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June 20, 2024

Localisation is backward-looking and reactionary

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Boyd Kellner, Newrbar

Helena Norberg-Hodge’s A strategic solution to globalised authoritarianism takes a leap of faith into the political realm, as the latest segue to her hobby horse ‘localisation’.

Years ago, it was the middle class that would be the political agency to usher in this right-wing utopian vision of ‘localisation’, according to Ms Norberg-Hodge.

What happened? A lot. Politically the political rights ascendancy, nationalist, populist parties globally have been emboldened, are organising and making headway in reshaping the political landscape. By contrast, the political left is being led by Jeremy Corbyn (UK), Bernie Sanders (USA) and represent a new paradigm shift challenging political orthodoxies by building grass roots movements.

This fetishisation of localisation would lead to a situation where the world consists of highly disconnected economies and lots of disconnected and even despotic governments. This would be counterproductive to developing solidarity in challenging capitalism. Building power and critiquing capitalism are vital to changing social relationships to eliminate rampant global exploitation and capitalist institutions.

The problem with localisation is that it would trap the poorest economies in their subordinate relationship to the rest of the world, and would require a whole new coercive apparatus to impose it.

Localisation is backward-looking and reactionary, having no means to address inequality, exploitation which are inherent in capitalism.

Ms Norberg’s fanciful and naïve proposal is silent on political governance and economic regulation, which are fundamental to any systems success.

The question of economic power relationships is absent if localisation were even to be considered, recognising the social relations that exist within the capitalist framework.

Today much needs to be done to turn around the incremental shift to the abhorrent politics of the political right. Wishful thinking and abstract ideas, not based on realpolitik are destined to fail.

Political engagement, and empowering debate with ordinary people is but a first step, in turning this trend around.


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