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{Allies Speaking}: From the Alliance to Cooperativism, the Democratization of Democracy, and Research on the Role of Women

A truly early Ally— ever since 1993— José Hipólito dos Santos has sent us a few of his thoughts from Oeiras, Portugal and tells us a little about the paths he has taken since that time.

It is with pleasure that I received your letter-editorial of 26.1.08.

It has been a long time since I had the opportunity to contact you. I remain very attached to the Alliance Charter, which constitutes an essential basis for my thinking and action, as well as to its working methods, which I liked very much.

At some point I withdrew from Alliance activities, due to a fatigue related to what appeared to me to be a kind of “folkloric” and “opportunistic” attitude among many Allies, but also because I have always been involved in a lot of activities with my cooperative, SEIES [1], or have received invitations from different organizations in Portugal, France, Brazil, and Africa.

Democratizing democracy

These pas few years I was able to take part in the Association Démocratiser Radicalement la Démocratie, which was especially focused on wide-ranging Participatory Budget (PB) experiences. There, I studied more particularly the contributions and limits of PB, but in the eyes of the organization PB was seen as something revolutionary and the fact that I raised a number of questions, challenging some of its practices was not very well received. In particular, I underscored other types of experience where women played a more decisive role.

Violence against women and children

For some time I have been working with my team on a project on domestic violence in the city of Setubal, south of Lisbon. The idea is to get different institutions to work together on this problems—justice, police, schools, social services, employment agencies, women’s organizations, unions, etc. A very difficult task, when you try to go beyond the traditional framework “where everyone is doing what they’re supposed to.” There was a lot of effort put into “dis-occulting” a persistent culture of acceptance of violence with regard to women and to children as something that has to do with private and natural relations.

Another activity that has taken up a lot of my time is historical research on cooperativism in Portugal, in particular for a period that I was fortunate to know well and on which I have begun to write.

In spite of it all, no bitterness

It is with no bitterness that I follow the major contemporary problems of our society, even though the media and political behavior, right- and left-wing, would almost lead us to despair. On the one hand, I realize the degree to which our societies were (are) decayed with the great complicity of a fossilized left wing and, on the other hand, with the help of the Alliance and my research, I look at the transformations that are not being conveyed by the media and taking place almost everywhere, among others on the basis of a new and growing role of women.

[1See the SEIS blog


José Hipólito dos Santos
José Hipólito dos Santos, born in Porto, former (...)
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