State in transition

On April 15, the Dutch television program ‘Tegenlicht’ (Backlight) explored the transition process towards ‘The New Netherlands’. One of the main interviewees was the Dutch professor Jan Rotmans (see short biography below), who’s idea of the facilitating government is – in my opinion – very close to the concept of the partner state as developed by Michel Bauwens.

Here are some of the main statements of Rotmans during this interview, translated from notes by Jeroen Louis that I found on

On the transition:

“We don’t live in an epoch of change, but in a change of epoch”

“In a complex system world, a crisis is a moment to open all doors and windows. For complex systems, a crisis is in fact a feast, because it provides the opportunity to break up enclosed patterns and trodden paths.”

“There are two possibilities: the system moves in another direction en adapts itself to the new reality… or else it dies.”

“If thinks are heating up, we become very creative. Every transition comes with a struggle, if you want it or not, because we are talking about a power shift. From its position of control and command, the existing power is paralyzed. A movement from below develops, by fresh viewers, dissenters and ‘turners’. First, they are ridiculed, then ignored, then taken seriously and then thwarted.”

On the state:

“Government is needed more than ever. But we need a new sort of Government. Government needs really to ‘facilitate’. There are still many obstacles to the movement of citizens from below. They all need to be removed. The Government can help forming coalitions; it can bring different parties together. The Government can help developing smart financial arrangements. It should however not take care of organizing, but allow citizens to organize. This is what I mean by the facilitating government. It is very different from the ‘redrawing government’ (as proposed and put into practice by the ‘Red Tories’ in the United Kingdom – my addition). That government should be very proactive.”

On ‘glocalisation’:

Jan Rotmans described also how consumers are developing slowly into prosumers, a mix of producer and consumer. For instance, people start to generate their own energy, in local communities. This process Rotman describes as “glocalisation”.

The full program (in Dutch), you can watch here :

Short bio

Rotterdam, 26-11-2007EURDRIFTJan Rotmans

Jan Rotmans (1961) is a socially engaged scientist, with more than 200 publications in the field of climate change & global change modelling, sustainable development, and transitions and system innovations. After his PhD-research and work at RIVM he became professor in 1997, at the Maastricht University (ICIS: International Centre for Integrative Studies). In September 2004 he founded the new research institute DRIFT, Dutch Research Institute For Transitions, and became full professor in transitions and transition management at the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Apart from his scientific work he also intends to contribute to a better society. He wishes to open the way to a sustainable society. Therefore a radical change, a transition, is necessary. With his knowledge he would like to make up the rules and transmit them to the people involved in any project, region or sector, so that they can give it a swing into a more sustainable direction.

To give the Netherlands a more sustainable future he co-founded the Urgenda-foundation in 2007. As member of the board he tries to encourage as many people as possible into this movement.

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