Europe is at risk of war – What should we do?

Europe's New War

Europe is at war. It’s not obvious until you know some history, but Europe is at war. There are three critical pieces of information you need to master to understand this fully, and what it implies.

The first is that Spain and Greece very nearly had totally different political systems in the 20th century. Spain very nearly went Anarchist (not violent-chaotic, but without central control from government) but during the Spanish Civil War they were forced into Fascism. Greece very nearly went hard-line Communist after WW2 but was went down an entirely different path after the armed struggle.

Right now, both countries are clearly pre-revolutionary. Greece has school children passing out in class from hunger due to “austerity measures” and may be in the process of ditching the Euro so they can inflate the Drachma to devalue their currency and remove the weight of their debts - and sod whoever they owe the money to. Spain is at 50% youth unemployment and nearly 25% total unemployment, with 20% being the tradition unemployment figure associated with civil unrest.

Both of these societies fought wars for an alternative to capitalism, lost those wars to capitalism, and are now being shafted by capitalism. It’s time we seriously thought about what this might mean for the European Union, and our personal lives.

Distinguishing War and Revolution

The Libertarians have a very good analysis of war. They think of the fundamental human right as the right to “self-ownership” - that your body (and mind) are yours and entirely yours and nobody should be able to force you to do what you do not choose to do. As with many simple principles, this is subject to the Calculus of Competing Virtues. “Your freedom to swing your arm ends at the start of my nose” as the famous saying goes. A very great deal of effort is spent trying to square Libertarian self-ownership with, for example, planetary ecological limits - it’s not clear that a system which assumes the fundamental political truth is about human freedom is capable of navigating the extremely severe limits to action which appear to be necessary to protect the planet, for instance.

But back to the analysis. Libertarians model most political problems in terms of property rights, in terms of theft. Theft of property is theft of the Past, of the work you did to create or acquire something. Murder is theft of the Future, of all the future potentialities of the being killed. Imprisonment etc. are theft of the present, denying people freedom to do what they will with their property, their body and mind. This model is appealingly uni-polar, a single principle from which all (political) truth can be generated, and I don’t buy it, but it’s as useful as a flashlight in the dark when we want to ask what War fundamentally is, and Revolution to boot.

"War is the continuation of Politik by other means" - Carl von Clausewitz

In this analysis, War is when one State attempts to steal or destroy the property of another State.

Revolution is when the People of one State attempt to reassign property within that State.

Right now, Europe appears to be in a position where some countries are approaching Revolution. However, I think this is an inadequate political analysis - in fact, the truth comes much closer to war.

The problem is that the Euro does not belong to the Greeks or the Spanish - or even the Germans. Euros, individual units of currency may belong to them, but The Euro does not. The Euro is property of an entirely nebulous entity of uncertain political definition. The problem we have is that they are sloshing around the continent like water in a bath-tub, and the usual fiscal measures taken by governments to keep the water in their own national bucket are not working. Money lent to the Greeks accumulated interest, long bets did not pay off, and pretty soon they owe more than they have to nations they have no control of. Because the Euro is the Euro, they can’t use inflation to escape this trap which is the classic strategy, and we have an accidental economic war, in which Greek property is being reassigned to the Germans and many others by implosion, in an environment where EU membership requires them to keep their assets available for on the market at firesale prices. The good ship Europe sailed well in times of growth, but was never designed for Recession - any more than the Titanic was designed to stop Icebergs with its hull.

In a Revolution, the action is within nations. The property rights being reassigned are within a pre-existing national political unit. Although the revolutionary factions in Greece and Spain may see their struggles as purely national, the Euro is a shared asset of many governments, and everything which affects its destiny bridges borders. There is no way to confine the situation inside of national boundaries, any more than pollution in a river can be confined upstream.

We are all in this together, regardless of whether or not there are boots on the ground, and the unique confluence of nation-state interests bound together as the Euro is a unique political asset. There is no more National boundary on Revolution, it’s all War now.

Now let us consider our options here.

Trapped in the Boundries between Nations

We can’t easily vote out way out of this trouble. Elections are every few years, and no parties exist which have an appropriately fast-moving and accurate political and economic analysis to understand how to get us out of this mess. The pan-European truth is very simple: if we are going to be liable for each-other’s welfare and debts, if we are to have a pan-European Democratic Socialist Social Contract in a manner recognizable from Finland to Spain as the same deal, we’re going to need political parties in each nation which work on dismantling national boundaries to create a European superstate. Right now our political parties in Europe because they are elected nationally and make law nationally have only very indirect policies on international matters, even though the simple truth is that vast amounts of real economic power now reside at the European scale.

What it means is that nations are being plunged into poverty and causing chaos for their neighbours in the midst of a political process (continental unification) which may or may not succeed, and for which there is very little coherent political theory or political practice. Everybody sorta-knows it is happening but the sides are poorly defined, and there’s little international cooperation to push the course of events one way or the other. Even the greens are balkanized and national.

So, then, to resilience. It’s going to hit us hard, this process, and there will be troops on the ground in at least two countries within two years (90%) probable. Local revolutionary efforts to reallocate property to allow people to survive the crisis will be treated much more like political secessionist movements, because the basic European legislative fabric tears so badly when (for example) a nation sets up border controls or changes import/export policies. Changing the rules radically in a single nation (Revolution) takes on an international dimension (War) when everything is bound together by such tight international treaties.

The money in your pocket and the passport in your bag allow you to travel all over the continent, and that’s why what’s happening in the South of Europe is closer to War than Revolution, when it becomes fully activated.

So let’s talk about what this means for us.

Modern War in Europe

Modern war in Europe is not going to be shelling of cities and airstrikes. Enough was learned in Kosovo to avoid that at all costs. However, if (for example) Basque separatists decide to protect that most functional and productive portion of Spain by detaching it and applying for UN and EU protection, it’s not hard to imagine a border conflict as Spanish interests attempt to keep it in Spain. That kind of stuff could easily turn into proper, “hard” war up-to-and-including surface to air missiles and so on. Tough guys in hill country and make a stand against modern armies.

But it’s the cities that really fascinate me. The cities are the new horizon in conflict. It’s the water and sanitation and food supply and natural gas lines and electricity cables which make up the new landscape of war, particularly in a European theater where nobody wants to kill anybody, where there’s no fundamental ideological and nationalistic blood lust, but a sad, sorry cluster**** of competing interests which have made a worse mess than anybody ever imagined. It’s urban warfare in Europe that everybody fears, the Kosovo scenario playing out in the South.

So finally, having framed the threat, let’s talk about resilience in this model.

I’m a hard resilience guy. I’m not al that interested in social resilience, in people being nicer to each other in times of crisis, in what prevents people being so vulnerable to stress. I’m a hard resilience guy, I think in terms of food and water and power and communications. I think about life and death. I foresaw conflicts of this kind many years ago, really started the work around 2002 or 2003 after the Euro was created because I did not think the world financial system could be stable with two reserve currencies - in the bimetallic period, the destructive oscillations between gold and silver wiped out stable international trade over and over again.

If you are in Spain or Greece, either in the big cities or near the borders, and particularly at ports, there is a substantial risk of fighting and a near-certainty of supply chain and grid issues within two years. Obviously this could all hit much, much sooner than that, but the other shoe is not far from dropping, and two years is a good horizon to think about. Sooner than 2015. That’s pretty damn soon. It’s not enough time to finish a college degree or publish a novel, really. Faster than that come battle, in many scenarios. We can never know for sure, but it’s hard to miss the signs now.

Think of it as a tear in the fabric of society, the fabric of the grid. People arguing over property rights draw guns, or threaten to do so, and more people arrive to keep the peace. But now everybody is freaking out, and so capital and trade flee the area. If fighting starts, the flight of capital and trade accelerates - shops close, people no longer deliver to the area, business grinds to a halt - and there may be destruction of physical assets too, like water pipes and power cables and bridges. These are not likely to be wars of annihilation against populations, nobody hates each-other that much in Europe any more, but wars about the structure of local laws and about who gets to sign agreements. Administrative wars, if you will. And Chaos radiates out from the tear in the Civility of Administrators. War is the continuation of Bureaucracy by other means.

So one more time, back to resilience. Pipes and Wires and Radio Waves, Trucks and Boats and Planes. That’s everything, more or less, that brings services to your doorstep. All those systems are owned, and many of them by international or foreign owners. All of them are governed, many by international or foreign treaties and standards bodies. The internet is IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) incarnate, for example. As the bureaucratic systems tear and lose interoperating civility (a key concept) the total economic and life-support throughput of the system crashes. People get suddenly poorer - you need an artificial hip and you’re not going to get one. The young do well, the old are only as well taken care of as their family ties require, and people who can get by when things are good (the diabetic, the schizophrenic, the alcoholic) go to the wall. Many die from lack of care and comfort, usually far more than from fighting, given that Europeans do not currently hate each-other.

Resilience in short

Resilience has four phases: Detect trouble, Avoid trouble, Mitigate trouble and Recover from trouble. I’m writing now about Detecting the upcoming trouble, seeing the signs early enough to (for example) consider leaving likely conflict areas. This is harsh, harsh advice and I’m not simply suggesting picking up and fleeing, but if you’re in a vulnerable group, and you have an EU passport, perhaps now is the time to consider moving north to the extremely well-organized and disciplined countries where Winter can kill you and so people work together and plan to survive it every year, keeping them in good mindsets for handling other kinds of trouble. Minnesota Nice as they say in the US, has nothing on Finnish nice.

So now let’s talk about Mitigate. Go buy some food. Note how long it lasts and how much it costs. Now imagine it costs five times as much, the trucks come once every three weeks, and everything is sold out in days. Now imagine that lasts for years. Ok? So go and buy a lot of food, say two person-years worth. In America that costs about $1500 if you buy in bulk at Sam’s Club and keep some capacity (energy! wood burning stove) to cook from basic supplies like beans and rice and lentils and cooking oil and flour and even wheat (grain mill.) Why? Because if you had these things, and you lived in a fairly safe area, the worst of even extremely large social upheavals (fall of the USSR, American Civil War and even WW2) basically passed you by. It’s the fragility of the supply chain and the grid that draws people into becoming actors in history - you can’t afford to eat, you don’t have a good store of food, you wind up in the black market. Risks go through the roof. Worst still, you enlist in an army to feed your family.

No, I am not kidding. This is the Hard Resilience landscape, and these doors are opening up on all sides. Those people in the streets rioting, the protesting classes, are fighting not for internal political change within their own countries, but (whether they know it or not) for a re-arrangement of the political balance of an entire continent. Conditions are bad enough that the protests could be 10 times the size they are now very quickly, and then escalate to simply becoming the administrative controllers of entire cities. And the new technological base (the internet, 3G masts operated by local groups and so on) can open up the space for these kinds of friendly (or otherwise) insurrections in ways nobody can imagine. Where’s the food, where are the medicines, how do we keep things going.

Endgame

In May of 2012, the Greeks are starving in their homes, as we discuss whether to lend them more money, kick them out of the Euro, or buy the country out from under them. They’re already facing this, and if the price of getting out of that hole is seizing the foreign-owned assets of their own soil, somebody will eventually do it, and then being the question of sanctions and embargos and, well, both Spain and Italy are radically unstable right now, as is the UK but for very different reasons, and slowly we begin to see that this is not somebody else’s business, but eventually, in all probability, ours.

It will be many years before we get to Recover.

Resilience is just about staying alive when the structures you rely on go away. It’s started in the poorer countries in Europe and we are (rightly) panicked. But to understand this in is global context, think of what’s happening in Africa right now - unsafe coal mines, aids epidemic, high food prices, crop failures, starvation, wars of genocidal hatred and the rest blight an otherwise perfectly nice continent.

Any of us can fall as low as the lowest level we allow to exist in the world. Time for change.

You can watch a 20 minute primer on State Failure and Resilience here

You can download a large, useful archive of Resilience resources here

Here is Dealing in Security, a mapping tool to help understand the pipe/wire/truck systems that support us (PDF, small)

A shoemaker’s story

I went to the shoemaker this morning. I pulled out my ticket from my wallet, and gave it to him. It was the first time I met him in person. There was nobody else in the store, just me and him. He looked at me straight in the eyes, and started talking to me in a loud voice… ’

There was a convent of nuns in Africa’, he said. "They lived from donations of their community. But their supplies ran out completely, and one day, a nun turned to their superior: We have nothing left. No food, no blankets. Or anything. The Mother superior rejoiced in this news, and she said: At last, we have an opportunity to reach the highest vision of who we are.

I had no idea that shoemakers could normally tell such stories to their clients! But he explained to me that he’s clairvoyant, and that the minute he saw me, he knew exactly what to tell me.

This is what I needed to hear today, as I watch my people go crazy and take the streets. The Arab Spring has reached the distant shores of the Quebec’s hermetic bubble. I did not think it would have been possible.

Yes, we are all going down the drain, as society’s decay has culmulated a height of deterioration and the breakdown is coming to an end. ‘In all chaos, in all disorder, there is a secret order’, said Carl Jung.

While I brace myself to fall into nothingness, after this Edgeryders contract is over, since I failed to convince my local governments that I have special skills and could be useful to them to implement an open government. At least, I know now that the problem is no coming from me. Edgeryders has helped me to (inner) grow, but I’m still stuck with the same problems. I brace to live on even less money (whoa, can this be even possible???). I fear I might have to wait for months, even years, before my local goverments are annihilated by the popular uprising. I worry about my child. I worry about our both future.

Integrity doesn’t seem to be very popular value right now, although arrests have intensified, and those who lived by corruption for decades are sent to prison. Integrity, that’s all I have. And I’m holding on to it so tight, like the woman in the Titanic movie, clinging to a plank of wood floating on the icy waters. I have my whistle (my blog, my Twitter account), and I hope to have enough energy to use them, if ever aid was to come in my direction.

Integrity. Ideas. Skills. Vision. Projects. I keep them between my ears. They can remove everything from me, except these. It will just speed up inner growth.

I do not have the resources and the means to materialize my dreams. While statements of open government have been pronounced, they mean nothing, they have no substance. They are a farce. Today, the shoemaker helped me to let go of everything, and take refuge in silence. There comes a time when it becomes useless to say another word.

Resilience by different means

…OR you could simply soldier on tying people’s destinies to each other so tight that they will want to take care of each other. With the cost of Greece’s withdrawal from the Eurozone estimated at € 1 trillion (that’s one thousand billion, people), the incentives are definitely there to find some kind of agreement.

Good ole Keynes used to say that “if you owe the bank ten thosand dollars, the bank owns you. But if you owe it ten million, you own the bank”. Well, it’s looking like Greece is discovering an unexpected poor country’s nuclear trigger. The jury is out to see if it is enough to keep the wolves at bay.

keynes

i love that keynes quote - he’s so awesome! the idea of a quotable economist is an oxymoron nowadays, and it’s nice to be reminded of when some were Way Cool

btw last line should read “you own the bank” - i know most people will get it, but just incase - we’re all dealing in second and third languages here, except lazy english people like me (i’m trying to learn french, i promise!)

Hey!

Hey, I am an economist, and I think I’m up to pretty cool stuff! :slight_smile:

(though, yes, JMK was in the Fabians, he married a ballet dancer, made a lot of money speculating on the stock market and founded the Arts Council, the IMF and the World Bank, so he was ultimately cool).

alberto

hey alberto,

you’re definitely up to way cool stuff! i stand corrected. if i meet any ballet dancers before the 14th i’ll put them in touch.

in the meantime, you’ve got to come up with some outrageous quotes… !

Not sure I agree with this

Not because of the content but because of the nature of the content, the parts that together are the foundation on which your conclusions rest. For example what you write about resilience having four phases…where does that come from? And war being the continuation of bureaucracy by other means…let me put a challange to you. How would you go about disproving that statement?

Hard and soft resilience

Well I basically always agree with your “hard resilience” strategy: situations of needing stacked food have happened time and again through history, and there’s no reason to assume last time was really last … .

Yet “soft resilience” and other “soft” answers like policy changes are not without merit at the same time. For example, let’s not forget that there’s still room for steering in a crisis (or rather, especially in a crisis).

But those policy changes rarely get going before we’re right in a national / continental crisis, it seems. Yet then, in the middle of it, suddenly policy makers become conscious of what they can do (and are elected to do), and unprecedented changes are possible. Including changes to the fabric of property rights, which is always a core reason of any resource conflict, and which is a “soft” issue. There’s no warranty that all drastic political measures are appropriate and wise (see e.g. the 2009 German equivalence to Cash for Clunkers; effective, but there might have been better ways). But anyway, a crisis is a chance - to change something. And where there is change, there’s hope.

In my view, we’re not yet “in the middle of it”, or policy makers don’t want to admit it yet. The ever-repeated bailing out of Greece and the ever-deferred regulating of the banking sector is just to buy time, but that will not be possible much longer. And then there’s a time for more drastic changes. Hopefully in favor of the general public.

Rigidity

Resistance is not resilience, rather rigidity, and seen from the outside Germany’s stance seems somewhat stiff. Neodynos, you are in Germany: how does the situation look from your end? Do you see a social demand for soft resilience in German people?

Makes sense

Yes, the great book by David Graeber also makes the point that communities under extreme duress (say, a natural catastrophe happens) often  “revert to baseline communism” - by this he means a state in which tasks are allocated according to abilities and resources according to needs. In other words, when time are bad, if someone is trying to make or mend something and tells you “Pass me that wrench” you are unlikely to ask her “and what do I get in return?”, especially if she looks like someone who knows what she’s doing.

In Italy - not hit as hard as Greece, or even Spain - people are close enough to the brink to feel some sympathy. It is not hard at all to imagine yourself in a very, very bad situation.

Your thinking though very interesting and compelling is far out of my league to competently comment or challenge.  I’m firmly with you though on the need for hard resilience, because it is a hedge that costs little and has the potential to save much.

I do have a hard to verify meta view that in my mind creates a nice outline for the situation going on in industrial worlds.  It’s simplistic and common, but in my mind relevant.  Essentially western industrial societies have reached a stagnation point where they can not grow at the rate demanded by our financial insitutions. At the core this failure is caused by a combination of energy and resource extraction costs and rate limitations. Since we in the west shudder to think about reinventing our lifestyles in the context of reducing our resource consumption our future seems to rest on an absolutely wild hail mary pass for cheap abundant to be determined energy source or alternatively duking it out with the rest of the world in no holds bar vulture capitalism to guarantee the resources we need.  Obviously we have not yet succeeeded  on the energy hail mary pass, and so perhaps we are in the process of necessarily "culling the herd"of industrial countries so to speak with the weakest financial countries like Spain and Greece first to go.  If there is any sense whatsoever to that view then it would seem our only real deep option is to reinvent our lifestyles and unplug from the industrial machine.

My speculations aside, it sounds like you’ve made a compelling case that Europe is at war when you accept the definition war is when one state attempts to steal the property of another.  I follow the folks at automatic earth and they argue the credit bubble is about to pop and that one of the big consequences is that multiple entities will have claim to a single asset or bit of wealth. Seems like that is essentially what you are describing.  The only real counter that I can see to your argument that europe is at war is if one believes that the financial rules and lending practices that led to the mess were fair.  In that case nobody is stealing anything and you are simply seeing the rules of the capitalist system that the governments agreed to being played out harshly, but fairly.  I certainly don’t buy that view, but there might be some…

In any case being a relative youngster I’m personally going way long and deep on resilient skills and learning to think in a post industrial mindset.  Probably a few years ahead of my time so hopefully by the time I actually need them I’ll be ready and able…

Right…

Nick, this seems reasonable - as far as you can be reasonable discussing stuff that is so dire. Can I ask you what you are doing, in practice, to acquire resilient skills? I would like to do some of that too, but it is really hard to know where to start. And it is hard to know what sort of infrastructure to assume: hunters-gatherers? Agriculture? Feudalism? Hi-tech feudalism? Whether you are more resilient if  you know how to hunt rabbits or if you know how to repair bicycles depends on the tech/legal infrastructure your society is resting on! Man, this stuff is hard.

Tough to Know…

Alberto,  I think the question of what skills to focus on is very specific to many personal details like; ones social obligations, location, ones health ect.  Personally I have explored a spectrum of  potentially resilient “hard” skills from practicing primitive survival a bit (enough to know I never want to live in such a world), living and working on permaculture farms, managing pastoral systems, installing renewable energy systems, working on modern high tech farms with big equipment and in general being a capable and adaptive worker for building or mechanical oriented projects. I’ve also practiced “soft” resilient skills, by which I mean meditating (daily) and working out in such a way to keep my organism fairly rugged and resilient.

In all honesty though I’d probably not reccomend such a broad and diverse approach.  I was fairly obsessed with the subject for a variety of reasons and gave most of my time and early career prospects to it.  At the end too I’m still in the same economy as everyone else, and still have to submit to specialized work for a paycheck.

Don’t get me wrong I’m very happen to have that background, but the reality I think is that it is very very hard to buck the dominant infrastructure of a society, it did after all come to dominate for a reason.  I do see cracks forming all over the fossil industrial tech structure, but its still the system we have for supplying our essentials in the quantities we need.  Which I think brings us to your really great question of what type of infrastructure we will likely end up with.  That IMO is one very loaded question with no real definites.  If I was to assume there will be no solar tech to fill in our fossil energy deficit, I’d say that we will probably have a long slow sucession from industrialization to something like the Ecotechnic future John Micheal Greer envisions. In which case his preparation recommendations seem fairly reasonable. If I had to guess I’d say preparing for high tech fuedalism would be much more likely than a slide away from technology.  Personally though  I’m cautiously optimistic that we may have solar tech soon that just may be able to keep fuedalism at bay (we need surplus energy for democracies to work).  Though we’ll have to wait and see on that one, and in the mean time investing in food and water storage and some backup energy storage (for cooking and staying warm and some electricity if you have means) certaintly can’t hurt as some insurance.  Additionally loading up on urban survival type skills such as gardening, home energy retrofitting (insulation, weather stripping, ect) DIY solar projects, bike repair, appliance repair, DIY hacking, sewing,  and general barter tactics ect  all seem like fair uses of time.  Though no guarantees for all I know $/kW solar energy is just around the corner, interesting times inded…

Great answer!

wildfarmer, thanks for taking the time to answer me so extensively. You should definitely be in the Edgeryders conference in June (Vinay’s post explaining it); Lucas Gonzalez is preparing a resilience session, and I am looking forward to it.

Meanwhile, I am giving you +100 reputation as a token of appreciation for two great, thoughtful comments.

Thank’s Alberto for the positive feedback, I’d be very interested in attending the Edgeryders conference particularly the resilience session, but am sort of riding through a bumpy financial situation though in the US.  I will keep tabs on the project and try to commit to participating on Edgeryders more often though.  There is some great thinking occuring here.

Identity

Greetings, Wildfarmer…

You write with precision and concision and seem interesting…

Can we have a few more personal details in the interest of openness, transparency etc…

AD

Two things I question here

Interesting stuff. But two questions/comments arise for me:

  1. I humbly submit that one of the fundamentals at issue here is size. The EU is simply too big to be able to dispense either economic stability or much-needed political responsiveness at anything like local, or even national, level. The EU is a utopian project based on yesterday’s values: growth, big is beautiful, economic liberalisation and political centralisation. These are the dogmas of the late 20th century, the dogmas that got us here and we as Europeans are going to have to abandon them if we want to get out. Here is a little piece on Leopold Kohr  which expands on this a bit:

http://www.paulkingsnorth.net/journalism/this-collapse-is-a-crisis-of-bigness/

  1. Related, slightly, I take issue with this observation:
' ...if you’re in a vulnerable group, and you have an EU passport, perhaps now is the time to consider moving north to the extremely well-organized and disciplined countries where Winter can kill you and so people work together and plan to survive it every year ...'
So people should be leaving their own countries, their families, their homeland, all of their cultural links, the place they were born in and grew up in and the culture they are part of, and they should be moving to countries with which they have no connection, whose language they probably do not speak and in which, in times of crisis, people may not welcome immigrants – because, as we all know, it's foreigners that get blamed at times of crisis, in this period in history as in any other.

I submit that this is not good advice; I also suggest that it does not take enough account of the subtleties and intricacies of human belonging. It may make sense on a spreadsheet, but in reality one of the best ways to weather a crisis is surely to be part of the community that will look after you, not to be a stranger in a foreign city where people will be suspicious of you. There is a really good article on just this subject in the second Dark Mountain book, which takes apart the myth of survivalism and suggests that rooting yourself in a community is probably your best bet.

http://dark-mountain.net/stories/books/book-2/

This is not to say that there is not a good case for getting out of cities: there probably is. But fleeing entire countries is probably another matter.

One direct hit, one not convinced

Hey Paul, welcome to Edgeryders! :slight_smile:

I don’t understand the size argument as a sweeping one. Some things scale well without losing coherence, others break down. It is certainly true that some social phenomena (“the market” or “globalwarming”) are emergent from a myriad individual interaction, and we can no more control them than a  unch of neurons can control the brain they are a part of. So our control, and maybe even our understanding of social phenomena do break down as they grow in size, but this does not mean they themselves break down. So, for the moment, I am unconvinced by Mr. Kohr’s position (I know this is not exactly world shattering news).

Your point on immigration is well taken. I do feel the need to enmesh myself in a community, and so I am just now doing this.

Thanks for the comment Alberto. I agree that some things scale up - but the key for me is that government doesn’t. Even government at national level is inefficient and unresponsive. Here in the UK we have a very top-heavy state and it shows. I think there is a lot of evidence that could be cited which points to this. Certainly if the EU responds to the current crisis by centralising even further I think it will create bigger problems than it solves.

Yes. But…

Paul, I am personally involved in a radical decentralization exercise to rethink government as a sort of hybrid form, part Weberian bureucracy and part emergent social dynamics arising from citizen interaction, Wikipedia-style. Edgeryders is itself a tiny part of a huge governance ecosystem, and I would argue it would scale reasonably well.

Are you coming to Strasbourg? I’d be up for discussing this in more detail. Vinay can make the introductions. :slight_smile: