By Enrique del Río, Jeromo Aguado and Raquel Ramirez
Faced with this panorama of abuse of power for their own benefit, of lack of moral scruples on the part of those who should be an example of the contrary, of loss of ethical, universal and positive values while hypocritically preaching the opposite, it is advisable not to waste much time in lamentations and not be contaminated by that easy environment that consists only of criticizing.
It is in these moments when it is necessary to reflect on the importance of the positive action of the solidarity economy and the local community development, which through its experiences throughout the Spanish territory and in the international sphere, is building alternatives and realistic hopes where the People as individuals, are capable of analyzing, thinking, giving their opinion, judging, deciding and committing themselves as a group together with other people to seek, generate and contribute experiences that are the seeds of a better society for all people.
Those of us who believe that this type of economy and development is possible and necessary also believe that a name is not enough to bring about change, since words are not enough and today in the name of the common good the population is shamelessly plundered and robbed . They are the facts, the gestures, the experiences that beyond the title must meet a series of conditions to be an effective tool against the widespread looting that we are witnessing. We understand that for experiences to be truly the construction of alternatives, they have to contain within themselves, united at the same time, the economic, political, cultural, social, ethical and spiritual dimensions.
§ In other words, economically viable and sustainable experiences;
§ politically democratic, participatory, and weavers of networks where people feel that they belong and control themselves;
§ culturally conducive to a practice of free and critical thought, stimulation of the taste for knowledge and permanent research;
§ socially close, affordable, flexible, where the assumption of responsibilities is promoted and one is concerned with reaching the most disadvantaged population that accumulates difficulties of all kinds;
§ Ethically attentive to living the positive values that favor the brotherhood of neighbors, equal opportunities and an attitude of respect for the opinion of others, diversity and freedom of options within the common good interpreted and agreed upon by everyone;
§ Spiritually capable of giving a transcendent meaning to everything that is done, beyond the purely material, seeking the dignity of people above things, knowing that what is built makes sense for the advancement of all humanity, more deeper than the mere visibility of appearances.
So what does the solidarity economy and local community development contribute to this dominant system of looting and pillaging in the name of the common good? Let's see some examples.
Transparency and the social purposes of finance. In our experiences of ethical, solidarity and alternative finance (such as COOP 57 or FIARE) where everyone who puts a euro knows where all of everyone's euros are, to whom it has been lent, under what conditions, and insurance that it has been for a project with a social, ethical and solidarity dimension. And anyone can know all that without waiting for an annual meeting. In the various solidarity economy entities that guarantee employment to more than seven thousand people (where a similar number of volunteers also participate), the accounts are transparent, there are reports that can be verified by all partners and collaborators, whether they are cooperatives. or associations.
The transparency of our finances, our activities and our evaluations contrasts with the opacity that hides the traps, the fiscal engineering and the widespread abuses of power by many of the public leaders to escape the general control and the legal regulations implemented by themselves . It is evident that this transparency when it comes to acting and investing our money, is nothing like the actions of Banks and Savings Banks with respect to deceiving defenseless people regarding investment in the so-called "preferred" or in the evictions from abusive mortgages.
The population is involved in financing to generate employment / work, since our companies generate these opportunities through the investment of the workers, partners and collaborators. In these companies, the risks are planned, decided and assumed in a democratic and collective way, with enough information to know what is assumed when deciding. In addition, in these companies, in many cases the inclusion of people with difficulties who would hardly be welcomed in "conventional" companies is favored.
Certainly this does not happen with economic policy when it comes to applying public investments (money that we have all put through our taxes), which could be used in work to improve public services for the entire population, especially for the worst served and most neglected in the urban peripheries and in the most remote rural areas, but jobs are being destroyed due to the deterioration of an economic policy, which does not stimulate economic activity that responds to the satisfaction of the population's needs, nor does it favor thus an internal market such as, for example, Brazil (which is the country that has suffered the least from the so-called international financial crisis).
And all this, while investing in large businesses that once settled with public funds are privatized and passed on to friends who will then return the favors (read Telefónica, Satélite Hispasat, more profitable parts of the activities of public hospitals, or parts of Renfe's activities that also expropriated private lands years ago in the name of public interests, or the construction of some airports that are not used, or works of art that are bought economically overvalued to favor businesses of friends and relatives of public leaders and a long list of abuses and nonsense ...) Respect for Nature and a sense of "commonness" in the use of resources to produce what is necessary and not what is wasteful.
Our experience of recycling companies that, in addition to generating employment, are culturally carriers, in practice, of respect for nature, as an essential ally to have a healthy life ... and not as another resource to exploit and destroy as long as benefits to the private interests of a minority who believe they have the right to decide on the lives of others and the planet ...
This behavior has nothing to do with the agribusiness practices that pollute our waters and poisons our soils for the sake of greater immediate productivity but that mortgages our productive lands for the very near future. Our experiences have nothing to do with "fracking" that pollutes groundwater under the uncertain and highly unlikely pretext of procuring energy independence from foreign countries, in addition to costing us millions of dollars in investments from the public purse.
The sense of collective property at the service of the common good and the development of the environment. In solidarity economy companies, material goods are instruments for the growth of individuals and the community or collectivity and there is a tendency to reduce inequalities among the population, giving priority to the most disadvantaged and not to accumulation in the hands of a few to doing business at the expense of others ...
Our experiences are those of companies and entities committed to the population of their environment, preparing plans for cultural, democratic and participatory development, plans for maintaining public services and generating employment and income for the population, in order to reach at the end of the month with less financial burdens and with more satisfactions: time banks to pay in time for services that you cannot pay with the economic income that you have, the direct barter of mutual services or material goods that are convenient for both parties, the social currencies that allow the acquisition of services or the consumption of necessary goods within an own circuit of the environment, facilitating the exchange of time, knowledge or means that each person has ... All of them are different ways of bringing the neighbor, citizen, decisions about consumption and production based on their true needs and those of all the people in the territory.
In the villages, the residents have conserved the land, the water and the air for centuries and have repaired with their means the damage to their buildings and monuments that they considered theirs: they have taken care of the church, the cemetery, the gardens, etc. However, the public leaders of broader spheres, especially the most distant ones, have ignored these human, encompassing and satisfactory realities for the growth of people, which facilitated coexistence and the exercise of political, cultural and economic responsibility and have defended the interests of the anonymous and global economic market, which, manipulated from a distance by interests outside the population, does not think about the health of the neighbors, nor the development of culture, nor the preservation of Nature for the good of all, but rather about profitability immediate financial detriment to the population.
In this sense, the Government has just given another twist to this nonsense with the recent law approved on December 27 on "rationalization and sustainability of the Local Administration", where they seek to appropriate communal assets, that is, property collective action of the neighbors, through a maneuver that may be “legal” officially but “illegitimate”. Because it intends to usurp the neighbors' right to decide on communal property to which no one, except the neighbors themselves, has the right, and also seeks the detachment of the neighbors from the political and economic decisions of their territories that they know better than anyone. With this law what they want to achieve is that the towns become landscapes and the neighbors in decorative figures like those of a Christmas Nativity scene that passively serve to decorate.
Hence the importance of continuing with the experiences of solidarity economy and true local development plans where the neighbors can exercise our responsibilities in solidarity, both in the economy, as in politics and in the social, growing in all our cultural dimensions. , ethical, physical, aesthetic, affective, relational and spiritual.