[OPE-L:5210] World Forum for Alternatives "Manifesto"

Gerald Levy (glevy@pratt.edu)
Sat, 7 Jun 1997 18:29:12 -0700 (PDT)

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bob Olsen <bobolsen@arcos.org>
>From: M-J Milloy <mjmilloy@dsuper.net>

Date: Wed, 04 Jun 1997 09:45:00 -0500
From: michel lambert <mlambert@alternatives.ca>
To: apecforum-l@netserver.web.net
Subject: apec-L: Forum of the alternatives

A network of the networks!

In Cairo, last november (1996) was lunched a new initiative by Samir
Amin to create a new network of progressives organisations and
indivuduals troughout the world. Following is the manifesto of the
"World Forum for Alternatives"


World Forum for Alternatives May 1997

«It is time to reclaim the march of history»

To confirm your interest in joining the Forum write to the Secretary of
the Follow-up Committee :
Samir Amin
Forum Tiers Monde
Third World Forum
C.P. 3501
Dakar, Sénégal
phone and fax: (221) 21 11 44
e-mail: ftm@syfed.refer.sn

Table of Contents
- Manifesto
- Goals and Objectives
- Provisional Programme of Activities
- Attachment 1 : List of members of the Follow-up Committee


It is time to reclaim the march of history

Humanity s future is at stake. Scientific progress and technical
advances, the supreme achievements of knowledge, fortify the privilege
and comfort of a minority. Instead of contributing to the well-being of
all, these feats are used to crush, marginalize and exclude countless
human beings. Access to natural resources, especially in the South, is
monopolized by the few and is subject to political blackmail and threats
of war.

It is time to make the economy serve the peoples of the world
The economy provides goods and services mainly to a minority. In its
contemporary form, it forces the majority of the human race into
strategies for abject survival, denying tens of millions of people even
the right to live. Its logic, the product of neoliberal capitalism,
entrenches and accentuates grotesque inequalities. Propelled by faith in
the market s self-regulating virtue, it reinforces the economic power of
the rich and exponentially increases the numbers of the poor.

It is time to break down the wall between North and South
Monopolies of knowledge, scientific research, advanced production,
credit and information, all guaranteed by international institutions,
create a relentless polarization both at the global level and within
each country. Trapped in patterns of development that are culturally
destructive, physically unsustainable and economically submissive, many
peoples throughout the world can neither define for themselves the
stages of their evolution, establish the basis of their own growth, or
provide education for their younger generations.

It is time to confront the crisis of our civilization
The confines of individualism, the closed world of consumption, the
supremacy of productivism - and, for many, an obsessive struggle for
sheer daily survival obscure humanity's larger objectives: the right to
live liberated from oppression and exploitation, the right to equal
opportunities, social justice, peace, spiritual fulfilment and

It is time to refuse the dictatorship of money
The concentration of economic power in the hands of transnational
corporations weakens, even dismantles, the sovereignty of states. It
threatens democracy - within single countries and on a global scale. The
dominance of financial capital does more than imperil the world s
monetary equilibrium. It transforms states into mafias. It proliferates
the hidden sources of capitalist accumulation drug trafficking, the
arms trade, child slavery.

It is time to replace cynicism with hope
Stock prices soar when workers are laid off. A competitive edge is
gained when mass consumerdom is replaced with elite niche markets.
Macro-economic indicators react positively as the ranks of the poor
multiply. International economic institutions coax and compel
governments to pursue structural adjustment, widening the chasm between
classes and provoking mounting social conflict. International
humanitarian aid trickles to those reduced to despair.

It is time to rebuild and democratize the state
The programme of dismantling the state, reducing its functions,
pilfering its resources and launching sweeping privatizations leads to a
demoralized public sector, weakened systems of education and health and
the eventual usurping of the state by private economic interests.
Neoliberal globalization divorces the state from the population and
encourages corruption and organized venality on an unprecedented scale.
The state becomes a repressive instrument policing the privilege of the

It is time to recreate the citizenry
Millions of people are deprived of voting rights because they are
immigrants. Millions more fail to vote because they are angry or
discouraged, because parties are in crisis or because they feel impotent
and excluded from political life. Elections are often distorted by
influence-mongering and deceit. But democracy is about more than
elections. Democracy means participation at every level of economic,
political and cultural life.

It is time to salvage collective values
Modernity, conveyed by capitalism and ideologized by neoliberalism, has
destroyed or profoundly corrupted existing cultures. It has imploded
solidarities and dismantled convictions, extolling instead the
high-performance individual evaluated on the basis of economic success.
Rather than bring emancipation to the peoples of the world, modernity is
generating a crisis in education, fuelling social violence and
triggering an explosion of insular movements that seek salvation and
protection in nationalist, ethnic or religious identity politics.

It is time to globalize social struggles
In all this, it is not the internationalization of the economy per se
that is to blame. It could represent a dramatic step forward for
material, social and cultural exchanges between human beings. But in its
neoliberal form it becomes a nightmare lived by the victims of
unemployment, young people traumatized by the future, workers shut out
of the productive system and nations subjected to structural adjustment,
labour deregulation, the erosion of social security systems and the
elimination of networks serving the poor. It purports to link and unite,
yet separates and imprisons.

It is time to build on peoples’ resistance
Across the world, people are organizing resistance, engaging in social
struggles and creating alternatives. Women, men, children, unemployed
people, excluded and oppressed people, workers, landless peasants,
communities suffering from racism, impoverished city dwellers,
indigenous peoples, students, intellectuals, migrants, small business
people, outcasts, declining middle classes - citizens - are asserting
their dignity, demanding respect for their human rights and natural
heritages, and practising solidarity. Some have given their lives for
these causes. Others practice heroism in their day-to-day existences.
Some are rebuilding knowledge on the basis of concrete situations, some
are trying out new economic forms, some are creating the basis of a new
kind of politics, and some are inventing new cultures.

Now is the time for joining forces
Convergence of struggles, of knowledge, of resistances, of innovations,
of minds and hearts for a world of justice and equality, invention and
material progress, optimism and spiritual development. We can build this
world by seeking and discovering viable alternatives to neoliberalism
and unilateral globalization alternatives based on the interests of
peoples and respect for national, cultural and religious differences.

A time of creative universal thought has arrived
Honest, probing analysis of the current economic organization and its
economic, social, ecological, political and cultural consequences can
only delegitimize this phenomenon which is paraded to the world as the
paragon of progress. The search for a balance between personal
initiative and the pursuit of collective goals - based on a celebration
of human diversity and creativity - must open the way to new models.
Studies of expanding non-market sectors, productive techniques that
respect the well-being of those who use them, and the organization and
nature of work will help create more human forms of organization.

The time to rebuild and extend democracy is here
Democracy is no longer merely a goal for the organization of societies.
It is also the key to the functioning of communities, social movements,
political parties, businesses, institutions, nations and international
bodies. It is progressively experienced as an essential contribution to
the respect of popular interests and the preservation of national and
international security. By prising open spaces for all cultures - not
patronizingly, but because they represent humanity s endowment - we can
reverse the retreat into enclaves of narrow self-interest and the
seclusion of identity politics. The existence of democratic, competent
and transparent states is considered the basis for restoring their
powers to regulate. Regional economic and political groupings based on
internal complementarity are viable answers to the real needs of the
population and a necessary alternative to neoliberal globalization.
Strengthening and democratizing regional and international institutions
is a realistic imperative. It is a condition for progress in
international law and the indispensable regulation of economic, social
and political relations at the global level, particularly in the fields
of financial capital, taxation, migration, information and disarmament.

The time for action has already begun
This is why the signatories of this declaration support the creation of
the World Forum for Alternatives. We need to create a network of
committed individuals, popular organisations, social movements and
research centres. The time has come to establish a forum of forums,
bringing together existing organizations throughout the world. To think
and work together, support the social struggles that embody hope for the
future, encourage viable alternatives to neoliberal globalization, share
and disseminate the results of study and experience. These tasks are
imperative. We believe it is possible to build viable, democratic
alternatives that respect the identity and dignity of every human
being. We invite you to sign this declaration, to join the Forum and to
bring movements and institutions that share these ideals, and to which
they belong, into the Forum.

Goals and Objectives

1. Preamble
Worldwide, the need is manifest for a Forum bringing together committed
individuals, social leaders, intellectuals, social movements, existing
regional or specific forums and initiators of alternative solutions to
neoliberalism and unilateral globalization. The fate of humanity is at
stake. The present economic system, far from delivering goods and
services to all human beings, denies these - and even life itself - to
the majority. Transnational enterprises monopolize economic decision-
making and minorities hoard wealth and power with the complicity of
national and international regulatory bodies. This economic system is
engineering and propelling dramatic social changes, weakening public
institutions, dismantling social solidarity, destroying natural
resources and the environment, and eroding cultural and ethical values.
At the same time, many forms of resistance are being mounted across the
world and new perspectives are arising for the future of our planet. The
are providing hope and are identifying the possibilities for the
creation of new economic, social and political alternatives. It is from
them that the World Forum for Alternatives draws its will and

2. Goals
To contribute to the strengthening of the many existing struggles in the
economic, political and cultural fields particularly the struggles of
oppressed people, workers, peasants, women, young people, communities
whose identities and social rights are denied, ecological movements and
other excluded groups by creating deeper, common knowledge and by
bringing these groups to the fore of change.
To promote research (theoretical and empirical), policy development and
action dealing with viable alternatives to neoliberalism and unilateral
globalization, based on democratic and popular interests, and on a
profound respect for national, cultural and religious differences.
Specifically, the Forum will seek to identify various forms of research
and resistance and find ways of combining different levels of analysis
and intervention: macroeconomic dimensions, micro-realizations, social
movements, local-level institutions (municipalities, rural districts)
and more. To exercise pressure on the present economic system, forcing
it to adjust to the requirements of social progress and respect for the
natural environment, by resisting and delegitimizing the logic of
unilateral globalization, and by searching for and building viable

3. Objectives
To analyze the economic, social, political and cultural consequences of
neoliberalism and the exclusive power of the new forms of capitalism,
especially financial capital and transnational corporations. To
promote new approaches to the resolution of the dialectical tensions
between personal initiative and the achievement of collective goals.
To promote the expansion of non-market-oriented social activities aimed
at fulfilling the need for rebuilding social solidarity.
To emphasize democracy, not only as a final goal for the social,
political and economic organization of societies, but also as a means of
action at all levels of collective action, including social movements,
political parties, institutions, nations and international bodies.
To promote all cultures, viewing cultural and religious differences and
a diversity of worldviews as human inheritances and potential
contributions towards the betterment of humankind, avoiding at the same
time reductionist nationalist, ethnical or religious withdrawals.
To promote the establishment of democratic, competent and transparent
states endowed with regulatory powers.
To promote regional groupings based on complementarity in order to
satisfy basic popular needs and ensure more equitable international

To democratize existing international organizations in order to serve
people s interests and to restructure these institutions in line with
the need to regulate international economic, social and political

4. Means
- By establishing a world network of individuals, movements and existing
networks around the Forum Manifesto.
- By organizing working groups, events and international meetings on
crucial issues. By disseminating analyses and information about
- By acting jointly in defence of specific causes or movements.
- By revising both the internal document and the Forum Manifesto at least
every five years and submitting it afresh to Forum members for

5. Membership
- Full members: committed individuals, social leaders and intellectuals
who agree to sign both the Forum Manifesto and the internal document.
Associate members: personalities, democratic social movements,
associations and institutions that agree to sign the Forum Manifesto.
- Collaborators: democratic social movements, associations and
institutions that join forces with the Forum on specific issues, for
the organization of working groups or for the realization of specific

Provisional Programme of Activities ***

1.Forum Construction
Building the Forum is a long-term process. The first stage (from now
until the end of 1997) will be decisive. Action during this stage will
be based on finalization of the documents developed in Cairo, i.e.: the
declaration (or manifesto); the definition of goals, objectives and
strategy; the working plan.
These documents will have to be adopted (with amendments as suggested
and required) by the follow-up committee and translated into the Forum s
four working languages (French, English, Arab and Spanish). They will
serve to support the establishment of the Forum, whose major elements
are described below.

1.1 Steering Committee and Policy Committee

To ensure the development of the Forum, a small Steering Committee
(essentially a temporary technical follow-up committee) consisting of 13
people was formed after the Cairo meeting (see list of members in
appendix). This Committee will coordinate the undertaking until the end
of 1997.

Beginning in 1998, a procedure will be established so that the
membership as a whole will decide the membership and future role of the
Committee. Alongside the Steering Committee, which is responsible for
implementation, a wider Policy Committee will oversee the political
evolution of the undertaking in accordance with the foundation documents
developed at the Cairo meeting. The composition of the Policy Committee
will also be reviewed by Forum members early in 1998.

1.2 Mobilization of 50 Personalities
These personalities, many of whom are already connected by multiple ties
to the Forum s founding members, come from political organizations,
social movements and the world of research, communications, information
and culture. Their names and activities capture the aspirations of
millions of people who are resisting neoliberalism and building
alternatives. These personalities will be asked to support the Forum
publicly and participate in some of the major events organized by the
Forum. The list of these personalities will be drawn up by the Steering
Committee. A provisional and non-exhaustive list is appended. 1.3
Recruiting Members
Members will be recruited on the basis of their agreement with the
founding documents. There will be two kinds of members: Individuals:
During the first year, our goal is to recruit 5,000 people.
Organizations, including social movements, research and information
groups, progressive publications and networks in short, groups that
represents a struggle against neoliberalism. During the first year, we
hope to recruit at least 1,000 in each of these groups. Members will be
proposed by founding members, accepted by the Steering Committee, and
listed in a file open to all members.

1.4 Constitution of Regional Centres
The Forum, which is intended as an international initiative, will be
structured by its members who will be encouraged to form regional
working centres in order to foster greater synergy in action. The
establishment of regional centres will be supported in particularly
active locations such as Johannesburg, Dakar, Cairo, Beirut, Kuala
Lumpur, Manila, Mexico, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Montreal, Paris,
Amsterdam, Brussels, Rome, Moscow, Berlin, and others.

1.5 Permanent Survey
During its first year, the Forum will necessarily be a “work in
progress” - an evolving, shifting structure that will need to adapt,
define itself, find its niche and develop its space in active and
dynamic partnership with other organizations pursuing similar goals.
To facilitate this evolution, the Forum will set up a permanent survey
by creating a mobile and transparent central file that will include
descriptions and addresses of similar projects - i.e., a data base
giving concrete expression to the idea of a “network of networks” that
we intend to promote. This will take the form of an updated website, as
well as other, more traditional media.

1.6 Funding
The Forum must be able to maintain itself and establish its long-term
action on a self-sufficient basis. It needs to develop a funding
strategy that will shield it from interference and ensure its complete
independence. Three actions are suggested to achieve this goal. First,
founding members must come up with an initial stake of US$120,000 before
the end of 1997. This sum will provide the first operating budget
described in an appendix to this document.
Secondly, on the basis of endorsements by personalities and members,
steps will be taken to create a private foundation whose capital will
provide the basic budget for the Forum s continuing operations. The
goal is to constitute a $1 million capital endowment.
Finally, steps will be taken on a case-by-case basis to fund specific
activities that will help the Forum achieve its goals: research,
lectures and workshops, publications, etc. NGOs and private foundations
will be the main targets of these efforts.

2.Research and Action Programme
The programme is organized around four themes.

2.1 Mobilization of the Forum
Any member can use the Forum to reach other members (individuals or
associations) that might be interested in suggested actions and
research. The Forum disseminates information, facilitates contacts and
engages with information provided by members about their work and

2.2 Research Programmes
The Forum sets up workshops on themes defined as strategic through its
discussions. A given workshop will be established only if there are
members, and particularly associations and research institutions from
several countries, who are ready to take part in it. The Steering
Committee appoints a workshop facilitator. The workshop defines its
programme and working processes (Internet, fax and mail, meetings,
etc.); its proposals, conclusions and initiatives are brought to the
Forum for general discussion. During the first year, three research and
action programmes are suggested on the following themes:
Regionalization and globalization: trends and counter-trends Movements
of struggle and resistance against neoliberal globalization
Democratization process and democracy For each of these programmes, a
document calling for participation will be disseminated throughout the

2.3 The State of Resistance and Struggle against Neoliberalism in the
For the first year, the Forum will produce an annual report that will
include: Articles on the state of the world from the point of view of
struggle and resistance. A critical analysis of reports presented by
major international institutions (World Bank, IMF, WTO, etc.).
Provisional findings (status reports) from the Forum s research
programme. A section providing references and resources (catalogue of
places where resistance and reformulations are taking place).
During a second stage, we will consider the possibility of adding a
section providing a systematic presentation of movements and research
projects by region, country and sector. This work, intended to make the
other half of the world visible the half that is resisting and
formulating will require a major effort in terms of organizing and
checking information. We will consider undertaking the project in three
or four years when the Forum has become representative of a wider range
of situations.

2.4 Groups Focusing on Emerging Issues
Ad hoc working groups suggested by the membership may be set up to
facilitate discussion and reflection on emerging issues. The Forum will
thus propose a more collective understanding and a better way of dealing
with the uncertainty created by events with strategic or fundamental

3. Events and Initiatives

3.1 Mobilization of the Forum by Members
The working principles and ethos of the Forum are decentralized. Any
member can use the Forum to ask other members to join in a suggested
initiative. The Forum circulates information on all initiatives brought
to the attention of those who manage its communications systems
(Internet, Newsletter, etc.).

3.2 Co-operative Efforts and Programmes with Other Networks
The Forum may support or associate itself with initiatives put forward
by networks with which it works and may also occasionally participate in
major demonstrations. In the months to come, these might include the
march of European workers and unemployed people on Amsterdam in July
1997, the meeting of the Foro de Sao Paulo, and the world conference
against APEC in Vancouver in October 1997.

3.3 Organization of a Major Forum Event
In the years to come, research and action programmes could serve as a
basis for organizing major events, e.g., a meeting on the reconstitution
of a popular movement (trade unions, associations, social movements,
For this year, we might consider suggesting that the Permanent People s
Tribunal organize a session on the United States against the peoples of
the world or perhaps, to begin more modestly, on the United States
against multilateralism.

4.Publications and Communications
The Forum by definition is a space for debate and exchange. As such, it
will give a high priority to communications, using the following means:

4.1 Newsletter
The Forum will publish a Newsletter to provide links between members.
The newsletter will include notes and information on the development and
activities of the Forum and its members. It will be published on a
quarterly basis in both print and electronic form.

4.2 Internet Site
The Forum will establish its own Internet site to make it easier to
exchange information and to provide access for members and
sympathizers. The site will include foundation documents, a database,
the newsletter, documents produced by the Forum and its members, and a
space for debate, references, etc.

4.3 Review
Twice a year, in association with the Alternatives Sud review, the Forum
will publish a review containing analyses and proposals for the
international struggle against neoliberalism.

4.4 Funding for Articles and Ties to Progressive Publications
Relying chiefly on electronic means, the Forum will financially assist
the writing and publishing of articles written by its members and
associates. Establishment of this fund will be coordinated with
international publications (newspapers, periodicals, magazines) pursuing
the same goals as the Forum. The Forum will also develop a subnetwork
to put journalist members in touch with each other.

4.5 Ad Hoc Documents
Specific documents will be published as part of events in which the
Forum is involved as organizer or participant. One purpose of these
publications will be to highlight the research undertaken by members,
according to the priorities established in the research and action

Attachment 1 :
List of members of the Follow-up Committee
(in alphabetical order)

Samir Amin (Dakar - Cairo)
Georges Aseniero (Manilla)
Pierre Beaudet (Montreal)
Pablo Gonzales Casanova (Mexico)
Luciana Castellina (Rome)
Fiona Dove (Amsterdam)
Bernard Founou (Dakar)
Hakim Ben Hamouda (Grenoble)
François Houtart (Louvain-la-Neuve)
Hein Marais (Johannesbourg)
Gustave Massiah (Paris)
Helmi Sharawi (Cairo)
Fahima Sharraf Eddine (Beirut)