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The Transition Movement: Its Huge Significance and a Friendly Criticism

Have any of you read this article from the website Culture Change? I enjoyed it, and thought some of the recommendations were excellent. Keep up the good work folks.

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"The Transition Towns movement is characterised by a remarkable level of enthusiasm and energy. This seems to reflect a long pent up disenchantment with consumer-capitalist society and a desire for something better. There is a powerful case that the only way out of the alarming global predicament we are in has to be via a Transition Towns movement of some kind. To our great good fortune one has burst on the scene. But I worry that it could very easily fail to make a significant difference. My argument has been that it will fail if it turns out to have been merely a reformist project, because reforms can’t solve the problems. It is very important that people working for the movement should think carefully about what the global situation is and how it can be solved. I have sketched a perspective on these questions which indicates that the movement is not going to make a significant contribution to the transition to a sustainable and just world unless the underlying vision and goals alter significantly."-Ted Trainer

Trainer is a no-turning-back revolutionist. Criticizing the Transition movement as merely reformist, Trainer says we need to reject the current capitalist system and start anew creating his small town communal social/economic unit. But his solution teeters on the same Utopian fantasy he accuses the Transition movement for employing. He never really addresses how a society that is perfectly content with consuming far more than its share of resources to the detriment of the rest of the world will suddenly amend its ways and throw off its capitalist thirst for more, more, ever more.

Will the multi-national corporations simply employ a world-wide shutdown because they are products of an exploitative economic model? Will the ruling elite, whether elected fairly or self-installed willingly give up their privileged position in the pecking order? Will the 3 percent of the world's population, who possess over 90 per cent of all the human wealth on the planet, suddenly abandon this privilege and show up Monday morning to contribute their fair share to the community bakery that feeds us all?

Trainer feels the Transition movement is guilty of reformist shortcomings, of colluding with the capitalist enemy, where his take no prisoner approach is the only realistic means to achieve a future non-capitalistic utopia. However, to reach his model, a lot of carnage needs to take place to achieve this economic transformation. But on the subject of that realignment, Trainer is surprisingly mute. The minor detail of clearing out the ruling elites, whether they are multi-national corporations, political leaders or financial giants, goes undetailed. Perhaps a little reformist collusion during a time of transition from a capitalist based constantly expanding economy to one that places sustainable economics to the forefront might be an easier transition to pull off. We've had centuries to indulge our penchant for dog-eat-dog economics. It may take as long to completely break the habit. Looking at the success humanity has enjoyed in solving the crisis so far, I'm wondering if we will need several more centuries to go "cold turkey."

If that is the case, developing a parallel economic model, that can experiment and grow in usefulness as it empowers its practitioners, may not be as futile an exercise as Trainer supposes it to be.

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