• wsfic icfuturecontribution 18

Wiki modificadas recientemente April 17, 2013 por facilitfsm

The objective and the organisation of the WSF (notes)

[for the agenda of the IC, see esp. point 4 below]


"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." [Chico, in Contribution 13]

How to develop good ideas with the whole group? How to create and increase the collective intelligence? Only if we can positively answer these questions will we be able to reach our goal.

But what is it that we want to achieve? As Francine wrote [in Contribution 11]: "I think this is the greatest deficit of our 'IC' and WSF: what is our objective?"

A problem: the way we have been separating "the subject of the transformative action" [Chico in Contribution 1] from its objective. If the Social Forum is to have a future , or even to continue for the time being, it ought to be seen as an objective in itself. Our present view that "in all this the WSF is only an instrument" has to go.

Take, for instance, the commonly agreed view that we need to create a new political culture. Can a group of people create a new culture, if it is not itself the bearer of that culture? No, because 'a culture' must be embodied in some people. More precisely, in ourselves.

Next, consider the sometimes heard  proposal, that we need to envision the WSF as  "a People's University". [The sociologist Boaventura dos Santos said so in his lecture at the WSF in Dakar.] This proposal is good, because the Social Forum must be able to accumulate and transmit its experiences and knowledges. Particularly interesting, in this proposal, is 'university'. Why? Because the university is rooted in the long history. It stands out as something that is more than a means or an instrument -- as compared to more provisional institutions like state governments, political parties and social movements, which ought not to be considered ends in themselves.

Yet even more is needed than a new University of the Peoples.


The "open space" of the Social Forum has always looked like an idea whose time has come, and has come to stay. There is a deep similarity and a parallellism between the Social Forum and the internet. For these new institutions to be "open spaces" is not only an ideal; it is an embedded necessity.

The original model of such institutions is the library, our collective external memory. Tyrants and ruling classes have, of course,  misused the library. They have used it as just another instrument to achieve their particular ends. But in the end the cosmopolitan library always seems to win over its imperialistic usurpators. This is probably because the library, too, is an open space and "a growing organism", as an Indian library scientist has said. The library is now rapidly extending itself into the global digital network, the internet. In the end, our library and our internet will become one and the same.

In Dakar, Boaventura dos Santos also suggested that WikiLeaks ought to inform, first of all, the Social Forum (instead of giving their materials first to the big news media; see http://www.wsflibrary.org/index.php/Communication_in_the_time_of_Wikileaks). This would not be a bad idea, provided that the Social Forum would be better organised -- and more institutionalised, like a library.


One of the merits of Geoffrey Pleyers [in "Alter-Globalization", his book about the WSF] is to make clear that we must combine "the subjective way" and "the rational way", that both are equally needed, and that we need to discuss the future of the WSF along that line.

The International Council should be dissolved [Chico, in Contribution 10], but what should come in its stead? The librarians, I would say, because they are the kind of "facilitators" [a word we all seem to like and frequently use] we need. The essence of the librarian is to be a facilitator. The goal of the library is to facilitate, to make life easier by keeping things in their places.  The objective of the Social Forum should be the same.

The librarians really ought to take care of the internet governance, too. ["Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of flesh and steel, I come from Cyberspace, the new home of Mind. On behalf of the future, I ask you of the past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather" -- John Perry Barlow, in https://projects.eff.org/~barlow/Declaration-Final.html]


Before dissolving itself, the IC needs to decide on "the rational way". Dare to give the "subjective way", which characterises the hundreds and thousands of self-organised activities of the Social Forum, a common, rational, base! This would consist in a more or less permanent catalog of what the IC itself  has named "the actionable themes", such as water, food, health, education and peace. Plan to abdicate your power and your central control forever to the Social Forum as a library!

A library is an organised and civilised thing, and it needs a staff, the librarians. But the librarians ought to have more power. To create a new political culture, a cyberculture, which is not dominated by the imperialists, we have to link the Social Forum permanently to the libraries and the librarians.

Obviously, our objective is to lay the basis of global democracy and cybergovernment. Therefore, let the library become really powerful so that it can check and balance those other powers: the state governments, the political parties, and the social movements. Let it become "The Second Superpower", and the missing fourth in the traditional Montesquieuan triad of the branches of the state power.   [You may read more in my book "Biblioteksaktivisten - essäer om makt och bibliotek i informationssamhället, Artemisia edizioni 2013; since last autumn it is available as an ebook in Swedish via http://www.kaapeli.fi/book , and an edition in English is forthcoming.]

Mikael Böök