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Forum der Foren: Zukunft des WSF aufgrund von WSF-Erfahrungen

Vom 14. bis 18. September 2012 wird in Santiago de Compostela / Spanien das thematische Weltsozialforum "Forum der Foren" stattfinden. Nachfolgend ein Auszug aus dem spanisch/englischen Veranstaltungsdossier, in dem die Hintergründe dieses thematischen Forums beschrieben werden (in englischer Sprache).

WSF IN EUROPE (GALICIA ): THE CASE FOR

0.

The World Social Forum (WSF) emerged ten years ago. It was designed as an open meeting space for the myriad social movements and networks of movements in both the South and North, i.e. both on the periphery and at the centre of the current world-system. These movements fight peacefully within civil society against capitalist globalisation and its harmful consequences. They champion major change, both locally and globally, to the living conditions of ordinary peoples as human beings and free citizens, and the preservation of ecosystems that link the planet's biosphere, of which we human groups are part. Their fight is guided by the conviction that 'another world is possible ' - and necessary - and as a group in constant dynamic action, they form what is therefore called the "alterglobalisation" movement.

Since its inception in 2001 in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul), and throughout its existence to date, the Forum has always chosen a place located in the South or on the periphery of the system to hold the worldwide meeting of the movements. This occurred every year at first and has taken place biannually since 2007: the WSF is the event of the global alternative movement. On the one hand, this decision is consistent with the fact that in the centre-periphery dialectic, the periphery is the primordial victim of the system's unbalanced development. This phenomenon is inbuilt to the model of capitalist accumulation in its globalisation process and is exacerbated in the current phase of financial globalisation. On the other hand, it also stems from the role of the periphery in the emergence and spread of the alter-globalisation movement that is included in and networked through the WSF. However, this does not mean we should underplay the contribution of the anti-system movements operating at the centre of the system. Lastly, this decision therefore agrees with the alternative ideas and paradigms that inspire and steer the construction of the "possible other world". These are essentially based on what Boaventura de Sousa Santos defined as the "epistemology of the South" versus the "lazy reason" of the system and civilisation model imposed by the North, which are currently in crisis.

Yet, there are many reasons why we could say that the time has come and the circumstances are right to hold the WSF planned for 2013 in the North this time around. The proposal to hold the 2013 WSF in Europe was mooted at the IC meeting in Dakar on 5th and 6th February. The arguments in favour of this proposal can be broken down into three levels or dimensions.

1.

Holding the coming WSF in the North, at the very heart of the system, would mean that we believe ourselves strong enough to meet the challenge of bringing the debate generated by our alter-globalisation project to the physical, social and political territory of its main enemy head on. We would thus be setting the stage for our global meeting within the four walls of the Kafka-esque castle that we intend and plan to besiege and transform into an open meeting space for human fraternity that the WSF itself prefigures. Doing this in Europe would also mean holding it in the historical cradle of the world-system we are fighting civically against, allowing us to project our ideas from within adjacent civil society spaces or those not yet linked to our networks' social movements. From there it can be catapulted into the spheres of European "political society", where the ideology and power reign which deny and obstinately obstruct the possibility of the "other world" we seek.

In effect, the systemic crisis that humanity is currently experiencing is the crisis of a capitalist, colonialist and imperialist world-system that originated, gestated and matured in Europe. Through it, Europe's hegemony continued until the 20th century, and even continued to play a key role thereafter as the imperial sub-metropolis. Yet as the WSF has stated, this crisis, in addition to being systemic, is a 'civilisation crisis", and, what is more, Europe is the birthplace and first instance of the very civilization model that is currently in crisis: therefore nothing could be more fitting at this time and in this context than to hold our debate "in-house" in Europe, providing critical analysis and formulating alternatives to this outmoded civilisation model.

Moreover, above and beyond the sheer scale assumed by the pathology of this systemic crisis as a global, economic, financial, social, ecological and policy pandemic, in Europe what we are seeing is a crisis in the democratic European project of linking the continent's peoples and nations economically, culturally and politically. In this context, Europe today is tearing up the stretch of road laid in the first decades after the Second World War that led to the establishment of the "welfare state" and recognition of the diversity of European peoples and their rights of identity. Now it is headed instead in the opposite direction to the networking processes that are currently being forged by the peoples and nations of Latin America. The combination of these two regressive European trends offers a key to understanding other serious events perpetrated by Europe today, such as its xenophobic attitude, repressive political action and its policy of "closed doors" to immigrants from the south of the system. This is one of the most tragic problems of those opposing the alter-globalisation movement and the WSF itself.

2.

It seems evident that given the context described in the paragraph above, holding the 2013 WSF in Europe in itself eloquently denounces or calls people's attention to the democratic crisis from which European society, citizenship and peoples are suffering. This crisis really is one of the fundamental obstacles that we need to overcome and remove to allow us to make headway towards this other possible world that we feel needs to be built at the global level. At the same time, this context lays down the skeleton for the approach to take as regards the proposal for a WSF in Europe. This is defined by the dialectic of three cardinal axes of opposition.

The first of these is the axis that pits the design of a social Europe against the liberal model assumed and applied by the European Union (EU). In this opposition of contradictory positions, the project of a social Europe is consistent in its core precepts with the principles adopted by the WSF, while the EU embodies on the other hand the European incarnation of the ultra-liberal globalisation that both the WSF and the social movement networks are fighting.

The second axis reveals the contradiction between the Europe of peoples and citizens and the Europe of states and established powers. This is an omnipresent opposition in modern and contemporary European history. It has still not been resolved today and has also been "exported" through the European colonial systems to other continents at the time of the "decolonisation" processes. This is particularly evident in the cases of Africa and the Middle East, with dramatic consequences that need not be highlighted as they are of common knowledge and as they have gained new leases of life from the socio-political events and processes of recent months.

In last place, the third axis reproduces the centre-periphery or North-South dichotomy at intra-European level. This dichotomy characterises the world-system as a whole, and the dialectic of uneven development which governs its bipolar engine. What this means is that within Europe there is a North and a South, not so much in the geographical sense as in the structural meaning. It was the British economist Dudley Seers who was the first to identify the existence of a "peripheral Europe" more than three decades ago. He defined it and described its structural characteristics and the way it diverges from the "centre". The resulting issue of "peripheral Europe" is, mutatis mutandis, analogous to the issue of the periphery of the globalised world-system.

The way these three dialectic oppositions combine provides the cornerstones for the appropriate emphasis we need to give the proposal for the 2013 WSF in Europe. In effect, this proposal needs to be seen through the joint viewpoints of social Europe, the Europe of peoples and citizens and peripheral Europe. All three define the correct perspective, which coincides with that adopted at global level by the World Social Forum and the alter-globalisation movement as a whole. The third also identifies the best location for holding the event: at the end of the day, the WSF would be held in the south in an outermost area once more – but this time in an outermost area within Europe.

3.

The upshot of all these factors is that we have to avoid the possibility of a Europe-held WSF appearing contaminated by the slightest "Eurocentric" tinge. Preventive immunisation against any risk of such a contagion, however remote it may be, lies in how the "in situ" organisation of the event is designed, together with the group(s) responsible for it.

Firstly, the way the event is organised and the group responsible need to be different to those in charge of hosting the continental WSFs – i.e. the European Social Forum. This does not mean at all that representatives of European movements that are or have been members of the groups responsible for organizing the European SFs should be barred from the organisational work, but that the criterion and the makeup of the organizing group for this occasion has to be different. This means it needs to be that of a World Social Forum, and that its core should be composed of representatives who are members of the WSF International Council.

Secondly, the European WSF needs to be impregnated with a view that focuses on Europe's relationship with the World, as seen from an alter-globalisation standpoint and therefore the ethical polar opposite of any type of "Eurocentric" view. This is the safest way of ensuring the WSF conveys the "epistemology of the South" message instead of being contaminated by the North's "lazy reason". This leads us to highlight the role the Global Network for the Collective Rights of Peoples can play in this regard, correlated with Axis-12, in the themes of the WSF, and the role of their section in Europe, the CONSEU Network.

As the members of the WSF IC are fully aware, the Global Network for the Collective Rights of Peoples originated at the 2009 WSF in Belem do Pará and was formally set up in April 2010 in the Catalan city of Girona. Its incubator was the Conference of the Stateless Nations of Europe (CONSEU), which has existed since its Constituent Assembly was held in 1985 in Barcelona. Although it was set up to respond democratically to the "national questions" pending settlement in Europe, from the outset it has seen questions of peoples' and cultures' identity as a universal problem, correlated with the right to self-determination proclaimed by the UN. Accordingly, it fostered relations with the emancipating nationalist movements from outside Europe, many of whom were participating as observers in CONSEU's activities. These relationships in particular have grown closer with the movements of people as diverse as the Kurds, Saharawi, Palestinians, Quebecois or Amazigs. This dynamic resulted in a networking process which came on in qualitative leaps and bounds to link up with the group of American "original peoples", before spilling over into the organisation of its own joint space in Belém do Pará and the birth and subsequent formal establishment of this Global Network for the Collective Rights of Peoples.

This is why we believe that this network can play a relevant role in ensuring the Europe-World relationship is the focal point of the organisation of the 2013 WSF in Europe. We offer to take on the relevant responsibilities in this regard to collaborate with members of the European organisations that are part of the organisational process and with the WSF's CI itself in an open and supportive fashion.

4.

Finally, it is our belief that these proposals and the reasons in favour of holding the 2013 WSF in Europe with the criteria and approaches presented above can and should contribute to renewing and renovating the WSF's approaches and methods in a relevant fashion, as deemed necessary for inclusion by its International Council. Such were reiterated in the analyses and assessments carried out at the meeting of the latter in Dakar on 12th and 13th February 2011.

 

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