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(en) France, Alternative Libertaire AL #239 - Alternatives: Ecology in transition (fr, pt) [machine translation]

Date Sat, 07 Jun 2014 22:57:49 +0300


The movement of the transition, appeared in 2006 in Britain, seeks to prepare the company to major ecological crises ahead. By adopting an original methodology, it has spread throughout the world, but sees often criticized its lack of political perspective. ---- The model of transition was established in 2005 by Rob Hobkins, Professor of permaculture, as part of its academic activities. Applied the following year in the town of Totnes in south-west England, it has since been taken on all continents by nearly 500 official initiatives, and hundreds more are in the pipeline. ---- The approach to transition is based on two observations. Climate change on the one hand, that will change the environment and living conditions, and should minimize if you want to adapt. Peak oil on the other hand, that is to say the rising cost of fossil fuels related to the decreased availability before total depletion. Knowing that today we are totally dependent on them, whether for transportation, power generation, manufacturing or three quarters of everyday objects that contain petroleum derivatives.

From this, the conclusion is clear: our society will experience major changes, like it or not. However, we are yet not at all prepared for such changes. This is where the concept of resilience, dear to the movement of the transition: we must strengthen the resilience of communities (neighborhoods, cities), that is to say their ability to recover from shocks that await them, above.

To do this, we must begin today to build what will be needed in the future ecological constraints: local production (food and crafts), renewable energy, solidarity networks, restraint in the use of resources, etc.. Because if we do not start now, panic and disorder may take over thereafter, possibly leading to social and environmental catastrophe.

Vast collective movement

There are, a priori, nothing new in these ideas. Other movements such as decay or Hummingbirds and many initiatives (AMAP, cooperatives energy production, etc..) And environmental NGOs have developed the same analysis. But these currents had not really taken in the Anglo-Saxon countries where the movement of the transition develops most. These movements therefore appear complementary internationally. But above all, the transition convinces particularly motivated by some of its methods.

First, the methodology of the incorporated transition psychological dimension. Recognizing that environmental awareness can lead to anxiety and panic, paralyzing and can cause denial, it presents the current situation as an opportunity, not just as a catastrophe as often environmental NGOs. A chance to regain the knowledge and control of production, strengthen social ties, to live better with less, and protect nature.

Then, the movement has managed to create a very short time a large and dynamic network. Network that supports new initiatives form of "leaders", offers numerous resources, organizes meetings, etc.. Finally, an important factor in the success of transition initiatives is the implementation of concrete actions at local level, open to all. Shared gardens, planting fruit trees, reducing energy consumption, projects renewable energy, all together beyond traditional political positions, each financial interest therein, social or environmental. Participants gather around the "yes" to do something together, rather than "no" and criticism of what is wrong.

Capitalism in ambush

But this unifying dynamic that makes the strength of the transition is also one of its limitations. This is the main criticism of this movement, for example in the book An apolitical environmentalism? Debate around the transition from Paul Chatterton and Alice Cutler, recently published in France. For wanting to collect broadly, and focusing on concrete, local, transition, as many environmentalists movements "citizens" removes any systemic analysis.

Although the model is defended rather cooperative and horizontal, capitalism is not criticized as a global system, which dilutes the responsibilities of the current crises (social, economic, ecological). Because those are the capitalists in control of the economy and politics, which are responsible for the situation, and without radical change of system, local and individual actions are certainly beneficial, but very limited.

This lack of political positioning also opens the way to recovery by capitalism. An example is what happened with "development". Abandoning political activity to focus on the concrete problem solving related to poverty, many NGOs are now working hand in hand with the system that creates poverty. But in the end it is always the same that reap the profits, make decisions, cut subsidies and send the police when projects or movements too threatening the established order. The transition is an interesting, motivating and unifying approach, but must dress to expect real change, a good pinch of class struggle!

Jocelyn (AL Gard)
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