A Decentralist Reading List

Recommendations from the founder of The Ethan Allen Institute, Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization; widely published commentator on Vermont issues;  co-author of The Vermont Papers and editor of the Institute’s monthly Ethan Allen Letter.

Herbert Agar 

Land of the Free    (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935)


Ralph Borsodi

Flight From the City    (New York: Harper, 1933)


Wendell Berry

The Unsettling Of America   (San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1977)


Baker Brownell

The Human Community    (New York: Harper’s, 1950)


Frank Bryan and John McClaughry

The Vermont Papers; Recreating Democracy On A Human Scale   (Post Mills VT: Chelsea Green, 1989)


G.K. Chesterton

The Outline Of Sanity  (New York: Dodd Mead, 1927)


Alexis de Tocqueville

Democracy in America (1835) (many editions)


Richard Douthwaite

Short Circuit   (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1996)


Paul Goodman

People Or Personnel: Decentralizing The Mixed System (New York: Random House, 1965)


Andrew Greeley

No Bigger Than Necessary    (New York: New American Library, 1977)


Jane Jacobs

Cities and the Wealth of Nations   (New York: Random House, 1984)


Daniel Kemmis

Community and the Politics of Place   (Norman: U. of Oklahoma Press, 1990)     


Leopold Kohr

The Breakdown of Nations (1957)   (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1978)


Petr Kropotkin

Fields, Factories and Workshops (1899)   (New York: Harper Torchbook, 1974)


Arthur Morgan

The Future of Community and the Community of the Future  (Yellow Springs OH: Community Service, 1957)


Robert Nisbet

The Quest for Community   (New York: Oxford, 1953)


James Robertson

The Sane Alternative    (London: James Robertson, 1978)


Wilhelm Ropke

A Humane Economy (1957)   (Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1960)


Kirkpatrick Sale

Human Scale   (New York: Coward, McCann & Geohegan, 1980)


E. F. Schumacher

Small Is Beautiful (1973)   (Hartley & Marks, Port Roberts WA, 1999)


Michael Shuman

Going Local: Creating Self-Reliant Communities in the Global Age (London: Routledge, 2000)

Going Local, written by attorney and economist Michael Shuman, synthesizes the arguments why communities should resist the temptations of globalization and instead strengthen their economies through locally owned companies, import substitution, new community financial institutions, and smart local policymaking.  He ultimately makes the case, from a progressive political viewpoint, for devolving political and economic power.  The book contains an extensive appendix, entitled “Around the World Economy in 80 Ways,” which maps of how hundreds of organizations and interest groups in the United States fit into this new movement for decentralization.










About the Lead Author

John McClaughry
John McClaughry
John McClaughry is currently Vice President of <a href="http://www.ethanallen.org/index.html"The Ethan Allen Institute, Vermont's free-market public policy research and education organization, having as its founding President since 1993. He is a widely published commentator on Vermont issues, is co-author of The Vermont Papers and editor of the Institute’s monthly Ethan Allen Letter. John was Legislative Aide to Vermont Senator Winston Prouty, 1965-67; a Fellow of the Institute of Politics, JFK School, Harvard University, 1967-68; a member of the Vermont House, 1969-72; Senior Policy Advisor in President Reagan's White House Office of Policy Development, 1981-82; member of the Vermont Senate 1989-92; and Republican candidate for Governor of Vermont, 1992. He has served on four Presidential Commissions by appointment of Presidents Nixon, Carter, and Reagan, and has been Kirby Town Moderator for the past 44 years.

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