In my last post, I said that Transition was moving to a more insular society. I was wrong. Transition is moving towards a society where communities are more self-reliant, that is true. But not insular. The realisation has lead me to muse about what the world would look like if Transition succeeded, at least my interpretation of it. Read on MacDuff, and let me know what the world would look like if you had your way.
I’m dumping my brain here, so there are bound to be flaws. I would welcome your feedback and recommendations to reading material.
The Transition movement and the like are often characterised by visions of sandal-wearing tree-huggers who would rather see everyone living in tepees than cosy indoors. There is a grain of truth in that. But it is very much a caricature to which most involved in Transition Towns would not aspire.
The world I would like to see remains connected, where the easy life is the norm. It is possibly more inter-connected than we are now, but with less travel. World society would be characterised by helpfulness between people around the globe and with nature rather than competition and exploitation. There would inevitably be some people with more means than others, but all would help the needy in times of distress, such as when crops fail, disease or illness strikes.
Yes, communities would be more self-reliant for food, warmth and medicine. There would also be a global sharing culture of ideas and expertise to improve everyone’s lives, rather than competing in the “Global Race”.
So, how would this be co-ordinated? How would it be governed? The way I see it, central governance is only needed to manage those activities and resources that are simply not possible at a community level. We need more of that at the moment because our society is fine-tuned to live at the edges of our capabilities. The population is as big as it can be for the amount of energy we can create and the food we can grow or rear. We are utterly reliant on economies of scale to support the global population. So, while we are building up the capability, skills, will and technology at the local level to support ourselves, we need government to provide that which we are unable.
At the moment, that central supply of services is not provided by government alone, it is provided by corporations as well, possibly to a larger extent.
But, once we have the ability to support ourselves locally, and with the connectedness of the internet to share ideas and ask for help, central governance from whatever angle would be less necessary.
I fully realise that is a bit of an idealised picture. What if the internet broke down? What lazy good-for-nothings, leaching of the rest of us? What if a group or person got ambitious and decided ethnic cleansing would be a good idea?
My vision does rely on us having adopted practices of food and energy production that require little effort to maintain, either through new technologies or through working with and alongside nature rather than against, such as edible forests or the farming practices described in the sample chapter of “An Optimists Tour of the Future”.
That would mean less time needed for the basics and the social constructs such as financial markets, and more for a flourishing culture, for art and innovation. It would also allow us to turn to supporting others in times of need when evil set in and to maintain the internet.
So, where does that leave you? Like it, loathe it, see the obvious flaws?