Should Transition Movement Leave Politics at the Door?

May 31, 2011
Sami Grover

As the massive impact of just one Transition group has shown, this community-led response to peak oil and climate change is having very real influence on how villages, towns and cities around the world operate—and it is often doing so by avoiding the traditional realm of political activism, instead focusing on grass-roots projects and inclusive, community-focused initiatives. But some in the movement feel like this is a mistake. Voices are being raised that suggest that unless Transition embraces political activism, it risks being sidelined and becoming irrelevant. So could political activism help take Transition to the next level, or would it ensure that it will forever be a niche movement for a self-selecting group of people.

Activism Already Evident in Transition
In many ways this is not a new debate. And many in the Transition movement are already engaging actively with politics. From Transition Heathrow's squatter activism and subsequent police raid, to Transition activists engaging in debate over swinging government spending cuts, it's certainly true to say that to draw a fundamental line between community-building and politics is both impossible, and probably counter productive. Everything we do is political, and everything is influenced by politics.

Must Transition Embrace Political Activism?
Charlotte DuCann, writing over at the Transition Network, argues that it is time for the Transition Movement to "lock on" and embrace explicitly political activism as a means to furthering local resilience. She notes that many folks involved in Transition are activists anyway, but they find themselves keeping quiet about these activities within the movement—almost leading separate lives depending on what role they are in. 

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