Note for a brainstorming meeting at the 6th International Degrowth Conference, Malmo, 21 August 2018
Across the world, there is resistance to the dominant, ecologically destructive and socially inequitable model of ‘development’ that has been imposed by capitalist, statist, and patriarchal forces. Simultaneously there is a search for radical and/or systemic alternatives to this model. These range from initiatives in specific sectors such as sustainable and holistic agriculture, community-led water/energy/food sovereignty, solidarity and sharing economy, worker take-over of production facilities, resource/knowledge commons, and inter-ethnic peace and harmony, to more holistic or rounded transformations such as those being attempted by the Zapatista and the Kurds in Rojava.
There is a great deal that such initiatives can learn from each other, if not the specifics of how transformation was brought about then at least the lessons, values, principles emerging from them. Even more important, there is a need for networking and critical solidarity amongst them to create a greater critical mass for macro-economic and political change.
Amongst the various global forums that have emerged in recent times to address the challenges humanity faces, the most visible and powerful is the World Social Forum (WSF). Through its various global and regional forums WSF has brought together a very large section of the resistance movements, and many of the alternative initiatives (with often the two being the same or overlapping). However, it appears that a predominant focus of the WSF remains critiques of the dominant system in all its dimensions, and strengthening resistance to it; the collective search for alternatives remains weak. This is not a criticism, just an observation, for the existence of a forum that can bring together and mutually strengthen resistance is itself absolutely crucial.
However, post-resistance visions and strategies for building a saner, equitable, wiser world are equally important. We therefore propose a Global Alternatives Confluence (GAC) that enables the following:
- Mutual sharing of alternative initiatives along the full range of human endeavour, to learn from each other, strengthen meaningful hope and inspiration;
- Building collaborations amongst these initiatives;
- Strategising for advocacy and actions towards changing the macro-situation to enable the spread and deepening of such initiatives; and
- Collective envisioning of alternative futures.
Clearly work on alternatives will not be successful without also being, or aligning with, work on resistance. The GAC is not proposed as a competitor to the WSF, but as complementary. If it can be held along with the WSF, in ways that enable fully democratic decision-making about its organizing, it is worth considering. Else, or additionally, it can be an independent (but linked) forum. And like the WSF, it can be global as also regional, and can build on ‘national’ or local Confluences (such as those being held in India, see footnote 1).
It is important that the GAC does not become institutionalized in ways that create bureaucratic, centralized structures of decision-making; it needs to remain a process, and an open platform, an identity that many can ‘own’ and run with.
Also important, this should be a forum for those seeking fundamental, systemic, radical transformation, not succumbing to the superficial, often ‘false’ solutions that are emerging in the form of predominantly market measures, technofixes and so on. A preliminary list of the kinds of initiatives / movements is in the Annex.
We hope to discuss the idea, desirability, and feasibility of such a global confluence at a gathering at the 6th International Degrowth Conference in Malmo, Sweden, on 21st August 2018. Amongst the issues we can address are:
- Is there a need for a GAC?
- If so, should it be held with the WSF, or independently?
- How will it link to other related regional or global events, such as those on the Commons, Degrowth, and Social/Solidarity Economy?
- What are the key principles for a GAC, e.g. democratic, flexible, inclusive, etc?
- What kind of structure (or unstructure!) would best meet these principles?
- What sorts of initiatives would the GAC be open to; what is a systemic/transformative alternative, how to distinguish these from superficial, ‘false’ solutions?
- How will a GAC be resourced?
- What are the next steps?
(note for discussion by Ashish Kothari with inputs from Liisa Haapanen, firstname.lastname@example.org)
5 June, 2018
Alternative initiatives / movements relevant for a GAC
(partial list; some of those listed below also have a range of initiatives only some of which may be radical/transformative/
Food / renewable energy / water /land sovereignty
Autonomy / self-determination (including of indigenous peoples)
Indigenous & community well-being (sumac kawsay, ubuntu, etc) / life plans
Swaraj / self-rule / radical democracy
Degrowth / decolonization / alter-globalisation
Social / solidarity /gift / cooperative economies
Peace / demilitarization
Worker / production democracy
Feminist / gender / sexuality
Climate and environmental justice
Radical and socially engaged spiritual
Alternative media and arts / arts for social transformation
Rights of nature
Transition towns / ecovillages
Community /complementary currencies
Meetings at Malmo conference (August 2018)
1 The Vikalp Sangam (‘Alternatives Confluence’) is a process carried out in India, bringing together initiatives on alternatives across the full range of human interests and arenas; seehttp://www.kalpavriksh.org/