• wsfic icfuturecontribution 13

last modified April 17, 2013 by facilitfsm

More notes about my proposal on the WSF IC

Chico Whitaker, 15/01/2013

I explain here a little more my proposal, considering Francine and Gina comments, especially in what concerns the GRAPs. Many things I say below are known by everybody, but they are necessary to structure my reasoning. I hope my English is not incomprehensible. Chico Whitaker

1.       When I said we would have to overcome the EITHER and OR possibility (space or movement) in the WSF process, and begin to use the AND and AND possibililty (space and movement), it was not because the WSF would have to become a space and a movement: we should have the WSF as space and a new movement (the APW – Another Possible World) as movement, in parallel, without mixing both. We should nevertheless link them, transferring to the APW some WSF International Council present functions, as I have indicated already (as the WSF IC and its Commissions would disappear). But, beyond these functions, the APW, being a movement, would act as a movement, autonomously, in order to realize our objectives of overcoming neoliberalism.


2.       I have proposed that the APW would not be formed by organisations or movements, as it happens now with the IC, but by individuals – members or not of organisations or movements - linked to each other as a network, with a continuous horizontal intercommunication through the APW site or directly. To form the APW with individuals is an option based on the fact that organizations and movements tend to bureaucratize their commitments. As organisation or movement they decide (democratically or not...) if they agree with a proposal of action. Then their members can do what they have to do if they are disciplined and obey collective decisions or orders from above. While individuals, when they agree with a proposal, engage themselves in the action by conviction.


3.       Organisations and movements are evidently important, sometimes essential, in social struggles. The question would be how to make organisations and movements engage themselves in struggles proposed or promoted by the APW. One of the roles of the individuals participating of the APW would be then to obtain the engagement of the organisations or movements to which they are possibly linked.


4.       Any and every APW participant could make proposals for APW actions or share their reflections with others, using the site or directly. Good proposals and reflections would be well received and accepted, and could be implemented, as well as not so good proposals and reflections, would be forgotten.


5.      When we think and propose things alone, we run the risk of not seeing everything and make errors, and present bad proposals or reflections that nobody will accept. We all know it. It is always better to discuss with at least somebody more. It is evidently still better if we discuss the proposal with more people. We will do fewer mistakes and perhaps develop with all the group (collective intelligence) very good ideas. This was the process that led to the creation of our GRAP in Brazil. And it could be lived by many individual APW participants, creating, naturally, different types of groups, with different objectives and types of action (see point 10).


6.       The same can be said in relation with the actions. Naturally I can always act as an individual. For instance in my daily behaviour as consumer. But if I have good ideas on how to make more people aware of our complicity with the system if we accept the consumerist behaviour, and if I discuss it with others and plan collective actions, the results will be better. I am not sure if our friend who climbed up the top of the Stock Exchange Building in Brussels sometime ago was an individual deciding alone to do it. It was a very good idea, to denounce what happens in our “Wall Streets”. Perhaps he would not do it if he had discussed it before with others. But perhaps also many others would do the same in many countries, in the same day, for instance, if his idea was discussed with others and proposed in a network. As it happens today with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and with all the “Occupy” initiatives that exist today in United States, inspired in the first one.


7.       A network, as we know, is like a tissue. Each member of the network is a knot, linked to all others by intercommunication threads. A tissue is stronger if there are many threads linking the knots. And it is still stronger if the knots, in a network of people, are not individuals but groups. Or, saying it differently, the network is stronger if it links rather groups than individuals. That is the sense of the word “dense” when I used it presenting the GRAPs in my second text.


8.       In a network all types of groups can be created through the initiative of individuals wishing to be not alone, to interchange horizontally with other participants. The APW network will be stronger and stronger with the multiplication of such groups, with the heterogeneity that is typical in civil society.


9.       The APW would be a stronger (denser) tissue with big and strong knots, each one accomplishing its role in the collective reflexion and action. And its action could also be stronger if resulting from the action of groups and not only of individuals. The horizontality would be ensured by the non existence of knots more important than others, or knots pretending to direct the reflection and the action of others.


10.   The APW participants could then be gathered in many types of Groups (see point 5). The GRAPs would be one type of these groups. They would be autonomous groups of individuals, with particular characteristics and objectives (see point 16).


11.   As any Group could not have more importance than the others, the GRAPs would not have a special power inside the network. Nor they could constitute, as a whole, a hidden structure behind the network, with the pretention of directing it. So, in what concerns the presentation of proposals (see point 4), for instance, nobody would need to be a GRAP member to do it (nor of any other group), as well as proposals and reflections would not need also to wait for the GRAPs decisions to be considered or not.


12.   To make still more clear the GRAPs position inside the APW, the APW plenary at the occasion of World Social Forums would be not a plenary of GRAPs members but of all APW participants. The consensus to be reached in these plenary, about for instance the country to be chosen for the following WSF, will consider the opinion of all, members or not of GRAPs.


13.   Enlarging the question, every APW participant, as every Group existing inside it, including the GRAPs, could make proposals concerning actions to be realized by the APW. But some  Groups could be created turned specifically to the APW action, gathering participants wishing to think and exchange about the different possibilities of APW action, their methods, objectives and occasions to be launched. To arrive to APW decisions about any of their proposals, such Groups would have to present it to all through the site. So, they would not have also a special power inside the network.


14.   The same could be said about the Working Groups, that would be created to take on the responsibility of some of the present WSF IC functions (expansion, methodology, communication, strategies, content), as I have indicated in my previous text. GRAPs members would be specially welcome in these Working Groups because of the interest of the participants they gather (see point 16), but they would be opened to all other APW participants wishing to work with this objective. And these Groups would not be more important than others.


15.   In my previous texts I said that the GRAPs could also lead dialogues with Governments and Parties, not on behalf of the APW but on their own name. The reasoning I have developed in this text leads me to say that any APW group could do it, but always, evidently, on its own name, as an APW group of participants, without compromising the APW as a whole. The results of such dialogues could then become proposals to be presented to all APW, who would take its decisions by consensus.   


16.   Nevertheless, concluding my reasoning, the GRAPs could play an organic role inside the APW, among the various groups that could exist in the APW: 1) they should gather participants especially preoccupied with the continuity and expansion of the WSF process, as a continuous creation of more and more “open spaces” at all levels and all over the world, following the WSF Charter of Principles (that defines the WSF process objectives). As their name indicates, the objective of the GRAPs should be to ensure the “reflection and supporting” of the WSF process. 2) they should reinforce the respect of diversity as one of the characteristics of the WSF, as they are Groups based on affinity criteria and with participants coming from different types of engagements and sectors of the civil society. In this aspect they would be different of other groups in the APW network, which could exist also based on affinity criteria but with people having the same political vision or working in the same sector of the reality. 3) the APW Manifesto or Charter of Principles could “authorize” the GRAPS to create support offices, autonomously, and obtain funds for the functioning of their own support offices, which serve nevertheless the whole APW. This would make possible to decentralise in an organized way the APW site feeding, through the support offices. The GRAPs would in fact be charged of the functioning of the site, as the intercommunication tool of all APW participants.


17.   The existence of GRAPs could also facilitate a decentralisation of the initiatives to obtain funds even for APW actions, as they would do it to finance their support offices. In this case, the GRAPs would commit themselves to maintain all APW participants transparently informed of the funds obtained and their using.


18.   The existence of GRAPs would also help isolated APW participant, which would want to contribute for the WSF expansion and deepening, to be more organically present in the APW: they could link themselves to any GRAP (following their own choice, in their own countries or in other countries).


19.   The creation of GRAPs, even if very useful, does not need to be pushed. We could create the APW only with “participants”, united or not in different types of groups. It could function a certain time even without groups or other GRAPs in addition to the one that already exists. These other GRAPs would be created where and when they become possible and necessary, as it will happen with other types of groups. As soon as created, they would link to each other following the needs and possibilities.


20.   A last word about consensus decision making. I consider that this is one of the richest experiences of the WSF process. Firstly because it avoids the using of traditional antidemocratic methods to win when voting in assemblies: bring followers of our positions to fill the room. Secondly because we learn to hear, as we are obliged to hear what our opponent says and try to understand his truth, to see if it can be combined with our truth, as we will not vote but have to build a decision acceptable for all. This requires time, but the consensual decision can be more rapidly obtained if those who are facilitating the discussion try to identify as soon as possible the decision that seems to become consensual. Then they ask who considers absolutely inacceptable such decision. If some think so (and even if only one thinks so) the discussion must continue, till arriving to a proposal of decision that could be accepted by all, even if everybody is not completely satisfied. This process puts as main condition to take decisions the possibility of maintaining unity, avoiding the moving away of minorities defeated in the voting, as in the usual splitting of the left. Consensual decision taking is not to obtain unanimity but build the conditions to continue together. 



CW 16.01.2013.