The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 37
"A Heap of Sand:" Centralisation
"A Heap of Sand:" Centralisation.
In politics the difficulty often is not to find the true remedy, but to induce the patient to swallow it. It seems clear enough what is the primary cause of the nation becoming as a heap of sand, namely, the loss of local patriotism, which has followed on the decay of local liberties by the development of centralisation.
Every town and every county ought to have the feelings of a little state—as it once had, History for many centuries shows that this is quite consistent with the existence of a central power—a Crown and Parliament—for all purposes truly national; and if the action of the central power were strictly limited to such things the provinces would more than ever have abundant room for high ambition.
Of all this we still have in the modern world an example in the United States. Hungary also is a magnificent instance of the patriotism, energy, and national wellbeing which a sound system of local selfgovernment keeps up under every possible disadvantage: isolation from the rest of Europe, mixture of heterogeneous races, and the perpetual plotting of the court against the welfare and freedom of the land.
This is a sufficient defence against the reproach of vainly longing after "antiquated institutions," when we point to the energetic local authorities of past centuries.