Chico Whitaker, Organising Cttee Member, on WSFItself...

Whitaker - eval 110203
Whitaker, Chico

Dear Friends of the wsitself discussion list,

Excusing my bad English, I am sending you here some personal reflections, answering to the proposition received in this list from a workshop realised in the last WSF, that used an humoristic method to find the good issues for the WSF future: as the capitalism, the imperialism, the G7, the big medias and the multinationals didn't succeed, in spite of their considerable means, to prevent the emergence of a civil and civic world society and the success of its yearly meetings - the FSM in Porto Alegre - what we could ourselves do to provoke the WSF process collapse?

As an exercise to apply this method, I would begin analysing the character and role of the Organizing Committees of the Forums and the questions that could be related with it.

We say frequently that the WSF is not a movement, still less a "movement of movements", as some journalists use to say, but a space. A movement has leaders or political forces, accepted by its members, directing it. A space has no leaders. It is only a place. Places can be neutral spaces - as public places - opened to all interested in using it. WSF space is open but it is not a neutral place. It was created with an specific objective: to allow all those who are fighting neo-liberalism to meet, hear each other, learn with the others struggles, discuss propositions of action, articulate themselves in new networks and new organisations and initiatives having in view to overcome the present globalisation process dominated by the big corporations. It is a space of incubation ("factory of ideas") of as much as possible new organizations and initiatives to build a new world.

As said in the WSF Charter of Principles, the WSF "does not constitute a locus of power to be disputed by the participants in its meetings" nor "a body representing the world civil society".

In this perspective, the Organising Committees of the WSF events do not control or direct the decisions taken during these events by its participants (on their own behalf, not on behalf of all or other WSF participants). The Organising Committees only create and offer a place where those who want to use it can take these decisions. They only render to the WSF participants the service of making possible interchanges, networking and articulated decision-making.

The Brazilian WSF Organizing Committee has already called this role as a role of "facilitator of the WSF process", to emphasize that it is not the role of direction of the process. In fact this explains why this Committee remained united during three years and was able to decide always by consensus, in spite of being composed by various and different types of organisations and social movements.

The same reasoning could perhaps be applied to the character and role of the WSF International Council, with its own functions in the process.

Thus, the Organizing Committees (as the WSF International Council) don't need to be representative of all movements and forces engaged in each country or region in the struggle against the present globalisation process.

But they would have to:

This last point explains the difficulties created by political parties wanting to participate of the organisation of the WSF events or to patronise them.

Combined with two other Principles of the WSF Charter - the WSF has not a final document; and the WSF participants can freely organize their own workshops on the subjects they freely decide - these characteristics of the WSF may explain the success of its three editions in Porto Alegre.

This orientation has been hidden when the Brazilian Organising Committee and the International Council paid very much attention (and used very much time) to prepare the part of the WSF they had to organise, treating this part as if it was the "official" WSF program: the conferences and panels about themes they had chosen. This tends to transform not the event but its preparation in a process of disputing power, to impose political direction and to fight for space in the "official" SF program. This tends, also, to push to a secondary place the workshops freely organised by the participants. In this same sense, this tends to make very important to dispute places in the Organizing Committees and in the International Council.

Another temptation has been experienced by various new organisations, initiatives, networks, organized struggles made possible by the WSF events - as specially the so called "social movements call". Naturally they can have and need to have political directions, strategies, mobilising campaigns, etc. The same have to do the political parties able to harvest new ideas, propositions, forces in the WSF events. But this new organisations, initiatives and networks may not try to absorb the WSF itself, nor even only its Organising Committees, to put the WSF under their shadow and to use the WSF as an instrument for their purposes - even if very legitimates. This will lead to the disappearance of the WSF as an open space. In this way they would work against themselves. It would be like asphyxiating or obstructing their own source of life - they were born in the WSF - and thus of renewing and expanding themselves.

Entering now in the logic proposed by the workshop (how to provoke the WSF collapse), we could say that this two last orientations (disputing power to prepare the "official" program and absorbing the WSF) could already be very useful to arrive to this collapse.

But many other means could be used:

Hoping this humoristic method will not create confusions, and will help us to solve the problems we have to face, my best wishes for all the wsfitself discussion list participants.

Chico Whitaker

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