• forum connect session2 transcription

last modified May 15 by facilitfsm


 FC2 

BA - EN - ES - FR 

FORUM CONNECT SESSION 2 28 JANUARY 2021 - https://join.wsf2021.net/activities/3793

  •  Each intervention is numbered  @0001  to @0030  and the time corresponds to the video 
  • In each intervention are outlined and numbered (1) (2) (3) ; etc  the main ideas expressed  

FC2 A Dialogue between activists from social movements about the world social forum


@001 MEENA MENON So welcome to our webinar which is titled “a Dialogue between activists from social movements about the world social forum” where we will discuss why and how do social movements participate in the World Social Forum so before we start, just to over to Mike who is my co-moderator My name is Meena Menon. We are both from FORUM CONNECT but which I will tell you more just now, but, mike, if you could just start, give us the technical low down and then we can go ahead.

 

@002 MIKE DAVIES Great thanks Meena hi everybody my name is Mike Davies. I am part of FORUM CONNECT and I am from Zimbabwe from Harare in Zimbabwe. I will be attending to some of the technical issues for the European language speakers and that is my unfortunate duty to insist on a few housekeeping rules. This is so that the meeting will run smoothly.

 

Firstly, we insist that you use a headset. It is essential! You might think we can hear you clearly but it’s for the interpreters. They need to hear you clearly. All our interpreters today are volunteers that are giving their time because they believe in the cause that we are fighting for, that of a better alternative world. Please respect them for their commitment to doing this. 


Speak slowly, Speak clearly and be aware if interpreters are having problems and respond quickly. Make sure that you turn off your video - if you're not speaking - this reduces bandwidth for everybody but it also makes for a clearer recording and broadcast of today's session. That's really all the housekeeping that we need to be serious about. I’m afraid if people do insist on talking without headphones and not being heard, I will mute them, that's my power! With that thanks very much I hope you have an enjoyable meeting and back to Meena.

 

@003 MEENA MENON Thank you, Mike. Mike is, Mike didn't introduce himself, he is part of the International Alliance of Inhabitants, he's a housing activist and he's also part of our small group which organizes FORUM CONNECT.

 

MEENA MENON so FORUM CONNECT, a little bit about FORUM CONNECT. FORUM CONNECT is a self-organized working group which has been established to systematize information regarding the world social forum in a didactic process that will benefit all of us. Our objective is to improve outreach about the social forum especially in Asia and Africa to understand the history of the social forum, its relevance to our own experience, and our struggles. Our goal is to develop a body of knowledge through FORUM CONNECT dialogue sessions which will help people to understand the social forum better and to inform our collective participation in it. 

Forum connect space


So that very briefly is what FORUM CONNECT is about so here we are organizing this webinar as part of the very first virtual world social forum. 


So for those who are relatively new here and a large number of people who are on this in this webinar today are not very familiar, they might have attended our first session about the world social forum but just a little bit about the world social forum


It is an international gathering of social movements activists which was begun in 2001 in Brazil as a counter dialogue to the world economic forum which is held in January every year in Davos Switzerland. It is a unique event where literally millions of people have participated over the years from all over the world. Its slogan “another world is possible” is extremely popular, used everywhere, even I’m told in marketing. So it is an extremely popular watchword, so organizations and movements have used the space to discuss to strategize to build campaigns to engage in actions, and also build networks to advance their work so the social forum has been that to a lot of organizations, to thousands of organizations, all over the world. 


Charter of principles of WSF 


The social forum because of COVID is virtual for the first time it was supposed to be held in Mexico but that has been postponed and this is a virtual forum which is being held for the first time. So more about that later you can ask this I’m sure the speakers will also discuss their own participation and the social forum .


wsf2021 website 


My name is Meena Menon. I’m a trade union activist. I am working president of a network called the working people's charter which works with informal sector workers in india.so I have been actively engaged in the social building the social forum in 2004 in mumbai and I was also active in the international council of the world social forum at that tim

So I've already told you about Mike Davies and now very briefly about the speakers. Before we start I will just tell you who the speakers are and I will introduce them in order of appearance before they speak 

The speakers are Christophe aguitan from France, Faeza Meyer from South Africa, Hanni saraj from Egypt, Monica novillo from Bolivia, Paul diwakar from India, and Sergio bassoli from Italy.

Pannelists 


I will introduce the speakers more in detail when they come to speak. The speakers have six minutes each, questions from the participants can be sent to the chat box or in the q&a or through whichever channel you are watching this, and we will pass them on to the speakers. Sorry that we cannot have more participation. It's the time that we have just two hours is also a constraint but please do ask your questions and we will give the speakers another three minutes after they are done to respond to the questions. 


So we will start with Christophe. Christophe has been involved in trade unions and the alter global movement, the anti-globalization movement since the 90s and he's one of the founders of ATTAC France, which is a French movement for social and environmental justice. He spent many years working in the international council of the social forum representing ATTAC. He has been active in the climate justice mobilization in Copenhagen and Paris. He is, he was very active in organizing the social movements assembly in the earliest forums. Over to you Christoph you have six minutes.

------ 


 @004 CHRISTOPHE AGUITON thanks a lot, Meena, and I’m very happy to be with all of you. It's really a pleasure to see so many people interested by the social forum and the involvement of the social movements in the forum 

In order to understand why the forum was so important we have to come 20 years ago in the beginning of the century and we had(1) two important elements who are at the roots of the existence of the world social forum.

(2)The first one is the fact that we entered in the 80s and the 90s in the phase of globalization, which was new for the 20th century,  which was mainly a century where the nation states were divided and separated in the 80s and 90s. We knew the reform of Reagan and Thatcher and then after the collapse of the USSR, globalization became a sort of obligation for the total planet or almost the total planet. That was the first element.

 

(3)The second element is the fact that a series of institutions were absolutely key in the development of this globalization, this economic and neoliberal globalization, I’m thinking, of course, that the IMF and the world bank was so important to impose adjustment plans in africa in asia or in latin america. I’m thinking that the WTO was created in ‘95 and was really the the main tool to open the market at worldwide level.

(4)I’m also thinking that the G7 which was a sort of directory of the world where the big powers impose power all over the world and also DAVOS, the world economic forum which was the ideological tool, if you want, of this neoliberal globalization and the WSF was created as a sort of counterpart opposition to the WEF to the world economic forum and we named the WSF the world social forum as opposition to the World Economic Forum;


(5)The importance of the WSF at the beginning and for all this period was to change the political culture of the movements.In the past in the 20th century the hierarchy was the norm in most of the social movements, hierarchy between class: the working class was seen as the only class able to change the situation and to go to socialism for getting women farmers intellectuals and a lot of other social actors and inside the working class, the political party were seen as the normal leadership of the working class, and the unions were seen as a sort of secondary role. 


In the WSF, and that, it's really the new political culture, and(6) this political culture was based on the horizontality, meaning that the movements were seen as important as the others: the working class was not seen as more important than the farmers, or the feminist movement, or the youth movement, and the parties were not allowed, to avoid to re-establish inside the WSF ....the hierarchy which existed in the past in the social movements 


The second thing important at this time with this new political culture is(7) the fact that the social forum was based on organizations. I was there as ATTAC, Meena was there as Focus on the global south at this time, Pierre was there as Caritas, and so on, and so on: we were not individuals, we were representatives of organization and that was the base of the WSF 


(8)Today a lot or more precisely, in the previous years, two elements changed a lot. The first element is the fact that the multilateralism of the 90s disappeared: if you look at the US and Trump, maybe the things could change with Biden, but it was clear that for Trump, all those multilateral institutions mean nothing, and he quit the paris agreement and climate, he quit the health world organization


And multilateralism is globally understood, today doesn't work anymore. If you look at the WTO, this institution is totally paralyzed, and that creates also a problem for us the social movements, because the fact to have a common enemy :Davos, the G7, the WTO, the IMF, helped us together and to have this big event like Genoa in italy in 2001, Hong Kong against the WTO, Cancun against the WTO, and so on, and so on.


(9The lack of international institutions weakens our capacity to maintain an internationalist activity

 

(10)The second difficulty we have in the recent period is the fact that the organizations are weaker than they were before, and if you look at all the new social movements, I’m thinking of course at the occupy wall street movement, at the Arab Spring 10 years ago, but more recently if you look at 2019, before the COVID we had all over the planet huge social movements in Chile, latin america, in the US, in Africa with Sudan with Algeria, in Asia, I’m thinking at Hong Kong and a lot of other movements but(11) those movements were based, for most of them, not in organizations, but in individuals.

 

These presence and this importance of the individuals played a good role in the sense of that they were able to open the movement to a lot of citizens who were able to go by themselves without being member of a union, or organization, or NGO, or whatever, but at the same time(12) it's much more complicated to organize a forum or a common activity when you don't have movement to link, but when you are based on individuals.


And I finish to respect the six minutes we all have, by telling that today in 2020, one thing changed the world, which is (13)this COVID pandemia, and the emergence of this worldwide disease, with all the drama we know in all our countries, oblige everyone to think at international level. We need to know what happened in the different continents, why the pandemia was more controlled in New Zealand, Australia, Vietnam, or Taipei, or Congo, China, than in Europe, and in the US for example what to do at the end of the pandemia: do we want to come back to the world we knew 10 years ago? I don't think so, because the pandemia shows us as well that the correlation between human and nature has to be different and there are a lot of things we have to think about, at the necessity of care.


During this pandemia, the first thing we thought is the people we are close to: our family, our friends, our colleagues, the people we like and (14)how to have a society based on the care, based on a different relationship between human and nature, all those events and all those realities are I think well known all over the world, and one of the interests of forum like the WSF,, or other space who could exist today, is to help to understand more : first what happened, but also to try to have together alternative to the world we knew in the last 10 20 years, using the pandemia if you want as a tipping point, to build another world that's what I wanted to say, that's an introduction and thanks a lot for your attention

 

@005 MEENA thank you Christophe, and thank you for respecting the time as well. You're quite within your time, and now and if you have questions for Christophe, because he made a number of very interesting points, I won't go over them again, please do put your questions in the question box or in the chat box, or in the q&a box, and send it to us, so that we can send it over to Christoph, you can put it there and he can see it, If possible, put in the names of the speaker to whom you will be addressing your question.

 

Next we have Faeza Meyer. Faeza is a community based activist and organizer. She has been involved in campaigns for housing, water education, health and women's rights in Cape town and South Africa since 2011. She is currently an organizer facilitator for the african water commons collective, actively involved in the western cape water caucus, and the fight inequality alliance. She is from south africa as I said, and over to you Faeza

 

@006 FAEZA MEYER17mn Greetings to everyone thank you for having me in this space. I feel very honored,I’m always very nervous about these kinds of things, but I’m going to do my utmost here today. So I’m from south africa, I’m from cape town and I just wanted to(1) give a bit of background around cape town what's happening here at the moment. Cape town, as we all know, is the most unequal city in the world, which means the gap between the rich and the poor is very big and it's continuing to grow, and then there's the conditions of the working class. The working class and poor people are living in very bad housing conditions, living in informal settlements, in backyards, in very tiny badly built up social housing in temporary location areas, and in rental stock.


(2)In the city that I’m living in, water is being privatized through water management devices, also known as weapons of mass destruction. Over 11 million people here in South Africa are unemployed at the moment, where there's also talks at the moment of tax increases, and we know what happens when taxes are increased. They are saying that it's for the vaccine, but we all know when taxes are increased, it's the poor and the working class that suffers, and bears the brunt at the end of the day. So COVID 19 has highlighted the failures of governments neoliberal policies, and the cost recovery attempts. As an example, and this is just a small one, water, is, if you cannot pay your water, your arrears are being deducted from your electricity purchases, so you get 50% of your electricity, and the other 50% goes to your water arrears, which you obviously haven't given permission to, because if you can't pay your water, you already struggling with electricity as well. 


The world social forum, in our view, as an organization, is trying to connect to the larger movement,(3) it is an alternative to the world economic economic forum, and we think that at this stage, it is exactly what we should be doing, we should be creating alternatives from the ground up. We have all of these issues going on around us, and there doesn't seem to be alternatives for us, and it's up to us to be creating these alternatives, and I think that's what the world social forum is doing. 


So I also want to talk a little bit about my experience of being part of different working class social movements. I think the first thing I want to say is that(4) it's very hard to be a woman in leadership, especially when it comes to social movements, you know patriarchy is very much alive and around us, and as much as we learn, there's also so much that we need to unlearn. Some women are not even aware that patriarchy is taking place. That's how it's become normal within our organization, so that's probably a whole day conversation. (5)Currently there are issues of identity politics within our communities and organizations, people are divided by race, some identify as colored, some identify as black, some so-called colored people refuse to identify that they are black. We are also divided by youth and adults, and then even religiously. Religion plays a huge role in how you are being divided, but this is all because we are fighting about the crumbs. 


(6)We are all fighting for the crumbs: this is also the nature of neoliberal capitalism, and it puts profit before people, and it individualizes the struggle. No one can afford to share anymore: we are fighting in our own corner, and in our own corners, and we are all doing great work, and it's for the same reason yet we are still doing it on our own. Those who struggle for decent housing, also struggling to struggle for decent jobs, they also struggle for equal quality health care, also for decent education for the children.(7) So it's not different: we are not separate people, we are just being organized in different directions, We need to unite our struggles anywhere, because we have the same enemy, we need to work together as social movements and trade unions, because workers lived in live in the above mentioned housing types, and they are also struggling with us, because they ask “today I can be a worker, tomorrow I can be unemployed”.

 

We need to build political consciousness and unity amongst the working class, through campaigns based on the issues.(8) It's important that the class understands why these issues exist, why the lack of housing delivery, why the move from building houses to offering only service sites, because that's what's happening in cape town, or in south africa at the moment. 


(9) our government has stopped building social housing, because they said that they have rectified the mistakes of apartheid. All those under the age of 40 no longer qualifies for housing, because we are considered youth, and they say the youth wasn't affected by apartheid. We know this is not true. The other thing is women are the most affected by the lack of service delivery, and this is our experience from the work that we are doing in our communities. They are the cooks, the cleaners, the carers etc. 


I will make three examples of what I’m talking about um, three stories that we've written up in the recent period, because we go around, and we do for this specific week, in solidarity with comrades globally,(10)we have been doing door-to-door leaflet hearing um, we have been picketing on corners. Of course with social distancing. We have been doing interviews and yes three of the interviews to just kind of prove what I’m saying. 


So this is three pensioners :one has a bill of 350 000 for water. This is due to a burst pipe, and she is forced to make arrangements, or get evicted, and she has to pay. 

The other one is also a pensioner. she scratches ice out of the freezer at night to take chronic medication because she doesn't have enough water in the house. On the property is a water management device that provides only 350 liters of water per property, yeah, and so she doesn't have enough water, she needs to scratch the ice out of the freezer, so that she can take a chronic medication. 


The other one catches water in the drain from a leaking pipe, to drink, because the city of cape town has cut the water before COVID, and she's been without water since. We've been struggling to get access for her, and for the other two women, with many others, but we have got no response from the city. In fact, they continue to disconnect people's water. 


(11)The other very scary thing is that water is now on the stock market, and so what does that mean for us ? It just puts profit before people and it gives the rich and big companies the right toward, you know, water: buy it up now and then store it, and keep it for later, so that when it's needed, because they know what they're doing with climate change, they know that we are going with climate change they know we are going to run out of water, so they want to have it in their control, so that when time comes, they can sell it to us, and we must be aware of that. 


The challenges of organizing during COVID, I think the reality is that the majority of the working class is at the moment unemployed, like I mentioned. 11 million people in south africa is unemployed, and all of these activities that we are doing, the actions and at the moment is happening online, and people don't have access to phones, some don't have smartphones, they don't have data, they don't have electricity, they don't have any of these resources, so that they can participate, so automatically (12)we are excluding a huge part of the constituency that needs to be part of these kind of conversations. okay I think the other thing just to add to the other issues in communities is that we don't have pipes, epes, we don't have the sanitizers, the masks, all the soap, all the water to wash our hands, to be able to do this work. Thank you so much 


@007 MEENA MENON thank you so much it was lovely to hear from you, and right on that bit about patriarchy. Hold on to that, hold that thought there with you. Patriarchy within the movements yes, so that's Faeza and now we have Hani Sarag who is a physician, a public health researcher. We have been discussing covid he has been coordinator of the people's health movement (PHM) which has played a big role in the analysis and the campaign on various aspects of covid, including the including the vaccine for instance, so PHM, that is the people's health movement, is a global network of civil society organizations, academic institutes and health activists, and as director of health policy and systems program of the association of health and environmental development, a leading civil society organization in Egypt, Hanni has been active in that as well. Over to you Hanni, six minutes

 

@008 HANNI SERAG and two two issues just want to talk about them very quickly, and to try to say that (1)the world social movement is needed more than ever in these days, and it's not only to get people together, but to provide very needed solidarity to strive for common activism and coordinated activism, also to mobilize communities across the world, and the to strategize for common actions 

and I have two things to share : one of them is related to the Arab spring which, after Arab spring starting in 2011, the countries that were participating in this are two types right now(2), with exception of tunisia, a little bit: 

Some of them went into deep political conflict, wars, and nobody knows when this is going to change, and the second type is very well established and consolidated military leadership, and again nobody knows when this can change


The example of Egypt as an example,(3) the current regime is way worse than what we experienced before. The level of oppression, the level of dictatorships never been seen in Egypt before, at least in my entire life So we have 60 000 political prisoners at the moment, and they are not from one stream, so the whole talk about fundamentalism or Muslim brothers is really rubbish talk. Everybody from the opposition can be imprisoned immediately , writing on facebook, or even opposing the regime through political partisan channels is an accusation and can lead to imprisonment immediately. There are several people who are in prison right now for more than two years without trials.


(4)So the problem is not the regime in Egypt, the problem is a huge support from outside to this regime. So in the beginning, there was some hesitation from european community specifically, and some from the US to support this dictatorship. Now they are blind, they are just supporting the regime as is, because the regime continued to provide lots of compromise to get their legitimacy from the international community. 


In addition to that,(5) what's going on in the Middle East right now, is to sell everything to Zionism, so Israel is being prepared right now to be a very strong economic power in the Middle East. Right now we hear a lot about the Abraham agreements, started with Emirates Bahrain Sudan Morocco and so on, and they call it peace and they've never been conflict, for example between emirates and israel, so it's not peace it's actually right now is to forget completely past time, so palestinians are not considered in these agreements completely, and Israel is being seen as incoming economic power in the region, and when we talk about israel, we're not talking about a real state, we're talking about zionism, we're talking about racism, and so on. 


This is the first point, so the the neoliberal capitalism and neoliberalism decided to get back to support the dictatorships in the Middle East because (6)it's much better to have controlled dictatorships in the Middle East and to have controlled conflicts and wars, this will rationalize the domination from the big powers, more than getting democracy. Democracy in the Middle East is very very dangerous for global neoliberalism, especially with respect to Israel. If there is any kind of democracy in the Middle East, Israel will not continue as it is right now, and let me put it this way. 


The second point is related to the vaccine distribution, and all of us have been witnessing the distribution of the vaccine, which is associated with incredible inequities, and this is not only related to the shortage of production or the high level of demand, this is a result, this is not the cause. (7)The real cause behind that is the research and innovation modes we are doing, and the mode of production, the broken global governance in health, in addition to the broken trade related intellectual property rights. So these are the main causes, and these kinds of inequities will continue, unless we change the broken governance for health. So it's bigger than just who's producing it, who is paying for it. Everybody's paying for it, so you will find that, for example, the production of the vaccine, especially one of them in the US, has been publicly funded, so the company did not make the research that's needed, and there are lots of things to talk about them when it comes to intellectual property right, and this broken system 


Accordingly, Just to respect the time that (8) these examples for me are very important to rationalize the importance of global solidarity. Working together not just for global events, or to come together during the world social forum, but between them, and to connect people together. In the Middle east for example, we need a huge level for activism, People who are in in the Tahrir square as natural leaders during the revolution in 2011, they are either in prison or outside the country, or they are silent, there is no other choice.(9) People can do so we need the global solidarity, we need to come together and work on the structural determinants more than just solving the results of them. I will stop here and thank you very much for organizing that 


@009 MEENA MENON that was a very topical, and very important point that you made, and it also raises this issue. Perhaps I will ask you that question “what kind of international solidarity would you think would be useful”, but that's a question for you for later, and now I am going to call Sergio, because he has to leave unfortunately, so if it is okay with the other speakers, I will call Sergio Bassoli next. Is that okay Paul? because Paul also had some issues. is it okay if I call Sergio or Paul? Do you have to leave now Paul?

 

PAUL go ahead, I can wait for another 20 minutes yeah

 

MEENA MENON thank you wonderful, so thank you for that, and now I will call Sergio. Sergio Bassoli is a trade unionist, he is involved with the CGIL, a trade union in italy, he is a director of nexus CGIL Emilia romagna, I hope I’m pronouncing that correctly, the general director of Projetto Svilupo international institute of CGIL. Since 2010 He is in charge of relations with latin America and MENA ( Middle East North Africa) region peace social movements and migrants for CGIL international department. He was the co-founder and coordinator of italian ngos platform in the Middle East and he is coordinator of the italian network for peace and a member of the international council of the world social forum. Over to Sergio welcome, you have six minutes

 

@010 SERGIO yes thank you very much Meena and Paul for accepting all the change of order in our interventions, but I have to leave for another meeting now on the migrant issue. You know in all this in this world social forum and so very thanks for this initiative you know, and I’m really happy and proud to be here with you, because it's important to make a sort of evaluation, or to share our feeling regarding the world social forum process, now 20 years are enough for making a brief evaluation you know. 


And at the end of the day, I think I wish to share with you that (1)the forum initiative was, and is, very important, but is not enough. I think we need to make a step forward from a forum to actions. I mean we see that our enemy, how somebody said before, or the neoliberalism, of the big powers of the financial system, the transnationals, the big powers they think to have the right to be the owner of the all the planet, are working producing inequalities, and they are destroying the planet, and they are producing and reproducing wars. 


So is not enough to gather in a forum,or in thematic forum, or in a global forum, but (2) our need, our priority now is to understand how we can build a strong alliance with the unity of the different movements, workers, unemployed people, indigenous people, women, youngsters etc etc together, sharing a common goal to change this narrative. It is not enough to say “another word is possible”, we need to build proposals, suitable proposals, at local level, national level, and at the international level.(3) Without our action plan, without being proactive, it will be really, really difficult to change something concretely. People are still, and more, suffering. So this is my simple message, and I’m representing here the trade union movement, we are working, coming back, I can say we are coming back in the world social forum in this virtual edition, with this aim to re rethink our alliance. 


We have to understand why from the beginning, as Christophe showed very well, all the history of these 20 years, why many movements left this dynamic, they are struggling alone, or they are not so interested to build alliances, This is a question we have to give an answer to. And just to finish , we are ready,(4)we wish as trade unions to have such debate, we need to find the time, we need to find common concrete goals, because time is finished, we need to build actions. Thanks and hoping to be able to build a new phase of a global alliance between peoples and the workers and women and indigenous etc thanks 


@011 MEENA MENON thank you Sergio, you are well far less than the time that you had, but I wanted to just ask you: will you be staying with us or will you go and come back to take questions? would you be in a position to come back? 


SERGIO I try to do it, because I have to make my speech in another place, but I try to come back 


MEENA MENON okay wonderful, because there will be questions for you, because you spoke about solidarity, and I think that's the most important thing, because I think what Christophe said in fact was that maybe the breakdown of the multinational institutions and the lack of a clear enemy is a problem. So you need to tell us how to build that solidarity, as organized trade unions, yes so okay thank you Sergio.


@012 PIERRE hello Meena may I just mention that Sergio is instrumental in building a coalition of trade unions for a call for an “extraordinary mobilization towards May and the Singapore world economic forum”. So this is in the format of an initiative, http://openfsm.net/projects/ini9140 which is a new way of participation in WSF , showing what are the type of actions that WSF participants are ready to do together, with a series of organizations, a goal 

 

@013 MEENA MENON: Thank you for that, maybe at the end again you can say that you have shared a link here is that where we can get in touch with this mobilization, so everybody there is a link there that has been provided by Pierre. Please take that down if you would like to get in touch for the mobilizations in Singapore more information will be available there;


So now let's move on. We have the speaker after who is Monica Novillo. I’m sorry Paul, because Paul had said that he had some time constraints as well. Paul Divakar is an advocate for dalit rights. He's an expert on economic rights and a human rights defender on inclusion and issues around untouchability and atrocities, which are a serious and very central issue in India, and a large part of South Asia, perhaps further as well. He is co-chair of the global call to action against poverty, that's GCAP He's one of the founding members of the national campaign on dalit human rights, that is NCDHR, and currently he is general secretary of the NCDHR for global networks and for advocacy. He is convener of the global forum on discrimination based on work and descent, that is a platform that collectively emerged with large numbers of marginalized peoples from all over the world. Over to you Paul 


@014 PAUL DIVAKAR thank you Meena, thank you for this space in this very interesting webinar. Let me come straight to the point : (1)we had a lot of discussion way back in 2001, whether to participate in this (forum) or not. You may also remember / recall that that was the time that the world conference against racism in Durban was taking place. It was just before that, so we were caught between how much energy that we need to put in, and finally we managed to go, and we felt that this is a forum which has a future.


What do I mean by that? I mean there is, you know, several of the forums have very constricting space, especially for issues which are not very sexy, who are not very, you know, with communities which are very macho, you know in their mobilization, or in their articulation. 


Whereas many of the communities that we represented are those who have been, for no fault of theirs, but because of their birth, had been pushed into a real form of, not only special, but all forms of exclusion, and their contribution has been negated. And whenever they challenge this, there have been extreme forms of violence against them, and I’m not talking only about dalits.


DalitsI think many of us over the period of time have come to understand a little of (2)communities which are affected by the concept called “purity pollution”, and which is very much part of the South Asian ethos. But you have communities in japan called burakumin, in europe right from ireland to, you know, eastern Europe, even Turkey, you have communities which are called which are known as roma, gypsy, travelers, manosh, and sinti, several other names and they are criminalized, they have been excluded. You have in Africa who are traditionally pushed into forms of slavery and trafficking, and even much before the transatlantic slave trade has started, these communities have been there, and it's not a binary of a race, not black and white, but from their own communities, like you have in India who have been pushed into forms of menial and manual labor, and they are also segregated, the same color, same culture, same language, but excluded, and they are also affected by the it's intergenerational so by descent 


Now and also in in brazil you have communities like quiilumbola communities who have all year been pushed into slave, and then have liberated themselves, and they are still facing forms of exclusion, and (3) we, for the last 15 years, we have been trying to gather ourselves, and identify, because we don't, in one sense, are not recognized as a racial minority, though in some places they do, and in other places, we are also not regarded as the indigenous community, so we're not race racial minorities, we're not indigenous, and of course not the other identities, so this is being, you know (4)we call ourselves “communities affected by discrimination based on work, forced labor and menial and trafficking and of sorts, and inter-generation by descent.


And so we have been coming together to find a space, both politically, as well as as a social movement, to see how the structures can need to be dismantled, and therefore ensure that we get over the barriers to realize the potential that we all of us believe that we have, even though the contribution is very much, and when Faeza was talking about the communities in South Africa you know, whether it's water, whether it's land, whether it is wages, whether it is access to entitlements, whether it is access to the state resources, the budgets, federal and state budgets, among all these institutions,(5) these communities have been excluded, and both the left movement on the one hand,and of course the right movements definitely have no space. 


They have somehow been glossed over, even though they constitute a majority of the working force, so with these intentions of first gathering ourselves, and also secondly to pitch our demands, whether it's in economic or in the political domain, whether it is also even on the aspects of gender, where you see further layers of discrimination of the communities, the women who are from these communities face, we felt that that needs a special intentional deliberation, which needs to be gathered as a movement, 


And we found that world social forum, before Mumbai we had Asia social forum, we had invited people from the Asian subcontinent to take place, to contribute, and also in the world social forum Mumbai(6), many of these communities had participated, and they had given, so in that sense we feel that world social forum does have a space 


Somehow(7) we didn't have the kind of time and spatial resources to influence the governance of the world social forum, for various reasons, and I think, if we are constituting ourselves, probably it will be good to see what are the ways in which several communities, which have been either negated, or continuously being neglected, to ensure that their participation and also their contribution to be, not just recognized, but also encouraged, to see that they strengthen a global movement 


Most of the time, we are concerned , as you rightly can understand, of ensuring that we have policies framework, so a lot of our energy goes into looking at what policies are needed, and how those policies need to be implemented, so(8) because the world social forum, to a large extent, is most an inter movement or inter-social movement, we tend to have lesser resources to be able to actively engage with the world social forum. 


I think hopefully in the time to come we should be able to see how we can also contribute, as well as demand resources from this very important forum, for us to take forward, so I think (9)this is a conversation we need to have, and ensure that we connect together. thank you 

 

@015 MEENA MENON thank you Paul, thank you very much; you have given us a very positive message. And now we have Monica, we move on to Monica. Monica Novillo is a Bolivian social communicator and popular educator in training processes on gender, leadership, citizenship, political advocacy, and women's rights. She is executive director of the women's coordination and general coordination of REPEM, regional feminist network, and she locates her actions especially in the education of women and young adults, from the perspective of feminist popular education. Over to you Monica

 

@016 MONICA buenos dias, and we would like to switch into spanish, so you can hear me, and I benefit from the fact we have interpretation.and am greeting from latin america and this is a region that has the difficulties that have been mentioned previously. As i have been introduced , i come from two social movements , one social movement is the feminist movement, is a diverse plural internationalist movement, that has proved in the past years to be a strong movement at word level, because it was able to articulate demands that women share in the world , but the women we are not an homgeneous subject , 


we have a series of features that identify ourselves,ethnies, races, different sexual orientations, age and we live different situations that need to be approached in different ways,


And the second movement i come from is popular education movement in Latin America, and in particular the feminist popular education movement , that is advocating for a lay quality education no sexist free and througouht life , therefore this implies acknowledge particularly in the context of covid that access of women to education was jeopardized in the sense and this is the first service that was cut, in the bolivian case the school year was closed negating millions of women girls access to education, but there is different impact depending how the women are living, the rural areas or in the urban areas, their age etc


 i want to celebrate this dialogue between moveent that is an historical practice , in the world social forum to which have adscribed different expressions of(1) the feminist movements, and that bring in the very diverse space that is the forum space, therefore in this perspective, i celebrate, because it converts into an exchange space for social movement, and stops being a siloed vision of each movement that watches itself without interchanging,. The feminist movement has addressed a series of initiatives to count upon those spaces when we different socia movement share this vision of the world transformation and our vision of emancipation struggles, 


And in particular case of the feminisms.We are questioning exclusions and defying the different aspects of the oppressive structures, not only the gender, but also the exclusion, because of the sexual orientation, class, social class, and so on. Therefore in the fight of feminism converts in a fight that is seeing itself as anti-capitalism, anti-patriarchal, as was said before me by Faeza , patriarchalism is present in social movement and reproducing exclusion of women, 


So being a movement anti-capitalist an anti-rascist movement, we look for those spaces to dialogue with other movements, and therefore this dialogue enable us to create built-up alliances or joined political action , so what Sergio was talking about, that many movements that participate in the world social forum search in this space, a space where (2)to meet to build sustainable alliances, not conjunctural or punctual, and that allow us to move forward, and so that we can revise our strategies, and build mutually collective agendas that can confront with structural inequalities that we see from various movements 


we can also see a set of diversities where woman are part , and the feminist movement has implemented concrete actions, for instance of trade unions feminist movement is gaining power in different regions ,the areas, and in this frame the social world forum is converting in prioritized space / platform where we can meet different sustainable alliances, and acknowledging ourselves so different as we are, within this plurality and diversity to strehgnthen a much more radical democracy that is not just focused on public space ,but also on private space and it i part of the demands we have in the feminist movement


I think that a constant request coming from the feminism, diverse as we are, which was raised in the world social forum is rightly the inclusion from the questions posed by the feminist movement in the other movements - and at the same time that the feminists demands cover the diversity and also what we call intersectionality . 


I think a fundamental objective we should have is to understand (3)how to articulate solidarity among movements as a permanent answer , so solidarity is among the powerful struggle tool that we have as social movements, to keep resisting. Therefore struggle against patriarchy is a great demand from the feminists movements that are participating in the world social forum. Thanks 


@017 MEENA thank you very much; well I will have to ask you mike first and Kinchi to see whether there are any questions. One question which Chirstophe has already got. Have there been any other questions which to throw to the speakers, and are there any questions from our chinese participants, because I can see something written there in chinese, so could somebody read them out. Kinchi if you could read out the questions the chinese ones or whoever, and Mike, if you have been monitoring that 

 

@018 MIKE DAVIES thanks my question, if I can jump in, it was,(1) there seems to be a dissonance between the social movements desire for a better world and to promote alternatives, and the contestation for political power, which is the essence of real systemic change


We have to engage in that struggle for the political power to implement progressive policies and it's a question that many of us in the social movements shy from. We tend to challenge from outside in a way to topple the system, but even if we succeeded in toppling the system, we would still have to create governance in the alternative world, and (2) I think it's very dangerous that we do not pay enough attention to the question of power. How do we contest it? How do we get it? And how do we keep our people accountable once they get it?very difficult question,

 

MEENA MENON Felix would you like to say something?


FELIX thank you gracias am Felix from foundation FLACEP from Mexico and member of renovation group of WSF - Briefly - as expressed clearly, i think the conditions are mature so we can get out ot this forum on day 30th of january with a common global agenda as monica said about the women 8th of march many organisation and movement identity with other possible world but not only as solidarity to women but saying that women struggle is one of the dimension of global struggle and implies domination mechanism - on day 30th we can select 3 or 4 dates, th there are several dates that are maturing if we get to agree on this will produce an effect - so the forum is not an event but a process not just inside but outside - next that this action to prepared coordinated dartes may be done it is own space - it is not just about go demonstrate 


MEENA thank you Felix You're out of time thank you. So I will over to christophe, so you have your three minutes, starts now christoph

 

@018 CHRISTOPHE yes, thanks, and I will try to answer to the question of Mike, and your question also, Meena: the relationship between political groups and social movements.(1) In the WSF, we decided to not have political parties, but at the same time, to be honest, if you remember what happened at the beginning of the 20O0, 20 years ago, there was de facto an alliance between left parties and social forum


if you remember that we started the WSF in Brazil in Porto Alegre. At this time there was only a Chavez in Venezuela,who was left power if you want, but very quickly after the first WSF, we had the victory of the Worker Party in brazil, and then also a series of victories of the left in Bolivia, Ecuador, in Paraguay, in Chile, and that's achieved a situation where almost all South America was led by progressive governments. 


(2)But, at the same time, very quickly, a lot of contradictions happen, a contradiction, first, about the link between ecology and economical development, and social issues. Most of those powers I’m thinking of Chavez in Venezuela in particular, decided to give the priority to the social redistribution, which is good, no problem at all, but using oil, without questioning this specific model. If you look at Venezuela : the day Chavez took the power, oil was 90 percent of the exportation and the budget of the country, today, 20 years later, it's exactly the same. 


There was no change at all on this relationship between oil and the capacity of the Venezuelan government to redistribute money, and this contradiction between the ecological issues and the social issues was particularly strong for example in Bolivia or Ecuador, where the powers of the progressive government choose the economical development against indigenous communities, in both cases, with a lot of conflict on this issue. 


(3)The second difficulty was the relationship with democracy, all those powers, even if they respect the result of the election, and they were not dictatorships, if you want, but they had a very verticalized way to see the power. They were very based on strong leadership of the leader, the president of the republic, in most of the cases, and that didn't give enough room for manoeuvre for the social movements, and I really believe that one of the the issue we have to discuss today is: what kind of politics: it is not because you claim to be from the left that you are able to resolve all those issues of verticalism, the relationship with nature and the ecological issues, and that is not only a latin american issue, it's also a problem, in my opinion, in Asia, in Europe, probably in Africa as well. 


We can see in South Africa the ANC power and all the problems we had also of verticalism, and I think for me (4)the main challenge is to be able, and the social movement can be very useful to that, to have a sort of new paradigm, a new vision for the future


We cannot be like we were 20, 30, 40 years ago, thinking that economic development is the only goal we need to prioritize, and that the rest will come later. That doesn't work like that, the experience of the USSR and other so-called socialist countries showed this difficulty. For this reason,(5) I think that the key problem today is more a sort of grammatical or doctrinal issue, which is what kind of left we want, what kind of program do we want, and I think that it's really key. 


Second issue, and I will be very short to respect the limit of time, about the capacity of creating international mobilization, is of course a little bit more difficult today, because we don't have the common enemy we had 20 years ago, but at the same time, the aAab spring or all the Occupy movement, or more recently in 2019 and this year of rebellion and huge movement, show that people are able to move together. What we need is to have a space to have more discussion, confrontation, exchange of experience.(6) The WSF could be one of those spaces, and through the pandemia we are realizing that people need this kind of space, even if we are not in the same situation than 20 years ago, I’m quite optimistic in the idea that we could have a sort of renewal of the international space we really need for the future. Thank you 


@019 MEENA MENON thank you very much Christophe. Now I move on to Faeza you have your three minutes to respond or to comment on the discussions that have happened here. It doesn't have to be a question directed to you, but you can respond to any of the other discussions or the other speakers what they have said. over to you


@020 FAEZA MEYER thank you so much. Comrades I think for me I want to respond to the question that was in the chat box that asked if there's space for internationalism in south africa.


Absolutely. I think what we are doing at the moment is connecting locally provincially, but we also do know that we can only , you know the aim is for capitalism to go to overthrow, to tilt the pyramid, and we can only do that internationally, we cannot do that individually. I just want to respond. I think also what Comrade Mike raised earlier on, around you know political parties. I think that's a huge challenge for us in our communities. 


To be honest I think people have been exploited you know so many times by political parties that (1)when we do the groundwork, when we knock on the doors, the first thing people ask is what political party are you from, because they're not interested anymore, so you know people have lost faith in political parties. I mean the ANC has played is playing a huge role in just demoralizing people in terms of joining any kind of political party, so yeah, I think you know, building the alternative continuing to build alternative the masses eventually will decide what route we take, but absolutely we have to hold hands on a global scale or we will not be able to achieve our demands under capitalism thank you 


MEENA MENON thank you Faeeza, and now we have Hanni. Hani you have three minutes. Please respond 


@021 HANNI SERAG Yeah thank you very much Meena. I should say that I don't have a very direct answer, maybe I will raise more questions, especially based on the experience in the Middle East. I think the fear from what happened in the Arab spring is that it shows that there are ways to impose a change outside the channels that we know: the political channels through the political parties and through the mechanisms that the regime may provide for change. 


(1)In other words Occupy being in the street, it became a way of a change, and I think this was a huge fear for neoliberalism, because it can be exported outside, so they accepted the oppression against these movements


So right now, if you look at Egypt for example, which is the example I can talk about in a good way, nobody is able to be in the streets. People will be killed immediately or put in prisons immediately, they are not going to wait to have critical mass in the streets to impose change. So what are the solutions right now, so the huge support from outside,(2) the legitimacy that the regime is getting from the big powers, is enabling it to start making the oppression immediately, without waiting for building any kind of critical mass for a change.


So the idea here, which is building solidarity, building mobilization, and trying to mobilize people, to get to make these changes in a very peaceful way, where does it go? how it can, how it can make change?, so this has become a very big question right now, and this applies even on other things, like the vaccine. Right now this is these are the international regulations, some people will get vaccinated, the majority of people will not, or they need just to wait, and their regulations will continue being like that, so again the peaceful movement and try to change from the ground, how much time it needs.


(3)So it appears to me that we need not to use just the available space. I don't have a concrete answer how to create more space for the movement. I i do not have that, but it sounds like just using the available space that these regimes or capitalism is going to allow is not enough. It's not enough at all. 


Even the use of social media right now is not enough. It was very promising in the beginning of our spring for example, but right now is not enough People can just write and talk on the social media, just for relief you know, but not for a change, and even if they started to be mobilizing and attracting others to join , they were put in prison immediately


(4)So I’m very sorry that I cannot inspire others, I cannot provide solutions, rather sharing questions, but I really feel that we are in a in a position that we need to find methods and maybe we learn from the history a little bit, how change happened before, because I, yeah it's it's a changing world, but we we are back to the same point: peaceful movement mobilization starting from, you know, a street, is not always making a change right now, because the tools are very different, we can be peaceful in street but we will be faced with weapons 


@022 MEENA thank you Hani You're leaving us with a very deep question I don't know where we go with that, but you said going back to the beginning, too many things that we were taking for granted, now we have to go back to see we don't have that freedom, that space. Thank you Now I will call upon Paul. Paul you have three minutes 



@023 PAUL DIWAKAR yeah thank you Meena. I think these conversations are very important. I’m only responding or rather raising a question that Ari and myself have put in the chat, which is (1) I think world social forum has not deliberately attempted to ignore, but the end product is we don't have much of racial minorities or identity groups who are making use of this space, and I’m wondering why.


Because I think it's important that the movement looks at some of these is it that we have not, we have been, as identity based movement, some of them, we have not had the resources to participate, or the time, and the energy to do this, or there has not been,(2) I don't think there are any conscious barriers, but probably there is no conscious efforts either, so this is something that both sides, 


I think , as whoever is the body which is looking to encourage participation, or open this up, we'll have to look at it, And probably we also need to look at the communities or movements of these identity based movements to see what is the gain, and how they can use it. I mean there's definitely a lot of positive impact of this, but (3)how do we make this happen, to ensure that we also look at the other movements, and then be strengthened by them, but this needs to be a very conscious process, and I don't think it will come just by itself. Thank you 


@024 MEENA MENON Thank you Paul. Maybe what we should do is to try and see whether we can create a space, particularly on this, and maybe you should try, and because we wanted to get in touch with Black Lives Matter, we were ,I mean, some of us were thinking, that we should do this, but we were not able to 

I mean we spoke to some people in the US, but clearly we don't know people, these are all new movements, we don't know people who know them. So even the activists there were not able to contact them, so it would be good if we can actually build some kind of bridges between movements like these,so that they can be an exchange of experiences, like the struggle of the dalits, the struggle of the black lives matter. I think there's so much commonality Anyway. So over to you Monica. 


@025 MONICA NOVILLO I wanted to refer to the political issues and one of the things I wanted to point out is that there's this kind of disappointment about (1) the political system, so we don't see, it seems like it's no longer responding to our social, to the social movement demands.


So one of the main issues that we should take into account is that (2) the civic space for civil society organizations, is shrinking quickly and progressively in all countries and all regions. Democracy then is under attack, and especially the fundamental freedoms, and also human rights, and of course we cannot avoid to mention that human rights defenders, and especially women human rights defenders, and environmental human rights defenders, are under attack in all regions and all countries.


And of course, in this context,(3) we need to mention that there's a linkage between the capital power, the political power, and of course, the fundamentalism forces, that are attacking some progressive movements, such as the feminist movement or the LGBT movement 


The feminist movement have been pushing, or trying to push to get awareness about this relationship and these linkages between the capital, the political power and the fundamentalist power also. 

This is the context in which we need to assure that we can have stronger and more sustainable alliances between the social movements.

(4) The world social forum is the space in which we can build bridges between the movements and try to consolidate this, and strengthen these alliances. Thank you very much 


@026 MEENA MENON Monica, thank you for doing this in two languages. I don't know what the technical difficulty was. Anyway, but I want to thank the interpreters: they have been wonderful, very patient, and they've done a terrific job. We are very very grateful to you, we hope that you will stay with us enough for our future events, and thank you very much to the speakers, those who are still there with us, we see this as a continuing dialogue. We are not going to stop with this, and most of the speakers whom we have had in our discussions, we hope to bring them back to continue the debate. 


This is something we want to build : a body of knowledge on these issues, and we hope that we will be able to do that, as FORUM CONNECT. One of the things that came up today was also the need for more discussion and more understanding on how to build these solidarities in a changed world, and that really comes to the point.

 

That it's not just to get into action anymore, because everybody is in action at some level in the various countries, in the various sectors they are in,(1) but how do we build solidarity: Is there any? Do people see a point in solidarity? Do people see what kind of solidarity can help them?


And the second question: what are the various new spaces, as Hanni raised,(2) what are the new spaces that we need to create? Maybe the old spaces aren't working? Maybe we need to create more spaces? What are those spaces? Let's think outside of that, and what Christophe said about (3) new kinds of organizations, new structures, new priorities, more complex ways of seeing things.


I think these are all very important issues that have come up today. I hope we will be able to put this back. Am I speaking too fast? Probably am. So let us meet again and carry on this discussion. Now i'd like to ask Mike whether he would like to say something or any of the others from FORUM CONNECT would like to say something.

 

PIERRE GEORGE yes I would like to say something 


MEENA MENON Pierre please go ahead now 


@027 PIERRE GEORGE I would like to say that(1) this interesting discussion is also giving some echoes to the attempt to introduce a new format of participation in the social forum for this edition of the virtual social forum, which is next to “activities”,- that are moments of dialogue. Preparing dialogue doesn't necessarily imply action : there can be dialogue with action afterwards or without. 


So there is another format of participation, which is “initiative”, which is specifically focused on action, and whatever type of action: like you said, building a solidarity space is an action (2), it's something that is public, something that can have an action plan, and some visible points in this action plan that can be organized as “action dates” publicly called, and where the participants, in individual or organization can join, and participate, and so this makes the forum projected towards the rest of the days of the year. 


Because the forum, so far is an event and then it can project,(3) these initiatives can project actions in the future. That's why it's called “Agora of the futures”, the futures in plural, because this is a diversity of action lines, that movements, in various type of articulation, can build


So it's(4) a formal attempt to give some visibility to the effort to answer the very deep questions that have been raised in this webinar, about what type of spaces, what type of solidarity, what type of organizing for massive action etc, so it's just that i wanted to outline this. 


(5)So now, when you go to the forum, you just don't have only to announce, prepare activities, but you are also proposed to formulate initiatives for action for another possible world.

 

@028 MEENA MENON thank you Pierre, and I just wanted to again remind everybody that this is one session of a series, so we are going to do more sessions on the same subject just to let you know. So we will be back yeah. Mike

 

@029 MIKE DAVIES thanks Meena and thanks for moderating today. Talking as an activist within the International Alliance of Inhabitants,(1) there is a big disjunction between the grassroots struggle of our daily lives, and activism for a better world and the international platform, for any number of reasons, it's like it's the continuum is big at both ends, it's the middle that's missing. 


I think a lot of the regionalism, the local internationalism, these are areas where I think we can really develop solidarity. As Pierre said (2), in the International Alliance of Inhabitants, we will have an initiative which is the World Assemblies of Inhabitants and this is a gathering place that will happen every two to three months, throughout the year, for activists that are aligned to the Alliance and others. It's not a partisan thing.

 

So, on saturday this week we have the fourth virtual World Assembly of Inhabitants, where people can discuss very similar issues. All about trying to develop the sense of internationalism, both at the rhetorical summit level, but also substantively at the regional and national levels. 

These are areas that, where the work really takes place, so, in that spirit, I appeal for continuing internationalism. (3) Let us not be siloed in our little boxes called Zimbabwe, or Madagascar, or whatever - We are global citizens, we are part of a global movement, we act globally


MEENA MENON thank you Mike 


MIKE DAVIES finally a big thank you to the interpreters it's been a bit of a muddle today, but I hope people have enjoyed the services of our interpreters,They're fantastic crowd really committed

 

MEENA MENON Yes indeed thank you okay See you all soon bye bye