Is the Transition Movement (or Transition Brentford) ‘Political’?
The Transition Network has appealed to people of all backgrounds right across the political spectrum from ‘left’ to ‘right’.
It has done this by being ‘apolitical’ and by not being directly involved in party politics. It is likely that there are Transition supporters in all the main political parties in the UK (Conservative, Green, Labour and Liberal) and probably amongst more extreme or marginal parties of both left and right.
But Transition Initiatives (towns, villages, colleges, businesses etc.) need to engage with the political process and especially local authorities, councillors, MP’s and funding bodies.
The changes and practical actions proposed by Transitions are inevitably ‘political’ in the same sense that economics or education are a proper concern for politics and conventional politicians.
The need to move towards local resilience and sustainability, recognising the reality of ‘peak oil’, climate change and ‘peak everything’ implies change and very substantial change at that. It is not surprising if ‘change’ sometimes appeals more to those whose politics is ‘progressive’ and even ‘left-wing’.
If you believe in ‘business as usual’, putting individual needs (your own selfish needs?) before the very real needs of others and the community or believe that ‘global warming’ and its likely dire consequences are a ‘hoax’ then you are perhaps unlikely to be sympathetic to the Transition Movement or the ‘green lobby’. Such views are more often associated with right wing politics – but this is really of the far right or the mainly American ‘idiot right’ who don’t trust government (why should they?) and don’t trust science. Human sourced global warming and its possible consequences have been established science, as much as space science and evolution, for at least twenty years. We ARE ‘all in this together’ and we can’t (in the foreseeable future) ‘jump ship’. ‘Big Society’ Dave is not the same as ‘No such thing as society’ Margaret and oil-man George W. Bush and businessman Richard Branson (to pick two individuals at random!) are both worried about ‘Peak-Oil’.
The involvement of all is essential to Transitions, whatever your politics, and the more that are involved, the less likely it is that the movement could be hi-jacked by those with an extreme political agenda. There are those who, quite properly in my view, are arguing for radical political change, a more just society and a radical new economics and financial system. (For example the ‘Occupy’ and ‘Real Democracy’ movements across the world). But this is not the role of a movement which wishes to galvanise everyone into taking individual and community actions for local resilience, sustainability and ‘saving the planet’ for our grandchildren.
There ARE practical political questions for ‘Transitioners’, for example, how to engage with local authorities and whether ‘localisation’ (of the economy and food production) counters ‘fair trade’ and the needs of ‘third-world’ producers. There are no ready made answers and different groups and individuals will come up with answers and evolving actions which are right for them.
Some individuals will be involved in Transition initiatives and also in conventional politics, green politics or radical politics. The (often ‘silent’) majority (the 99% according to ‘Occupy’) will not, but can and need to be involved in the individual and community actions proposed by this Transition movement.
‘Transitions’ is partly underlain by the ‘near spiritual’ ideas of Joanna Macy (see links on the About page) and ‘systems thinking’. This is described as ‘Inner Transition’. If we are to save the planet, then we need to change our activities and methods dramatically, and probably change our lifestyle significantly. We have to consume less and turn away from the myth of ‘permanent growth’ (which is certainly ‘hot politics’) and the idea that ‘more is best’. We do have to at least consider those whacky ideas like ‘Net Domestic Happiness’ (as in Bhutan) rather than ‘Gross Domestic Product’ but, as ‘rich westerners’ we have to do this long before asking it of poorer countries. (They may lead the way in pursuing a fairer world and ‘Net Domestic Happiness’, but we can expect that they will need to increase consumption – very substantially – which implies that we have to cut even deeper). But then ‘cut deeper’ cannot mean the relatively poor in our country suffering whilst the rich (wherever they are in the world) continue to take or use thousands of times their ‘fair share’ of the world’s resources. So, yes, it is political. Inner Transition is about the idea that in order to make the required changes (perhaps even ‘sacrifices’) required, we need first to transform our own way of being and seeing the world. Demanding less because we see that we need less. This certainly implies a retreat from the ‘consumer society’ and will itself have significant economic (if not political) consequences.
One way of joining in the ‘Inner’ dialogue is to use the internet to investigate all the sustainability, ‘real democracy’ and ‘new media politics’ initiatives that the internet itself is providing. The UK government’s ‘e-petition‘ site is a start but do be aware that it is very easy to get sucked into ‘populist’ actions by simply clicking a link when the political action itself may not stand up to careful scrutiny or thinking through the consequences. (We’ve all seen politicians of left, centre and right get caught out by impatient, ill-thought-out decisions). (I will add links for some of the most relevant sites later)
You could also witter on at length as I have done here by leaving a comment or reply below – or on the Transition Network website or elsewhere on the internet (including the evil facebook and the mindless twitter!)
A start to the promised links
http://www.joannamacy.net/ Joanna Macy home page
and, in no particular order, political and economics links to get you started. (Some are specific blog posts or articles – check out each site’:s home page too): No approval or endorsement of these sites or their message by the present writer or Transition Brentford is implied. They are just possible starting points for investigating different ways of looking at current problems
http://www.henrygeorgefoundation.org/henry-george-foundation-information/ Henry George Foundation home page
Ha-Joon Chang and 23 things they don’t tell you about capitalism
http://www.neweconomics.org/about The New Economics Foundation, London SE11
http://www.greeneconomics.org.uk/ Green Economics Institute, Reading, Berkshire (a rather odd home page)
https://www.transitionnetwork.org/stories/guest-blogger/2012-02/fine-tuning-great-transition#comment-15014 Comment on a guest post on Transition Network by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, author of “A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save it” (scroll up for the original post)
http://crisisofcivilization.com/the-crisis-of-civilization-finds-its-transition-voice/ Transition post on the film ‘Crisis of Civilisation’ website
http://transitionvoice.com/2012/03/teaching-climate-change-denial/ Only in America!
http://dissidentvoice.org/ A different political viewpoint
http://tweetminster.co.uk/mps You can tweet your MP here.
http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/ HMG e-petitions
http://www.scriptonitedaily.org/2012/02/asset-striptease-vultures.html – (one article about ‘Vulture Capitalists’ on an interesting blog with regular news from the London Occupy movement)
http://occupylsx.org/ The website and news continues
http://www.occupylfs.org/ Finsbury Square currently occupied and protesting boldly
http://tentcityuniversity.org/ Promises to re-locate and continue after the St. Paul’s eviction
http://www.newrules.org/governance/article/tea-party-vs-occupy-wall-street An interesting comparison
You might also find these resources and ideas about money interesting:
http://www.quakerweb.org.uk/blog/ includes info about ‘Zero Growth Economics’
Positive Money – http://www.positivemoney.org.uk
Brixton Pound – http://www.brixtonpound.org
Fair Pensions – http://www.fairpensions.org.uk/ (Of interest to all, not just pensioners! See Responsible Investment)
More to follow – please submit your own suggestions.