Traditions, Localism and Decentralisation

Decentralisation is a key ingredient in limiting government. When a territory includes numerous competing legal centres it creates pressure on those bodies to establish systems that encourage citizens and businesses to remain within them. Furthermore, the prospect that despotism will emerge among a number of separate bodies is harder to imagine than would be the case with a single centralised entity. Traditions and local patriotism are not only good in their own right but can buttress this process of decentralisation. If more people were strongly attached to their locality and its cultural and linguistic peculiarities they would more eagerly resist the central government’s attempts co-opt and submerge them. By way of an example take British opposition to integration with the European Union. Many, rightly, fear that our Island’s unique characteristics will be scrubbed out if the process of assimilation continues. This is as true for the consolidated nation state as for the constituent elements that were unified to create them.

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