Convergence Assembly on the Future of the Forum (August 12)
In ways, this assembly was a continuation of the discussions we started on the Future of the Forum with NIGD on the first day of the forum. Some people become frustrated with the focus on process rather than content, but the full room indicated that more people would like to know where the social forum process is headed. (no audio)
Starts with man from Tunisia talking about WSF person from Tunisia recently killed by Islamists.
Moderator: Pierre Beaudet (Québec) from IC. IC meeting on Sunday. Starts with two distinct perspectives:
Chico Whitaker (Brazil), starts by talking about Pablo Solón. A month ago he called for the funeral of the WSF in Montreal. Did you come for the future or the funeral of the WSF. Many interesting panels--harsh reflections from Latin American panel. things that couldn't have happened without WSF. WSF is important for problems in Latin America. Things have become more mature. Enthusiastic about future of forum.
Boaventura de Souza Santos: WSF at crossroads. More difficult to maintain. Neoliberalism is ever more rampant. WSF refuses to condemn impeachment of Dilma. Are we incompetent? WSF should go on but change to become more politically relevant. 1400 visas refused, inequality of power. We need to address that. Will be more difficult to travel. People who most need to be here won't be here. Pay more attention to local forums, and thematic forums. We need to create forum for deliberation. IC doesn't take political statements, but we should at least denounce denial of visas. What is the purpose of the council if it can't denounce that? We need to change process, and incorporate more young people. Persistent problem of lack of trust & internal democracy & transparency.
Gina Vargas (moderates). 15 min discussion of each of 4 questions:
1. How to strengthen the work of social movements and the WSF?
WSF should be more political
Teivo: Assembly of Social Movements was a good compromise between open space & taking political positions. Will convergence assemblies play this role?
Oded (IC, BZ): I'm a member of council--did you vote for me? Horizontal. One movement is not more important than another. You didn't elect me, but I'm here to facilitate the process.
Moema Miranda (Brazil): key problem was that strong social movements that built WSF were not strong enough to stop parliamentary coup against Dilma. 2003: decided to mobilize against Iraq, around the world. Wasn't IC decision, but was the space in which the movements decided to do that. How do we strengthen our movements? Role of IC is to create space to strengthen them
French guy: space to exchange experiences. beyond events
Gina: just base for more discussion
2. Which communication platforms for the WSF?
Paco: We lost our historic website. many kinds of platforms. Every forum builds their own platform. We need to take back old website and continue it. We need to pay technician, rather than volunteer, and continue with that. Technology has evolved.
Brazil woman: need global platform to respond to coup
Silvia Garcés (UMAQ student): youth lead a lot of social movements, and these spaces aren't always accessible to youth
Reinforce participatory process through extension in time & space
Gina: we are at crossroads, and we need changes. More collective anti-systemic strategies.
3. What role for the WSF IC?
Francine: believes in the forum, the role it can play, and in the role of the IC. But forgetting one thing: so many people are not coming anymore. 2003 action would not be possible anymore because people have left, because we're not engaging political issues. We need each other to be stronger together. Need new representatives & young people in IC, and transparency & trust. We can't be politically irrelevant.
José Correa (Brazil): Correlation of forces has changed. can't substitute movements, regenerate force of social movements. Where do we go to reinforce those struggles? If IC makes declaration against coup, why didn't we take a stand against the Belo Horizonte dam that Dilma built because that was against the rights of mother nature?
Elizabeth García (Santa Marta, Colombia): difficult to understand from outside: more emphasis on process than content.
Immanuel Wallerstein: no surprise that we are against visa denials & brazilian coup. but more difficult issues would wreck us. A statement by an IC that has not been elected by anyone won't impress anyone and won't change anything, it will only make us feel better. If we elect it, who/how will elect it? We don't focus on important global issues if we just focus on issue of how IC works.
Tunisia man: need to take stronger actions. Not time for debate, but time for action.
Martina (global society for Iraq civil society): joined because of call for volunteers. Infiltration? who cares. Need methodology, fundraising, expansion. work through commissions
Alex: What is the role of the WSF? We need political power of the WSF to create change
Jennifer Cox: Charter of principles from 2001-3 worked for then, but things change and we have to figure out new system for now. USSF built from social movements out. Have watched social movements left, because it can't just be collective therapy session but have to figure out how to move forward.
Struggle against debts, international restrictions. Maybe it's time to move beyond WSF. Maybe the movement we need is not of social movements, but of different way of organizing. How can every movement change its strategy. Need to reinforce local process of WSF, and develop new initiatives
What are new movements that we should bring to WSF? Need to modify charter.
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