Guest Post: Why Centralization Leads to Collapse

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

A system that suppresses dissent is fault-intolerant, ignorant and fragile.

Increasing centralization has been viewed as the solution for all social and economic problems for quite some time. The Eurozone project is one recent manifestation of this belief.

The basis of this belief is rationality and efficiency. If we centralize production and decision-making, we eliminate all sorts of inefficiencies. Decisions can be made by "top people," and supply chains can be rationalized from a hopelessly inefficient clutter down to a supremely rational and cost-effective pathway.

Ironically, in eliminating inefficiency and messy decision-making, centralization eliminates redundancy, decentralized pathways of response and dissent. Once you lose redundancy and all the feedback it represents, you lose resiliency and fault-tolerance. The centralized system is fault-intolerant and fragile.

By rationalizing decision-making and authority in a centralized hierarchy, the system slowly but surely eliminates dissent: those who "don't get on board" and "get with the program" imposed from the top are marginalized, pushed out or liquidated.

From the point of view of the "top people," this is merely rational; why tolerate a lot of chatter and resistance that doesn't serve any real purpose except to bog down the duly chosen program?

As Nassim Taleb has observed, dissent is information. Eliminate or marginalize dissent and you've deprived the system of critical information. Lacking a wealth of information, the system becomes a monoculture in which the leadership is free to pursue confirmation bias, focusing on whatever feedback confirms its policy mandates.

A system that suppresses dissent is fault-intolerant, ignorant and fragile. Any event that does not respond to centralized, rationalized policy creates unintended consequences that throws the centralized mechanism into disarray. Lacking dissent and redundancy, the system piles on one haphazard, politically expedient "fix" after another, further destabilizing the system.

The event that triggers crisis and collapse isn't important; the system, rendered unstable and fragile by centralization, is primed for crisis and collapse. The dry underbrush is piled high, and if the first lightning strike doesn't start the fire, the second one will. With dissent and the inefficiencies of redundancy and decentralized pathways of response gone, there is nothing left to stop a conflagration that consumes the entire forest.


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JFKFC's picture

Blow the whistles bitchez!

CH1's picture

Stop. Obeying. Them.

Almost Solvent's picture

More to the point and insightful than the article itself.

SamAdams's picture

It collapses because the interest is unpayable, it is a scam.  A money system based on a scam will only breed corruption.  That is why it fails.

DaddyO's picture

"A system that suppresses dissent is fault-intolerant, ignorant and fragile."

So are we way past "Brittle" on the fragility scale?

The markets and GDP are at the whim of the least little "weather event"

The social strata appears to be about to fracture based on six jurors in a Florida murder trial.

And the rest of the world has thumbed its collective nose at the Obummer Admin regarding the leak of "traitorous info".

Also,the leaker's travels appear to be none of the US's business according to Russia and China.

Besides that, all is well!!


Midasking's picture

Collapse would be the best thing that ever happened to this place.  It would solve so many problems of our society... Debt, Immigration, and Obesity to name a few.

akak's picture

"With dissent and the inefficiencies of redundancy and decentralized pathways of response gone, there is nothing left to stop a conflagration that consumes the entire forest."

Burn baby burn!

Flakmeister's picture

Has it cooled off any up in your neck of the woods?

These nasty blocking patterns are really provided wild swings here and in Europe, either freeze/drown or get roasted...

akak's picture

Just today it finally has cooled down, with some cloud cover --- temporarly, anyway.  But a cooling trend is being predicted for early next week.  It can not come soon enough!  We have not had any rain for almost a full month now, and temperatures FAR above average.

ZerOhead's picture

No no no.... collapse would NOT be a good outcome.

Once economic complexity is lost to financial system collapse (all banking ceases) we also lose things like the ability to grow and transport our food (very dependant on fertilizer/fuel inputs and credit), healthcare and life saving medications, state security (lots of guns out there in the wrong hands just waiting...), and last but not least... the consumption based and self obsessed culture that we have all come to love and enjoy... and take for granted.

Without these things we rapidly descend into absolute Darwinian chaos which will leave you with fond memories of Obama'a Stasi-State...

just sayin'...

akak's picture

I disagree.

There is a huge spectrum of possibilities between the indefinite continuation of the status-quo and the complete collapse of civilization.  Both extremes I consider, for all practical purposes, to be impossible.

ZerOhead's picture

The status quo is for all intents and purposes a transitionary phase and is not sustainable forever.

There is as you have noted a huge spectrum of possibilities however once an essential component of all systems (financial transactions) are impeded in any measurable way the economy simply fails to funcion anything approaching optimal levels.

Production of goods and services quickly become impaired as does the ability to find financing for the same. This also impairs ability to service debt and would likely lead to massive public, private, and sovereign defaults.

It all just depends on what ones definition of "collapse" entails I guess...

disabledvet's picture

there is not "transitional phase" to reductio ad absurdium...and that is PRECISELY where our Government is right now. the fact that this concept has been around for over 2000 years should be a wake up call. "calling out the world for Edward Snowden" is not how we get things done.

PTR's picture

Hardship=manipulation, ala problem/solution.  There may just be enough proles out there that if things get bad enough, they'll allow anything just to "make it stop" regardless of who actually benefits in the end.


TARP, anyone?

Element's picture

Frankly the living conditions of the 1970s economic development level were pretty sweet even in rolling recessions, credit freeze, and OPEC energy crisis. I'm happy to 'collapse' the useless faux 'market' to that level, if the interim population growth can cope with a real economy (as opposed to a non-real 'market') closer to that level. Call it a recession, call it a depression, but getting back to those levels and that debt to GDP ratio seems where we are headed anyway. We can either make it a catastrophe + civil war, or we can settle into it, gradually, via 'market' attrition - as opposed to economic attrition (i.e. the opposite of what we have now), because things that are innately economic in their activities, tend to not attrite, but usually will expand due to demand, i.e. creates jobs and work that's actually worth doing.

The only thing that needs to 'collapse' is the ideological and criminal edifice of this extremist Financialism, that swept the whole globe, and also the stupid Govt policies and their suck-up agencies, that engendered this mess and then allowed it to continue, even after 2008. Collapse this Capital-'F' Extremist Financialism and the people, not some stinking incompetent criminal-infested Govt, will do the actual rebuilding - quickly, and without prompting.

If I took all the toxic unaffordable debt off your back, and dramatically lowered your taxation, would not you, and your family, and your community, and the whole economy, explode into demand, into opportunities, and to economic activity? Would not your disposable income grow strongly?

And would not the insanity of the current criminal-infested Govts wither, as spending was flat-out halted in its tracks, due to not being funded via your work and excessive taxation, to pay mere interest on endlessly-bloating Govt, and Govt 'debt', that never stops growing?

It's this whole global Financialism edifice (with CBs at the center) and the criminal Govt insanity of heaping failed-bank debts on to the backs of tax-payers, in the most unjust and immoral ways imaginable (i.e. the moral-'hazard' that criminal-infested Govt and idiot-mass-media hacks paid mere hand-wringing lip-service to, but went ahead and did it anyway, and said it was the "best bad option"), that completely thwarts, prevents and destroys any steady tendencies towards economic self-rectification.

How to do it?

It's very simple, default everywhere, and default on everything, and then the Extremist Criminal Financialism, and the over-taxation by criminal-infested Govt, will finally simply kark-it.


For the children (yeah, that line's a double-edged sword, Obama, and you don't have a monopoly on it).


2c ... got a better idea?

Flakmeister's picture

Not a bad 2 cents, but I do not see unwinding the current finacialization of the world economy by any adiabatic means...

It is either collapse or armed conflict...

PS Piss on the "statists" all your like but do not underestimate the driving force of corporate interests in the question of how we got where we are....  Any even handed evaluation must place as much blame at the feet of the coporate oligarchs as it does on the state...

Element's picture

Yeah, there's going to be a cliff-dive and hit the floor in there too.

Armed conflict is of course not a plan, it's just a high-potential chaotic outcome. The problem is there is no safety-net for big powers, and no bigger-power to step-in and stabilize anything at any time. In smaller wars/collapses you do have many larger powers and aid agencies, NGOs, peace-keepers, blah-blah, but in this there would be nothing ... except the audacity of hopey (sorries).

However, in desperate times the rules change, and what was once unthinkable suddenly becomes allowed, and encouraged (just ask 'lucky' Hank Paulson). So we can't say what will occur, or what is possible. Frankly, if you were starring down the barrel of a total collapse, and/or apocalyptic warfare, wouldn't a local or a global Jubilee seem like not such a bad option?

Is adiabatic deflating tenable then? ... Maybe ... it's definitely worth a shot.

In which case Jubilee is the recommended form of default ... let's face it, it's going to happen anyway, so why not do it formally?

As to the oligarchs, I agree, and I haven't forgotten them, but you have to take down the police-state to get rid of them.

Like this:

mumbo.jumbo's picture

corporations and the state are one and the same, merely two faces of the same thing: human farming. enabled by the lack of moral rejection of the initiation of the use of force, which is used to scare the farmed part of society into obedience.

the fantasy of corporations is created and sustained by the state.

mumbo.jumbo's picture

corporations and the state are one and the same, merely two faces of the same thing: human farming. enabled by the lack of moral rejection of the initiation of the use of force, which is used to scare the farmed part of society into obedience.

the fantasy of corporations is created and sustained by the state.

Flakmeister's picture

Yes, very well said. 

No one should have any romantic illusions about collapse. There ain't no "Brave New World" waiting on the other side...

There are going to be preppars with 5 years of food and 10,000 rounds that will die from stepping on a rusty nail...

francis_sawyer's picture

There's no need for you to worry about rusty nails... You'll die of starvation while you wait for your pop tart to jump out of the toaster...

Shell Game's picture

Besides, nothing a good betadine scrubbing and metronidazole treatment wouldn't mitigate..

Flakmeister's picture

Good,  I hope your ISP is up and running and UPS can deliver it in time...

Shell Game's picture

The half life of some of these antibiotics is surprisingly long in root cellars.  But I hear you, nothing will be easy.  Good texts to add to the collection, 'Where There Is No Doctor' and 'Where There Is No Dentist'(.pdf).  Good luck.

DaddyO's picture

+1 on the book titles, looking at them on my bookshelf as I type.

The best way to face the coming uncertainty is to be living the solution right now!

I closed out my brokerage accounts a long time ago, began to invest in my local market in things I had more direct control of and began to live a more sustainable lifestyle on a parcel of land out of the lines of drift.

Everyone has their own ways and I would recommend putting a plan in place now and not waiting for the reset that may or may not bring a Brave New World to coin the vernacular.


Shell Game's picture

Advice to live by, well done.  The entire zombified system will lumber along until enough consent is withdrawn.  The more folks who shun the system and live the solution now, the greater the chance at creating something better.

DaddyO's picture

As to the availability and storage of antibiotics, there are ready supplies in the auqarium world and storage instructions can be found all over the webs.

Some have longer shelf lives than others so you must pay attention to what you think you may need and formulate the corresponding plan.

Last year I went here and found good medical training and suppliers of what I needed.

Just sayin...


Shell Game's picture

I found this to be a good primer on deciding which antibiotics to stockpile:


edit:  Cheer's, DaddyO, good talking with you.  Good luck out there!

DaddyO's picture

Longtime reader of Survivalblog, in fact have had a couple articles published under different names.

Isn't luck defined as when preparation and opportunity meet?

Thanks, Shell Game...


PS: How in the hell did the State of Florida bring charges against Zimmerman, when their own witnesses are testifying that the facts support self defense?


Shell Game's picture

S.B. published, nice!  


Re: Zimmerman charges - crazy isn't it?  Yet I've come to expect no less in this polictcally correct, bifurcated society...

FrankDrakman's picture

I'm an insulin dependent diabetic. I'll last about two weeks, plus whatever I can rob from pharmacies. (Note: They won't sell it to me, because TPTB have classified insulin as a restricted drug, only available by prescription. Must be cause there's a lot of hillbillies shooting insulin for kicks, I guess.)

Flakmeister's picture

Thanks for chiming in...

May you always be able to find your shot somewhere....

ZerOhead's picture

There is absolutely no "Brave New World"... +1000... there is merely a spectrum of possible outcomes ranging from the foregone "BAD" that we all know as a minimum will happen (but can still largely have existing stuctures in place... food, fuel, electricity, government, security) to absolutely "ABHORENT" with variable levels of services available to the public but no real security in any.

Flakmeister's picture

Given the odds, I ain't rolling the dice to find out....

Edit: Let's just say that the Baysian Prior don't look too hot...

ZerOhead's picture

I picked up a couple of hundred acres of pure bug and bear heaven a couple of years ago now... it will be a great place to watch the world unwind from.

P.S. Nice to see someone else keeping an eye on the jet stream blocking events... damn interesting things and their correlation to deep solar minimums should cause people some concern. Anyway Dalton and Maunder minimums don't occur anymore now that man is pumping CO2 into the atmosphere or so we are told by TPTB...

Flakmeister's picture

YWoS was primarily due to a massive volcanic eruption, Tambora (with a few earlier smaller ones thrown in), exascerbated by  the Dalton solar minimum...  When you disect the forceings, Tambora with all its S02 aerosols dominates...

Mt. Pinutoba  (sp?) and El Chincon in 1992(?) and 85(?) was a very good demonstration of the effect of a volcanic eruption. The effect was very well monitored and measured....   

ZerOhead's picture

Correct but the onset of the DM and global colder temperatures actually preceded the Tambora eruption which was a ginormous stratospheric SO2 dump..

And the correlation between solar minima and volcanic eruptions and earthquakes (triggered by CME's/X-class flares) is extremely strong.

6 of the top 13 earthquakes in magnitude since 1900 occured within the last 10 years...

And we begin to see Atlantic hurricanes tracking north to Greenland...


Flakmeister's picture

You do know that the there has been a cooling trend in place for ~8000 years at the time, 0.1 C/millienum, perfectly consistent change in the solar forcing from the Milankovitch cycles...

The Tambora eruption was icing on the cake. From your link,

It is now generally thought that the aberrations occurred because of the April 5–15, 1815, volcanic Mount Tambora eruption[18][19] on the island of Sumbawa, Indonesia (then part of the Dutch East Indies, but under French rule during Napoleon's occupation of the Netherlands), described by Thomas Stamford Raffles.[20] The eruption had a Volcanic Explosivity Index ranking of 7, a super-colossal event that ejected immense amounts of volcanic ash into the upper atmosphere. It was the world's largest eruption since the Hatepe eruption over 1,630 years earlier in AD 180. That the 1815 eruption occurred during the middle of the Dalton Minimum (a period of unusually low solar activity) may also be significant.[citation needed]

Other large volcanic eruptions (with VEI at least 4) during the same time frame are:

These other eruptions had already built up a substantial amount of atmospheric dust. As is common following a massive volcanic eruption, temperatures fell worldwide because less sunlight passed through the atmosphere.

According to a 2012 analysis by Berkeley Earth Surface Temperature, the great 1815 Tambora eruption caused a temporary drop in the Earth's average land temperature of about 1 degree C. Smaller temperature drops were recorded from the 1812-1814 eruptions.[21]

And from the Dalton Minumum link

While The Year Without a Summer, in 1816, occurred during the Dalton Minimum, the prime reason for that year's cool temperatures was the highly explosive eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which was one of the two largest eruptions in the past 2000 years

XitSam's picture

"There are going to be preppars with 5 years of food and 10,000 rounds that will die from stepping on a rusty nail..."

So you're saying they are foolish for preparing what they can? There are going to be preppers die from minor causes. Is that any reason for them not to spend their money on what they see as a real threat and change the odds in their favor? 

Flakmeister's picture

I have no idea how you read that into what I wrote....

The point is that there is lot of stuff that will become folklore depending on the extent of the collapse. Another way of saying it is that no matter how much you "prep" there will also be something you overlooked or will be unavailable. And in many cases, it will be something that would seem trivial pre-collapse... 

Yes, life has it's risks. Plan accordingly...

XitSam's picture

I quoted what you wrote. Not able to read your mind for what you think you wrote.

Shell Game's picture

"No no no.... collapse would NOT be a good outcome."


There will be no vote and it will not be televised.  I have no desire for that scenario, but it's looking like there are more than fair odds it's coming. 

Totentänzerlied's picture

Hahaha, you act like there's some sort of possibility that it can go any other way. That choice was made a LONG time ago, all that's left now is to decide how you'll react.

And please don't try to pass off such a rosy picture as a portrait of this totally corrupt, greedy, wasteful, self-obsessed, diseased, lazy, decadent, complacent society. Some people like to say "deserves ain't got nothin' to do with it," and technically they're right: deserved or not, it is coming and we can't do anything to change that. But, as an ethical matter, a matter of principle, this civilazation does indeed deserve what's coming to it, as responsibility, if it exists, must belong to someone, it cannot belong to no one. The alternative position would imply that the vast majority of humans are SO stupid and incompetent that they are literally helpless imbeciles who are far too dumb to be held morally responsible for their actions, and who have absolutely no hope of being anything other than slaves or serfs to the small percent who are able to manipulate the rest into such an arrangement.

What you have described is Stockholm Syndrome, and pure cowardice, moral and otherwise.

ZerOhead's picture

There is little chance that the same self-serving fucknuts that got us so deeply into this problem will be able to get us out of it... that's why I was desperately hoping for a new batch of slightly more principled fucknuts to take over.

I find little of your assessment to disagree with... and yes perhaps in a way we do deserve the future that is about to befall us. Never forget that it was those elected officials who we took to be knowledgable. honorable and trustworthy who did the bidding instead of their political and financial backers and thus led us there.

Muppet Pimp's picture

The fractal vision cometh bitchez...

IridiumRebel's picture

Can someone centrally plan my life, please? 

Citxmech's picture

Sure.  But it's going to cost you. . .

Ctrl_P's picture

They already have. And you are already paying the price.

SheepDog-One's picture

Homo Sapiens species downward spiral to extinction. No big deal really, nothing 'tragic' about it in the big picture....99.9% of all species ever on earth are now extinct after all. Just kind of a short run at 115,000 years though.

Flakmeister's picture

Pretty depressing, actually, 100K years is a blink of the eye in the grand scheme of things...  Speaking of course as a member of H. Sapiens Sapiens....

We are certainly intelligent enough to figure it out, but evolution, necessarily, left us such a skewed subjective discounting of the future that only a tiny fraction of the population have the wisdom to realize and act on this....