The Breakdown of Nations

Kohr, Leopold
First Published:  1957
Pages:  264pp  
Resource Type:  Book
Cx Number:  CX14064

Kohr maintains that throughout history, people who have lived in small states are happier, more peaceful, more creative and more prosperous. He argues that virtually all our political and social problems would be greatly diminished if the world's major countries were to dissolve back into the small states from which they sprang.


here 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.

Subject Headings