Axial Shift pp 125-149 | Cite as

A Décollage of Kropotkin, Mumford, Boulding, Bookchin, and Schumacher

  • Benjamen GussenEmail author


In the previous chapter, we looked at the Tower of Babel Syndrome and how scale distortions resulted in the current ecological crisis. This chapter builds on that analysis by outlining a common diagnostic that runs through the writings of Peter Kropotkin, Lewis Mumford, Kenneth Boulding, Murray Bookchin, and Ernst F. Schumacher. In particular, the return to local autonomy is seen as the sine qua non for solving the ecological, political, social, and economic crises facing humanity today. A biological analogy runs through this chapter and builds on physiological (functional) and morphological (structural) parallels between social organizations (including polities) and biological organisms. I delineate this analogy in Sect. 5.1.

5.1 Introduction

In the previous chapter, we looked at the Tower of Babel Syndrome and how scale distortions resulted in the current ecological crisis. This chapter builds on that analysis by outlining a common diagnostic that runs through the writings of Peter Kropotkin, Lewis Mumford, Kenneth Boulding, Murray Bookchin, and Ernst F. Schumacher. In particular, the return to local autonomy is seen as the sine qua non for solving the ecological, political, social, and economic crises facing humanity today. A biological analogy runs through this chapter and builds on physiological (functional) and morphological (structural) parallels between social organizations (including polities) and biological organisms. I delineate this analogy in Sect. 5.1.

The common diagnostic could be described in other ways. Bookchin analyzes crises through ‘Libertarian Municipalism.’1 Boulding sees this diagnostic as a movement of dissent that characterizes ‘institutionalism’ among other movements.2 Mumford discusses this dissent from the point of view of ‘Jewish apocalyptic writings.’3 Kropotkin sees a similar dissent in what came to be known as anarchism.4 This common link can also be formulated as a delineation of crises inflicting human societies.5 These crises ‘arise from the antinomy of order and freedom’ (SR2: 211). Mumford sees the antinomy as tension between two modes of scientific enquiry. At the beginning, these modes had a common desire to break away from the past.6 Today, however, there is tension between these modes (MD6: 8). The first, what Schumacher refers to as order, is characterized by abstraction leading to universal laws (MD6: 4). Under this mode, ‘all complex phenomena must be reduced to the measurable, the repetitive, the predictable, the ultimately controllable’ (MD6: 30). This in turn made ‘living organisms, in their most typical functions and purposes … superfluous’ as ‘the new science successfully turned the most significant attributes of life into purely secondary phenomena, ticketed for replacement by the machine’ (MD6: 68). The second mode, which corresponds to Schumacher’s freedom,7 ‘dwelt on the concrete and the organic, the adventurous, the tangible’ (MD6: 4). Through the second mode, ‘the abstract cosmos of space and time and gravitation … was brought down to earth, an earth teeming with life’ (MD6: 16). After 1492 and the discovery of the New World, order dominated freedom (MD6: 43). This signified ‘a new era of evolutionary history, one in which rapid change is a dominant consequence.’8 The passage to absolutism stripped away ‘the constituent groups that compose any real community—the family, the village, the farm, the workshop, the guild, the church’ and ‘cleared the way for the uniformities and standardizations imposed by the machine’ (MD6: 81). This absolutism transposed the specific characters of organisms and machines, and by doing so ‘elevated the mechanical creature above his creator,’ which ‘brought catastrophic potentialities…’ (MD6: 97). According to Mumford (MD6: 334), from a historical perspective, the domination by the first mode (i.e. order) will be short-lived. The first mode is ‘heading toward a static finality, in which change of the system itself will be so impermissible that it will take place only through total disintegration and destruction’ (MD6: 211). After the advent of pioneers such as Edwin Arthur Burtt and Erwin Rudolf Schrödinger (in the mid-20th century), the second mode began gaining attention again (MD6: 68). This freedom mode ‘reverses the conventional reading of causality, chance, statistical order, and purposeful design, and gives to the organism as a working whole in all its indescribable capabilities the role that Descartes gave to the machine’ (MD6: 88).

The above tension between order and freedom constitutes the backbone of this chapter’s analysis. The tension leads first into a critique of the orthodox view of evolution. Later in the chapter, I trace the effect of the orthodox view of evolution—one that emphasizes competition, the rise of nation-states, and the demise of the sovereign city. The prognosis indicates a return to smaller scale organization.

The chapter is structured as follows. Section 5.2 looks at evolution and its mechanisms. Section 5.3 extends the analysis into morphology and the concepts of structure and scale. Section 5.4 applies the results from the analysis in the previous sections to the nation-state. Section 5.5 continues the application of the analysis by identifying sovereign cities as the optimum polity. The last section offers a summary and some concluding remarks.

5.2 Evolution, Organisms, and Hobbes

The starting point for a synthesis of Kropotkin, Mumford, Boulding, Bookchin, and Schumacher is a delineation of a critique of the orthodox view of evolution, in particular, the emphasis on competition as the mechanism for evolution. For example, Kropotkin suggests that evolution cannot be based on keen competition alone.9 Instead, there are two laws of nature: mutual struggle or competition and mutual aid or cooperation (KN2: 76). For Kropotkin, mutual aid is a law of nature and the chief ‘factor of evolution’ (KN2: 6, 40, 46, 52). Cooperation is seen as the salient characteristic of life in societies and as ‘the most powerful weapon in the struggle for life’ (KN2: 57). Cooperation as a mechanism of evolution suggests a pre-human origin of moral instincts (KN2: x, xii). In mutual aid, ‘we can find the origin of our ethical conceptions’ (KN2: 300). Hence, ‘it is evident that life in societies would be utterly impossible without a corresponding development of social feelings, and, especially, of a certain collective sense of justice growing to become a habit’ (KN2: 58). Ethics is therefore an evolutionary exigency. Bookchin also emphasizes ‘the role played by intraspecific and interspecific cooperation in fostering the survival of life forms on the plant,’ particularly the role of ‘interspecific support systems that we now know to be more widespread than Kropotkin could have imagined.’10 Equally, for Mumford, Kropotkin brought some balance to Marx and Darwin in emphasizing the ‘role of co-operation and mutual aid’ in the ‘modes of development and growth’ (MD3: 332, 39).

This understanding of evolution as competition and cooperation leads to a critique of the necessity of a strong central government, particularly as advocated by Thomas Hobbes.11 Hence, Kropotkin indicates that ‘[t]he chief error of Hobbes … was to imagine that mankind began its life in the shape of small straggling families’ (KN2: 78). Kropotkin is careful to explain that ‘[f]ar from being a primitive form of organization, the family is a very late product of human evolution’ (KN2: 79). Similarly, for Mumford (MD6: 99), Hobbes starts his analysis from two contradictory positions: while he sees men as virtual machines, he also sees them in constant conflict until they surrender to an external sovereign. Surrender is analogous to the behavior of automata, which are artificial organisms, making man’s life no more than ‘a motion of the limbs’ (MD6: 100). For Hobbes, life is a ‘constant struggle for power motivated by fear’ (MD6: 102). This understanding later resulted in the Malthus-Darwin ‘struggle for existence,’ which emphasizes competition to the point of ‘exterminat[ing] all rival groups or species’ (MD6: 102). Mumford sees Hobbes’ Leviathan as the ‘the political order that would deliberately turn men into machines, whose spontaneous acts could be regulated and brought under control, and whose natural functions and moral choices would all be channeled through a single responsible center—the sovereign ruler or, in the bureaucratic jargon of our own day, the Decision Maker’ (MD6: 98). For Mumford, Leviathan reveals the ultimate tendency of despotic governments, namely, automatism: ‘Despotism can succeed … only to the extent that it can turn men into automatons’ (MD3: 176).

This automatism signaled the rise of the machine. For the greatest part of human history, tools were simply an extension of the human organism. They did not exist independently.12 However, ‘[b]ecause of their independent source of power, and their semiautomatic operation … machines have seemed to have a reality and an independent existence apart from the user’ (MD1: 322). The ‘chief aesthetic principle’ of the machine was ‘the economic principle,’ where the ‘aim of sound design is to remove from the object … every extra part except that which conduces to its effective functioning’ (MD1: 352). The ethics of cooperation was thus being replaced by that of the machine. The machine ‘in its esthetic manifestations [has] the same effect that a conventional code of manners has in social interactions’ (MD1: 357). This transformation was the result of ‘deliberate efforts to achieve a mechanical way of life: the motive … was not technical efficiency but … power over other men’ (MD1: 365). Mumford sees Hobbes’ logic as enforcing the role of power ‘as the source of all other goods,’ which in turn emphasizes the ‘state and the machine, in their dual efforts to establish law, order, and control, and to widen the whole system by further conquests of nature and other human groups’ (MD6: 101). The goal of this power system is progress: ‘more power, more profit, more productivity, more paper property, more publicity—all convertible into quantitative units’ (MD6: 167). There was now ‘only one efficient speed, faster; only one attractive destination, farther away; only one desirable size, bigger; only one rational quantitative goal, more’ (emphasis in original) (MD6: 173). Technology ‘produced a state of torrential dynamism, since the only form of control effectively exercised is that of making every part undergo still more rapid change, whilst the system itself becomes more immobile and rigid’ (emphasis in the original) (MD6: 287). Under this Hobbesian existence, the purpose of life ‘is to furnish and process an endless quantity of data, in order to expand the role and ensure the domination of the power system’ (MD6: 274).

Bookchin is also critical of Hobbes’ notion of the state, where Hobbes ‘divests nature of all ethical content’ (BN1: 162). Bookchin indicates that in ‘regions with small farmers, it was difficult to establish totalitarian states. Where their position was weakened, or where large labor surpluses were readily available, centralized states were much more possible and often developed’ (BN1: 248). Bookchin argues that ‘anthropology and a clear reading of history present an image entirely antithetical to that of a grasping, Hobbesian type of humanity’ (BN1: 348). Schumacher also points out Hobbes’ error in limiting mankind’s existence to biological needs, which inevitably attracts a miserable life. Instead, for Schumacher, ‘man is capax universi, capable of bringing the whole universe into his experience.’13

Boulding takes the evolutionary parallel and constructs through it an analogy between organisms and organizations. For Boulding, there are more similarities than differences between social organizations and organisms to justify considering the former as analogous to a biological organism. Both are considered ‘behavior systems.’14 However, important differences exist in reproduction and consciousness (BG4: xvii). In biological production, energy, time, and space determine the nature of ecosystems and the species that can survive in them. However, ‘[o]nce the general nature of the ecosystem has been determined … space becomes the ultimate limiting factor.’15 Conversely, organizations must deal with the problem of consent (BG4: xxxi). Hence, in organizations, expectations are a determinant part of behavior (BG4: xxix). However, both behavior systems could be understood through the process of exchange (BG4: xix). Using this logic, Boulding goes on to indicate that a ‘social system which thrives on the exploitation of exhaustible resources does not have a long-expected life’ (BG4: xxi).

One of Boulding’s insights that extends from bio-systems to social organizations is the idea of catastrophe (BG4: xxv). Pushing organizations beyond their ‘proper size’ (BG4: 78) inevitably results in their breakdown. I delineate this point further in Sect. 5.3.

5.3 Morphology, Structure, and Scale

Schumacher states that ‘everything in this world has to have a structure’ (emphasis in original) (SR2: 50) and that ‘[i]n the ideal case, the structure of man’s knowledge would match the structure of reality’ (SR1: 67). He sees a need for ‘cultural structure’ as much as for ‘economic structure’ (SR2: 148). He continues by explaining that ‘[o]ne of the chief elements of structure for the whole of mankind is … the [political] state’ (emphasis in original) (SR2: 51), with political borders being one of the key structural elements of the state. Further, he argues that the ‘bigger the country, the greater is the need for internal “structure” and for a decentralized approach to development’ (SR2: 148). Mumford elaborates by stating that democracy is ‘necessarily most active in small communities.’16 As soon as large numbers are involved, ‘democracy must either succumb to external control and centralized direction, or embark on the difficult task of delegating authority to a cooperative organization’ (MD5: 236).

Boulding agrees with Schumacher and Mumford by emphasizing the importance of structure to economics. In discovering what went wrong with economics, Boulding (BG5: 75) points out that the real world is not epistemologically homogenous. He stresses that

aggregates like “the national income,” or “the level of employment,” or “the price level” are all heterogeneous conglomerations … we forgot that they are not simple aggregates but have a complex structure which may well be relevant… This “fallacy of aggregation” is a common one it is at the root of most of the fallacies of Marxism, with its assumption of homogenous classes; of Nationalism, with its assumption of homogenous nations; and it even accounts for the spectacular lack of prophetic success among the brighter young economists. (BG3: 258–259)

Such aggregation is in danger of neglecting the structure of economic systems and concentrating on aggregate size (BG4: 187). Moreover, ‘thinking in terms of aggregates which are too heterogeneous’ might not be workable.17 Boulding points out that this ‘fallacy of aggregation’ ‘has been a common one in the history of social thought’ (BG1: 188). An example of this fallacy is the theory of international trade, ‘which has usually failed to recognize the economic heterogeneity of political states’ (BG1: 189). For Boulding, ‘the “art” of macroeconomic analysis consists largely in the breakdown of the great aggregates of the system into smaller aggregates which are not too numerous to handle but which are small enough so that the inevitable heterogeneity is insufficient to upset the results of the analysis’ (BG1: 187).

The emphasis on structure leads in turn to scale and its constituent parts of space and time. For Schumacher, ‘[t]he question of scale is extremely crucial today, in political, social, and economic affairs just as in almost everything else’ (SR2: 49). Boulding points out two ‘macroeconomic paradoxes’ (BG3: 259). He sees economic aggregates and averages as paradoxical: the propositions that are true when applied to a single individual become untrue when applied to the economic system as a whole (BG1: 173). For Mumford ‘[s]pace and time, like language … help condition and direct action’ (MD1: 18). In the medieval period, ‘[s]ize [qua scale] signifie[d] importance’ (MD1: 18). Between the 14th and 17th centuries, with the development of capitalism and the discovery of the laws of perspective, ‘[s]pace as a hierarchy of values was replaced by space as a system of magnitude’ (MD1: 20). Now, ‘size meant not human or divine importance, but distance’ (MD1: 20). Capitalism brought ‘the new habits of abstraction and calculation into the lives of city people’ (MD1: 23). Unfortunately, this abstraction, ‘while important to orderly research and refined symbolic representation, are likewise conditions under which real organisms die, or at least cease to function effectively’ (MD1: 50). These scale changes brought about the ‘human machine,’ which required a ‘priesthood’ for the reliable organization of knowledge (natural and supra-natural) and a ‘bureaucracy’ for an elaborate structure for giving and carrying out orders. There was now a concern with ‘punctuality and regularity, with the impersonal and the automatic,’ which ‘bound together the inventor, the scientist, the businessman, the soldier [and] the bureaucrat’ (MD7: 98).

Bookchin also emphasizes the importance of scale. He sees the notion of ‘human scale’ as ‘distinctly tribalistic in character and origin.’18 The case for the ‘human scale’ is not only logistical, democratic, or aesthetic; rather, it is ethical (BN3: 36). Bookchin hence explains that the ‘problem of delegated power [emerges] beyond localized social areas, [and] becomes elusive and obscure if only because it loses its human scale’ (BN1: 129). Structural changes in society allowed usurping local autonomy (BN1: 133). Bookchin (BN1: 2) sees a catastrophic result to the problems currently experienced by modern societies and suggests that decentralization and a return to the human scale are inextricably tied to specific technology choices, such as renewable resources and bio-agricultural practices. Similarly, Mumford refers to Kropotkin as one of the thinkers who ‘realized the advantages of advanced technology—utilizing small machines with efficient and cheap electric power—for restoring the intimate human scale’ (MD5: 255). Bookchin opines that the ‘dichotomy between the modern image of a materially affluent life and the classical ideal of a life based on limit parallels the dichotomy between modern and classical concepts of technics’ (BN1: 221). According to Schumacher, one of the problems of technology is that it ‘recognizes no self-limiting principle—in terms … of size, speed, or violence’ (SR2: 120). This needs to be countered by giving ‘a new direction to technological development, a direction that shall lead it back to the real needs of man, and that also means: to the actual size of man’ (SR2: 131, emphasis in the original).

Mumford also is alive to the fact that the human scale is never an absolute, but is determined ‘not alone by the normal dimensions of the human body, but by the functions that are facilitated and by the interests and purposes that are served.’19 He adds, ‘[t]he structure of the human body, no less than its functions and its excreta, called forth early efforts at modification. The cutting or braiding or curling or pasting together of the hair, the removal of the male foreskin’ (MD5: 109). Schumacher continues the same line of thinking by advocating a return to the human sale, through decentralization and the use of technologies amenable to small-scale production. He sees this as an optimal scale for economic activity, which, when surpassed, would have adverse effects on humans (SR2: 47).

The triumph of order over freedom (discussed in Sect. 5.1) is exhibited in the idea of ‘mechanomorphism,’ or the scientific approach, where a mechanistic explanation of organic behavior is seen as sufficient. However, as also indicated earlier, Mumford portends that the dominance of this idea of ‘mechanomorphism’ is ephemeral (MD6: 95). Organisms are open systems ‘subject to chance mutations and to many external forces and circumstances,’ while mechanisms are closed systems ‘contrived by the inventor to achieve clearly foreseen and limited ends’ (MD6: 97). Hobbes’ ‘zoömorphism,’ where animal attributes are passed to human beings, led to distortion greater than the ‘anthropomorphism’ it reacted against (MD6: 99). Similarly, Boulding explains that the problem with economics is that it imitates science in being ‘mechanomorphic’ (BG3: 38). In pointing out that the world is not a machine, Boulding quotes Lionel Robbins: ‘it is not an exaggeration to say that, at the present day, one of the main dangers to civilization arises from the inability of minds trained in the natural sciences to perceive the difference between the economic and the technical’ (BG3: 260).

To further our understanding of the problem, Boulding introduces five principles of structural organization (morphology) that illustrate how growth creates form and how form limits growth.20 One of Boulding’s key insights is that the ‘character of a system frequently has to change not merely because it gets big, but because it stops growing’ (BG2: 81). There are two reasons why ‘behavior systems’ (such as organisms and organizations) stop growing: either the environment becomes less favorable (the principle of the increasingly unfavorable environment) or the internal structure becomes less favorable (the principle of the increasingly unfavorable internal structure) (BG4: 22–23). In essence, ‘as the size of an organization or organism increases, it is impossible to maintain the proportional structure of the organism intact’ (BG4: 23). While technological change extends the size limits for social organizations, such as improved communication or transportation systems, such mechanical aids are not enough. There is also a need to change the internal structure to push the envelope of change (BG4: 26). In particular, this is achieved by new methods of specialization (the division of labor). The increasing size ‘is possible only at the cost of increasing complexity of structure’ (BG4: 27). Boulding hence stresses that there is an optimal scale (and structure) for every organization. He sees the return-to-scale phenomenon in the evolution of lungs and internal skeletons, which allowed living organisms to break through the scale barrier. The mathematical principle behind this return to scale relates to the fact that doubling the length of a structure would quadruple its area and octuplet its volume; such increasing returns to scale must at some point turn into diminishing returns (BG3: 125). Boulding refers to the disadvantages of scale as the ‘Brontosaurus Principle’ (BG4: 35), where organizations become parasitic upon the society that supports them.

The problematization of scale can also be explained using the concept of hierarchy. Bookchin defines hierarchy as ‘the cultural, traditional and psychological systems of obedience and command, not merely the economic and political systems to which the term class and State most appropriately refer’ (1982, 4). Bookchin (BN1: 3) sees hierarchy as related to class and the state, although ‘classless but hierarchical societies exist today’ (BN1: 4). He adds, ‘even with the emergence of hierarchy there were still no economic classes or state structures’ (BN1: 6). Boulding (BG4: 53) sees a nexus between neuroticism and hierarchy. Hierarchy is a universal characteristic of organizations that is not found in organisms (BG4: xxxii). The necessity for this hierarchy ‘seems to lie mainly in the nature of a communication system’ (BG4: xxxii), although this same necessity ‘have created a severe moral dilemma’ (BG4: xxxiii), namely, the loss of equality in a highly stratified society. For Boulding (BG4: xxxiii), both the market economy and democracy are partial solutions to this problem. Boulding (BG3: 39) gives nine levels of hierarchy in systems: the most complex of these are transcendental systems, which incorporate the lower eight orders. Boulding opines that economics is centered at the second level: simple mechanical systems. However—and, according to Boulding, this is the root cause of the malaise facing economics today—the systems from which economics is abstracted are of the seventh and eighth orders, centered on human behavior, both in the individual and in societal organization. The economics resulting from such abstraction would hence suffer from sociological collapse in the Schumpeterian sense, since the ‘institutions of capitalism … do not develop the kind of ideology or human character which are necessary to sustain them’ (BG3: 76).

The shift from hierarchy to class societies occurred on the material and the subjective levels (BN1: 89). These levels ‘are not sharply separable’ (BN1: 90). The material level is embodied in the emergence of the city, while the subjective level is seen in the emergence of a repressive sensibility internalizing command and obedience.

History, for Mumford, is therefore a progression to a new scale (MD4: 199). Conversely, for Boulding, even though ‘no single, unitary interpretation of history is satisfactory’ (BG4: xxvi), he sees ‘the history of the present era as a continuous encroachment of politics on economics’ (BG4: 49). Politics is about distributing power, which can be achieved through either ‘distribution of property’ or ‘legal and constitutional limitations’ (BG4: 51). There is also the social-psychological problem of authority and subordination (BG4: 53). Bookchin indicates that ‘political structures can be no less technical than tools and machines’ (BN1: 243). For Mumford, political organization ‘is either paleotechnic or pre-technic’ (MD1: 417). Hence, politics at the local scale ‘rest[s] on ideological traditions and premises very different from those we associate with the formation of the nation-state’ (BN3: 137). Essentially, Boulding’s and Mumford’s politics is Bookchin’s statecraft. ‘Statecraft consists of operations that engage the state: the exercise of its monopoly of violence, its control of the entire regulative apparatus of society in the form of legal and ordinance-making bodies, its governance of society by means of professional legislators, armies, police forces, bureaucracies, and the ancillary professionals who service its operations such as lawyers, educators, technicians, and the like’ (BN3: 243). Politics, however, is organic, because ‘it is the activity of a public body—a community’ (BN3: 243).

Boulding describes this new scale through organizations’ rise in number, size, and power, what he refers to as the ‘organizational revolution’ (BG4). Today, human energy is devoted to a small number of large organizations, rather than the historical trend of devoting energy to a large number of small organizations (BG4: 31). In what Mumford refers to as the paleotechnic period (1700 to 1900 CE), ‘the changes … rested for the most part on one central fact: the increase in energy. Size, speed, quantity … were all reflections of the new means of utilizing [energy]. Power itself was at last dissociated from its natural human and geographic limitations’ (MD1: 196). The growth in the size of organizations ‘increases the danger of oligopoly,’ which is characterized by ‘cutthroat competition.’ Boulding adds, ‘probably the most serious aspect of this problem is the growth of the national state’ (BG4: 38). There was a repeated ‘shift in the balance of power and authority’ (MD5: 224). Our culture became power centered (MD5: 252), and this historical ‘progress’ has an economic side. ‘[A]t bottom it was little less than an elaborate rationalizing of the dominant economic conditions’ (MD1: 185). Mumford continues, ‘the dominant forces of the 19th century, including the authoritarian communism of Karl Marx, remained on the side of big organizations, centralized direction, and mass production’ (MD5: 255–256). The increase in organizations’ size and power has been due to a change on the supply rather than demand side: the change ‘has been mainly in the skills of organization itself—a change on the supply side, creating new social forms which has supplanted older forms’ rather than a change ‘in the habits and needs of man which has created new niches into which organizations … have grown’ (BG 4: 17). The ‘bigness’ that Schumacher identifies in organizations is traced back to a ‘highly developed transport and communications system,’ which has an ‘immensely powerful effect: it makes people footloose’ (emphasis in original) (SR2: 50). This mobility meant that ‘[a]ll structures are threatened, and all structures are vulnerable to an extent that they have never been before’ (emphasis in original) (SR2: 51). Schumacher (SR2: 135) links this mobility to unemployment and mass migration into cities.

Boulding analyzes these migratory pressures as a historical tension in social organizations between homogeneity and diversification (BG4: 29). The emphasis on growth is heightened in dynamic organizations, where cessation of growth causes ‘a severe crisis of morale’ (BG4: 30). Such organizations include the National Socialism of 1920s Germany, where the state (the social organization) has to be seen as ‘going somewhere.’ Sometimes, however, the emphasis on growth could be to correct disproportionalities (BG4: 30).

In the context of cities, the quantitative changes brought by the change in scale led to qualitative changes (as Hegel would remind us), where the human roots of the city were drying up. Urbs, with its emphasis on order, was now replacing polis, with its emphasis on freedom (BN2: 166–168). This transformation was transmitted from culture to culture through the army (MD5: 192), and these transformations were ‘irrational’ (MD5: 218). For Mumford, ‘qualitative balance is as important as quantitative balance’ (MD3: 420). The resulting institutional structure does not ‘tend to produce psychologically healthy people’ (MD5: 226). ‘Power and order, pushed to their final limit, lead to their self-destructive inversion: disorganization, violence, mental aberration, subjective chaos’ (MD7: 133). This is so given that ‘the obstinate disregard for organic limits and human potentialities undermined those valid contributions both to the ordering of human affairs and the understanding of man’s place in the cosmos’ (MD5: 226). Mumford continues to indicate that the dismal adaptation of the post-historic man to the pseudo-life of its mechanical collectives is ‘a theoretic possibility, not a historical probability … [for] the conflict between the overrational and the irrational [is] too great to promise more than an increasingly erratic oscillation, ending in a final breakdown. Whatever his powers and numbers post-historic man has a short expectation of life’ (MD7: 137).

With the above analysis of scale gymnastics throughout history, and the goading of technology to favor order over freedom, we can now proceed with the diagnosis of the malaise of social organization.

5.4 Civilization, Capitalism, and the Nation-State

Despite its physical limitations, an organic society functions with an unconscious commitment to freedom (BN1: 143). Organic societies lack economic classes and a political state (BN1: 44). For Bookchin, an organic society does not have hierarchies, but ‘unity of diversity.’ While not ‘homogenous social groups’ (BN1: 74), these societies have ‘intense solidarity internally and with the natural world’ (BN1: 44). Such societies were distinctly ecological, seeing living systems as ‘interdependent and play[ing] complementary roles in perpetuating the stability of the natural order’ (BN1: 5). In these organic societies, the ‘conception of individual autonomy had not yet acquired the fictive “sovereignty”’ (BN1: 44). Later, civilization infected these organic societies with hierarchy (BN1: 61), causing people to become ‘instruments of production, just like the tools and machines they create’ (BN1: 65). Over time, hierarchy started to ‘invade less tangible fields of life,’ where everything was ranked over scales of varying degrees of superiority. Their solidarity stemmed from ‘social ties based on kinship,’ which were, through civilization, replaced by ties based on classes, proprietorship, and exploitation (BN1: 96). With the breakdown of these societies, ‘privilege began to replace parity, and hierarchical or class societies began to replace egalitarian relationships’ (BN1: 116).

For Kropotkin (KN2: 115), history begins with civilization and reveals struggles and conflicts that replace old structures with new ones. Inequalities of fortune rapidly developed (KN2: 139). Kropotkin gives the example of Britain, which, after the Napoleonic Wars, started producing on a large scale, but at a terrible social cost, as revealed by parliamentary commissions in 1840–1842.21 The advent of the First Industrial Revolution saw the degradation of workers (MD1: 172). Bookchin likewise traces the malaise of society today to the expanding scope of civilization ‘beyond a humanly comprehensible scale’ (BN1: 157). Civilization ‘has extended the realm of law and order far beyond its original boundaries: it has now produced a system of uniform measurement in the all-but-worldwide metric system: and even a rational world calendar and a supplementary universal language are at length plainly in prospect’ (MD7: 155). Therefore, civilization ‘is perhaps the most physically repressive phase of all, a phase that brutally distorts the passions and channels them into perverted and destructive forms’ (BN1: 329). Bookchin (BN3: x) traces the root cause to the process of urbanization. Pre-modern cities instead show a human propinquity, not only in ‘structural size,’ but also in their ethical attributes (BN3: 6). According to Mumford, ‘[c]ivilizations are not self-contained organisms’ (MD1: 107). The historical differentiation between cultures is seen as the outcome of ‘a process of syncretism,’ where each culture draws ‘freely on the cultures that had preceded him’ (MD1: 107). Mumford sees the role of civilization as inducing change in societies, causing them to move away from the ‘fossilization of tribal societies’ (MD3: 275). The passage to ‘civilization,’ which Mumford uses to denote the group of institutions that first took form under kingship and are characterized by ‘the centralization of power, the separation of classes, the lifetime division of labor’ (MD5: 186), was above all ‘a change in scale’ (MD5: 167). Therefore, ‘[i]nstead of the little neolithic shrine, there stands a towering temple … instead of the cluster of frail, mud-walled village houses, for a score of families, a wall-engirdled city, with a thousand or more families, no longer merely a human home, but the home of a god: indeed a replica of Heaven. And the same change of scale shows itself in every department, not least in the tempo of life’ (MD5: 167).

Civilization brought unity through division and specialization: ‘a new uniformity brought about by deliberate repression: a new agreement that sprang out of a partial reconciliation of opposites, not, as in primitive society, out of ancestral unanimity, born of a common understanding as to the ultimate nature and purpose of life’ (emphasis added) (MD7: 38). Organic societies internalized law and order, while civilization, due to the scalar deficit, externalized them. Mumford (MD4: 347) sees the transformation from medieval to baroque institutions as a shift from localism to centralism, from the absolutism of God to the absolutism of the temporal sovereign and the nation-state. With ‘massing of population into national states which continued during the 19th century, the national struggle cut at right angles to the class struggle’ (MD1: 1990). The nationalist movement attempted to fortify ‘the political power of the unified nationalist state, that mighty engine for preserving the economic status quo and for carrying out imperialistic policies of aggression among the weaker races’ (MD1: 291).

In Kropotkin’s work, there is a clear link between the state and capitalism, which are ‘inseparable concepts’ (KN3: 83). Therefore, just like the nation-state, ‘[t]he sociological dilemma of capitalism lies in the fact that it destroys, and must destroy, the community of ascription, and it may find the community of achievement difficult to establish’ (BG3: 78). Bookchin sees the creation of the ‘national economy’ as shaped by forces that go beyond the nation-state: the homogenization of society ensured the creation of a state that favored the expansion of a market economy (BN3: 145–146). For Bookchin, the effect of capitalism on the city ‘has been nothing less than catastrophic’ (BN3: 202). As a result, cities ‘were to lose not only their territorial form; they were to lose their cultural integrity and uniqueness’ (BN3: 222). Boulding is also alive to the ‘death of the city’ (BG3: 267), where the effect of post-civilization on civilized societies could be as disastrous as that of civilization on pre-civilized societies (BG3: 274). Bookchin (BN1: 190) traces the centralization of the nation-state to the French Revolution of 1794. Before the nation-state, the ‘basic unit of public governance was the city, not larger entities such as the province, nation, or empire’ (BN3: 50). Now, the state ‘began to assume ideological preeminence over the city’ and ‘statecraft became the “politics” of highly centralistic state structures’ (BN3: 51). For Bookchin (BN3: 83), politics is a grassroots organization embedded in localism. Bookchin cites examples from Italian city-states, or communa, which were ‘above all an association of burghers [bourgeoisie] who were solemnly united by an oath or conjuratio’ (BN3: 98–99). However, these communes did not last long, as they created economic and political differentiation, setting popolo grosso versus popolo magro. The rich merchants hence favored the rise of the nation-state ‘to restrain their unruly local barons who interfered with the free movement of trade and their unruly laboring classes who posed a continual threat to civic oligarchies’ (BN3: 112).

Mumford also talks about the ‘heresy of nationalism,’ which was a ‘perverse rebound from the Universal Church’ (MD3: 187). He is critical of Fichte and his ‘worship of national history’ (MD3: 291). For Mumford, the ‘recognition of the organic was a corrective to the shallow rationalism of the mechanists’ that characterized nationalism (MD3: 351). By organic, Mumford means the common element between nationalism and naturalism, where ‘man lives … by the energies and vitalities that underlie his conscious, intuitional life and that connect him with the world of nature’ (MD3: 351). Mumford explains how nationalism begins ‘with a sense of exclusion and ends with a desire for domination’ (MD3: 356).

Kropotkin suggests that the demise of the sovereign city was due to limiting cooperation to a small association that distinguished between ‘the “families” of the old burghers and the new-comers’ (KN2: 217–218). Kropotkin adds that the ‘greatest and the most fatal error of most cities was to base their wealth upon commerce and industry, to the neglect of agriculture’ (KN2: 217–218). It was Roman law that eventually brought down the medieval city with the idea that salvation must be sought in a strongly centralized state (KN2: 220). The state proceeded to weed out ‘all institutions in which the mutual-aid tendency had formerly found its expression… The cities were divested of their sovereignty, and the very spring of their inner life’ (KN2: 226). This ‘absorption of all social functions by the State necessarily favored the development of an unbridled, narrow-minded individualism’ (KN2: 227). It is, therefore, ‘hopeless to look for mutual-aid institutions and practices in modern society’ (KN2: 228).

For Mumford, the transformation of the city through history is recorded as a change in scale. He explains that

[i]n the citadel the new mark of the city is obvious: a change of scale, deliberately meant to awe and overpower the beholder. Though the mass of the inhabitants might be poorly fed and overworked, no expense was spared to create temples and palaces whose sheer bulk and upward thrust would dominate the rest of the city. The heavy walls … would give to the ephemeral offices of state the assurance of stability and security, of unrelenting power and unshakable authority. (MD4: 65)

The state brought about standardization, mass production, and the factory system ‘in state-organized arsenals, most notably in Venice, centuries before the “industrial revolution”’ (MD6: 149). The same role of the state can be seen in legislation passed in England in 1809 marking “the end of domestic production by independent artisans” and giving manufacturers the freedom to ‘exploit labor’ and ‘ignore qualitative standards’ (MD6: 151). Such laws not only emphasized qualitative growth but also ushered the occultation of a just distribution system (MD6: 152). Now, ‘a monotechnics, based upon scientific intelligence and quantitative production, directed mainly toward economic expansion, material repletion, and military superiority, has taken the place of a polytechnics, based primarily, as in agriculture, on the needs, aptitudes, interests of living organisms’ (MD6: 155).
Schumacher continues the same critique by questioning the theory that ‘in order to be prosperous a country had to be big’ (SR2: 46). He links this with the theory of ‘economies of scale’ and states that ‘with industries and firms, just as with nations, there is an irresistible trend, dictated by modern technology, for units to become ever bigger’ (SR2: 47). He looks back at his native Germany and compares its economic fortunes under the Bismarck Reich with those of German-speaking Swiss and Austrian citizens, finding that the latter ‘did just as well economically’ (SR2: 46). He goes on to give this hypothesis (SR2: 53):

Imagine that in 1864 Bismarck has annexed the whole of Denmark instead of only a small part of it, and that nothing had happened since. The Danes would be an ethnic minority in Germany, perhaps struggling to maintain their language by becoming bilingual, the official language of course being German. Only by thoroughly Germanizing themselves could they avoid becoming second-class citizens. There would be an irresistible drift of the most ambitious and enterprising Danes, thoroughly Germanized, to the mainland in the south, and what then would be the status of Copenhagen? That of a remote provincial city.

Mumford goes further to explain that the historical transformation of the city is cyclical (MD5: 258). He does so by providing an ‘axial’ interpretation of history, which entails a 500-year cycle in culture where the human mind revolts against large-scale organization. The ‘axial’ shift ‘often took form during a period of social disintegration, when the normal satisfactions and the normal securities of civilized life no longer seemed possible’ (MD7: 63). Axial culture is marked by ‘ideal allegiances that seek to promote universal fellowship’ (MD7: 156). This cyclical nature of civilization ‘has been the subject of examination over a long period’ (MD7: 93). The word ‘axial’ includes ‘the idea of “value”, as in the science of Axiology, and centrality, that is the convergence of all separate institutions and functions upon the human personality’ (MD5: 258). The word also ‘marks … a real turning point of human history’ (MD7: 57). Mumford uses ‘axial’ to ‘indicate the profound change in human values and goals that took place after the sixth century’ (MD7: 57), which ushered a ‘tendency to picture life itself as a constant battle between the forces of good and evil’ (MD7: 58) and resulted in ‘the redefinition … of the human personality’ (MD7: 59) where ‘values that emerge only in the personality replace those that belonged to institutions’ (MD7: 59). This convergence upon the human personality ‘shifted the emphasis from mechanical organization to human association and mutual aid; and this as Kropotkin demonstrated, had its effect upon technics’ (MD5: 261). ‘The first five of the second decade of centuries of our era (1000 to 1500 AD) may thus be described as an immense attempt at securing mutual aid and support on a grand scale, by means of principles of federation and association carried on through all manifestations of human life and to all possible degrees’ (KN2: 208).

The last four centuries saw ‘the first radical breakthrough in this cyclic scheme [which] displaced the archaic and axial components of Old-World culture as ruthlessly as the cities of the ancient river civilizations displaced the village culture of the neolithic period’ (MD7: 94). Ancient river civilizations had already ‘reached a degree of complexity, standardization, flexibility, autonomous organization, and controlled abundance far beyond the achievements of the most advanced present-day machines’ (MD7: 3). For Bookchin (BN1), the complexity of our society is only technical; on a cultural level, we are no more complex than earlier societies. Capitalism has not produced a more ‘sophisticated’ substitute to the societies of medieval Europe (BN1: 216).

In the next section, Mumford’s axial shift is extrapolated to the next 500-year cycle (to 2500). The prediction is for a resurgence of the polis as the dominant polity on a global scale.

5.5 The Resurrection of City Confederations

Over time, the power over other men that flowed from mechanomorphism resulted in a reversal, where ‘the organic [began] to dominate the machine’ (MD1: 367). There was now ‘a qualitative change … from mechanical interest to … social interest’ (MD1: 427). Schumacher identifies a tendency to ‘attain smallness within bigness’ once the size of organizations (including polities) reaches a ‘great size’ (SR2: 47). However, he also emphasizes ‘the duality of the human requirement when it comes to the question of size: there is no single answer’ (emphasis in original) (SR2: 48). During the 19th century, ‘the number of self-governing societies, organizations, associations, corporations, and communities had markedly increased: and regional entities, once suppressed by the national state or the despotic empire, were beginning to re-assert their cultural individuality and their political independence’ (MD6: 237). There is now a struggle to reintroduce institutions of mutual aid and support (KN2: 283).

The most effective form of organization is where society is ‘polylithic’ rather than ‘monolithic,’ with many centers of power and an overall organization with limited power to underwrite the system (BG4: 81). Boulding points out that ‘[i]n its ideal type Capitalism is a “polylithic” society, Communism is “monolithic”’ (BG3: 80). Schumacher suggests that in ‘small-scale’ organizations, ‘private ownership is natural, fruitful, and just.’ Conversely, in ‘medium-scale’ organizations, ‘private ownership is unnecessary,’ as ‘voluntary surrender of privilege’ is not likely to occur where there is ‘a large number of anonymous’ members. In ‘large-scale’ organizations, private ownership is ‘not only unjust but also an irrational element which distorts all relationships’ within the organization (SR2: 225). Schumacher sees ‘nationalization’ (SR2: 226) as a response to the irrationality of private ownership in large-scale organizations, which accentuates the danger of overcentralization (SR2: 229). For Boulding, ‘[t]he case for capitalism is the case for smallness of scale; the case against Communism is the case against the Brontosaurus—that beyond a certain point, increase in the scale of organization results in a breakdown of communications … the scale barrier is reached long before we get to an organization the size of Soviet Russia’ (BG3: 126).

For Bookchin, ‘Kropotkin’s work … provides us with a robust framework for recovering some sense of the vitality [of the] municipal world … as an alternative to the nation-state’ (BN3: 152). Kropotkin is aware of the importance of the city as a historical hub for economic activity. He hence states that the ‘city organized itself as a federation of both small village communities and guilds’ (KN2: 177). Historically, ‘[s]elf-jurisdiction … meant self-administration. But the commune was not simply an ‘autonomous’ part of the State … it was the State itself … it was sovereign in its own affairs, and mixed with no others’ (KN2: 178–179). Kropotkin is quick to point out that ‘[a] mediaeval city was not a centralized State’ in regard to its interior organization, ‘because the middle ages knew no more of the present centralization of functions than of the present territorial centralization’ (KN2: 181). ‘To guarantee liberty, self-administration, and peace was the chief aim of the mediaeval city; and labor … was its chief foundation’ (KN2: 181). For Kropotkin, ‘[t]he feeling of union within the confederation is kept alive by the common interests of the tribes…’ (KN2: 140). Kropotkin suggests that the self-jurisdiction of the city developed out of the special jurisdiction in the marketplace (KN2: 190). He sees a tension between current economic theories and localism but identifies the former as ‘political metaphysics’ never submitted to the ‘test of experiment’ (KN2: 255). According to Mumford, the city is a ‘complex social invention’ (MD5: 251) and a ‘complex orchestration of time and space’ (MD2: 4). Bookchin (BN3: 15) sees the origin of the city arising from villages attaining a critical mass of undefinable size, he also sees the rise of cities as a product of ‘cultic practices’ (BN3: 21) rather than technological discoveries. The earliest cities were ‘largely ideological creations of highly complex, strongly affiliated, and intensely mutualistic communities of kin groups, ecological in outlook and essentially egalitarian and nondomineering in character’ (BN3: 24).

Bookchin points out that the argument against municipal autonomy is that social life is too complex and needs the logical and administrative services of the nation-state. For Bookchin, this argument ‘does not stand up very well against historical and contemporary evidence’ (BN3: 228–229). In particular, the rise of large organizations does not destroy small ones, due to what Boulding calls the Principle of Interstices: ‘In a pile of large stones, especially if these are fairly regular and round in shape, there will be interstices—holes which can be occupied by stones of smaller sizes, right down to grains of dust’ (BG3: 129). Kropotkin is also aware of the resilience of small-scale organization. Even under a system of keen competition, the middle-size farm can compete with the large, since ‘it is not manufacturing wheat on a grand scale which pays best’ (KN1: 79). He adds (KN2: 262):

When we examine the every-day life of the rural populations of Europe, we find that, notwithstanding all that has been done in modern States for the destruction of the village community, the life of the peasants remains honeycombed with habits and customs of mutual aid and support; that important vestiges of the communal possession of the soil are still retained; and that, as soon as the legal obstacles to rural association were lately removed, a network of free unions for all sorts of economical purposes rapidly spread among the peasants.

Bookchin agrees that our economic well-being depends on cities rather than nation-states, adding that ‘[i]deologically, we tend to justify this historical degradation of our status as political beings by invoking the ‘nation’ as the basic and most elemental unit of social life, an entity that is itself of very recent origin’ (BN3: 227). For Bookchin, the nation-state ‘has impeded the development of much that is uniquely human … disempowering the individual and rendering him or her a … self-degraded being’ (BN3: 228). The solution lies in municipal freedom, which is the ‘basis for political freedom and political freedom is the basis for individual freedom—a recovery of a new participatory politics structured around free, self-empowered, and active citizens’ (BN3: 228).

For Schumacher, ‘regionalism,’ or ‘developing all regions within a country,’ is the ‘most important subject on the agenda of all larger countries today’ (SR2: 55). This approach calls for the use of ‘intermediate technology’ geared towards local production and local use (SR2: 146). For Boulding, economic development is the ‘process of transition from one type of organization of society to another,’ where ‘the society of complex machines and organizations’ becomes the dominant type (BG3: 178–179). For Mumford, ‘[e]conomic regionalism is necessary to provide for a varied social life, as well as to provide for a balanced economy’ (MD1: 389), where ‘the advantages of modern industry will be spread, not chiefly by transport—as in the nineteenth century—but by local development’ (MD1: 388). Mumford suggests that ‘[o]ne of the great benefits of individualized national and regional cultures is that, if the opportunities are consciously seized, these potential alternatives can be experimented with under varied conditions and their advantages compared’ (MD6: 159). Emphasis would be on qualitative riches rather than qualitative abundance, which would bring an economy of plentitude (MD6: 396). The best examples of plentitude exist in quite primitive communities (MD6: 401).

Mumford cites the Dutch Republic (1581–1795) and Switzerland as good examples of how the problems of federated power and unified government could be resolved—for him, they are examples ‘destined to spread ever further through the world’ (MD3: 174; MD4: 340). Similarly, Bookchin discusses the Swiss Confederation and the short-lived ‘sectional assemblies in the Great French Revolution’ as examples of direct democracy in large cities in modern times (BN3: 115). Kropotkin also looks favorably at the ‘communal estates in Switzerland’ (KN2: 239). Bookchin suggests that ‘municipal confederation’ were a ‘distinct, indeed dramatic, alternative to the formation of the nation-state’ (BN2: 21). Similarly, Schumacher offers structural principles for large-scale political states. He offers the principle of subsidiarity, where decision-making is embedded within the lowest organizational level to fulfill such an obligation (SR2: 205); the principle of vindication, where the subsidiary unit ‘must be defended against reproach and upheld’ (SR2: 207); and the principle of identification, where each subsidiary unit must have fiscal independence (SR2: 209).

The correction of scale must be tied to ‘emancipatory social structures and communitarian goals’ (BN1: 260). These are aligned to ideas of confederacies of cities (BN3: 147–150). Bookchin links this solution of scale correction to the different conception of causation seen in complexity theory today, where causation is not ‘mechanical’ but ‘organic’ and we see ‘an emerging process of self-realization’ (BN1: 283). The instabilities evident in today’s societies are not due to ‘intrinsic complexity’ (BN1: 311). Such complexity can be removed by ‘social principles, institutions, and an ethical commonality’ (BN1: 314) that emphasize the human scale and a return to small-scale technologies. Bookchin advocates institutions that are based on ‘face-to-face, protoplasmic [empowering] relationships, not around representative, anonymous, mechanical relationships’ (BN1: 336). Similarly, Kropotkin’s solution is that ‘every commune must be absolutely free to organize itself, politically and economically, as it likes, so long as it is not a menace to its neighbors’ (KN3: 72). For Bookchin, the ‘ultimate source of sovereignty’ (BN3: 230) is embedded in local organization, in the commune. Localism would be possible only where citizens are ‘regarded as competent to participate directly “in the affairs of state,” indeed what is more important, [they are] encouraged to do so’ (BN3: 259). Bookchin hence calls for the ‘municipalization of the economy,’ where the economy ‘is managed by the community as part of a politics of self-management’ (BN3: 262).

According to Mumford, ‘[t]he political unification of mankind cannot be realistically conceived except as part of [an] effort at self-transformation’ (MD7: 139). Such unification would reject ‘purely extraneous and technical kind of universalism’ (MD7: 142) and instead seeks ‘to enrich and enhance … the human values that differentiation has brought into existence’ (MD7: 142). Further unification does not lie in ‘further development of mechanical collectives on a planetary scale’ (MD7: 142), but in taking note ‘of the fibrous structure of society,’ in the ‘doctrine of evolution’ (MD7: 148).

5.6 Concluding Remarks

A synthesis of Kropotkin, Mumford, Boulding, Bookchin, and Schumacher reveals a problematization of scale. The prediction is a resurrection of city sovereignty, lost when polities embarked on centralizing political power and fulfilling Hobbes’ vision of a strong centralized government. The result would be analogous to the city federation that de Spinoza described in his rendition of sovereignty.22

My discourse in this chapter was largely a descriptive collage. I refrained from evaluative statements. Therefore, the message is very simple: a body of literature fits together in what could be seen as an independent school of thought without attempting to discuss its strength and weaknesses, at least at this juncture.

The common link in this school of thought could be described in many ways. Boulding, for example, identifies it as a movement of dissent that characterizes ‘institutionalism,’ among other movements. He sees Veblen, Commons, and Mitchell as the best representatives of this school of dissent (BG3: 89, 93). Not surprisingly, they also are seen as pioneers in importing a biological analogy to economic analysis.23 Mumford discusses this dissent from the perspective of ‘Jewish apocalyptic writings,’ where a ‘vision of death spreads over this world’; this, in turn, induces a welcoming of ‘the night because it appears to bring the dawn nearer’ (MD3: 41). Kropotkin sees a similar dissent in what came to be known as anarchism, namely, a ‘protest … against the external force’ that thrust itself upon the ‘institutions of communal life’ (KN3: 59). Whatever we decide to attribute to the common link that brings the school together, we are bound to note its emphasis on city confederations that would ultimately bring political unification on a global scale. Such unification, as Mumford would remind us, is not through a top-down approach, but one where local autonomy takes the lead in policy prescription at all scales. In this world, nation-states become subsidiary. Sovereign cities replace nation-states on the ‘international’ stage.

In the next chapter, I continue developing the biological analogy presented in this chapter. In particular, economic change is modeled as a form of morphogenesis and linked to axial change.


  1. 1.

    M Bookchin, The Limits of the City (Black Rose Books, 1986) 25. Hereafter, this monograph is referred to in this chapter as ‘BN2.’

  2. 2.

    Kenneth Boulding, Collected Papers (Vol I and II) (Colorado Associated University Press, 1971) vol 1, 83, 89. Hereafter, this monograph is referred to as ‘BG3.’

  3. 3.

    Lewis Mumford, The Condition of Man (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1944) 41. Hereafter referred to as ‘MD3.’

  4. 4.

    Emile Capouya (ed), The Essential Kropotkin (Liveright, 1975) 59. Hereafter referred to as ‘KN3.’

  5. 5.

    E F Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered (Hartley & Marks, 1999) 121. Hereafter referred to as ‘SR2.’

  6. 6.

    Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine (Vol 2) (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1967) 21. Hereafter referred to as ‘MD6.’

  7. 7.

    Freedom can also be interpreted as disorder, entropy, or chaos; see Chap.  6.

  8. 8.

    Lewis Mumford, The Transformations of Man (Harper & Row, 1972) 193. Hereafter ‘MD7.’

  9. 9.

    P Kropotkin, Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution (William Heinemann. Revised ed., 1904) ix, 5, 61. Hereafter ‘KN2.’

  10. 10.

    M Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy (Cheshire Books, 1982) 361. Hereafter ‘BN1.’

  11. 11.

    Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2011).

  12. 12.

    Lewis Mumford, Technics and Civilization (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1934) 321. Hereafter ‘MD1.’

  13. 13.

    E Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed (Cape, 1977) 45–46. Hereafter ‘SR1.’

  14. 14.

    Kenneth Boulding, The Organizational Revolution: A Study in the Ethics of Economic Organization (Greenwood Press, 1984) xvii. Hereafter ‘BG4.’

  15. 15.

    Kenneth Boulding, Towards a New Economics: Critical Essays on Ecology, Distribution, and Other Themes (Edward Elgar, 1992) 53. Hereafter ‘BG5.’

  16. 16.

    Lewis Mumford, The Myth of the Machine (Vol 1) (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1967) 236. Hereafter ‘MD5.’

  17. 17.

    Kenneth Boulding, A Reconstruction of Economics (Wiley, 1950) 175. Hereafter ‘BG1.’

  18. 18.

    M Bookchin, The Rise of Urbanization and the Decline of Citizenship (Sierra Club Books, 1987) 28. Hereafter ‘BN3.’

  19. 19.

    Lewis Mumford, The City in History: Its Origins, Its Transformations, and Its Prospects (Harcourt, Brace & World, 1961) plate 59. Hereafter ‘MD4.’

  20. 20.

    Kenneth Boulding, Beyond Economics (University of Michigan Press, 1968). Hereafter ‘BG2.’

  21. 21.

    P Kropotkin, Fields, Factories and Workshops or Industry Combined with Agriculture and Brain Work with Manual Work (G P Putman’s Sons, 1901) 8. Hereafter ‘KN1.’

  22. 22.

    Benedict de Spinoza, A Theologico-Political Treatise and a Political Treatise (Dover, 1951).

  23. 23.

    J Buchanan and J Yong (eds), The Return to Increasing Returns (University of Michigan Press, 1994).


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of LawSwinburne University of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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