Making Room for Localization

July 25, 2013

Greg Bryant

The Main Street fight against Wall Street is high-minded, positive, but almost completely hidden ...

It's no secret that the people of the world are buried in debt. Some of these debts are theirs, but most were foisted upon them. In some cases, this kills them. In most cases, it turns them into indentured servants.

U.S. institutions make this possible: 'public' ones such as the Federal Reserve and the World Bank, private ones such as Exxon and Goldman Sachs. They have unregulated access to capital, and they use it freely to purchase people, markets, production, cities, non-profits and businesses. Everyone is effected by this. We complain, in movements such as Occupy Wall Street, and then capital simply uses more money to shut down the protests, with violence if necessary.

Although people often appear to have 'given up hope' in this situation, it is surprising, if one takes a closer look, to find that they actually are doing something, and taking whatever opportunities they can to do more.

What's happening is a subtle-yet-pervasive distancing from the establishment attached to Wall Street. People are gravitating towards local manufacturing, local arts (local anywhere, not just their own backyard), local kitchen businesses, local microbrews, local farms, local retail.

When possible they're getting rid of their loans, not only because of financial prudence, but because they are disgusted by the profits made by corporations directly off the backs of people.

This is a wonderful trend, and of course, everything should be done to encourage it, participate in it etc.

But, I think we need to do this even more explicitly, and publicly.

I understand why people don't -- if you have a job, you worry about being too outspoken abut biting the hand that feeds you, even though you do everything you can to circulate your money in better ways.

But, frankly, it's still not something that everyone is doing. So being explicit can help push those people who aren't paying attention to how their dollars and actions influence the economy.

But there's a more important reason to be explicit. We need to all become activists if we're actually going to use all this new "localizing sentiment" to get rid of the problem, and stay rid of it.

Every day, corporations buy or control more of the land around you. That extra income you get by renting your cottage to students? Wall Street is investing in student housing in your town, hoping to take that away from you. They might not win this ... but only if you become an activist and, for example, tell all the students you know to support real people over corporations whenever they can. That pension you worked for your whole life for? The banks want that money, not because they need it, but so their corrupt loans to cities are treated as more important than anything else. Is your City Government unable to pay its running costs? Wall Street is happy to buy its bonds, which are loans, and if they need to come collect, you may have your local school shuttered while your property taxes skyrocket.

So, while we're working hard to silently build an alternate economy, let's not forget that we need to make room for localization. We do this by using the power of popular dissent against those institutions that will continue to leverage unfair advantages and ill-gotten gains until ... until we finally can't take it any more.

Saturday Market, July 2013, Eugene, Oregon