Leopold Kohr & the Crisis of Bigness

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Steven Yates has published a great piece on the American Daily Herald, “Who Was Leopold Kohr?” In his article, Yates writes:

Like Read [British existentialist and anarchist Herbert Read] he described himself as a “philosophical anarchist.” The thesis denies that there can ever be rational justification or moral legitimacy for a special institution (or set of institutions) called the state, or government. The philosophical anarchist combines this with a quietism, eschewing violent action as the appropriate response to the state both not simply because such action only leads to a more violent response but because violence is the way of the state, not a free people. Philosophical anarchists do not believe the state has any inherent right to command, or that any person has an obligation to obey, though of course it may be prudent to do so.

I came across Kohr several years ago when Butler Shaffer recommended his book to me – The Breakdown of Nations. I found that the book, for the most part, offers compelling insight on why bigness, and the ensuing abuse of power, has resulted in omnipotent states and quasi-governmental institutions. Rather than recreate the wheel, I’ll link to the article that Mr. Yates refers to in his piece from The Guardian – “This economic collapse is a ‘crisis of bigness.'” The author, Paul Kingsnorth, makes some excellent points drawing upon the thesis of Leopold Kohr’s book. Butler told me that he once hosted Mr. Kohr in his home and found him to be “as delighteful and pleasant a soul as his writings.”

Another book that has always seemed interesting, though I have not read it, is “A Pair of Cranks,” which includes essays from Kohr and E.F. Schumacher, the author of Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered.

10:22 am on January 22, 2012