Reviving the Spirit of Bandung, April 2005

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Third World Forum contribution to “Reviving the Spirit of Bandung” Programme of Action for 2005.

“Bandung of Peoples”, Bandung, Indonesia, 18-25 April 2005.

1. One of the major projects of Third World Forum is, entitled “Laying New Foundations for Solidarity among peoples of the South”.

A document with this title is available in English, French and Arabic of this web site.

In that frame Third World Forum, in cooperation with other organizations, participates in a major event, a conference which will be held in Bandung, Indonesia, from 18-25 April 2005, entitled “Bandung of peoples”.

2. The central idea is to have a serious debate on how to revive the solidarity of peoples of Africa and Asia (“Bandung and NAM”) as well as with those of Latin America (“the Tricontinental”) to meet to challenges of current capitalist globalisation (“neo-liberal”), imperialism, US hegemony and the militarization of globalisation.

The frame is of course very different from what it was 50 years ago. At that time the States which came together in Bandung (1955) and in the following years within NAM, were the results of the wave of national liberations and revolutions that followed World War II. The major political organisations that had conducted the liberation and the governments they constituted were enjoying high levels of popular legitimacy. The international bipolarity made it difficult if not always impossible for imperialism to disregard the demands of Asia and Africa and enforce its supremacy through military aggression, as it has by now openly become the case. Liberated countries of Asia and Africa developed plans for their modernisation (education, health, state building) as well as their accelerated industrialisation.

To day the national societies as well as the international frame are completely different. As a result of precisely the successes of the "Bandung Era" (1955-1975) many countries have indeed moved in the era of industrialisation and therefore meet challenges unknown 50 years ago. Simultaneously the international order has turned extremely unfavourable: the breakdown of the Soviet Union has encouraged systematic attempts of the imperialist triad (US, Europe, Japan), under the military leadership of the US, to impose asymmetric "liberalisation of the global market" (through WTO, World Bank, IMF). Many within the ruling circles in the South have aligned on these concepts of "globalisation", some think even that this frame offers a chance of "catching up" through accelerated growth, but no less visible are those - growing in number - who after having "accepted to submit" (since "no alternative" appeared to them possible) are now looking for some kind of positive response to the challenges. Due to the devastating effects of neo-liberal policies implemented almost everywhere during the past decades (sometimes through savage "structural adjustment" programmes), the legitimacy of the power systems associated with these policies has been eroded, opening the doors in some cases to the rise of alternative "communities" (particularly religious based) which break the Afro Asian solidarity (opposing Moslems, Hindus, Christians and others).

In such circumstances the new "Bandung" cannot be a remake of the old. Old Bandung was a front of States and peoples behind them. New Bandung of Peoples has to be distinct from eventual initiatives of States of the South. Nonetheless, to the extent that such actions from states would develop and initiate some effective common positions vis a vis the challenges of globalisation, we have to discuss the matter and eventually support them. But our major responsibility is to formulate consistent alternatives and suggest policies which can promote them.

Such gigantic changes at national levels and with respect to the international frame call for questioning the rationale of eventual common stands from the South. Are such common stands wanted? Needed? To achieve what goals that hardly could be reached otherwise? What are the conflicts of interests between nations of the South and/or within the social structure of Societies of the South?

It is only in the light of the answers given to these questions that we could identify the strategic goals for the solidarity recommended and more concretely plans of actions and immediate targets.

3. The Bandung event (April 2005) should be an important opportunity to discuss these matters.

For that event five areas for substantial reflections and proposals have been identified: politics, economics, culture, environment, education.

What would be expected from those of you who will consider participating to that event is simply that you commit yourself to eventually prepare a paper, let us know as quickly as possible the title and perhaps a few lines indicating more precisely the major argument that you will develop. We believe that your paper could become a major "working paper" for one of the round tables which should be organised, the final shape of which being decided later, precisely when the papers will be collected by the organising committee. For that reason it is very strongly advisable that your paper is received two months before the event, i.e. by mid February. We expect of course serious analyses of the challenges and proposals for the South moving ahead positively. But we are also interested in knowing how the various social and political forces operating in your country/region consider those challenges and what their reactions to them are. Do they consider "possible", "useful", solidarity among peoples of the South vis a vis the new imperial schemes of the North? We do not ignore that actual changes will not be reached unless social forces act accordingly. Note therefore that we address our reflections and proposals to the vast network of social movements which constitute the Social Forums (National, Regional and Global).

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