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convivialism

According to the diagnosis already posed by Ivan Illich about a permanent state of crisis, which started in 1970, in order to avoid being crushed by the institutional and economical machinery, which is now destroying the Planet, in order to save our humanity, it is necessary to make a radical change. We must forge convivial tools to set up a totally different kind of society, this is the rationale of the convivialist Manifesto:

a second convivialist Manifesto
Towards a post-neoliberal world

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We will briefly define what Convivialism is and then indicate what leads from the first to the second Manifesto before specifying what hope it gives rise to.

Convivialism is a philosophical and resolutely relational approach to the world, to life, to human life with the objective of saying how this life can become, for all human beings, a good life, within a good society (in the sense that John Galbraith (1996) The Good Society - The Humane Agenda gave to this term).

To the principles of the first - Manifesto, published in 2013, was added a first one that emphasizes that we should not be placed as a subject in the face of a nature-object, but that we must recognize that we come from the first living organisms born on Earth, that Nature immerses us as much as it surrounds us. It is the principle of common naturality, that of our permanent and intimate interdependence with everything that constitutes this world, which makes it necessary, among other things, to rethink our relationship with animals. The other principles are taken up again, and this notion of interdependence is associated with relations between human beings, all essentially similar in essence, according to the principle of common humanity. The latter prohibits any discrimination between us because it could only be totally arbitrary. This objective foundation of our existence is extended by the principle of common sociality, which reminds us that life is given to us during a natural process, but also socialized, and continuing throughout our lives.

Thus, in the beginning was the society that educates and shapes us. The quality of our relationships of interdependence, of good resonance with others and with the world, contributes to building a good life for us. The fourth principle results from an ethical choice of Convivialism, stating that we must aim at the emancipation of each of us. A good society cannot be totalitarian, it must respect the principle of legitimate individuation of its members. It is certainly not giving them unlimited individual freedom. Society would then become liquid, atomized and a place of potentially deadly confrontations. Convivialism endorses the democratic ideal. Recognizing the inevitability of struggles, the product of diversity and the exercise of their free will by individuals, he prescribed the control of conflicts (inspired by Marcel Mauss, 1925), and their peaceful resolution, it is the principle of creative (non-violent) opposition, The acceptance of democracy consists in fact in a political agreement of mutual self-limitation (called for by Ivan Illich, 1973). The deterioration in the quality of democratic practices led the second Manifesto to stress that the five previous principles are not only interdependent and limited to each other, but that they are subordinated to the absolute imperative of hubris control - that is, the desire, inherent in modernity, for excess, must be abandoned.


Beyond the improvement of this framework of principles, the second Manifesto specifies a set of directions in which it is necessary to move in order to allow the establishment of a post-neoliberal world, which is what conviviality aims to achieve. Indeed, if liberalism has brought freedom, modernization, on the other hand, the hope carried by convivialism, is to bring conviviality, emancipation.


First, it explains the need to obtain a global audience and acceptability from a wide range of cultures. They must be able to adopt the same spirit, certainly in their own way: to allow all human beings to lead a good life, in a good society, without violence, according to the criteria of their cultures. By respecting other cultures and the future habitability of the Earth, that is, by establishing and respecting all of them, a reciprocal agreement of self-limitation. In this respect, Convivialism is not intended to be universal, but pluri-versal.

Second, the Manifesto makes considerations on the architecture of society and the rules of functioning that allow us to move closer to the democratic ideal. They are based on cooperative participation and subsidiarity. What citizens' associations can provide is essential. From the local to the global, a plurality of institutional levels of the organization of societies must respect the procedure whereby only those problems that cannot be solved by the level at which they arise, alone or in horizontal cooperation with other groups at the same level, are brought up to the next level. Each level of society's organization strives to ensure the cohesion and inclusion of its members and the preservation of the common goods. Democratic decision-making processes are based on privileged forms of direct participation at the basic levels and combined with forms of representation and information on opinions at the broader levels from local, to national, and international levels.

Then, the second Manifesto sets out proposals aimed at restoring activities - particularly those of an economic nature - to the service of society's objective: conviviality, individual and collective emancipation. Production activities must meet the real needs of society and not create fictitious ones, which is what a real economy leads to when it is subjected to rentier and speculative capitalism. This requires strict regulation of finance, removal of tax havens, limiting the size of banks, etc. Since the essential objective is to give all human beings access to a dignified life, the criterion of effectiveness will no longer be that of increasing GDP. We must enter an era of post-growth compatible with the maintenance of the planet's habitability and the practice of unconditional attention to all those - discriminated against economically and/or culturally - who must be supported by an interdependence that leads them towards emancipation. The second Manifesto highlights in particular the need to renew gender relations.

The de-financiarisation and re-embedding of the economy in the service of society must be accompanied by restructuring measures. Reversing the trend towards generalized commodification by extending the field of the non-market exchanges: exchanges of services between citizens, between relatives, short circuits, collaborative economy, free public services, circular economy, advertising regulation, time management, reinvention of "work". Leave only what can be left to the markets and monitor their "convivial" functioning. Reversing the trend towards globalization and hyper-concentration by relocating activities, creating complementary local currencies, restoring food and industrial sovereignty, favouring small structures and practising the negotiated management of international trade really necessary to meet needs.

Finally, to regain democratic control of techno-scientific evolution, which is now being hit hard by the hubris and the temptation of omnipotence, in order to make it ethically and socially beneficial. This requires the control of the choices of technological advances and the dismantling of the giant firms that impose them for their benefit, alienating the populations.

As we move in these directions, “we will be facing, and we will have to surmount, formidable powers - financial and material, technical, scientific, intellectual as well as military and criminal " concludes the second Manifesto, stressing that there is a potential force on which to base ourselves. It resides in the billions of people who already share the same indignation about the excessiveness and/or corruption of those (1%? 5%?) who alienate them. They also and above all, at least implicitly, share the project of conviviality and emancipation. To become a real force, all those who are already aware of it must convince themselves that by sharing this awareness, with their friends and relatives, billions of us will be able to denounce together those who oppose the advance of conviviality. Then the project driven by conviviality will succeed.

Warning. This summary, written by Marc Humbert to outline the content of the Second Convivialist Manifesto (to be published in several languages in 2020) does not follow its structure (almost identical to that of the first). It transcribes the spirit of it and cannot present the arguments in detail. The authors cited here to clarify concepts are not mentioned in the Manifesto which is supported by more than 250 intellectuals from all continents.

Read more in an extended page...

In other words, as the subtitle of the first Manifesto underlined, and in line with Illich’s argument: “the only response to this crisis is a full recognition of its depth and an acceptance of inevitable self-limitations” we must accept:

A Universal Interdependency

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All that stuff leads to a model of an individual behaviour we could term as that of a homo convivialis. These people of that sort would felt happier if :

They work together, caring for each other, and for Nature.

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Thousands of people have alrerady given their support this attempt, this project, you may join them by signing the manifesto on the internet site
Further reading : "Towards a convivial civilization "the English translation of a little book I published in French (Vers une civilisation de convivialité, Ed Goater, Rennes, 2014)

Comments and contributions in English are welcome on the following blog : http://convivialism.org/


References:
Illich, I. (1973). Tools for conviviality, Harper & Row, New York.
Varii Auctores. (2014). Convivialist Manifesto – A declaration of interdependence, with an introduction by Adloff, F. translated from [Varii Auctores. 2013, Manifeste convivialiste – Déclaration d’interdépendance, Editions le Bord de l’eau, Paris], by Clarke, M. Center for Global Cooperation Research, Global Dialogues 3, Duisburg.

I have published elsewhere a commented presentation of the principles as they were exposed in the first manifesto
"Convivialism: A Choice of Civilization"

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1-The principle of common destiny
2-The principle of common sociality
3-The principle of individuation: individuals blossom by interdependence
4-The principle of managed conflict or creative interdependence

1-The principle of common destiny

The principle of common destiny acknowledges the inescapable fact of observation that anyone is a member of a single common humanity which is living within a common universe To us, the universe is the observed totality from which everything is part, as we are, as a species and as an individual as well. We cannot escape that, it is our common destiny, we are an ephemeral part of that.
Whatever the initial differentiations, and whatever subsequent differentiations become, because of their personal life-stories and different living environments, all human beings share the necessary humility to recognise that life has been given to them and that they share the destiny of a universe. Consequently, “beyond differences in skin-colour, nationality, language, culture, religion and wealth, gender and sexual orientation, there is only one humanity, and that humanity must be respected in the person of each of its members” [Varii Auctores, 2014, p. 30].

2-The principle of common sociality

“Human beings are social beings and their greatest wealth lies in their social relationships” [Varii Auctores, 2014, p.31].
Received life cannot flourish in individual solitude. Mankind’s offspring cannot survive from birth. It cannot move or feed itself independently and it takes several years to acquire the aptitudes necessary for survival. Human beings are beings whose lives can only be led together, in interaction between them and with the natural environment. An individual’s construction begins physically and culturally by training, an education received by the human being. Our life together gives us characteristics unique to our species – above and beyond the planet’s vast diversity – and which make our humanity unique. Today, there is only one single human species.

3-The principle of individuation: individuals blossom by interdependence

“Always bearing in mind these two first principles, a legitimate politics is one that allows each of us to assert our distinctive evolving individuality as fully as possible by developing our capabilities, our potential to be and to act without harming others’ potential to do the same, with a view to achieving equal freedom for all.” [Varii Auctores, 2014, p. 31].
Every human being is welcomed into and educated by a group that is part of a concrete natural environment where she/he gradually creates and constructs her/his own unique individuality by developing her/his power to be and to act [Spinoza, 1677]. The ideal of paying attention to others implies to give recognition to everyone [Honneth, 1992] and to give to everyone the autonomy necessary to the affirmation and evolution of her/his own individual life, which responds to everyone’s universal need.
Autonomy and solitude can only be relative, as is their role in the construction of everybody’s individuality. Interactions with the environment and with others are permanent and essential. This outside influence must not lead to dependency, but combined with relative autonomy it enables us to consider that individuality is formed and is living in a state of interdependency. Interdependency between human beings and with an environment constitutes a fundamental reality that a humanity in search of conviviality has to recognise. Recognising this overall interdependency is the corollary of recognising the gift of life.

4-The principle of managed conflict or creative interdependence

“Given that each of us has the power to express our distinctive individuality, it is natural that human beings should sometimes oppose one another. But it is only legitimate for them to do so as long as this does not jeopardize the framework of common sociality that ensures this rivalry is productive and non-destructive. Good politics is therefore politics that allows human beings to be individual by accepting and managing conflict” [Varii Auctores, 2014, p. 31].
The word “collective” could apply to the informal personalisation of the common sociality of individual human beings living in a group, within an environment, a group which is then forming an “us”. It supposes that a general will can form itself to clearly express the framework accepted and respected by all. This is the Common Law, under which all human beings can interact with the feeling of living altogether, a good, worthy, just, life. The harmony between individuals and the natural environment cannot be established spontaneously. Struggle engages the body and makes it stronger. Ideas collide so that minds may expand and so that discussion and negotiation might take place between conflicting positions. Conviviality has to transform enemies into adversaries so that conflict can take place without massacre, and so that collectives may flourish in order for everyone to live to the full. The common social bond must be preserved. Peace must reign. Enemies must disappear, as well as the desire to kill, or at least the enactment of this desire.

References
Honneth, A. (1992). Kampf um Anerkennung. Zur moralischen Grammatik sozialer Konflikte, Frankfurt/M translated as The Struggle for Recognition-The Moral Grammar of Social Conflicts, Polity Press, Cambridge (UK) in 1995.
Illich, I. (1973). Tools for conviviality, Harper & Row, New York.
Spinoza, B. (1677). Ethica.
Varii Auctores. (2014). Convivialist Manifesto – A declaration of interdependence, with an introduction by Adloff, F. translated from [Varii Auctores. 2013, Manifeste convivialiste – Déclaration d’interdépendance, Editions le Bord de l’eau, Paris], by Clarke, M. Center for Global Cooperation Research, Global Dialogues 3, Duisburg.


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