Transformation was launched in 2013 as part of the global website openDemocracy. Its goal was “to publish great writing at the intersection of the personal and the political,” and to foster debate and discussion about the possibilities for radical change inside ourselves and in the world around us.
The essence of transformation, like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, is that something qualitatively different can emerge from existing structures when they are challenged, broken up and re-imagined around a different operating system.
Elements of those existing systems remain (just like the essence of the butterfly already existed inside the chrysalis), but some boundary constraint is crossed or some deep-seated blockage removed to facilitate a permanent shift in direction – for example, towards economies that generate justice and wellbeing, or new forms of politics and activism that can bring people together and break the logjam of vested interests.
Transformations of this nature mean changing the deep structures of self and society that underpin all human institutions, and re-fashioning relationships on a different grounding of community and sharing instead of individual self-interest. Take climate change for example – which cannot be managed successfully unless we lower our own consumption levels – or deepening democracy, which can only take place when we are willing to engage with those who disagree with us.
Hence, personal change is not New Age narcissism – it means engaging in the daily struggle for dignity and justice in a different spirit that opens up more effective routes to action. In this sense “justice is the public face of love” as Cornel West puts it, but love flourishes more easily when new institutions are built on sharing and solidarity instead of the mindless pursuit of competition, growth and power.
As social movements throughout history have discovered, uniting the personal and political elements of change is the key to transformation. Take the example of the civil rights movement, which secured new legal protections against discrimination but also changed public norms concerning racial equality on a much deeper level, and developed more effective methods of nonviolent activism through which people came to a new sense of themselves and their relationships with others.
Between 2013 and 2020, Transformation published over 1,500 articles which explore this philosophy across geography, economics, politics, culture and social activism. All of these articles can be read for free here, either by scrolling through successive pages (using the numbers at the foot of the screen), or by using the search button at the top of the screen to find articles associated with names, places and keywords.
The Transformation website is not currently accepting new submissions but hopes to do so in the future once a new editor has been appointed by openDemocracy.