leopold kohr, size cycles, and the question of scale: maybe the country is just too damn big01 Apr 2018
on the way back from our three-day colab work meeting, i got into a conversation with two colleagues (aly and dayna) about the size of country. i think aly and i were on the “the country is just too big” side of things and dayna was on the “we just need better structures and systems to manage the size” side.
imo, the country is just too damn big. it doesn’t make sense that our economies are becoming global and not the other way around. it doesn’t make sense that global capital flows are determining the reality of places that they never get to see (or don’t get to see until years later, often when it’s “too late”). camilo and i noticed on friday that cambridge college on mass ave now has a chinese flag. and it’s giving tours as the cgc china innovation center or something. good spot, nestled right between mit and harvard with proxity to kendall square, too. i recently learned thatkendall square is the most valuable real estate per square foot in the country or world as far as “innovation” is concerned. like the density of money-making ideas is higher in kendall square than anywhere else. but i digress…
if i think self-determination is to be taken seriously, i think scale matters. and scaling up, in my mind, only functions to a point. as i’m beginning to think it out, i think that actually puts me at odds with some people that i was aligned with before.
it also reminds me of several things i’ve read.
it reminds me of a piece maureen white sent me a few years ago by paul kingsnorth about leopold kohr: This economic collapse is a ‘crisis of bigness’. it also reminds me of a professor whose research is about how the us, if you look at it economically, is actually series of megacities or city-states that dominate regions… stuff like this nyt piece, this book on megaregions, this map on the 11 emerging mega-regions and its relevant wikipedia page about megaregions.
Map created by IrvingPlNYC via Wikimedia
it makes me want to read things like:
- the breakdown of nations by leopold kohr
- overdeveloped nations also by leopold kohr (i love the framing of OVERdeveloped. we so often talk about underdeveloped or the more polite version, developing. but it’s all wrong unless we look at what’s happening with the countries that are setting up these systems to continually extract resources and keep (under)developing nations that way)
- dependency theory by john t. deiner because he said things like “underdevelopment is not a natural state, but rather a condition that is caused. The fact is that developed nations are actively underdeveloping Third World countries as a result of the systems of interactions between them.”
- small is beautiful: economics as if people mattered by ernst schumacher (who inspired several brilliant people i know, including greg watson)
- how europe underdeveloped africa by walter rodney (1973)
it makes me think about wendell berry’s definitions of how community helps us solve all sorts of problems, include answering questions “what is the right scale?” and how dunbar’s number supports thinking about how we really can only know (well) about 200 people before social relationships start to break down and do less good.
it also makes me think about this idea i’ve heard a couple of times about post-nationalism from some people i really respect…
phew. i could go on and on but i need to go file my taxes. ugh.
words / writing / post-processing
534w / 18min / 20min