A Great Perhaps

“I am going to seek a great perhaps . . . ”
—François Rabelais

Sale’s theme is the restoration of “human scale” in all our works: architectural, political, economic, educational, and technological.  His thesis is that only radical decentralization can achieve this aim.  Sale first ventured into this territory with a book called Human Scale, published in 1980.  The present work is not simply a new edition, but a significant rewriting, updating, and streamlining of its parent text.  The result is impressive.  The argument was timely in 1980 and is even more so today.  If decentralization has not exactly become a household word, it has in recent decades become increasingly a matter of concern across the political spectrum.  The term localism resonates with both left-leaning Greens and right-leaning school-choice advocates.  Similarly, bioregionalism has widespread appeal in its support for the consumption of locally grown foods, for environmental sustainability, and for reducing local economic “capture” by national and transnational corporations.  Moreover, state-level secessionist movements proliferate, many of them associated with left-libertarian groups.  Nonetheless, the U.S. continues to be dominated by...

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