” transition is a cultural revolution””According to Gilding, economic growth and the debt crisis are not, ultimately, due to the systemic working of capitalism but rather, the values and ideas that citizens have chosen to adopt. It follows that the central task for transition is a cultural revolution – an over-­‐turning of presently dominant competitive and individualistic values and ideas – to be replaced by a culture that fosters healthy relationships, community building, and rewards altruism and simple living (Latouche, 2009: 34). This in turn will pressure governments to make the radical policy shifts required for the deep green vision to be realised (assuming democracies are functioning sufficiently well).

Moves towards shaping this new culture require efforts at all levels of civil society, as well as within business and government. At the household level, individuals and families are encouraged to downshift and simplify lifestyles. There is evidence this process has begun with nationwide surveys indicating a quarter of Australian and British middle-­‐aged adults downshifting in the ten years prior to 2001 (Hamilton and Breakspear, 2003a; Hamilton and Breakspear, 2003b). In the largest empirical study of the ‘voluntary simplicity’ movement, it has been estimated that as many as 200 million people, to varying degrees, have begun exploring lifestyles of reduced and restrained consumption (Alexander and Ussher, 2012), signifying a movement of potentially transformative significance if it ever radicalised and organised itself with political intent (see also, Holmgren, 2013).”

Dear friends and colleagues,

We are pleased to begin this new year with the publication of a new Simplicity Institute Report by Samuel Alexander and Jonathan Rutherford, entitled ‘The Deep Green Alternative: Debating Strategies of Transition.’

This report is freely available from the link below, which is followed by a brief overview of the report.


In this paper we do not seek to defend, as such, the ‘deep green’ alternative, but rather analyse the most prominent strategies that have been put forth to bring it into existence. In other words, we take the vision (outlined in the report) for granted – we assume a deep green alternative is necessary – and critically analyse how such an alternative may be realised. We begin by outlining the deep green
vision with a very broad brush, in order to give the more critical and substantive sections some context. It seems to us that there is some interesting and heartening overlap with respect to the envisioned ‘end state’ of the deep green school, and yet there is fierce debate over how to get there.

Our primary interest in this paper, therefore,
is to examine these various theories of transition or transformation

– ranging from parliamentarianism to socialism to anarchism – in order to highlight the most important factors at play, and hopefully shed some light on the question of ‘strategy’. While we do not expect or even intend to provide answers to this thorny question, the paper should serve a worthwhile purpose if it helps clarify the debate and bring more attention to the issues under consideration.

It’s shaping up to be a busy and productive year for the Simplicity Institute. As always, we are grateful for your continued interest and support.

Simon Ussher and Samuel Alexander

Directors of the Simplicity Institute

43 Watling St, Tauranga, New Zealand


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