The closing event was filled with strong presentations, but we chose Marian’s for its overview of the sheer scope and variety of the Social Solidarity Economy in Spain and, secondly, to highlight the need for intersectional complementarity among post-capitalist movements. This article is also closely linked to our translation of A Charter for the Social Solidarity Economy.
Weaving Social Solidarity networks to transform the economy
REAS (Solidarity and Alternative Economies Network) is a network of networks launched in 1995. It presently unites 14 territorial and 4 sector-based networks in the Spanish state. All together, we’re talking about 697 organizations and companies directly employing more than 13,000 people, and which have inspired over 35,000 volunteers to work together in building this solidarity economy. To this, we must add the thousands of people working in cooperative projects around ethical finance (nearly 8,000) and renewable energies (over 85,000) or consuming local agriculture (there are countless CSA projects scattered around Spain). Together, we’re a wide-ranging network of organizations working on the construction of an alternative, solidarity economy capable of transforming our economic and social realities.
And we do it because we’re committed to spreading our solidarity economic practices to every single economic circuit required to live a decent, satisfying life. We want to be a real alternative to capitalism. This is why our companies and organizations:
- Are present in the field of cooperative production in sectors like agroecology; waste management, retrieval, and recycling; human care and assistance; social intervention services; communications and free culture, to give some examples.
- Support the development of social markets, short-range (local) circuits of trade, fair trade and food sovereignty, while also supporting non-monetary exchanges through time baking, barter or social currencies.
- Advocate for and defend discerning, conscious and transformative consumption and self-sufficient and sustainable ethics that cover real needs, not those conceived and imposed by capitalist markets.
All of the organizations and businesses within REAS have committed ourselves to honor and develop the principles laid out in the Charter for the Social Solidarity Economy. These principles are the basis of our identity, understanding and approach to the alternative economy. This commitment transcends mere formality — each year, all of our organizations carry out a social balance exercise1 to assess our commitment toward these solidarity principles. This exercise is made publicly available.
We want to co-create a model for development that is fairer, more participative, human, sustainable, feminist and based in solidarity. A model including values like care and community work, commitment to people, self-management, mutual aid and collaboration. And we want to build this process hand in hand with other transformative economies and resistance-based, denunciatory and critical social movements.
Over the last few years, we have tried to assimilate the invaluable lessons learned from feminist and ecological economics as an integral part of our identity as a social solidarity economy, and as part of that other world that is possible. We’re already meshing with other transformative economies and have begun a process of alignment with their movements.
So far, this has caused us to embrace the sustainability of life as the founding principle of both our discourse and organizational practices. We must acknowledge that our lives are both eco- and inter-dependent, and that these two types of material dependencies, made tangible through ecofeminism, are the bedrock of all solidarity economies. This is the only way forward towards building modes of production, distribution and consumption that place human and natural life at the heart of our economic and social systems; an alternative economy in service to people and planet.
This has made us affirm that the solidarity economy must also be a feminist economy. This has led to the creation of strategies to make our organizations and companies feminist ones. How so? By eliminating all gender inequalities present within our organizations, whether in their structures, workflows, decision-making processes, strategies or cultures.
We advocate for creating a common agenda for the different transformative economy movements present here today and we believe that this agenda has to be built at the local and global levels. We also believe that there must be a long-term agenda to reclaim this other world which already exists, the world of transformative economies, and to ensure that it’s a world reflecting more movements, territories and persons.
We believe we must continue
to weave more networks to transform the economy, and life!
- Translated and produced by Stacco Troncoso; edited by Ann Marie Utratel
- Originally presented as a speech in the convergence meeting of the World Social Forum for Transformative Economies.
- Lead image by Mercè Moreno Tarrés (Guerrilla Media Collective).
- All other images sourced from Transformadora.org
1. [El Balance Social or “Social Balance Exercise” is a yearly procedure where Social Solidarity Economy initiatives in the Spanish State self-evaluate according to six criteria: non-profit orientation, internal democracy, equity and feminist perspectives, environmental commitment, social commitment and decent livelihoods. You can find more information here (in Spanish).]↩