29 avril 2009
Back on Lux’09: The globalization of solidarity comes to Europe
Françoise Wautiez

700 people, 59 countries represented of the 5 continents, about a hundred interventions in French, English, Spanish, Portuguese…, continental meetings of the RIPESS, an intercontinental meeting, presence of networks outside of the solidarity economy invited to participate in a common movement. The social and solidarity economy, rich of propositions and initiatives, was well represented at the gathering of Luxemburg, the IV Forum Globalization of Solidarity organized by the RIPESS. How to describe it? This kind of events is very difficult to relate, mixture of feelings, of meetings with incredible people,, of frustrations of no being able to participate at the same time in several workshops, of not having know more about this or that project in Africa or in Asia, project of more than twenty years that must be told in hardly 5 minutes.

The format of the meeting was interesting. Three days of meeting, the first "Illustrations", the second "Discussions", the third "Proposals" during one hour and a half working session. The general feeling was in spite of it all, in most of the workshops to which I participated, that too much time was dedicated to interventions and too little to debate. Besides, the organization of the workshops in several cities reachable by train or or a shuttle complicated the going from one workshop to the other.

In the afternoon, big panels gathered all the participants. On Thursday for example, the speakers wondered on the place of the Social an solidarity economy in the places of decision and its lack of visibility in spite of the weight that it represents in some economic systems. Patrick Viveret spoke of the mental block in general of the our capacity to imagine that led to the different crises that we all know, but that this mental block is also present in the transforming forces of society, including the social and solidarity economy. For him, the ESS doesn’t have the ambition of its means, it is not forming part in a voluntary way of a transforming approach in spite of its systemic vision that includes another approach of wealth, power, money, life styles as well as a capacity to look for the innovating solutions to the different problems put in the economy and the society.

Paul Singer, the expected Secretary to the Solidarity Economy in Brazil, one of the points of the globe where ESS has a more and more important weight, wondered if the ESS represented an alternative to the dominant model. For him, the part of democracy conquered after a long struggle in the capitalism has been swept largely by the neoliberal conterrevolution. Using the financial globalization as a weapon, it weakened the workers’ movement while opting for the relocations and a world market for the working forces, weakening the National States in the same way. For him, it is necessary to reinforce the State, as it is elected democratically. That comment raised numerous questions in the public. Paul Singer finally declared that the ESS can be an alternative, that it had acquired a more and more important weight in several countries of Latin America, Brazil of course, but also through its recognition in the Constitutions of Bolivia and Ecuador and in what he called "the socialism of the XXI century of Hugo Chavez" in Venezuela.

My general impression of the forum was that the social and solidarity economy represents a incredible wealth of practices but also of theories (as showed in the workshop organized by Laurent Fraisse - see the synthesis of these three days attached), a difficult to understand set of networks (an idea of mapping is germinating for the initiatives but I think that it would clearly be necessary to have one of the networks in the 5 continents and between continents with the specificities of each). But all this is counterbalanced by a lack of visibility, probably provoked by a lack of collective ambition. The meetings of the RIPESS are certainly a moment of reference in this difficult but necessary collective construction. Ben Quiñones and the networks of Asia will be the hosts of the next meeting in 2013. The minutes and resolutions of the RIPESS, notably with regard to its European intent of a network, will be soon available on the site http://www.lux09.lu/index.php?id=20.

LUX’09 reinforces our conviction that it is urgent that the ESS changes in order to be an element of answer facing the crisis by proposing a vision, proposals and innovations.