The rapid changes wrought by communications technology and the emergence of the global economy accelerates the drainage of capital from local economies and destroys self-reliance. In this process, the middle class and the poor face increasing financial pressures. Traditional jobs in agriculture, manufacturing and service industries are phased out through corporate “restructuring”. Chains and franchises replace local small businesses. Agribusiness eliminates family farms and small towns. Almost invisibly, yet inexorably, the local economy loses its ability to meet the basic needs of its people. This process damages not only a community’s self-reliance, but also its families. Divorce rates soar. Many children do not receive the care they require. Even in the United States, where 60% of mothers must now work to make ends meet, over half of the children do not receive the care required to be ready for school. These children will remain unskilled the rest of their lives.

In the international arena, the multinational banks continue to centralize power under their control. They create the money, control its distribution, lend it to us and hold us and our governments in their debt. They are above the law and they do not believe there is a place for ethics in economics. International trade agreements like NAFTA and the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI) rob local governments and local people of the power to control their own economic activity. We are not far from the day when attempts to improve local self-reliance will be grounds for multinational corporate lawsuits against local governments and local organizers. Self-reliance will be outlawed.

In this stranglehold, national, state and local governments are no longer able to represent our best interests. Under such conditions it becomes the duty of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs), as direct representatives of the people, to raise a new standard and build the base for economic democracy. This requires analyzing local resources and needs, developing a systematic planning process, creating a community consciousness, and engaging the local people in a movement for local self-reliance. It means regaining control of our government.

The resources provided here come from sources other than Proutist Universal. They have been organized in a way to help local people understand the issues involved in developing economic democracy and to give us the tools to do the work.

Defining the New Paradigm
Planning for Economic Democracy
Sustaining Our Natural World
Making Your Community Self-Reliant
Meeting Basic Needs
Strengthening Community Groups
Working With Government
Rural Development
Understanding the Status Quo
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