This is a skeleton key. Please use it; if for nothing else but to open up to this author the errors of his thinking. It is a beginning, but in urgency.
“Going Local” is an idea with its heart in the right place but with its practice in the wrong field. We will not move anyone to agree to change the way our lives are managed by simply moving our money from one pot to another; from one business to another whether large or small. We will not make a dent in our capital ideology if we focus on a minor shift in where capital goes; the ideology remains as our primary frame for “the good.”
I contend that the best way to be autonomous, a lovely word that the corporatocratics toss around, is to implement a form of direct democracy in our communities.
Most of us live in towns and cities that are overlarge and so not ideal to engaging the whole polis in the management thereof. And we must agree that at this point we have complex systems of intricate “clockworks” in place to facilitate our living; for just one example, I am grateful for indoor plumbing.
But, I would argue we have one institution in common that is conveniently subdivided already to suit our community use: the school.
It might also be argued that there is no special knowledge necessary that cannot at the least be intuited by all parties involved in the operations and use of schools.
This is not to belittle any element of its practice. It takes many and distinct qualities and characteristics to make a good school, a good teacher, a good parent, a good student. (I include parent and leave off administrators to a purpose.)
Further to that point, I am not the man to deliver a schematic or architectural rendering of the way this should be. That is my point. We share these elements in common. We are “in common.”
Any philosophy of human living that pits one against another, that creates experts and specialties, that claims special and or secret knowledge, has already betrayed us as one in common.
That is not to say we are not distinct but that we have in our very natures common characteristics, common needs, common aspirations, common skills and so on.
So, that said, I offer the school as an ideal modern institution for the UNIQUE application of direct democracy in which everyone may participate equally.
One practice that a direct democracy encourages beyond all others is dissent. We require a check against the facile relinquishing or aggressive taking of control and power. No one in a community of dissenters is allowed to outgrow his or her britches.
To this end I would suggest that there should be no state or municipal government interference in this. This is a community that must be “self-governed.”
As Thoreau has written, “That government governs best which governs least.” The state and city in controlling our money and our military (armed forces are all militarized factions) have created in us powerless peasants who are not even allowed to be proper parents.
My position is that the government’s primary purpose is to protect us from predators, including those who would, quietly or violently, insert themselves into that very government. Money, the dependence on or pursuit thereof as an end in itself, will turn us to its service; the corollary to that clear and evident maxim is that persons of wealth and property will likewise turn persons and systems to their service. This is the world we inhabit at present.
Our families, our communities, our schools can offer the individual forced to inhabit a system of dominance the opportunity to learn a way to conceive of human living in a different way. We can foster and protect humans as valued beings capable of self-rule; as capable of dissent; but also as capable of joining the society and forcing its ears and eyes wide open to the myriad natures of humanity. These are measureless.