World Social Forum : another lie is possible

gafla collectiv 05.05.2013 22:42 Themen: Globalisierung Soziale Kämpfe Weltweit
“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Bob Marley

The Tunisian edition of the WSF has just ended in March 30th. It was a unique experience for associations, organizations and citizens around the world to meet and establish networks that will be relevant in their respective struggles. In this text, I am interested in the link between the current situation in Tunisia and the WSF held in Tunis.
“You can fool some people sometimes, but you can’t fool all the people all the time.”

Bob Marley

The Tunisian edition of the WSF has just ended in March 30th. It was a unique experience for associations, organizations and citizens around the world to meet and establish networks that will be relevant in their respective struggles. In this text, I am interested in the link between the current situation in Tunisia and the WSF held in Tunis.

Undoubtedly, people and activists around the world have come to Tunis to try to get an idea of ​​the ‘revolution’ in Tunisia and its aftermath. It is not certain that the majority of them were able to get in touch with the actors from the front lines of the revolution, including the Tunisian from Tunis popular neighborhoods and those in remote areas.

The exclusion of those at the margin and grassroots social movements has always been a recurring theme in the World Social Forum and the World Social Forum 2013 was not an exception. Even though the participation in the forum Tunis was massive; a large majority of Tunisians were unable to participate, and even less to propose activities, which is ironic because the historical situation of the moment should encourage the exchange of knowledge and best practices from those who led the popular uprisings. Instead, we saw a surge of thousands of associations and NGOs, most of them came to expose their activities in their area well defined, unable to leave their specific field of activity which is often dictated by the vulnerabilities of the capitalism(human rights, women’s rights, development, education, debt, migration, etc.). If the relevance and effectiveness of these NGOs is questionable, their inability to overcome this sectoral approach to fight for the blurry concept of ‘social justice’, poses more problems.

To understand this situation, lines of thought are found mainly in the gap between local and international NGOs and those social movements which are ongoing a revolutionary process. For the first group, it is about to reform, regulate, improve, represent, democratize, finance, etc.. As for the second, it is rather to confront, claim, appropriate, revolutionize, spread scandals, fight, fight, block the economy, etc.. It is not only about capitalism and globalization, but also about the state.

As history reminds us, with bitterness, January 14, 2011 marked the beginning of the ‘democratic transition’ as soon as Ben Ali was gone, but the system is still in place: the police system, the various ministries, hidden holders of power, etc.. Very quickly, an agenda of democratic transition was imposed upon the revolutionary processes, creating a popular major mouvement (Kasbah), which faded after a few months.

Clearly, many Tunisians wanted to continue to fight the monster that became the Tunisian state: the system of repression, endemic corruption, economical imperialism, underdevelopment policies, etc.. were discussed, analyzed and deconstructed by all Tunisians in the streets and elsewhere, and this was just after the ‘revolution’.

It is clear that during the WSF, the Tunisian government has been present through its various departments. Some have seen that the tourism sector reinvented itself by creating a new type of tourism: activism tourism, perfect for a low cost product to boost the tourism industry, benefiting elites and exporting an image of a peaceful Tunisia and ready for foreign investors because revolution is over, is it not? Tunisia of Jasmine, does it remind you of anything?

The massive presence of the ministries of the state created a week of a ‘Disney Land’, away from poverty, marginalized, violence, etc.. A taxi driver told me that the week of FSM reminded him of the time of Ben Ali when tourism was running well. But when he would be almost arrested by the police that night, he recalled that the police presence at the WSF also reminded him of the time Ben Ali … No comment … Another friend told me that the massive presence of security security forces in a ‘social’ forum is an affront and reopens trauma to those who have been victims of repression by the ‘forces de l’ordre’ during the revolution and after …

For many, the process of democratization post-January 14, 2011 was counter-revolutionary. One could say the same about the WSF 2013 in Tunis in regard to ‘civil society’. If the WSF was populated by local and international NGOs, it also means that grassroots social movements have lost a historic opportunity to get to know, to unite and recognize their common enemy: capitalism (and not only neoliberalism), the decadent state, the economical and cultural colonization, the colonisation of the imaginary as well as the brutality of modernity and progress made in West. The ‘NGOisiation’ of ‘civil society’ cannot be separated from of the phenomenon of ‘civil society’, because NGOs can be seen as emissaries of the State AND the Capital. While, social movements need to confront and the Capital AND the State.

One can see is a scheme of colonization based on a western model of ‘civil society’ aiming at institutionalizing struggles, claiming to ‘represent’ the marginalized, keep of the monopoly of media coverage and especially following a schedule consistent with needs of international donors, resulting in the disempowerment of the local ‘civil society’, keeping it away from its priorities and obliged to follow policies imposed upon. It is a political economy of social struggles that it is essential to deconstruct, as this ‘NGOisation’ will intensify in the future and above all, is a brake to self-determination of people.

Colonization of the ‘civil society’ is found even in the conceptual and historical foundations that claim humanism, universalism, secularism, determinism, anti-racism, science and rationalism, all of these concepts are linked to western modernity. This usually reinforces the idea that the West has the monopoly of modernity. In reality, there are different modernities, scattered in time and spaces of different civilizations. In the case of Tunisia, how to see and think politics cannot be grounded in reality if the Arab-Muslim modernity is not taken into account in all its diversity and historical and ontological complexity. This new modernity will help finding alternatives in the understanding of capitalism and its deconstruction.

The specificity of the WSF 2013 is that it was held in a country in the revolutionary process, and it was a missed opportunity to take concrete actions to deal with urgent issues to complement the numerous speeches and workshops WSF. There is the issue of refugees in Choucha, the recent IMF loan, the record of impunity for police, etc.. It was a great opportunity to support social movements fighting and yet nothing happened.

Now, whether the forum is revolutionary or reformist seems futile after all. Here is a concrete proposal: to cancel the charter Porto Alegre WSF and give it a new name: Professionals Social Forum, NGO and the State Forum, the host State Forum (add your proposal on this collaborative page, feel free to contribute: In this way, we can stop creating new frustrations at each edition of the forum and leave room for a new imaginary that will actually strengthen grassroots social movements and seriously pursues a revolutionary project, this project has already begun in Tunisia in 2011.

The big polluting car, based on old technology, pseudoscientific, cumbersome and costly that tells the world it is called bike, will be then called a car. This allows those who need to build a small, efficient bike, bringing people together and fighting against capitalism in simple, local methods rooted in reality, instead of using the methods of the current masters of world as in the Davos summit: a small group of white men decided for the future of humanity in a militarized space where everything is done to make it a minimum ‘democratic’. The FSM uses methods Davos … A bon entendeur.

A starting point would be, for example, in Tunisia, grassroots communities for most people are: coffee, hamam, the mosque, the bar, the football stadium, the neighborhood, the small and extended family, etc. . Many places that managers and engineers ‘social transformation’ ignore. The destructive obsession to distinguish public from private perpetuates patterns of colonization …

The lie of the Tunisian revolution has brought a new lie, the WSF, which reminds the people of Tunisia and all people pursuing struggles that another lie is possible.
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