Short Circuit: Strengthening Local Economies in an Unstable World
by Richard Douthwaite. Expanded online edition published June 2003 with updates by Richard Douthwaite, Joanne Elliott and Caroline Whyte.
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The global economy can no longer be relied upon to provide the necessities of life. Even in wealthy countries, the vagaries of free trade and the unimpeded movement of capital pose a threat not just to job security but to food and energy supplies as well.
Short Circuit proposes that each community build an independent local economy capable of supplying the goods and services its people would need should the mainstream economy collapse. It details the financial structures necessary for self-reliance, and it describes the techniques already in use in pioneering communities across the industrialized world. These inculde local currency schemes and community banks that enable local interest rates and credit terms to differ from those in the world economy. Efforts to meet local food and energy requirements using local resources are also reviewed.
Blending sophisticated analysis with practical guidance, Short Circuit opens up a wide range of possible futures and demonstrates sources of empowerment and cultural identity beyond conventional politics and economics. It is at once a survival manual, a guide to community self-sufficiency, a celebration of pluralism and diversity, and an exciting call to action.
Richard Douthwaite was born in Yorkshire in 1942 and studied at Leeds and Essex universities. After working as a government economist in the West Indies, in 1974 he moved with his wife and family to Westport, County Mayo, Ireland, and in 1992 published his much-aclaimed The Growth Illusion.
“A wonderfully irreverent challenge to our obsessions with the market-place.”
- Anthony Sampson, author of The New Anatomy of Britain
“Short Circuit resonates. A vital read for uncertain times.”
- Sara Parkin, Green Party founder and director of Forum for the Future
“Very valuable…the most readable and accurate account of the new money systems I’ve come across.”
- Michael Linton, developer of Local Exchange Trading System (LETS)
“An indispensible reference for community groups and individuals attempting innovative approaches to local development.”
- Tom Collins, director, Centre for Adult Education, Maynooth University
“Marvelous…Douthwaite challenges the globalization of the food economy and shows how re-localization is possible. He also tells some wonderful stories of how people are doing it – messily, incrementally, but triumphantly.”
- Tim Lang, professor of Food Policy, Thames Valley University