Size of a Political Body: Is Bigger Safer?

In Size of a Political Body: Does it Matter? we discussed how the only way to have true representation is to cut the size of government. However, one of the big reasons for centralization and large governments is that it can “make us safer.” But can it?

Lets take Germany, for instance. Before Hitler took power, Germany was divided into a bunch of states. When Hitler took over, one of the first things he did was centralize, and with this machine, he laid waste to Europe. The population under this political machine didn’t fare any better than did those of other countries. Secret arrests, and lack of food and supplies were frequent.

Wilhelmtell (Anglicized as William Tell)

However, people continue to believe that bigger means safer. However, Switzerland has held its own for hundreds of years, and repulsed armies from much larger countries and inflicted heavy casualties upon them in so doing, leaving the European nations in fear of the citizen army of the Swiss. We can find examples even further back. For instance, the small city states of Greece, united by a common enemy and a common origin and a sense of brotherhood, repulsed the million man army of Persia. King Leonidas of the city state of Sparta with 300 men held the pass of Thermopylae (“hot springs”) and inflicted great damage upon the Persian army. The army of the city state of Athens defeated the entire Persian army at Marathon, forever leaving Greece free from the domination of Persia.

Though those are not nearly all the possible examples, we can see that small states can defend themselves with tremendous success. And, we can also see the lack of safety in large states. When Athens grew too large, it began to seek to dominate all the other Grecian cities. When King Philip and his son Alexander the Great conquered Greece, they immediately began military campaigns against Persia, who, because of its size and the fact that it had attempted to conquer Greece making it a target of interest for the triumphant Greeks. Did the the military conquests and defeats of the Persians in any way add to the safety of the Persian populace? In no way. When Russia became too big, it got taken over by the communists and used against the people for years. When Germany and Japan became too big, they formed the Axis alliance and began to take over the world.

So, bigger doesn’t necessarily mean safer. You may be safer from foreign enemies, but not so much with domestic enemies. And, there is no reason for a group of city states to not be united under a common people group and resist the advances of foreign foes. Giving up freedom for security only means you lose both. Its time to choose freedom over security, so that in the end, you may have both.


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