Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Dear Leftists, punctuation goes inside the quotes

The Alternative Social Forum in Caracas: Voices from the Left
by ASF Media Team
Alternative Social Forum

The Foro Social Alternativo (Alternative Social Forum – ASF) confronted the progressive institutionalization of the World Social Forum that has spelled its degeneration over half a decade of development. This bureaucratization of the WSF is contrary to its genesis and original principles, which spoke of a convergence of diverse and contradictory movements, a "movement of movements". At its current stage, the WSF is serving to catapult and legitimize a series of leaders, governments, institutions, NGOs and leftist political parties with relatively large economic power and resources; this has the effect of furthering these interests and marginalizing more radical and “minority” movements. One of the priorities of the Alternative Social Forum was to generate an autonomous space to develop and interrelate various local movements, whose diverse subjectivities offer alternative visions to the imposed discourse and Manichaeism that has characterized Venezuela in recent years.

The ASF took place in three venues in the city of Caracas: the Universidad Central de Venezuela, the Colegio de Ingenieros and the Organizacion Nelson Garrido, and involved three types of activities: conferences, practical workshops and an independent film series. Activities were diverse and kaleidoscopic. The conferences involved a diversity of international speakers who shared their experiences and visions. Among these speakers was John Holloway who directed a talk on “Changing the World Without Taking Power” to an enthusiastic audience whose subsequent debate lasted over 4 hours. Other talks included: Daniel Barret (Uruguay) on “Horizons of Change in Latin America”, Ezequiel Adamovsky (Argentina) on “New Social Movements and Anti-Capitalism in the 21st Century”, Frank Fernandez (Cuba) on “Anarquism in Cuba”, Christian Guerrero (USA) on “Radical Ecology in the USA”, Javier Garate (Chile) and Andreas Speck (UK) on “The Relationship Between the Arms Race and Transnational Corporations”, Radical Critique (Brazil) on “Leftist Politics in Latin America”, Ricardo Garcia (Mexico) on “Autonomy and Magonismo in Mexico”, Rob Block (USA) on “The Anti-Prison Movement in the USA” and Kristina Dunaeva (Russia) on“The Chechnyan War and Anti-Militarism in Russia”.

The local contribution was no less impressive, opening events included a conference with Domingo Alberto Rangel on “Islamic Fundamentalism and Globalization”. Humberto Decarli conducted a discussion on “Militarism and Social Change in Venezuela”. Maria Pilar Garcia and the Amigransa collective hosted an eclectic day-long panel discussion on current ecological and indigenous struggles in Venezuela and the world. The Anarchist Black Cross of Venezuela organized a forum on prisons in the country. Others included: Francisco Prada on “External Invasion and the Integrationist Response”, Ricardo Benaim on “Xenophobia and Anti-semitism”, Lenin Ovalles on “Urban Culture” and Alfredo Vallota on “Foundations of Socialism in the 21st Century”. Participants lamented the absence of Douglas Bravo, whose dialogue on “Proposals for Today and the Future” had to be suspended due to family tragedy.


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