Appeal by Claude Alphandéry – Economy: increasing social cooperation across France

On the occasion of his 100th birthday, Claude Alphandéry, resistance fighter, visionary of the social and solidarity economy and founder of France Active, launches an appeal to accelerate the transformation of our economy so that it becomes fundamentally more social, more inclusive and more sustainable. An appeal that invites citizens, key players in the social economy, local authorities, associations and social entrepreneurs to create spaces for solidarity-based cooperation across all the regions of France.
These one hundred years of life give me the opportunity and the desire to reflect on the war years and the present. In 1940, when I was less than 20 years old, I experienced the unprecedented collapse of my country, a radical defeat, a relentless repression. Recent years have been more insidious, apparently less dramatic. However, they are no less cruelly destructive through the effects of ecological, economic and social crises.

Resistance has twice responded to these disasters. In 1940, in the face of peril, a Resistance, at first disorganised, then gaining in strength with the maquis, contributed to victory and participated in the construction of a social democracy through the CNR programme. Today, resistance has moved to the economic front. We must repair the deleterious effects of a global economy engaged in unbridled competition for unlimited financial profits, whatever the cost to humanity and nature.

In both cases, in the midst of mortal perils, renewal emerges, yesterday those astonishing maquis, and in the present day, the surprising social, solidarity-based, sustainable start-ups.

France Active supports them and accompanies their initiatives; these are multiplying, repairing flagrant ills, but remain all too occasional and too fragmented to create a powerful movement, an economic model, to garner much opinion. Many entrepreneurs themselves, proud of their social and environmental action, sometimes doubt their political impact in the face of multinational billions.

Promising experiences
Nevertheless, there are more examples of more advanced experiences of cooperation; these are often carried out by the entrepreneurs supported by France Active; they in turn wish to impart a broader sense of solidarity to life: give and you will receive. They open up avenues and progress towards more complex and systematic cooperation.

All these experiences of cooperation invite us to progress from very worthy, but isolated and marginal resistance to profound transformations that allow these experiences to develop, accelerate and perpetuate. I see it as a way of inscribing field practices, this essential praxis, into a broader vision, the ethical imagination of a future respecting humanity and nature.
This ethic, however, is not easily assumed: it is thwarted by the interplay of contradictory situations, interests and behaviours that blur and darken the vision of the future. Many are reluctant to identify with an ideal that seems distant and that the dominant ideology describes as utopian, as powerless in the face of a reality controlled by finance.

But where does this powerlessness lie? It lies among those who, out of greed for profit, persist in ignoring the disaster that has been foretold, in looking the other way. Conversely, entrepreneurs who strengthen their bonds of solidarity and mutual trust through their collective intelligence and inventiveness are powerful levers of prosperity.

This effort to bring people together is not an isolated approach; indeed, it is encouraged and facilitated by many local and regional authorities, which support numerous solidarity initiatives and include them in a vision of solidarity development for their region; it is also supported by public, private and mixed groups such as the Pacte du Pouvoir de Vivre.

To increase the chances and scope of their cooperation, it seems desirable to encourage and help them to form clubs, embassies of cooperation, in their region; these are places where people get to know each other, exchange ideas and practices, and affirm values and their concept of society and the economy.

Nearly eighty years ago, I created some of these clubs in the maquis, drawing on the history of the Republican clubs. There they learned about democracy. Today, when the progress stemming from Resistance is being challenged, we need these clubs to strengthen our bonds of solidarity and cooperation.

They must be facilitating, supportive entities that help to identify, contact and mobilise all the physical or moral, private or public forces whose mission is to publicise, support, finance and accompany the development of cooperative ventures, to specify their purpose, their projects, their means and to be clear about their difficulties.

In the name of my one hundred years of passion for everything that solidarity means and entails, I therefore launch an appeal to multiply and further these clubs, these places of cooperation. I call for the creation of at least one hundred clubs in the next two years across all of France. I know that I can count on France Active and all stakeholders in the social economy to work together to amplify all these positive cooperative ventures that create social links and make the world of tomorrow a desirable place to be.

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