“Find alternative local solutions to the current crisis of the economic system and empower European youths to find and start alternative and cooperative ways of employment and to make a living.”
This vision, aimed at a general change in society translates into four TANGIBLE OBJECTIVES, which we can hope to achieve during our project:
1. The biking participants are more aware of alternatives to the current economic system and ways of living.
2. The participants learn practical skills on economic alternatives and improve their capacity for cooperation/ their networking and social skills as well as the capacity to start their own local initiative
3. The gained knowledge is multiplied by going public and promote the identified alternatives
4. The participants from different European countries exchange about the different perceptions on the crisis, about privileges and power structures within the EU.
Alternatives to what?
Cycling Alternatives is relatively small initiative that aims at bringing together people who want to learn from each other how to critically understand the current socio-economic system. We are people with some ideas, some ideas’ve borrowed, some we have stolen and now we want to spread them around.
There is inspiration to what we do, comes from many sides. Our ideological guidance stems from the degrowth movement. Below have a look at the quotes from Manifesto of the Italian Degrowth Network, which reflects also views.
Manifesto of the Italian Degrowth Network
There is a myth that lay at the root of the social imaginary in the last century and which even today constitutes the background common to modern political ideologies, whether on the Left or on the Right: it is the myth of growth. This belief, to which the idea of unlimited growth is linked, has brought with it the requirement to maximise production, consumption and profit, leading us to today’s religion of the global market. This system of thought is based on, and at the same time reproduces, an image of the human being as a “homo economicus”: a subject without ties, a rational, utilitarian individualist, orientated towards maximising his own interests and increasing his own
wealth as a monetary, generic, universal power (…).
It is the vision of the world which, while being fundamentally wrong, produces
concrete effects on individuals’ behaviour, having disastrous consequences on ecological, social and political equilibria. We recognise that the choice of western societies to aim solely at economic accumulation, at the growth of productivity and consumption, has produced in the “West” greater material wealth throughout an entire historical period. The unilateral aspect of this approach has led to loosening social ties and the threat of the collapse of ecosystems. Furthermore, the cost of these economic goals has been paid
not only by the working classes and subjects not considered to be productive, but also, and above all, by the countries and peoples in the other parts of the world, forced to adapt themselves and modify their own social and productive systems according to our economic and political demands.
At the same time, the growth in income has been made possible by an inconsiderate exploitation of ecological systems. (…). The negative effects can also be felt on the social level, not only in the emergence of new poverty and increasing economic inequality, but also in the increase in malaise, working and existential precariousness, forms of depression, in a general lack of hope for the future that can even become violent and self-destructive (…) . This model of development, based on growth, has produced in recent decades an increase in working hours, precariousness and stress and, at the same time, has gradually eroded and eliminated our free time, the time for our relationships, the time for ourselves and for the things we care most about (…).
To continue today to cherish the adoration of the GDP means refusing to open one’s eyes to the absurdity of an idea of wealth that does not take into account the ecological and social costs of development. Faced with the perception of the social and ecological limitations, of the degradation caused by the commercialisation of life and of the growing international conflict over natural resources, we believe that it is necessary to question the founding myth of our society, that is to say growth, if we want to seek truly alternative paths. If we have fought poverty with all our might for decades, today we finally realise that we have to question our wealth and model of well-being. We thus rediscover an ancient theme, which is also totally contemporary, the theme of limitations, or more precisely that of “moderation”.
We are not ideologically opposed to all forms of growth. In order to move towards a future sustainable society some products and behaviours will have to be reduced or eliminated, while others will have to be encouraged and developed. What we declare we are opposed to is rather the assumption of growth as the basic principle of the orientation of our imaginary. We feel that the quality of life, on a finite planet, cannot continue to be based on a generalised quantative growth but must be measured against the capacity to re-define technologies, institutions and labour qualitatively. Generally speaking, the obsession with production must be tempered with the
awareness of the needs of reproduction, regeneration, care for people, relationships, contexts and the environment.
(…). One might wonder whether it is possible to question our imaginary, if it is
realistic to think of setting up a society that is not modelled on growth as an aim unto itself. We maintain that recognising our ecological and social interdependence, our human fragility, is the only true realism, the only way to avoid leading a process of pathological adaptation to its inevitable conclusion, which by consuming the ecological basis on which we have developed, will lead us to disaster.
We are not against technology, but in favour of another sober, lasting, sustainable and convivial type of technology. The ability to reconsider today our technological systems will perhaps permit us to moderate the risk of an obligated degrowth, one that is authoritatively imposed tomorrow. We must show that we are capable of doubting our basic values and accepting the risk of imagining an after-development, a society of degrowth (…).
We want to rediscover the sense of common wealth, relational wealth, experimenting new forms of sharing and practising a social consumption, a deeper sharing. We believe in the possibility of setting up a society where people and their relationships, not goods and economic exchanges, are the focal point, a society which considers immaterial goods to be more important than material ones, which values antiutilitarian, not instrumental, ways of relating to one another, which is open to solidarity and common wealth rather
than private interest, which values the natural environment and other forms of life for their beauty and dignity, and not just in terms of how they can be exploited.
Ricerca / Colonna destra
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