Why localism is sustainable and effective

Empowering the individual and community for positive change.

Localism is tied closely to sustainability in a time of diminishing food, water and energy resources.

Localism relates closely to sustainability in a time of diminishing food, water and energy resources.

The world cycles through times of plenty and then scarcity, often due to climatic and geological changes in nature.  In times of plenty the focus is size and strength, large dinosaurs like the T-Rex or the powerful sabre-toothed cats of the Ice Age.  When environmental conditions change resulting in less available food, the energy hungry size and strength becomes a disadvantage, such beasts become extinct, replaced by energy-efficient beasts who favour smallness and speed over size and strength; thus the Dire Wolf dies replaced by the Timber Wolf, the Neanderthal replaced by Homo Sapiens.

Experts reckon that by the end of this century the current seven billion human population will grow to 11 billion.  Already there are strains on food, water and energy resources leading to environmental wars.  Climate is changing and global society behaves with wasteful consumerism.  Practically all nations, businesses and individuals drown under excessive debt; the new currency traded, gambled and seen as a tangible commodity is debt.

Against this background of diminishing resources and growing pressures on available resources is the current obsession on size and strength: big business; global brands; huge political entities such as NATO, EU, UN, IMF and many other dinosaurs, so ineffective that they could not collectively bring about a fast recovery of the bodies of victims of the Malaysian plane crash in the Ukraine.

Despite the Scottish rejection of independence the UK political establishment has started a conversation about devolving powers to the grassroots.  The global movement towards localism favouring smallness and sustainability is now relentless and unstoppable.  The notion that empire, central control and top down decision-making can resolve global challenges is unworkable and delusional.  I see this in the coming election battle in Clacton near my town of Colchester where the nationalists who want the UK to leave the EU and close the borders to immigrants will win a stunning victory.  People all over the world at the local level are becoming afraid because they are experiencing the pain of competing against outsiders for an ever diminishing pool of resources they and their families need to survive upon, so that this causes a rise of forms of tribalism such as nationalism and a desire for localism where they can take control of their own resources and decision-making.


8 responses to “Why localism is sustainable and effective

  1. Alex, you will not be surprised in the slightest to hear that I share your assessment precisely. Presumably, the Clacton election is a parliamentary by-election? The one where the UKIP candidate is currently in the lead?

    • Yes, I refer to the parliamentary by-election in Clacton.

    • Gigantic Oregon is nice, basically empty, although it could support 50 million people. All the nicer as the local indigenes, were exterminated thoroughly. If they had been treated as France (say) treated the Algerians, or the Spaniards the Bolivians, I am sure it would much less nice to immigrants.

  2. Dear Alex: I agree with you that we need more localism. However we need even more democracy. The Scottish referendum was about democracy: one citizen, one vote, as in Athens. That’s the way laws are brought up in Switzerland: by We The People, directly.

    Although localism is good, sometimes globalism is better. An example is to find technological solutions. As it is, we do not have enough technology for global sustainable solutions. However globalism allows technology to progress. My local Colchester is called Silicon Valley, and it’s a world, global phenomenon. Is locally synthesized all the ways of the world. Not just India, China, Europe, but even South African white master sway (Elon Musk’s Teslas are built there).

    The European Union is full of global solutions, from ITER (a world project), to CERN (even Israel just joined), to the International Court of Justice, to all sorts of collaborations (the inchoating European Banking Union being an example). It’s not all about the EC and the European Parliament.

    Calling the European Union a dinosaur is to neglect the lessons of history, and insulting love, and hope. Unfortunately, England has been seized by that madness, as its minds has been captured by the financial pirates and plutocrats in London. On the positive side, London and its tax havens will lose power, one way or another, as people, worldwide, realize what is really going on, and the leaders have to do something.

    It’s plutocracy, a global phenomenon, then, and now, that torpedoed local democracy in the Roman Empire (the Curial crisis of the Late Empire). One does not mitigate global plutocracy with localism. Instead one does as California did recently: global referendum, and then tax the wealthy (California has nearly the population of England).

    As I show in my latest essay, a secret of the Roman republic (which lasted at least 5 centuries, and, many argue, much longer) was localism, democracy and empire, nicely entangled together.

    • I think we have to agree to disagree for the reasons I have written about in this blog post. I have no faith in either democracy or globalism.

      • No faith in either democracy nor globalism? It’s, assuredly, a matter of definition. Democracy is one man, one vote. Only oligarchs and tyrants disagree with that one. Globalism is fighting Daech and Ebola, and allowing world trade. Nobody disagree with the latter, in the facts. Or then they should use only cars, Smartphones, electricity and oil made in their village.

  3. Do you know E.F. Schumacker’s Small is Beautiful? I especially like his chapter on Buddhist Economics. I wonder if we live in a world of alternating scarcity and abundance, or simply in a world distorted by fear and greed. My country, the US, is currently suffering under the burden of a crippling oligarchy. As Patrice notes, this is not restricted to America, nor is it a new phenomenon in history.

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