January 21 2007
And Release of the Reader :
January 23 2007
Brief description Following the announcement of the ‘Porto Alegre Manifesto’ at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2005, signed by 19 eminent intellectuals, the period of the polycentric Forum in January 2006 saw the enunciation of a major new document, the ‘Bamako Appeal’. With the initiative led by Samir Amin (economist and Director, Third World Forum, located in Dakar, Senegal, and Chair, World Forum for Alternatives, Cairo, Egypt, and Louvain, Belgium) and François Houtart (sociologist and President, World Forum for Alternatives, Louvain, Belgium), the Bamako Appeal is a major document that calls for a redoubling of resistance to imperialism and proposes measures and a programme by which this might be done.
Many have questioned the somewhat closed and opaque manner by which the Appeal was drafted and announced however, which raised issues of internal democracy within the world movement and the question of whose voices are heard. As a result, the process as well as the content of the Bamako Appeal have come to be widely commented on and criticised. (For an archive of articles on the Appeal as well as initiatives taken by CACIM towards promoting public debate, see http://www.openspaceforum.net/twiki/tiki-index.php?page=Bamakoappeal)
We at CACIM believe that the Bamako Appeal is an important document. Aside from the inspiration that the organisers themselves drew from the Bandung Conference, others have compared it and what it represents to the Communist Manifesto. Either way, both the document itself and the process by which it has been given shape and carried forward demand our close and critical attention. And this also needs to happen in public, and within a larger historical and political perspective. With the world scenario having substantially changed in this period, especially in terms of the war on Iraq, the World Social Forum at Nairobi, exactly one year after the enunciation of the Appeal at a WSF on the other side of Africa, in Bamako, offers a significant opportunity to do this. Join us at this important meeting !
The event is organised by CACIM (India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement), New Delhi, India, and co-sponsored by CCS (Centre for Civil Society), Durban, South Africa.
Proponent : François Houtart (WFA (World Forum for Alternatives, Belgium) Respondents : Dorothea Haerlin (ATTAC Berlin, Germany), Trevor Ngwane (South Africa) Speaker-participants : Chico Whitaker (Brazil), Francine Mestrum (Belgium), Geoffrey Pleyers (Belgium), Immanuel Wallerstein (USA), Jai Sen (India), Lee Cormie (Canada), Linus Jayathilake (MONLAR, Sri Lanka), Peter Custers (The Netherlands), Peter Waterman (UK / The Netherlands), Prishani Naidoo (South Africa), Teivo Teivainen (Finland / Peru), Tony Tujan Jr (The Philippines), Vittorio Agnoletto (Italy)
One of the defining features of the World Social Forum is that it is struggling to be an ‘open space’ – a space for relatively free association and for the free and creative exchange of ideas and experiences. This, and the attempt to sustain this openness, is a very special culture of politics. In our understanding, this effort is especially important given the current juncture in world history, post 9/11, where – under the regime of exceptionalism – a wide range of steps have been taken and are being taken, both in the North and the South, to curb and to suspend civil liberties and to radically invade privacy, community, and culture, in particular through the articulation of a ‘homeland security state’, with all its ramifications; and worse, since these steps have been widely internalised in and by civil societies across the world. At this level, the WSF and its self-defined concept of ‘open space’ is a significant and radical polemical challenge to empire and to hegemonic politics. It is also of no small historical interest that this world-scale ‘open space’ was initiated in the very same year as 9/11 and the war on and of terror – and the beginning of the contemporary closing of spaces.
At another level however, there have been several calls arising within the World Social Forum itself over the past several years to ‘reform’ the Forum – but the common implication of all these calls (the Call of Social Movements, the Group of 19 Statement, the Bamako Appeal) seems likely to also transform the Forum from a relatively open space into a more unified and delineated movement – thus threatening to delimit, if not actually close, the open space that it so far has been, but of course under a completely different logic than the threat from the discourse of a ‘homeland security state’.
In addition, we believe that it is necessary to be sanguine and ask the question : Although coming from very different directions, can these two dynamics also intertwine, at this juncture of world politics, as has happened at earlier points in history ?
Following earlier meetings that it has called or has been associated with (at the Asia Social Forum, Hyderabad, January 2003; the World Social Forum in Mumbai, January 2004; and in a major way at the WSF in Porto Alegre in January 2005), CACIM ((India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement), New Delhi, India, in association with CCS (Centre for Civil Society), Durban, South Africa, is now convening a major seminar at the Nairobi Forum on the proposition ‘In Defence of Open Space’.
Using the WSF as an important instance of the struggle for open space (but not being limited to it alone), this will be an experimental, exploratory, and strongly participatory workshop, to explore and share understandings of cultures of politics and of the concept of ‘open space’. We want to look at several key conceptual and political questions : Why an open space ? What does the concept and materiality of an open space do, and mean, for notions of ‘social movement’ and our struggles ? And for ‘organisation’ and ‘democracy’ more generally ? What is the relationship between open space and autonomous space, and between open space and horizontality ? How does the model of open space (or de-centred networking logics more broadly) help us build networks of other worlds ? Does open space represent a model for ‘reinventing the political’ ?
We want to make the encounter itself an open space. We hope to engage critically with the actions, thoughts and beliefs of all those present, in the belief that we all sometimes need different lenses – other perspectives – to challenge and transform our own views.
Towards the proposed exploration of open space, it could be especially fruitful to focus discussion and analysis the following four broad areas :
Proponent : Chico Whitaker (WSF International Office, Brazil)
Respondents : Bernard Cassen (ATTAC France), Jane Duncan (South Africa)
Speaker-participants : Antonio Martins (Brazil), Boaventura de Sousa Santos (Portugal), David Karlsson (Sweden), Demba Moussa Dembele (Senegal – possible), Dorothea Haerlin (Germany), Jai Sen (India), Janet Conway (Canada), Lee Cormie (Canada), Marco Berlinguer (Italy), Molefi Ndlovu (South Africa), Teivo Teivainen (Finland / Peru)
For a wide collection of articles on and around the issue of open space, check out the OpenSpaceForum And : Subscribe to WSFDiscuss, an open and unmoderated forum on the World Social Forum and on related social and political movements and issues. Simply send an empty email to firstname.lastname@example.org