Localism – small scale alternatives can’t change the world


No Local says the well-meaning localism movement can’t work because it will still be dependent on the market and thus to large-scale capitalism and its exploits. A friend in rural Utah believes firmly in localism as a way to free oneself from the grasp of the system. I don’t quite see how it would work. Sure, you could grow your own food, barter for services, and the like. But you will still need vehicles, gasoline, and guns, and tractors, things that can’t be made on a local basis. The local bank may well be sane, solvent, and invest in local real estate. yet it probably has lines of credits with bigger banks elsewhere and may well sell its mortgages to them.

Climate and Capitalism sums up the main points of No Local in their review:

Localism is incapable of displacing capitalism or even effectively challenging it because it fails to understand how capitalism works. “It sees the effect of unbridled competition, but not its cause.” By failing to understand how profit drives production, localism is blind to the pressures capitalism applies to its proposed remedies, which rely on the market or involve time and money that most working-class people don’t have. More utopian ideology than political framework, and too often served with a dose of moral superiority, localism never adequately explains by what magic small businesses or collectives can eclipse giant corporations.