April 20, 2013

Want to Save the World? Build a Local Economy!

I was pondering the question: ‘If there was a panacea for the challenges we all face, what would it be?’

My research was already steering me towards the idea of localization, but when I watched the movie The Economics of Happiness produced by Helena Norberg-Hodge, I became convinced.

It seems obvious to me that the only people for whom the present system works for is the elite and wealthy. And they don’t seem to be a particularly jolly bunch so I’m not sure I’d want to emulate them. More and more people are becoming impoverished, slipping out of the system through cuts and recession; it’s only a matter of time before enough of them reach the pain threshold that they will eventually revolt a la ‘Arab Spring’ style.

Unfortunately all those not affected yet are all hoping some bright spark is going to come up with an answer that allows everything to stay the same, while the moral dilemmas and environmental challenges neatly disappear. It ain’t going to happen but in the meantime they’re carrying on in a state of denial ( and usually pointing fingers of blame away from the path of their own apathy) It’s time for those who’ve lost faith in capitalism to rewrite the business software.

So is localism really the panacea we’re looking for?


Society is transforming and maturing, moving towards an era of more collaboration, connection and contribution. The egoic deeds are being uncovered and exposed. We’ll need to collaborate on a level never witnessed before apart from during the world wars.

But instead of killing each other, we’ll be contributing to each other’s wellbeing. And the only way to do that is to become highly connected on a local level, just as in nature and then develop a fractal-like, robust economy from there.

In other words, instead of us being deluded pawns, nothing more than units of productivity to an economic elite and us conforming to those ‘above us’ in the hope they’ll keep us safe and happy, we’re going have to break free of the chains of servitude and become self reliant. Localization is the next transformational step.

In a nutshell the present system of economics is based on two halves. One side is somebody gaining control of a once free commodity, often with the use of force or coercion, then extorting money from the rest of society so that they can buy more ‘stuff’ than the rest of us. The other half of the equation is people making the ‘stuff’ for the rich people to buy.

Fortunately they haven’t worked out how to do it with the air yet because a company like Monsanto would try to hold the world to ransom, just as they are attempting to do with food by trying to gain control of all the seeds in the world.

And if you think I’m exaggerating, don’t forget the military industrial complex, backed by governments, is killing people for profit. The wars were only an exercise for making money.

With the internet and the freedom of information which now flows peer to peer, it’s become so blindly obvious that the present economic and political systems are bankrupt morally and spiritually. Its demise is a certainty. Once a system has failed so catastrophically it can’t be patched up and expected to overcome previous limitations.

The biggest barrier to freedom is that the present system makes people feel powerless. This is why local projects put the power back into small groups of people.

People feel that small projects are achievable, taking on Monsanto does not. If one person makes a stand and decides to initiate a local project, then support comes from people close by. Both the producer and customer become partners.

There is a social contract that if one person sacrifices his energy and time into providing a needed service or product which is of higher ecological local value, then the client promises to buy it from them. It becomes a meaningful relationship based on higher needs rather than greed.

It allows for the money to stay within the community. Buying and selling in cash and bartering is the new act of revolution because you are in effect starving the robber barons such as the banks, supermarkets and governments, of resources and saving money. It’s not being hoovered out of the communities and up the food chain.

So who is it really saving?

Let’s just look at a few of the groups and systems which building a local economy supports.

Elderly people: They remain useful for longer, having a purpose to pass on the wisdom that they’ve collected over the years is far more useful in a local economy.

The unemployed: In an economy driven by profit and aided by technology, then labor is something which must be weeded out. In a local economy which is looking to become sustainable and resilient, there is a whole green and energy industry, at the local level, waiting to be implemented and applied. It needs everyone to contribute.

The environment: Building a local economy means obviously that there will be less food miles. No need to send apples to South Africa to be waxed to then be flown back to the country of origin to line supermarket shells and coffers.

Young people: This generation has been labelled the ‘Lost Generation.’ There is plenty of local skills which would become practical again when people commit to building a sustainable and vibrant local economy.

Culture: When people work and play together they develop a local culture. The local environment that supports them shapes that culture.

Language: Building a robust local economy will lesson the need for local people to move to the big cities thereby preserving more of the traditions and language.

Ecological Diversity: Instead of monoculture farming for export to other regions, more diversity and greater yields from crop production would occur meaning a more resilient ecology.

The list is actually endless…



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Ed: Kate Bartolotta



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