On the problem of scale: Hayek, Kohr, Jacobs and the reinvention of the political state

Article


Gussen, Benjamen F.. 2013. "On the problem of scale: Hayek, Kohr, Jacobs and the reinvention of the political state." Constitutional Political Economy. 24 (1), pp. 19-42. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10602-012-9130-7
Article Title

On the problem of scale: Hayek, Kohr, Jacobs and the reinvention of the political state

ERA Journal ID18672
Article CategoryArticle
Authors
AuthorGussen, Benjamen F.
Journal TitleConstitutional Political Economy
Journal Citation24 (1), pp. 19-42
Number of Pages24
Year2013
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
ISSN1043-4062
1572-9966
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/s10602-012-9130-7
Abstract

There is no shortage of crises in the ecological (e.g. climate change), economic (e.g. the Global Financial Crisis), and socio-political spheres (e.g. the Arab
Spring). While such crises are not new to the human saga, both the magnitude and frequency of these crises seem to be intensifying. The usual prognosis follows the public/private dichotomy, suggesting more or less government intervention (and the closely related variants of more integration and regime change). However, there are ‘islands’ of alternative analyses where crises result from scale distortion (organisational structures of states, markets and firms that are too large or too small) and scale entanglement (strong rather than weak ties between different scales such as the local, national and global). This paper attempts to synthesise this scale problematisation into one coherent school of thought. To this end, we introduce the complexity ansatz, which links complexity to symmetry (breaking), scale and collapse. To illustrate, the paper traces this ansatz in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Le´opold Kohr and Jane Jacobs(HKJ). The thesis is that the moribund nation state needs to be relegated to a subsidiary role to evade collapse. Loosely coupled (fiscally and monetarily) autonomous cityregions should be the ‘eyes’ of socio economic action.

Keywordscomplexity; symmetry; scale; collapse; Hayek; Kohr; Jacobs; sovereignty; city-regions
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020389999. Other economics not elsewhere classified
489999. Other law and legal studies not elsewhere classified
440811. Political theory and political philosophy
440899. Political science not elsewhere classified
389901. Comparative economic systems
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Byline AffiliationsUniversity of Auckland, New Zealand
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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