How Decentralizing Institutions Will Unite the Left and Right
By Joe Jarvis - July 26, 2017

“Big government is the problem!”

“No, big business is the problem!”

What if their coexistence on such a large scale is the real problem? They each rely on the other for power. A corporation is a government creation, with legal definitions which protect it from market forces. And government laws and regulations are largely designed by corporate special interests.

It is a vicious cycle which arguably fits the definition of fascism. The government doesn’t own the means of production, but it regulates industry to the point that it might as well. A corporation can work through the government to make any law or regulation it wants which will give them an unfair advantage or kill a competitor. The government even directly hands corporations money in the form of bailouts, subsidies, and grants!

At this point, it is impossible to disentangle big business and big government. So when we talk decentralizing institutions, it is not just the government which needs to be split up.

Of course, many on the left seem to think the government is the institution needed to reign in big business. This is an absurd contradiction; government is what made big business the cronyistic monster it is today.

Likewise, we cannot expect the market to reign in government. Current market conditions prove the easiest way to turn a “profit” is by cozying up to the government, not by pitting your business against it.

But the left and right should agree that having a choice is better than being forced according to the whims of the majority. Or has the left learned nothing from the election of Donald Trump?

There is a dangerous meme on the left that government can solve all problems if the right people are in power. They claim the people control the government by voting, and that over the long run, the majority will do the right thing–as long as the left has control over public education, the media, and free speech.

But the right also believes a dangerous meme that business will always be properly regulated by market forces. But just like the voters, the consumers will not always steer industry in the proper direction. The main difference is that you can withdraw your support from business… in theory.

The marriage between government and industry makes voting at the ballot box or with your dollar a dubious solution. But the smaller and more decentralized institutions get–whether business or government structures–the easier they are to control.

Local business and local government will always be more responsive to voters and customers. The key is being able to withdraw support in favor of an actual alternative choice.

Unity Through Decentralization

The internet has centralized society more than ever before. Yet this unity did not occur by way of conquering armies and imperial empires. The internet provided a platform for natural order to emerge out of chaos. It is a place for voluntary interactions.

The internet–and technologies based on it such as the blockchain–provides the unity needed for modern communication, coordination, and economic transactions. The ease of forming voluntary groups allows decentralization of power to be a real possibility.

Kirkpatrick Sale is one leftist arguing for decentralization of government and industry. He recently released a book called Human Scale Revisited. This is an updated and slimmed down version of his 1980 book Human Scale.

The heart of Human Scale, then and now, is Sale’s judgment that “to save our planet and its civilizations…we must work toward a decentralization of institutions, the devolution of power, and the dismantling of all large scale systems that have created or perpetuated the current crisis. In their place, smaller more controllable, more efficient, more sensitive, people-sized units, rooted in local environments and guided by local citizens. That is the human-scale alternative.”

The more decentralized government gets, the more decentralized business will become. People have more control over smaller governments. People are less likely to support bailouts and subsidies for “special” companies when they can’t imagine that someone 14 states away is paying for it.

Already we have some degree of control over how large companies can get. I grow a solid percentage of the food I eat. I make my own soap, deodorant, and toothpaste. I gladly shop at thrift stores and flea markets. Local beer, and family owned restaurants are the highlights of my nights out.

The point of failure is that the government can still steal our money and hand it to failing car companies, crooked investment banks, and manipulative oil companies. They can still bar entry into the restaurant and beer industry. They can threaten me if I buy, sell, or trade goods such as raw milk with my neighbors.

Decentralize the seat of government, and the people can choose to not associate with governments which do such things.

If 50 countries stand where the United States once stood, we would have actual options and true competition. It is easy to move states to live under a better government–I already did it, from Massachusetts to Florida. But the benefits are still marginal with the overlords in DC.


For 800 years, “surviving ups and downs and feasts and famines, [Lucca] was one of the most prosperous places on the entire Italian peninsula, not to mention the entire European continent.” That came to an end with Napoleonic imperialism, but its experience produced “Lucca’s Law”: “Territories will be richer when small and self-sufficient than when large and dependent.”

Perhaps in the age of communication, where anyone can be a journalist with their phone and good timing, we can hold war lords and pillagers accountable for their actions. Could early exposure of their crimes stop the next Napoleon, Hitler, or Mao? Small territories could remain free if the ever more connected people of Earth have lost their appetite for bloodshed.

Or maybe I am naive, and this period of relative, yet unprecedented, peace on Earth is only the calm before the storm. Tell me what you think in the comments.

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  • GH

    This is one of your best Joe! I don’t garden…yet…but I consume natural, real foods – virtually all organically raised and as often as possible from local sources which are the building blocks of healthy communities. I also make my own lotion and deodorant from healthy food grade ingredients…sans the poisonous chemicals. Raw milk is one of my favorite nutritious treats!
    I am pretty much an anarchist from the definition of – as much as possible – the practice of living “without the influence of coercive authority”. Participation in the insane carnival of politics is an absurdity I avoid.
    Peaceful, productive, prosperous living is possible, if individuals learn to live in the moment and their social interactions focus on the health and welfare of their own communities. Good local health becomes contagious when viewed by individuals outside such healthy localities, and spreads naturally…without coercion. People exercising the freedom to do and be what they desire – without infringing on the ability of others to do the same – will always produce and continually enhance a healthy community.
    The emphasis by media (the puppets of mega-governments) on national and international events is specifically to distract the public at large from focusing on themselves and how to live better right where they are. It is in the power seeking addiction of governments and organized religions (a redundancy) to keep people from focusing on how individuals can improve themselves and their immediate community…because they know it works. Free, happy individuals are difficult to control…and control is the only motive of governments and their media sycophants. More “chicken littles” means less free, intelligent individuals who know how to live peacefully, productively and in prosperity…and I’ll throw happily into that mix as well.

    Thanks for a good article! Other comments will be interesting.

    • Thank you GH, I appreciate your thoughtful response! I think you hit on the most important solution, which is ignoring the bread and circus media/ government carnival that is meant to distract us and bring us down. It starts with the individual, and I’m glad to hear you make your own/ locally source whatever you can.

      -Joe Jarvis

  • Don Duncan

    Yes, a decentralized society would be freer, so much so that the lack of a founding principle would be hardly noticed, except to the few you get hurt, crushed, even killed. But those small minorities don’t matter to the majority. And they don’t see the principle at work: Force is the primary means of interaction with govt., not reason, as has been noted by many who had their life ruined. Lysander Spooner might not have written his scathing criticism of govt./constitution has he not had his business, American Mail, crushed by a new law, passed because govt. couldn’t compete with him.
    My point is, America started as 13 very small countries. It was great for most, and that was enough for them; the few who suffered govt. didn’t seem important. After all why should I care when I have it great? Why should I care about principle? That is an esoteric idea for philosophers, political scientists. Let them worry, right?
    For your answer look around. I call it the USSA Empire. It is the result of founding a society on an end without a commensurate means, i.e., a goal without the correct principle, e.g., rights protected by a sovereign elite, e.g., a forfeited sovereignty which created an unlimited power elite.
    That’s the power of esoteric ideas. The idea of voting away sovereignty used by American society was unacknowledged and therefore not recognized as dangerous. But is was “the most dangerous superstition”. As proof I submit the state of politics and civil society.
    Had self governance been the means for protecting rights, a voluntary political system would have worked fine, just as it does in the private sector. But voluntary is called “chaos”, as if what we have now is somehow “orderly”. No one is safe under the law. All are at risk from the system of political injustice. Rights are not protected, but violated by the law. Rights were sacrificed for security, ending with neither.

  • LawrenceNeal

    There is no Left or Right. Only the manipulative divisions fostered by the .001% Elite.

  • Doc

    Splitting up a landmass into smaller monopolies? There’s no real evidence that it will make things much better. The small stetes in Europe was fascist before the EU and still are.

    You break monopolies, not split them into smaller ones.

    • Number 6

      But Breaking a monopoly automatically implies breaking it up into smaller parts. All dictatorships are funded by the greater monopoly, with almost unlimited access to the wealth of the world OUR wealth. National and international socialism (government control over the means of production) simply couldn’t survive economically without outside assistance from productive capitalist societies. The Bolshevik revolution and the Nazi party were both funded by Wall street, research Professor Anthony Sutton’s work in this regard.

      • Doc

        Breaking up a territorial monopoly wouldn’t necessarily create many smaller ones. Why do you assume that? Human history is full of non-monopolistic governments.

        • Number 6

          I didn’t say “many”, not that has any bearing on my point. You said you could break up a territorial monopoly without “breaking it up” I merely pointed out that was a contradiction. A bigger government with a greater reach has a bigger Monopoly obviously, to break a monopoly you have to reduce its power and reach, so it has to be broken down into its constituent parts, anything else is just a transfer of ownership from one dictator to another. Of course we could abolish government altogether and break countries down to the level of the individual.

          • Doc

            It seems that you are under the impression that a government needs to have a territorial monopoly. While that certainly is the case, that is actually a rather late thing. In the past the governments all over the world tended to be non-monopolistic rather than monopolistic.

            The laws followed the person, not the territory. So you could be a subject of one government and your neighbor another, very similar to how religion works in most places today.

            I’m aware this isn’t taught at the universities today, but it’s still a fact.

            Breaking a monopoly doesn’t mean creating smaller monopolies.

          • Number 6

            I’m sorry your not making a lot of sense 1) a government is a territorial monopoly, that precisely what it is, a government governs over people in a given territory. 2) your precisely describing religion not government.
            3) and Im not sure in which context your using the word monopoly and how you think a government monopoly does or doesn’t manifest itself, but I don’t think you understand what the word monopoly means, a monopoly broken up is not smaller monopolies, that would be an oxymoron.

          • Doc

            I’m afraid that there have been governments all over the world all through the ages that weren’t territorial monopolies. So your definition of a government isn’t correct, despite being the popular one.

            I don’t blame you for not knowing this as I haven’t met many people that have been told about it. This isn’t a silly idea of mine, but a very important part of political philosophy.

            Here is an introduction to this part of human history, https://www.lewrockwell.com/2005/02/richard-cb-johnsson/to-the-monopolists-of-all-parties/.

  • jacob

    Because of my own bias, I was disappointed with this article as I have been with most articles lately. The alt-right is replete with incisive commentary but sadly missing discussions to remediate. Nearly all DB comments self-congratulate their recognition of galloping injustice, but where are the solutions?

    I’m no genius and I have no answers. But rational action plans are needed that can realistically engage with the truly malevolent forces destroyng our humanity. Let’s start with good questions and good proposals.

    • I’m sorry to hear that Jacob.

      Of course I am most familiar with the solutions I have found in my own life. As I mention in the article, these have been individual choices like moving to a better state, making more of my own products, growing my own food.

      Things I didn’t mention in this article, but have in others, include finding the right mental state, and exploring options like alternative currencies, creating micro-states, alternative trading platforms, and peer to peer businesses.

      I realize my solutions are central to my own style and philosophy on life, and am trying to branch out to find broader solutions. Of course there is no magic bullet or easy solution. It starts with individuals, and the choices they make.

      I hope you stick around and keep contributing your thoughts and ideas, and I will try to offer more solutions on a regular basis. Thanks.

      -Joe Jarvis

    • Bischoff

      A good question is why not look to the ideas of the framers of the U.S. Constitution to judge the question of centralization and decentralization of government…..???

      Let me say this, the framers are turning over in their graves knowing that the states ratified the 16th and 17th Amendments.

      If you want to know the main driving force behind the centralization of power into the hands of the federal government, it lies with the effects of these two “unconstitutional”, constitutional amendments on the American political economy.

  • georgesilver

    Trouble is Mr. Jarvis you preaching to the already converted. Go out into the big wide-world and asked your friends an acquaintances or anyone you meet about the things you mention and I bet you won’t find one that does anything like making their own soap or medicines. You’ll also find their cupboards stuffed with multinational company’s products. As for the blockchain buzz word I actually don’t really know what that’s all about myself.
    I’m a fan of Gold but I have never found anyone that actually buys Gold. Ask your friends if they’ve even seen a Gold coin. Some might have heard of a Krugerrand but none of them have seen one or know how much it weighs or what it’s worth.
    It tickles my funny bone when I think of a priest preaching hell and damnation to people who have actually taken the trouble to turn up to his church.

    • Unfortunately there is always going to be a bit of preaching to the choir, and I apologize for that. There does seem to be some diversity in the commenters here at the Daily Bell though, and I hope I can spark meaningful discussions. Perhaps it is just the crowd I run in, but actually a good amount of my friends and acquaintances do in fact make their own products, keep gardens, own silver, use alternative currencies etc. Perhaps I should branch out and evangelize. Do me a favor and share this with someone you think would disagree 😉

      -Joe Jarvis

  • autonomous

    Smaller is just as dangerous as larger. The form remains the same; Domination of some over the rest. Even if government is divided down to the individual, if one or more individual retains the right to make rules–i.e. no one can trespass upon myself or my property–domination is preserved. One may self-determine to not intrude on other people, but it remains an intrinsically human characteristic to violate other’s autonomy.

    • henrybowmanaz


      “Wherever there are men, there will be parties… Those of firm health and spirits are unwilling to cede more of their liberty than is necessary to preserve order; those of feeble constitutions will wish to see one strong arm able to protect them from the many. These are the Whigs and Tories of nature… The Tories are for strengthening the Executive and General Government; the Whigs cherish the representative branch and the rights reserved by the States as the bulwark against consolidation.”

      In other words, there are people who want to be left alone, and people who just won’t leave them alone. And this is why the left and right will never be united.

      • autonomous

        Your quote is from the only politician I truly admire.

        • henrybowmanaz

          More importantly he served as his own bad example. When he was actually in office, he far exceeded his own constitutional authority to buy territory from France (a killer decision in retrospect, but ends, means, yadda yadda); and his public proclamations about the sanctity of the free press turned 180°… until he was out of office, then they returned. I can imagine no clearer lesson in the inevitable corrupting influence of power than to reflect on how it affected America’s original Mister Liberty. And yes, he’s still my number one political figure.

  • bionic mosquito

    Libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice. People looking for perfection – a pure libertarian world – will die disappointed. Unless they are happy living as a hermit on a mountaintop.
    Decentralization will result in more choice; more choice equals more possibility that each individual can find and create an environment evermore suitable to his preferences.
    We don’t get “perfect” in a market; why do some expect this in their political relationships? More “choice,” more “options.” Decentralization. This is the objective.
    Mr. Jarvis, this post captures this reality. Well said.

  • Number 6

    The definition of the word Socialism – When a corporation renames itself government and forces everyone to buy its products under the threat of prosecution.

    Corporatism / crony capitalism is just the zionist bankers second crack at communism, its the slow consolidation of private enterprise into monolithic corporations through government anti free trade legislation and tax payer funded subsidisation of said corporations.

    They think that if they pretend this form of communism is capitalism then it will magically work this time, only it wont because communism and corporatism amount to exactly the same thing, namely an entity with a complete monopoly paying its workers to buy their own product. Whether they call themselves government or omnicorp makes absolutely no difference its an ever decreasing circle of disincentivization, where profit is impossible, slowly being eroded by loss, its a snake eating its own tail. Only free trade incentivizes people to work and generate wealth.