Thursday, 20 June 2024

Tag » John Papworth

Small is Beautiful!

THE National Liberal Party is a progressive political party. We support cultural nationalism, federalism, non-interventionism, the ecology, decentralism, community orientation, distributism and consensual politics. As such we’re opposed to imperialism, racism, oppression and the two main established ideologies of capitalism and communism (as well as their various offshoots).

Politically, we’re interested in the ideas of Chamberlain, Roseberry and Hoare-Belisha. We’re also guided by the ideal that ‘small is beautiful’. Thus we feel that the ideas of the Distributists (Chesterton and Belloc) and modern thinkers like EF ‘Fritz’ Schumacher are also worthy of study.

Another man worthy of study is John Papworth, the Founder and Editor of Fourth World Review. Like us, Mr. Papworth believes that only by scaling down present military, industrial and commercial insitutions can we avert global war and ecological disaster.

Thus an article that mentioned John Papworth (the article itself was about English Green – a non-socialist ecology pressure group) recently caught our eye. Published by the Third Way Think-Tank, it noted that Mr. Papworth is “unashamedly biased in favour of small nations and small, empowered, decision-making communities, as opposed to overcentralised, top heavy mass political structures and to giant forms of economic collapse.”

As these are sentiments that all National Liberals – indeed, all free thinkers – would endorse, we thought it would be instructive to reproduce his article in full:

The Politics of Progress – by John Papworth

When we think of politics we think of Parliament and Princes rather than of people, and in doing so we tend to overlook that the oldest form of politics is not of nations or monarchies but of peoples’ politics in peoples’ communities, communities which held sway for many centuries, long before other forms were even thought of.

John Papworth

But if for many succeeding centuries communities have tended to be overruled; indeed to such an extent that with modern technologies, the printing press, radio, television, computers, motorways and rail and air travel, have tended to be denied any significance at all, they are none the less at last making a remarkable comeback.

Modern technologies have tended to bury the significance of community life and power because in most cases they have either been dependent on centralised forms of power for their operation, or, like banks and money systems, have promoted central control because, in money terms, it has proved more profitable.

But centralised forms of power are proving increasingly unworkable, unstable and unsustainable. They are in fact breaking down. Their economic systems, having developed globally, are also of course proving uncontrollable. We are not, as often asserted, in recession, we are in a state of collapse; things are not going to get better they are going to get a great deal worse.

One basic reason for this lies in the fundamental fallacy of all major economic systems, they are based on an imperative drive for infinite expansion in a world of finite resources and capacities.

For over two hundred years the economic theories that have been developed to sustain such expansion have had a field day, at the cost of local community life and the expansion of centralised national systems of politics, money, industry, transport and war; but what we are now witnessing is the curtain coming down on the global system of trade and consumerism, despite the continued weird manoeuvrings of the attempts to unite Europe under one administration. The world cannot continue to ravage its limited resources, or to savage its ecological systems, or to vandalise its human social structures without a collapse of the cohesive sense of purpose that makes civilisation possible at all.

If this is a profound consideration there is a profound reason for it. All progress depends on making appropriate moral choices, but such choices depend on human relationships, and such relationships depend on the active workings of the human communities. But it is not the morality that produces the relationships, it is the relationships which produce the morality! It is those relationships which determine the moral character of the community, and all modern political and economic developments have been major forces in destroying community relationships and, of course, the vitality of community life. Think for example of how shopping in a family-owned shop in a village high street means one is relating to ones neighbours, supporting the local village economy and generally playing an active, even significant, social role. Whereas in an out-of-town supermarket one is socially comatose and undermining the social significance of the local community economy. One ceases to be a citizen, one becomes a customer. Not unnaturally there is a revolt under way, deep down people are beginning to sense what they have lost in losing community relationships; the increasing depersonalisation of social political and business life is intricately related to not only community life, but to family life and individual life and its capacity for individual self-fulfilment.

People are becoming aware that there is a fundamental sterility and frustration implicit in a life dominated by a quest for secular goals of economic growth, based in turn on calculations of potential profit, that somewhere considerations of truth, beauty, honesty, service, self-sacrifice and love have a paramountcy impossible to question without impoverishing the whole meaning and adventure of life.

In some ways morality has advanced, it is true we no longer burn people at the stake, we no longer recognise any right to torture, we no longer cane schoolchildren, but at the same time we seem to have destroyed the basis of creating beauty and love, we are increasingly lost in a world of insensitivity, ugliness and the toleration of abomination and human depersonalisation.

Increasingly it is seen that only human communities dominated by human relationships and human moral discrimination as exercised in multitudinous human-scale human communities can restore a coherent sense of collective moral persuasion that will liberate the human spirit from the coils of consumerist constraint that are currently leading to war, economic collapse and social deterioration.

It is a global movement. The historic tribal and community identities are worldwide asserting their rights to rule their own lives and determine their own destinies. All over Africa, Asia, Arabia and the Americas both North and South voices are echoing what is also being affirmed by local people in Europe for local community life and freedom. Not least, even in the almighty United States the voice for moves for secession from the Federal Union is being heard.

It is worldwide, the voice of the radical future of the human adventure where government will cease to be from the top down, but created by numerous human-scale communities from the bottom up so that at last we take control of the forces now only able to destroy us.

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