Proposal to the May First/People Link Leadership Committee

Assessing the current state and proposing future steps in our international work

Proposed by Jackie Smith

Because the Internet is not defined by geographical and political boundaries, international alliances and global movement-building work are integral to May First/People Link’s mission, as articulated in our statement of unity. Our decisions about outreach and engagement with social movements on the Left should therefore take into account how such engagement contributes to this global purpose.

It is this global purpose which has drawn us to engage with the World Social Forum process, and its manifestation in our hemisphere, the United States Social Forum. However, we have learned from our work within that space that the U.S. Left remains particularly parochial in its orientation. The decentralized format and development of the Social Forum process has made overcoming these "U.S.-centric" tendencies all the more difficult in the United States. The absence of organizations in the USSF leadership that specialize in international work, like Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, has made these challenges even tougher.

This is why May First/People Link’s organizing of the forum gathering in Tijuana, Mexico was so critical to the 2015 USSF process. It created a space where movement forces in Mexico could engage with questions about the other kind of world we envision and that we are organizing towards. We produced an important declaration that we can and will use to mobilize new relationships and analyses among movement forces around the world. It provides us with a set of experiences and achievements that we can use to build relationships with other movements and networks.

Following the 2015 USSF, it is worth taking time to discuss the state of the United States and World Social Forum process and to consider whether and how we as an organization wish to engage with this process and include our membership in it.

As you know, the International Council of the WSF selected a team of organizers in Montreal to host the next World Social Forum. While there remain some internal debates within the WSF, and while many see the WSF in a state of crisis, I believe our slogan that ‘we are the ones we’ve been waiting for,’ and that we should consider engaging with the WSF process in our region as part of our movement building work.

I have met with organizers leading the Montreal WSF organizing and have also met with other segments of the Peoples Social Forum in Canada. I believe we can work with these leaders and their organizations to move past our nationally-oriented organizing models and work towards a vision of a hemispheric social forum process. Not only would this be a more appropriate match with MF/PL’s binational structure, but it would also address the U.S.-centrism and another critical issue in the USSF process, which is the fact that the very naming of the space excludes and alienates many Indigenous people and movements in this region (note that in Canada the name “Peoples Social Forum” was adopted for this reason).

I believe MF/PL should engage in conversations with the leaders of the WSF process in Canada—including both the Montreal organizing team and the larger Peoples Social Forum networks about how we might work together to build a social forum process in our hemisphere. Mobilizing around a possible WSF in our region offers us a huge opportunity to help expand the international/global analyses of activists in the United States (and elsewhere) but it advances MF/PL’s aim of fostering communication, dialogue and greater solidarity in the global Left.

By proposing that we engage with this process, I am not suggesting that we commit any resources besides the time and energy of our leadership and a commitment to considering a greater level of commitment as the LC deeps appropriate as we see the process unfold.

As part of our offer to engage in this process, I propose that we ask organizers in Montreal to consider including a Mexico City convergence as part of the WSF, modeled on the Tijuana meeting we organized as part of the recent USSF. The meeting would provide space for movement leaders and activists from Mexico and elsewhere to engage in dialogue about the critical struggles, analyses, and strategies, to build relationships, and to communicate ideas from this space to other WSF space/s and networks. We would also work to support ongoing dialogue and exchange across these hemispheric and global spaces that helps advance our movements around the world.

What I’m proposing, then is that we use the WSF process as a movement building tool for us in MF/PL, in the United States and Mexico, and globally. Our work on technology and on the politics of information and communication is a critical part of the alternative world we’d like to see, and it will require a different kind of engagement with the WSF process than we’ve taken so far.


Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Jul 28, 2015, 4:07:46 PM