Size Matters

« A very populous city can rarely, if ever, be well governed.» ~ Aristotle

When it comes to good governance, size is everything.

According to the textbooks, the old empires collapsed when they got too big. The Roman, the Abbasid, the Han, the Tang, the British…why is that?

And while you think about that, consider this:

Unless the government of a geographically large state runs on a mechanism of terror, like in modern China, size will one day work against the distribution of control.

  • English: The bigger is a country, the harder it is to control the population.


In consequence, the absence of control invites instability, and eventually chaos.

Chaos can be good for creative wildebeests young, creative folks. But it’s not so good if you’re trying to raise a child or approaching your retirement. Hence, the necessity of being under additional free floating fear.

Machiavellian as it sounds, it’s only logical: Fear controls wildebeest the general population’s behavior and, consequently, his welfare too.


Of course, we know how mechanisms of terror will eventually burn itself out. Like what happened when the Soeharto regime weakened.

And that’s okay too; because when the Roman empire broke down, the Islamic empire rose. When the Islamic empire fell, came the industrial revolution.

And we know how grateful we are for 3Gs innernerding.


Moral of this brain burst?

If you are patient and open-minded enough, time will explain and fix everything that size and power could not. Duh.


  1. Good reasoning. And convincing. A society needs the organization of some cohesion. A huge society needs
    special tools to reach that goal.

    Yet, once more just to the love of argument...

    Though Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler organized total control, it did work out that well.

    Cultural liberalism is not a guarantee for success. However I guess it is telling that empires blossomed when the obsession with control diminished. Free philosophy and the sprouting of democracy in Athens, relaxed emperors and the emergence of a sophisticated state of law in Rome, freeing from the yoke of religion and the start of Renaissance art and science. And wasn't the liberal stage of Islam at the start of the second millennium the most successful one?

    I for the time being stick to my fantasy indeed: "Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time" (Churchill).

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful comment, man. It's almost like a tide, you know?

    Whether high or low, neither erases the other. So you know that when it's too loose, there's a touch of fear. When it's too tight, there's always hope.

    Like I said, thanks. ^_^