books globalisation

Localization: A Global Manifesto, by Colin Hines

Like many writers, Colin Hines has seen the flaws in globalization – the failure to spread the wealth fairly, the environmental cost of global transport networks, the homogenisation of cultures and the race to the bottom of global labour. Unlike many writers, Hines has also has a masterplan of an alternative. His answer is to ‘protect the local, globally’.

“The essence of these policies” he writes, “is to allow nations, local governments and communities to reclaim control over their local communities; to make them as diverse as possible; and to rebuild stability into community life.” This would mean “a positive discrimination in favour of the local.”

A move to more localized systems would see “an increase in community cohesion, a reduction in poverty and inequality and an improvement in livelihoods, social infrastructure and environmental protection.”

Hines offers a self-reinforcing set of policies that range from local policy to international agreements. They include tarriffs and subsidies that favour local goods, and control of capital flows through cutting out tax evasion and implementing a ‘Tobin tax’ on currency transfers. Companies would have to base themselves locally in order to access markets, and corrective taxes would price out unsustainable practive.

‘Localization’ is a wide-ranging and comprehensive book. It is, naturally, highly contentious, and flies in the face of mainstream politics. What it does prove however is that localization is possible without shutting out the world. As long as it is done together, it forms a coherent alternative to globalization. By definition, a world system based on competition will never create an equal global society. There will always be winners and losers. What if we had a system based on cooperation instead?

Since Hine’s book is pitched at policy makers, it’s not something you or I can get involved in straight away, other than joining the campaigns for various parts of it. But why wait for a top-down localization movement? If we just get on with it, through the transition movement and similar ideas, the government will fall in line in its own time.

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