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The Breakdown of Nations [Paperback]

Leopold Kohr
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.95
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Book Description

26 April 2001
This book shows that throughout history people who have lived in small states, where political leaders are accessible rather than remote, are happier, more peaceful, more creative and more prosperous. Kohr originated the concept of "the human scale", an idea which was later popularized by his friend E.F. Schumacher, notably in his book "Small is Beautiful".

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Green Books; New edition edition (26 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1870098986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1870098984
  • Product Dimensions: 15.7 x 23.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 228,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


This is the most important book written by the most original political thinker of the late 20th century. -- From the Foreword by Neal Ascherson

What is so striking about this book is the amazing relevance it has to our own affairs today. -- From the Foreword by Sir Richard Body

From the Publisher

We are delighted to bring this important book back into print. As Neal Ascherson says in his Foreword, it is "the most important book written by the most original political thinker of the late 20th century," and has much to contribute to the current debate about Britain's future relationship with Europe.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
"The Breakdown of Nations" has been an underground classic for years. Kohr's philosophy can be summed up as, "When something is wrong, something is too big." Years before the present concern over globalization, Kohr was writing on the importance of de cen tralized systems of economic organization. Kohr's views are radical, but his delightful sense of humour and real affection for those with opposing opinions make his challenge to modern economic thought a joy to read. I don't agree with him most of the tim e, but I am always inspired by his original point of view.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
What a book!! It pulsates with clarity, originality, wit and contemporary relevance. Part of his argument is that - just as companies grow large and inefficient and have to be broken up by Monopoly Commissions - so have States grown to a size that makes them dangerous. Remember he was an economist - and drafted the book in the early 1950s! He quotes the evidence there was even then that innovation came from small companies and that decreasing returns of scale set in early (evidence continues to accumulate that few company mergers are successful - and yet they continue).
In similar vein, he shows that cultural excellence was produced in small states - which may not have always been peaceful but whose wars with one another were short and limited in their damage. His early chapters are powerful statements that, when an organisation reaches the point of domination, it will always succumb to the temptation of aggression.
And he anticipates the more contemporary arguments of writers such as Fridjof Capra and Margaret Wheatley about what students of organisations can learn from physics and the new insights into "chaos" - by a simple observation about "atoms".
His main challenge, however, is to the principle of specialisation and you will find in chapter 6 - "The Efficiency of the Small". There he is merciless in his critique of the "wealth" of the "modern" world - daring to suggest that most of is useless and counter-productive and that people were happier in medieval times!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review 10 Aug 2010
This is an important book, laying out an alternative way to run the world - very relevant today with increasing dictatorial control of our lives.
A tedious read, but worth making the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic. And quite right. 23 Oct 2009
An entertaining and fantastically enlightening book. A must have for any burgeoning micronationalist or euro-sceptic.
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