12 Stages of a Great Transformation

"In the big picture, I believe that we may be at the beginning of a great transition to a new ecological civilization. From my reading of history, a change as great as this moves through twelve stages", writes Dauncey

# The Twelve Stages

# Stage 1 (Comfort) All is well. There is change, invasion, death and upheaval (as ever), but the foundations of the civilization are solid. This was the state of the feudal era in Europe in the 12th century, and in the industrial era in Europe and North America the 1950s. In Stage 2 (Crisis), there is such an accumulation of trouble and woe that people snap, and lose belief in the rightness of the era. This happened to feudalism in the 18th century, and it is happening to the industrial era right now, prompted by the climate and ecological emergencies and the parallel economic and cultural crises. In Stage 3 (Emergence), new feelings, values and sentiments emerge. As the feudal era moved into crisis people wanted to throw off the chains of servitude. As the industrial era moved into crisis, people began wanting to deepen their inner connection with nature and to restore a sense of community to the cities, towns and villages where they live, to heal their increasingly lonely lives. In Stage 4 (New Ideas), thinkers and philosophers give voice to the new feelings. As the feudal era ended, new ideas emerged around science, enquiry, reason and individual liberty, finding expression in the Reformation and the Enlightenment. As the industrial era ends, new ideas are emerging around evolutionary theory, consciousness, permaculture, a green economy, the importance of community, and cooperative economic development without dependence on growth. At every stage, supporters of the old order fight back, using whatever means they can get away with. At the end of the feudal era these included oppression, punishment, exile and execution. At the end of the industrial era, they include corporate control of the media, corporate intrusion into universities, the denial of academic advance to new thinkers, and heavy-duty social media trolling. In Stage 5 (A New Platform), the feelings, values and ideas give birth to concrete demands for change. At the end of the feudal era, it was demands for suffrage, the right to organize, a shorter working week, and (in Europe) the end of slavery. At the end of the industrial era it is … but here the story grows weak, for the platform is weak. The Green New Deal is emerging as an articulated program, but it addresses only one aspect of the fourfold crisis of climate, ecology, economy and culture. It has add-ons for jobs and justice, but no coherent platform to address the three other crises. The exception is in Europe, where European Spring, inspired by Yanis Varoufakis, has assembled an exceptionally cohesive and integrated proposal for a Green New Deal (www.europeanspring.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/EuropeanSpring-Manifesto.ENG_.pdf). Meanwhile, supporters of the old order continue to fight back. At the end of the feudal era, their methods included the police, the armed forces, the law courts, the prisons and exile. At the end of the industrial era they include personal attacks, vilification, and the exploitation of public ignorance to undermine and mock new ideas and proposals. In Stage 6 (Mass Movement), people mobilize around the new feelings, values, ideas and platforms and form a mass movement. At the beginning of the industrial age, mass movements broke out in the French Revolution, the Chartists, the socialist movements for workers’ rights and the suffragette movement. At the end of the industrial age and the beginning of the new ecological civilization mass movements broke out to demand nuclear disarmament, civil rights, environmental threats, women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, and most recently, climate action. In Stage 7 (New Political Parties), people step up to become political leaders and form new parties to advance a new platform, however weak and ill-prepared it may be. At the start of the industrial era in Europe, it was the liberal parties that carried the torch for change, in opposition to conservative parties. Later, communist and social democratic parties joined the fray. As the industrial era fades away and we approach a new ecological civilization, the Green Party has arisen, and in America, trapped in a flawed and corrupted two-party system, social democratic leaders with strong green leanings are attempting to win control of the Democratic Party. In Stage 8 (A New Story), the new feelings, values and ideas merge with the hopes that the new parties provide to offer a new story, providing inspiration for the future. In the industrial era the new story was one of mechanical, material and economic progress, involving the domination of nature and of people who lacked the weaponry to resist. London’s Great Exhibition of 1851 was a powerful expression of the new story, with people flocking from all over Britain and abroad to gaze at the new technologies and be amazed. The same hope was experienced at the World Fair in Chicago in 1893. And meanwhile, another new story also appeared, promising a socialist workers’ paradise. As the industrial era ends, a coherent new story is emerging that tells of a new ecological civilization and everything this promises. It is far from common currency, however, and in the absence of a new story, many more people fear that the future will bring dystopia and the collapse of civilization altogether. In Stage 9 (A Cohesive Platform), the new parties develop cohesive platforms of policies and ideas that can usher in the new era. In France, such a new platform arose with the French Revolution. In Britain, delayed by fears of a similar revolution, the change began in the 1840s with the repeal of laws upholding the landed-aristocrats, the opening of markets to free trade and the development of modern banking.

# Stage 10 (A New Government) The new political parties develop full-spectrum platforms that give expression to the new story. They bolster faith in a future that is positive and hopeful; they win elections and they form governments. As the industrial era developed, social democratic parties won elections and formed governments in many European nations and communists seized power in Russia. As we prepare to enter a new ecological civilization, we have yet to reach this stage – but it may be only five or ten years away. Somewhere, a country is going to elect a government whose politicians grasp the full vision of a new ecological civilization. As the possibilities of taking power become real, the danger of a split becomes high. Between the 1880s and the 1940s, the division between the social democrats and the communists was so extreme that in 1932 in Germany, when together they controlled a majority of the votes and seats in the Reichstag, rather than form a coalition government they allowed Hitler to rise to power. In Stage 11 (New Practices and Behavior), behaviors change both from below, driven by changing values and ideas, and from above, driven by government law and regulation. As the industrial era gives way to a new ecological civilization, change has already begun on a voluntary basis, led by visionary farmers, foresters, architects, engineers, economists, urban designers and so many others. In Stage 12 (Comfort), the new era becomes the norm, and a stable culture builds around it. There are places where people living in cohousing projects, ecovillages, organic farms and sustainable walkable urban communities are already experiencing this comfort in their immediate lives, even while they fear danger and collapse in the world around them. Our reality, because of the dynamics of the climate crisis, is that even once we have achieved the transition it may take several hundred years for climate stability to return. While our descendants may be able to enjoy the delights of a new ecological civilization, it will be many generations before the damage is healed.


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# See also

# Sources

Guy Dauncey, by e-mail, discussing the text: THE CLIMATE MOVEMENT'S STATE OF PLAY by Bill Mc Kibben, Thursday, May 2, 2019 on GTN list