Values of the community
In part one we discussed the dangers of centralization of government and how it can lead to totalitarianism and failure. In this follow-up, we will explore the benefits of localism and how it can improve the economy.
The concept of localism is based on the idea that decisions made at the local level are better suited to the needs of the community than decisions made by central planners. Localism encourages the decentralization of power, allowing for more diverse perspectives and decision-making processes. When decisions are made locally, they are more likely to reflect the unique needs and importantly the values of the community.
Localism promotes competition and innovation. When power is decentralized, it creates opportunities for individuals and businesses to compete and find innovative solutions to problems leading to a stronger more fruitful economy overall.
Decentralization also leads to better use of resources. When decisions are made at the local level, there is greater accountability and transparency, ultimately leading to more efficient use of resources. Local communities are better equipped to identify and address their specific needs, which leads to more targeted and effective use of resources.
Lowest practical level
The principle of devolving power and decision-making to the lowest practical level, is not only an economic concept but also an ethical one. The idea of localism is rooted in the principle of consent of the governed, which asserts that people should have a say in the decisions that affect their lives. When decisions are made locally, people have greater control over the policies and regulations that govern them. A free society ought to always be aiming towards this.
Localism recognizes the inherent value of each individual and their unique circumstances. When decisions are made at the local level, they are more likely to be tailored to the specific needs and preferences of the people directly affected by them. This approach prioritizes the dignity and autonomy of individuals, rather than treating them as mere numbers to be managed from a centralized bureaucracy.
“Only by decentralizing and by giving the individual the opportunity of effective control in the fields where he is the expert can we hope to solve our problems in a manner satisfactory to the participants and at the same time advantageous to the community as a whole.” – Frederick Hayek, Road to Serfdom
Recognizing the importance of the consent of the governed and the value of individual autonomy and community engagement is key to a decentralizing governance. It promotes a more ethical approach to governance, one that prioritizes the unique circumstances of individuals and their communities over the central government’s ambitions.
Diversity and resilience
Localism offers numerous benefits to the economy and to society as a whole. By promoting decentralization and diversity, localism creates a system that is more resilient, efficient, and innovative.
Classical economists like Ludwig von Mises and Murray Rothbard recognized the importance of localism in promoting economic success, and their insights remain relevant today.
As New Zealand moves towards the next election kiwis would do well to keep localism in mind.
Doing so will aid in improving our economy and will likely lead to a more democratic and equitable society.