Colin Hines moves the debate about globalization beyond issue-specific horror stories such as banana and beef hormone wars, GM food, and leg-hold traps. Instead he focuses on what should be the goal of world trade and how radical change might be achieved. He issues a blatant and heretical call for the rejection of the worldwide theology of globalization and international competitiveness. Unless this occurs, social, community, environmental and third world campaigners, trades unions and small businesses will win the odd skirmish, but continue to lose the war.
Hines shows how 'it is crucial to play the globalizers at their own game. They have a clear end goal in view: maximum trade and money flows for maximum profit. From this end goal comes a clear set of policies and trade rules supporting their approach. Those seeking a more just, secure and environmentally sustainable future need to be clear about their own end goal and the policies for achieving it. This book has been written to kick-start the debate. It aims to produce a 'mindwrench' away from simply opposing globalization towards the policies that will deliver its alternative - localization.
Localization reverses the trend of globalization by discriminating in favour of the local. Depending on context, the 'local' may be part of a nation state, the state itself or even a regional grouping of states. At the heart of localization is a rejection of today's environmentally and socially damaging subservience to the shibboleth of 'international competitiveness'. In its place we must prioritize local production and the protection and diversification of local economies. What can sensibly be produced within a nation or a region should be. Long-distance trade should supply only what cannot be produced within the local economy.
Localizing policies will increase control of the economy by communities and nations, creating greater social cohesion, reduced poverty and inequality, improved livelihoods, social infrastructure and environmental protection, and with these a marked enhancement of the all important sense of security.
Localization is not about restricting the flows of information, technology, trade, investment, management and legal structures that themselves further localization. These would be encouraged by the new localist emphasis in global aid and trade rules, and such transfersould play a crucial role in the transition from globalization to localization. The rules for this diminished international sector would be those of the 'fair trade' movement, giving preference to goods supplied in a way that is of benefit to workers, the local community and the environment. Beggar-your-neighbour globalization would give way to better-your-neighbour localization. This is not a return to overpowering state control, or an attempt to put the clock back, but the provision of a policy and economic framework which allows people, community groups and businesses to rediversify their own local economies.
Outline of the Book :
Part I of Localization - A Global Manifesto defines globalization and localization and describes the adverse effects of globalization on society, equity and the environment. It goes on to debunk the myth that concentrating on the cheapest source of supply is nationally and globally efficient ('comparative advantage') and the idea, already in tatters after the Asian economic crisis, that money should flow unfettered in order to make the world run more successfully ('capital advantage').
Part II details a set of policies to protect the local globally and bring about localization. These include :
The book also demonstrates why the politically active are more likely to achieve their aims if they put their issue-specific campaigns within an overarching localization framework. Until they do, they will at best only delay the juggernaut of globalization rather than bring about a wholesale and constructive shift in policy.
Only when rules for trade have a different end goal - a GAST, or General Agreement on Sustainable Trade in place of the free market emphasis of the World Trade Organization - will there be any hope of providing for the basic needs, livelihoods and security of the world's billions - in the rich as well as the poorer countries.
About the author
Colin Hines is an Associate of the International Forum on Globalization, a San Francisco-based alliance of activists, academics and economists committed to challenging the adverse effects of globalization and free trade and in the process to develop alternatives. He is also the coordinator of 'Protect the Local, Globally', an anti-free trade, pro localist thinktank. Before that he was the Co-ordinator of Greenpeace International's Economics Unit.
He has worked in the environmental movement for over 25 years on the issues of population, food, new technology and unemployment, nuclear proliferation and most recently on the adverse environmental and social effects of international trade. He is co-author with Tim Lang of The New Protectionism (Earthscan, 1993), Agribusiness in Africa and Automatic Unemployment (on the effects of new technology on jobs).