I just ordered a used copy of Leopold Kohr’s The Breakdown of Nations (Amazon listing; Google version). The book was highly recommended to me by David Townes, co-founder of the investment banking firm Needham & Company, gentleman scholar, and friend of the Mises Institute. Kohr (1909-1994), who was born in Austria and “was an economist, jurist, political scientist and a practicing philosopher” (though not an “Austrian” in our sense), opposed “bigness” and was known for arguing “small is beautiful.” According to the N.Y. Times, “In the mid-1960′s, a group of Dr. Kohr’s supporters raised money to try to test his theories on Anguilla, a Caribbean island that had declared its independence from Britain. But the project was not supported by the residents.”
Looking forward to receiving my copy.An excerpt from the book:
As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering on the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness…
There seems to be only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness. Oversimplified as this may seem, we shall find the idea more easily acceptable if we consider that bigness, or oversize, is really much more than just a social problem. It appears to be the one and only problem permeating all creation.Whenever something is wrong, something is too big. And if the body of a people becomes diseased with the fever of aggression, brutality, collectivism, or massive idiocy, it is not because it has fallen victim to bad leadership or mental derangement. It is because human beings, so charming as individuals or in small aggregations have been welded onto overconcentrated social units. That is when they begin to slide into uncontrollable catastrophe. For social problems, to paraphrase the population doctrine of Thomas Malthus, have the unfortunate tendency to grow at a geometric ratio with the growth of the organism of which they are part, while the ability of man to cope with them, if it can be extended at all, grows only at an arithmetic ratio. Which means that, if a society grows beyond its optimum size, its problems must eventually outrun the growth of those human faculties which are necessary for dealing with them.
Hence it is always bigness, and only bigness, which is the problem of existence. The problem is not to grow but to stop growing; the answer: not union but division.
A small-state world would not only solve the problems of social brutality and war; it would solve the problems of oppression and tyranny. It would solve all problems arising from power.