Parecon and Transition Towns

Just a quick thought for the morning… is anyone involved with Parecon/ParSoc also involved with the Transition Towns movement? Here in Southeast Michigan, there is an active Transition Towns Michigan group.

I don’t know much about this movement, but here is are a few statements from their website:

"It all starts off when a small collection of motivated individuals within a community come together with a shared concern: how can our community respond to the challenges, and opportunities, of Peak Oil and Climate Change?"

"After going through a comprehensive and creative process of:

  • awareness raising around peak oil, climate change and the need to undertake a community lead process to rebuild resilience and reduce carbon

  • connecting with existing groups in the community

  • building bridges to local government

  • connecting with other transition initiatives

  • forming groups to look at all the key areas of life (food, energy, transport, health, heart & soul, economics & livelihoods, etc)

  • kicking off projects aimed at building people’s understanding of resilience and carbon issues and community engagement

  • eventually launching a community defined, community implemented "Energy Descent Action Plan" over a 15 to 20 year timescale

This results in a coordinated range of projects across all these areas of life that strives to rebuild the resilience we’ve lost as a result of cheap oil and reduce the community’s carbon emissions drastically."

It seems like there is some overlap in goals at a very high (and admittedly vague) level of abstraction– both Transition Towns and ParSoc/Parecon are interested in remaking community and political life.

The major difference that Parecon would have with Transition Towns, (as with many "pro local economy" groups) is on the class question, of course. As Michael Albert succinctly described recently in this post, one of the major goals of Parecon is classlessnes. Nowhere in the Transition Town literature is there any statement that moving towards balanced job complexes, council organization of work and community, participatory planning instead of markets, are goals. Instead, they are focused on transitioning to a world using less petroleum, on a community basis.

(And parenthetically, a rant I have against many "localization" groups championing small business and small communities is that small businesses can be just as exploitative to workers and the environment as big businesses,  and that small communities are not necessarily models of tolerance and diversity. Doug Henwood had a recent interview with Jim Kunstler in which he went into some of this.)

However, a Parecon will not be implemented overnight, and "small businesses" would likely overlap with Parecon cooperatives for a while. (I will need to go back to my copy of "Real Utopia" to remind myself of all the essays on strategy that have already been written…) For the next few years at least, education about Parecon within this movement, and Parecon cooperative implementation in a subset of Transition Town communities, might be the best we could hope for.

Does anyone know if any work is being done on this front?



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