The impulse to local governance, to separatism and independence, to regional autonomy, seems an eternal one and well-nigh ineradicable. The long experience of nation-states – in Europe going back several centuries at least, in parts of Asia somewhat longer – has not destroyed that impulse: not in those countries, such as Britain, say, or the United States, where the state has grown to be most powerful and ubiquitous; not those places, such as Iran, where it has been most overreaching and oppressive.

Indeed, what is remarkable during these long years is how this decentralist tradition remains ...


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