We believe that Another World Is Possible – one that puts people and planet front and center. This other world is not only possible, it is necessary!
We believe that there are many paths to this other world. Some advocate socialism – market, participatory, or 21st Century socialism. Autonomista movements, such as in Argentina, or the Zapatista, seek a path that builds this other world with the base of social movements and communities rather than looking to seize state power. Still others are working for this other world through work in particular areas such as cooperatives, sustainable production and lifestyles, food sovereignty, agro-ecology, localizing the economy, community land trusts, credit unions, alternative currencies and so forth.
CPE does not advocate one path over another. In fact we staunchly believe that we need a diversity of approaches and welcome working with people with different approaches. We need to engage in spirited debate about differences in approach, yet recognize that if we are to build this better world, we need to move together in the same direction.
The Solidarity Economy
The U.S. Solidarity Economy Network defines the solidarity economy as a framework that embraces the myriad range of paths to a more just and sustainable economy.
In particular, the Solidarity Economy is an alternative framework of economic development that is grounded in practice, experience and the following principles:
- Solidarity and cooperation
- Equity in all dimensions (race, ethnicity, gender, class, etc.)
- Social and economic democracy
- Pluralism (not a one-size-fits-all approach)
There’s a growing global movement to advance the solidarity economy as an alternative to the failed model of neoliberal, corporate-dominated globalization. While it is a relatively new concept in the U.S., it is quite well established in other parts of the world. Brazil has a Secretariat of the Solidarity Economy and Ecuador has enshrined it in their Constitution. The Intercontinental Social Solidarity Economy Network (RIPESS) links solidarity economy networks from every continent.
In the U.S., CPE initiated a series of solidarity economy meetings at the 2007 U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta that resulted in the formation of the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN).
SEN’s mission is to strengthen the movement for a just and sustainable solidarity economy in the U.S. and to connect with the global movement. CPE continues to coordinate SEN and provide core staffing for the network.
A Growing Movement
The economic and environmental crises have created an historic opening to build and push for a new framework for social and economic development – one that puts people and planet before private profits and power.
In the midst of growing inequality and corporate power, government cutbacks, privatization and de-regulation, there is a quiet hum of people getting on with building an economy grounded in principles of social solidarity, cooperation, egalitarianism, sustainability and economic democracy.
We need not build the solidarity economy from scratch. Many features of existing economies and struggles for reform are likely ‘keepers’, for example, social security, environmental protections, minimum wage and labor regulations.
Other elements of the solidarity economy could be characterized as ‘economic alternatives’ such as cooperatives, land trusts, local currencies, community supported agriculture, social investment funds, participatory budgeting, green technologies, and the commons movement. Taken together, they offer stepping stones toward a new way of organizing our economy that is being called the solidarity economy.
While some elements of the solidarity economy have existed for hundreds of years, the framework is very young and is still in the process of evolving and being defined. While the U.S. has many solidarity economy practices and institutions, the unifying framework of the solidarity economy is almost unknown. The solidarity economy connects these elements conceptually as well as practically.