Skip to main content
MAN IN THE MODERN WORLD
aims; the Chamber of Commerce enlisted the services of all the
major business enterprises; and a series of public meetings (rather
like the old Town Meetings in New England) were held.
The result was that the people of Elma were brought in from the
outset. It was their survey and their plan; they were behind it, so
thoroughly that the town was able to implement certain of the
Survey's recommendations even before the report was published.
I cannot end better than by quoting from a recent address of
David Lilienthal, the Chairman of the three-man Board of the TVA.
The Board, he says, is convinced that "the way of doing the job and
the results that have been achieved are inter-dependent"; and ac-
cordingly has been experimenting to discover the best means of
achieving administrative decentralization as the only means of re-
conciling planning with democracy. They now feel that the three
essential characteristics of a decentralized administration are these.
First, it is "one in which the greatest number of decisions is made in
the field. ... An overcentralized administration is always character-
ized by the fact that its field officers tend to become messengers and
office boys. ... (2) A decentralized administration must develop as
far as possible the active participation of the people themselves . . .
and encourage the participation of local agencies in establishing basic
national standards. ..."
Thirdly, a decentralized administration must co-ordinate the work
of all other agencies concerned, and cc the co-ordination must be in
To these we may perhaps add a fourth—the decentralization of
the idea behind an administration so that its planning becomes a part
of public opinion. This is to be achieved not merely through custo-
mary channels of publicity and public relations, but also through
the educational system.
Britain is very different from the United States; but the principles
and techniques worked out in the Great American planning experi-
ments (not without considerable trial and error) are applicable wher-
ever large-scale planning is needed. In the planned Britain of after
the war, we must avoid a congestion of centralized planning in White-
hall, we must encourage the people to feel that it is their plan and
that they are helping to make it. This can be done by using the
democratic techniques of decentralization, co-operation with other
agencies, and popular participation, both in action and in opinion