Monday, September 27, 2010

Dissensus in Action

Last month I wrote a post about John Michael Greer's new project, Green Wizardry (8/26/10). I was very excited about what I saw as an attempt to spread skills and pull new people into the alternative energy/organic farming/re-skilling/post oil movement. One group that's been doing a lot of work around this in the Transition Initiative. (See my post on Transition Towns, 8/16/08.)

Therefore, I was quite surprised to find one of the founders of the Transition Initiative, Rob Hopkins, wrote a post that was quite critical of the idea of green wizardry. I found out about it because John Michael Greer (JMG from here) wrote a post in response.

The back and forth between these two is fascinating and actually underlines (as several people have noted) a concept that I have picked up from JMG: dissensus. I wrote a bit about dissensus in my post on What Gives Me Hope (12/30/08).

Briefly, dissensus (the opposite of consensus) is about having a variety of opinions, methods, and/or practices and not trying to reconcile them. I related it to the old statement of 'agreeing to disagree'. Dissensus is important when things are unclear (like what life might be like in a post oil future) because who knows what will work. (Rob Hopkins is the first to admit that he's not sure that the Transition Initiative will work.) Dissensus, in a nutshell, is diversity in action.

The Transition movement and the Green Wizards project are very different approaches to the idea we need to move beyond fossil fuels--and certainly not the only ones. Reading the posts of these two men who have thought so much about possible futures is an education unto itself, including their critiques of each others ideas. Even better is reading the comments of their readers, many of whom pointed out the importance of valuing both approaches.

If you want to expand your ideas about possibilities for the future, I can't imagine a better way than reading these two posts and all the comments. Here is a variety of ways to go--true dissensus in action.

Quote of the Day: "Clearly Transition, Green Wizardry, Low Carbon Communities, engagement in local politics, green social enterprises, etc. etc, are all approaches that might, hopefully, combine into a viable response. I agree entirely that putting 'all our eggs in one basket' would be fatal, and have always argued for Transition as one response, not THE response, not ‘the only show in town’. Heaven forbid. My sense is that this exchange has highlighted the areas where Transition and green wizardry overlap, which has been very useful." - Rob Hopkins

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