Alternative Social Forum

Bristling Badger has another really interesting post from his friend at the World Social Forum in Venezuela.

in the last days of the forum i finally made it to the f.s.l. (“forum social libertario” – the alternative/libertarian social forum) the official social forum was amazing, but i noticed some sharp political differences, for example when i pointed out that it was a bit wierd to be declaring that “another world is possible” from a room in the hilton hotel, where dark skinned cleaning ladies came every morning to make our beds and clean the bathroom. i found no one who agreed with me and was met instead with comments like “what, you mean in your ideal world there wouldn’t be cleaning ladies!?” (duh?) so it was quite a relief to be back among people who share my world view a bit more.

the f.s.l. was small, and completely autonomous from the forum itself. there were people there from most of latin america. i missed the good talks, but the final day was a working together to produce a “libertarian communique” from the forum. it was interesting to be in the discussions, which explicitly criticised the emerging (and longer standing, e.g. castro en cuba) revolutionary movements for their personality cults and militarism. they have prodced some interesting texts that we are going to translate to english and they’ll be posted on the f.s.l. website.

in the discussions there were quite a few older revolutionaries, in their 50s or older, mostly men, who dominated the meeting, talking about cuba, militarism and the personality cults, and there were young anarchos, students and activists in their mid-twenties, who brought different political ideas to the discussion. one colombian student said that there should be a clear statement against patriarchy. several of the older men showed that they had no idea what the word meant… another said that animal rights should be mentioned in the statement. he was loudly shouted down by a united block of older men (who didn’t seem to agree on much, but were firmly together in that animal rights should not go in the statement) in all, the generation gap was quite stark!

I found this very interesting (it’s worth reading the whole thing, and her previous post). But what especially struck a chord was criticised the emerging and longer standing revolutionary movements for their personality cults and militarism. Which is something I’ve had long-standing disagreements about, in relation to Castro and Chavez, with Socialist friends of mine – as much as I’m very impressed by many things Chavez has done in health care, education, equality, and retaining more of Venezuela’s wealth for its people.

Where is an anarchist analysis which takes ecology and conservation into account and provides a realistic mechanism for tilting the power balance toward the individual rather than the state or corporation? I might know if I could read more Spanish, but I’ve not found a high standard of thinking in this area so far.

I’m also very unconvinced by most “smash the State” rhetoric, because I think that what that boils down to, as has been shown many times in the past, is the creation of a power vacuum which is filled by charismatics, militarists, and vested interests, at a great cost in suffering. Instead I want to see a working model built on a small scale, and taken up as people choose it (perhaps like Mondragon).

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