[WSF-Discuss] Fw: World Social Forum: Where is the Struggle Against Capitalism?

jasper teunissen jasperteunissen at hotmail.com
Sun Apr 5 08:58:46 CDT 2015


  World Social Forum: Where is the Struggle Against Capitalism?

Civil Society <http://nawaat.org/portail/categories/civil-society/> 
Henda Chennaoui <http://nawaat.org/portail/author/handoud/> › Apr 4, 15 

*By Henda Chennaoui, translated 
into English by Vanessa Szakal 

The 2015 World Social Forum <https://fsm2015.org/en> opened its doors 
for the second consecutive year in Tunisia. Since 2001, this open space 
represents an alternative to the World Economic Forum at Davos and 
declares its anti-globalization approach in the fight against capitalism 
and neoliberalism. At each session, participants and visitors express 
ideas and personal experiences to make their voices heard and learn how 
to improve their capacity for self-governance.

This year, participants were quick to voice their criticisms. 
Disappointed Forum-goers were clearly much greater in number this year 
than the last. Many including the WSF Steering Committee 
<https://fsm2015.org/en/steering-committee> are perhaps not interested 
in experimenting with alternative forms of organization. In theory the 
WSF is committed to facilitating the self-governance of exchanges 
between movements, ideas, and experiences of all progressive ideologies. 
Meanwhile, some have observed the gradual development of a hierarchy 
amongst WSF organizers and that a serious, collective reflection for 
future editions is more than necessary.

Egyptian writer and political activist Houssein Abdel Rahim has followed 
the WSF from its inception.

    Everything began with the groundwork for the social movements in
    Brussels. At that time there was a union crisis. So Christophe
    Aguiton began to connect people with one another and to organize
    exchanges between activists. The following year, the communist party
    in Brazil attended the international Communist Manifesto celebration
    and requested the help of European leftists in the coming elections
    in Brazil. It was then that organizations decided to go to
    Porto-Alegre to create the Forum. The Brazilian Communist Party
    (UPT) won the elections and turned its focus to political power, but
    the WSF continued to gather each year. All of this to say that
    nothing changes as easily as one might imagine. The WSF has suffered
    from political manipulation since its inception.

Abdel Rahima added that in spite of everything, the Forum succeeded in 
changing the form of the traditional left but not the foundation:

    This carnival of activists is not really participative and
    democratic as it claims to be. The truth is that it follows the
    pyramid scheme. Big decisions are monopolized by the governing
    minority in the image of a capitalist system.

Having participated only two times at the Forum, artist and movie 
director Khaled Ferjani observed that a sort of general depression hung 
over this year’s gathering:

    The disappointment and depression of Tunisians and Arabs this year
    is very real. If last year assemblies and workshops were filled with
    Tunisians who wanted to change the country, this year they are more
    withdrawn and limited to the forum’s festivities. You see them
    everywhere dancing, singing, or filling the space with music turned
    to the highest volume. They are less drawn to political debates. I
    think it’s a direct reaction to the present political situation in

Dodging many pending trials in Sidi Bouzid, activist Safouen Bouaziz 
took advantage of the event to see his friends and meet new people. 
Having missed the previous Forum for security reasons, this year was 
Safouen’s first encounter with the WSF:

    I had a totally different idea of what the Forum was. I had imagined
    it to be more radical and anti-establishment. In reality, there are
    more reformists than revolutionaries. The festive and almost
    commercial atmosphere obscures the spirit of protest and rage that
    we should have in the face of the current global crisis.

In the same way, Dragan Nicevic, leftist from Slovenia, explains that

    the Forum’s common objective is no longer to change the global
    system and fight against capitalism but only to denounce the dangers
    of neoliberalism that drives the world in a chaotic crescendo. I
    don’t think that this is linked only with Tunisia but the world
    where progressive anti-establishment movements are undergoing a
    marked decline, with the exception of a few cases such as that of

This year the Forum drew less participants and visitors than the last. 
One explanation might have been the inclement weather, or perhaps that 
this event took place in the same location as the last. Belgian activist 
Samuel Legros shared his opinion:

    I think that a number of participants did not return because they
    have the impression that we are not really advancing towards a
    common vision and solid project. Even if the Forum forbids the
    deliberation of decisive measures or results,^* some of us have the
    need to elaborate a common anti-globalization project. The absence
    of a concrete result in the fight against neoliberalism creates a
    real frustration and triggers much criticism and reluctance. I am
    disappointed to see the Forum transform into some sort of fair where
    people come to show off their work, remain within their circle of
    knowledge and interest and leave without the littlest of changes.

Thursday afternoon, dozens of volunteers protested to bring attention to 
difficult work conditions the experience. One volunteer reported,

    Because it rains every night, we don’t have a place to spend the
    night sheltered from the water that fills the tents. We don’t get
    dinner (one sandwich is served in the middle of the day), and those
    who go home at night fend for themselves.

Composed of a majority of students and unemployed college graduates, the 
volunteer corps requires the support that the Steering Committee once 
offered but has apparently ceased to provide. «/And yet, we know that 
the organization receives an incredible amount of financial backing…/» 
another volunteer added.

Even if criticisms are many, the Forum retains a particular charm for 
regulars. «/If self-criticism is always tolerated in the Forum, all 
changes remain possible and achievable. Converging different points of 
view is everyone’s objective and not just that of the Forum/»,said 
Carminda, a member of the Canada delegation which is a prospective 
organizer for the Forum in 2016.

* See the World Social Forum Charter of Principles 

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