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Proposals for the WFA programme of activities 2010-2011

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Proposals for the WFA programme of activities 2010-2011

November 2009

A. WFA was created in Cairo in 1997.

Since it has conducted activities in accordance with its purpose and political platform, the main of which were :

(i) The “anti Davos in Davos”, January 1999

(ii) The Bamako General Assembly, January 2006, attended by members of the Enlarged Council of WFA (around 200) in addition to some 300 participants from Mali and the region (in cooperation with the Forum for Another Mali).

(iii) The Caracas General Assembly, October 2008, attended by 200 members of the Enlarged Council (in Cooperation with En Defensa de la Humanidad).

 

B. The political platform of WFA has been formulated in the Manifesto (Cairo 1997) and the Bamako Appeal (Bamako 2006)

Ref to these document on the Websites (available in a good number of languages)

WFA is a network of individuals committed to a radical perspective (socialism for the future) and anti imperialist stand (supporting the aspirations of the Nations of the “South” – the dominated peripheries in the Global capitalist/imperialist system – to become equal to the “Triad” nations in all the dimensions of life : economic development and welfare, political independence and military strength, cultural respect).

 

WFA members are “intellectuals”, sharing modest but nonetheless ambitious targets. Modest in the sense that they do not consider themselves “leaders” of progressive social and political forces in struggle. Nonetheless ambitious in the sense that they do feel that they are among those who can provide in depth analyses of the realities and challenges, therefore “useful” for the progressive forces in struggle. They also allow themselves to suggest strategies for action. They are keen to see those analyses and suggestions move out of “restricted” teams of thinkers to reach the political and social progressive forces.

 

C. In that spirit the WFA has organised its debates throughout the last 10 years

within the following 8 “areas” :

 

1. The challenge of constructing the “unity of the labouring classes” in the conditions of our times.

The dramatic changes which have developed as a result of the reorganisation of production, produced by strategies of capital and the State powers in their service, have led to the fragmentation of popular labouring classes, their weakening and their super exploitation. No significant change in the balances of forces can be reached unless some degree of unity is constructed around targets (for short and longer terms), and the proper patterns of organisation/action formulated and activated. These targets have to be identified concretely at local/national levels, taking into account the actual real and sometimes immense differences from a country to another.

 

2. The challenge of constructing “peasant perspectives” for almost half of humankind still living in rural areas.

The “western” path of historical capitalist development, i.e. the relatively fast and massive expulsion of peasants associated with accelerated urbanisation, cannot be pursued and generalised to modern Asia, Africa and Latin American. The “peasant alternative” implies guarantees for the access to land to all (as equally as possible) and focus on the progress of productivity of labour and yields of land for those peasants/families units. The ways and means as well as the political frame to this effect differ from a country/ region to another.

 

3. The challenge of associating the democratisation of the societies to social progress.

The dominant blue prints and discourses on these issues (pluripartism and representative elected governments, “governance”, “reduction of poverty”, “international aid” etc) do not respond to the challenge, and proceed from theoretical premises which dissociate “economic development” (left to the rationality of capitalist markets expansion) from “political” issues (“democracy”). The result is that limited “democratic practices” (whenever existing) being often associated with social regression, are themselves in regression or simply not “wanted” by the peoples.

 

4. The challenge of constructing a “multipolar” global economic system, in lieu and place of the “integrated” capitalist/imperialist global economic order.

Re-constructing auto centered, peoples’ based economic life of nations and eventually regions, i.e. “delinked” (or “de-globalised”), implies derailing the “top-down” global order operated by WTO, IMF, the EU, OECD etc. It implies, beyond, identifying national structural reforms and policies, giving priority to these targets and conceiving external relations as servants of these targets, not the reverse (i.e. “adjusting” to global trends).

 

5. The challenge of constructing a “multipolar” global political system.

That implies the derailing of the concepts and practises deriving from the ongoing strategies of the imperialist Triad (i.e. the “military control of the planet”, with a view to guaranteeing unilateral access to the natural resources of the planet to the exclusive benefit of the societies of the “North”). It therefore implies derailing NATO and disbanding the network of US military bases. It also implies positively reviving a relevant global political system (UN, international law etc) in keeping with the principle of multipolarity. This implies in its turn proper international negotiations, formulation and agreement of various charters of rights, setting up adequate institutional bodies.

6.The challenge of constructing patterns of regionalisations in keeping with the above mentioned strategic targets as defined in 4 and 5.

It implies deconstructing those patterns of regionalisations which are conceived as building blocs of the capitalist/imperialist globalisation. It implies positively constructing other patterns and institutional frames for South-South “cooperations” (trade for development, transfers of technology, complementarities of productive systems and of infrastructure, financial transfers etc). It implies a critical reading of the initiatives taken in these directions.

 

7.The challenge of the ongoing phase of development of the crisis of global capitalist/imperialist system,

more precisely the challenge of deglobalising the monetary/financial system, derailing the exclusive dollar system or any “North” alternative to it (such as a dollar/euro or any IMF reform conceived in order to keep the “control” of the imperialist North).

It implies positively constructing alternative regional financial coordinated systems (such as those imaginable in the frame of the Shanghai cooperation System or of ALBA).

 

8.The challenge of delegitimizing the dominant social thought and discourses conceived to perpetuate capitalist/imperialist order and annihilate the potential of a radical critique and positive alternative.

That chapter concerns a number of complementary areas of debates: the “theoretical” economics, the political ideological rhetorics (liberties, democracy, respect of individuals etc), the vulgar discourses (“governance”, “poverty” etc) deployed to instill the “liberal virus”.

Delegitimising the dominant ideology, discourses and practise is not enough. A positive really emancipatory alternative must be formulated. This is a gigantic task which cannot simply reject the contributions of bourgeois Enlightenment and later of historical socialisms as suggested by some “post modernist” fashions. It has to go beyond, develop and enrich the historical heritages, integrating basic values, such as liberties (something else than blue prints for democracy) into the concept of modern socialist perspective.

 

On any of those 8 items more will be found on our web sites.

 

D. The development of the debates conducted in the frame described in section C has contributed helping formulations of “global trans areas major questions” in keeping with the radical critical point of view of WFA.

Out of the debates conducted in Bamako, Caracas and last in our meeting in Brussels (October 2009), it makes sense to add the following paragraphs.

 

1. The “military question”, has to be considered as absolutely central. Achievements and advances will remain extremely vulnerable as long as the imperialist triad can pursue its military aggressions (whatever are the pretexts, such as “terrorism”, “security”, humanitarian interventions etc).

 

The actual real target of the militarization of the management of the global system is the control over the resources of the Planet. That target of the imperialist triad reflects the concept that “not all peoples have the same right to exist on the Earth”, that the perspective of nations of the South re affirming their equal rights is not tolerated and that these nations should restrict to operate as “emerging markets” (open for further expansion of the oligopolies of the North, in eventual association with local capitalisms). That is the major obstacle to the progress of internationalism of working classes and peoples. Movements against wars and militarization, while fully legitimate and important, are not enough. A positive anti US military deployment and anti Nato requests more.

 

 

2. Deeper analyses of “geopolitics” associated with the ongoing conflicts between the unipolar/triad concept of management of the world and the aspirations of the South to deconstruct it, (deriving from the above mentioned military formulation of the question) are therefore no less central.

 

a) The assumption (to be debated) is that the “North” cannot pursue its pattern of “life” without its exclusive access to the resources of the Planet, depriving the South from benefiting from them. In contrast the “South” can derail these imperialist strategies and annihilate the power that their so called “advantages” represents which are :

? The exclusive access to the natural resources of the planet (by re-establishing the national sovereignty of countries of the South on their resources)

? The control of technologies – artificially hyper protected by WTO – (a number of countries of the South can develop these technologies, including most advanced and complex, by their own if they wish to do so).

? The control of the global financial market that can be annihilated through the state control of the capital accounts and independent regional agreements.

? The control of the medias and communications (see below)

? The exclusive possession of armament of mass destruction, including nuclear, now already questioned through the so called “proliferation”.

 

On all those issues the South is now equipped, if it wishes to use its capacities, to compel imperialism to retreat more than in the era of Bandung, when it was deprived of industrial modern capacities and technological knowledge.

 

b) Will the “South” pursue such policies which will lead to growing conflicts with the “North”? The assumption that the answer is positive should be further studied. Indeed the North tries to reduce that danger through different means:

(i) “Cooptation”, which is the very purpose of the G20 replacing the G7. That complex question has to be looked into carefully from different angles:

- Are the “concessions” made to the South members of the G 20 “enough”? In fact until today these concessions are restricted to minor changes in the representation on IMF and World Bank boards without any significant changes in the policies of these organisations. According to the adage “change everything in order to change nothing!”.

- Will these concessions encourage the most powerful countries of the South to operate in the weakest regions, as the North corporations do, plundering their natural resources and devastating their markets? There are indications of moves in that direction. And will the powerful countries of the South consider for the time being this avenue as good enough for their further expansion “within that pattern of globalisation”?

(ii) Encouraging South South conflicts in particular opposing China to India and eventually East and South East Asia, up to not impossible new “wars” which would allow the US in particular to play the role of the “third partner” capitalizing all the benefits out of the weakening of the involved countries of the South.

(iii) Practising continuous interventions in internal political affairs of countries of the South, aiming at weakening the national State, and eventually dismantling it, taking advantage of the frequent unability of authoritarian regimes to deal properly with issues related to ethnical, religious and other diversities in order to give an apparent legitimity to those devastating interventions, but always practising double standard in the selection of those that imperialism supports. That complexifies the issues of geostrategy.

(iv)Substituting a facto G2 (US-China) to the G 20, based on the continuation of China supporting financially the US, itself sinking in endless wars against “terrorism”.

That would allow the US dollar remaining still for some time the major international currency in spite of the decline of US hegemony, just as the sterling remained in a similar position for decades after Britain had lost its leading position.

c) The new geopolitics of our times is therefore indeed quite different from the one which characterised the Bandung era:

- The first wave of emancipation of the societies of the South (the Bandung era) was initiated with a “simple” target : reconquest of the political independence, for which “national united fronts” could be relatively less difficult to construct. To day the target of the second wave of emancipation implies pursing a significant “economic development” (necessarily “delinked” from globalisation) which is a much complex target and for which local ruling classes are conflicting with the popular demands (see below the question of “actors”).

- In the Bandung era the Soviet Union was providing eventual military support which reduced the agressivity of imperialist powers. This is no more the case to day.

- South South Cooperation in the Bandung era was basically aiming at reinforcing political solidarities which could bring together countries differing to the extreme from the point of view of their “strength” (or “vulnerability”). Today South South Cooperation implies positive economic agreements for which the immediate interests of the envolved countries might be conflicting.

The achievements of Asia and Africa in the era of Bandung, which started changing the face of the World, have to be kept in mind along with their limits and unsolved contradictions which put an end that first wave of emancipation and progress, at that time limited to Asia and Africa (plus Cuba), leaving aside Latin America, run by pro US dictators. That is no more the case and Latin America has initiated advances, seemingly more promising than elsewhere. Nevertheless the difficulties and limits of those achievements should be carefully studied and proposals aiming at reinforcing the movement suggested.

There are obvious signs of growing SS co operations, more particularly to resist the top down strategies through which imperialism tries to keep the control over the global system. This is the case of various alliances which took shape within WTO and common positions taken by the 77 plus China, blocking to a certain extent the Doha round. These initiatives should be analysed critically. Positive projects for SS co operation as an alternative to NS unequal relations need more, and have only been timidly initiated until now.

 

3. The “ecological issues” are indeed transversal and have reached a point of qualitative change of importance.

(i) A “top-down” global response to the challenge is unrealistic. “The problem is global, therefore the response has to be global”. This is a paralogical phrase ignoring real historical processes of change, which deploy themselves through “deglobalisation”, i.e. national different responses. Therefore little is to be expected from “global conferences” (such as the Copenhagen planned meeting on climate). “No country will sacrifice its national policy targets to the benefit of a global positive response” recognized Tony Blair, unfortunately correct in his sad assessment.

(ii) The countries of the South must recover their national (State, hopefully popular) control over their resources. It is only to the extent that they will do so (and whatever use – “good” or “bad” – they make of it) that they will compel Northern societies to really adjust to a less wasteful pattern of use of resources. In the meantime “ecological discourses” will remain rhetoric, no more.

(iii) Patterns of production and consumption less wasteful of energy have to find their ways. “Socialism will be solar or will not be” as Elmar Altvater said. Yes, and while probably “solar socialism” is still a long distance target, the struggle for it must start as of today.

(iv) The ongoing “financial” crisis has created conditions for a severe additional food/agriculture crisis, aggravated by targets of accelerated development of agro-fuels. This immediate challenge must be faced.

(v) The “climate issue” is indeed a global and very serious challenge. Yes capitalism is by its own nature unable to face such a challenge, the rationality of economic/financial calculations of capitalism being short sighted while the challenge compels to introduce the longer view (even if “in the long run we are all dead”). Yes the damage will necessarily strike the weakest countries of the South more than the others. But these considerations cannot simply be substituted to finding solutions to the problems to which the popular classes are confronted to day in their daily struggle for survival (unemployment, deterioration of conditions of life, hunger etc). Unless these challenges are given top priority for action the “climate discourse” will not be convincing. It is perhaps a rhetoric that some powerful actors of the North are developing in order precisely to post pone actions in response to the demands of the popular classes.

 

4. The issue of “medias” has been raised during our Brussels talks.

No doubt that the very aim of WFA, i.e. having a real impact on the general opinion and on the progressive forces in struggle, implies going beyond “debates and research”. It implies popularising the results. To that effect two sets of proposals have been made: (i) creating a media center independent of the dominant forces; (ii) establishing a “Global Open University”. While the enormous difficulties that such projects will encounter (financial, linguistic etc) have been recognised, that should not stop WFA from establishing a working group clarifying the issues, even if WFA is not equipped to move ahead and “implement” such projects.

 

5. The issue of who are (or could be) the “actors” for the social/polical radical changes requested is of course central and transversal

(i) Actors belong in fact to two families of forces : (i) the ruling classes (who control the power systems), that we should look at as they are, not as they present themselves through their discourses (“democratic”, sensitive to peoples’ demands etc) and that are eventually conflicting (reflecting different so called “national” interests); (ii) the forces in action (or silent) who defend popular/working classes interests, by nature in conflict with the dominant actors.

(ii) Until now the movements of protest and resistance to capital’s assaults, which are undoubtedly moving ahead, still remain generally fragmented as a result of efficient strategies pursuing that very target and that capital has developed during the past decades, as well as the result of the loss of credibility of old forms of “politics”. As long as these movements remain so and therefore also rather on the defensive, not in a position to offer a positive consistent political alternative, they will not occupy the front of the stage. Therefore it is rather the initiatives and strategies developed by the ruling classes, whether convergent or conflicting, that will continue to shape in the visible future the eventual major changes in the balances of forces.

(iii) Our assumption (to be debated) is that the North/South states conflict will deepen and shall be decisive in the near future.

(iv) There will be no “top-down” global response to the “crisis”, neither within a so called “liberal” frame (even with appropriate regulations) acceptable for the “emerging countries” of the South, a fortiori within a “neo Keynesian/social democratic” frame ensuring redistribution of income to the benefit of the popular classes, supported by appropriate policies (retreat of privatisation, restoration of social rights, expansion of public services etc). Such proposals remain naive and “wishful thinking”, no more, and could be pushed ahead only (and only) if the popular classes have already modified the balance of forces to their benefit through consistent political struggles, which is not the case.

(v) States’ conficts (basically North/South, but why not also within the Atlantist North– presently united ? An assumption to be discussed) and social struggles of the popular agents of change against the local ruling/exploitative classes do interact. Our assumption is that the ruling classes in the South are much weaker (less legitimate in many cases) than they are in the North. That their position is “ambivalent” since the “national interests” conflict here with those of the imperialist centers of power. Therefore changes in the balances of forces – eventually positive – in favour of a “front” of popular and middle classes agents (a plurality of agents and therefore a variety of forms of alliances giving consistency to their demands) are not impossible. It is also our assumption that such changes will push ahead the N/S conflict and reduce the illusion of further development that could be achieved “within globalisation”.

The difference between state power systems in the N and in the S remains gigantic. The Northern governments remain legitimate in the eyes of their people and do not feel menaced whatever could be the outcome of elections. Therefore they have developed a full strategic confidence in the relations among themselves. But the Triad has no similar confidence in the ruling classes of the South, even if they behave as capitalists and even allies.

 

(vi) Finally our assumption is that progresses in the North need defeats of the North in its conflict with the South. Such defeats – i.e. a retreat of the “imperialist rent” – constitute the condition for further changes of the balance of forces in favour of the working classes in the North. They are therefore the basis for an actual internationalism of working classes and peoples.

 

6. A focus on the ongoing “crisis” which will continue to deepen calls for specific additional debates

(i) We do not share the common view that the “crisis” started with the financial breakdown of 2008. This “long crisis” started in 1971, led capital to develop a strategy of further centralisation, globalisation and financialisation. In its turn this “successful” strategy opened a short “belle époque” (1990-2008) which could not be sustained (conventional economics is not equipped to understand that). These developments have been mutatis mutandis similar to those which characterised the previous long crisis, starting in 1873 and moving, through centralisation, globalisation and financialisation, to the first “belle époque” (1894-1914). The second part of that first long crisis (1914-1945) witnessed wars (the two world wars), a deep crisis (the 30’s) and revolutions (the Russian and the Chinese). Similarly, but in very different conditions, our long crisis is now entering a period of chaos and wars (this time the global war of North against the South).

(ii) The immediate responses which will be given to the growing “chaos” (“Empire of Chaos”) will shape the future balances of forces.

(iii) It is therefore necessary to further analyse that growing chaos and more particularly the responses of the reactionary ruling forces to it. It is no less important to develop counter programmes for the progressive forces in all the dimensions of the challenge.

 

7. In conclusion

Our reading of the 20th Century (and more particularly of its second half) is that of a first wave of re-affirmation of the Nations of the South, questioning the domination of the North (“European and US”) which was the product of really existing capitalist/imperialist expansion, fully victorious in the 19th Century. That affirmation of the Nations of the South will continue to shape the 21st century through a second wave, already initiated by the “emerging nations” (not “emerging markets”). It is the major condition for a really “other world”, opening the long road to global socialism, generating internationalism.

 

E. Modus operandi

1. We should pursue our agenda, and not go along with the agenda which the dominant reactionary forces attempts to impose through their discourses (“democracy” and good governance, poverty, international aid, ecology and climate, global responses). These discourses, even when dealing with obviously real problems (democratisation, pauperisation, ecological sustainability and climate) are formulated with a view to annihilating the chances of progress in favour of the popular classes and of the South. Similarly we should not give a high priority to the following of the “big events” organised by the system, such as those many “international conferences” on this or that (last in view the Copenhagen jamboree on climate) for the same reason, i.e. that the agenda for those events is formulated with a view to reducing the voices of the peoples and of the South to “protest”, with little chance for any significant demand from the victims of the system being taken into account.

 

While we cannot simply “ignore” those discourses and events, and will as far as possible respond, our first top priority remains to push ahead our own agenda. In particular moving towards the peoples of the South “thinking by themselves”, “independently of any other view”, as part and parcel of their re-affirming their equal existence on our common planet. In so doing we shall reinforce the internationalism of working classes and peoples, not weaken it.

 

2. We do not consider very important to discuss endlessly what should be the priorities to be given to the various tasks as described in this short report. The various challenges in the various areas as well as the short and longer perspectives are equally important. The de facto priorities will result from the very choices of our membership organised in working teams (see below).

 

3. Indeed the most efficient way to push ahead our debates implies the setting up of small working groups (10 people at maximum) in order to deepen the thinking and move beyond consensual generalities.

We ought to discuss among us the “difficult questions”, those for which there are different opinions among us, not those for which it is “easy” to reach a consensus!

 

The “large conferences” have their importance and facilitate not only exchanges of views but more importantly help identifying precisely those “difficult questions”. But they are not a substitute to small working groups.

4. We have been repeating that the success of WFA needs to set up a number of “antennas”, perhaps ideally the 15 following : China (or China and East Asia), Japan, India (or India and South East Asia), Middle East and Arab region, Southern and Eastern Africa, West and Central Africa, Brasil (or Brasil and the Southern Corn), Andean and Central Latin America, the Carribean, USA and Canada, Western Europe, former Eastern Europe, Russia and Central Asia, the Pacific and Australia.

 

It is vital to accelerate this process and set up the antennas within 2 or 3 months. Each antenna should organise itself as it sees it most efficient, but should designate one single person for contact with the Secretariat that will help establishing the organisation and programmes of activities.

 

The tasks of the antennas have been identified : (i) recruiting members in keeping with our radical and anti imperialist platform ; (ii) but, no less important, identifying programmes and setting up the working groups requested. This will request continuous exchanges of views between the antennas and the secretariat since most working groups should associate members located in different regions according to the areas selected for the deepening of our common knowledge and debate. The members of the WFA network associated in these W G will constitute the core of our organisation.

5. Last but not least we are and should be ambitious in our targets. There are not much similar organisations, if any, associating in a global network radical and anti imperialist thinkers.

 

We ought to work with other people and networks, some being close to us (sometime our “correspondents”) other less. But our success will depend on our capacity to keep our own identity and not dilute it in a wider “network” associating “all” those who “protest” again the system and wish “ a better world”.