Leopold Kohr (1906-1994) excerpted from The Breakdown of Nations
Whenever something is wrong, something is too big.
As the physicists of our time have tried to elaborate an integrated single theory, capable of explaining not only some but all phenomena of the physical universe, so I have tried on a different plane to develop a single theory through which not only some but all phenomena of the social universe can be reduced to a common denominator. The result is a new and unified political philosophy centering on the theory of size. It suggests that there seems only one cause behind all forms of social misery: bigness ...
There 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.
Other Leopold Kohr Links:
- Leopold Kohr OnLine - Ten Kohr articles
- The Wisdom of Leopold Kohr - Lecture by Ivan Illich
- Leopold Kohr quotes and photos
- Understanding the human measure of things by Gerald Lehner who worked with Kohr and wrote his biography
- Too Big - Leopold Kohr - Overview of Breakdown of Nations