Is it already a tradition? Once a year, SOLIDAR has the privilege and the pleasure of awarding outstanding individuals and organisations with the SILVER ROSE awards. Every year the awardees, wherever they come from or in whatever category they are awarded, show great modesty. Some are even shy about standing in the spotlight on such an occasion. It is impressive to learn about their motivation and commitment, to better understand what drives them: their feeling that something is going so wrong in terms of justice and democracy that they come to a point where they need to act and not to stand aside.
In a way, they represent the social glue that binds together our efforts for progress for the general good. Their powerful motivation also inspires us in Brussels and at European level in our work, which goes far beyond mere lobbying. What we do is advocacy, based on the values of democracy, equality, solidarity and fairness, which is so much needed in these times. Such activism concerns us all, be it in civil society organisations, unions or political parties. It is about power and counter power. Our awardees are the “heroes”, even though they never intended to be. Through their actions they give us all inspiration and motivation. Their stories (see below) give us reasons to engage.
At the time we were gathered together in the European Parliament, some of the rich and powerful were gathering again in Davos. The actual mass of snow there is the equivalent of the amount of money and fortune they represent. This year, those who usually only care for big money and big business are worried. Who would have thought? They are worried about growing inequality! Nice. But aren’t they the ones responsible for the increasingly unfair distribution of wealth? They would be the last to call for fair distribution. Some of them sincerely do care, however, and the question is: what drives them? Regrettably it is not the common good that drives them, it is more that they want at least a part of the global population to continue to afford their products (whether virtual or real), to believe in their promises, in their free market ideology. They want to continue to breath the air and not be disturbed by social unrest.
This is not class or anti-capitalist rhetoric. It is just a reality, if we are to take reports like the last one published by our friends and colleagues from Oxfam ‘Reward work, not wealth’ seriously. Those in Davos, the mighty and powerful, would have had the chance to learn from the crisis their policies provoked in 2008. Have you heard of the end of speculation, of FTT or taming financial markets? Heard of sustainable social investment, of increasing social benefits? Davos is a big annual theatre, not a comedy, but an annual performance creating the illusion that something will change and that they have understood. As reformists we do not deny small progress and our belief in humanity includes also the belief in the possibility that humanity understands the global challenges better and will find fairer solutions.
Our role models were again united this Tuesday in the European Parliament. We are proud to offer them a stage and to unite the progressive family of civil society, unions and parties. Stronger together! Thanks to capital – our “human capital”, our awardees!
This editorial appeared in the Weekly Round Up of 26th January 2018.