chapter  4
The Effects of Country Size
Pages 22

Is there a relationship between the size of a country and the quality of its government? For centuries, political philosophers (e.g., early Greeks, Montesquieu, Rousseau) thought there was. In their pioneering book Size and Democracy, Robert Dahl and Edward Tufte write, “Until quite recentlyaround the end of the eighteenth century-there was little dissent among political philosophers from the view that a democracy or a republic had to be small: a democracy had to be a city-state, by modern standards quite tiny.”1 They continue, “Smallness, it was thought, enhanced the opportunities for participation in and control of the government in many ways.”2 More poetically, the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi wrote of bigness, “Governing a large country is like frying a small fish. You spoil it with too much poking.”3