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My comment-input on input#7/ Farewell to What? Evolving a formal view about WSF process to better communicate and refresh it  ( by Pierre)    
Also possible to comment input7b 
Elements about "formal" view of wsf process and ways forward for its facilitation  ( by Pierre)   

 


This discussion is provocatively named “Farewell to the WSF?”. This question could be provocatively answered “Farewell to What?”. @1 Indeed, in this discussion, those ready to be undertakers of the WSF whether happy or sad, have not expressed clearly what the WSF that they are saying farewell to.
 

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@2 A fundamental activity for those seeking to further develop the WSF remains formalizing the collective experience of the WSF process.  That means developing an exchange of ideas and  evolving diagrams and vocabulary about what the WSF is meant to be, how it can be communicated, how it can be what it is meant to be, and what can be collective ways forward between those who care about it.
 

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@2B Preliminary note: This is meant as a input drafted from the hands-on WSF facilitation perspective.

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TINA to WSF?   

Throughout the twenty years since the WSF first launched in Porto Alegre, current economic hegemony has remained the same, and the political forces maintaining this hegemony have added darker values to the sad passions of competition, greed, envy, and consumerism. @3 The “WSF process” has been visible through significant events but has not grown to counter-hegemonic scale, nor to a steady “counter Davos” format.
 

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@3B There have been proposals/calls for bringing together transformative forces, such as Peoples Global Action (or PGA, dating back to 1996), International Peoples Assembly (started in 2019 in Caracas), and several others developing dynamics around climate justice and post-development issues.

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However, there is no comparable decentralized, horizontal, and scalable multi-thematic-counter hegemonic “process” proposal to the WSF in sight (the emphasis on “process” as opposed to “movement” here is key). @3C The WSF, as social process, remains a valid proposal for massive horizontal self-organizing, based on voluntary dialogues and participation acts, in a common open space, and not based on vertical representation and leadership. 

 LOOKING BACK  
 

@4 There has been insufficient attention to developing “WSF open space process” methodology, as collectively shared knowledge and vocabulary. Indeed, more conscious consideration of the forum process by WSF participants is essential if the Forum is to reach counter-hegemonic status.   

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@5 The notion of a “WSF event” has been more concrete in participants’ minds than the notion of "WSF process," which has remained fuzzier. The “WSF” (mixing here event and process) had a comfortable start, and its first facilitators received significant donations.
 

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However, the demise of many of the early social forum process-events, namely, regional and local replicas of the world event, has been, in large part, a result of the fact that many of their corresponding facilitators did not understand, or want to understand, the implications of “horizontal open dialogic space ideologically positioned by the 
WSF charter of principles .” @6 This has been showing the necessity to formalize better the WSF process and spread it in clarity. ( FW1)

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Instead, collective and ongoing reflection on methodology and ways forward has been wanting since 2011.@7 In the WSF-International Council, exchange of papers replaced the face-to-face discussion of "methodology commission." And the younger generation has been absent.

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Now the WSF process is nearly 20 years old, a good indicator of relevance,@8  but the transmission of ownership from the founding generation, who came of age in 1960/70s activism, to next generations is not secure. The WSF process is less trendy currently, and entities committed to its promotion primarily must rely on their own resources, which requires from them a higher level of motivation.
 

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@9 The notion of a “WSF process-event” tastes also somehow stale today, because of the weak collective efforts to propose new participation formats or implementation options to foster greater visibility on actions and accessibility to online participation for those who cannot afford coming (time, visa, money) .

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@10 Indeed, there is wide gap between the WSF’s original potential or ambition and its reality two decades after, reflecting the changing political situation and level of investment of participating citizen organizations and social movements participating.

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@11 Here, a "WSF facilitating community," acting realistically and persistently with a medium-term perspective, can make a progressive difference. (FW7) 

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AT THE CROSSROADS
 

The WSF’s facilitators are certainly at a crossroads. @12 They have the options to
(1) quit or continue as facilitators, according to the relevance they see for the WSF process;
(2) involve or not other people from their respective organizations to reinforce facilitating capabilities; and
(3) resist or not, for a variety of subjective reasons, the temptation of forcing a voice onto the open space, whether through instituting spokespersons, privileging some assembly, promoting an agenda of the forum, or other means ( this is also commented in the section  
C7I0B (point 7)  FW2  and  FW10 . 

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@13 The erratic dynamics of  the WSF-International Council too quickly instituted in 2001, after the success of the first WSF event, is one visible cause for the fact that there is still not an effective “facilitating community” willing to guide the WSF process along its intended nature: an international horizontal dialogic process, among civil society organizations, that is positioned in a medium- and long-term perspective by a broad set of values as described in the WSF charter of principles. Indeed, those who might have taken up this WSF format/idea/invitation, that is the WSF International-Council, have not been focused and dedicated enough to be collectively up to a double task: (
FW7) 

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@14 Task 1: acting to develop a lively and motivated world-scale “WSF facilitating community,” with a purview beyond the world forums, evolving a common vision of the process as implemented in many thematic and geographic contexts within  a continuous "global WSF process."
 

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@15 Task 2: acting to develop formalization, i.e., notions and vocabulary about the various manifestations of WSF process, in various directions, in coherence with the basic principles expressed in the WSF charter of principles , and disseminating those notions and vocabulary for ownership through discussion among WSF process participants. 
 


AN INPUT FOR A WSF FACILITATING COMMUNITY
 

This FW text ( 
http://openfsm.net/projects/gti-and-wsf/gtiandwsf-input7-formal-view-wsf ) with 8 sections is presenting some formal elements participation formats and diagrams  evolved throughout this last decade, trying to answer questions asked since the beginning:  “what is this process? How can it be what it is meant to be? @16 

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@16B It is a contribution in this potential facilitating community about its task 2: sharing a formal view of WSF process. 
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This WSF process facilitating community would:
 
@17 (1) inclusively engage people and/or organizations that have shown sustained commitment and gained experience in facilitating lasting social forum processes. (Inclusion of national and thematic forums facilitating committees in the WSF -IC is a concrete step that remains to be fully implemented.)
 

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@18 (2) act through agile permanent or ad hoc online working groups, with human resources invested by its member entities, as part of their strategic commitment to the WSF process.
 
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The absence of an effective WSF process facilitating community has hindered the collective work of exchanging experience and formalizing and exploring alternative formats of various “manifestations” of the general WSF process.@19  It is important to remember that the WSF process was, from the start, presented in the WSF charter as a global counter hegemonic dialogic process for effective interlink of action, not as a periodic face-to-face “event” nor as a global “movement.”
 

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FORMALICISM & DEPOLITICIZATION
 

Some may brand the present input "made from the perspective of  hands-on facilitation of WSF"  and its accompanying two texts as being uselessly "formalistic," and basically intended to “depoliticize the forum.” @20 They may argue that “methodology should be at the service of politics.” That raises the questions:  What does politicizing the forum mean, and how is this done? And by whom? The facilitators?  This is further discussed in 
 C7I0PB    (point7C),  ( FW2   ) ( "making the space speak"),  and   FW10     (relation between formats, contents, political intentions of facilitators). 

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Depoliticization? : The WSF open space process is ideologically “positioned” in a broad way, by the Charter, and, at the same time, it is designed to be empowering its participants, because it is horizontal and the participants - and the coalitions they build-  are considered as the relevant political actors.  @21 So it is not depoliticized. It is just that it is meant as a process, welcoming to movements, and not as a movement.

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@22 WSF is not meant as a political subject, even though if, emotionally and subjectively, this vision is seductive for some facilitators and participants.

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 @23 Forcing a voice on the open space is a temptation that is necessarily impinging on the political autonomy and diversity of those entities that are actively participating in it.

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Formalicism?: @24 An horizontal process is not sustained by vertical leadership, but by ability of participants to share and own widely  a common horizontal view of the process, with notions and vocabulary. This leads to valuing methodology and formalization as a political tool

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.@25  If facilitators can agree on entries and their description of a “lexicon of WSF,” then they are in the same horizontal process, and able to better cooperate. Evolving a base lexicon could be a priority task in the methodology workgroup of a WSF facilitating community. 

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LOOKING AHEAD
 

@25 An "intra-facilitating community compact" for easing the tensions between facilitators could be a way forward for working together despite differences about directions for the WSF. ( 
FW8)

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@25B A first possible step would be to explore the "splitting scenario":  retaining the WSF open space while establishing a “WSF related movement.” 

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 @26 At the same time, a "cohesive scenario" could be discussed that explored cooperation between (1) those focusing on ways to improve the clarity and quality of participation formats for sustaining and expanding the open space process, and (2) those focusing on the complementary task of building coalitions from below to develop attractive political content in the forum space, and thus the political significance of the WSF process. 

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@27 If this facilitating community compact proposal were to be well-received among facilitators, they could proceed by creating spaces for discussion about experience and methodology, and  a permanent methodology working group could be established again in association with the WSF-IC.

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@28 Also another group could be started to curate a WSF calendar of events .

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@28B The lost years, energies, and opportunities in WSF facilitation can be deplored, but there is first a need to look ahead, while agreeing there is no way for miraculously catching up on the lost years in the development of the process. So there is no expecting fast results and resorting to fast-track solutions. 

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@29 The next possible WSF process event in Mexico, despite its many initial uncertainties, is worth contributing to. (see  
http://openfsm.net/projects/pfsm20   : a space, among other possible spaces, for information, inputs and early participation through encounters online)..

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Arguably, the potential of the WSF concept for creating a counter-hegemonic process remains and is in large part untapped @30 The gap between potential and actual can be gauged by looking at the WSF charter of principles as a facilitation program, and assessing what part of it has been convincingly implemented. 

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@31 Drawing consequences from open horizontal space option is a stimulation for reformatting and changing behaviors.

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 In this perspective, intellectuals and academics are also challenged. Some tend to consider themselves as guides, or some have mainly considered the forum as a convenient object for study. @32 They could also consider creating "collectives" from where they would, horizontally, disseminate ideas, and propose dialogue, support, or accompaniment to some other participant entities.   

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@33 One critical task is communicating this potential to younger generations so that they come and use the WSF process and space in a way that is friendly to youth, with their formal or informal groups, such as have been active in recent mobilizations.

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@34  A participant-to-participant outreach campaign using social networks in the build-up to WSF Mexico would reach many youths and allow them to feel informed, and thus empowered, participants in WSF process.( FW1A  and  FW3  see  C7I0PC  paragraph10 about inclusion of youth) 

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So, from the perspective of this contribution, there is no “farewell” to express  about the WSF, @35 but rather an invitation to  “get back to work,” and to implement what can be realistically prepared and achieved, leaving the discussion about “what it could have been if…” for the end of the working day,  in a refreshed WSF facilitating community