Monday, October 25, 2010

Swadeshi vs. Globalization

Gandhi proposed an economics based on proximity and connection against the British who were promoting centralisation and efficiency.  He called the concept Swadeshi.  The heir to the British methods is globalization and the World Trade Organization.  Swadeshi is all about doing business small and local.  The WTO is all about economies of scale, cheap energy and world-wide markets.

Following the principle of swadeshi Gadhi proposed that if we need it, we make it ourselves.  If we can't make it ourselves, we buy it from our neighbors.  If we can't buy it from our neighbors, we search the county for a provider.  If it can't be made in the country, we ask ourselves whether we really need it after all.

"The world has enough to satisfy everyone's needs, but not enough to satisfy one's greed."  That's pretty much how Gandhi summed up his swadeshi economics.

The forces behind globalization, on the other hand, mesmerize us with messages that entrance us into the belief that happiness can only be achieved through endless consumption . . . Consumption that adds to the profits of huge, multinational corporations.  That's probably just a coincidence, however.  Isn't it?

So much of our economy is globalized that adherence to a complete swadeshi is perhaps impossible.  But when it comes to food, we can try at least a modified swadeshi approach, especially those of us who live in Southern California.  We can source our food, almost all of our food, from farms within 200 miles of us.  We can try to buy as much of our food as possible from farmers whose first names we actually know.  And we can try and grow at least a little of our own food in our own neighborhoods.

We can begin, little by little, to break the bonds of globalization and practice the principle of swadeshi.  The world will be a better place for it.

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