Wednesday, October 03, 2007

International Newsletter on Sustainable Local Development
Newsletter #42
October 1st, 2007


Message from the Editorial Team

Social Forums and the construction of another globalisation
An outline of the debates

4th International Forum on the Globalisation of Solidarity
Taking up the challenges


Message from the Editorial Team

With this issue, we wish to share with you, even briefly, a debate in progress in relation to the World Social Forums. Yvon Poirier felt the relevance in keeping our readers apprised of these discussions, having taken part in the Social Forum of Quebec, last August. At the time of the meeting in Montreal, with more than 5,000 participants, many people were asking the very same questions!

In addition, Martine Théveniaut, member of the European Steering Committee of the 4th International Forum on the Globalisation of Solidarity will share the ambition of the forum and the host organization, the European Institute for Solidarity based Economy of Luxembourg.

Lastly, we are very happy to announce an invaluable collaboration: the Web site Dialogues, proposals, stories for a global citizenship is a data bank of more than 7,000 files/articles dedicated to the construction of a responsible world of solidarities. Thus, the DPH site, which is in four languages like our newsletter, has reproduced ten of our articles from the newsletters of the past three years and has converted them into files. We are happy to take part in this sharing of knowledge towards the construction of this responsible world of solidarities to which we mutually aspire.

Editorial Team
Francisco Botelho
Yvon Poirier
Martine Théveniaut

Social Forums and the construction of another globalisation
An outline of the debates

Since the advent of Social Forums in 2001, an important debate has developed throughout the alternate globalisation movement regarding strategies to be put into place, on approaches and processes, in order to build this new globalisation. The meetings at the Social Forums include more and more movements and participants in this space of open meetings. However, some question the relevance of the Forums because they find that the meetings do not give sufficient concrete results. Others go even as far as questioning the Forums themselves, and to wonder whether it is relevant to participate in them.

Patrick Bond from the Centre for Civil Society, South Africa summed up the four positions in a message posted May 9th, 2007 on WSFDiscuss List.

There is the "top-down" approach. The Bamako Appeal of 2006 prepared by a group of intellectuals, identified as anti or alternate globalisation leaders launched an explicitly political program as an alternative to neo-liberal globalisation.

Others critically dissected reasons not to adopt a political program, drawing upon the autonomist critique of 20th century universalist ideologies.

Another current recommends a resolutely socialist strategy in the direction of nationalization of the services and a major role for the state in the various spheres of the society.

Lastly, the foundational critiques of capitalist neo-liberalism are already located in the struggles and documents of globally connected activists. In past decades, "internationals" were forged from labour, socialist, women, youth, anti-racism/colonialism, anti-war, environment, etc. Patrick Bond shares this position.

According to him, future international initiatives will more tightly link organizations devoted to minority rights, civil rights, democracy, indigenous people, cultural freedom, human rights, sexual identity, disability rights, and elder and youth rights, just to name a few.

Through Social Forums and other ways, we must develop more coherence not only for networking among these movements, but also in finding sites of interlock where political programs can be drawn on for the sake of a larger – and firmly grounded – manifesto that would inspire a new generation of coordinated global/national/local activism. The example of the anti-war demonstrations in the first months of 2003 is an example of the potential of such a movement. Space to develop these exchanges and coordination is found in the Social Forums. If it is not done there, it will not be done elsewhere.

More recently, at the Social Forum of Quebec, Chico Whitaker, one of the cofounders of the World Social Forum, expressed in another way the idea that the construction of another globalisation cannot be built from the top.
Last August 25th, in an interview with Radio-Canada, he added that another logic must necessarily be developed. It is not by creating a movement with a new leader that one will manage to change the neo-liberal logic of competitiveness and rivalry. But to the contrary, it is by solidarity and co-operation that one will reach this goal. Not otherwise.

According to him, the great changes did not come from the top. The major changes come from inside societies, through cultural and behavioural changes, in the way of seeing the world. It is by developing the consciences of active citizens that we will gradually change the dominating system. It is through networks that these active citizens in social movements will manage to modify the system. Mr. Whitaker gave another example of such a fight. In 1998, in fact it was the social movements which blocked the Multilateral Agreement on Investments (MAI).

Chico Whitaker remains resolutely optimistic since everywhere on planet, organized citizens fight to defend their rights and those of others. It is through this process that will be built progressively, a world which will meet the aspirations of people and which will be liveable for all.

Author : Yvon Poirier

Patrick Bond is director of the Centre for Civil Society, South Africa. (English only)
Archives of wsfdiscuss list (English only)

Chico Whitaker published a book entitled Changing the world, new user’s guide. It initially appeared in Brazil in 2005. Thereafter, a Spanish translation was published and more recently a French version.
Interview with Radio-Canada (in French)

The European Institute for Solidarity based Economy (INEES) takes up the challenge of organizing the 4th Forum on the “Globalisation of Solidarity”

Created in 1998, INEES brings together researchers and experts from Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland. It has committed to carry forward the preparation of this 4th edition of meetings of RIPESS, from April 26th to May 2nd, 2009 in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. By undertaking the organization of this event, its ambition is that Forum LUX' 09 will affirm high and strong that there is a third way. Yes, another economy exists between neo-liberalism and managed economy. This alternative economic model is also a philosophy of action that places “respect for men, women and the environment” at the forefront. It does not represent a demand to take the place of those who are already in a position of power; rather it is a new vision of society and social relations between men and women. It returns money to its rightful place, namely as an instrument that facilitates exchanges, rather than an instrument of financial speculation that may be a destructive force from a social and environmental point of view. The simplest ideas often being the best, this basis is also a philosophy of life. (INEES - Newsletter #10, October 2007 – to be published)

At this point, it is time to leave the fringes of the systems in place and to install a dialogue with the decision makers on this basis.

The innovations of the social solidarity economy do more than attest; they precede this other possible world. They show the merits of this way of proceeding to produce and guarantee the common good. They have become credible through the strength of the economic alternatives to which they gave birth and the sheer number of people who apply these practices, particularly since this number is constantly increasing. In terms of activities, they introduce an innovative approach to the production of goods and services, particularly in areas that have been abandoned by the State or the market; in its capacity to bring about a “hybridisation of market sector, non-market sector and non-monetary resources.” They involve users in the construction of responses that are tailored to meet with their needs and aspirations. They refuse to accept exclusion as the price to be paid for economic globalisation. For those who have been cast aside by a highly selective labour market, they open up new prospects for professional and personal fulfilment. They pioneer and experiment with new forms of exchanges, so as to emerge from the impasses that weigh so heavily on the lives of populations as a result of the constant efforts made to increase production and the overexploitation of natural resources.
A European Steering Committee was set up, on the initiative of the INEES, led by Eric Lavillunière.

The process of construction is truly participative and asks the networks to be involved, to make proposals and to lead discussion. Banished from our vocabulary are terms such as “there is only”, “we must” and “it would be good if,” to replace them with acts of commitment and responsibility, along with simple and clear rules such as gender equality and North/South equality… and a way of doing things which is open and collegial. “The real stars of this event will be the participants, whilst those involved in the organisation will be facilitators who will strive to guarantee the values and coherence of the overall approach.”

The work program, the sets of themes and the means and ways have just been put into place, in a process of discussions and feedback between the European Steering Committee and RIPESS. This information will be presented to you in a forthcoming newsletter, to allow our readers to determine how they may bring their share of success to this European stage for a globalisation with a human face.

For further information: European Institute for Solidarity based Economy,a.s.b.l.
1, rue du Moulin, L-3857 Schifflange, Luxembourg
Tel.: (+352) 53 04 45 0 ; Fax: (+352) 53 04 45 510
E-mail: Internet:

Martine Theveniaut : Lux’09 European Steering Committee on behalf of « Pactes Locaux » networks in France and the European network EURONETZ

Our Newsletters are available on the WEB:

Special thanks to:
Évéline Poirier from Canada for the English translation
Brunilda Rafael from France for the Spanish translation
Michel Colin from Brazil for the Portuguese translation

To contact us (for information, feedback, to subscribe or unsubscribe):
Yvon Poirier

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