9, 2004: If you buy into the rhetoric that globalization
is all there is, countryside does not matter much. If the
technology treadmill to ever lower production costs is all
there is, the countryside’s historical resources: food,
lumber, energy and minerals do not matter much. If global
capitalism is all there is, the countryside may be waiting
a long time for some benefits to trickle down. If life --
human beings included -- is just so much DNA caught in a vast
and remorseless evolution beyond our control, there is not
much the countryside can do about its fate.
Some have bought in. Back in April, Lawrence Solomon wrote
an essay in the National Post in which he gloats over what
he calls a “prominent government panel,” that
recommends that unsustainable rural areas in Canada’s
heartland be taken off life support and allowed to die a natural
death. The headline on the essay reads: “Rural phase
out: In a major turning point, an Ontario government report
suggests a restructuring and eventual abandonment of much
of the provincial hinterland.”
I have not bought in. But globalization has a way of getting
into our thinking and doing it without our realizing it --
and undermining the future of countryside.
In London, last week, Avi Lewis came to the seventh rural
development conference sponsored by the Ontario Rural Council
with a message about constructive resistance to globalization.
Lewis has just returned from Argentina where he has been engrossed
in producing a documentary, The Take, a passionate
tale of workers wresting control of the means of production
from the global capitalism that has failed them.
The conference sparked some fresh thoughts about our circumstances.
Globalization creates distance between decisions
and effects. Head office is somewhere else than
in rural Ontario. Laws are for the benefit of others.
more local decision-making. Downloading more responsibilities
to municipalities is the right agenda. It’s high time
the resources are there to do the tasks well.
Globalization is top down. The management
structure is a pyramid where CEOs rake in vast rewards.
cooperatives, partnerships, networks and local democratic
Globalization favors “one size fits all.”
It reduces us to “units” and consumers.
every community different. Build on the uniqueness of our
local countryside. Capitalize on the strengths of local people.
Globalization wants governments to stay out of the
way of markets and be an ambassador for trade expansion
and the profit principle.
that governments return to first principles – public
service and fairness for competing interests.
Finally, globalization wants us all to shrug:
there is no other way.
up to the shrug and set an example.
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