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Locality derives from the Old Latin concept of locus, or place. In its basic state, the word defines the elemental human perception: “Where am I?” But the qualities of the place itself in the end have a profound effect on the makeup and disposition of the human tribe that becomes its population.

Basically, this approach lets the place define itself, accommodating humans only as a secondary function. This is a farming community, or a manufacturing town based on its proximity to coal, or a fishing village that sits on an ocean filled with aquatic life. In each case there is food and land and resources enough to support a certain number of people. The locality is delineated by its function of keeping humans alive and reproducing.


Locality and politics

The simple nature of the word’s origin, however, decries the modern usage, which escalates exponentially in complexity and amorphously in shape once it touches the unnatural system called politics. Within the political realm, locality is used as a systemic tool, designed by administrative bureaucrats especially for administrative and bureaucratic governmental manipulations.

Locality in the political system inevitably derives from its ultimate distillation: the connection and/or disconnection between two human beings. Politics can see its genesis there but many factors enter into what is deemed local within this interpersonal system.

This grassroots concept of locality becomes even more important in an age of world stock market crashes and international bank meltdowns. The sense of a complete loss of empowerment permeates the morning paper and the evening news. And thus, local politics becomes more relevant by the day.

Defining what is local

At a very basic level, the people involved may themselves define what is local. “The center of the universe is where I am” was a concept which Galileo had a great deal of trouble contradicting in sixteenth-century papally-dominated physics. Oddly enough, the same orientation has come back to the fore with the re-ascendance of more highly strictured ideologies.

This is a legitimate system for describing one’s intellectual roots, defining that base locale simply as the people associated within a certain mental confine, whether secular or religious, familial or social. The power of these groups is diffused within the workings of elemental government – they can influence, and they can vote, but that vote is spread across the political landscape, in a system which demands concentrations in physical locales for there to be an effect. A numerical vote happens in the physical rather than the philosophical realm.

So the “Where am I?” becomes attached with “Who is with me?” and inevitably “Can I bend them to my will?”. This manipulated concept is often inconsistent with objective reality. For instance, the gerrymander in the US is a political mechanism designed to harness such a definition to a politician’s own ends. Gerrymander encompasses the shaping of a district to gain political advantage as well as a direct reference to a representative elected from such a district. The ill-shaped locality, forged as an entity by political ambitions, in return comes alive to find its way to define the politician that now theoretically controls all within its confines.

Locality and international politics

It can be argued that, as president, George W. Bush looked at everything solely in terms of how it would affect himself and those within his local dominion. In contrast, half a century before, another Republican president, well-versed in the practical realities of war and its effects on the smaller world, stated:

"In most communities it is illegal to cry ‘fire’ in a crowded assembly. Should it not be considered serious international misconduct to manufacture a general war scare in an effort to achieve local political aims?"

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

See also


Author: Jim Gabour