A Social Movement for the Great Turning

As you know, the world is in the midst of serious problems, which may lead to breakdown or even collapse. These are happening because we are at the end of the Modern Era of social evolution, and this era no longer can handle the massive problems it has created. We need to undergo a major transformation of virtually everything about our society, so that we can progress into a new era that can solve these problems and also gain us a much more satisfying way of life. For more on this, click The Planetary Crisis and Social Transformation.

The transformation has been called the Great Turning. For a fuller discussion of this phenomenon, click The Great Turning.

A Social Movement for the Great Turning.

I believe that we need to nurture the social movement for the Great Turning–for whole-system, life-affirming transformation—as our best chance for survival. A movement is different from an organization. It is a collection of individuals, groups, and organizations working toward a common social or political goal.

This movement isn’t limited to people willing to take to the streets. It involves many kinds of study, self-reflection, innovation, and action. There is a place for everyone who wants to come together to transform the world.

The beginnings of this Great Turning movement already exist and are growing, but they aren’t coordinated, and I suspect that many people, organizations, and initiatives that are making a contribution to the Great Turning may not even realize it. I believe that explicit collaboration is essential for reaching our goal.

There has been a lot written about how we, as individuals, can orient ourselves to the Great Turning and take appropriate action, but we aren’t going to succeed at this as individuals alone. Our orientation toward individualism is actually part of the problem (though we will still have healthy individuality in the new society). People who care about the world and want to make a difference often come together in conferences or online events, but these rarely lead to something on-going. We need to come together in a sustained way.

Joanna Macy has delineated three types of activism that are needed at this time in history.

  • Holding actions in defense of the earth.
  • Changing people’s worldviews.
  • Creating new healthy social structures.

I have expanded this to an 8-part vision for the movement, which I will elaborate over the rest of this article.

  • Waking people up to the danger and urgency of the moment.
  • Protecting the earth, people, and democracy.
  • Providing a vision of a transformed society and how to get there.
  • Developing a healthy, regenerative movement culture with loving, empowered members.
  • Aiding in the transformation of worldviews and values.
  • Creating social, ecological, professional, and economic alternatives.
  • Collaborating with movement organizations and publicizing the movement.
  • Transforming governance.

A Social Movement for the Great Turning

There is tremendous power in a movement that is working together. Let’s look at a simple example. There are lots of individual actions that any of us could take, such as boycotting Amazon or putting our money into a credit union rather than a big Wall Street bank. But when I think about doing one of these actions, it seems sort of pointless because I don’t know that many other people are doing it. With a movement, we could reach out to all members and suggest such an action, such as moving our money to credit unions. Then we could ask everyone to let us know when they have done that and which bank and credit union were involved, and we could continuously publicize information about the growing numbers of people doing that, both to the world and to the movement. Most people would be much more likely to take action under these circumstances.

I have found a few other initiatives aimed at the Great Turning, which we are exploring collaboration with. We all need to work together on this, and it doesn’t matter whose ideas succeed or who gets the credit.

The following pages fill out these ideas in more detail:

Qualities of the Great Turning Movement. What qualities will be needed for a successful movement?

Principles of a Regenerative Society. A look at the principles that underlie and support a healthy transformed society.

Visions of a Regenerative Society. An exploration of proposals for the social, economic, and political structures of a regenerative society, to inspire us about what is possible.

Movements that are Part of the Great Turning Movement. A look at how these movements are contributing to the Great Turning and how they could contribute even more.

The Climate Movement and the Great Turning Movement. A discussion of the relationship between the climate movement and the Great Turning Movement.

Attitudes and Processes in the Great Turning Movement. A discussion of some attitudes that are needed for the movement to be successful–the process view, appreciation of other perspectives, fun, spirituality, and experimenting.

Difficulties the Movement for the Great Turning Will Face. A discussion of various problems the movement will have to deal with–lack of time, attacks from the establishment, right-wing demagogues, and breakdown/collapse.

Developing a Regenerative Culture for the Great Turning Movement. Exploring how the movement needs to be an example of the regenerative culture that we are aiming for in the Great Turning.

Aiding in the Transformation of Worldviews and Values. How we can enhance the natural transformation of people’s worldviews as we enter the Regenerative Era.

Creating Alternatives. Exploring examples of innovative alternatives–social, economic, professional, and ecological–that are models for aspects of a regenerative society.

Collaborating with Aligned Organizations. How we can grow the movement by collaborating with organizations that are or could be part of it.

An 8-Part Vision for the Great Turning Movement. Some more detail about each of the 8 parts plus links to pages that go into more detail.

Great Turning Network. The Great Turning Network is a fledgling organization that I have started to catalyze the Great Turning Movement and also to provide a way to support and empower people who want to contribute to the Great Turning.

I want to express appreciation to Michael Goldstein for many illuminating discussions about these topics, for presenting together, and for influencing this article in helpful ways.