ReCivitas: 10 years of social action. Basic Income, Direct Democracy and Alternative Property Rights.
Or, the construction of meaning for enabling this quest.
Translated by Fabiana Cecin
This article is a report of what we have done in these years with our social license and our work that, although voluntary, was always chartered by Public Interest.
Is innovation lacking in Brazil?
THOSE WHO SEEK IT WILL FIND IT. LOOK HARDER, MATE!
I’m not sure if I can find something like that one. But ones different from these I know as well as the back of my own hand.
That project was evaluated, visited, analyzed and critiqued. It served as the basis for field research and international publications and also national, presented in international conferences both of Basic Income and of the Third Sector. And has also been working as a reference for international scientific literature on the subject. We even have published scientific papers on its efficiency and efficacy.
We also continue to produce novel theoretical material of the same quality. And we don’t just publish it in the closed circuit of academia, but we also publish it on the web for everyone, such as here on Medium:
Or in books…
Not that theoretical knowledge is less important to us, or just an aside. It is an integral part of the creative process. Theory and Practice are not separated in our social action; they are simultaneous and engaged in constant exchanges. However, it is beyond clear that, in this creative process, no new knowledge would exist if practice did not literally take the lead. There is an inversion here. It is the practice that generates demands to the process of theorizing, and not theories that are out to satisfy themselves empirically.
Which is why it was fundamental, for all of our volunteer work, the development of new methods and of applied social technologies such as SOCIAL ACTIONS of citizenship and public interest, distributed freely in Brazil and worldwide for the promotion of new public policies and social services.
These are actions that transformed our social activism in vocational work and that have led us to incorporate both the achievements and the methods put to use in our own social cause. In this way, both give concreteness to the social objective of ReCivitas: new projects as its end and new methods as our principles.
These methods consist, basically, in the production of policies and public social knowledge, even scientific, geared towards the interests of the subjects of study and not of the researchers. In other words, the interests of society, not of governments. Knowledge produced by and for us, the guinea pigs, and not by and for them, those who wield other kinds of knowledge and harbour other interests. Knowledge practiced and lived by those who need it as users and owners, not as observers of subjects and their alienated possessions.
A body of theoretical and experimental knowledge produced in a systematic fashion, simultaneous and in a feedback loop. Merged into the life of the community and to popular wisdom through the social action itself. Knowledge that therefore is not abstracted away from the social action itself and also not separated from the common senses. Knowledge produced from citizen to citizen, as practice for practice — especially that practice experienced in loco.
“That’s all well and good, but what came of it?”, says me, advocating for the Devil. And I’ll answer:
We have done and published, through this new method, the following works:
1. The mutual system of financing and of payment of Basic Incomes.
Basic Income Startup
2. The platform of libertarian direct democracy.
3. And the alternative license of redistributive property:
And we have also traveled the world spreading awareness of these projects and supporting and promoting other initiatives:
PORTUGAL: Basic Income Conference in Portugal | BIEN
In two weeks time, on the 15th and 16th of February, a major Conference about Basic Income will be held in Lisbon…
PARIS, France: UBI experiment in Brazil, 4 November | BIEN
ReCivitas have experimented a basic income pilot project in Quantinga Velho, Brazil since 2008. The delegation of…
Basic Income in a Brazilian Village: Lessons for Human Liberation
Universal basic income (UBI) is an alternative form of social security, which posits that all people should receive an…
Grundeinkommen in Brasilien - Erfahrungen aus 6 Jahren Quatinga Velho | Grundeinkommen ist ein…
Seit Oktober 2008 betreiben Bruna Pereira und Marcus Brancaglione von der brasilianischen Nichtregierungsorganisation…
And we have participated in workshops and conferences abroad:
Conferencias | Instituto Iberoamericano/portuges
Dr. Toru Yamamori (Prof. Adjunto, Univ. de Doshisha) Prof. Marcus Vinícius Brancaglione dos Santos (Prof. do IATS …
ReCivitas project at Oxford 1 Feb 2016 - Basic Income UK
by George Bangham The ReCivitas project has paid an unconditional basic income to members of a small community in…
But also participating and organizing our own workshops here, in Brazil:
"Exemplos a seguir: expedição em estética e sustentabilidade"
O Memorial da América Latina traz ao Brasil exposição de origem alemã inédita que tem como temáticas a finitude das…
We have also brought in courses:
TRYP Iguatemi apoia evento internacional
O hotel TRYP Iguatemi, administrado pela rede Meliá Hotels International, em parceria com o ReCivitas (Instituto pela…
And we have taught our own courses:
Curso de Extensão EMPREENDEDORISMO SOCIAL E RENDA BÁSICA
Curso de Extensão "EMPREENDEDORISMO SOCIAL E RENDA BÁSICA", Unisa - Universidade de Santo Amaro, Rua Isabel Schmidt…
And we have been promoting all this for a long time now:
"É perfeitamente possível que uma nova forma de democracia direta nasça e seja institucionalizada…
As mídias sociais foram um dos principais meios usados para mobilizar milhares de brasileiros nos últimos meses. Mas…
Olhai os lírios do campo
MARCUS VINICIUS BRANCAGLIONE DOS SANTOS * Nada induz mais ao erro do que tentar prever aquilo que precisa ser constru…
And, remembering our first projects, almost forgotten and almost footnotes by now:
Paranapiacaba is a district of the municipality of Santo André in the Brazilian state of São Paulo. It is located…
And more recent actions:
Encontro Ativistas e Organizações Independentes da Sociedade Civil
Tema: Diretas Já 2016. Com Democracia Direta, Renda Básica e Cidadania Plena
And we are not standing still.
Not out there…
It should be clear by now that we are more recognized abroad than inside Brazil. And I am not complaining, nor am I apologizing. We made the path that we had to make. And to overcome these barriers is part of the social work and of the problem to be overcome. Of course, our communication efforts could have been better, and things could be (say) a little less purposefully made difficult. But things are changing, slowly than we’d like them to, but changing they are. And they may even move faster, and once the blockers fall, the blockages may go away entirely with them.
Especially when we speak of basic income, we know that this blackout never was directed only towards our project. Whoever knows basic income also knows how it is systematically a target of disinformation campaigns. Its transformational potential is enormous. And if it is put to practice, even more so. Therefore, it would be strange if it was not so. It would be strange if we were welcomed by those who profit from primitive deprivation, both political and economical.
Anyway, the scare of basic income is so huge that to this day not even the tabloid press, thinly disguised as honest journalism, was ordered to target and nuke the project. Of course that, after the foreigners came over here and pointed not only the good things about the project but also its defects and inherent limitations, it became harder for the enemies to fabricate data and conclusions. What could they possibly say? That the independent evaluations performed at the peak of the experimental phase of the project were fake? And that the evaluations made by their “make-up artists” are to be the ones people should trust?
And even if it sounds absurd, I want to thank the intellectual honesty of so many professors and professional activists that helped us so much, all across the world and especially here in Brazil. It would be impossible to name everyone but we want them to know that we appreciate their honesty and their simply not pretending that we didn’t exist:
I confess that academic knowledge helps to shield us from lowly attacks and falsification of facts and data in the political-ideological war of information.
But that is not all.
For the development of social actions and public policies, studies — especially ones that are simultaneous with action — are fundamental not only to prove that shit is going on, but to build and to improve on the social action.
If your objective is really to do something that is not only the writing of a paper, but something that fulfills its social function, establishing that critical and analytical DIALOGUE such as with independent studies will help you immensely to recognize and to correct errors, and even to develop soutions that are really new projects of their own.
To consignated micro-credit to the Basic Income Startup. Upon close inspection, that process is the product of that effort of developing new social technologies of financing and of payment of the basic income, which are capable of composing a new banking system where not only a basic income is not an absurd concept, but a foundation of economic development.
What have we learned with ten years of struggle?
Message to new activists and NGOs
I can say with no reservations: ReCivitas is not an exception. Many other organizations like ours or even larger ones could exist if the environment around free enterprise in Brazil wasn’t toxic. Entrepreneurs complain that it is impossible to be enterprising in Brazil. They say that because they have not yet tried to build social enterprises, which are not only difficult but just short of being forbidden by law.
The main problem we have in Brazil is that most organizations and projects, ideas and creative ideals are either coopted or they fail to escape and die, choked in their cribs. Or, in other words, the problem in Brazil is not a lack of innovation but the weight of our shit elite ruling class that sits on our heads. They make the country into a box of crabs and live off of trying to poke each other’s eyes, and they have the balls to them go on to claim that they never see any innovation here.
For that reason, don’t be afraid of knocking hard, thinking that perhaps in doing so you will end up closing many doors. My friend, if you are not rich nor the son of anyone important, the doors are not open for you at all. And if you want to open them, you will have to pound them and scream a lot.
As I said, we are not experts in communication, but we have been surviving and that is no small feat. And, more than that. This is the communication that allowed for the first payment of Basic Income to come out of paper and into reality. A communication that starts from the principle that we cannot and must not expect anything from anyone. This is the deal: guerrilla warfare. Those who have not dogs, go hunting with cats, and those who have nothing to hunt with, will hunt with their nails. You have to do the throw-in, head it in, score the goal and then run to the stands to clap for the goal; if you don’t do so, the referree is not going to call the goal.
You want to do something? Do it.
You do not have to be a social activist for that, but certainly you will forever have to be the personal activist of your own life.
So, be ready to do and sing everything you do in verse and in prose.
Do not let them take over and corrupt or destroy your identity and your life history, do not let them erase your origins and even your memory. But, most importantly, do not let them destroy your will to be and to do what you have ever dreamed. Because you may even end up forgetting who you are and what you have accomplished.
Don’t shut up, don’t fit in, don’t be afraid of being a radical and being unbearably inconvenient. Because the kind of moderation that is considered adequate for these people is not worthy of human life. And worse still, in moments of crisis such as the one we are currently living in, that unworthiness reveals itself in all its extremist intransigence; the evil that has aborted the 20th century is re-emerging.
If you can do something, do not be shy and much less humble or innocent. Revolt and do the best you can and be proud of it even knowing it will never be enough. I should not need to remind you that dishonest vain people, flatterers and back-stabbers abound, but also we do not need more humble and innocent people to be slaughtered together. Not in social activism, no. What we need here is more disobetient, expansive, subversive people that are as nosy and thick-skinned as anyone who dreams of liberty and emancipation should be.
And, for the love of god, do a little, do a small thing, do what you can do with the little you have, but do not be satisfied in doing something that is less than absolutely revolutionary. In a world where we still have people dying of hunger it is better to suffer a string of revolutionary failures than to achieve any conservative, modest success. In short, do not worry about trimming yourself around the edges, because, in this world, there is no shortage of people dying for the opportunity to cut off your legs.
I am proud of my ancestors that have lived and died out of working so much, of my great-grandmother that could barely sleep horizontally because of her back bent out of a lifetime working in a sewing machine, of my father that has worked his entire life as a machine. But I do not accept to live and die like that and not let those who do not want to live and die like that to be killed. I am proud of all the time and money put into this project, not only to build “knowledge” but to change, even if just a little bit, the life of people.
Underneath the practice of Basic Income there is a philosophy of life that teaches that what matters is not how much we can do, but that we must not be silent and to do whatever it is that we can. I repeat: it does not matter how much it is that you do, because what is almost nothing for you could be everything to someone else, and in some other moment it could even save a life.
We cannot eschew, evade the struggle of our times. Not without throwing our own lives away. There is no condition in this world, even the most criminal, indignifying or deprivate that a person may be reduced to, that can silence the spirit of their free will to manifest in all its power of creative solidarity.
Why am I saying all this? Because I want to teach some kind of moral lesson? Do advertising? Will I start selling self-help books or talks? No. I am not giving or selling anything. I am asking. I am asking that those who can do more, that have more youth and power, that they do not stay silent. It is time for action. Do not fool yourself, for the times when we could pretend that nothing was going on or that we could just avoid dealing with the problems is gone. We are at the brink of facing, perhaps as soon as in the next decade, those moments in history where “the problems” will knock from door to door until they reach yours.
Having said that, I choose to end this piece with the most profound and beautiful definition of freedom that I have found so far. It is a definition of freedom that is, in reality, light-years ahead of my own lived experience and even of my sensibility. I confess that I have no idea about what it is to actually go through such extreme deprivation and that I cannot possibly say that I understand it. However, after turning Basic Income into a practice, I can at least have some idea of what it means in order to admire it and see in it what I have sought (and, in a sense, found) in the realization of social projets and especially in Basic Income: freedom as the meaning of life, not only as an uncoditional choice but a choice, under all circumstances, for human dignity:
“We who have lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms-to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances-to choose one’s on way.”
Viktor Frankl, “Man’s Search For Meaning” (1946)