World Social Forum: Another lie is possible

Wednesday 24 April 2013

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Source: Nawat.

Date: 24 April 2013.

Keywords: World Social Forum, capitalism, Popular rebellion, Social movements.

"It is possible to deceive part of the people for a giving time, but no one can deceive all the people all the time". Bob Marley.

The Tunician edition of the World Social Forum concluded last March 30. It was a unique experience for the associations, organizations, and citizens from all over the world who had the purpose of meeting and establishing required networks to attain a feedback process on their own commitments. In this text, I cover the whole present situation existing in Tunisia and the holding of the World Social Forum in Tunisia.

There is no doubt that militants and people from all over the world came to Tunisia to “try to obtain an idea on the “revolution” in Tunisia and its consequences. It is not sure that most of the people who attended that meeting were able to get in contact with front line actors in the revolution, especially Tunisians from poor and marginal neighborhoods in the capital, or with those living in remote areas, who actively participated on the popular upheavals.

The exclusion of grass-root social movements and those marginalized, it has always been a recurrent issue at world social forum and the WSF 2013 was no exception whatsoever. Although it is quite evident that participation at the Tunisian Forum was massive, a large majority of Tunisians were not able to participate, and much less propose some kind of activity; a sort of an irony given the historical juncture that should have attached priority to the Exchange of knowledge and of practices with those who implemented popular rebellions.

Instead we noticed a boom of thousands of associations and non-governmental organizations, who, in its vast majority, came to present activities done in well defined sectors and who were not able to get out of their specific field of action, quite often based on the failures of the capitalist system (human rights, development, education, debt, migration, etc.). If the relevance and efficiency of these non-governmental organizations are debatable, the impossibility of overcoming this sector approach and of waging a battle for the non-well defined concept of “social justice” states a lot of problems.

For a better understanding of this situation, the initial and fundamental reflection signals to the existing difference among local non-governmental organizations and the international ones and social movements in revolutionary process. The first group is called to reform, form, improve, represent, democratize, finance, etc. While the second is suppose to face, claim, appropriate, revolutionize, impact, fight, block economy, etc. The theme is not limited to capitalism and globalization, but also to relations with the State.

History reminds us, with bitterness, the fact that January 14, 2011 marked the beginning of the “democratic transition”; Ben Ali went away, but his system stayed: the police system, all the ministries, the hidden ruling elites, etc. Soon a democratic transition agenda was imposed on the revolutionary process, which created a strong popular questioning process (Kasbah) that just fade away in a few months.

Of course, a lot of Tunisians wanted to continue and confront the Tunisian state who turned out to be the new monster: the repressive system, the endemic corruption, the economic imperialism, the underdevelopment policies, etc., all these was the object of a debate, an analysis, was questioned everywhere and by all Tunisians, and this took place after the “revolution”.

One should agree that during the holding of the World Social Forum, the Tunisian state was present, represented by its ministries. Some realized that the tourist sector was reinvented after the creation of a new type of tourism: the militant tourism, perfect product to launch once again a “low cost” tourism favoring the elites and exporter of a new image of a peaceful and welcoming Tunisia for foreign investors, given to the fact that the revolution is over, right? The Tunisia of Jasmine, does it have a meaning to you?

The massive presence of state ministries made us figure we were living for a week in “Disney Land” away from poverty, from the marginal, from violence, etc. A taxi driver told me that the week in which the World Social Forum took place reminded him the time of Ben Ali when tourism was doing fine. But when the police almost arrested him that very night, he stated that the police presence during the holding of the World Social Forum also reminded him of the time under Ben Ali… No comments… Another friend told me that the massive presence of the law and order and of the security forces at a “social” forum was an affront and brought back in the memory of those who suffered, as victims, the repression of the law and order forces “the trauma suffered during the revolution and afterwards…

To many, the democratization process which took place after January 14, 2011 was counterrevolutionary. We could say the same regarding the World Social Forum 2013 held in Tunisia related to the “civil society”. If at the World Social Forum there was a massive presence of non-governmental organizations, both local and international, this is an expression that the grass-root social movements missed a historical opportunity to know each others, to unite and to identify the common enemy: capitalism (and not neo-liberalism), the impotent State, as well as economic, cultural colonization and that of the imaginary and that of the compressing roller of modernity and progress “Made in the West” . The non-governmentalization process of “the civil society” is a phase of the phenomenon of “the civil society”, since the non-governmental organizations might be seen as emissaries of Capital and of the State, while the social movements have, by force, to confront both the Capital and the State.

We are able to see how a design is made of a colonization process based in a given model of “civil society” Western style, which institutionalize the struggles, that intends to “represent them”, that monopolizes the Word and the presence in the media and above all that preserve an agenda providing a response to the needs of international lenders, taking away the responsibility from the local “civil society” when confronted to its priorities and options to implement imposed policies. It is then a political economy of the social struggles that should be destroyed, since this non-governmentalization process will be intensified in the future and will be, especially, a hurdle for the self-determination of the peoples.

Colonization is even found in the conceptual and historical basis invoking humanism, universalism, laicism, determinism, racism, sciences and essential rationalism of the European modernity. In general terms, this is equal to the reinforcement of the idea that it is the West the one having the monopoly of modernity, although several type of modernity might exist, scatter in time and in the space of different civilizations. Regarding the Tunisian case, the way in which to see and analyze politics should not be based in the reality of whether the Arab-Muslim modernity is not assumed in all its diversity and historic and ontological complexity. This other modernity will make possible the search for other alternatives in the understanding of capitalism and of its crumbling down process.

The specificity of the World Social Forum 2013 is given by its venue, a country under a revolutionary process; the opportunity was missed of stating concrete actions facing urgent problems and all this with the aim of finishing the speeches and workshops of the World Social Forum. We had the issue of the refugees of Choucha, the recent loan from the International Monetary Fund, the issue of the impunity of the police forces, and other issues. This was a unique opportunity to use the dreams we have had to support struggling social movements, but nothing happened.

Now then, after all deciding where this forum was revolutionary or reformist seem rather futile. Allow me to present a concrete proposal: annul the Porto Alegre Charter of the World Social Forum and give it a new name: Forum of the Professionals from the Social Sector, Forum of the Non-Governmental Organizations and of the State. Forum of the Host State (add your proposal to this collaborative page, do not hesitate and give us your contribution:

By doing this we will be able to stop the creation of new frustrations on each edition of the forum and leave a space to a new imaginary allowing us to really reinforce grass-root social movements and seriously undertake a revolutionary project, a project already initiated in Tunisia in 2011.

The main polluting automobile, created with old technologies, pseudo-scientific, voluminous and expensive, telling everybody with a loud voice it is a bicycle, will once again take its real name of automobile. This will allow those needing to produce light, efficient bicycles to transport people to the area in which to fight against capitalism with simple, local, based in the reality means, instead of using the methods of present lords of the world, as in the Davos Summit when a limited group of white men decide the future of humanity in a militarize space, where everything was used to attain that his will be minimally ‘democratic”. The World Social Forum is using the Davos method… A word to the wise is sufficient …

A starting point will be for example, in Tunisia the base communities are in general terms citizens sitting at a café, in the public bathrooms, at the Mosque, in the bar at the football stadium, in the neighborhood, the family (the small and the extended one), etc. So many places ignored by the engineers and managers of the “social transformations”. The destructive obsession of establishing a difference between the state and the private is only good in preserving the colonization schemes…

The lie of the Tunisian revolution leads us to a new one, which of the World Social Forum, reminding the Tunisian people and all peoples engaged in the struggle that, another lie is possible.

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