An Interview with Stacy Mitchel, a researcher with ILSR’s New Rules Project.
Multinational Monitor: What do you mean when you refer to localism?
Stacy Mitchell: We mean a shift away from policies that have promoted large-scale production, long-distance transport lines and absentee ownership, and towards policies that foster an economy which is small-scale, community-based and locally owned.
MM: What’s the relationship between absentee ownership and long-distance transport, and democratic rule?
Mitchell: We believe that decisions should be made by the people who feel the impact of those decisions. That’s the essence of democracy. What we’ve seen in the last few decades is growing consolidation in the economy. There are fewer and fewer people in distant corporate boardrooms who are making decisions that profoundly affect our lives, local economies and communities.
It’s that concentration of power, both economic and political, that is the concern. If you want to talk about what makes a strong community or what makes a strong democracy, you’re talking about a place where people control their own futures. We’re moving increasingly away from that as global corporations gain greater power.
MM: Whether corporations are local or not, you still have to confront business power. In what ways do you find small and local business more compatible with democratic values?