In defence of decentralization

Many years ago in a far off land I thought I had it made. I was happy, felt fulfilled, was busy busy busy and had a finger in ever pie. In fact I felt pretty indispensable. Then something happened.

A good man came to the region to look over the operation of our area. He was sort of a trouble-shooter. A conscientious, spirit-filled, man of God with a heart for the little people and with a clear and defined purpose. Let's call him "Gary".

As I said, at that time I was super busy and involved in a lot of "important" projects. Printing, publication, communication with units in the area about supplies and literature distribution and what have you. I remember I had developed an elaborate program for the video circuit, as it was called, a way to circulate VHS cassettes with recommended movies and programs for the entertainment of the various missionaries and volunteers on the field. It was all good and helpful things, but perhaps not the best.

After Gary had carefully looked over all aspects of the field I soon found myself without a job and back in a little community on the field with nothing to do but witness and win souls - the reason I came to South East Asia in the first place!

That was a good lesson for me on how bureaucracy gets started. If there is a desk free, someone is going to sit down, get himself a rubber stamp and make sure everyone has to pass by. Pretty soon he will need a secretary, then space for an archive and a file clerk, a data base, a software developer, more staff, a head of security, a team of lawyers and so on and so forth... you get the picture. I've seen it over and over, in every country I've been - and it grows exponentially.

One typical example was the 7 years I spent in Ukraine. A recently "liberated from Russia" country where oligarchy and favouritism goes hand in hand.

There was always some guy who had to rubber stamp your paper, and to expedite the procedure you'd bring a paper bag with a box of chocolate and a bottle of Vodka, placed it at the side of his desk and say, "here's a little something for the kids". He would lean over the side of the desk and with his little finger widen the top of the paper bag to have a peek at it's content, then you'd get the stamp. Standard procedure! - Unless he happened to have an extra star on his shoulder, then it would have to be Brandy.

I am firmly convinced that bureaucracy and centralization is the root of many evils. From over-sized governments, like the present day superpowers and the European Union, to big city corruption. We used to call them blob-builders, those who has to be "king of the mountain" - the bigger and more elaborate the better!

Don't get me wrong, I am not against cooperation and coordination, what I am opposed to, and what I believe to be at the root of so many problems, is the centralisation of too much power in too few hands - like the distribution of wealth, it's concentrated with a very few individuals while the greater part of the population is struggling to survive. As the fellow said, by the time you've found a way to make ends meet, they've moved the ends!

Where do you find the most crime and biggest problems? - It the big cities of the World! Where do you find the most corruption and a jungle of bureaucracy? - think about it! Smaller countries like Finland and Iceland have little crime and functioning systems. I'm sure they also have their share of desk-popes and paper-tigers, but the locals know who they are and can better hold them to account.

Or take Switzerland for example, a group of Cantons with a high degree of autonomy and self-rule. A federal central government was set up to which the cantons gave up certain parts of their sovereign rights, retaining the rest. - It seem to be working rather well.

In days of old in Denmark there was often a circle of stones in the centre of the village where the elders would meet when there was issues to be sorted out. I bet it wasn't comfortable to have extended debates :-)

"Blessed are the meek..." ~ Matthew 5

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Comments (2)

  1. Charlotte Sturm:
    Apr 18, 2018 at 03:17 AM

    Oh so true, and the only hope for a change in this world is the coming predicted world ruler, the antichrist. So many Europeans had their hopes all high when Napoleon came on the fore with his ideas and plans-and a lot of it is still based of the changes he brought about. They expected of him that he would bring freedom and righteousness to this unrighteous world. The most famous of those that Napoleon disappointed is Beethoven. Here is a quotation of what happened:
    A famous expression of Beethoven’s political disillusionment involves the dedication to his Eroica (“Heroic”) Symphony. Beethoven, mesmerized by Napoleon’s republican promise, affixed the name “Bonaparte” as a dedication on the symphony’s title page. Later, Beethoven’s friend Ferdinand Ries informed Beethoven that Napoleon crowned himself Emperor of France in 1804. Beethoven flew into a rage and violently scratched the dedication from the symphony’s title page. Ries recalled, “I was the first to bring him the news that Bonaparte had proclaimed himself emperor, whereupon he flew into a rage and cried out: ‘Is he too, then, nothing more than an ordinary human being? Now he, too, will trample on the rights of man, and indulge only his ambition!’ When the symphony was published in 1806 the title became “Sinfonia Eroica … composed to celebrate the memory of a could have been great man.”
    Then came Marx with his great book of bringing righteousness to mankind. Communism tried it and the result we know, it was not feasible. As a great man of God said, if you want to have a revolution, a real change in this world, you need to change man’s heart, and you have to start with your own so others can follow your sample.
    I watched an old movie recently, a novel from the in Germany famous writer Theodor Storm, called “Der Schimmelreiter-The Rider on the White Horse”. It pictures the simple people being Christians yet full of superstition past down from their pagan ancestors with neither real faith nor real trust in God. No changed hearts, no knowledge of God’s word and how to apply it in their life, nothing, only the hope God would be merciful to them.
    But how many times do we forget, that in this world there will just never rule righteousness. We love certain teaching materials and think everybody needs to have it and get so into it that we lose the sight of the only way this world can be changed and that is one heart at a time. It keeps happens to me so often too.

  2. admin:
    Apr 22, 2018 at 02:24 PM

    Thanks! - Very interesting!

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