The Vienna Solidarity Economy Congress 2013 had almost 1000 visitors, and was very significant in bringing various streams of people together — people from different movements and backgrounds, gathering around the idea of cooperation and commons as the main pillars of any future economy. This was not a real mass event, but almost a must for activists and networkers in Central Europe, allowing them to forge new relations, become informed about other initiatives, bringing forward their agenda. They were confronted with a plethora of offerings in two days: 120 lectures and workshops in the framework of the beautiful old Vienna University of Agriculture and, in particular, the modernist, bright Schwackhöfer building, plus booths and social events.The central themes of locality, networking and production/exchange based on needs and use value parallel the 'compact society' and 'collective sufficiency' concepts in our Life Without Money book.
In the preparation for the congress, several initiatives merged their planning meetings with this event. Amongst them was Demonetize it! and the Solidarity Economy Winter School, who jointly ran parallel tracks on moneyless practices and theories of demonetization. It became obvious that demonetization is a discourse of its own and attracted at least 200 people following one or other of the 18 lectures/presentations/workshops focusing on the End of Money. When the demonetize tracks called for a final plenary, about 50 people were present and showed their dedicated support for the idea of 'networking our way towards demonetization'.
The spectrum consisted of many people with many different 'trades'. People who distribute free music, farmers who engage in community supported agriculture, people who want to build tractors and other open hardware, people who educate children, people who create maps, and so on. It was consensual that building demonetized alternatives consisted of the practical coming together of complementing activities: 'If you truly want to make it complimentary, you have to complement each other'. This is an exciting new phase. Every single person in the room agreed that the logic of exchange and LETS is not enough or even obsolete, that 'paying back' is an obstacle and that the real future rather lies in 'paying forward'. This works on the basis of agreements and reliable cycles of cooperation and the enormous productivity that comes from people doing what they really want.
To form cycles of cooperation is primarily a local task. You can only cooperate with people you have easy access to. This was the reason and the rationale of creating a new mailing list, which was aptly named 'miteinander' (together), and which is meant to promote immediate cooperation and the know-how for establishing long-lasting, successful cooperation. The new list will be in German mainly and focused on practical issues of establishing cycles of cooperation, whilst the discussion list should continue to focus on theory and fundamental issues of demonetisation.
Thursday, February 28, 2013
The End of Money @ Vienna Solidarity Economy Congress 2013
Franz Nahrada has provided us with the following report of exciting developments in Europe, specifically Germany: