Centralism vs Decentralism: the new Left vs Right — Part 1 (Intro and Types)

Source: Marsel Minga https://www.flickr.com/photos/mars_. Modifications (crop, effects) by Luke Schoen.

Introduction to Centralism and Decentralism

Centralisation and Decentralisation are modes of organising. The Democratic nature (when those impacted not directly dealing with issues) of the mode chosen could be either:

  • Top-Down — small authority performs overall planning
  • Bottom-Up — large group of equal level workers perform planning

Economic planning on a global scale may consider:

  • Options for different levels of planning of life necessities (food, water, medical, and building supplies)
  • Options for economic planning without central authority
  • Decentralisation to understand and make localised distribution decisions that take into consideration scale and the individual needs of different communes (i.e. production capacity from “human labour” and “raw material” resources)

Centralism Types

General Centralism

  • Control — general control at all levels, where production units
     produced decided after estimating the needs of goods and services
  • Decisions — hierarchy where minority make the decisions in single central authority and pass on legislation to institutions and local groups

Subsets of Centralism includes:

  • Democratic Centralism — policy discussions and elections at all levels, with decisions made at higher levels that are binding to all members
Figure 1: Centralisation Scales of Abstraction in Economic Planning and Governance

Mutualism Types

  • Hybrids that combine both Centralism and Decentralism

Decentralism Types

General Decentralism

  • Control — production units are produced according to individual goals
  • Decisions — quantified according to how the community is affected
    (i.e. a local group makes a decision that affects their local group, whilst decisions affecting a whole country would involve participation by all levels through Federalism)

Other Decentralism

  • Capitalism — production units are produced with profit as the goal regardless of overarching need (i.e. if a product is needed, but there is no money to pay for it, then it is likely the product will not be produced)
Source: Roland Tanglao https://www.flickr.com/photos/roland/32328226/
  • Marxism — solving social problems that are caused by economic polarity (inequality whereby labourers focus on survival, whilst capitalist business owners driven by greed are mostly concerned with acquiring more and more money) through means of social and economic revolution
  • Other — bottom-up democratic decision making with no central authority

Credits for feedback:

  • Nathan Waters
  • David Stodolsky
  • Madhava Jay