Synopsis by the author
Can we still dream of a more egalitarian and fairer world? Do we want it?
Can we find now, in our current time, concrete examples of people living and working in different settings than corporations and profit-oriented organizations? Do we want to?
Is there something different going on? Or is it all just a utopia portrayed in books and movies?
We live the imperative of winning: always and at any price. Results matter, but not how we get to them. We do not see ourselves as complementary or interdependent. The other human beings have become adversaries, competitors… enemies!
What shocks me most is how many of us consider this kind of mindset, policies, and ways of life to be natural. People aspire to grow more and more within these ready and available ideals of success. Success for whom? At the cost of whom?
Me first. Me second. Me third. But that is not unanimous! Not everyone thinks, feels, and desires to live like this!
I always get confused when I think that we are in the middle of the 21st century, with so much technology, so many resources of all kinds, so many possibilities of making the world a better place for everybody and not just for a tiny group, and we still consider that the ‘standard’ way to work, generate income, find the necessary means to live, is to fit within the model that is the most common: to work in highly hierarchical, utilitarian private companies, where one commands and the others obey, where people are managed by fear of losing their job (and livelihood) the next day.
By the way, how is it possible that, in the same organization, one earns a thousand times more than the other? How can this be supported, applauded, justified, and even desired by so many people?
Something that I often think about is: what do we stimulate when we adhere to determined values, practices, and behaviors? What are we signalizing as natural, as positive? What are we (re)producing?
I am sure there are other ways of living and working. How and where can I find them?
It is rare to perceive incentives to collective mobilization, ways of managing life, and organizations that stimulate values such as cooperation, solidarity, and egalitarianism.
We cannot fail to question and even deconstruct what seems to represent the nature of people and things, including to show that the modes of existence are neither unique nor inevitable.
I did not want to just complain. Denouncing, debating, discussing: all fundamental. But I wanted to go further. I was curious to look for concrete alternatives. Practical possibilities. Concrete experiences. To live. To experiment.
Until 2004, I had never heard of Solidarity Economy, associativism, or even self-management. But there are initiatives in which profit does not seem to be above all. You must pick them up, listen to them. You must live them.
I love listening to stories and dreams. I love learning from how people build their existences and what types of values and societies these modes stimulate. It was essential to meet people who, together, fight for other ways of working and being, based on attitudes and values that are more loving and focused on life than those who today seem naturalized to many people, but that have nothing of natural.
I write this book with narratives linked to what I lived and felt: processes, experiences, experimentations. Theory is treated here as a tool, not as an end. I try hard to make it a job with and not about people and companies.
I have learned a lot. I took many life lessons. During my journeys, I have heard and witnessed something that seems contrary to what many preach and believe:
“there are other suppliers… other qualities of dough. Everybody must win. Everyone must sell. Everyone must have their space”
I hope that this book can affect you, raise questions, concerns, actions, and changes, especially in the direction of more just, egalitarian, and supportive worlds.