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|South Africa: Building the Solidarity Economy from Below|
From the 20-23rd January 2011, 250 delegates gathered at Wits University, South Africa to discuss the emerging solidarity economy movement. Building a new food system based on the principles of social justice, democracy and ecological consciousness must be a part of the broader vision for change, argues this document from the Conference of the Democratic Left.
31st January 2011 - Published by Democratic Left Front
The ecological and economic crisis of South Africa’s
transnationalising capitalist economy is also reflected in increasing
hunger, increasing food prices, unhealthy diets and polluting
agro-processing food production. Advancing an Anti-Hunger and Food
Sovereignty Campaign challenges this reality and politicises the food
question in a more consistent way. Such a campaign has to be advanced
bottom up, through a participatory democratic logic for Democratic Left
politics. These campaign notes intend to promote such a process and
emerge out of the Gauteng Democratic Left conference held in March 2010.
The Solidarity Economy (SE) Alternative in South Africa
The Solidarity Economy Alternative has existed since the 19th century when workers attempted to challenge the negative consequences of industrial capitalism. Today these traditions and practices are being renewed through the World Social Forum and popular forces in the global South and North wanting a socialist alternative that is not state centric and which is grounded in an ecological perspective, an Eco-socialist perspective. To this extent the solidarity economy alternative is not the same as the ‘social economy’ or ‘social business movement’ or ‘informal economy’ seeking change within the system. It is certainly not:
In short the solidarity economy alternative and movement is transformative, seeking to go beyond capitalism. The emerging solidarity economy alternative and movement is also one of many responses from below to the multifaceted crisis – ecological, economic, social and political - of global capitalism. It is a collective humanist response and democratic alternative from below to the crisis we face. It draws on our common humanity as the basis for solidarity action. More concretely the solidarity economy is a voluntary process organised through collective struggle and conscious choice to establish a new pattern of democratic production, consumption and living that promotes the realisation of human needs and environmental justice. South Africa’s solidarity economy and movement exists in pockets, little islands of isolated cooperatives, for example, and is an emerging activist current but has not taken an institutional form. To overcome this the solidarity economy alternative has to be part of a broad vision to construct a socialised and ecological mode of production. It is a process that seeks to achieve:
The solidarity economy process has the potential to become the central means for meeting the requirements for society and nature to sustain themselves. The state and market can potentially be subordinated to the logic of the solidarity economy. This is a crucial strategic vision for activism, movement building and all activities that inform the solidarity economy process. Some of the main ethical values guiding the emerging solidarity economy and movement are: caring, sharing, self reliance, honesty, democracy, equality, learning, ecological consciousness, social justice and openness.
The process of building a solidarity economy is guided by the following principles:
The Solidarity Economy Alternative is an initiative of the
Democratic Left. We are seeking to advance the solidarity economy
alternative as a grass roots led activist process, as an independent
movement and a transformative alternative. The Anti-Hunger and Food
Sovereignty Campaign is a crucial thrust to lay the basis for building a
solidarity economy alternative and movement.
Objectives of the Anti-Hunger and Food Sovereignty Campaign
The objectives of this campaign are as follows:
For this campaign to be transformative it cannot reduce the food question to charity or subsistence. Neither can it focus narrowly on ‘food prices’ and anti-competition policy within the system. These are important aspects of an anti-hunger campaign but in themselves are not transformative.
The tactics of this campaign must lay the basis
for ecological transformation and structural change for a solidarity
economy mode of production. It must place popular and working class
control of food(production, distribution, consumption) at the centre of
food politics. This means taking the food question beyond capitalism and
its globalised value chains to ensure local food sovereignty.
Direct Action Tactics
Are one part of the campaign to raise awareness, mobilise mass forces
and problematise the globalised fossil based agro-processing value
chain. It is about taking the fight to capital and the state. This could
include legal challenges to price fixing but must go beyond this to
also include placard demonstrations, mass rallies, marches etc outside
food monopolies, the Johannesburg Stock Exchange and so on. It could
even include a food sovereignty march or caravan ( a Food Sovereignty
Bus and cyclists) across the country to raise mass awareness.
Are the other side of the campaign to ensure solidarity economy
enterprises and relations are constituted. This includes actively
promoting, building, supporting and linking ecocentric food production
cooperatives, supply cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, local food
markets, food exchanges and other forms. It is about connecting
household food consumption to healthy, affordable and ecological food
production. In short transformative tactics in this campaign are about
organising food sovereignty through an alternative food economy, a
crucial sector, that is part of the solidarity economy movement.
There are four phases in this campaign and each phase can move in parallel:
Prepare a Democratic Left Campaign Platform
Organise mass forces
Mass Campaigning Against the Globalised Agro-processing and Fossil Fuel Based Food Chain
Advancing Food Sovereignty Through Mass Organising of the Alternative Food Economy
Read the full Declaration of the Conference of the Democratic Left here.
|Climate Change & Environment|
|Global Financial Crisis|
|Global Conflicts & Militarization|
|IMF, World Bank & Trade|
|Poverty & Inequality|
|Aid, Debt & Development|
|The UN, People & Politics|
|Food Security & Agriculture|
|Health, Education & Shelter|
|Land, Energy & Water|
|Economic Sharing & Alternatives|