Tuesday 10 January 2012

Economics and Livelihoods - Transition's response to Occupy's concerns?

Over my Christmas/New Year holiday, whilst I was without internet in the depths of Normandy, I finally managed to finish reading Prosperity Without Growth, the seminal book by Tim Jackson subtitled "Economics for a Finite Planet". His analysis of our current economic problem is in-depth but still logical and understandable to the reader. Every single chapter adds new understanding to the issues, meaning that my copy has practically every other line highlighted and notes scribbled in the margins every few pages.

It was with little surprise that I found that the themes discussed at Occupy Norwich's "What's Occupy About?" meeting last Saturday (which will be continued next Saturday at the same time of 12 o'clock at the Occupy camp, Hay Hill) chimed with so many points I had read only a few days before. The fact that a book which is essentially about economics also covered issues of environmental degradation, fractured society and political dysfunction (which are also the broad theme areas of Occupy Norwich's meeting) just goes to show how inextricably these issues are interlinked.

Even many of those with no involvement or even a hostile attitude to the Occupy movement still have the same societal concerns, if the first few responses to Occupy Norwich's survey (which I urge you and all your friends to partake in) is anything to go by.

Where there is disagreement (which in some cases is really quite extreme) it is within the appropriate responses and solutions to such problems. Even within Occupy Norwich's monetary reform working group, there are highly differing attitudes to a graduated move to full-reserve banking, gold as a medium of exchange, local currencies and the elimination of money altogether.

Notes from the What's Occupy About session. The four central coloured squares are the theme areas, specifics surrounding them, colour-coded.
At the "What's Occupy About" meeting, this presence of disagreement led to discussion on what the movement's role is within this complex and ever-changing discourse. The conclusion, at least as far as I am concerned, was that Occupy is there to initiate discussion, inspire idea generation, inform and educate, but not to be a solution in and of itself, a role carried instead by individuals, organisations and campaigns that may arise out of, but not directly be a part of, Occupy.

Transition Norwich, I feel, is one such "solution organisation". Ok, Transition's actions are always in flux and depend largely on who has time and energy to push forward any particular project, but nonetheless, Transition is about actions. Transition Norwich has already implemented positive responses in all the projects that have been set up in the last three years, but there is still lots more we could do!

Images: Prosperity Without Growth, my copy; Occupy A Few Minutes; notes from What's Occupy About typed up by Robert Vincent.

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