The principle, often advocated by the European Union, that decisions should be taken at the lowest practicable level. It sounds sensible, but it is in fact meaningless because the qualification (“practicable”, or its equivalents) can mean anything.

It can, for instance, be used to justify a slow-motion process of removing the authority of nations: decide on a supra-national (imperial) policy; eliminate any interference at the national level; leave it to the regions to implement the policy by doing as they are told. In this way, subsidiarity’s claim to favour decision-making at the lowest possible level actually succeeds in capturing it for the highest possible level. Subsidiarity is a single word that contradicts itself, an oxymoron.


Related entries:

Self-Denying Truth, Quibble, System Scale Rule, Localisation, Pull.

David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was a cultural historian and economist, based in London, England. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a pioneer of post-growth economics, and a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, 'Lean Logic' and 'Surviving the Future', published posthumously in 2016. These in turn inspired the 2020 launches of both BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong's feature film about Fleming's perspective and legacy - 'The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation?' - and Sterling College's unique 'Surviving the Future: Conversations for Our Time' online courses. For more information on all of the above, including Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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