Movements that are Part of the Great Turning Movement

This article is based on my ideas about the Great Turning Movement. If you aren’t familiar with them, click here.

Let’s look at how some existing social movements are part of the Great Turning Movement or could be.

Cultural Movements

There were at least four cultural movements that, over time, moved humanity from the Medieval Era to the Modern Era—the Renaissance, the scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, and the industrial revolution. Romanticism was a cultural movement that attempted to undo some of the problems with the Modern worldview. These movements were not organized, in the sense that they didn’t have agendas, demands, or plans for society, and they were loosely coordinated.

Today we have cultural movements such as the holistic health movement, the spiritual/personal growth movement, and probably others. Even though they are only loosely organized and don’t have agendas, they form an important part of the movement for the Great Turning.

Single-Issue Political Movements Against Destructive Things

This includes movements such as Black Lives Matter, Me Too, the climate change movement, and the Trump resistance movement. And there are thousands more. These are all contributing to the Great Turning by dealing with the destructive aspects of the Modern Era.

In addition, there are millions of organizations and groups, many of them local, that aim to deal with the problems of the Industrial Era, as chronicled by Paul Hawken in his book Blessed Unrest. Most of them are part of this larger Great Turning movement. It would be especially helpful if we can help these movements and groups to see themselves from this larger perspective.

I am especially interested in Extinction Rebellion in the U.K. Right now, they are a single-issue organization dedicated to stopping climate change, and they have been pretty successful. However, they say that they have the longer-term goal of transforming society, and they seem to embody many of the values of a transformed society. They have a spiritual foundation; they put an emphasis on having a regenerative culture within their movement; and they have structures in place to care about the emotional well-being of their activists.

The Women’s Movement

The women’s movement is an important aspect of the Great Turning movement. As women begin to fully take back their power, they are showing an amazing ability to win elective office and to influence the world in other ways. Since the Great Turning involves undoing patriarchy and the rise of the feminine, women may very well lead the way into the Regenerative Era. And since women are half of the world’s population, they have enormous power that can’t be marginalized.

The Environmental Movement

The environmental movement has attempted to hold the line against the excesses of the Industrial Era that are undermining our ability to live on a healthy planet. Lately this movement has become very focused on climate change, for good reasons, but it is much broader than that. Recently, it has embraced regenerative agriculture and restoration of local ecosystems, both for the health of the earth and as a way of mitigating climate change. The environmental movement is crucial to the Great Turning because it involves a fundamental shift in the way we humans relate the the natural world. There is much creative ferment in the development of innovative ecological practices and projects. (See Ecological Innovations.)

Liberation Movements

Liberation movements aim to liberate groups that have been oppressed, exploited, and discriminated against. For African Americans, this included the Civil Rights Movement, the Black Power Movement, and more recently Black Lives Matter. (I discussed the Women’s Movement above.) The Gay Liberation Movement has spawned the Gay Marriage movement and the somewhat-related Transgender Movement. Indigenous people’s are also fighting for the rights to their lands and the preservation of their cultures. And now there is a beginning movement for the rights of immigrants, in response to the absurd policies of Trump and other right-wing demagogues.

The Modern Era has been characterized by widespread oppression and discrimination toward those who are different from the mainstream, with some more recent moves toward tolerating differences. These liberation movements are leading the way toward the Great Turning because the Regenerative Era will involve social justice and equality of power. We can see this trend toward liberation blossoming today since young people are openly accepting of all people, not making a big deal about their race, religion, sexuality, or gender.

The Great Turning will involve not just tolerance of diversity but appreciation of diversity. Any system–a community, nation, or the world–is stronger and wiser the more it embraces diversity. This means not only diversity of race, religion, sexual-orientation, and gender, but also age, culture, individual viewpoint, education, and other qualities.  The greater the diversity that is embraced, the wiser a society is, because it incorporates broader understandings in making its decisions.

Oppression and exploitation have, unfortunately, a long human history, starting 5000 years ago in the Empire Era with the beginning of Patriarchy. This started out with power being taken by those who had the greatest military might. Originally, the people gave them this power in return for being protected from invaders. But then this dominating power became entrenched and supported by religious doctrine, as in the divine right of kings. This resulted in massive class systems of oppression which continued through the Medieval era.

Then in the Modern era, it looked, at first, like we would escape this power inequality because of democracy and markets and the move away from monarchy and nobility. However, the market, and then democracy itself, got co-opted by corporate power, and so power inequality has continued in the Modern Era in a different form. Oppression by the nobility got replaced by oppression based on wealth and economic exploitation. Colonialism got replaced by economic colonialism, supported by the World Bank and the IMF.

Oppression in all eras was based partly on differences—in race, religion, culture, etc.–leading to the discrimination we see today. In the Regenerative Era, we will finally resolve economic power inequality, resulting in true power equality.

The Progressive Movement

The progressive movement is an important, too, especially since it seems to be gaining traction in Democratic Party politics. Progressives have focused primarily on economic and racial issues, which are central, but most of them haven’t recognized that we need whole-system transformation. Progressives have mainly been against destructive things. This is crucially important work–to fight against the many threats to our democracy, our health, and our environment, especially now that we are dealing with Trump and the possibility of fascism.

Though the movement for the Great Turning is about much more than electoral politics, the more political success we have, the more we can protect the earth, people, and democracy, which will buy us time to engage in the larger task of transforming society. And the more that progressives are in power, the less likely it will be that the establishment will attack the Great Turning movement.

However, we need to go further than racial and economic justice, as important as those issues are. Hopefully, progressives will recognize the need for complete social transformation, because they have an important role to play in the Great Turning.

The Climate Movement

This must be a central part of the Great Turning. Since it is so needed at this time of great danger, I have devoted a separate article to the Climate Movement. Click here to read it.