The Looming Reversal of Centralization – Gary North – Mises Daily
…..In military affairs, there are economies of scale. An army of warriors makes conquest cost-effective. There are also taxation advantages. An army of tax collectors makes tax collection cost-effective. “Hand over your money” is more effective. Pretty soon, you’ve got an empire.
But there is a law of bureaucracy that applies to empire. At some point, it costs more to administer the bureaucracy than the bureaucracy can generate through coercion. Then the empire begins to crack. It cannot enforce its claims.
So, the growth of empire has economics at its center: economies of scale. The fall of empire also has economics at its center: economies of scale.
I think this process is an application of the law of increasing returns. In the initial phase of the process, adding more of one factor increases total output. But, as more of it is added, another law takes over: the law of decreasing returns.
Example: water and land. Add some water to a desert, and you can grow more food. Add more water, and you can grow a lot more food. There is an accelerating rate of returns. The joint output is of greater value than the cost of adding water. But if you keep adding water, you will get a swamp. The law of decelerating returns takes over. Add more water, and the land is underwater. You might as well have a desert.
This law applies to power. Add power, and you generate more income. But if you keep adding power, expenses of the bureaucracy will begin to eat up revenues. Resistance will also increase: internal and external. The system either implodes or withers away.
With only one exception in history — the Soviet Union in 1991 — empires have not gone out of business without bloodshed.
In the case of the Soviet Union, the senior politicians privatized the whole system in December 1991. They handed over the assets to what immediately became the ultimate system of crony capitalism. They divvied up the Communist Party’s money and deposited it in individual Swiss bank accounts. The suicide of the USSR was “Vladimir Lenin meets David Copperfield.” Now you see it; now you don’t. In the history of Marxism, no event better illustrates Marx’s principle of the cash nexus. It seduced Lenin’s vanguard of the proletariat.
Notice the pattern of empire. It begins slowly, building over centuries: the Roman Empire, the Russian Empire, the French Empire. Then the empire either erodes or else it is captured by revolutionaries, as was the case in France (1789–94) and Russia (1917). But this only delays the reversal. It does not overcome it……
- Good News: We’re Not on the Road to Socialism Bad news: we are on the road to fascism. / Why We Are Not on the Road to Serfdom by Gary North (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- Empires Disintegrate (lewrockwell.com)
- Memory Hole: Socialist Failures by Gary North (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- (“The Libertarian Way”) How To Win a Tariff War by Gary North (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- The Looming Reversal of Centralization by Gary North (gunnyg.wordpress.com)
- How the United States Empire Will Collapse (economicpolicyjournal.com)
- You Were Massively Looted (lewrockwell.com)
- Why They Hate the Gold-Coin Standard (txwclp.org)
- Why the US First Imposed Socialism (lewrockwell.com)
- Your Kids Will Have It Better Than You Do (Don’t Worry About Your Kids’ Economic Future Worry about yours, says Gary North.) (gunnyg.wordpress.com)