Photo: Teivo Teivainen and Gina Vargas in Montreal WSF
World Social Forum for the first time in the global north (9-13 august), in Montreal (Canada). According Pierre Baudet: “Changing the social and economic conditions that offer fertile ground for the resurgence of the extreme right is among the urgent tasks the groups and individuals meeting in Montreal will turn their minds to at the World Social Forum. As the WSF slogan puts it: “Another world is needed. Together it is possible.”
Teivo Teivainen, professor in Helsinki University declared: “Debates on the Future of the World Social Forum have continued in Montreal today on 12 august 2016. Obviously, many other things debated too. See below NIGD’s Marc Becker’s report from an assembly. The International Council will soon meet, from this evening until (probably) Monday. Speculation on possible places for the next forum has started, Barcelona, Porto Alegre and Salvador have been mentioned a few times”.
Chico Whitaker (Brazil, Justice e Paz Commission), starts by talking about Pablo Solón. A month ago he called for the funeral of the WSF in Montreal. Did you come for the future or the funeral of the WSF. Many interesting panels–harsh reflections from Latin American panel. things that couldn’t have happened without WSF. WSF is important for problems in Latin America. Things have become more mature. Enthusiastic about future of forum.
Boaventura de Souza Santos, professor of Coimbra University: WSF at crossroads. More difficult to maintain. Neoliberalism is ever more rampant. WSF refuses to condemn impeachment of Dilma. Are we incompetent? WSF should go on but change to become more politically relevant. 1400 visas refused, inequality of power. We need to address that. Will be more difficult to travel. People who most need to be here won’t be here. Pay more attention to local forums, and thematic forums. We need to create forum for deliberation. IC doesn’t take political statements, but we should at least denounce denial of visas. What is the purpose of the council if it can’t denounce that? We need to change process, and incorporate more young people. Persistent problem of lack of trust & internal democracy & transparency.
Immanuel Wallerstein, ex-President of International Association of Sociologists: 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.
Moema Miranda (Ngo Ibase, Brazil): key problem was that strong social movements that built WSF were not strong enough to stop parliamentary coup against Dilma. 2003: decided to mobilize against Iraq, around the world. Wasn’t IC decision, but was the space in which the movements decided to do that. How do we strengthen our movements? Role of IC is to create space to strengthen them.
Chico Whitaker (Brazil): 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.
Some good articles from Wsf in Montreal: