Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 28, 2010 07:34AM

An analysis by Nick Nakorn


Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 20, 2011 08:49AM

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: tenrec ()
Date: April 18, 2011 01:00PM

I doubt that there is that much connection between Transition Towns and anthroposophy, and I would not describe either as an outright cult, but I think both attract very cult-susceptible groups of people.

I have had family members involved with anthroposophy. There is an active Transition town movement where I live (state of Washington) and some anthroposophy activities and some overlap but nothing intense.

About 30 years ago my wife and I became involved with a similar group (in Oregon) involved with environmental and educational activities. The group had a strong "new age" slant (which I found distasteful). For the first three years of our involvement, we thought the organization was excellent, but over time we gradually began to realize there were serious problems. The group involved some complex real estate investments involving "socially responsible" real estate investment. It is difficult to describe the situation briefly, but I began to come to the conclusion that quite a few very idealistic and gentle people were losing money and were at a loss in what to do about it. My wife and I were not really losing money ourselves, but we were involved in a real estate contract of very questionable legality. In the past, assertive people sometimes got their money back and simply left, leaving the less assertive people complaining and moping ineffectually. We were not willing to let it go, so we took legal action. It turned into a huge (three-week) trial that went all the way to the state Supreme Court, and was decided almost completely in our favor. Our goal had been to stop what we regarded as a predatory and unethical operation and as far as I can tell we succeeded. Again, the group was not a "cult" in the full sense, but I think it involved a lot of cult-like behavior.

Recently I have been somewhat involved in the local Transition Town movement, and I am having some feelings of deja vu. I think issues such as peak oil, global warming, sustainability, and so on are real issues that is going to impact our society in difficult ways. In that sense, I am interested in and supportive of many of the Transition activities.

However, as I participate in the local Transition activities I feel very uneasy and perceive many attitudes and behaviors similar to the ones I experienced with the earlier group. There is a big difference. (I am being cautious about names here as there were big legal issues involved so I avoid posting specifics that might stir up old feelings and conflicts.) In the earlier group, there was a leader (and some close followers) who engaged in what I considered (and the jury at the trial of our lawsuit agreed) was predatory behavior.

I see no signs of predatory behavior in my local Transition group, but their style of communication and action makes me uneasy. I have others in the group my concerns. My reaction seems to puzzle and distress them.

So I don't think Transition Towns are cults but I think anybody who participates in them should be careful and alert.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: petrus4 ()
Date: August 06, 2012 06:31AM

The country town I'm living in, had a Transition hub start up here last year. I ended up going and doing a permaculture course, partly in anticipation of being involved with them. I'm not currently active in the group, but I'm still on the mailing list.

I will say up front, that I do not consider Transition, in and of itself, to be cultic on a broad or overall institutional level. However, with that said, there are a number of concerns which I've had with the movement, which I will address here. Said concerns are compounded by the fact that I don't feel that it would be productive to even attempt to bring them up with the local group's leader.

My first issue, is with Transition's usual organisational practice. Generally speaking, what they will do, is go into a given town or suburb, and once they've formed a hub, they will then try and assimilate/subsume every organisation in their area, which are devoted to permaculture, land care, or related topics. The major problem with this approach, is that it basically makes Transition a dream for authoritarian psychopaths, as it allows said psychopaths the opportunity to centralise a large number of previously heterogenous organisations, under their sole authority. You might have been in an independent organisation, before Transition came to your town, but once Transition is there, if your group are assimilated by them, and you don't see eye to eye with the psychopath who has self-appointed themselves to run the group, they will simply kick you out, and then you will be entirely isolated.

The woman who runs the local hub in my town, is a case in point. Her background is in marketing with a telecommunications company. In other words, she is a trained, professional liar, and I have seen her use those skills in relation to the hub, particularly when it comes to telling people that the hub is more decentralised, and less authoritarian than it really is.

My second issue, is with Transition's affiliation with the Peak Oil movement. I do not consider Peak Oil to be a rationally legitimate ideology, however this will take some explaining.

I do not doubt the validity of the claim that oil is eventually going to start to run out. Of course it is; that is not my issue. My issue is two fold; that a} Peak Oilers generally believe that once the oil runs out, most of humanity will die, and that b} no other form of electrical generation exists or can be discovers, so that once the coal and oil starts to run out, we'll either die, or all have to go and live in caves.

As one of the leaders of the Peak Oil movement, I don't know if there is a thread on this forum devoted to Michael Ruppert, but if there isn't, there should be. The man is a hysterical fearmonger of the worst possible sort.

My third issue, as briefly touched on above, is that it needs to be understood, that the Transition movement is fundamentally eschatological in nature. That is its' entire underlying premise; the belief that most of us are going to die, and so we need to take steps to assist what few we can, to learn to survive. History has given us some unpleasant examples of what can happen to groups with that sort of mentality; Jonestown and Waco are the two immediate examples that spring to mind.

Rob Hopkins is weird. Not fundamentally ill-intentioned, I don't believe, but weird nonetheless. Then again, I've watched some YouTube videos containing footage of his Steinerian weirdness in action; and given that I have a certain amount of background in occultism, I more or less immediately recognised what the point behind said weirdness was. I wonder if Rob himself actually recognises it, to the same degree. The Unleashing is a magickal ritual, whether it is consciously intended as one or not.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: karenb ()
Date: August 11, 2012 12:33PM

"The Unleashing is a magickal ritual, whether it is consciously intended as one or not."


Too bad all the intention is going to get frittered away by 55yo divorcees using stuff like this as a social group and *intending* to repartner, huh. Or maybe not too bad.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: August 11, 2012 10:52PM

Robert Irwin, in his Memoirs of a Dervish:Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties, looks back on events of 35 to 40 years ago. His observations should be taken to heart by those doing the hard work of today's Green movement.


Margaret Thatcher declared in 1982, "Fashionable theories and permissive claptrap set the scene for a society in which old values of discipline and restraint were denigrated.'

(Irwin notes) Perhaps this is right, but Thatcherism also played a part in the destruction of Old England.

"The country inns turned into gastro-pubs or something worse.

"The corner stores and specialist shops, owned and staffed by identifiable individuals, were giving way to big commerical chains. Brown paper bags were replaced by plastic bags.

The countryside was first marked out as Green Belt and, then having been so designated, became the target for property developers."

Memoirs of a Dervish pp 130-131

Anyone involved in donating labor to a Transition Town has every right to demand, as a work group, and as individuals, that long term monitoring be done of finances and the actual background of groups and loan sources, to make sure that todays transition towns, whether in the United States or elsewhere, remain to the good of local communities, and do not suffer the fate of the British Green Belt described above by Robert Irwin.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: Maple ()
Date: September 05, 2012 10:11AM

Not all cults look to recruit large numbers of people. Apparently Steiner is one of those that doesn't. One of the organizers of the local TT group who is into anthroposophy has always puzzled me. She is very low key about anthro, not seeming to recruit, but once I knew about their beliefs from the posts here and their modus operandi, it all made sense. She also is weird and says some things that make no sense, but infrequently, not often enough to set off big warning bells. Also, these anthros have a big presence at all the events. They have the air of people who think they have special knowledge but don't let on to others who would not understand their higher level knowledge. Also, I'm fed up with faires and gnomes and crap that they insert into events where others volunteer time and energy.

One of the concerns I have is assimilating various groups and wasting the time of the people in those groups by turning the groups toward the inward-looking non-productive agenda (well, perhaps "productive" for the cult). Steiner is one of the behind the scenes types, apparently with a lot of political influence, based on what some other posters have linked/written.

Tenrec and Petrus4, you make some excellent points I'd never thought about before.

Cults are not always about high visibility and recruiting numbers.

Re: Transition Town Movement
Posted by: petrus4 ()
Date: October 02, 2012 11:41PM

Tenrec and Petrus4, you make some excellent points I'd never thought about before.

Cults are not always about high visibility and recruiting numbers.

I'm glad I could help, Maple. As I said, however, I'm not going to label Transition a cult par se. I'm not a psychologist, but I've had an interest in cults and mind control since probably the mid 90s; and in terms of cults, as the saying goes, "I know one when I see it."

Transition is properly defined, IMHO, as being in the grey area. I would define them, strictly speaking, as a non-cultic organisation in the strict sense, but which does have certain specific dynamics, that have a fairly high level of potential for abuse, especially when taken together and operating synergistically. They're not going to run an ashram where they demand you move in and live with them, and then subject you to sleep deprivation, etc. The three main problems I have with them, is the tendency to try to assimilate previously autonomous groups, the tendency to be run by authoritarian types, and the emphasis on Peak Oil, as mentioned.

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