• wsfic icfuturecontribution 12

last modified April 17, 2013 by facilitfsm

Additional notes to the text proposing the dissolution of the WSF IC




Chico Whitaker, 03.01.2013

The text on the IC future, in which I proposed its dissolution, was well received by many people, despite its radicalism, or perhaps for that very reason. Many considered that it opened new perspectives and that it would be good to deepen the discussion. But obviously some people were surprised or did not agree. And some raised many doubts and questions about its validity.

Everyone was worried about the character of such a "new movement", to which I assigned, in addition to the functions that it would have as movement, the replacement of the IC in a specific decision – the only one that it still had, in my opinion: to endorse the decision on where to hold each FSM.

So I was pushed to complete the proposal, to continue the discussion that it caused. That is what I intend to do with this text. What I propose is extremely simple, but it would require of course still much debate between those who think that we must open this new process, within the WSF process, but not mixing both up.

I'll consider at first what I've called New Movement and then its relations with the WSF process.

Important previous note: in our next meeting in Tunis, the IC could take only a preliminary decision about its dissolution, if it becomes consensual. This dissolution would not need, however, to be effective immediately. A final decision could be taken in a new IC meeting, in some place easily reachable as less expensively as possible, within six months, during which time the dissolution option would be better discussed. This would allow a wider participation of the IC members and their best information to take a so important decision. During those six months we could also deepen the discussion on possible changes in the IC, in case we have to prepare its continuity, as well as the structuring and functioning of the new movement that would replace the IC, in case we have to prepare this option. In this latter case, its launching would be made at this IC last session.

1. Concerning the new movement

The challenge that we would have to organize this new movement within the principles of horizontality, as a network, without leaders or spokespersons, is the same which are having the so-called new social movements (“indignados”, occupy) to continue the process they started. The solutions that they are finding could inspire us. But as I don’t know it, I can only present here some ideas that seem to me reasonable, according to the information and experience I have.

1.1. We would have to give to this new movement a name indicating its links with the WSF process and its objectives. In my proposal I gave an example: "Action for Another Possible World". To simplify, I will use this name in this text, abbreviating it to APW.

It would have to be launched with a Manifesto or a Charter of Principles, which would define it making clear its objectives and its mode of organization and work. A draft prepared by the participants of this initial discussion could be presented to the IC in its next meeting, so that its members interested in the creation of the APW could discuss it. I am not sure if this text would be submitted by the Working Group on the IC Future or by some of its participants.

This Manifesto or  Charter would not replace or question the WSF Charter of Principles. This Charter would continue to be the basic reference for the WSF process, whose vocation is to expand more and more through the realization of General or Thematic Social Forums, at the global, regional, national or local level.

1.2. The APW would not be composed of organizations, as the IC, but by individuals, linked or not to organizations, which would sign its Manifesto or Charter, considering themselves its participants (I am abandoning here the expression militant, that I used in my first text, but maybe we could find another better word to define the belonging to the APW). So, these participants would not "represent" groups or organizations nor would need to be "nominated" by the organizations to which they were attached, as it occurs today with the IC.

In the Manifesto or Charter it could therefore be said at its beginning that the APW do not intend to be the "movement of movements", but a new movement created to reinforce the struggle for "another possible world", acting in different sectors and situations where collective actions are needed to achieve this goal, and joining other movements, wherever possible and necessary, in specific struggles.

1.3. The AWP participants would be initially the current members of the WSF International Council that would have decided, as individuals, to create this new movement.

To make this proposal I am based on the finding, to which I have already referred in my previous text, that a great part of the current IC members constitutes in fact a great affinity group, linked by a friendship that was built over ten years, respecting one another in all their diversity, and wishing as a common desire the continuity of the WSF process, respecting its Charter of Principles: as the creation of spaces of exchange, articulation and construction of a new political culture, without "directions" nor spokespersons; and as a necessary tool to the advancement of  the struggle to  overcome neoliberalism, as it makes possible the horizontal union of organizations and movements of Civil Society who believe that "another world is possible".

These people have a long experience of overcoming the dynamics of struggles for power among them, and are therefore able to create a new type of movement, least weakened by the splitting that is frequent inside the left.

They would create on the Web as soon as possible a blog/site, which would link them to each other, and would allow their intercommunication to give continuity to the process.

1.4. To these initial participants would be added, gradually, people that constitute or constituted the Organization Committees of the national, regional, continental or World Social Forums, and even local ones, as well as people who have been IC members and left it because they were no longer the "representatives" of their organizations. In the period of six months until the next IC meeting we would seek to identify those people to invite them to participate of the APW, if we decide definitively to create it.

Entry into the APW, opened then to all interested people, would be made by a simple commitment to accept and respect the Manifesto or Charter, registered via the website.

1.5. The APW would be structured horizontally, without leaders or spokespersons, supported by free intercommunication between all its participants, through the website or directly, autonomously. It would function accordingly to the networks logics, where no one does things to obey orders or by uncritical discipline, but by conviction.

Also within this logic, nobody could speak on behalf of the network (of the APW, in this case) but only as its participant. And every one would maintain their autonomy for political actions, but in solidarity with the others.

In all its organisational levels the APW would adopt the principle of decision-making by consensus.

1.6. To increase the links between these participants, in the different countries, we could use the experience of the Group of Reflection and Support to the WSF process - GRAP, created in Brazil. This is a small Group of former members of the Organizing Committee of the first WSF, which can meet easily. Based on affinity criteria, respecting the diversity, this Group added later other people. Similar Groups could be created in other regions and countries (more than one per country or region), the autonomy of each group to take initiatives on their own behalf being ensured.

If it so decide, each GRAP could create its own support office, as its operative extension. The APW site  would be then fed and updated by these offices, in accordance with rules of co-responsibility.

Each GRAP would seek autonomously for its own resources, with various institutions and through the Internet, and administer it also autonomously to finance its support office and its own political activities.

1.7. Entry into the APW could be strengthened, by those participants wishing it, by a linkage with any existing GRAP, in their own country or in other countries or regions. Each GRAP would set its own operating rules and the way it would relate with those linked to it.

The GRAPs would create then, within the network of APW participants, a network of denser cores, with greater ability to discuss, develop and implement actions of different kinds. They would be integrated by a variable number of people, and would be linked horizontally to each other, and with other APW participants, through the site.

1.8. The GRAPs would keep the APW participants informed of their initiatives, through the site, to ensure the intercommunication between all, as well as to expand the linkages of other APW participants in their activities.

Linked or not to GRAPs, all APW participants could submit via the site, or directly to those to whom they were linked, proposals for local, national or global actions, to be joined by those interested in it, as well as propose objectives and general strategies for the entire movement. It was through voluntary support to a proposal of some organizations, presented at the first European Social Forum in 2002 and later in the World Social Forum in 2003, and diffused through networks all over the world, that we arrived to mobilize 15 million people in February 25, 2003 against the war and Iraq invasion...

1.9. The APW dialogue with Governments and Parties, to which I referred in my previous text, and which would be facilitated by the APW creation, would be an initiative of these GRAPs, which however would speak on their behalf and not of the APW as a whole. To conduct this dialogue the GRAPs themselves, as autonomous Groups, would designate those of their members that would represent them.

2. APW relations with the WSF process

2.1. The most significant APW relationship with the WSF process would be, as I have also indicated in my text, to take the responsibility of the only decision that today the IC is really taking: to endorse the decision on where to hold the World Social Forums.

The legitimacy of APW to assume this function results from the fact that its participants would be the same people who in fact are organizing these forums, and are those that build the necessary conditions for each new Forum to take place in different countries. Then, the only thing that would change would be who would give this endorsement.

Relying on the own APW website, such a decision could be built in a transparent manner, with all APW participants being informed of existing candidacies and arguments for this or that choice. We could  even consult the participants to know their feelings about the places proposed.

2.2. Other clear APW relationship with the WSF process would be obtained by the existence of the GRAPs described above, if it is considered that they can or should be created. Their name already indicates it clearly: to reflect and to support the WSF process.

The existence of the GRAPs perhaps would facilitate the creation, within the APW, of  a special Working Group, with people from different GRAPs and other participants, turned directly to the process expansion effort, fulfilling the function currently assigned to the IC Expansion Commission. Such a function to be assumed by the APW would have enough importance to be explicitly recorded in the Manifesto or Charter, as I pointed out in my first text.

2.3. In my previous text I proposed that the APW would realise two assemblies - which I would now call plenary sessions, to avoid confusions with the Forum’s “convergence assemblies” or other types of assemblies with different objectives taking place during the Forums. The first plenary session would take place before and the second one after each FSM.

In the first one it would be presented an analysis of the social, economic and political situation in the world, so that the APW participants could discuss and deepen their knowledge about what happens in the world, to use it in their decisions about what to do to change the world and to define the APW strategies.

In my previous text I have insisted that this plenary session do not merge with the World Social Forum, to avoid misunderstandings. Accordingly, it would take place before the traditional WSF opening “march”.  But I considered also that the WSF participants wishing to anticipate a day their presence on the Forum could follow the plenary session as observers. It would be a good way to interest them in participating of the APW.

At the end of this plenary session it would be presented - without discussion - the existing proposals on the next WSF, so that during the Forum the APW participants could complete their exchanges on this issue.

In the second plenary (held after the WSF and also open to WSF participants as observers) the decision on the next Forum would then be taken.

This plenary could serve also to discuss - and possibly take decisions – about proposals for the APW action that had previously circulated through the site, and that the APW participants could join or not.  It could still serve for decisions regarding organisational forms and instruments used by the APW. As in their other organisational bodies, such decisions would be taken by consensus.

To avoid mixing things, the APW plenary session after the Forum should also be realized clearly after the WSF closure session.

2.4. I resume here what I have suggested in my first text: the proposals that had been discussed during the Forum and taken to its "convergence assemblies“ would be assumed by organizations and movements having proposed them, and then the intercommunication "space" created by the WSF would end its role. There would therefore no need of an “Assembly of Assemblies”, as if it were possible, in the WSF, a single final convergence.

The actions that the APW would assume as a movement, in its plenary session after the WSF end, would be necessarily decisions that its participants had taken throughout the year, in their permanent intercommunication and not only during the WSF in which they would have participated. But these same participants could also, on their own initiative, gather proposals made in the WSF "assemblies of convergence”, to bring them to the APW plenary session. In my opinion the tensions that exist to make the WSF take decisions, at its end, as if it was a movement, would disappear.

2.5. Other relations of the APW with the WSF process would result from other functions that the APW could take on, through Working Groups focused on the different the IC Commission’s tasks, so far met or not.

Besides the case, already mentioned, of a Working Group to meet the current function of the IC Expansion Commission, another example might be the one of the IC Contents Committee, which never worked properly because it was absorbed by the Methodology Commission. A Working Group could identify proposals for action arising in the different Forums but not implemented, to transform them into actions to be considered by the APW participants.

Such would be also the case of the IC Strategies Commission. The APW could constitute a Working Group to prepare the analyses of situation to be discussed in the APW plenary session before the Forums, or proposals of action to be discussed at the second plenary session, along with other proposals that were made by the Working Group on Contents and by APW participants in general.


There are still many other possibilities to explore, within the above framework. They would better discussed, nevertheless, in the continuity of our exchanges. So, I stop by here. The objective of this text was only to detail a little more my initial proposal.

I wanted to examine also the issues raised by many of you, in the emails I received. But to do so I would have to extend much more this text. Maybe I can do it later. And some of these issues may already have been considered in this text.

Meu abraço, Chico Whitaker