Volume 46 Number 181,
April-June 2015

Good Living and Decolonization: A Critique of Instrumental Development and Rationality, Boris Marañón (coord.), Institute of Economic Research, UNAM, Mexico, 2014.

This work was produced through the collaboration of various renowned scholars, who offered reflections on the emergence of a new era, in a historical sense, based on reciprocity and solidarity, through every personal and collective social action.

It also discusses the advent of a proposal in Latin America known as “good living,” which constitutes the reunion of society and nature, separated as a result of the imposition of the coloniality of power, “a racial view of social relations and the separation of reason and nature, subject and object” (Marañón, 2014: 42).

At the same time, “good living” is a critique of the capitalist proposal of development, which has become a goal for peripheral countries. “Good living,” by contrast, contends that we should abandon the pretense of development as a linear process; in addition, social relations should not be commercialized, but rather the focus is on quality of life or welfare to exploit happiness and “good living.”

In other words, the fundamental contributions of “good living” are to recover unity and make society and nature complementary to one another to establish a relationship rather than exteriority. This is an alternative that has emerged among the Latin American people, and is now a path to human subsistence, drawing on ancestral knowledge and practices that respect nature.

It is also about reformulating the concept of economics, because in this case, it no longer begins with scarcity. It redefines notions of labor and wealth, proposing an own economy, which above all is a form of territorial defense, control and management and should consist of economic and productive activities that favor food sovereignty and territorial and life sustainability.

The authors elucidate the various theoretical facets of solidarity forms of existence, as well as its tensions and potential.

This work goes beyond the theoretical and focuses on the rise of economic organizations based on collective labor and social movements, highlighting the solidarity relationships between people and nature.

One of the case studies is the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca, which consists of municipalities with people of indigenous origin and mestizo traditions. It discusses the social relationship between nature and its inhabitants, in which access, use and enjoyment of the land and forests has been redefined, viewing the concept of labor as a social good and not a commodity.

Another case study describes the rural community in Camino – in the state of Oaxaca –founded in 1995 as a social solidarity society, which implements defense and care of its lands and works to conserve and make sustainable use of its natural resources.

A third study discusses the cooperative Unity, Development and Commitment (Undeco, in Spanish), with a comprehensive cooperative approach, focused on synergy between activities related to saving, consumption and production. The organization itself aims to, on the one hand, build a new society and, on the other, in daily life, solve the problems of its members. As such, money is merely a means to advance towards the rationale of solidarity.

Now, the Jade Cooperative Group and the Union of Cooperatives Ñöñho of San Ildefonso Tultepec, Querétaro, were created under the framework of solidarity economies, based on the potential and power of people and not their deficits. From these aspirations emerged the need for an educational project to reinforce and complement production. With that in mind, they created a degree in Solidarity Economy Entrepreneurship, a pioneering field of study in Mexico offered at the Ñöñho Intercultural Institute, A.C., located in the indigenous community of San Ildefonso Tultepec, in the municipality of Querétaro. It aims to open access to the indigenous population and come up with solutions to the most important problems facing the community, as well as function as an incubator, because when students finish their degree, they present a productive project, with the idea that they stay to work in the region and contribute to sustainable development, thereby creating a mutually beneficial relationship between graduates and the communities. The goal of the Institute and the Union is to help the markets of ancestral peoples recover, in such a way that trade, prices, food, relationships and the community can exist in harmony with nature and the values of fairness and exchange.

In Mexico City, the book analyzed the housing cooperative of the Palo Alto Union, yet another way, in response to the instrumental rationality of capitalists manifest not only in the social organization of labor, but also in the social organization of spaces. This union is involved in social habitat management, which involves complex processes of supporting urban residents with grassroots organizing to fight for land, housing and basic services.

Moreover, the Tradoc Cooperative, in Salto, Jalisco, is focused on workers recovering their companies. This cooperative faces the struggle against unemployment, which will generate an alternative and emerging solidarity, accompanied by practices of reciprocity and cooperation, which will now constitute new labor relations, redefining the right to work versus the right of ownership.

Consequently, “good living” is an entirely new way of life, based on the rationale of solidarity and freedom.

Erika Martínez
Institute of Economic Research – unam

Published in Mexico, 2012-2017 © D.R. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM).
PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 48, Number 191, October-December 2017 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
CP 04510, México, D.F. Tel (52 55) 56 23 01 05 and (52 55) 56 24 23 39, fax (52 55) 56 23 00 97, www.probdes.iiec.unam.mx, revprode@unam.mx. Journal Editor: Alicia Girón González. Reservation of rights to exclusive use of the title: 04-2012-070613560300-203, ISSN: pending. Person responsible for the latest update of this issue: Minerva García, Circuito Maestro Mario de la Cueva s/n, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México D.F., latest update: Nov 13th, 2017.
The opinions expressed by authors do not necessarily reflect those of the editor of the publication.
Permission to reproduce all or part of the published texts is granted provided the source is cited in full including the web address.
Credits | Contact

The online journal Problemas del Desarrollo. Revista Latinoamericana de Economía corresponds to the printed edition of the same title with ISSN 0301-7036