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These are very problematic times. The Covid 19 crisis has created a totally new situation: a threat of pandemic that everyone, after possibly doubting its reality, is forced to take seriously. Epidemiological issues are not new (HIV, mad cow disease, SARS, Ebola, Zika, H1N1), not to mention the major pandemics such as cholera, smallpox and tuberculosis, which killed several million people before medicine found the means to treat and immunize populations. What is undoubtedly changing is the realisation that our lifestyles are in essence vectors of pandemics and first and foremost the flow of people and goods. But this has to be linked to the possible failures of health systems that are highly dependent on components manufactured abroad but above all very weakened in their organisations by the attacks on public systems due to the ideology of “cost cutting”.
It would be indecent to welcome a demonstration to the advantage of what we have been advocating for a very long time, namely the relocation of survival economies: food, health, energy, education. Yet this crisis calls into question globalized systems while endangering local structures that were resisting the hegemony of the major groups. The logics are questionable to say the least: resorting to mass distribution for supplies and banning local shops when the latter are better able to regulate access by imposing a limited number of people at the same time. The result is likely to be catastrophic: small producers, bookshops, performing arts venues, small rural or neighbourhood cinemas, self-employed workers, etc., to the benefit, alas, of mass distribution which benefit fully from the confinement of consumers.
In the face of this situation, solidarity is the essential response. Almost everywhere, people are organizing to save what can be saved: solidarity grocery stores, group purchases, conversion of stocks in deserted restaurants to make solidarity meals, support for caregivers, platforms for listening to isolated people, etc.
We have the privilege at RIPESS to work a lot by teleworking and we are preparing an April newsletter that we would like to concoct in connection with our members. We are asking you to let us know what measures you are taking to implement this solidarity, which is the revitalizing glue that binds human beings together.
Please send us your texts and suggestions before March 31 so that we can circulate the bulletin at the beginning of April.
Take care of yourself and others. Let’s be humanly responsible for a rapid end to this epidemic and we all know that we will then resume our work of advocacy and implementation for a solidarity economy that respects humans and the planet.
And we cannot conclude without paying tribute to all those who are on the front lines to care for, feed and accompany their fellow men and women in this dangerous adventure. May they be warmly thanked here.
By Josette Combes