The Power of Social Surplus Value - 02/05/2011

De kracht van sociale overwaarde

Not long ago, Bert van Helvoirt and I were present at a meeting about the Power of Social Surplus Value. Nils Roemen from #durftevragen (dare to ask), amongst others, was invited as a guest speaker and held an interesting argument about the exchange of knowledge, services and materials. The idea behind it was that, according to Roemen, we live in a world of abundance (click here for a short video (in Dutch)).

There is too much, but things are often unused and at the wrong location, which makes them lose their value. Roemen calls this ‘social surplus value’. If whatever is left over or whatever can be done without is used somewhere else, it can become useful and hence valuable again. For this purpose it does need to be known though what and where things are left over or can be done without, and what and where things are wanted or needed. Drawing up and publishing a wish list could be a good start. For the sake of clarity: this is not about money, but about material things, ideas and help. ‘Payments’ can often be made by exchanging goods or matters. By using and then re-using them, we contribute to a more sustainable world.

Not only does the concept of Social Surplus Value yield concrete results, it also creates a sense of solidarity and connection, as was demonstrated during the practical case ‘How can I find work for 200 unemployed mainly non-Western immigrants from a problem neighbourhood within a year?’. Practical advice and offers to support the project came in rapid succession and gave the people concerned many starting points. An interesting process in which (mostly) unacquainted people reached out to help perfect strangers.

Afterwards, I asked myself what new insights this afternoon had actually given me. First of all I realised that, in this often complex world, solutions can be very simple sometimes. We are no longer used to it, but if you dare ask for what you need, you will find that many people will reach out for you. Besides, it was an eye-opener to me; I had never looked at things this way. Finally, but no less important, the concept brings freedom to a world in which money often plays an important role and is often an impeding factor. Together, and by exchanging whatever there is in abundance on either side, you get quite a long way ticking off your wish list, both business-wise and as a private individual!

If you think that there is something on your wish list that SHFT could help you with, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Maartje Pinxteren (