Solidarity Economy is an evolving form of alternative economics. It is usually the economic basis idea of communes and of some other forms of intentional community.
The Solidarity Economy is an alternative development framework that is grounded in practice and the in the principles of: solidarity, mutualism (Mutual Aid), and cooperation; equity in all dimensions (race/ethnicity/ nationality, class, gender, LGBTQ); social well-being over profit and the unfettered rule of the market; sustainability; social and economic democracy; and pluralism, allowing for different forms in different contexts, open to continual change and driven from the bottom-up.
(From the US Solidarity Economy Network Homepage Intro USSEN)
The Solidarity Economy can be seen
a) as part of the “third sector” in which economic activity is aimed at expressing practical solidarity with disadvantaged groups of people, which contrasts with the private sector, where economic activity is aimed at generating profits, and the public sector, where economic activity is directed at public policy objectives, or
b) as a struggle seeking to build an economy and culture of solidarity beyond capitalism in the present.
Part of the Social Economy and more
The Solidarity Economy is often considered part of the social economy, forming what might be termed the “social and solidarity economy” (from the French “économie sociale et solidaire”). However, an organisation seeing itself as part of the solidarity economy generally goes beyond achieving purely social aims: it aims to put right an injustice by expressing solidarity.
Solidarity Economy as a Network
Up to now, the Solidarity Economy is a growing global network of activists, organizers and organisations, who believe that solving our most pressing political, economic, social and environmental problems requires a revolutionary transformation on a global scale. These people and groups are investigating and developing ways to build collaborative support systems for solidarity economy development. Examples might include: coordination between solidarity economy producers, suppliers and distributors; collaborative marketing, branding and distribution; group purchasing of insurance, energy, supplies; peer support & tech. assistance.
The solidarity economy begins on a ‘micro level’ in each country, contending in all spheres – state, market, civil society, culture – with the most reactionary, ‘low road’ elements of capital, both local and global.
Solidarity Economy as part of the Left
As the Solidarity Economy is a set of strategies aimed at the abolition of capitalism and the oppressive social relations that it supports and encourages, it can be seen as part of the global left. It distinguishes itself from old fashioned “state socialism” by the conviction that markets are part of socialism and that all economies are subsets of an ecosystem whose imperatives are ignored at the peril of all. One part of the solidarity economy movement seeks popular and worker’s control of all vital institutions, through radical structural reform through broad alliances among labor, community, youth and ‘high road’ elements of the business community.
Examples of Solidarity Economy organisations
· Fair trade organisations form part of the solidarity economy as their aim is to express practical solidarity with farmers in the developing world by paying them fair prices for their produce.
· Self-help organisations also form part of the solidarity economy as members support each other in dealing with their problems as a practical form of solidarity.
· Co-operatives and especially Worker cooperatives form part of the solidarity economy if their aims include a commitment to solidarity in some form. Example: The Radical Routes Network, UK.
· Trade unions are often considered a key part of the solidarity economy as they are based on the principle of solidarity between workers. Example: Anarchosyndicalism
· Open source development and other forms of commons-based peer production.
· Social center
· Give-away shops and other forms of Gift economy
· Local Exchange Trading Systems (LETS) as a way of replacing money.
· Solidarity lending
· Ethical purchasing
External Links and Sources
German Solidarity Economy Homepage (Deutsch)
Austrian Solidarity Economy Homepage (Deutsch, English and more)
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