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Localism – Moving Beyond Far-Right Politics
"It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till.” -- J.R.R. Tolkien
Localism addresses a variety of concerns people have with the world through a range of vehicles of thought, whether they’re political, social, ecological, or otherwise. For this reason, the core tenets of Localism are under threat by the far-right, who wish to co-opt these concerns in order to manipulate those who hold genuine grievances and are looking for answers. We at Green Albion are against this and will work towards propagating genuine Localism in the inclusive manner of which it is intended to be understood and adopted.
In short, Localism, in its truest form, is a standalone set of philosophies that ultimately aim to prioritise the local over the global in order to empower people. Localists want to make everybody in their community have direct power to influence their surroundings in a way they see fit. In addition to this, Localism aims to preserve local traditions, cultures & quirks of the human world that have developed over the course of thousands of years and make the world a rich, vibrant, and colourful place for us all to live in. Localists also advocate living in greener ways, as well as advancing the living and working conditions of the people. Ideologies that espouse these ideas are no doubt attractive to a lot of people, but localism unfortunately doesn’t have the sort of presence (particularly online) or the popularity among disenfranchised youths right now, which means it's often being overlooked in favour of more insidious streams of thought. However, we believe more exposure to Localism and Localist ideas could both prevent those with genuine grievances and concerns taking the path that nobody ever should, as well as helping those that have regrettably taken it but have since realised the lies, they’ve been fed and the manipulation they’ve suffered.
The modern world has, in many ways, a host of problems for both the individual and the society to which they belong. Digital technology has made people more isolated and less communal; Communities aren’t as strong and open as they once were; The environment is at great danger from the pressures of modern life; People are being overworked in monotonous jobs and they feel like they’re being left behind. I felt those same pressures, more so as a teenager looking for a place to belong in this world. Unfortunately for me, my worries back then were capitalised on by the far-right. I was given quick answers as to why these problems existed and I embraced them up whole.
What started as a desire for identity & belonging soon led to me becoming a bastion of hatred and division against innocent groups of people that I had never met. I adopted a “black and white” way of thinking, which means I could simplify everything into “us” and “them”, take the complexity out of life and destroy the need for rational thought. To me, communities were dying because immigrant groups were fundamentally changing the makeup of our towns and cities. I just had to ignore that these changes were happening around the world, in every country, in towns & cities where immigrants had yet to set foot in.
I thought the environment was in grave danger because of the rapidly growing populations of non-Europeans. But when faced with reality, I just had to ignore that Western societies, with all its affluence, overconsumption & greed were dwarfing poorer non-European countries in terms of contribution to environmental decline. European culture was being eroded I thought because immigrants, with their own cultures and ways, were replacing my own through demographic replacement. But again, I just had to ignore the historical fact that culture is always in constant evolution and change, with culture always being built upon and progressing, and that immigrant communities were simply becoming a part of that growth and development. Thankfully, I eventually noticed a pattern emerging to the point where the lies of the far-right could no longer hold any weight with me. That said, I still felt disenfranchised, lost, and like there was something fundamentally missing from my life.
Today I believe that there are many, who entered the far-right with the same grievances as me. But now I know that humans have evolved in this world for thousands of years in tightly knit, intergenerational communities, living in cohesion with the natural world. The desire for a sense of connection to a place, to other people, and to land will always surface itself in the human psyche. However, this desire doesn’t have to manifest itself in misplaced hate and race-based politics. What I know now, and what I wish I had known as a lost and isolated teenager, was that there’s another way. Localism addresses the same concerns as the far-right, in many ways, but in a way that genuinely promotes the regrowth and strengthening of communities, rather than dividing them further. As someone who has left the doctrines and rhetoric of the far-right far behind, and has since discovered localist ideas, I want to talk briefly about three of the main reasons (but there are many more) why localism has helped me move beyond hate while still addressing those same concerns I had all those years ago in the first place.
Prioritising My Surroundings
If localism tells us one thing, it’s that any change you wish to enact should happen on a local scale. In order to do this, you need to rekindle an appreciation for your immediate surroundings. Over the internet, it’s easy to establish and receive all of your news from echo chambers of your choice, meaning you’re artificially eliminating opposing news, views and opinions from your world and creating the ideal conditions for extremism to ferment and grow. Localism tells you to abandon these online spheres of hate and re-enter the real world. Far-right rhetoric never corresponded to my real-life realities, but because I spent so much time online and not enough of it in the real world, I was able to insulate my adopted politics from reality. Now, I only believe in what I know and see to be true. Instead of basing my entire worldview on isolated pieces of news from around the world, I’m now only influenced by my own lived realities.
Make your village, town, or city your world. Don’t concern yourself with things that are happening thousands of miles away that you have no control over. Re-enter your community. Visit local markets and buy some local produce, watch shows at the local art centre and appreciate the local artistic talent, spend some time in the new café that’s opened up, and so on. Leave your thought-bubbles of hate and division behind, embrace the people that are around you (and that means everyone) and work to make your community a better place to live in.
Actively Preserve Cultures & Traditions
Many on the far-right will justify their positions based on the idea that immigrants are destroying their culture and that they harbour racist ideas in response to that threat. However, in my 6+ years of somebody who identified as far-right, I never once saw a far-right group actively fighting to preserve British culture or tradition in any form.This again shows us another way in which the far-right co-opts genuine concerns without doing anything to alleviate them. They just want you to get mad, get upset, get on the streets, and do their dirty work for them. This is because the far-right depends on people feeling helpless, and if they actually provided ways for people to address their concerns, which in this case is actively preserving culture, it would make people feel less anxious and more empowered by the notion that their culture isn't going to die anytime soon. So, what is the answer?
Wanting to preserve cultural norms and traditions is nothing to be ashamed of, but just realise that race has nothing to do with culture, and that traditions will exist as long as somebody is willing to preserve them. If you’re really interested in British culture and traditions, visit and fund historic buildings around Britain and read about the history of its peoples. Go to museums and see for yourself how Britain has developed and grown as a nation. Read folk tales of old or learn to play an instrument so you can play traditional music. Go to restaurants and eateries that serve British food. Take part in Morris Dancing or attune yourself with the wonderful art produced and made in Britain. Visit the Highland Games or simply meet some of your friends down at the local pub. There are plenty of ways to protect and preserve English/British culture, but being sucked into a world of race hate, attending marches, and clashing with the police/political opponents, digesting and regurgitating misinformation online or spending your days in thought bubbles of hate and posting aggressively about the decline of the West won’t preserve anything.
Appreciate Other Cultures
Spending my weekends online, watching video after video from far-right commentators and injecting myself with streams of hate is a million miles away from how I spend my time nowadays. Instead of endlessly trying to justify my far-right politics through ideas of cultural superiority, now I appreciate all cultures for existing and value different community values and traditions . Once you realise your own personal worth isn’t tied to these arbitrary notions of cultural superiority/inferiority, your world will immediately become a richer place, as you’re no longer feeling the need to disregard large portions of human creation simply because they stemmed from cultures different from your own.
You can enjoy reading books by authors from Asia without feeling it in some way challenges or downplays writers of European origin (which in turn would be challenging you and your ideas of racial superiority). You can enjoy music from Black musicians without feeling you’re paying into the idea that it's part of some elaborate scheme to destroy white culture by making people degenerate & deracinated as the far-right would. You can enjoy Mexican cuisine without feeling you’re abandoning your heritage & becoming a cog in the globalist machine. All these irrational fears & more are vanquished because you can truly enjoy the luxuries of modern life again, of which the far-right detaches and alienates you from.
So, there is a better way, away from the far-right, that will look to answer some of your concerns, but this is done from a local community viewpoint and not in any way, from a racial viewpoint. During the tragic events we are all living through with Covid 19, our communities have been our hub. We have seen the value of community, friends, family, community shops and facilities. This is something we must not forget.
Localism can offer us salvation, worth and value. We just have to embrace it and reject ALL extremism, because it is wrong and harms everyone.
Still looking for an answer, but away from hate? Localism might just be the answer.
Author – TJ.
Want to find out more? Please have a look at this recommended reading list and also why not talk to us, we are developing our vision of Localism and welcome support.
If you believe localism speaks to you, or can sympathise with the idea that your genuine concerns similar to those listed above have previously been or are being co-opted by the far-right, then why not give Localism a try? Below are a few books that talk about different aspects of Localism to help you start your journey:
- Real England by Paul Kingsnorth
Paul Kingsnorth travels around the country meeting farmers, fishermen, and the inhabitants of Chinatown, Paul Kingsnorth will refract the kind of conversations that are taking place in country pubs and corner shops across the land—while reminding readers that these quintessentially English institutions may soon cease to exist.
- Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings lenses of knowledge together to show that the awakening of a wider ecological consciousness requires the acknowledgment and celebration of our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world. For only when we can hear the languages of other beings are we capable of understanding the generosity of the earth and learning to give our own gifts in return.
- Local Is Our Future: Steps to an Economics of Happiness by Helena Norberg-Hodge
This well-referenced book traces the common roots of these problems in a globalized economy that is incompatible with life on a finite planet. But Local is Our Future does more than just describe the problem: it describes the policy shifts and grassroots steps - many of them already underway around the world - that can move us towards the local and, thereby, towards a better world.
- Small Is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered by Ernst F. Schumacher
E.F. Schumacher's riveting, richly researched statement on sustainability has become more relevant and vital with each year since its initial ground-breaking publication during the 1973 energy crisis. This book offers a crucial message for the modern world struggling to balance economic growth with the human costs of globalization.
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