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  •  But they identified the wrong danger (5+ / 0-)

    Having a reasonably strong central government is not the danger. Having a poorly designed central government that is harmed by the whim the rich is.

    The GOP is the party of mammon. They mock what Jesus taught.

    by freelunch on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 06:06:53 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  Except that they argued that there was no such (1+ / 0-)
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      thing as a reasonably strong central government.  Instead, they argued, such a central government would inevitably become one that was overly powerful and harmed by the whim of the rich.  Hence the lesson of Rome.

      •  Rome preceded industrialism and bureaucracy (1+ / 0-)
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        Ernest Gellner wrote Nations and Nationalism which describes nationalism as the inevitable ideology of industrialization. Nationalism requires a strong central government to create the large markets that permit industrialism. But they can only exist with the institutional structure of bureaucracy.

        Bureaucracy diffuses the power of government down so that it can be controlled centrally, but that very process of diffusion also limits the power of the leaders of any central government. This, I think, it the problem China is running into right now. The leaders of the central government have to give up much of their power to obtain the benefits of industrialism. Keep in mind that large nations did not actually exist before large professional armies came into existence, and that required bureaucratic government to collect the taxes that supported the large professional military forces. Rome did not have those benefits. Everything was done small, on human scales.

        Bureaucracy forces the expansion of democracy. That's because departments and specialization cannot be totally centrally controlled. Industrialism (including the so-called power-industrialism) is built on that bureaucratic structure because it depends on microspecialization to create greater productivity. So industrialization and democracy of necessity go hand-in-hand.

        Francis Fukuyama published a very interesting book last year entitled The Origins of Political Order in which he states that the successful industrial nations will be those with strong central governments. I'm pretty sure he's right, and if the conservatives in America win they will prevent the central government from being strong. Other nations will be surpassing America in that case. But the existence of bureaucratic structures is new to modern nations. Great Britain showed how democracy, central government and industrialism grow up together. Look at the last 250 years of Parliament, the removal of power from the House of Lords and from the King, and the growth of British democracy. Those things all happened together.

        The problem is not centralized government. It is power wielded by a single individual or a small group that is dangerous, and in modern times no such group is capable of adequately running a large nation. Again, look at China. It's central power is being diffused away from the small group of top leaders who have run it since the Maoist takeover.

        The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

        by Rick B on Sun Aug 19, 2012 at 08:59:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Roman Emperors went overboard on privatizing (0+ / 0-)

        state functions. They put most tax collection in the hands of for-profit tax farmers (publicani). This encouraged massive corruption and diverted state revenues into private hands.

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