. I, Flammarion, Paris, 1981

-  "Les grandes richesses et les profondes misères, les métropoles, la dépravation des moeurs, l'égoïsme individuel, la complication des intérêts, sont autant de périls qui naissent presque toujours de la grandeur de l'Etat."
-  "Il est donc permis de dire d'une manière générale que rien n'est si contraire au bien-être et à la liberté des hommes que les grandes empires." "S'il n'y avait que des petites nations et point de grandes, l'humanité serait à coup sûr plus libre et plus heureuse." (pp. 237-238)

 

[1911]  Roberto Michels,  La sociologia del partito politico nella democrazia moderna [Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie], seconda edizione riveduta e accresciuta 1925, il Mulino, Bologna, 1966

-  "... è inevitabile [in base alla legge dell'oligarchia] che ad uno strato dominante ne subentri fatalmente un altro  ... come forma prestabilita della convivenza umana in organizzazioni di grandi dimensioni ..." (p. 519)

 

[1941]  Leopold Kohr,  Disunion Now : A Plea for a Society Based upon Small Autonomous Units, Telos, n. 91, Spring 1992

-  "We have been educated in the worship of the bulk, of the large, of the universal, of the colossal, and have come away from the minuscule, the completeness and universality on the smallest scale - the individual, which is the protoplasm of all social life. We have learned to praise the unification of France, Britain, Italy and Germany in the belief that they would give birth to a unified humanity. But they created only Great Powers." (p. 96)

 

[1957]  Leopold Kohr,  The Breakdown of Nations, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1986

-  "The real conflict of today is between Man and Mass, the Individual and Society, the Citizen and the State, the Big and Small Community, between David and Goliath." (Preface, p. xviii)

-  "Mass executions and related monstrosities were perpetrated in Germany under the nazis, in India under the British, in France under the Catholics, in Russia under some of the most savage, and in Italy under some of the most enlightened, princes. There could not have been a vaster difference of conditions." "This common denominator ... seems to be the simple ability, the power, to commit monstrosities. As a result, we arrive at what we might call a power theory of social misery." "... because the vital element is not so much power but the size of power which ... depends in turn on the size of the social group by which it is generated, we might call the theory also the size theory of social misery." (p. 26)

-  "... the only reliable method of coping with large-scale brutality and criminality [is] : the establishment of a system of social units of such small size that accumulations and condensations of collective power to the danger point can simply not occur. The answer therefore is not increase in police power, but reduction of social size - the dismemberment of those units of society that have become too big." (pp. 34-35)

-  "It is not by accident that the politically and socially most advanced countries of the world today are states such as Switzerland (4 million inhabitants), Denmark (4 million), Sweden (7 million), Norway (3 million), Iceland (less than 160 thousand). Large powers, on the other hand, can get away with stupidity for prolonged periods." (p. 69)

 

[1964]  Vance Packard,  The Naked Society, Lomgmans, London, 1964

-  "The larger an organization becomes, the more its managers seem to be obsessed with controls on the people involved, to keep the organization from flying apart." (p. 17)

 

[1965]  Estes Kefauver,  In a Few Hands. Monopoly power in America, Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1966

-  "In recent years the defence that business must be large to enjoy economies of large-scale production has faded in importance. The argument lost force as it became increasingly apparent that the size of our modern corporate giants is far beyond any conceivable requirements of efficiency. Furthermore, there is evidence that, in some industries, the trend of technology has reversed itself and is now reducing the size of plant required for efficient operation." (p. 215)

-  "A [1958] study by Professor John Jewkes of Oxford University, England, discloses that most of the world's creative discoveries are the product of individuals working in isolation or in small research laboratories." (p. 216)

 

[1970]  C. Northcote Parkinson,  The Law of Delay, with illustrations by Osbert Lancaster, John Murray, London, 1971

-  "During the centuries of European expansion the Nation State was evolved as the normal political unit. This was mainly for purposes of war. France was unified for fear of England, Spain for fear of Islam, Great Britain for fear of Spain and Germany for fear of France. For aggressive war the nation state was the largest unit which would not fall apart through divergence of regional interests. For administrative efficiency the nation was often too large and for economic convenience it was usually too small." (p. 57)

-  "The movement towards European unity ... foreshadows a new Roman Empire with all the advantages that had to offer in terms of defence, free trade and internal peace. But this urge to unite as a continent is accompanied, quite logically, by a demand for provincial autonomy. For the smaller political sub-units (Bavaria, Normandy, Scotland) have all sacrificed something of their local pride to the idea of nationalism. They have traded their independence for protection, and still more, for a share in the national achievement." "In the second half of the 20th Century, by contrast, the nation state has little to offer its provinces in return for their allegiance. They cannot be defended save as part of a far larger alliance and there are nowadays no spoils of conquest in which they can share." (pp. 57-58)

-  "There are efficient nation states like Finland, Denmark or Sweden but these are of merely provincial size with populations of about four to seven millions. Where the population exceeds ten millions there is a manifest case for decentralization; as in the Netherlands, where each province has its own governor." "We have begun to realize that the nation state of thirty to fifty millions is hopelessly incompetent, with a deadening effect on provincial culture and a drearily standardizing effect on social life. For all purposes of internal administration we want a government which is accessible and economic, administering an area which is culturally unified and reasonably small.
The corollary, therefore, to European unity is a new emphasis on provincial autonomy." (p. 58)

 

[1973]  E. F. Schumacher,  Small is Beautiful, Economics as if people mattered, Harper & Row, New York, 1975

-  "For his different purposes man needs many different structures, both small ones and large ones, some exclusive and some comprehensive."
 "For every activity there is a certain appropriate scale, and the more active and intimate the activity, the smaller the number of people that can take part, the greater is the number of such relationship arrangements that need to be established." (p. 66)

-  "What scale is appropriate? It depends on what we are trying to do. The question of scale is extremely crucial today, in political, social and economic affairs just as in almost everything else. What, for instance, is the appropriate size of a city ? And also, one might ask, what is the appropriate size of a country?" (p. 66)

 

[1976]  Leopold Kohr,  The Over-developed Nations, Christopher Davies, Swansea, Wales, 1976

-  "The size of society, as the size of everything, is determined by its function, and its function depends on whether we give it an individualistic or collectivist content. From an individualistic point of view, society must fulfil a fourfold purpose: ensure to its members companionship, prosperity, security, and culture. For these are the only four blessings man cannot obtain except by joining society. We may therefore distinguish between four individualistic societies - the convivial, economic, political, and cultural society. Each may exist separately, and each has its own optimum size. To enjoy the summum bonum, however, all four are needed. As history has shown and logic suggests, a society numbering from 100,000 to 200,000 members seems sufficient to furnish it."
 "Three factors - technological progress, education, organization - may, however, permit social growth beyond this figure to perhaps 15,000,000 without affecting optimum conditions. Beyond this point optimum size turns into critical size, with social difficulties now tending to increase faster than the human talent necessary to cope with them, so that further growth can be sustained only at the price of diminishing the services connected with the original four social functions." (pp. 23-24)

-  "... once a society has become large enough to furnish the convivial, economic, political and cultural needs of man in satisfactory, though not necessarily gluttonous abundance ... further growth can no longer add to its basic purpose. We have reached the point of diminishing living standards." (p. 30)

-  "The principal question of our time is not : how to continue growing in an ever expanding economy, but how to stop growing; and the answer must therefore lie not in union and integration but in splitting and duplication. This is the biological way of advance. It seems to suggest itself all the more as many units of social organization - in the economic field : the big corporations; in the political field: the big powers - have long started to outgrow the requirements of their purpose and their form." (p. 171)