• pfsm22 insumo28

last modified March 12 by facilitfsm


ENGLISH 
@ are not in the original text  just there to referentiate ideas in the text

To respond to the discussion in the International Facilitation Group on the Thematic and General Assemblies: On the question of assemblies and convergence in the WSF 2002 in Mexico
Meena

@1 The need for Thematic and General Assemblies is quite separate from the question of convergence of opinions and positions on the different thematics in the Forum space.

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@2 For both, however, preserving the space for all kinds of opinions, keeping them open and democratic for the diversity of the Forum process worldwide, is most important.

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Assemblies are needed, because the Forum is often so spread out (both physically and online) that people do not know who is attending. When thematic, regional and general spaces are created and facilitated @3 it becomes genuinely open and collective,

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and movements and networks in that space can be encouraged to help organize these [spaces] @4.

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There is absolutely nothing in the Charter which prohibits these facilitations.@5 

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Unless the International Facilitation Committee facilitates the creation of these Assembly spaces based on the various thematic Axes, it is impossible for the participants themselves to self-organize them.@6

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In fact the creation of Strategy spaces was a discussion in the Methodology group in the early 2000s. These kinds of Assembles @7 help exchange, debate, strategizing, flow of information, network building and therefore to move forward the work we are all doing.

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What should be changed in the Charter has to be another discussion.

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And of course the Charter should not be treated as a sacred document. But if we change the central idea of the Forum and still pretend to be facilitating the Forum, it would be dishonest.@8

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To do this in a small, completely unrepresentative non-diverse group without the representation of major sectoral networks and social movements from different parts of the world, is undemocratic @9.It needs a lot more discussion and not just in the current IC.

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 What is this central idea?@8 In my view the most central idea and the uniqueness of the World Social Forum is the concept of the Open Space. This is the idea around which people gathered in the past, and still gather, around the WSF.

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We are all of part of many networks which are based on common understanding on issues, ideologies, policies, etc.They are all much smaller than the Forum. The Forum is much larger, it is global and it is very very diverse, @9 often including organisations and positions which are diametrically opposed while agreeing on the broader thematics of neo-liberal globalisation, war, capitalism, race and caste, patriarchy, ecology and environment.

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There is no pressure to agree.@10 No danger that the organisations will be forced to discuss issues they do not want to discuss.

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Senior members of the IC think (logically of course) that participating organisations can be ‘persuaded’ to converge, by starting with very broad positioning and then tighten the screws in subsequent statements and we can come to convergence?@11

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Please think again, please take a look around. Social movements, political groups, sectoral networks, Govt supported NGOs, faith based groups, atheist groups, all kinds of organisations inhabit the Social Forum space. I can off hand think of at least a dozen issues where in the course of drafting a statements, groups will clash, often aggressively.@12 Consider discussions on the Hijab, on the intervention in Mali, on Hong Kong protests, Afghanistan and the Taliban, Kashmir, the South China sea, ecology vs modernity, to name a few.

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We might try to avoid these issues by issuing bland statements. But you may not be allowed to. When you are heckled and shouted down for trying to defend ‘oppressors’ you will be forced to issue stronger statements and the minority group has to leave the Forum.

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How does this help? You will keep on filtering until you have a bunch of people who all agree with each other? @13 And then what will be its strength, its relevance?

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There are networks like the Progressive International for those who wish to issue statements.@14 I wonder what their experience has been? The experience of the Peoples Assemblies in the Caracas project led by MST?@15

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Convergence has to be a process in a divergent and diverse space like the Forum.@16

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The moment we insist on everyone agreeing in the Assemblies, the cracks will show, and in time the Forum will be more about exclusions than inclusion.@17

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My concept of the Assemblies,@18 therefore, would be to celebrate diversity, to listen to each other, to learn, talk, disagree, or agree. This is what is missing amongst the progressive movements and left intellectuals anyway. Let listening, learning and discovery be the central theme of the Assemblies.@19

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This is what is needed just now. Movements don’t need a bunch of ‘seniors’ like most of us are, to tell them what to think.@19B

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Younger activists are saying: “If you knew so much what change have you brought about until now. So let us think and act now. Talk to us. But give us space.” Let us work with them, respect their right to explore. Let them own the Forum.@20

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Right now, we need the open space,  more than before.@21 The new world in which most challenges are being faced at the national level, solidarity, learning from each other’s experiences, is the need of the hour. The WSF can provide this.

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Let us not lose the essence of the Forum by making it another fractured platform, or worse, a club.@22 

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