For the past year I have been writing full time under the tag, “local economy and free markets in Chattanooga and beyond.”
In a culture that doesn’t rest, I feel I almost like a man of privilege who has been able to let go his grinding 9 to 5 job and take a sabbatical. Only a few people today get a sabbatical, and these are in the lofty realms of ideology and materialism, namely the university. But I feel like one of these sons of privilege — a scholar who is away from the regular grind of teaching, writing and research, and I am free to explore issues of special interest that “don’t fit.”
For me, a former newspaper copy editor turned journalist, the theory I have been given grace to pursue is localism under the particular flavor of one living in the River City, Chattanooga. For you, a new reader, I dub it Noogacentrism with a flourish. I coined the term that resembles words such as Christocentrism (Christ is the center), geocentrism (earth is the center) or sociocentrism (society or man is the center of all things and the source of ethics). In our operating theory, lococentrism is intelligent provincialism, and I work daily to illustrate the concept, to flesh it out as a useful principle.
Let’s not be too good for a slogan
In exploring Noogacentrism and trying to generalize it I have offered several slogans, some of which are not original to me.
➤ Love your neighbor — shop local. This slogan I first read in The Moneychanger newsletter, to which I subscribe. It encapsulates my main argument that Christianity, being about personal relationships between God and man and between man and man, is a starting point for local economy as a concept. Local economy follows the template of Christianity. Briefly, local economy favors the personal over the impersonal, the mom and pop over the corporate giant, the personal church over the impersonal bureaucracy. Local economy is about grace whereas national economy is about compulsion and chains. We care about personal economics because Christ sets down a table for his friends, and eats a meal with them. The Lord’s Supper is a striking picture of God’s condescension to man, and man’s extraordinary elevation as sons of God by His act of sovereign grace in each life, and across culture. God gives man, after all, a day off, a Sabbath.
➤ Avatar replacement therapy. You have an evil twin. This is your legal identity, your avatar, the being stolen by hackers in Bosnia or Nigeria. Your avatar, comprising your corporate person, traipses after you. It is the personae through which you deal with governments, licensing agencies, credit card companies and public utilities. If you exercise the joys of local economy and become a budding lococentrist like me, you are involved in a bloodless medical procedure. That is avatar replacement therapy, where we live more and more attuned to individuals and less and less to corporate structures such as McDonald’s, Starbucks and Wal-Mart. Rather than getting your prescription for drugs filled at CVS, you get them from Hemi Patel at Hamilton Discount Pharmacy at the intersection of Lee Highway and Shallowford Road. He’s local. You support his business rather than a corporate chain that exports profit out of the city.
➤ The marketplace arises from the template of Christianity. Not a great slogan, but a simple truth. This conception arises from a reading of history. The Reformation unleashed the genius of capitalism into the West, as well as destructive concepts of rationalism and individualism. The marketplace is the aggregate of millions of people working to serve others, just as Christ died on the cross to serve and save a people alien to Himself. In the marketplace come technical innovation, labor-saving devices, greater dignity for the individual, the value of time, greater networking and/or community, greater service, lower costs.
➤ Local economy reverses “E pluribus, unum.” This Latin phrase on U.S. currency means, “From many, one.” Undo that, you get “From one, many.” On the back of the F$1 bill is the eagle with a scroll in his beak that bearing the occultic Latin phrase. The phrase is given to be understood as a reference of the colonies to be merging into a single “national” entity (watch out, this little tale is statist revisionism). It argues for increased centralization in the fashion of Uncle’s empire across America and other parts of the world. However, as the eagle fades from the scene, local economy works to bypass centralization, making it unmoving structures irrelevant.
How might one say that in Latin? “From one, many” is “Ex uno, plura.” In devolution and decentralization, my hometown and yours find oxygen with which recover and grow separately from the offices of the national sector. Local economy implies everything from local food to creating a lococentric investment hub or local development financial institution, as proposed by Amy Cortese in her book, Locavesting[;] The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It.