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Gina Vargas

NIGD: Future of the Forum (August 10, 2016)

At every WSF, the Network Institute for Global Democratization (NIGD) organizes a panel on where the forum is going. This panel was well attended and we had a lively conversation.

More photos

Audio of session

Immanuel Wallerstein
2 issues:
1. can it work?
2. who makes decisions? (internal democracy)
Horizontal vs. vertical forms of organization a false dilemma. Forum created because of failures of previous internationals. What results have we seen after 15 yrs? Is world getting better? Maybe not, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't continue.
What mechanism do we have for making decisions? IC: but no one has elected them. Someone has to make decisions, and it will always be undemocratic.
Turning point: people are tired of what we have. 2 alternatives: we come out reinvigorated and will keep on doing it, or we decide it is not worth it--too much work & energy & resources. WSF doesn't have to continue, but other global justice movements can carry on. But I think it is worth continuing.

Gina Vargas
Not funeral of forum, but rather look for new ideas to transcend.
Other movements have participated in forum.

Teivo Teivainen:
unresolved question of whether IC member organizations should be transnational. How to define criteria to be on IC?

Francine Mestrum:
Questions of topics & organization.
Topics: not same as 2001. Fewer global issues. Not WB & IMF. These issues have disappeared.
Internal democracy: decisions are being made, but they are invisible. We do not know how they are being made. That's why we need to formalize these structures so that we can make decisions. Less question of whether we are going to take political positions, but are we going to be politically relevant. If we are going to exist politically, it would be good to occasionally take political positions.

Teivo: more Palestine presence
Mumbia woman: resurgence of rightwing identities. Technology changes how we think about political action.

Chico WhitakerChico Whitaker: 2003 thought we should kill the WSF because we had invented a new governing organism that was from the old political culture. IC grew from 50/60 organizations to 150. But rather than committee "council." Some wanted advisory council, but advising which king? Some organizations entered IC to enter power, but left when they saw that none was there. Now a maximum of 50 people participate actively.
Rather than regulatory council, we created 8 commissions.
What is the WSF?
We must enlarge struggle. Build cooperation, beyond fragmentation of struggle. We are on the same side, and need to cooperate. That's the difference between capitalism and socialism. Need organization that welcomes all types of struggles.
We have a patriarchal struggle, and need space for women.
Forum not as an event, but as a process. Thematic forum more important.
Same struggles, but don't work or speak with each other.

Teivo: are thematic forum solution to look for forums that are politically more relevant?
Chico: Yes, if we arrive to unified strategy.
Happy middle class & successful capitalism. Need to understand how we are pieces of a larger mechanism. We need to awake people to the realization that another world is possible & urgent & necessary & together it is possible.

Carminda Mac Lorin, Montreal organizing committee--since May 2013. Issues of holding it in north, via problems, etc. Crazy people--meeting every Wednesday. Coming from different generation & different political culture, but need to act together.
Most are volunteers--100. Need to create space, internal democracy. Inspired by new movements such as occupy, follow principles that we are trying to promote. Operate in horizontal fashion. We need to walk toward that model. Not voting, but understand temperature of room, work toward consensus. Not most efficient model, growing & learning over 3 yrs. Get organizations to work together. Collective notes, online, safe space (gender, issues, oppression). Proud of what we have achieved.
Every edition of the forum has its own local flavor.
(Most people in room from outside of Canada)
First Nations need to be central in reflections. Teivo: we are on unceded Mohawk territory.
Issues: youth, environment.
Palestine is very present issue. Active BDS groups. Wanted to promote horizontality between causes, but what happens when it excludes other issues. Try to emphasize idea of open space & respect for other people & respect for environment. Media loves to look for conflict. Reflects problems & complexity of world.
History of problems between Quebec and Indigenous peoples. But have incorporated many Indigenous peoples.

Woman from USSF organizing committee. How new topics get introduced. How issues are introduced: still old political culture, how to introduce new issues.

Norman Stockwell: How were decisions made to meet in global north, and in summer instead of opposite World Economic Forum? Is that why we have lost focus on economic issues?
From movement to institution.
Festive march, but lost opportunity to put out issues.
How do we engage youth?

Future of the ForumTeivo: lack of transparency is problem. Would be nice to stream all events online. Plans for future? Every 2 yrs?
Chico: Barcelona? Porto Alegre? Senegal? IC meeting here won't decide, but will hear proposals. Need more discussion.
Teivo: Opportunity for south to come and tell north about situation. but visa has always been complication.
Chico: 2018 polycentric? Barcelona, PA, & ?
Gina: need youth. Quebec was South in North because of struggles. No solution for visa problem. 400 people didn't come. Festive march: march is always interesting. Need to change political culture: many movements not present.
Teivo: horizontal social form and then an assembly of social movements that does take positions: combination of open space & entities that take position.
Chico: originally closed, invitation only, one representative per organization. Now completely open (tho Teivo says not). Only IC decision is where to meet next, and rest is facilitation. This time the IC was absent in helping with organization of forum.

Francine: disagrees with Chico. Why is it impossible to react? Question of as individuals or as forum.
Teivo: question of structures are patriarchal. but if you pretend that there are no structures, then you have a tyranny of structurallessness.
Gina: we are in a new moment. How to deal with constraints of power in IC.
Feminism isn't about women, but a political perspective. and the forum doesn't have that perspective. same problem with race, and horizontal perspective.


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