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Kirkpatrick Sale is the author of a dozen books, including After Eden: The evolution of Human Domination,
Human Scale and Rebels Against the Future: The Luddites and Their War on the Industrial Revolution , and is the Director of the Middlebury Institute for the study of separation, secession, and self-determination.
An Overview of Decentralism by Kirkpatratrick Sale International Decentralist Conference, organized by the E. F. Schumacher Society June 28-30, 1996
Interview notes-- mostly my questions.
Rob: You disagree with me on bottom-up. Why?
Rob: You talk, in your article, about how the US is too big and that it should be smaller, that you have some ideas about how big the ideal nation should be. Can you talk about it?
We had a meeting in Montpelier VT, discussing problems with politics, about reform, about revolution, like quebec (adjacent to Vermont). Then we talked about secession, how a great part of the world had been formed by secession or separatism. There were 54 nations in the UN at time of it's formation, now there are over 200.
one of SDS's great slogans.
What are the criteria that you base success on in assessing the ideal size for a successful nation?
Number of people in a nation.
GDP, most democratic, freedom list published by Freedom House
Rob: Are there current examples of nations that have seceded recently that are currently thriving?
states from former Soviet Union
Scotland has a movement to secede
Strong movement in Catalonia
New strength for Quebecois
All the states of former Yugoslavia
Rob: What have we learned from the European Union, where independent nations have come together?
Makes banks and corporations happy. It hasn't proven to be such a great success, getting bigger.
Rob: Obama won using bottom-up over Hillary
Wait a minute. Let's not forget Wall Street and Hollywood.
Kirkpatrick: So, how are you going to get rid of billionaires?
Rob: it's very difficult, maybe impossible today, but you have to put the ideas out there or nothing will happen.
Rob: Can you talk about your ideas about the evolution of human domination?
70,000 years ago humans developed spear points. That led to taking animal lives and hunting-- the beginning of separating ourselves from nature. Next, were animal extinctions occurring about 20,000 years ago at depth of the ice age, happened on all continents. For example, in North America humans drove all the mega-fauna to extinction. Next was farming-- prisonizing or domestication of plants and animals.
Wrote a chapter on how the world was before hunting, how we lived for a million years, as a part of nature.
Rob: Does religion play a role in the scenario that you're describing?
Evidence of religion doesn't appear until about 26,000 years ago-- people where buried with great riches, presumably because there was an afterlife. Once you have an afterlife, there's a religion.
Rob: have you looked at domination in terms of humans dominating other humans?
starts with beginnings of agriculture-- which led to empires.
In tribal times there seems to be very few
I am reminded here of a story that Leopold Kohr, the great decentralist economist, used to tell, about going to Lichtenstein and wanting to visit the Prime Minister of the country. He went to the castle, rang the bell, and the man who answered the door and ushered him in, whom he assumed to be a servant, turned out to be the Prime Minister himself. And when they were seated in his office, chatting, the phone rang and the minister answered, saying, "Government." You see? with a tiny country like that government is always there, always responsive, always able to answer the phone and take care of your problem.
Rob: Tell me about decentralism
Decentralists try to devolve power or eliminate power. They have the idea that power and authority are to be avoided.
Rob: How's that work? Have there been centralized places or countries have been decentralized.
Rob: Can we get back to talking about domination of humans over humans?
26,000 years ago-- burials of a few "upper class" people in Russia. Indicates hierarchy and power.
Rob: so do you think that attachment to land is a key factor in humans dominating other humans?
Rob: It's only the past few hundred years, since industrialization, or maybe since columbus, that most people have become a part of civilization.
that's the great problem, civilization
Rob: Talk about that
book, rebels against the future-- about the Luddites
The last of the Luddite uprising was, in England, in 1814, 200 years ago.
What do you think progress is?
If there's anything that offers any portion of a chance that we will survive-- it's the end of civilization.
There are many signs"
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