Monday, July 18, 2011

Transition Towners and Lifeboaters

TT, as a non-membership non-organisation is inevitably going to have a make-up (can't really call it structure, can we?) where the greatest number are the least committed and the most committed will be the smallest handful. That is the nature of any movement that comes into being on such a broad base. TT can only really act as a consciousness raising endeavour. Any attempt to actually push forward a practical agenda for survival at a pace that gives even the remotest possibility of success requires that all parties agree to obey a central command whether or not they agree with every decision made by the command. The  command can be democratic or autocratic, actually it makes not much difference practically. For an example of democratic centralism I would give the Bolsheviks, for autocratic centralism I would give the Nazis. This is not the modern way, not the liberal way, not the Kiwi way, but it is the only way to effect rapid transformation.
 I would hazard a guess that most of the most prepared have a small or zero public profile- these are the lifeboat builders. some will be gun-toting survivalists, others will be established farmers in remote areas planning to bring their extended families home when the crisis hits hard. A few will be "people just like us" only better organised. The Koanga lot over at Hawkes Bay would be in that category. They have had a presence on the TT website, but by their own admission they are not TTers. They believe its too little too late. I tend to agree.
 A common thread is that they are more or less secretive. Their greatest fear is of their lifeboats being sunk by the burden of too many fellow travellers. Koanga actively sought out a site far away from a major city, ostensibly to discourage members from taking paid jobs rather than commit wholeheartedly to the project. I am sure they realised that it would also put them far away from a major source of would-be fellow travellers when the crisis comes.
 Ironically, those who have tried to build lifeboats have struggled. I know of three groups personally, one started thirty years ago, one fifteen and the other five years ago. They all failed to find a crew for their lifeboat. People came and looked, told them what a great idea it was, but they decided they would rather be captain of their own lifeboat than first officer training for joint command of someone elses. Of course the vast majority of these didn't actually get to build a lifeboat of their own at all. The lot that started thirty years ago just sold their lifeboat because they were too old to sail it. To the very end they failed to find a crew.
 Me? I think that if things get that bad it won't be the would-be fellow travellers that swamp the boats, it will be the government, or what's left of it, will torpedo the lifeboats to punish the lifeboaters for daring to think up such an audacious scheme, and to enable the common herd to each have a tiny piece of driftwood to clutch for comfort as they drown anyway. To that end, I refuse to keep my lifeboat a secret.


  1. Thanks Kev for this post. I've almost made the decision to start on emmigating to NZ.

    My grandfather left Poland between the two wars sensing some catastophe. I now feel the same way and see it crumbling here in the states. My job is upgrading from just boating education (I'm the State of New Mexico as a park ranger) to getting ready for more militarization as both drug wars and economic upheaval loom large. Strange days.

    Worse yet I really believed that New Mexico would be the place to make a transition system come into fruition but the corporate behavior pillaged here as well.

    My old 1950's house was retrofitted for passive and active solar systems and solar power the middle of the city. The chickens and backyard garden has helped keep some sanity as well. Maybe this is the only lifeboat I will have but I'll make the final decision once I visit NZ late next year.

    On a curious note, how do the kiwis regulate the corporate form? Does the people have a say in who gets limited liability? Is NZ a signatory to the WTO?

    SV BS MS Natural Resources Management and Policy

  2. Ranger 1, NZ is highly deregulated, but there is a strong grassroots movement building to oppose the selloff of land, utilities and resources to foreign and transnational corporate interests. Whether it will succeed is another matter. We have an election in November, the result will be interesting, I expect the Greens and NZfirst, who are both opposed to asset sales, may end up holding the balance of power over the two main parties, which will make for an interesting result.
    Although we didn't have bank baleouts on the scale of the US, The government created a credit guarantee scheme and opened it to all sorts of dodgy property speculation funds, ended up paying out NZ$ 6 billion when they went down the tubes, thus creating a massive defecit that needs to be serviced by the taxpayer or asset sales. In my opinion the whole thing was an opportunist scam to create the justification for selloffs.
    When you come to NZ, come visit us if you're near Nelson. You can send me your email by the comments. Moderation is on so it won't get published, I will send you mine by return.