Infotech “I am 100 years old today, and I am launching an appeal”, by the great resistance fighter Claude Alphandéry

“I am 100 years old today, and I am launching an appeal”, by the great resistance fighter Claude Alphandéry

Claude Alphandéry in 2013, at the Elysée. (HAMILTON-POOL/SIPA)

These hundred years of life give me today the opportunity and the desire to bring together the war years and the present years. In 1940, at less than 20 years old, I experienced an unprecedented collapse of my country, a radical defeat, relentless repression. Recent years have proven to be more insidious, apparently less overwhelming. They are no less cruelly destructive under the effect of ecological, economic and social crises.

The Resistance responds twice to these disasters. In 1940, faced with perils, a Resistance, first disorganized, then gaining power with the maquis, contributed to the victory and participated in the construction of a social democracy through the program of the National Council of the Resistance (CNR). Today, the resistance has moved to the front of the economy. We must repair the deleterious effects of a world economy engaged in unbridled competition for unlimited financial profits, whatever the cost to humanity and nature.

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In both cases, in the midst of mortal perils, renewal arises: yesterday these astonishing maquis; now, the surprising social, united, sustainable young shoots.

Active France[1] supports them, accompanies their initiatives; these multiply, repair flagrant evils, but remain specific, too fragmented to create a powerful movement, an economic model, to win over public opinion. Many entrepreneurs themselves, proud of their social and environmental action, sometimes doubt their political impact in the face of multinational billions.

Promising experiences

However, there are more advanced experiences of cooperation; they are often carried out by entrepreneurs supported by France Active; they in turn wish to bring to life greater solidarity: the gift arouses the counter-gift. They open up paths and progress towards more complex and systematic cooperation.

All these experiences of cooperation invite us to move from beautiful but punctual and marginal resistances to profound transformations making it possible to develop them, to accelerate them, to perpetuate them. I see it as a way of inscribing the practices of land, this practice essential, in a broader vision, the ethical imagination of a future respecting humanity and nature.

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This ethic, however, is not easily assumed: it is thwarted by the interplay of contradictory situations, interests and behaviors which blur and darken the vision of the future. Many recoil, hesitate to identify with an ideal that seems distant and that the dominant ideology describes as utopia, powerlessness in the face of a reality controlled by finance.

The social and solidarity economy, the meaning of history

But where is the impotence? It is with those who, out of greed for profits, persist in ignoring the announced disaster, in looking elsewhere. Conversely, entrepreneurs who strengthen their bonds of solidarity and mutual trust through their collective intelligence and their inventiveness are powerful levers of prosperity.

This effort of rapprochement is not an isolated process; it is encouraged and facilitated by many local or regional authorities which support multiple solidarity initiatives and include them in a vision of solidarity development of their territory; it is also supported by public, private and mixed groups such as the Pacte du Pouvoir de Vivre.

To increase the chances and scope of their cooperation, it seems desirable to encourage them and help them to form clubs and cooperation embassies on their territory; that is to say places where we get to know each other, to exchange thoughts, practices, to affirm values, a conception of society and the economy.

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Almost eighty years ago, I created some in the maquis, referring to the history of republican clubs. They learned democracy there.

Multiply the clubs

Today, when the advances made by the Resistance are called into question, we need these clubs to strengthen our bonds of solidarity and cooperation.

They must be facilitators, guides for identifying, contacting and mobilizing all the physical or moral forces, private or public, whose mission is to make known, to support, to finance, to accompany the rise of cooperation, to specify their object, their projects, their means, to be clear about their difficulties.

I am therefore launching, in the name of my hundred years of passionate attachment to solidarity, an appeal to multiply and deepen these clubs, these places of cooperation. I call for the creation of at least one hundred clubs within two years in all territories. I know I can count on France Active as on all the actors of the Social and Solidarity Economy (ESS) to work together to amplify all these positive and founding cooperations of social links and desirable tomorrows.

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[1] France Active is an associative movement founded by Claude Alphandéry more than thirty years ago. Main financier of the social and solidarity economy, France Active supports nearly 40,000 entrepreneurs each year by mobilizing more than 500 million euros.


Born November 27, 1922 in Paris, Claude Alphandery is a French resistance fighter, banker and economist. Former president of the Departmental Committee for the Liberation of Drôme, and lieutenant-colonel FFI, he is honorary president of Labo-ESS and France Active.

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