[WSF-Discuss] Fwd: Bolivian Government Increases its Moral Authority on Climate Change

Jai Sen jai.sen at cacim.net
Wed Apr 21 22:42:10 CDT 2010

Thursday, 22 April 2010

What is happening today in Cochabamba, Bolivia, is interesting, and  
historically significant, in many ways.  One among them is how  
significant and influential social actors across the world, in the  
South and in the North, are – at this time of planetary crisis -  
recognising the importance of moral authority, and in this case that  
Bolivia has greatly increased its moral authority (and by extension,  
and in a very limited way, the moral authority of the so-called  
‘South’, though this is a complex issue).  See, for instance, this  
Media Advisory issued from Cochabamba by Friends of the Earth  

But, and as I have argued in earlier postings though, Bolivia is also  
not just any actor from the South; it has a government led by  
indigenous peoples and is the closest we have, at this point of time  
in history, to a social movement state.  (See my posting on April 7 on  
this list.*)

What this also suggests though, is that if Bolivia keeps to this – if  
it continues to act with moral authority – then, and I say this  
cautiously, we have the extremely rare situation emerging where those  
who have been historically oppressed (and savaged) by civil societies  
across the world are now showing the way – and that significant civil  
organisations such as Friends of the Earth International are willing,  
at least as of the moment, to accept this leadership.

In a soon-to-be-published essay titled ‘Interrogating Civility : Some  
Critical Reflections on the Concept of Civil Society’, however, I  
argue that :

In conclusion, I submit that we need to recognise that emerging global  
alliance between and cooperation among civil social and political  
actors – that is collectively referred to as ‘global civil society’ –  
is first and foremost a crucial vehicle for transnational civil  
solidarity [and where I argue before this in my essay that ‘civil’  
means - in short - middle-class, upper caste, male, and white/fair  
power, both in the North and the South; those who have historically  
been in control]; which in reality means the consolidation of the hold  
of civil societies transnationally.  In a very limited sense, I agree  
that this coming on to the world stage of non-state actors contributes  
to the democratisation of world politics.  But seen through the lens  
of the dramatic and historic larger and wider democratisation that is  
beginning to unfold before us in our times, [and where ‘Cochabamba’ is  
a classic example] this cooperation and consolidation is more  
importantly also – because of the dynamics of civility and its  
internal tendencies of corporatisation that I have tried to discuss in  
this essay – an instrument for the consolidation, strengthening, and  
imposition of historically unequal social and political relations and  
of entrenched interests at local, national, regional, and global  
levels.  I therefore suggest that what is fondly called ‘global civil  
society’ is arguably today contributing – in a larger historical  
perspective, and in view of its politics – to less democracy, not  
more.  All of us, civil and incivil, need to reflect on this.**

Am I wrong ?  It will be interesting to see what role 'Cochabamba'  
ultimately plays in this unfolding historical drama….


* ‘Be the Seed : An Introduction to and Commentary on the government  
of Bolivia’s Call for a ‘Peoples’ World Conference On Climate Change  
And The Rights Of Mother Earth’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=64 
, http://www.choike.org/2009/eng/informes/7620.html, and http://www.zcommunications.org/be-the-seed-by-jai-sen

** : For those interested, my essay is coming out soon in Jai Sen and  
Peter Waterman, eds, forthcoming (2010b) - Worlds of Movement, Worlds  
in Movement. Volume 4 in the Challenging Empires series.  New Delhi :  
OpenWord.  For an earlier version of my arguments, see : Jai Sen,  
November 2007d – ‘The power of civility’, in Mikael Löfgren and Håkan  
Thörn, eds, 2007 – ‘Global Civil Society – More Or Less Democracy ?’,  
special issue of Development Dialogue, no 49, pp 51-68.  Full issue  
available for download @ www.dhf.uu.se

Begin forwarded message:

> From: "Joseph Zacune" <joseph.zacune at foe.co.uk>
> Date: April 22 2010 12:39:48 am GMT+05:30
> To: <cjn at lists.riseup.net>
> Subject: [climate justice now!] Friends of the Earth Internmational  
> release: Bolivian Government Increases its Moral Authority on  
> Climate Change
> Friends of the Earth International
> APRIL 21, 2010
> Bolivian Government Increases its Moral Authority on Climate Change
> BOLIVIA, APRIL 21, 2010 – Thousands of environmentalists, peasant  
> farmers, Indigenous Peoples and experts have gathered in Bolivia to  
> participate in a groundbreaking conference on climate change which  
> is also being attended by a delegation from Friends of the Earth  
> International.
> Karin Nansen, Vice-Chair of Friends of the Earth International and  
> Coordinator of Friends of the Uruguay said:
> “All countries should follow the good example set by Bolivia on  
> climate issues. Disgracefully, some rich industrialised countries  
> accused the Bolivian government of being obstructionist in the UN  
> climate talks. The US has even denied climate aid to Bolivia.  
> Friends of the Earth International is collaborating with social  
> movements and the Bolivian government to promote genuine climate  
> justice demands including the promotion of food sovereignty and  
> rejection of carbon trading.”
> Social movements gathered in Bolivia are demanding that other  
> governments start promoting climate justice demands like those of  
> the Bolivian government, ahead of UN climate talks due to start in  
> Cancun, Mexico in November.
> Domingo Lechon, Climate Justice co-ordinator from Friends of the  
> Earth Mexico, based in Chiapas said:
> “Cochabamba represents a unique opportunity for popular demands to  
> be adopted by governments. This contrasts sharply to the failed  
> Copenhagen talks which were torpedoed by rich country divide and  
> rule tactics. We will use this new, people`s agenda as a rallying  
> call to mobilize movements of affected peoples, Indigenous Peoples,  
> peasant farmers, trade unions and women to dismantle corporate power  
> and force our governments into action.”
> Notes:
> The Bolivia Conference website is: http://wwww.cmpcc.org
> <http://wwww.cmpcc.org/>
> Nnimmo Bassey, Chair of the Friends of the Earth International and  
> Director of Friends of the Nigeria. Bolivian mobile: +591 74305512  
> (Bolivian number valid only April 21-22)
> Karin Nansen, Vice-Chair of the Friends of the Earth Uruguay and  
> Coordinator of Friends of the Uruguay. +591 74805264 (Bolivian  
> number valid only April 21-22)
> Joseph Zacune, Coordinator of Climate Justice and Energy Program,  
> Friends of the Earth International.  + 591 74303913 (Bolivian number  
> valid only April 21-23)
> --
> Support Friends of the Earth
> Friends of the Earth Limited - Company No 1012357
> Friends of the Earth Trust - Company No 1533942
> Registered Charity No 281681
> Registered Office - 26 - 28 Underwood Street, London. N1 7JQ

Jai Sen
jai.sen at cacim.net
CACIM, A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph : +91-11-4155 1521, +91-98189 11325

DELETION OF OLD EMAIL IDs : Please note that I am no longer using my  
earlier email ids, jai.sen at vsnl.com and jai_sen2000 at yahoo.com. PLEASE  

‘Be the Seed : An Introduction to and Commentary on the government of  
Bolivia’s Call for a ‘Peoples’ World Conference On Climate Change And  
The Rights Of Mother Earth’’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-read_article.php?articleId=64 
, http://www.choike.org/2009/eng/informes/7620.html, and http://www.zcommunications.org/be-the-seed-by-jai-sen 
.  Also available in Spanish @ http://www.choike.org/2009/esp/informes/153.html

‘On open space : Explorations towards a vocabulary of a more open  
politics’, @ http://cacim.net/twiki/tiki-index.php?page=Publications


Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010a) - Interrogating Empires, Book 2 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

Jai Sen, ed, forthcoming (2010b) - Imagining Alternatives, Book 3 in  
the Are Other Worlds Possible ? series.  New Delhi : OpenWord and  
Daanish Books

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