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Oscar Gonzalez

 (Traducción de Máquina. Oct.2020)

In writing these notes, certainly controversial, around a political experience that is both unique and global, we do not try to"judge" the intentions of any person or group. We think of intellectuals and activists, particularly Brazilians, who, in taking the initiative to convene citizens and social movements around the world, did so in "good faith." It was not an easy task to organize meetings of people with such diverse political ideas and cultures. Someone had to take on this task, typical of "dreamers" and "romantics", to influence world changes, but not in the abstract but from a voluntary coexistence in a kind of party or political "carnival". Without governance structures or hierarchies it started this experiment. But the minimum rules, a Charter of Principles and an International Council, with insalvable ambiguities and contradictions, soon became insufficient to achieve their proclaimed objectives. And so began a process that after two decades has not been able to be evaluated and which, however, shows signs of obvious wear, inertia and decline.

Over the past 20 years, since the FSM was created, thousands and thousands of civil organizations and social movements have participated in this social process under the slogan "another world is possible". Sponsored by Lula Da Silva and with the active presence of relevant intellectual, social and political leadership this proyect had a wide impact in its first decade, although certainly greater or more visible from Latin America than in the rest of the world. Then this political phenomenon – strictly voluntary and not violent – involving, individually and collectively, global citizenship fell into inertia.

At first we may ask ourselves: How has the Foro Social Mundial contributed after 20 years to lessen the evils of neoliberalism and savage capitalism, which it would supposedly have to fight against? Faced with the obvious local, national and global realities of increasing social polarization, as evidenced by figures and economic and political data (presented even in Davos 21), it remains to be recognized with critical and self-critical sense that the FSM has failed. And yet his greatest triumph is its survival, sustained basically by our Brazilian alter-worldist friends. Therefore, beyond dogmatic attitudes and ideological simulations and alignments with interests that overlap with a minimum well-being of popular classes around the world, it becomes necessary and even inescapable to adopt clear, unique definitions, without ambiguities or contradictions such as those which we can now see in the Letter of Principles of the FSM itself, on which an analysis, article by article, is required to lead to new drafting proposals. 

As it is already inescapable to rethink the very structure of the Forum and the integration and functions of the International Council, an International Renewing Group, composed of original founders and a growing number of people and agencies concerned, has already launched three “Llamamientos”  and created a “Reflection Group” (see: https://www.foranewwsf.org/about-us/) in which it is considered essential to review the principles and objectives with which this political phenomenon was born. There are basically two positions: 1. which  would like to maintain the continuity of the process as a "open space" without moving on to unitary action on behalf of the Forum, and 2. which seeks to evaluate and renew as a whole the process of advancing the construction of a "global political subject", of a "space-movement" capable of acting to democratically and peacefully promote the most just and urgent global transformations. 

However, the tasks of the Forum have never being clearly defined, fostering inertia, passivity, lack of legitimacy and obvious contradictions. Therefore up to now the hegemonic, real slogan, seems to be: "Let everyone do their thing"; every axis, every issue, every problem must be addressed in organizations and movements by their peers, in partial and common struggles and leadership, in their thematic or regional forums detached from the whole and without having the social strength and the binding and unitary power that could and should well be the FSM.

Recently the FSM-IC again disseminated the text of a Brazilian leader, Chico Witaker (whom we certainly respect very much, but with whom we maintain great differences), written in 2012, which titled "New perspectives in the FSM process?". Along with it, in another one: "After the end of the GTI discussion, goodbye to the FSM? WORLD SOCIAL FORUM POSSIBLE PERSPECTIVES", referring to the FSM made at Tunes in 2013, Chico reiterates arguments that we cannot but describe, with due respect, as very conservative. In order to make a review of the meaning of movements that then had some relevance, the "Occupy" in New York and the "Indignados" in Spain (which by the way occurred completely outside the Forum) exposes a vision of those events, whose dynamics only addressed from the outside, and which we could well describe as "romantic"” or "dreamy".

It says, for example: "In my dream I have seen the multiplication of these neighborhood meetings, throughout the city, with a wide variety of issues and questions raised...”. All right, but why then not encourage for real  those actions and reactions, clearly and openly, from and in the name of the FSM? It is reiterated, on the other hand, that "let us continue to organize beautiful and exalting meetings, where in a democratic and self-organized way, we say what we are doing, we learn what others do... This is good and necessary to articulate ourselves and build the union that will give us the strength we need." It's here that the arguments become inconsistent. Unity and strength for what? There is also an almost "holy horror" to the "vertical control" and "assemblyism" typical of the perverse left-wing political parties: It "requires the abandonment of practices shaped during more than a hundred years of vertical political action, within a left that advocates for change but accepts authoritarianism, violence, the justifying of ends by any means, the instrumentalization of others for the benefit of their own goals".

But also, from the heights, from the perspective of the one that “realy knows” another question is asked: : "How ¿dome majority - manipulated, dissatisfied or angry, see our proposals? Do they know what we that had the privilege of knowing about the mechanisms that govern the world, about the means used by the powerful to exploit human beings and Mother Earth, about the causes of wars that kill millions, about million-dollar speculation with money and food? Etc, etc., etc. . ". It is therefore that one wonders if this is a horizontal or vertical view of the world. And yet it is proposed "the construction of a new political culture, founded on mutual learning, collective reflection, respect for diversity, on the horizontality of networks... with decisions taken by consensus and not by votes that drive away or exclude minorities."”. Is this a credible democratic argument? Who is the search for "exclusion", "minorities" or "majority"? When there is a confrontation of ideas in which the "other" is attributed, whether majority or minority, right or left, positions or objectives that are not propiors, things cannot go down a democratic path.

In analyzing the Charter of Principles, a document drafted 20 years ago we can recognize, notwithstanding its obvious ambiguities and contradictions, that it has been a useful but insufficient reference to guide the Forum's activities. However, the absence of clear operational regulations on the conducting and self-government of this process, such as the null reference to what was later established as an International Council, shows the inescapable need to rethink the organization and operation of the Forum, as well as its unrepresentative and lacking legitimacy of the International Council, both substantively and methodologically or procedurally. We would all agree to seek consensus to maintain unity, but in the absence of them if not the only one at least the best democratic path is the one pointed out by the majority. In any case, it is worth asking Consensus and Unity for What? To do nothing, not to act on behalf of the Foro and its potential global political strength?

It seems that Chico Witaker's, whose good faith and best intention we do not question, in his last text by WhatsUp (26/09/20) aims to point out more openly not only the difficulties of deciding without breaking the unity of the FSM, but also to attend to the nature and viability of an action. Together with him we might ask ourselves what can and can't the Forum do? These are open questions, which have no easy solution. That is why we believe that they must be addressed as truly substantial. We could well decide to act; to do what, to make only  statements, or something else? In this there is a golden rule: the one who proposes acts. And acting on global problems involves defining goals and paths very well, seeking support, gathering forces. Or isn't it?

Freedom of expression and manifestation are powerful but insufficient weapons. Its scope is conditioned in large part by the dissemination of events, and as we know the great media are in the hands of the right in almost everywere. That is why peaceful, non-violent action has to go from digital networks to the street and to the public square, but also to universities, churches, trade union and peasant headquarters and to the companies themselves; strikes, partial or general, to suspend the payment of taxes, to boycott for the use or consumption of certain products or services.

For example, if you decided to act against tax havens and money laundering (irrecusable facts and clearly illegal and illegitimate in the global field of finance) is it unreasonable to think of a boycott (suspension of movements, cancellation of accounts) against banks and parent companies that own agencies in off-shore paradises? Or can actions and boycotts be thrown against arms-producing or arms-marketing companies? Or against the most anti-ecological and polluting industries? Marching for the liberation of Assange, who gave us very strong information about war crimes and property crimes around the world, is asking too much?

No one has the solutions at hand. They must be searched individually and collectively, discussed on the basis of a clear definition of substantial issues or problems with agendas. That is precisely what we are looking to raise and share from the FSM Renewing Group (GRFSM-MEXICO).) It is not a question of ignoring or denying what has been achieved in twenty years, but by assessing the process with objectivity and respect for differences of opinion, we will already be on the way to launching in-depth discussions without false fears..

Therefore, with a critical and self-critical sense we, as a part of the "FSM Renewing Group-MEXICO", have expressed the following:

--We recognize the value of all efforts to create and maintain a process of convergence and unity in the diversity of civil agencies and social movements around the world.

--We recognize that the FSM's organizational and functioning model has failed in its primary objective of helping to stop or counter the advance of predatory capitalism that has extremed the polarization between wealth and poverty worldwide and has brought the planet to the brink of ecological collapse.

--The strategy of maintaining unity for reflection and communication in separate thematic axes has been insufficient to integrate social agencies and movements into common actions.

--The crisis in the global pandemic "Cornavirus19" has deepened inequalities, unemployment and precariousness in the health and economy of large majorities, making the renewal of the FSM more urgent.

--We propose that the various FSM Renewing Groups put the organization of serious discussions, inside and outside the IC, at the centre and highest priority for the overall and self-criticism evaluation of the process, as well as the redefinition of objectives and strategies to generate the democratic decisions and unitary action that the Forum so desperately needs. It's time to do it, it's necessary, it's useful. Let's do it now!