[The idea of local economy, for all its narrow focus on one’s hometown and one’s province, grows more attractive as we consider the major trend, decentralization. The collapse of the welfare state, the disgust of rising proportions of the people with government, the discredit of the very idea of the nation-state and the bankruptcy of consumer-oriented humanism — these trends Dr. Gary North pulls together in a brief text. Decentralization today will be much like that which followed the collapse of the Roman empire, with its new focus on private property. Local economy is a way of considering the effect of any one of these trends from the context of a particular city — Chattanooga, Tenn., in our case. This essay by a favorite economist tells us that we are not part of a revolution, nor even a counter-revolution. But rather a mass secession, a mass separation. — DJT]
By Gary North
I recently read an article on the leftwing website in Great Britain, The Guardian. This has been the most consistently leftwing publication in Great Britain. It was part of the organized Left as early as the 1920s, and it has never varied in the slightest.
The author interviewed a former American spy. The spy is a very well read man. But he cannot think straight. He is a super leftist. He talks about “the commons.” He does not like private property. He sees all of capitalism as an attempt to take away from the commons and privatize wealth. But there never was a state-free commons. The commons was always a state agency. Throughout men’s history, when there is common land, it is run by an agency that possesses political power. It possesses the power of coercion. Every time you see the word “commons,” think “commissars.” You don’t have commons without commissars.
This man is singing the same old song that he sang in his youth. He says there’s going to be a revolution. No, there isn’t. He says that the open source technology will create the revolution. No, it won’t.
The essence of revolution is centralized power. Engels knew this early, and reminded us of it for years. There is nothing more centralizing than a revolution. Every revolution in history has moved towards the centralization of power, including the American Revolution. This ex-spy, singing the songs of his youth, says that we are right at the edge of a revolution.
We are at the edge of a non-revolution.
What we’re seeing is decentralization. We are seeing the breakup of the equivalent of the Roman Empire. There was no revolution against the Roman Empire. It simply disintegrated. The medieval world was a time of enormous decentralization.
In the 17th century, there were attempts to start revolutions. The Puritan revolution in England was one of them. It was a revolt against the centralized power of the King, but it was done in the name of the centralized power of the Parliament. It wound up with a military dictator, Oliver Cromwell: 1649-1659. He was replaced by a new king in 1660. But the Parliament continued to centralize its power, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and 1689 stripped much of the power of the King, but it did not reduce government power; it simply transferred it to Parliament. Parliament adopted a theory of parliamentary sovereignty second to none in the history of tyranny. It claimed, and it still claims, that it has final sovereignty over all aspects of British life. There was no written constitution to restrain it. There was only the common law to restrain it. That was something important, but the centralization continued. It continues today.
With massive decentralization, there comes, not revolution, but secession. I don’t mean secession like the secession of the American South, which was just another way to centralize power in the South. The governor of Georgia, Joe Brown, saw that one for what it was. It was just another group of armed revolutionaries seeking to centralize power in the region they wanted to control. It was a replay of the American Revolution, as they argued.
Revolutions mean the centralization of power. Until conservatives figure this out, they are not going to understand what is going on, and what has been going on for the past 500 years. Revolutions centralize power. To fight centralized power militarily, you must centralize power, and this only leads to a shift of loyalty to a new group of centralists. We are slow learners.
We are not going to see an extension of the commons; we are going to see an extension of private property. The private enclosures of the commons were crucial for the establishment of English liberty. This is a war against the federal state. It is a war against centralized power. It is a war against the bureaucrats telling us what to do with our property.
You don’t need a revolution to escape the system. You need secession. You need a withdrawal of support for the existing systems. You need to revoke the legitimacy which you extended to these organizations. You need to do it, and everybody else needs to do it. Nobody organizes this. People just learn, scandal by scandal, bureaucratic snafu by bureaucratic snafu, that the system is irreparable. It cannot be reformed. It must not be captured. It must be defunded. The secret of liberty is not revolution; the secret of liberty is to defund the existing centralized order.
The secret of monetary stability and sound money is not to capture the Federal Reserve System. The secret is to pass a very simple law which abolishes the Federal Reserve System. The law revokes the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. The secret is not monetary sovereignty by Congress; the secret is monetary sovereignty in the free market social order.
The secret of better education is not capturing the public school system. The secret of better education is to go online, cut the cost of education, decentralize the entire process, and put parents in control of their families’ educational programs. But conservatives learn slowly. They always want to capture the liberal system, because they have a better plan to make it work. That was what the Bolsheviks did with the Czar’s bureaucracy. That was what the French revolutionaries did with Louis XVI’s bureaucracy. That was what the American revolutionaries did with George III’s bureaucracy. That is what the South would have done, if it had won. Gov. Brown saw this, and he resisted it.
The open source revolution is going to decentralize more of the world. Decentralization is not going to lead to revolution. Decentralization is going to lead to secession. I mean secession in Gandhi’s way. I mean the withdrawal of support. You don’t take up arms against the state; you simply refuse to cooperate with the state. You make it more expensive for the state to tyrannize you.
There is no Yugoslavia anymore. There is no Soviet Union anymore. This is the wave of the future. The statists and would-be statists keep looking for the great revolution. Just like Marx, they see it on all sides. Well, it never came. The communist revolution came where it didn’t belong, according to Marxist theory: the rural Empire of Russia. The urban proletariat didn’t pull off the revolution; a bunch of alienated intellectuals and bank robbers did.
What are we are going to see is the withdrawal of support from central regimes. The revolutions in the Arab world did not decentralize anything. It just re-centralized with another group of tyrants running the show. It is nice to see existing tyrants embarrassed. It is nice to see them overthrown, at least from a distance. But it doesn’t change anything. Egypt is just what it was under Mubarak. It is a military dictatorship. The revolution didn’t do anything.
Revolutionaries have to have a centralized agenda. Either it’s open, or it isn’t. But there is always a centralized agenda with every revolutionary movement. Every revolutionary always thinks his revolution is going to be the last one. Every revolutionary thinks that when he gets in control of the hierarchical chain of command, things are going to be different. Yes, they will be different. There will be a different set of looters skimming off the productivity of the victims.
Until conservatives stop dreaming about capturing existing hierarchical systems of power, nothing is going to change.
There is no centralized agenda that is likely ever to come out of a decentralized communication system. This is the digital Balkans. It is not Yugoslavia.
Facebook is decentralizing the world. It has Balkanized the world. This will continue.
Used by permission. Garynorth.com. June 28, 2014. Dr. North is author of dozens of books on economics and Christianity, including one of my favorites, Moses and Pharaoh[;] Dominion Religion vs. Power Religion (1985), and is editor of such works as The Theology of Christian Resistance in the Christianity & Civilization series. His work appears at Garynorth.com and often at a favorite website, Lewrockwell.com.