Monday, 7 November 2011

Questions, questions

• How we can create enjoyable, socially-inclusive, democratically managed jobs, enterprises, co-operatives and other forms of formal and informal economic organisation in a climate and resource constrained world?

• How do we define what it means to live the sort of life we want to live, while understanding that climate change and resource constraint issues need to be recognised?

• How do we identify what we need and what we should produce?

• What is enjoyable, convivial, democratically-controlled work, as opposed to exploitative useless toil?

• How do we maintain and enable to flourish that which we hold in common and all depend on: wider ecosystems, social services, civic life, community?

• What does it mean to create wealth, to be entrepreneurial? How can we develop new, social and collective understandings of wealth creation?

• Are markets always capitalist, always illogical, prone to crisis and unequal rewards – or good allocation mechanisms? Can we reconfigure markets so they work to different rhythms?

• Can we change the world without taking power? What are the possibilities and limits of grassroots action? Is this a naïve suggestion?

• What is the role of the state? Can the state facilitate, rather than co-opt, grassroots action? Should we change the world by taking power? Do social democratic models in Scandinavian countries get the ballence beween civil society and a supportive state, underpin by public spending, right?

• Are social democratic governments better or worse at working with civil society, without co-opting them? Paradoxically, are there more opportunities for grassroots change under neoliberal governments where citizens are expected to fend for themselves more? Or in the latter case, is this just a cover for privatisation, with social/solidarity economy organisations being set up to fail?

• What are the best conceptual and theoretical tools for thinking these issues through?

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Jose Luis Coraggio

José Luis Coraggio is an Argentinean economist and Professor of Urban Economic Systems at the Instituto del Conurbano (ICO) of the Universidad Nacional de General Sarmiento, Argentina. He is Academic Director of the Masters Program in Social Economy and organizes the Latin American Network of Researchers on Social and Solidarian Economy. His current research focuses on the urban popular economy, local development and work-based economy and social policies, with special attention on education policies.

Heloisa Primavera

Heloisa Primavera is Professor at the Masters Programme in Public Administration, School of Economics at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she conducts a Research and Development Project on Complementary Currencies and Social Economy. She is also the Founder of the Latin American Network on Solidarity Socioeconomy. While many of us know about the extraordinary events with alternative economics in Argentina during the economic crisis at the end of the last century, Heloisa was at the heart of this process. During the period 1995 – 2002, following failed monetary policies and the high rates of unemployment these caused, Argentina developed a vibrant local currency movement which included several million people. The financial and political crisis of December 2001 caused a chaotic situation that had an impact on these running 'barter networks' leading to their rapid decline. Heloisa will discuss the relationship between currency, solidarity economy and state power.

Dario Azzellini

Dario Azzellini holds a PhD in political science. He is lecturer for Sociology at the Johannes Kepler University (Linz, Austria), writer and documentary director. He served as Associate Editor for the The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009), serves as active Associate Editor for WorkingUSA, for Cuadernos de Marte and the website He has published several books, essays, and documentaries about social movements, privatization of military services, migration, workers control and Latin America. His latest film is Comuna under construction (2010) about local self-government in Venezuela, and latest book, together with Immanuel Ness, Ours to Master and to Own (Haymarket, 2011) about workers control.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Adrian Smith

Adrian Smith is a researcher at SPRU (Science & Technology Policy Research) at the University of Sussex, where he investigates the politics of innovation for sustainable development. He currently leads two projects investigating grassroots innovation. Community Innovation in Sustainable Energy project is a collaboration with the Science, Society and Sustainability team at the University of East Anglia and is analysing the development and spread of community energy in the UK. The Grassroots Innovations in Comparative and Historical Perspective project is working with the Instituto de Estudios sobre la Ciencia y la Tecnología at the Universidad Nacional de Quilmes and the National Institute for Science Technology and Development in Delhi, and is studying the experience of grassroots innovation movements in India, Brazil and Argentina. The presentation in Liverpool draws upon work by colleagues in both projects.

John Barry

John Barry is Reader in School, of Politics, International Studies and Philosophy at Queen’s University Belfast and Associate Director of the Institute for a Sustainable World. He is co-editor of two academic journals, Environmental Politics and Ecopolitics Online. His latest book, The Politics of Actually Existing Unsustainability: Human Flourishing in a Climate Changed, Carbon Constrained World, will be published this year. John is interested in the relationship between moral/political theory and the environment, with particular focus on ecofeminism, and the implications of green theory for thinking about justice, and theories of political economy in relation to the environment.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Participatory Economy in Argentina

The following images are from Pete's research visits in Argentina. The first two illustrate the use of community currencies: the patacones, issued by regional authorities, and the trueque, the true community currencies issued by the people themselves.

The following two images show the participatory politics that developed after the Argentinazo, the opening up of Argentinian politics following the financial crisis of 2001. Popular assemblies like these planned street protests and the occupation of factories.

Meanwhile people's needs for subsistence were being met through the local markets where exchange took place using the community currencies.