Alex Steffen has made a very cogent complaint about the Transition movement. Although I remain a member of the Transition Austin group, I also remain frustrated at its stubborn attachment to small scales and romantic thinking.
A particularly striking example of the problem (and of obtuseness regarding Steffen’s complaints) appears here from Carolyn Baker.
Let me state that I remain an admirer of Rob Hopkins and his approach to things. I’m also an admirer and a friend of most of the people I have met through Transition Austin, a very interesting, kind and decent group indeed. That said, I share Alex’s frustrations, and perhaps my reply to Ms Baker will clarify things for those who aren’t getting it.
My reply, admittedly perhaps just a little overheated, did not pass moderation. (Update: It appeared moments after I posted this!) And I seem to have the ear of some of my most admired Twitter follows on this one, so here it is for what it’s worth.
“Spin it as we will, the human race is precariously poised on the
cliff’s edge, hanging by its fingernails. “
“Our challenge is not to try to prevent the collapse of the larger systems”
I couldn’t be more thoroughly in disagreement with this. It most certainly
IS our main challenge to prevent the collapse of the larger systems.
Anything else is mystification and begging for disaster. I get the
sense that you are practically begging for the death and suffering of
billions of people on an unprecedented scale just so you can have a
chance to try out your beet and turnip pie recipe.
We don’t have a choice but to prevent the collapse. Every single thing
we do has to be directed toward the soft landing, not the
post-apocalyptic scenario. We have to steer, not to bail out, because
there is no lifeboat. If worse comes to worst a few survivors will
probably swim to some distant shore, but the Transition movement will
not get to pick them.
“What do I and my loved ones and my community need to do to prepare? “
You are a free person; what happens is therefore in part up to you.
What you need to do is lend a hand to avoid the catastrophe, not to
“prepare” for it. There is no preparation for the worst case, and if
we do avoid the worst case it won’t be because people have been upping
their skills for a preindustrial world that can never be returned to
us. “Preparing” rather than “repairing” is hugely irresponsible.
Please get real. It’s like you’re in a car falling asleep at the wheel
and your only thought is to make sure your airbag is charged. What you
need to do is to pull over. You need to acknowledge that the tragedies
we might face will be your own fault as much as anyone else’s if you
don’t bend your will toward avoiding them. I am sorry but I read your
position as deeply and terrifyingly selfish and immoral. I’m sure you
don’t think that of yourself, but our responses to the current
predicament couldn’t be more different.
Count me with Alex.