"As for Triodos, it's a fact of life that every bank is is on some level advancing a political agenda. Money is always political. None of this makes Transition Towns a cult."
No, it doesnt, but Triodos is a cult, which might work, let's say, by the very powerful technique of offering money to unsuspecting groups who will then of course be indebted to.. a cult. I dont have any proof of this but I am very wary of how Anthroposophy may be gaining ever more influence, and how a group like Transition would be very vulnerable, particularly because there is (almost) a complete lack of awareness about the problems with anthrop. at grassroots (or leadership) level.
Triodos of course has a particular mission to support Steiner schools and projects, or groups that support Anthrop., so clearly Transition will have an interest in supporting those groups as well if it is borrowing from Triodos. I certainly dont see much if any debate from within Transition over the role of cults or Anthrop.;
however, I was told recently that there have been heated debates at Transtion meetings over this very issue. Anthrop. organisations are well-heeled and can offer venues and other facilities to new TTs- an obvious way than can gain influence, but this has apparently proved very controversial;
so this shows both that Anthrops. are influential players in TT and that also there is vigorous opposing views, presumably from those who have been attracted to TT for good reasons of community preparedness, be it for PO and climate change, financial collapse or whatever.
So according to margarets' definitions above, TT is certainly not a cult-yet; it may not even be the unified movement we might assume.
There are worrying trends though, and I dont find dissent along the lines of questioning Anthrop. or homeopathy say, at all welcome in TT circles.
I think these debates should be taking place within Transition, and they probably are, but should be much more prominent.
As I think I said before, many of these trends are prevalent not just in Transition but through the wider enviro movement- as Corboy has pointed out, Permaculture is rife with BD etc, so much so I seriously wonder if it is still a useful concept at all;
scientific illiteracy is a problem for society as a whole, and serves multiple agendas, not just one.
There is an old joke in enviro groups- as soon as a new group forms, watch for the split. This hasnt happened in TT yet but maybe the fault lines are there.
Shakti: you weave into your hypothesis the New Age Anthrops. as an influence on Transition on the one hand and Halliburton, Big Oil and the Far Right on the PO community, but Im not sure you have demonstrated any connection between the two: is Halliburton run by Anthros do you think? The plot thickens! But most likely Colin Campbell, for example, has never even heard of Rudolph Steiner.
(And, again, that ASPO is funded by oil companies is hardly surprising- it was started by retired oil geologists who had spent their entire lives in the industry. Who else are they going to ask funding for conferences from, the local WI?)
The to finish the earlier quote from Campbell:
"...The interest charged represented new money, created out of thin air, which itself gave rise to further debt, with the essential collateral being created by the resulting economic growth. Furthermore, other hidden money flows arose from the control of trading currency: previously the pound sterling and now the dollar , which in effect became the principle artifact and benefit of empire.
"Lastly, it is evident that the system creates ever greater disparity of wealth, which is an invitation to tension. Even I , as a humble pensioner, probably effectively kill one or two Africans everyday, as an indirect result of my minimal demands for goods and services. In short, one man's wealth has to be another's poverty in a world of finite resources".
Colin Campbell, "Oil Crisis" 2005
No wonder Shakti, your ally JD, an EARLY peaker ("I personally think we're at or very near peak production now, on a plateau that will probably not be enough to satisfy the newly industrializing countries while supporting our wasteful usage.") decries the PO "doomers" agenda as "Marxism dressed up in radical environmentalism."
all that bleeding heart stuff about inequality and the exploitation of empire...
Full disclosure: I am not part of a TT group, being a back-to-the-lander and not near a town, but was involved at the very start of TT in Kinsale 5 years ago, and I know and meet many who are in TTs through my work as a PC teacher.
I also used to run Deep Ecology workshops, had an interest in Eco-psychology, was heavily into Yoga and Theravada Buddhism for some years;
was influenced in Joanna Macey's work;
before that I believed in Father Christmas, the Tooth fairy and even God for a time.