Saturday, 26 September 2020

Localism + Coworking = Small Is Beautiful!

THE NATIONAL LIBERAL PARTY supports localism (1).  Localism is a belief that supports the local production and consumption of goods, local control of government, and promotion of local history, local culture and local identity.

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The online Cambridge Dictionary (2) describes localism as ‘the idea that people should have control over what happens in their local area, that local businesses should be supported, and that differences between places should be respected.

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With the above in mind, it can be safely said that localism can be summed up in the slogan Small is Beautiful!

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Our economic ideas also reflect our belief in, and support for, localism.  We’re probably best known for our support of local shops.  A quick look at the NLPs web-site – http://nationalliberal.org/ – Twitter feed – Twitter/NationalLiberal and and two Facebook sites – Facebook/National Liberals & Facebook/National Liberal Party – will demonstrate this.  Indeed, virtually every day our Twitter feed encourages folks to Shop Local as well as supporting the following groups:

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Local Self-Employed Workers,

Local Independent Traders,

Local Small Businesses,

Local Shops,

Local Entrepreneurs,

Local Co-Operatives,

Local Social Enterprises and

Local Micro-Businesses

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Our social and economic ideas support localism and are also rooted in the slogan Small is Beautiful! For instance, we favour organic, self-sustaining communities living in harmony with nature. Thus we favour a greater empthasis on rural living – a return to the land – as opposed to cramming more and more people into teeming cities like London, Birmingham, Manchester and so on.

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Economically, we are inspired by many – and varied – ideas.  An article entiled The Economic Roots and influences of National Liberalism (in issue 1 of New Horizon – the ideological journal of the National Liberal Party) noted:

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Some of these influences – and the people who have promoted them – include, the liberal national interpretation of classical liberal free trade, the progressive yet pragmatic Liberal National party approach to labour relations and economic affairs e.g. Earnest Brown’s tenure as Minister for Labour or even earlier, Lord Rosebery’s call for Britain to become (and Britons to be part of) a ‘great property-owning democracy’. Then there are ‘visionary’ ideas such as the Distributism of GK Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc, monetary reform ideas (including elements of Social Credit), even some early socialists such as Kier Hardie and Bob Blatchford and Guild Socialism (as advocated by the likes of William Morris, GDH Cole and Arthur Penty). The ideas of the Co-operative movement, the Chartists and Levelers and support for small businesses and shopkeepers, and some libertarian economists, are also of interest.

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Therefore, it could be said that our economic ideological roots represent a synthesis of various radical, free-thinking ideas that seek to offer a genuine alternative to orthodox capitalist and socialist (or communist) solutions.’

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In issue 2 of New Horizon we also referenced a future examination of ‘the principles of Islamic Banking (sometimes called ‘participant banking’ and which forbids usury)’ and ‘National Syndicalism.’  (To obtain FREE pdf copies of issues 1–4 of New Horizon, simply e-mail natliberal@aol.com and we’ll send you them.)

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With all of the above in mind, we should now add Coworking to the list of social and economic ideas which both inspire us and sit easily with our localist ideals.

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Coworking was started in 2005 by Brad Neuberg in San Francisco, California.  According to the main Coworking site (3) the idea was effectively conceived out of confusion and frustration.  In Neuberg’s words:

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In 2005 I was working at a startup and was unhappy with my job. Before that I had worked for myself doing consulting and traveling and hungered for the community a job can provide. At that point I was confused because I had both worked for myself and worked at a job and was unhappy because I couldn’t seem to combine all the things I wanted at the same time: the freedom and independence of working for myself along with the structure and community of working with others.

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… I decided to create a new kind of space to support the community and structure that I hungered for and gave it a new name: coworking.”

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It’s generally accepthed that there are five core values which underpin Coworking:  Community, Openness, Collaboration, Sustainability and Accessibility.

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But – in practical terms – what does coworking offer?  Basically, it’s an arrangement in which several workers from different companies share ‘incubator’ facilities – such as office space, (allowing cost savings and convenience through the use of common infrastructure, such as equipment, utilities, and receptionist and custodial services.)  Sometimes coworking spaces offer simple refreshments (or kitchens and/or cafes) and parcel acceptance services. In some cases, they are even pet-friendly and offer bike storage.  Local coworking spaces are normally regarded as affordable comfortable working offices ‘on your doorstep’ where the likes of creative freelancers and entrepreneurs can even use a desk for a day.

The National Liberal Party feels that these coworking spaces can play a vital role in revitalising both rural areas (as people don’t need to move to large towns and cities to seek work) and our urban High Streets, many of which are sadly becoming increasingly desolate.

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The concept of Coworking ties in with our ideas on economic self-determination (4) and freedom.  Coworking spaces also sit nicely alongside social enterprises, workers co-operatives, small family businesses and the like.

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To sum up, there are many advantages to coworking.  They are:

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Environmentally friendly

Reducing the amount of landlords earning (often extortionate) income from renting businesses premises

No hierarchical employer/employee relationship

Shared resources, equipment, skills & costs

Business Networking

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In future articles we hope to take another look at coworking spaces.  We’ll also be running articles in support of the other forms of economic activity that we favour (as mentioned earlier).  In the meantime, we’d urge all of our readers to support their local coworking spaces!

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  1. http://nationalliberal.org/the-national-liberal-party-supports-localism
  2. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/localism
  3. https://coworking.com/
  4. https://nationalliberal.org/for-economic-self-determination

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