WSF and the #Spanishrevolution

Albert Caramés's picture
Printer-friendly versionSend to friend Share this

Activism & crisis: WSF and the #Spanishrevolution

On the answers being given to confront the global crisis, it’s not only important to focus on the (inter) governmental measures applied around the world. It’s also important to drive attention on the different movements and inquiries that civil society is doing, with special attention to Catalan society: its participation in the World Social Forum and the #spanishrevolution.

Around one hundred Catalans, representing different entities from civil society, attended the Fourth World Social Forum (WSF) in Dakar, Senegal, from February 7-11th. In the ten years since the first Forum, held in Porto Alegre, Brazil, the various editions have explored and debated various topics such as decentralization in different parts of the world as well as connections with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Dakar’s WSF focused on the global economic crisis and correlations with the revolution across Arab nations (the Forum was held as the world witnessed the fall of the dictatorships of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt).

The Forum was confronted by its own identity crisis at the same time that it is flourishing as a movement. On the one hand, at the core of the intellectual debate was the necessity to give an alternative to the liberal capitalist economic model and its globalizing process. On the other hand, there is a need to enhance the role of the main social movements (i.e. not only the main NGOs represented), to develop the movement’s presence in the media, and to encourage the participation of political parties and agencies. These discussion topics brought about lively and tenacious participation on the part of speakers and attendees.

On the other hand, after the demonstrations held in Spain on May 15th, and promoted by the citizenship platform ‘Democracia Real Ya!’ more than 500 squares of different Catalan, Spanish and world cities (Barcelona and Madrid being the most representative) have witnessed the evolution of citizen camps. Every afternoon most of these camps were holding assemblies to discuss the work and proposals presented on the different commissions. During the first week of the camps, all these discussions and parallel activities eclipsed (in a media level) the second week of the local election campaign.

Plenty of questions, not analysis (it is too early for that), are coming to my mind: how these encampments are going to evolve? How many of the demands would be discussed? Is the assembly system so strong and sustainable to change the entire system? Up to which level and how are the different organisations (as the ones participating in the WSF) going to collaborate with those encamped? Is that movement going to (positively) affect social and political participation? Is necessary the police repression to clean a square in Barcelona?

To sum up, this kind of movement has lots of things to discuss and resolve, and the internal restructuring process, in the search for a consensus as a plural movement, can slow down the process or halt the progress of finding real answers or even recognition that another world is possible. On a final note, the Catalan social movement has a significant role in that process and must increase its level of involvement, into a world social process or as a platform movement in their cities.


Albert Caramés

United Nations officer and PhD candidate

All posts by this author Add new comment