by Chris Campbell, Laissez Faire Books:
Reality is perceived in models. Or maps, if you will. But the map, observed Alfred Korzybski, is never the territory. Meaning, the best we can do is create effective models that work well with reality — yet, with full knowledge that it will never represent the full scope of reality. And will, therefore, need uncompromisable adaptability.
Some maps, then, are more effective than others. And it usually goes that the more mainstream the model, the less effective it works in helping you navigate through the tangled webs of reality.
Looking at politics in terms of partisanship, for example, is a very poor representation of reality. It fails to give you the big picture. It fails to represent politics as politics really works — which is, in reality, transcendent of partisanship.
Looking at politics, rather, in terms of centralization vs. decentralization is not perfect, but it is, we think, a much better representation than the latter.
Politicians are generally centralists (there are exceptions… but very few). They see a perpetual need for more privileged (AKA powerful, but little-to-no skin in the game) fixers (see:pseudo-experts) to give the plebs what they “need.” Whether the plebs want it, need it, or ask for it is, of course, entirely irrelevant.
On the other hand, those who see this aforementioned mentality as an enormous and fundamental problem are, generally, decentralists.
One decentralist, Paul Rosenberg of the Freeman’s Perspective blog, outlines why stacking on more centralization to our over-centralized Jenga Economy is counterproductive in his latest piece:
#1: Centralization disrupts price discovery: “Disrupting price discovery… that sounds very ‘economic.’
“What it means is this: Whenever headquarters decides to meddle in business transactions, large sections of the marketplace are thrown out of order. The biggest offenders in this area were the 20th century’s socialist states. I’m not sure precisely how many people died (mainly of starvation) from their economic ‘experiments,’ but the number is in the range of 100 million.”
#2: Centralization robs the people: “Centralization creates a group of people who eat (and generally grow rich) at the expense of everyone else. Every dollar that goes to politicians — for their very fine offices and cars and travel budgets and everything else — is money that is stolen from you and your neighbors.”
#3: Central bosses enforce arbitrarily in order to gain artificial legitimacy: “Did you ever notice that politicians are forever creating new fears? And why? Well, because solving those fears (even if they’re mostly imaginary, as most are) makes them seem necessary.
“From this we get any number of disasters, especially wars. Have you noticed that presidents become far more popular when they wage a war? Fear sells, and war is a tremendous spectacle. And it makes the centralizers look necessary. (Too bad about all those dead guys.)”
#4: Centralization is limiting.“Centralized power solving our fears requires an ever-increasing number of laws, and each law is a restriction of some kind. Pretty soon, you can’t do half the things you could a couple of decades before. There’s a law for every problem and a department to solve it. Address it yourself and you’re likely to get hurt.
“So, to keep us safe from our professionally cultivated fears, your kid can’t run a lemonade stand without a license, your older aunt can’t watch the neighbor kids, and God help you if you try to give a lost child a ride home.”
#5: Centralization kills cooperation: “There are rules for everything. So, you can no longer cooperate with your neighbor because you enjoy it. No… you cooperate because it’s commanded by law and you’ll be punished if you don’t.
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