The Breakdown of Nations Paperback – 26 Apr 2001
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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.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
Some of them make sense and some of them I even completely agree with - for instance that violence by individuals and military aggression and atrocities by states is likely to happen when they become so powerful that they see their rivals or victims won't be able to retaliate (he misses out one of the most obvious examples - the US testing its nuclear weapons on the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki after Japan was already defeated because it had nuclear weapons and none of its enemies or rivals did, so it could without fear of retaliation in kind - partly just to send the message that it had them and was willing to use them). This also explains why wars of very strong states against much weaker ones are much commoner (e.g Germany vs Czechoslovakia and Poland, Russia vs Georgia, China vs Tibet, US vs Vietnam, Soviet Union vs Afghanistan, Kosovo war, US vs Afghanistan, US vs Iraq) are far more common than major wars between world powers, where the attacker might suffer retaliation in kind and even lose. It also explains why there have been no wars between two nuclear armed stats.
However the book's core argument - that smaller is always better and that everything bad is the result of countries becoming too big, is far too simplistic and taken to such ludicrous extremes that it reduces itself to absurdity. I don't know if Kohr knows any ancient history - if he did i doubt he could claim that atrocities are always the result of states becoming too big or that increasing civilisation has led to greater atrocities. There were terrible atrocities throughout most of history.Read more ›
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!Read more ›
A tedious read, but worth making the effort.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is an amazing look at how one way of looking at the problems of today is simply that things are too big. Excellent.Published on 16 Nov. 2013 by Mark Rodgers
Although written a half a century ago and referring to the political make up of the world at that time (two major opposing nations of the US and the USSR) this book has enduring... Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2011 by sukisilk