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(Front Porch Republic) The great economist and once my dear friend Leopold Kohr used to say that the answer to all problems was division, not amalgamation. He would use the example of an ice tray. If you tried to move an empty tray full of water across the room you’d be bound to spill a great deal of it before you finished. But if you use the dividers in the tray it would be simplicity itself without a drop spilled.
And so, he used to say, with most systems, mechanical, natural, or human. Books are improved by division into chapters. Homes are improved by division into rooms. Languages by being broken into many words, each with its own nuance. Parties are saved not by gathering into one big circle but breaking down into many small groups, increasing individual participation, each with its own particular interests.
Battleships are made more difficult to sink by being divided into many insulated compartments. Airplanes are made safer by having several engines, and the entirety of it a composition of thousands of separate parts, allowing the whole usually to function even when a part here or there should fail. The finches of the Galapagos (that convinced Darwin of evolution) succeeded by dividing into fourteen different species, each with its own niche of food and cover, which would have failed had they remained one species all after the same prey.
And so too the human…