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The Breakdown of Nations

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  105 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Britain faces its most important political decision for hundreds of years - whether or not to join a common European currency. Many believe this would lead inexorably to a European superstate, so it is timely to re-examine the implications of the size of political groupings, whether they are states, nations or federations. This book shows that throughout history people who ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Green Books (first published October 24th 1978)
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Rob
Dec 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who see that one-size-fits-all-ism is evil
ok, this guy had a five-star idea, and he started writing a five-star book, and then he got lazy or distracted or lost his nerve or something. but pretty good thinking for a book written in the 1950s, as long as you skip most of the middle of the book.

Ch 1-3 are fabulous. the idea is ultra-simple: the worst problem in the world is bigness. bigness ruins everything, in at least 3 ways:

(1) if the socio-political unit we live in is too big, the individual loses any chance to influence or even und
...more
Saif AL Jahwari
Jun 06, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not easy to read but the book presents strong arguments for the theory of size, which suggests that all our political, economic, and social problems are related to one cause; “bigness” of countries and communities.

Quotation:
“Wherever something is wrong, something is too big.”
Klaus Kühnhammer
Jun 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and highly recommended. Half a century after its initial publication, this is still an extremely relevant analysis of the political and economical problems we face now
Knut
Aug 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sociology, economics
Abstract: This essay reviews Leopold Kohr’s book The Breakdown of Nations and asks which organizational principles a global 3rd millennium society should be governed by. While Kohr suggest the organization around political parties grouped around cultural territories, the author suggests an organization in communities around the instincts of work and survival paired with the concept of bioregions and made scalable by appropriate blockchain technology.
*
Leopold Kohr was the originator of the concep
...more
Markus
Mar 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I took notice of the philosophy of Leopold Kohr after attending a lecture organised by the Leopold Kohr Akademie at the University of Salzburg (- Leopold Kohr was born 1909 in the city of Obendorf near Salzburg, most famous for being the home town of "Silent Night").
Published in 1957, "The Breakdown of Nations" was the first time Kohr laid his ideas down in the form of a monography after publishing it in shorter articles. At first his theory (often shortend as "Small is Beautiful") wasn't takin
...more
Alan Hughes
I would wager that while many people are aware of the phrase ”Small is Beautiful” most, as I was, would be unaware of the originator of the phrase. E.F. Schumacher’s book “Small is Beautiful (1973)” took its title from the principle promoted by his teacher Leopold Kohr. Leopold Kohr had led a movement opposing the ‘cult of bigness’ for some time before Schumacher’s book brought ideas of anti-globalisation, appropriate technologies, and sustainable development to the general public’s attention.

Ko
...more
Remy Luyten
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Raakt de kern van allerlei vooronderstellingen van onze moderne cultuur. Briljant qua controversiële stellingname en rijke onderbouwing met historische feiten. Op het hoofdstuk The Physics of Politics na dan. But will it be done? No!
Rhys
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"If an engineer knows a philosopher, be is suspected of being a spy" (135). Yeeees [chin rub]. ...more
Jonathan
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Relevant to our times in 2020

Great read. Applicable in light of globalist vs nationalist challenges. The term “Break-down” is used in the positive sense, not the negative.
Slavisa
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Truly insightful. And it looks like it only gets better with time.
Lauri
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant! Kohr was truly fortelling the history of the future, that is now past, by writing this book, which proves more revealing of the current history at the ever moving passage of time.

It opened my eyes and finally unified the threads of history i've picked up of the past decades from world war II till present day. It also got me thinking how, set from the collapse of soviet union, the tables are again turning ever so discreetly and yet in the plain view of the international alta
...more
Joel Blunt
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
I didn't find any of Kohr's arguments convincing, while I agree with the author's final conclusion that a decentralised federalism is the best means of organising a state, his arguments have holes big enough to drive a truck through. If one is interested in a defense of federalism, the federalist papers are a better choice.

First, his economic argument is easy to dismiss. Humanity is better off materially now than it was in the middle ages. Kohr confuses the issue by equating economic effectivene
...more
Scott
Mar 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a manifesto, not a detached and dry academic treatise. Perhaps this is why readers either treasure it or despise it. I would recommend this to anyone who wishes to know more about the concepts of devolution (seen in practice in the United Kingdom since 1997; the 'Scotland Question' is not settled, and may not ever be answered to the satisfaction of everyone involved), 'localvore' food practices, fair trade, anti-corporate dissent. I find it can be summarized in a phrase: political biodiv ...more
Alasdair Martin
Aug 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
A fairly decent read for most parts, first and last thirds are well written and make many good arguments, although some elements are dated and rendered obsolete by latter day events, much remains relevant and pertinent.

The conclusions were ... sounding much like the realization that the authors musings would never come to fruition and a manifesto for processing US imperialism. Slightly precognitive in some respects, and galling as a non-US citizen. I advise caution amongst US readers who should
...more
kimberly blake
Apr 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good read for these times

Somewhat difficult for me but I finished it for a friend bill joy who challenged me with this share. Incredibly mind opening?!
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Leopold Kohr was an economist, jurist and political scientist known both for his opposition to the "cult of bigness" in social organization and as one of those who inspired the Small Is Beautiful movement. For almost twenty years, he was Professor of Economics and Public Administration at the University of Puerto Rico. He described himself as a "philosophical anarchist." His most influential work ...more

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47 likes · 1 comments
“For the thought of throwing the explosive does not come from our philosophic attitude but from the fact that we are holding it.” 1 likes
“Page 180:
A fascinating contemporary parallel, and another example of destruction through centralization if a federal union harbors a single disproportionately large power, has been furnished by the short-lived United States of Indonesia. When it was created in December 1949, it was composed of sixteen member states of which one was so large that its subordination without its own consent was impossible …

Page 183:
… if our present unifiers really want union, they must have disunion first. If Europe is to be united under the auspices of the European Council, its participating great powers must first be dissolved to a degree that, as in Switzerland … none of its component units is left with a significant superiority in size and strength over the others.

Page 187:
This is why such attempts at international union as the European Council or the United Nations are doomed to failure if they continue to insist on their present composition. Compromising with their framework a number of unabsorbably great powers, they suffer from the deadly disease of political cancer. To save them it would be necessary to follow Professor Simons who said of the overgrown nation-states that:

‘These monsters of nationalism and mercantilism must be dismantled, both to preserve world order and to protect internal peace. Their powers to wage war and restrict world trade must be sacrificed to some supranational state or league of nations. Their other powers and functions must be diminished in favor of states, provinces, and, in Europe, small nations.’

This is, indeed, the only way by which the problem of international government can be solved. The great powers, those monsters of nationalism, must be broken up and replaced by small states; for, as perhaps even our diplomats will eventually be able to understand, only small states are wise, modest and, above all, weak enough, to accept an authority higher than their own.

Page 190
But war is fortunately not the only means by which great powers can be divided. Engulfed in a swamp of infantile emotionalism, and attaching phenomenal value to the fact that they are big and mighty, they cannot be persuaded to execute their own dissolution. But, being infantile and emotional, they can be tricked into it.”
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