• dibco1 2021 discusionfsm input114 en

last modified June 16, 2021 by facilitfsm



Future and challenges of the World Social Forum

IC meeting and WSF Mexico facilitating group June 12, 2021   http://openfsm.net/projects/pfsm22/pfsm22-reunion-12junio21

Francine Mestrum    https://www.foranewwsf.org/2021/06/futuro-y-desafio-del-fsm/


In the preparation of the WSF Mexico 2022 it is very important to discuss the past and the future of the Forum, because the future cannot be well prepared without knowing and understanding the past.

In addition, @1 it is obvious that the Mexico Facilitating Group will have to find its own path and its own priorities, a task for which it is also important to know history to avoid repeated mistakes.

I am a member of the IC, informally since 2004, formally since 2006.

This contribution is based on the debates in the group 'For a New WSF', created more than a year ago by Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Roberto Savio, Oscar Gonzalez, Norma Fernández, Leo Gabriel and your servant. @2 Our starting point is that the WSF and its International Council are sclerosed, they no longer serve the objective that we once had of bringing together social movements from around the world and working in convergences, @3 developing a counter-hegemonic discourse.

@4 At this time the WSF and its IC are ngo-ized , bureaucratic structures, without their own dynamics, and the participation figures are not high enough to change something of this reality, on the contrary. @5 The WSF wants to be an open space, which is positive, but if you don't go further you can't have any success in the world either. Because if a meeting is held at a global level, which is already extraordinary, but @6 does not really want to organize, or try to seek convergences, @7 or even have a voice in the world, then, it seems to us an exercise pretty useless. @8 Young people are lacking in IC, large organizations are lacking, and intellectuals are lacking.

To illustrate what all this means, I would like to answer two questions from the FG Mexico evaluation meeting after the meeting on the history of the WSF:

1)       Why are ancestral native peoples not a thematic axis? I am not going to pronounce on the opportunity or not to do so, simply to indicate to you that @9 the WSF does not invite the movements, it does not decide on who will or will not be there, the WSF is self-organized and it is forbidden to decide on the movements. @10 This means that the WSF does not have any personality, it is not a subject in itself, it does not act and does not exist. This, for us, is a problem.

2)       The second question has to do with this: the importance of communication. We do have a communication commission with very energetic people, but unfortunately @11 we do not communicate because we have nothing to communicate. @12 We do not have a voice because we do not want to have a voice, we forbid ourselves to have a voice. So, I already said it about six months ago, we don't have a website, we don't have Twitter or Instagram. I discovered a few weeks ago that we do have a Facebook page, but nobody knows it, nobody knows it… @13 If we don't communicate, we don't exist. That is also a very big problem.

The challenges seem to us to be on two levels:

1)       The institutionality of the Forum

2)       The objectives and strategy of the Forum

1)      @14 We note that the problems of the IC, with the Charter of Principles, commissions, rules of decision-making ... have been discussed for several years and have not been resolved. As of today it is obvious that some do not want this discussion @14B and do not want any change. It is a reality that we cannot change.

However, it seems good to us to insist on the importance of democratization and transparency of the Forum's mechanisms if it wants to maintain its innovative reputation. @15  Of course, the WSF does not need to have an IC, nor does it need commissions, or at least does not need what exists now, @16 but it does need democratic rules and analytical potential. @17 Above all, the rule of consensus, which it is equivalent to a right of veto, has to disappear. Consensus cannot mean unanimity.

@ 18 Four months have passed since the Virtual Forum. They told us that there is no time to discuss the renewal of the Forum, but what was done in these four months? Discussing history, facilitation without facilitating. @19 It seems to us that the Mexican process has not yet been launched, we are not going to intervene in that process, but it seems to us that it would be necessary to mobilize in the entire country, in Latin America @9B and in other continents. If the young people are not going to be there, if the big organizations are not going to be there, this Forum will be dead because it will be totally useless.


2)       A. @20 We think it is very important that the Facilitating Group of Mexico begins with a definition of its objectives so that it can later know where it is going and how. These objectives have to be shared by everyone and are located at two levels: the Mexican movements and the global movements.

B. At a global level @21 we have already decided that the WSF has to be a global political subject, that is, an actor of social transformation, creator of a counter-hegemonic discourse, an open space and at the same time a space for action, @22 that is, a subject who can speak and act in the world. Right now the WSF is too endogenous, self-referential, self-indulgent, out of the concrete reality of the world. That has to change. The WSF needs to have its own voice.

C. The Facilitating Group has to be aware of the fact that the world has changed in the last two decades. @23 We no longer live in the same world, geopolitics is totally different, capitalism is no longer the same, it has become financialized so that some prefer to speak of a new feudalism. Neoliberalism has been internalized by all sides but also there is now a tendency to return to the 'deficit spending'de the economy, maintaining austerity for the people. @24 Social movements are more numerous and more dynamic than 20 years ago but they are highly fragmented, making their potential power a weakness.

We have potential power but we don't have a strategy to make it happen. The WSF will have to take these elements into account. It will also need a very concrete communication policy. @25 The WSF has to be able to convert the dynamics of movements into concrete common actions.


D. @26 The most difficult task will be to search for and find the common interests that exist, but which requires from everyone a significant will and flexibility.

In this context, @27 it seems important to us that the Mexico 2022 Forum consist of two parts: one, a 'traditional' forum, with an open space, where movements from around the world meet and exchange their experiences and strategies; and two, @28 a 'constituent' part to talk about the necessary institutional changes. Continuing to deny the need for changes is the worst thing that can happen to the Forum and will result in its bureaucratization and its ong-ization . @28B We believe that the WSF is reformable and has to try to be better than it is.

Today we see other initiatives, such as the Forum of the peoples of Asia and Europe: I am on their organizing committee and it is totally different, working in thematic groups, @28 smaller but ten times more dynamic. @29 It is an ongoing process and the forums are a direct result of the work done in previous years. There is also the Progressive International, with a minimal organization but very active in social networks. They are examples that we can use. @30 And of course, there are various thematic forums that sometimes work better than the WSF, seeking to innovate in their strategies and methodologies. 

So we think that if the WSF wants to survive with a constructive, future-oriented role, it has to change. @30B It has to democratize itself, introduce more transparency @31  not cling to its iC and its Charter of principles as they exist now and @32 work in thematic groups with a @33 group of intellectuals to prepare the analyzes and the strategy. It is in this direction that we are working with Grupo Renovador.

For the forum in Mexico in 2022, @34 will have to enter the great and younger movements that are not burdened with the burden of the past. 

Our contribution is critical but at the same time very constructive, because we believe in the Forum, we believe in its potential. We are running out of time. The twentieth anniversary and the WSF in Mexico are an excellent opportunity to make the necessary changes. @35 Good luck!