Archive for category Subsidiarity

The Case for a Transition Party USA

By Charlie Keil

A national Transition Party USA would protect the apolitical Transition movement from nearby nuclear disasters, the perpetual wars required by the military-industrial-twoparty-complex that will bleed America dry very soon.

From a local transition and resilience perspective, politics as usual, or politics as we have known it, can only be an interesting distraction at best, or a discouraging and entangling alliance with existing power structures at worst. After attending a day of “transition training,” getting just a taste of the humor, joy and personal passions that can be nurtured when you are following common sense and having a good time building community resilience, I wouldn’t want to pull a single person away from this local process and into national politics. The solutions to the shocks of global peak oil, the shocks of global storming, the shocks of global economic steady declines and sudden collapses, the shocks of desperate populations crossing borders for survival, are going to be almost entirely local.

On the other hand, there may be many people this year and next, who are so alienated by totalitarian big government Republicans and so fed up with the wimpy big government Democrats, that they will want a better choice than the one between the lesser of two evils or the evil of two lessers. In particular, there may be many “teapartiers” who really love the Constitution, truly want to return to traditions, family values, family farms, local autonomy, states’ rights, and 9th Amendment rights to privacy, clean conscience, clear consciousness who will find themselves with no one they can vote for enthusiastically as their Representative in the House or Senate. The Transition Party USA, with citizen candidates advocating for the 7 themes and the 7 principles, could be very persuasive and exciting for the millions of Americans, the vast majority of Americans in fact, who have given up on the so-called “two party system” as corrupt, bought and paid for, unresponsive, irresponsible, a game they no longer want to play.

How could elected Transition Party USA Representatives in the House change anything? They could vote for the very few but very important things that Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich agree upon, i.e. bringing the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan as the beginning of a non-interventionist, non-state-building, anti-empire foreign policy. They could vote against anything and everything that expands the role of the Federal government at the expense of state and local governments. They could lead common sense, rational, science-respecting Democrats and Republicans to close poisonous and dangerous nuclear power plants one by one using appropriate criteria: demographic (too close to major cities), ecological (biggest threat to water supplies), geological (worst earthquake probabilities), past maintenance weaknesses, age of plant, etc. Even a small group of Representatives following “transition to sustainability” values and principles, rather than lobbyist financial incentives, could make a momentous difference in the House of Representatives by voting as if people and the planet mattered!

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I could stop right here. A case a for a “fourth party” (paleoconserving decentralist greens to balance the existing left-green “third party”) well made. But it is important to make two more points:

  1. There are at least ten federal income tax refusers on the right for every tax refuser on the left.
  2. When the economic collapse of 2008 happened I noticed an interesting alliance take shape that lost on key votes.

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Manufacturing? Make It Local

Wouldn’t you know it, her Grey Ladyship, The New York Times, has an opinion piece on the localization of manufacturing. Allison Arieff observes that “the monolithic industry model — steel, oil, lumber, cars — has evolved into something more nimble and diversified . . .  as manufacturers see the benefits of being smaller and paying attention to how patterns of consumption, ownership and use are shifting.”  Mark Dwight started SFMade in 2010 to promote local manufacturing in San Francisco: for example, here’s  an upcoming workshop on setting up a manufacturing process. Kate Sofis, executive director of SFMade, observes:

“Manufacturing isn’t dead and doesn’t need to be preserved,” she says. “Let’s stop fixating on what’s lost. Let’s see what we have here, what’s doing well, and let’s help those folks do better.”

Pride of  place helps in the branding and marketing of local manufactures and, of course, it plays into the sustainability pitch, which is sometimes real, and sometimes not (do I hear BP?).

There’s a similar game afoot in New York City, Made in NYC, and her Grey Ladyship has written a number of articles about local manufacturing successes: envelopes, bicycles, brushes, boilers, specialty lights, and mattresses. And, of course, readers list other examples in their comments. Arieff notes that “growing consumer demand for greener, more ethically produced products, along with skyrocketing unemployment and nervousness about globalization all work in the groups’ favor.”

And those demands are all over the place. Local’s the way to go. After all, that’s where everyone is, no? If you aren’t where you are, then where could you possibly be?

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