On the problem of scale: Hayek, Kohr, Jacobs and the reinvention of the political state

Gussen, Benjamen F. (2013) On the problem of scale: Hayek, Kohr, Jacobs and the reinvention of the political state. Constitutional Political Economy, 24 (1). pp. 19-42. ISSN 1043-4062


There is no shortage of crises in the ecological (e.g. climate change), economic (e.g. the Global Financial Crisis), and socio-political spheres (e.g. the Arab
Spring). While such crises are not new to the human saga, both the magnitude and frequency of these crises seem to be intensifying. The usual prognosis follows the public/private dichotomy, suggesting more or less government intervention (and the closely related variants of more integration and regime change). However, there are ‘islands’ of alternative analyses where crises result from scale distortion (organisational structures of states, markets and firms that are too large or too small) and scale entanglement (strong rather than weak ties between different scales such as the local, national and global). This paper attempts to synthesise this scale problematisation into one coherent school of thought. To this end, we introduce the complexity ansatz, which links complexity to symmetry (breaking), scale and collapse. To illustrate, the paper traces this ansatz in the writings of Friedrich Hayek, Le´opold Kohr and Jane Jacobs(HKJ). The thesis is that the moribund nation state needs to be relegated to a subsidiary role to evade collapse. Loosely coupled (fiscally and monetarily) autonomous cityregions should be the ‘eyes’ of socio economic action.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published Version restricted in accordance with publisher copyright policy (Springer)
Faculty / Department / School: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Law and Justice
Date Deposited: 09 Aug 2014 00:16
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2017 01:13
Uncontrolled Keywords: complexity; symmetry; scale; collapse; Hayek; Kohr; Jacobs; sovereignty; city-regions
Fields of Research : 14 Economics > 1499 Other Economics > 149999 Economics not elsewhere classified
18 Law and Legal Studies > 1899 Other Law and Legal Studies > 189999 Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160609 Political Theory and Political Philosophy
16 Studies in Human Society > 1606 Political Science > 160699 Political Science not elsewhere classified
14 Economics > 1499 Other Economics > 149901 Comparative Economic Systems
Socio-Economic Objective: E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970114 Expanding Knowledge in Economics
E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
Identification Number or DOI: 10.1007/s10602-012-9130-7
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/25741

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