Solidary mode of living

Already here and today, people create the basis for a good life for all. People all over the world are committed to a peaceful, democratic, ecologically sustainable coexistence free of exploitation, violence and discrimination. We are convinced that there are principles of solidarity-based coexistence that combine very different initiatives and projects, and which appear in them more or less clearly.

The principles outlined here make it possible to think social and ecological transformation together, because one cannot be without the other. They aim to change political and economic structures as well as our everyday lives. This includes, for example, ownership, production and consumption, work and care, as well as participation. They create opportunities to recognise at all these levels the connection between humans and between man and nature. They fill with life what we call solidarity.

Democratisation: As far as everyone is concerned, everyone decides

We are convinced that all human beings should have the opportunity to self-determine their lives and everything that affects them. To this end, all people need access to the resources necessary for this comprehensive participation. Democratisation therefore means redistribution. The same approaches are about temporal and emotional skills as well as education, material and social security. In addition, appropriate decision-making procedures are needed to overcome inequalities of power and enable all people to participate equally. However, the right to not always have to fight for one’s rights with full force (because one cannot always or does not always want to) must be respected.

Commoning: The creative power of community creation

People depend on material goods and resources. The imperial way of life organises the distribution of goods through private property and profit maximisation. In a way of solidarity, people can use goods according to their needs without hurting the needs of others.

Whether something is a common good depends not on the good itself, but on how to deal with it: Commons are created when the parties concerned produce, maintain and use them collectively. They are therefore always social. All possible ways of producing and preserving goods in which people are jointly involved are conceivable as commoning. The people involved jointly decide on the design of the respective common property. In this process, the principle of democratisation is central. In doing so, they orient themselves to their own basic needs, act collectively a solution for all and aim at a need-oriented use without jeopardising the long-term preservation of the common good. In this way, they make it possible to reduce consumer durables.

ReProduction: Care together for all

If we take seriously that people depend on each other and on nature, the focus of our work shifts: It is about preserving life, ensuring participation and realising needs without exploiting others.

This is the principle of reProduction or care. What we call gainful employment today contributes only partially or not at all. Nevertheless, employment is generally regarded as a ‘productive’ activity. The reproductive part of the activities – that is to say care for people, such as nursing and elderly care, childcare or housework, and also the preservation of nature – is devalued, even if these activities are carried out as a profession.

We want a way of life and production that no longer separates between productive and reproductive activities and is consistent with the logic of care. To this end, we attach a central importance to care work. For us, the term includes not only classical reproductive activities, but everything that gives, preserves and brings to life. So it is not only about washing, cleaning, cooking, caring, but also about growing food, making necessities, making music. That is why we are also talking about ReProduction, in order to think together today’s separate spheres of production and reproduction: Activities no longer receive their recognition by producing economic added value, but by referring to the essentials, namely the preservation and development of human life and the ecological integrity.

Dependence: Nature as a shared world instead of a garbage dump

Care and relationship includes for us the relationship between humans and nature – and thus the societal relations to nature. People depend on nature: It not only surrounds us, but we are intertwined with it in countless ways (dependence). We are nature ourselves. It also reminds us that the cycles of nature are vulnerable and that the force it needs for regeneration is finite. Nature also needs care. So we no longer consider it to be usable and manipulated at will, but rather attribute its intrinsic value and independence with the human being at the same time. We are in favour of shaping this necessary connection on an equal footing and with care.

Sufficiency: There’s enough for everyone

Where the growth logic of the imperial mode of living says “More is better!”, the principle of sufficiency replies: “It’s enough! ” There is a double demand for us in this: On the one hand, all people should have enough to live a good life. On the other hand, societies and social groups whose mode of living generates too large an ecological footprint must drastically reduce it. This also includes social equality: People with too much power and property must cede a corresponding portion of their claims. Sufficiency aims to make people use less resources (energy, material, and so on) than today. However, sufficiency does not mean absolute renunciation, but shifts the scale: The question is no longer, what is faster, better, further, but what is enough.”

Resources:

• I.L.A. Kollektiv (Hg.) (2019): Das Gute Leben für Alle. Wege in die Solidarische Lebensweise. München: oekom

• Illustration: Tanja Kotik, 2