America is oppressed by consolidated power. The only check on the tyranny of this consolidated power is the liberty of dispersed power.
Consolidated power is a fatal bottleneck. It forces America’s attempts to learn and change through those few hands that hold all the power. While those few hands may contribute toward fruitful learning and change, those few hands may also be exactly what must be unlearned and changed.
Tilting the balance of power in favor of good fruit and away from bad fruit requires a wide and deep division of power. Only then can unconsolidated power centers independently reward good fruit and punish bad fruit. The liberty America was supposed to be founded is based on the proposition that fruitful exercise of liberty is rewarded while unfruitful exercise of liberty is punished.
Consolidated power rewards the fruit of the few hands holding it irregardless its quality. With size comes powerful advantages: the economies of scale generated by consolidated power make doing whatever you do cheaper. Much of this increased affordability is realized in escaped punishments. Indeed, allowing escape from punishment is the main purpose of consolidated power. Unfortunately, escape from punishment makes doing good or bad equally affordable. There is a tradeoff between economies of scale and liberty. Liberty withers under the shadow of economies of scale. Any use of liberty exercised by those holding consolidated power is rewarded equally for good or bad while liberty for consolidated powerlessness is punished equally for good or bad.
The entire architecture upholding consolidated power is hostage to the competence in learning and changing of those happy few who hold consolidated power. If their competence fails, everyone all together is subject to sudden bursts of events that topple everyone all together. Punishment, long denied, falls on deserving and undeserving alike and great is the fall thereof.
Competence to learn and competence to change must be spread widely and deeply for social learning and change to be vigorous and robust. Foremost of all, competency in using power must be spread wide and deep. This is the fulfillment of liberty: creating competent self-government of power by rewarding good and punishing bad. If only the few have opportunity to exercise power, there is no liberty. The number of hands holding power will shrink to the lucky. Once those hands consolidate power, they will do everything in their power to consolidate luck in their hands regardless of their ongoing competence.
Sources of power must be diverse and must be in many hands. Interception and consolidation of control over the supply lines of society leads to consolidation of all power in a few hands. Then every incentive favors rewarding incompetent hands over competent hands.
The most reliable source of power remains violence. Assets backed by the sword have a durability and profitability that no other source of power can match. The first step in dispersing power is dispersing violent power broadly and deeply across the population.
Dispersal of power is often confused with separation of violent power from other forms of power. This separation is both mythical and unreachable. The source of violent power is other forms of power. Any consolidation of “non-violent” power leads inexorably to the temptation if not choice to supplement the uncertainty of non-violent power with the certainty of violent power. Consolidated power, whether initially derived from violent or non-violent power, inevitably leads to consolidated violent power. No wall of tissues will prevent one form of consolidated power from being transformed into violent consolidated power if left unchecked by opposing power.
Dispersal of power is often confused with localization of power. But localized power, if consolidated power, is just as oppressive as remote consolidated power. Dispersed power must be broad and deep. It must be broadly dispersed not only in the large but in the small, not only remotely but locally.
A local monopoly of power is as dangerous as a remote monopoly on power. One of the strongest drivers of consolidated remote power is when those oppressed by local power seeking relief from remote power. Remote power suppresses local power but by doing so remote power becomes remote consolidated power. Consolidated power in any form must be dispersed, locally and remotely. Current local consolidated power and its relief is the father of future remote consolidated power and its oppressiveness.
Dispersal of power means one thing: dispersal of all power, inseparably, as broadly and deeply as possible. Consolidated power in any area of power, however much its proponents tout the benefits of the economies of scale that it bestows, cannot be tolerated. The advantages economies of scale give with one hand today will be seized back with both of the hands that consolidated power unshackles tomorrow. Liberty must not be sacrificed on the altar of efficiency. Efficiency now is inefficiency tomorrow: consolidated power dooms even the most efficient to consolidated inefficiency tomorrow as consolidated action is rewarded indiscriminately.
There must be balance in all things. Carrot must be matched by stick, violent power must be checked by violent power, wealth by wealth, liberty by liberty, parity with parity, and equal by equal. Tilting the balance of power within society tilts the balance of violence and ultimately the balance of terror. The result is inescapable: consolidation of power, consolidation of violence, and, inevitably, consolidation of terror. Terror will infest the weak and flee the strong. Violence will hurt the powerless and bless the powerful. Shifting balance will topple the unconsolidated and elevate the consolidated. Swings of fortune focused and intensified by consolidated incompetence and consolidated weakness will ravage all.
America, it’s time for a breakup. It’s the only way to remove the burden of consolidated power from liberty’s bowed shoulders.