Friday, September 26, 2008

Why the Right should support Decentralism and Regionalism.

.It is my belief that a lot on the traditionally "rightwing" end of the political spectrum can gain a lot from a more decentralist and regionalist focus. Not all on the right will appreciate this angle but certainly those of a more anti-authoritarian bent have a lot to gain from it.

Many of the more anti-authoritarian right have a deep attachment to fundamental political liberties such as those of free association and free political speech. They tend to adopt a communitarian approach to liberty envisaging it as the intercises of the authority of the many social groupings and associations which shape the lives and personalities of men such as the family, local community, church etc etc.

Decentralism is generally a very positive thing for these small social bonds and for stopping them breaking down and leaving atomised individuals on the one hand and massive state and economic corporations on the other. By decentralising these social bonds they can be more real and personal to individuals as they really enter into his experiences and are not abstract and impersonal forces that dominate him from afar like modern bureaucracy but forces over which he has a great deal of insight and input like local parish meetings. This is important because the most positive and stable impacts of social forces are best achieved when they really connect with the lives of individuals concerned and when they feel them as personal social bonds not as the impersonal and abstract. It is in balance of many of these type of social groupings or bonds, with the addition of some personal independence, in which liberty is achieved.

Decentralism also helps in this regard by making the social bonds of men more just and moral and exerting pressure on them to act morally. Morality is in the end based on real human relationships and it is best encouraged by encouraging these in our social relationships rather than sterile and impersonal relationships.

Finally decentralism aids the intermediate associations between man and state, and hence his liberty, by making the bonds of their authorities more functional and efficient. It is only in the end those authorities and associations which perform a definite social function which will survive and efficient functionalism with personal meaning to the individual is best achieved through decentralism. This means that instead of welfare being administered by a far away body, who's functions the individual can barely assess, the different functions can be performed by bodies who's narrower functions he can really comprehend. This is also aided by usual increase in efficiency that decentralism brings. Much is talked of economies of scale but in fact generally beyond quite a moderate size the costs of a social organisation tend to rise geometrically whereas the benefits tend to rise only arithmetically, as Leopold Kohr once pointed out.

For this view of freedom and authority to work out it must be accepted that the social bonds and associations of men are not strengthened by elaborate hierarchies and inequalities but by making these intermediate groupings more functional, personal and real to the individual.

To a lot of the right tradition, history and identity are very important to any society. Decentralism can greatly strengthen these values. It strengthens traditions by making them more personal, local and real to the individual, they become part of the functional social relationships of his existence which gives life to the traditions and ensures their longevity. It can be seen by the accompanying decline of tradition and the local, personal social bonds that the sterile, uniforming of large, centralised organisations are not a great breeding for tradition. It also seems likely that social bonds or real, human relationships which give the individual a sense of control, oversight and participation in their institutions will mean traditions will not be oppressive due to the personal, moral elements involved. They will be more robust for this and be able to play their important part in the social system as social solidifiers, connecting people with their past and the collective wisdom and experience.

Decentralism also aids in giving the individual a definite social identity rather than leaving him a floating social atom. Again this is because it invigorates his social bonds giving him greater control and participation in them and attuning them better with his everyday life. It also will aid in better attuning him to his local, physical environment because of the increased local and regional integration and self-sufficiency which decentralism encourages. His greater control over institutions that shape his identity and his greater awareness of his environment will also make his identity more satisfying and non-alienating to him Identity is very important to the individual, the completely independent individual is a myth and it is our social bonds which have a large role in shaping us and it is important to make them healthy and diverse not sterile and uniform. Liberty, authority and identity are indivisibly bound together.

Decentralis will also be a great boost for real, economic liberty, particularly if applied to the economic as well as political spheres.

Capitalism, or what is today called capitalism, is in fact the enemy of economic liberty and property. It makes a few free and many servile due to its great seperation of labour and capitalst and control it allowance of the control of most capital by a relative few. Private property and private productive property is generally a benefity for society. It gives individuals and families an increased independence and better resistance to tyranny while enhancing healthy social bonds, but it can only perform this when it is well dispersed and it is functional. Or in other words when we have what thinkers like G.K Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc called a "distributive state". In capitalism the lack of real productive property ownership by many lessens both the independence of many and their ability to resist tyranny. It also denies them liberty and control over their productive activity, making work just a servile, unwanted activity performed mainly for material reasons whereas it should be done in a dignified manner where it can improve the individuals, his social bonds and his links with nature.

These and other qualities of capitalist lead to modern global capitalism and consumerism which have great negative effects on tradition, authority and identity due to their corrosive effect on intermediate associations such as kinship, local community, property etc etc which leads to atomisation, uniformity and the desire of individuals to find replacements for these necessary social functions and comforts in consumerism, corporate capitalism and the central state.

The best way to protect tradition, liberty, authority, property and identity from the twin evils of global capitalism and statism is through libertarianly and decentralistly encouraging distributism and also greater regional self-sufficiency and economic integration. This will incrrease the control of local institutions and individuals over their production, protect social bonds from global capitalist errosion and make private property and economic liberty more effective and real for individuals and families.

So as can be seen decentralism is also good for the right, or at least the anti-authoriitarian right. It promotes liberty by strengthening the multiple small social groupings in whose intercises, as robert Nisbet like to put it, our liberty is located. It also aids tradition and identity by making them more functional and real. And finally economic decentralisation and distributism can increase real and effective economic liberty and private property and help tradition, liberty, authority and identity against the ravages of global capitalism and statism.

Rightwingers interested in decentralism should check out the work of authors such as Robert Nisbet, Russell Kirk, Albert.J. Nock, Edmund Burke, Kropotkin, Murray Rothbard, Hayek, The Southern Agrarians, Henry George, Lamennais and many others.


anarcho-mercantilist said...

Check out my blog post defending voluntary centralism.

Decentralist said...

Interesting. There are some bits I don't agree with. Personally I don't think the market is necessarily a self-organising system. In fact markets take place within society and its institutions. They are part of our social relationships and not a arcane process without.

Also I'm not sure of the importance of entrepreneurs myself, the championing of them has always seemed to contain elitist elements to me.

I think small scale innovators are important but I think most people, groups and communities are willing and able to take a degree of risk and that in a more co-operative society based more on mutual aid then that risk can be better shared.

But other than that I found it very interesting. I would say that voluntary centralism is okay although I'd very much warn against it usually. It of course necessary to define voluntary and remember how much of an impact social institutions and relationships can have on the actions of men.

Cork said...

Speaking as an ancap...this is excellent stuff, decentralist.

Decentralism is *very* important to me. I think any form of centralised control should be abolished, as it is the greatest threat to liberty, because one is not able to opt out. "Free trade" deals and the like strengthen the power of centralised, state-like entities.

Gen Ferrer said...

I think we are seeing an unrepresented (by the media) influx of decentralization on the minds of many citizens in the United States.

Now if we can just get them to understand the need for proper regulation of the market...