News from the Local Economic Sufficiency and Security Network
Steve Schofield’s paper, published in January this year, gives three examples of small-scale projects in his region which are developing indigenous sources of food and renewable energy and illustrate the real potential for local economic alternatives that reduce dependency on non-renewable resources while also cutting carbon emissions:
- Incredible Edible
- Settle Hydro
- Kirklees Re-Charge
This initial review, focusing on three examples, illustrates how activities that would have been considered marginal only a few years ago can be rapidly developed. As such, they provide signposts to the practicalities of adopting a sufficiency framework for the local economy.
However they face serious challenges, which include Incredible Edible’s dependence on external funding and a current lack of the capacity to produce locally the equipment used by Settle Hydro and solar installations.
Schofield believes that if the transition process as considered by NEF and the SDC, takes hold to any degree: “ it will be around institutional manoeuvring, with government incentives offering the usual array of support to attract private investment, including R&D and relocation grants. Corporations will take advantage by selling themselves as ‘national champions’, providing domestic capacity and local supply chains. But the unavoidable reality of capitalist production will be that they will draw on a global resource base and be driven by the imperative of expanding international markets for their products to ensure future profitability.”
A radical message
“Localism, therefore, is not a counterbalance to the continued reliance on global capitalist networks. It must be seen as the development of an independent capacity to reproduce the material base that supports the necessities of life within the framework of a no-growth, zero-carbon economy. Rather than a transitional model, this would be more accurately described as a parallel economy that can function independently of capitalism in order to replace it . . .
“Two key aspects of this revolution will be access and ownership. Access simply means having the range of available productive resources to satisfy the basic material needs of life, including food, housing and transport. Ownership requires complete control by working people and elected local representatives over forms of production, coupled to the power to prioritise investment in the local economy. Fundamental goals will be zero growth, the dematerialising of production and the equitable distribution of goods and services, all embedded in a political culture of direct democracy . . .
“Put simply, there are no practical economic or technological barriers to local sufficiency . . . millions and millions of people around the world recognise that capitalist renewal is a gigantic confidence trick, masking gross and increasing inequalities of wealth and power and a lethal environmental impact. And those same millions want a radical alternative. We can build a new form of work based on social utility rather than private profit, and we can create a balanced relationship between people, technology and planet. Whether we achieve that or not is entirely up to us.”–