Introduction: The Period of Inequalities
There was a time when economic decisions met the needs of the relevant social groups. This was the case when joining community was the rule rather than the exception. A decision-making process driven by social needs progressively left its place to a cold and blind efficiency, guided by an economic system, the essential value of which is financial gain.
In a world where the future of humanity is directed by the logic of unbridled capital based on its own priorities which are in turn based on the principle of maximum profit in the short term, individuals and people are subjected to the demands of several large global players. The citizen is neglected, and even exploited by a political class having ceded large sectors of sovereignty to an increasingly liberal and alienated market, while the spoilt consumer worries about his own well-being. While harsh competition between companies, countries, towns and workers generates exclusion and insecurity for the increasing numbers of people, in the North and also in the South, there does appear to be an awakening of citizens and of social forces. This awakening seems to be happening on a world scale and its aim is global cohesion of the struggle and its values are those of justice, solidarity and participation.
This book aims to present an overall view of this situation. Social movements, networks of associations and analysts are given a voice to show the evolution of the economic system, the potential for action and the strategies of social forces and to formulate proposals and alternatives to the dominant system, supported by these movements. This new dynamism is well illustrated by a significant event: the meeting of The Other Davos in January 1999. As for the humanitarian situation, it is characterised by the unequal division of salaries, as illustrated by the famous UNDP sketch: the champagne glass.