26 Maart 2018 ~ 8 Kommentare

What is so magic about “localism”?

Geskryf deur Nigel Naylor

“Magic” is defined as “the power of apparently influencing events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.” When you implement localism, things start to happen as if by magic. Lives change for the better. Communities start thriving. People have confidence in themselves and do not feel vulnerable. They feel empowered. People lose the feeling of helplessness and hopelessness.

When some people who have worked in financial institutions all their lives get retrenched, they say: “What can we do now? All we know is how to google and answer emails. Our jobs have been so stripped down of any knowledge content that we know nothing. We are so helpless and vulnerable.”

We either know this ourselves or have friends and family who are victims of this. That is why we have so many people unemployed but willing to work. But they do not have the skills or the job. This is not just a South African thing, but a world-wide phenomenon. Ask the Americans in the “rust belt” or “fly over states” and they will tell you all about this.

So how do we turn this around? We use the magic called “localism”. But what is localism?

The definition of “localism” from Wikipedia is as follows:

Localism describes a range of economic philosophies which prioritize the local. Generally, localism supports local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity.

But at the practical level it is much more than its definition. It is interconnected to many other important things such as directive democracy.[1]

On a conceptual level, there are important affinities between localism and deliberative democracy. This concerns mainly the democratic goal of engaging citizens in decisions that affect them. This is important because localism calls for the cooperation of the whole community and they will not cooperate unless they have been consulted and agree to support.

It also entails such items as own labour, own local currency[2], and produce and buy local.

Localism is an international concept and is growing in implementation all over the world. It is gaining in popularity amongst disadvantaged groups who want to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Why do they want to do it themselves? For the very simple reason: “The cavalry is not coming to our rescue, and therefore we have to do it ourselves if we are to survive and prosper.”

Consider the UK. Contrary to what people might think, the UK is not in a healthy financial state. This is one of the major drivers of Brexit. If you understand this driver, you will understand the pressures on the EU to break up, and perhaps even for the USA to break up. It is certainly one of the major drivers that got Donald Trump elected.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Let us back track a bit and explore what has happened in the UK. The English were not great masters. They taxed the Irish, Welsh and Scots excessively. They also overtaxed their own people. Ask those living in areas such as Cornwall and Devon. All the tax money went to the centre, London, and very little went back to the people. Instead, it went to the wealthy and to wars and such wasteful enterprises. This was very serious to those negatively impacted. It helped drive the people off the land and into the cities to provide cheap labour to the Industrial Revolution. People managed to survive somehow.

In the 20th century a lot of people from the outlying centres went to the large cities to work and sent money home to support the families back home. (Just like the Zimbabweans and Malawians who work in South Africa are doing). However, over the last say 50 years, “globalisation” has led to deindustrialisation which has wiped out the major industries in Britain. Therefore, the flow of money from the big centres back to the outlying areas has stopped. All that is left is financial services, arms and entertainment industries. Britain is trying to push arms sales to eke out a living, even if they must resort to bribes to get arms deals.

Once mighty cities such as Bristol are a shadow of their former selves. A few towns and cities have decided that they have to go it alone as they cannot rely on the state to do anything about the plight. Examples of such communities include: Bristol, Brixton, Exeter, Hull, Lewes, Liverpool, Stroud and Totnes.

One of the central themes of localism is to keep the money in your own community. These communities encourage their citizens to use local labour wherever possible to create employment. Other measures include buying local. This stimulates the starting of many local businesses to supply the goods and services. One component is not to patronise national chains or international chains, if one can avoid it. Customers might have to pay a little more, but then the total volume of business should rise because the money is kept in the community for as long as possible. The majority of food should be produced locally with only speciality items being “imported” from outside the community. This means that most of the food should be fresh and not canned, which has the added benefit of being a better diet! The concept here is “Food inches/feet versus food miles”. Why “import” foodstuffs when you can produce it locally? The same applies to building, motor and appliance repair, and even light manufacturing. You can turn this around to become and exporter of goods and services rather than an importer.

To implement localism requires a strong sense of community with the majority buying into these goals and pulling together. Like all business deals the suppliers must give fair value and the customers must pay a fair price. It must be win-win for both parties otherwise there is no point to this.

There are some concerns however. This depends upon how much goodwill the community wants with regards to their neighbours and the greater world to there. It can lead to resentment when you are too successful at “import replacement”. Maybe it is advantageous to a community not to take this to the extreme. Even within your own community you will get “push back”: It takes a big commitment and a strong feeling of self-worth to be able to implement localism. The young in particular have a strong affinity to conform to outside norms especially when it comes to international brands. The youngster do not want a home knitted jersey made by granny, but a store bought well-known brand.

Consider the following about Americans: “Currently, a dollar circulates in Asian communities for a month, in Jewish communities approximately 20 days and white communities 17 days. How long does a dollar circulate in the black community? 6 hours!!! African American buying power is at 1.1 Trillion; and yet only 2 cents of every dollar an African American spends in this country goes to black owned businesses. “[3]

As a local community you want to be up there with the top performers with regards to money circulation in your community if you want to eliminate the need for cavalry!

Local jobs get created. Skills are built up. People live healthier lives. They are in control. Disempowerment is broken. Communities start lifting themselves and start thriving.

Apply the guiding principle of the sustainable food movement: “Think Globally, Act Locally”.


[1] Deliberative democracy or discursive democracy is a form of democracy in which deliberation is central to decision-making. It adopts elements of both consensus decision-making and majority rule. Deliberative democracy differs from traditional democratic theory in that authentic deliberation, not mere voting, is the primary source of legitimacy for the law.

Deliberative democracy is generally seen as some form of an amalgam of representative democracy and direct democracy, the actual relationship is usually open to dispute. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deliberative_democracy

[2] See “The Wörgl Experiment” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C3%B6rgl#The_W.C3.B6rgl_Experiment

[3] http://financialjuneteenth.com/asians-keep-a-dollar-in-their-community-120-times-longer-than-african-americans/


8 Reaksies op “What is so magic about “localism”?”

  1. Willem Fourie 26 Maart 2018 at 18:13 Permalink

    Thank you for the excellent essay

    Wörgl, like zakat (tax on excess wealth) is meant to discourage hoarding, and encourage economic activity.

    Currently there is very little incentive to save (or hoard) in the hope of real returns since banks do not need savings for loans, but simply create currency out of nothing when a borrower signs a loan contract. (sien asb. die de Kock-kommissie)

    The buying power of this newly created currency comes from savings and wages, eroded by inflation of the currency supply.

    This newly created currency out-of-nothing is issued as debt at interest:
    1. debts are claims on assets, thus bankruptcy does not “clean the slate”, but dispossesses the borrower
    2. the currency for interest payments is NOT created, thus as interest is paid, the currency supply declines leading to bankruptcies

    Bankruptcies are accelerated every business cycle through artificially tightening credit and harvesting the assets built up over the cycle.

    Point 2. above, is the reason governments have to keep borrowing more and more in order to maintain economic activity (no surprise that the single largest item on all governments’ budgets is interest payment).

    Point 1. above, is why banks keeping lending to governments with no hope of repayment, since it will lead to dispossession of national assets through debt created out of nothing.

    Now if banks can create “national” currency out of nothing, would it not be better for the treasury (not private banks (and private “reserve” banks)) to manage the currency supply with a 100% reserve requirement. That means banks would be brokers, not creators of money, and can only loan out savings they manage to attract with real interest rates (like credit unions).

    This has the added benefit of balancing business cycles since in boom periods interest rates need to rise to attract capital for the boom, and thus cooling the economy by moderating spending, and vice versa in slow times

    Of course governments and bureaucrats have proven themselves as corrupt as private banks leading to consideration of alternatives such as:
    1. A gold standard, where the currency can only inflate at the arbitrary rate of mining production
    2. Not permitting interest (riba, usury), so that the lender shares in the risk
    3. Crypto currencies, with the promise of economies without governmental extortion. Remember that the government is not “us”, but a separate entity like General Motors, or the Vatican, who make their money selling cars and salvation. In contrast, governments make their money through coercion, police, and prisons.

    The constraint of current cryptos is that they are commodities, requiring currency to be obtained first to acquire them (either through exchanges or to purchase mining rigs).

    A true crypto economy would need crypto credit that creates currency as needed when a contract is signed. Simply a way of bookkeeping and clearing debtors/creditors.

    This removal of constraint of capital means that the economy will expand to the next limit, ie. the skills capacity of the population, or in other words, zero unemployment.

  2. Andre 27 Maart 2018 at 23:27 Permalink

    Ja, as ek die artikel reg verstaan moet ons in ons eie taal sake doen, en leef en dit met jaloesie bejeen. Dit sou insluit dat die artikel liefs in Afrikaans moet wees om 100% ondersteuning te geniet.

    • Sebastiaan Biehl 28 Maart 2018 at 08:39 Permalink

      Die outeur is Engelssprekend, en veral vir buitelandse lesers se onthalwe is dit goed om af en toe ook ‘n artikel in Engels te hê. Moet egter nie bekommer nie, Oraniablog sal Afrikaans bly en ons kan die artikel ook vertaal.

  3. Burnmeister 9 April 2018 at 12:47 Permalink

    Interessante punte! Een ding waarmee ek glo die skrywer fouteer is die begrip dat plaaslike gemeenskappe bloot in hul eie beswil bereid moet wees om meer te betaal vir ‘n plaaslike produk. So ‘n konsep sal slegs vir kort periodes of glad nie werk nie. Indien ons plaaslike bedrywe wil bevorder, moet plaaslike bedrywe kompeterend wees met nasionale en internasionale bedrywe. Dit beteken nie dat plaaslike bedrywe nie meer mag vra vir ‘n soortgelyke produk nie. Dit beteken wel dat die ekstra paar rand wat ‘n plaaslike bedryf vir ‘n soortgelyke produk vra verdien moet word – bv. deur beter diens. Miskien kan ‘n plaaslike bedryf verseker dat ‘n kliënt nooit deur ‘n inbelsentrum gehelp hoef te word nie. Miskien kan die plaaslike bedryf die kliënt in sy eie taal bedien eerder as slegs Engels. Miskien kan die plaaslike bedryf ‘n kliënt na ure help. Mense soek altyd waarde vir geld, en as hulle dit kry sal hulle daarvoor betaal! Maar om bloot duurder te wees sonder om iets meer te bied as nasionale of multinasionale besighede is ‘n plan vir ‘n besigheid wat gaan ondergaan.

    • Lumenjagter 12 April 2018 at 21:04 Permalink

      Ek glo absoluut dat “localism” een van die beste benaderings tot ontwikkeling is. Wat “meer betaal” betref – onthou dat baie produkte gesubsidiëer word, veral invoerprodukte, wat kompetering op prysvlak moeilik maak. Bykomend moet in ag geneem word die etiese praktyke wat gepaard gaan met produsering – lees gerus “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” deur Michael Pollan.

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