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Should a country or large business err on the side of centralization or decentralization?
  A strong centralization.viewpoint:  

A strong decentralization viewpoint:
Greater decision-making speed and  
Decision nodes usually closer to
secrecy when leadership consolidated    
unfolding action and reality
More structure to enforce common  
Greater innovativeness and individual
standards across a larger group  
liberty. Greater exit options at grass roots
Greater chances for economies of  
Usually smaller, simpler, and more
  scale, size may help military defense    
transparent, greater focus on basic tasks

Sample argument: Centralization has been a strong trend in American history ever since the Civil War. The Federal government holds clear, centralized monopoly power within America's borders. Total Federal, state, and local government activities tax and spend somewhere around 50% of GDP and regulate virtually all aspects of American's lives, with this trend increasing even more since 9-11. Our Federal leaders believe that they require special powers to protect the peace and make important social services available to all Americans. Government promotes modern liberal (leftist) ideology to hold together a multi-racial, multi-ethnic society where whites are on track to become another minority within a few decades. It's ideology may be classified as "environmental top down," which is the diametric opposite of the "genetic bottom up" ideology upon which America was founded. It's most powerful non-WASP group is a Jewish oligarchy which funds over 50% of the Republican and Democratic Parties, controls most major national media outside the Internet, and keeps America closely attached to Israel. The "modern liberal" bent of contemporary Federal power plays a key role nationwide to protect or advance the interests of Jews and other minorities, to include gays, feminists, and nonwhites in general. The U.S. maintains the strongest military in the world, imposing "American values" (by some people's interpretation) in the Middle East and elsewhere. On a more abstract level, we can understand many of the advantages of centralization. From the top, a good leader can more easily influence the entire organization by giving orders and setting standards. He usually commands more resources with speed and secrecy. Since organizations tend to become more centralized as they get larger, we tend to associate them with them entities that can afford staffs of highly specialized experts. Centralized structures typically have fewer checks and balances to restrain top leaders from becoming abusive or suffering covert infiltration from the outside. When organizations within an industry start to centralize (or monopolize), they leave fewer competitors as exit options for people at the bottom. However, when people at the top are very competent and have good character, they can get a lot of vital things done relatively quickly without having to bicker or be restrained by many different groups. Historically, two of the biggest forces favoring political centralization involve a fear of being unable to mobilize an adequate armed force to repel a foreign invasion and fear of lacking a sophisticated, powerful elite that can resist a subversive takeover.
. . .

Sample argument: Maintaining decentralization was the original American ideal. In the early 1800's America was a highly decentralized society, with relatively little government by European standards (less than 5% of GDP). Until the 1840's it was overwhelming WASP from top to bottom and relied on shared religion, culture, and race to hold the society together and maintain standards on a grass roots level. There was no income tax. Its economy was almost totally in private hands and all charity came from private sources. Government raised its money from tariffs and land sales. It's philosophy is often labeled as classical liberalism (I also refer to this as "genetic bottom up" libertarian racial nationalism), which generally preferred internal development of science and industry to foreign intrigue and imperial conquest. (A huge exception were Indian-occupied Western lands, often acquired on a decentralized level by land hungry pioneer families.) Classical liberalism also preferred the maintenance of limited government to protect individual liberty. Secessionism was widely understood as a legitimate tool to restrain the central government, such as when New England threatened to secede over Federal handling of the War of 1812. On a more abstract level, we can understand many of the advantages of decentralization. Central planners managing complex systems typically get overwhelmed by inputs from the grass roots. With decentralized decision-making, one is much closer to where both problems originate and opportunities arise. Decentralized systems are generally simpler and hence tend to have greater transparency. They can move faster and with more flexibility at the lower levels. In contrast, large hierarchical organizations typically stifle innovation and free thinking, where pleasing the boss and "fitting in" tends to take priority over staying focused on accomplishing the mission in the field. Some disadvantages of decentralized entities include the fact that they are often smaller, more vulnerable to overt hostile takeover, and command fewer resources. However, they can offset these disadvantages by forming mutual aid compacts (confederations) and free trade agreements with allies. Some large corporations try to enjoy the advantages of decentralization with "loose-tight" matrix management structures or loosely held subsidiaries. These systems require high levels of competency and trustworthiness at the lower levels. Historically a major force for centralization is the rise of a predatory or parasitic elite that seeks to spread its tentacles to plunder or control a country. Certain anarcho-libertarians call America today "The Neo-Jacobin Welfare- Warfare Global Super State that Wages Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace."


Regarding centralization:
A good example of American centralization in the 20th century ostensibly to combat internal subversive takeover has involved the mega-growth of such Federal agencies as the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security.

Regarding decentralization:
A major proponant of the value of decentralizing decision nodes as close as possible to the points of action in order to operate with the most realistic and timely information possible was the nobel laureate economist Friedrich A. Hayek. Author of the famous work The Road to Serfdom, he described how any forms of central planning, regardless of their ideological motivation, tend to severely distort or even circumvent important informational feedback mechanisms of a free market. Furthermore, central planners often get overwhelmed by the volume of inputs. In contrast, a free marke tis the ultimate in decentralization. Here, buyers and sellers of goods interact on a purely voluntary level. The market itself is a highly decentralized information processing mechanism. Hayek was also a proponant of the concept of "spontaneous order," namely the idea that there are so many advantages to organizing and handling business affairs on a decentralized level that people tend to do this anyway even without guidance from a central authority.

"Neo-Jacobinism" is a term used by many prominent contemporary libertarian writers such as Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and Dr. Thomas DiLorenzo. In their historical analysis, the Civil War permanently altered America from the ideology of a limited republic to that of a neo-Jacobin social order.

In basic underlying principle, "neo-Jacobins" support the authoritarian use of coercion to fulfill leftist social ideals. I like this term a lot because it is neither too specific nor too vague. It is more specific than "leftism" which can also connote decentralized, anti-authoritarian, libertarian, or anarchist versions of leftism. However, it is more much vague than "Marxism" that can connote the specific planks of the Communist Manifesto or various historical attempts to institute various interpretations of Marxism such as Leninnism, Stalinism, Trotskyism, and Maoism.

Historical "Jacobinism" had a relationship to the American Revolution. Many leading members of the French nobility felt inspired to risk the first reformist phase of the French Revolution from their admiration of the American Revolution. Thomas Jefferson was in close contact with many French Revolutionary leaders while the American ambassador to France, as was Tom Paine and the Marquis de Lafayette. France's economic instability that led to the French Revolution was largely created by its extreme indebtedness resulting from its financial support of the American War for Independence and related hostilities against Britain simultaneously waged elsewhere around the globe.

"Jacobinism" connotes a way in which the ideals of classical models of republicanism, democracy, and liberalism can become corrupted and perverted into something very leftist, authoritarian, and destructive. Clever demagogues are able to satisfy people with the rhetoric of liberty while paradoxically practicing de facto forms of dictatorship. "Neo-Jacobinism," (the term "neo-" suggesting something philosophically similar, but not necessarily historically related to the original Jacobins) hence connotes a "what can go wrong" dark side to American social and political idealism.

The term "Jacobinism" stems from a leading leftist-radical faction of the second phase of the French Revolution. The first phase of the French Revolution was essentially a reform phase. The second "Jacobin" phase devolved into the Terror which had a domestic in focus. The third "Neo-Jacobin" phase was more outwardly focused, and involved aggressive military imperialism across Europe led by Napoleon Bonaparte.

The dark side of Jacobinist coercive measures were evidenced in many ways during the Terror Phase of the French Revolution. According to Nesta Webster in The French Revolution, at the height of the Terror, about 5,000 militants held a nation of about 30 million people by the throat. The guillotine not only lopped off the heads of leading members of the aristocracy and clergy, but also fell heavily upon members of the middle class who might excite the envy of false accusers who claimed "counter revolutionary" activity. Webster claimed that at the height of the Terror middle class people in Paris started to dress down in shabbier clothing to avoid exciting envy. She claimed that papers seized from Jacobin leader Robbespiere and his associates talked madly about genociding as much as a third of the population of France so that somehow France could be provided the "happiness of ancient Sparta." (page 424, Webster, Noontide Press, 1988). The Terror got particularly crazy in certain regions of France. A large percentage of the people of the Vendee region were genocided. Many helpless women and children in Britanny were herded into ships that were deliberately sunk or they were mowed down by troops in village squares.

Historical American neo-Jacobinism took a quantum leap forward when "King Lincoln" brutally crushed everything that once had to do with States Rights in a war against Southern independence that destroyed over half the wealth of the South and turned one in every four Southern whites of military age into a casualty. It continued in major force during the so-called Reconstruction era when Southern white were not allowed to vote, they were occupied by Negro military units, and their legislatures were manned by former slaves and carpetbaggers.

For more commentary please see my Centralized vs. Decentralized article in my Resolving Opposing Political and Economic Ideologies series.

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