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