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Localisation and the middle class

By Chris James - posted Thursday, 18 February 2010

The desire for localisation is growing rapidly and it is being sold as a means of generating local income and helping the environment; but let us be clear, localisation is not a directive to protect the environment it is a push to protect the middle class who, over time, have done more than their share of exploiting and damaging the environment and who have never been content with mere income, but have sought to generate wealth, much of which has come from colonisation and international trade.

Capitalism is in decline and this is putting the middle classes into crisis, and it is being blamed on globalisation. In a similar manner, globalisation is also blamed for destroying the environment because the big multinational corporations are extracting the minerals necessary for consumer production and more. This is true, but who invests in these corporations? The middle classes (and the rich of course, but the middle class have always aspired to be like the rich).

Globalisation was the natural progression of post war middle class national capitalism and the perceived way out of a depression. As Western governments discovered in the post war period, the Keynesian mechanisms will not stave off a severe world crisis if they are applied only from a national/local perspective that focuses on self-interest. This remains a truism. Localisation will only exacerbate already existing global tensions and conflicts.


As it happened internationalism was meant to protect the middle classes but now the multinationals are out of control the middle classes are screaming “help” again, but why should we, the workers feel sorry for them?

The debate

The localisation debate goes something like this:

Manufacturing used to account for a high percentage of our gross domestic product (GDP) we can add to this agriculture and technology. Once we had protective barriers to keep this system self-contained and effective, communities were small, everyone knew each other, there was not much crime, people offered a helping hand; everything was hunky-dory. According to the localisation lobby we need to go back to this system. Do we? It was hunky-dory as long as you were assimilated into the status quo - the middle class - and as long as you had some accumulated wealth that you could exchange for meeting your needs, gaining friends and influencing people.

Global trade

Since globalisation there has been a lowering of trade barriers; businesses together with jobs have gone overseas to developing countries because there are fewer restrictions and cheaper production costs. The products are then sold back to the West for higher profits. This has resulted in the developing nations becoming richer and the Western nations becoming poorer. But it is not just the economic compromise that upsets the Western middle class temper, it is the fact that having been the supremacists they now have to cower to their one time subordinates; or should I say slaves.

The middle class conservatives in Western nations, although they say they are not racist, hold a deep resentment towards the liberation of the Third World’s populations because it has hit their national pride as well as their hip pockets.

Business as usual

Barack Obama is committed to helping the middle class because in the sentiments of Adam Smith: it is the middle class that generates The Wealth of Nations. The help is coming in the form of renewed industrialisation, more rape and pillage of the environment.


Britain too is giving a hand-up to the middle class having acknowledged that middle class power is being lost to global corporatism. The British are having their coal mining boom and prosecuting those who protest against it. This also is not doing much to help the environment, not to mention civil and human rights.

Kevin Rudd aims to prop up the faltering economy with a massive mining boom right around the nation. He is pandering to the middle class.

It must seem strange to a lot of people that some of the transitioning groups, who say they care about the environment and who posit localisation as a means of solving the environmental problems, also support the international mining boom. Strange also that they can make the undesirable desirable; game theory.

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About the Author

Dr Chris James is an artist, writer, researcher and psychotherapist. She lives on a property in regional Victoria and lectures on psychotherapeutic communities and eco-development. Her web site is

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