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Featured Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | No Comments | Updated on Sep 12, 2014

Scotland, Sovereignty and Corporations

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

Since 1945 the number of nations has soared from about 60 to more than 180.  The first wave of new sovereign states came with the decolonization movement of the 1960s and 1970s; the second in the early 1990s with the break-up of the Soviet Union.  If Scotland votes for independence it may ignite a third wave.  Dozens of would-be nations are waiting in the wings:  Wales, Catalonia, Flanders, Breton, the list is long.

In 1957 in his classic book The Breakdown of Nations economist and political scientist Leopold Kohr persuasively and rigorously argued that small nations are the natural order having been throughout history the engines for enlightenment, innovation, mutual aid and the arts.  The large nation state, he argued is not a reflection of improved efficiency but of superior force.

It is the great powers which lack the real basis of existence and are without autochthonous, self-sustaining sources of strength. It is they that are the artificial structures, holding together a medley of more or less unwilling little tribes. There is no Great British’ nation in Great Britain. What we find are the English, Scots, Irish, Cornish, Welsh, and the islanders of Man. In Italy, we find the Lombards, Tyroleans, Venetians, Sicilians, or Romans. In Germany we find Bavarians, Saxons, Hessians, Rhinelanders, or Brandenburgers. And in France, we find Normans, Catalans, Alsatians, Basques, or Burgundians. These little nations came into existence by themselves, while the great powers had to be created by force and a series of bloodily unifying wars. Not a single component part joined them voluntarily. They all had to be forced into them, and could be retained by them only by means of their division into counties, Gaue, or departments. . . .”

With a population of 5.2 million, a sovereign Scotland would rank just below the median size of the world’s nations.  It could rest assured that nations of its size can thrive.  Think Finland, Costa Rica, Ireland, Norway.  Small nations are easier to administer, more nimble in policy and their governments are more accountable to and reflective of their communities. Indeed, it is the divergence between the values of the Scottish culture and those of the Conservative government in Whitehall that has been a major impetus for independence.   That divergence is reflected in the fact that today only one Tory holds a seat from Scotland in the British Parliament.

Prime Minister Cameron’s Conservatives advocate welfare cuts, austerity and privatization.  They enthusiastically embrace what the Scots would call the mean values of the Conservatives heroine Maggie Thatcher who summed up her thinking with the famous phrase,  “There is no such thing as society.”

The Scots most definitely believe there is a thing called society. The Scottish National Party, which controls the Scottish government and supports independence, wants to get rid of nuclear weapons, raise the minimum wage in line with inflation and begin a sweeping extension of child care. It is also more favorable toward immigration and the European Union than the British government.

“There is more of a communitarian viewpoint in Scotland that sees the value of coming together to provide public services, to acknowledge the strength of community in Scotland,” Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s deputy first minister told the New York Times.

But if Scotland does become sovereign it will quickly discover that that sovereignty has been severely restricted by new global rules promoted by increasingly dominant global corporations.   Nations may be getting smaller, but corporations are getting larger. Of the 100 largest economies in the world, more than half are global corporations. The Top 200 corporations’ combined sales represent over one quarter of the world’s GDP. Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Composting, Waste to Wealth | Written by John Bailey | No Comments | Updated on Sep 10, 2014

Webinar September 16, 2014 – Community Composting: Lessons from NYC

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

ILSR’s Brenda Platt is presenting at a free webinar, “Community Composting:  Lessons from New York City & Beyond,” on September 16, 2014, 1:30-3 pm (EDT).  Click here to register. Community composting presents a scalable food diversion option that is applicable in virtually any community, whether urban, suburban, or rural. Community compost programs can be established… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Broadband | Written by Rebecca Toews | No Comments | Updated on Aug 27, 2014

Rural Broadband Funding Webinar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

The FCC has made a $100 million fund available to organizations seeking to bring advanced telecommunications to rural America. The National Rural Assembly is hosting a national webinar to explain the criteria and application process. If you or your organization have a stake in expanding broadband in rural areas, you may want to consider this… Continue reading

solar calculator - flickr Derek Gavey
Featured Article, Resource filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | 3 Comments | Updated on Sep 4, 2014

Ultimate Solar Calculator “App” Helps You Choose: To Own or Lease?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

A few weeks ago I wrote about the comeback of solar ownership relative to leasing, as the cost of rooftop solar PV continues to fall and new financing options make ownership easier than ever. Is owning a solar panel right for you? Find out now! The calculator below lets you compare (leasing) apples to (ownership)… Continue reading

Featured Article filed under Stop Incineration, Waste to Wealth | Written by Neil Seldman | No Comments | Updated on Aug 22, 2014

Stafford Incinerator in Virginia Not “Financially Beneficial”

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at

The Regional Solid Waste Management Board that oversees the County and City of Fredericksburg landfill will not pursue a garbage and industrial waste incineration-gasification facility. The County received no bid that it considered financially beneficial to the County and City and dropped the project. has submitted an FOI Request to obtain copies of the… Continue reading