Manifesto of the Poor


It took barely two years to wipe out everything: thousands of families losing their repossessed homes, millions on the dole, the spectre of the crash of 1929, the supplications of bankers, the lamentations of managers, the emergency measures to save the principal economic structures, Nicolas Sarkozy's eagerness to reform capitalism…

 Two years after the crisis of 2008 the world economy, instead of pulling itself together and analysing the causes of these problems in order that they would not be repeated, took a great leap forward into the void. Yet this cataclysm should have been taken as an opportunity to review not only the economic model but also the foundations on which our society is built.

 This is what is proposed by Francisco van der Hoff, one of the founders of modern fair trade. With his considerable experience among the poorest and most underprivileged, he designed a model impervious to recession, more effective against crises than the sinecures of the Welfare State. This model is anything but theoretical. It has operated for almost 30 years on a small scale.

 The neo-capitalism that it advocates is social and environmental. Far from being an arcane theory or an avatar of anti-establishment thinking, it is a real and credible alternative that defies the dominant economy. It is time that it was recognised officially and by the general public.

 Fair trade enables the poor, the peasants, the excluded, to be reintegrated in the world economy without asking for aid. It is based on the wisdom and sense of community of the Indians whose teachings are pregnant with meaning. They invite us to totally rethink our way of thinking and consuming.

The author: Francisco van der Hoff is 70 years old. A Dutch worker-priest, he has lived in Mexico for almost 40 years. The driving force behind modern fair trade, this doctor of political economy and theology successfully tried out in the field one of the rare alternative theories to capitalism that works.