Organize and develop infrastructures from a centralized planning position.

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Commentary

Amory Lovins

“The hard path... would instead be a world of subsidies, $100-billion bailouts, oligopolies, regulations, nationalization, eminent domain, corporate statism.” The Road Not Taken 

”As national purpose and trust in institutions diminish, governments, striving to halt the drift, seek ever more outward control. We are becoming more uneasily aware of the nascent risk of what a Stanford Research Institute group has called "…'friendly fascism'—a managed society which rules by a faceless and widely dispersed complex of warfare-welfare- industrial-communications-police bureaucracies with a technocratic ideology." The Road Not Taken

Lovins staunchly rejects centralized, or hard, energy systems as an over-empowered, nuclear, martial state rooted in the urban environment. In his 1976 Foreign Affairs article, Lovins e argues for a 'soft path' to energy affiliated with the suburban and rural (see UNPLUG: Off-the-grid Enclaves): 
 
“In contrast to the soft path's dependence on pluralistic consumer choice in deploying a myriad of small devices and refinements, the hard path depends on difficult, large-scale projects requiring a major social commitment under centralized management. We have noted in Section III the extraordinary capital intensity of centralized, electrified high technologies. Their similarly heavy demands on other scarce resources—skills, labor, materials, special sites—likewise cannot be met by market allocation, but require compulsory diversion from whatever priorities are backed by the weakest constituencies. Quasi-war powers legislation to this end has already been seriously proposed. The hard path, sometimes portrayed as the bastion of free enterprise and free markets, would instead be a world of subsidies, $100-billion bailouts, oligopolies, regulations, nationalization, eminent domain, corporate statism.
 
“Such dirigiste autarchy is the first of many distortions of the political fabric. While soft technologies can match any settlement pattern, their diversity reflecting our own pluralism, centralized energy sources encourage industrial clustering and urbanization. While soft technologies give everyone the costs and benefits of the energy system he chooses, centralized systems allocate benefits to surburbanites and social costs to politically weaker rural agrarians. Siting big energy systems pits central authority against local autonomy in an increasingly divisive and wasteful form of centrifugal politics that is already proving one of the most potent constraints on expansion.
 
“In an electrical world, your lifeline comes not from an understandable neighborhood technology run by people you know who are at your own social level, but rather from an alien, remote, and perhaps humiliatingly uncontrollable technology run by a faraway, bureaucratized, technical elite who have probably never heard of you. Decisions about who shall have how much energy at what price also become centralized—a politically dangerous trend because it divides those who use energy from those who supply and regulate it.” The Road Not Taken
 

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