12:   Localisation Vs Globalisation: Clarifying the Terms

Colin Hines


It is crucial to make a clear distinction between, for example, a global flow of technology, ideas and information to rebuild sustainable local communities — that is, a supportive ‘internationalism’ — and the process of globalization. In essence, the latter is the systematic reduction of protective barriers to the flow of goods and money by international trade rules shaped by and for big business. It pits country against country, community against community and workers against workers. That is the point of it, because such a structure and process is the route to maximizing profits.

Internationalism can be thought of as the flow of ideas, technologies, information, culture, money and goods with the end goal of protecting and rebuilding local economies worldwide. Its emphasis is not on competition for the cheapest, but on co-operation for the best.

Linguistic clarity is vital since the advocates and beneficiaries of globalization misuse the indisputable benefits that can accrue from such constructive international flows to justify the destructive process of globalization. In tandem with this misleading approach is invariably a promise that some day the growth resulting from globalization will somehow trickle down to benefit the majority.


This is the ever-increasing integration of national economies into the global economy through trade and investment rules and privatization, aided by technological advances. These. reduce barriers to trade and investment and in the process reduce democratic controls by nation states and their communities over their economic affairs. The process is driven by the widespread lobbying of large corporations who use the theory of comparative advantage, the goal of international competitiveness and the growth model to achieve the maximisation of their profits. It is occurring increasingly at the expense of social, environmental and labour improvements and rising inequality for most of the world.


Localization is a process which reverses the trend of globalization by discriminating in favour of the local. It ensures that all goods and services that can reasonably be provided locally should be. Depending on the context, the ‘local’ is predominantly defined

as part of the nation state, although it can be the nation state itself or occasionally a regional grouping of nation states.

The policies bringing about localization are ones which increase control of the economy by communities and nation states. The result should be an increase in community cohesion, a reduction in poverty and inequality and an improvement in livelihoods, social infrastructure and environmental protection, and hence an increase in the all-important sense of security.

Localization is not about restricting the flow of information, technology, trade and investment, management and legal structures, which further localization. Indeed these are encouraged by the new localist emphasis in global aid and trade rules. Such transfers also play a crucial role in the successful transition from globalization to localization. It is not a return to overpowering state control, merely governments’ provision of a policy and economic framework which allows people, community groups and businesses to rediversify their own local economies.

The route to localization consists of seven interrelated and

self-reinforcing policy areas. The basic steps are:

• reintroduction of protective safeguards for domestic economies;

• a site-here-to-sell-here policy for manufacturing and services domestically or regionally;

• localising money, such that the majority stays within its place of origin;

• local competition policy to eliminate monopolies from the more protected economies;

• introduction of resource taxes to increase environmental improvements and help fund the transition to the Protect the Local, Globally approach;

• increased democratic involvement both politically and economically to ensure the effectiveness and equity of the movement to more diverse local economies;

• reorientation of the end goals of aid and trade rules such that they contribute to the rebuilding of local economies and local control.

Under these circumstances, beggar-your-neighbour globalization gives way to the potentially more co-operative better-your-neighbour localization.

(See Colin Hines, Localization — A Global Manifesto, (London: Earthscan) 2000.)

— from Prosperity, June 2003