On October 28th-29th 2017, a seminar on Commonfare took place in Milan, hosted by Macao, as one of the project’s dissemination events. The seminar was organized jointly by the Effimera network and Bin-Italia under the title: “Social Co-operation, Self-Determination, Commonfare: Social experimentation and autonomy of the possible.” It generated two days of intense debate and, above all, theoretical and practical elaboration of the Commonfare concept. Once again (and as it should be), it was confirmed that the theory derives from praxis and experiments in bottom-up welfare are already underway.

Many local associations and political collectives have been involved in the event, starting from some of the good practices in Milan (such SMSMacaoRi-Maflow) that have contributed to the co-research undertaken in the Commonfare project. These collective experiences directly contribute to the theoretical and political construction of our ongoing research. We have seen the participative construction of other realities, such as Ex-Asilo Filangieri in Naples, a self-organized collective experiment developing a new idea of civic and collective use of common goods in conjunction with the Municipality. Other examples include Smart-It and Clap (Chambers of Precarious and Independent Labour), both of which, in different ways, aim to represent and organize precarious and free-lance workers. Other associations that took part in the event included the Milan branch of the feminist movement Non una de meno and the association Attac-Milano.

Chiara Bassetti (PIE News Project Leader) introduced the seminar by describing the methodology and the goals of the project. Afterwards, the other speakers addressed the following themes:

The proposal of Commonfare as a system based on four main pillars:

  • unconditional basic income as a means of remuneration for  valuable work that normally goes unrecognized and uncertified, rather than as form of assistance;
  • free access to the adoption of common goods as civic use, both natural goods (land, water, nature, housing, transport…) and intangible goods (education, knowledge, sociality, culture, art …);
  • self-determination and the right to choose, self-care, and the ability to manage our own time and our own dreams, in order to create the preconditions for an alternative production eco-system;
  • the creation of an alternative monetary system based on a complementary and alternative currency, allowing access to sustainable and secure economic means.

Technological compatibility and economic sustainability as two faces of the same problem:

Commonfare is able to give positive answers to both issues by implementing an eco-system aimed at producing use-values (instead of profits) on the one hand, and at escaping the budget constraints imposed by austerity policies on the other.

The possibility to promote social cooperation and new forms of mutualism:

This aim is respectful of labour rights, with the right to self-determine life in terms of income, satisfaction and joy.

The presence of Susana Martìn Belmonte (Municipality of Barcelona, Spain) was both important and very stimulating. Susana explained that a new experiment is going to start in the Catalan city, with the introduction of a basic income through an alternative eco-system based on a new cryptocurrency. Opportunities such as this to network with those conducting similar experiments to commonfare.net are critical for both promotion and dissemination of the Commonfare approach.

(Image by Millo, 2016)