What are the challenges of World Social Forum 2021 in relation to the global situation?

18 January by Gustave Massiah


Introduction of the January 7, 2021 session organized by CRID and ATTAC for the preparation of the January 2021 WSF.

The challenges of the World Social Forum 2021 are high. In a deep contradictory world situation, it must make it possible to: redefine an alterglobalist proposal corresponding to the new situation; understand the new contradictions of the world system; start from the movements to resist, define the alternatives, build a new emancipation project.

 Taking into account a contradictory world situation

The shock of the pandemic and the climate exacerbated the turmoil of the financial and political crisis of 2008, which had resulted in an evolution that combines austerity and authoritarianism evolution of the neo-liberalism. The economic and financial, social, ecological, democratic, ideological and geopolitical contradictions are reaching a historically unknown degree.

The situation is deeply contradictory at the global level and in many countries, as the chaotic situation in the United States has further illustrated. Austeritarianism could evolve towards dictatorial neo-liberalism, with identitarian and securitarian ideologies, carried by social groups that the fear of downgrading and insecurity are pushing to the extreme right, leaving room for manœuvre to fascist factions. Aggressive nationalisms are on the offensive, dictatorial regimes are multiplying and more than a billion people live in the war zones. On the other hand, radical movements are demonstrating a desire for radical change: the women’s movement is questioning millenary relationships; the climate urgency movement is exploding certainties about the conception of development based on productivist growth; the movement against racism and discrimination, following the example of movements such as Black Lives Matters, the Brazilian Afro-feminists, and indigenous peoples, is highlighting the unfinished decolonization.

 Redefining an alterglobalist proposal

We are in a period of disruption marked by the loss of resilience, by the loss of the global system’s capacity of resistance and adaptation. To the highly global issues of climate, pandemics, migration, wars, production, the responses have been national and state-based, and from an ideological point of view, nationalisms are on the offensive. WSF 2021 will take its part in these restructurings and in the strengthening of international alterglobalist mobilizations.

The international and continental networks of movements have been trying to respond to this situation and to renew themselves. Thematic social forums (social and solidarity economy, migrations, education, common, ...), regional (Amazonia, Maghreb, West Africa, ...), and national (Iraq, Nepal, Palestine, ...) are recomposing themselves.

The first objective of WSF 2021 is to start from the international networks of movements that are being reconfigured in order to reinvent an international and global dimension, to participate in the definition of the next phase of alter-globalism in relation to the crisis of globalization.

 Understanding the new contradictions in the situation

It is a question of taking into account the new system of contradictions that defines possible solutions, dangers and opportunities.

The economic and social contradictions, and in particular the contradictions in the heart of capital between the GAFAM and the extractivists,, the precariat and the fear of declassification accentuated by the pandemic, the explosion of inequalities and discriminations, the awareness of new rights, the legitimacy of public action and public services, ...

Ecological contradictions, and in particular climate and biodiversity, the awareness of climate urgency, the meaning of limits and finite time, the sense of collapse in civilization crises, ...

Political contradictions and in particular the defiance of politics, the rejection of corruption and the fusion between political and financial classes, the defiance of delegation and representative democracy in democratic forms, the specific and strategic place of gender, racism and discrimination, the rejection of insecurity and police-related violence, ...

The ideological contradictions and in particular the struggle against the cultural hegemony of neo-liberalism and capitalism, individual and collective freedoms, multiple identities, insecurity and the instrumentalization of terrorism, nationalisms, the redefinition of universalism, ...

The geopolitical contradictions and in particular multipolarity, the rise of Asia, international institutions, the second phase of decolonization after the independence of States, wars, nuclear power, ...

The end of neo-liberalism and in particular the possible overcoming of capitalism, the possible inegalitarian new modes of production, the new social classes, the evolution of states, the transitions and alternatives to capitalism in the transitions, ...

 Starting from movements to resist, to define alternatives, to build a new emancipation project

The alterglobalist strategy will be defined by the social and citizen movements through the definition of their strategy. A common international strategy will emerge when the movements define their strategy and the international dimension of this strategy.

Let’s give an example of what a strategy means for a movement, let’s take the example of the peasant movement. La Via Campesina, which is the largest movement today, has built itself from its strategy: peasant agriculture against agribusiness, food security, organic farming and the rejection of GMOs. It has also defined its alliances with the trade union movement, with women’s movements, with environmentalists, with indigenous peoples.

The main social movements that constitute the anti-globalization movement today are: the trade union movement of workers and wage earners; the peasant movement; the women’s movement; the environmental movement, particularly the climate urgency movement; the indigenous peoples’ movement; the movement against racism and discrimination; and the housing movement, ...

We should also include the movements that focus on rights on a thematic basis: the health movement; the education movement; the social and solidarity economic movement; the commons movement; the free media movement; the municipalist movement and for the right to the city; the science and democracy movement; the anti-nuclear movement; the anti-war movement; ...

Forums had also been organized defining strategic alliances: the forums of local elected representatives, parliamentarians, scientists, magistrates, lawyers, ...

Let us also mention the continental and world marches: the Jai Jagat march which had left New Delhi for Geneva and which was momentarily interrupted by COVID in Armenia; the migrants’ marches; the land and water caravans in West Africa, the march of the Zapatistas towards the five continents, ...

Gustave Massiah
IPAM, 7 January 2021




Source: ESSF

Gustave Massiah

est une des personnalités centrales du mouvement altermondialiste. Ingénieur et économiste, né en 1938 au Caire, a présidé le CRID (Centre de recherche et d’information pour le développement), galaxie d’associations d’aide au développement et de soutien aux luttes des pays du Sud, et a été vice-président d’Attac-France de 2003 à 2006.

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