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<nettime> world social forum digest
geert lovink on Tue, 6 Jan 2004 08:46:05 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> world social forum digest

(official homepage of the World Social Forum (Mumbia, January 16-21):
http://www.wsfindia.org/. I wonder who from nettime will be attending the
wsf in Mumbia (I am not...) and if someone would like to a report or diary
from there and if others perhaps would like to co-compile this nettime
digest with me. I am in particular interested in discussion papers, such as
the one from Peter Waterman. /geert)

1. New Digitised System for Translation
2. Dialogues on the Knowledge Society Workshop
3. Democratization of Information with a Focus on Libraries
4. Networking the Free Media (Ciranda)
5. Archaich Left Challenges WSF (PeterWaterman)
6. Sarai  {AT}  WSF


During the next World Social Forum, which will be held
in Mumbai, India, 16-21 January 2004, a new
translation system will be used. The interpreters are
volunteers: Babels guarantees this service, as it did
with success during the last European Social Forum.
For the first time, we will not have to rent equipment
at exorbitant rates thanks to the combined use of FM
transmitters (for Indian languages) and a computer
based system that will digitalise the translation.
This system, called Nomad Interpreting Free Tools
(NIFT) uses a simple computer which is able to make an
interface between the speakers, the translators and
the audience. NIFT is a joint effort of several
groups, including APO33 and Babels, together with
free-software actors in various countries. This is an
ongoing process needing support from a wider variety
of actors and groups.
NIFT reduces the costs, enables the debates and
conferences to be broadcast via audio streaming in all
the languages translated, and to archive and index, by
speaker, the contents of these debates and conferences
through different media, such as DVD, CD and websites.

Today, we have three different propositions to make.

The first is to offer the possibility to diffuse, by
Internet, languages that will not be officially
translated in Mumbai. The second is a request to make
your website available as a mirror site to broadcast
the conferences and debates during the WSF. And third,
we are inviting you to join the NIFT project that will
be developed using free software and GNU licence.

This is a proposal for those who want to translate the
debates of the WSF into languages that will not be
officially translated in Mumbai. (The official
languages are Hindi, English, Marathi, Castillian,
French, Japanese, Thai and Korean.) For this to
happen, the interested organisations or institutions
need to provide one or more translators and to help
share the costs. The cost is probably about $200 to
rent a computer for one conference room and to
contribute to the costs of the internet connections,
but the cost will be much less if the translators has
his/her own laptop able to work with linux.

If you are interested, please let us know very soon to
wsf_stream {AT} ras.eu.org with:
The language you want to translate
The number of ?channels? you want to use. A ?channel?
is a conference room where translations is in place,
but it is possible to change the ?channel? from room
to room with minimal delay at no additional cost.
The number of translators you will have for the job.

2. This is a request to set up mirror sites to stream
and to archive the translated conferences. As you
know, streaming uses a lot of band space and by
sharing we can resolve this problem. Each site that
wants to be part of this mirroring system can do it in
one or several languages and will take the stream
directly from the provider installed for the WSF in

The mirror sites will be linked to www.wsf.india.org.

If you are interested, please send the following
information to: wsf_stream {AT} ras.eu.org
Languages you want to broadcast
Are you in India for the WSF?
Name of the technical contact
Url of your site:
Does your provider allow streaming?
Have you done it before?
What is your available bandwidth?

3. Third is an invitation to join the NIFT project.
This software will be available on 2 January at
http://sourceforge.net/projects/targ/. We welcome any
comments, suggestions of new functions or help to get
rid of the bugs

In solidarity



2. From: <indigen {AT} vsnl.net>

Dear Friends,

The Dialogues on the Knowledge Society workshop has been allotted two

January 17--------------------------------- 1P.M. to 4.P.M.
January 19----------------------------------5P.M. to 8.P.M.

You can get more details at  http://www.wsfindia.org/event2004/search.htm
Search by typing  <Indigen Research Foundation>   in the text box .

There will be presentations by

Krishna Gandhi, Jhansi
Tenzin Gigzin, Pune
Ananya Vajpeyi, Bangalore
Sunil Sahasrabudhey, Varanasi
Krishnarajulu Naidu, Hyderabad
Jinan K.B., Aruvacode
Amit Basole , Durham
Avinash Jha, Delhi

WSF2004 is being held at NESCO grounds in Goregaon East, Mumbai. You can see
map at http://www.mumbainet.com/cityinfo/citymap.htm

Please send mail for any more information.



29th Dec 2003

World Social Forum (WSF) is taking place in Mumbai 16-21, January 2004.On
this occasion Network Institute for Global Democratization (NIGD), Bytes For
all, and Sir Dorabji Tata Memorial Library, Tata Institute of Social
Sciences are jointly organizing a library focused International Workshop on
Sunday 18th January 2004  at Mumbai. Details of the workshop can be found on
the website: www.nigd.org/libraries/mumbai.

Theme: Democratization of Information with a Focus on Libraries

Date: Sunday 18th January 2004

Timing:     09.00am Registration
Venue:     Sir Dorabji Tata Memorial Library, TISS, Mumbai

IFLA Chair Ms.Kay Raseroka will be delivering the Key Note Address.

Sub themes for Panel Discussions

1.      The Right To Memory
2.      Library Paradigm - Library Power
3.      Alternative Knowledge Formation
4.      Information Literacy And Capacity Building
5.      Open Source Systems In The Library And On The Net

Dr.Muttayya Koganuramath

Librarian and Coordinator

Sir Dorabji Tata Memorial Library
Tata Institute of Social Sciences
Deonar, MUMBAI-400088
Tel:022-25563290 Extn.285
Email:journalslib {AT} tiss.edu


4. Indymedia's Radio Group - D.R.O.P. project will Produce a Live
Internet Broadcast: Thursday January 31st  - Monday February 4th.
For Immediate release, Monday, January 28th, 2002
Contact: imc-audio {AT} indymedia.org

1. The World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil
2. The World Economic Forum and protests in New York City
3. The Munich Conference on Security Policy protests in Munich
4. Additional Programming from India, the UK, San Francisco and Seattle,
among others.

The World Economic Forum
Some very important people are missing from the headlines and the stories of
the world's most influential economic institutions like the International
Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the Free Trade Area
of the Americas.  The real players--corporate representatives--meet for the
World Economic Forum (WEF) this year in New York City with minimal remote
press access.  Teach-ins and protests planned in New York City get to the
heart of corporate globalization and US economic power.


The World Social Forum
Also missing from the headlines are the alternatives devised by grassroots
organizations and the world's non-elites.  Set to happen at the same time as
the WEF is the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a conference
exploring such alternatives to an increasingly standard corporate agenda.


The Munich Conference on Security Policy
This annual meeting brings together the government officials and the
military of NATO and the EU.  Much of the coalition behind the military
coalitions that brought us the wars in Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Iraq are
forged in conferences like this security conference.  The last few months
have seen military coalition involvement from Japan and Germany
unprecedented since WWII.  European activists are planning to bring their
message held by most of the world: not to expand the "War on Terrorism" to
more countries.


During our broadcast, Stations can:
1. Stream the live broadcast any time
2. Download audio highlights from the live stream for broadcast; or
3. Download produced MP3 programs giving background, updates, headlines,
stories and wrap-ups.

The live internet stream will begin on January 31st and last through
February 4th from stations in Seattle, San Francisco, Vermont, New York,
Munich, Porto Alegre, and India.

To View a Schedule of the Broadcast please go to

To broadcast or listen to the Stream link to one of the following url's:

http://freeteam.nl:8000/drop - 24kbps
http://live.waag.org:7800/drop -24kbps
http://xaos.pvl.at:8000/drop - 24kbps
http://radio.uk.solpsists.org:8000/drop - 24kbps
http://www.autistici.org:8000/drop - 24kbps
http://radio.us.solpsists.org:8000/drop - 24 kbps
http://notowar.com/blast.m3u - 16kbps

For archived mp3's of the broadcast go to

Some portions of the stream may be in Portuguese, Spanish, French, or

If you have any questions about playing the broadcast, please email
imc-audio {AT} indymedia.org
For more details, go to:

Since the WTO protests in Seattle, 1999, the Independent Media Center (IMC)
has been covering the voices of those critiquing these global
institutions and their impact on democratic structures, then streaming it
over the internet.  Likewise, the IMC will produce live breaking coverage of
the forums and protests in Brazil, New York, and Munich.  Hundreds of media
activists will be calling in reports, conducting phone interviews and
collecting audio on the front lines, in workshops, and at teach-ins.

For more about the IMC, go to:

See also Microradio.net for more information about live web streaming:


5. World Social Forum 2004: Networking the Free Media
Information is a public service, not merchandise.

To build another world, we need to make another media possible-- a media
that is not subjugated by the interests of corporate controlled media and
one that operates outside the realm of market and financial considerations.

This is an initiative to build a strong independent press. We call all
political and not-for-profit publications and independent journalists who
want to join hands against the increasingly evident association between
media firms and political and economic power. This initiative will give
publications the right to freely publish each other's work, provided the
source and the authors are acknowledged.

WSF 2004 at Mumbai will have a mosaic of 1200 conferences, panels, seminars,
workshops and cultural and political activities with journalists reporting
on debates, the progress made in the design of alternatives, limitations,
consensus building and other controversial aspects. In practical terms, this
is a sure way to ensure wider coverage of WSF.

The initiative has a name-Ciranda-and a history, that is two World Social
Forums old.

What is Ciranda? It is an international independent form of information
exchange, a copyleft[1] exchange among alternative press publications and
journalists (reporters, broadcasters, photographers) worldwide that has
become a trademark of this platform searching for global alternatives.

It brings together hundreds of journalists and dozens of independent print
and electronic publications from all over the world and offers a special
coverage of the WSF meeting in several languages through the Internet
(www.ciranda.net). During the previous two WSF's, the information
distributed by Ciranda over the web was reproduced by dozens of printed
publications and other media throughout the world.

Who's already on board: Le Monde Diplomatique and Media Solidaire in France;
The Nation and Zmag from the US; Il Manifesto, Liberazione and Carta from
Italy; TaZ from Germany; One World from England; Rebelion from Spain; Focus
on the Global South from Australia/Thailand and dozens of publications of
Brazilian union and social movements  among others.

The gaps? Media from Africa and Asia. The run-up to WSF Mumbai will see us
pulling Ciranda's net over these gaps. Just as the World Social Forum's move
from Brazil to India has mobilised a different half of the world.

Last year's hits: 60,000 a day.

Nature and Scope: The vast majority of alternative media initiatives in this
part of the world  are in the print medium that need to be drawn into this
initiative. We perceive our role as initiators and expect alternative media
organisations particularly net based initiatives to come forward and take a
lead role.

Our long term vision perceives this initiative as a step towards building an
independent alternative news wire service from South Asia that could
continue even after WSF moves on to a different locale next year.

Who can register? All journalists of the alternative, independent press who
intend to come to WSF 2004 may join Ciranda. Publications can become
partners (their logo and link will be featured on the Ciranda website) and
can assist in the pre-event planning as well as during the event along with
the existing Ciranda team and members of the WSF communications group.

How do I join Ciranda?

Only accredited journalists will be able to cover events at WFS 2004. As the
first step you will have to:

1. Register on line for free (or fill the two enclosed press accreditation
forms) at the official WSF site: http://wsfindia.org/pressroom.php

2. Downlload the registration form(available in the press room of the
website), fill it and mail it to us at office_communication {AT} wsfindia.org.
Or, post the enclosed form to us at the address provided below.

Note: Those who participated in the previous meetings, must register again.

Submitting Articles: Articles/images will be uploaded by journalists by way
of a password which will be provided by the Ciranda organising team. With
the use of the document sharing program Publique!, the information is posted
immediately.  Registered journalists will receive information on the
training courses available for the use of specially designed software
Publique! which will be offered in Mumbai one day before the start of the

Ciranda editors: Articles will have to go through a group of editors, who
will review titles and lead-ins, only in cases where the text exceeds the
number of characters set by the graphic design.

The content of the articles will not be altered. Participants are completely
free to choose what activities and themes they are interested in covering at
the Forum. The Ciranda staff will indicate activities where coverage is
still in need of support.

Translation: Ciranda will publish articles in the original language, unless
authors themselves provide translations.

WSF 2004 will provide a meeting and workspace( including computers& Internet
access) for this project.

Those interested in finding out more write to us at

World Social Forum 2004
Bhupesh Gupta Bhawan III Floor, Leningrad Chowk, 85 Sayani Road, Prabhadevi,
Mumbai 400 025
Telephone: + 91 22 2421 6249 / 2421 6251 Fax: + 91 22 2421 6382
E-mail: office_communication {AT} wsfindia.org Website: www.wsfindia.org
Contact Persons: Minu Jose: 9820052377  Damayanti Bhattacharya: 98190 28409


Archaich Left Challenges the World Social Forum
By Peter Waterman

In early November 2003, the coordinating committee of farmers' organisations
from across India decided not to associate themselves with the World Social
Forum. Instead, they are creating a separate 'Global Peasant Forum under the
banner of Mumbai Resistance-2004 along with other genuine anti-imperialist
forces in India and abroad'.
Mumbai Resistance-2004 (MR2004) describes itself variously as a 'genuine',
'anti-imperialist', 'class', 'activist', 'socialist', 'revolutionary' forum
(see http://www.mumbairesistance.org).

It is a counter-hegemonic movement from the period of
national-industrial-colonial capitalism. This was a machine-age capitalism,
and it gave rise to mechanical interpretations of Marxism. MR belongs, more
specifically, to the 'Marxist-Leninist' (Maoist) tendency and is linked (in
more than a cyberspace sense) with the International League of Peoples
Struggles, (ILPS) and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

This movement considers discussion and analysis of the rights and wrongs of
globalisation to be a derogation from a 100-year-old Leninist theory of
imperialism. It is therefore suspicious of or hostile to the
anti-globalisation movement. The only concession it will make to the new
movement is that it has managed to capture a widespread and multifarious
discontent internationally. It therefore becomes a suitable object for
penetration and/or competition.

This movement pursues a Marxism of binary opposition, a Manichean Marxism
with oppositions like these:

NGO/People's Movement
Civil Society/Class Struggle
Revisionist Marxists/Revolutionary Marxists
Communist Party of India (Marxist)/CPI (Marxist-Leninist)
Workers Party in Brazil/Shining Path in Peru
False anti-imperialism/Genuine anti-imperialism
ATTAC/International League of Peoples Struggles

In such a Manichean Marxism, the Proletariat is either 'suffering from false
consciousness' (misled by Reformism, Bourgeois Ideology, a Labour
Aristocracy, a Union Bureaucracy, a Wavering Petty-Bourgeoisie,
Imperialism), or led correctly by a Vanguard (representing Science,
Revolution, the long-term general interest of the international

It has little or nothing to do with a dialectical Marxism, which recognises
internal contradiction (for example, within each of the apparent opposites
above), interpenetration (socialism within capitalism, capitalism within
socialism) and, I would suggest, mutual dependency (that 'reform' and
'revolution' are part of each other's meaning). Nor does it have much to do
with a historical Marxism (specific to a time and place, developing over
time, such as Marxism-Feminism, or Libertarian-Marxism).

Rather it is one that is Essential (fundamental, already present in
Marx-Engels, or Immanent and later revealed by the speaker's favoured
prophet), Universal (applicable worldwide) and Infinite (true for ever).
This tendency was well represented by Lenin when he said that 'Marxism is
All-Powerful Because it is True'. This can, did and does lead to unfortunate
corollaries, such as 'I am all-powerful, therefore what I say is true is

Whilst it is easy to recognise, and satirise, the discourse linking those
associated with MR2004, it is more difficult to decide what attitude one
should take toward them. There is a matter of who they meaningfully
represent (as distinguished from their customarily-inflated claims, and
their problematic notions of 'representation'), and what kind of threat they
represent to the healthy development of the process of which the World
Social Forum is a central part.

The best example - the major example - of Manichean Marxism on these sites
is where they engage with the Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO). Within
their discourse, the NGO occupies the position of Extreme Evil - even if the
speaker's particular party is not named as representing Highest Virtue.

NGOs, in this view, are agents of imperialism, confusing, corrupting and
misleading the masses. Much evidence and argument is mustered to drive home
these points. Statements from the World Bank, MNCs and other agents of
imperial power are quoted to show how shamelessly these promote NGOs.
Figures are provided revealing the extent to which the Ford Foundation in
the US, or the ICCO in the Netherlands, may be funding or otherwise
supporting the WSF. All this evidence may be accurate, if not particularly
new. But the general interpretation of them is somewhat problematic.

Earlier this year, there was created in the USA a body called NGOWatch. The
neo-conservatives behind this project share a Manichean - although not, of
course a Marxist - view of NGOs, seeing them as unrepresentative, agents of
communalism, and even enemies of major US corporations!

One awaits with some interest the Manichean Marxists's response to NGOWatch.
To be consistent with the Conspiratorial Manifesto, they would have to say
that NGOWatch has been created in order to mislead the masses into believing
that NGOs are not agents of imperialism!

What this confirms, in my view, is that 'NGO', like 'Civil Society' is a
fiercely disputed term (like all the interesting ones), and that what they
are or mean can only be understood according to how they are articulated
with other phenomena and discourses, such as those of class, capitalism,
patriarchy, imperialism and - today particularly - globalisation. This
means, I guess, that we need to consider such concepts relationally,
historically and concretely. And then to discuss different understandings so
as to be able to achieve effective emancipatory action internationally.

A dialectical and historical approach to the NGO phenomenon (Marxist or not)
must come to terms with its complex and contradictory nature (see, for
example, Mary Kaldor on accountability), and to surpass, rather than simply
accept, a negative definition which only tells us what these are not.

In the meantime I would like to suggest that the rise of NGOs is
simultaneously an indication of an ideological/political crisis of capital
and state (increasingly challenged from civil society) and an attempt to
circumvent or dominate this (through the creation, surveillance and
discrimination of NGOs). To assume that because those with power favour,
fund or legitimise something, it is reduced to their mere instrument is to
underestimate both the social forces working in another direction and the
sophistication of the bourgeoisie.

If, for example, the Ford Foundation is funding the World Social Forum, as
it is, this suggests to me that the Ford Foundation is cleverer than the
Manichean Marxists. Do contradictions hold up when they reach the doors of
the Ford Foundation? I don't think so. Contradiction is everywhere. I
recall, in 1970, asking a US radical, researching workers in Northern
Nigeria, how he could possibly be funded by Ford. He said: 'I am the
internal contradiction in the Ford Foundation!'. I do not recall his
consequent PhD as being notably functional to US imperialism. Lisa Jordan,
who works for Ford, has produced a thought-provoking, if telegraphic,
slideshow on NGO accountability. This could, again, be considered functional
to Ford, but it actually raises democratic challenges to NGOs where the
Manichean Marxists simply issue rhetorical condemnation.

The Ford Foundation has to also legitimate itself in the public eye. It is a
rich, powerful and quite obviously unaccountable force (except for such
legal requirements as may apply in the US), funding the WSF, or participants
therein. But to assume that what it is, or does, or wishes, will express a
unique interest (or function on behalf of a similarly single capitalist
interest) is to engage not in dialectical analysis but in conspiracy theory.

Indeed, I would like to suggest that both Kaldor's and Jordan's pieces on
NGO accountability could and should be used in relationship to the
vanguardist political parties, the unions and women's organisations, and the
WSF itself! At least until and unless the latter produce more appropriate
criteria and practices on the matter.

The World Social Forum is a field in which many forces are at play. It
combines features of a 'new' politics with those of an 'old' politics (see
Sen, Jai, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar and Peter Waterman - eds - The World
Social Forum: Challenging Empires. New Delhi: Viveka, forthcoming). So, it
may talk about equality, horizontality, transparency, accessibility,
accountability and plurality, whilst itself practicing hierarchy,
verticality, secrecy - and being heavily influenced by the culture of the
international NGOs of the 1990s.

This is where the pejorative concept of 'NGOisation', or ongización, comes
from. But the critics are themselves involved with the new social movements,
the NGOs and global civil society, and seek to remedy the problems.

Nevertheless, many of the criticisms being made by MR supporters hit home.

It is, for example, true that Prakash Karat, then an activist of the
Communist Party of India (Marxist) produced a major tract in the 1980s - of
the 'NGOs = Imperialist Agents' genre. This was called Foreign Funding and
the Philosophy of Voluntary Organisations. It is also true that the CPI(M)
today, a major force within WSF2004 in India, has pragmatically abandoned
this position, and thrown itself energetically into the funding practices it
previously demonised. Without, as far as I am aware of any similar major -
or even minor - tract, explaining and justifying its reversal of position.
Karat is now a national Politburo (Soviet language) member of the CPI(M).
Indeed, he recently participated in an event in West Bengal which not only
referred, neutrally, to (state- or party-approved?) NGOs, but implied that
such were to be subject to CPI(M) supervision:

"The NGO office-bearers must remain accountable to the
state/district/zonal/local committees in accordance with their geographical
area of operation; in the task of organising festivals and fairs, Party's
committees concomitant to the location/area of the event must be consulted
with and the event must be organised under the supervision of the concerned
Party committee."

(This report is worth reading in full, in so far as the
bureaucratic-authoritarian style, of ''criticism and self-criticism'
reproduces that of Stalinist parties, whether in power or not). The failure
of the CPI(M), or Karat, to publicly qualify or reverse a major
theoretical/strategic option of the past, is unsurprising. Power (however
petty) has its reasons, which do not require justification or even
explanation, to the Powerless - or even to those with simply Less Power.

It is also true that those with power within the World Social Forum - or
such regional emanations as the European or Asian Social Forums - are both
willing and able to interpret WSF Charter principles (e.g. on the presence
and role of political parties, or their front organisations) at will, and
customarily without explanation or justification. There even seems to be,
within the WSF, a more particular sensitivity toward the 'threat' from the
old militarist left and the new libertarian one, than toward those on the
right. Even leaders of the activist Call of Social Movements within the WSF,
are less transparent, less open to challenge, less willing to engage in
dialogue than they might claim to be - or to urge on others (see Waterman

A final problem is formed by the endorsement of the Mumbai Resistance
boycott/alternative by a whole range of Indian organisations, including at
least one major network of farmers. In so far as this network seems to
similarly raise a question about its relationship with the 'International
Farmers' Movement' - for example Via Campesina - the matter goes beyond the
WSF to affect the global justice and solidarity movement more generally. Via
Campesina is a new international network of peasant and small farmer
organisations, independent of the World Social Forum and taken to be an
example of the new social movement internationalisms.

This piece is not intended to provide an adequate response to the Forward
March of the Manichean Marxists. It merely provides some evidence, attempts
some analysis, and raises some problems.

If MR2004 is now reproducing, with respect to the global justice and
solidarity movement in general, a traditional vanguardist politics (which
can include 'entryism' as well as condemnation and external competition),
then the WSF is going to have to draw on all the resources of the new
counter-hegemonic movements in order to surpass the challenge of the old.


Panel discussion: Crisis Media of the Millennium
January 20, 2004, 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Venue to be announced shortly

Ravi Sundaram, Sarai-CSDS (Chair)
Toby Miller, New York University
Shuddhabrata Sengupta, Sarai-CSDS
Lawrence Liang, Alternative Law Forum

A Bookstall, at the WSF venue, will also sell our publications, and take
advance orders for Sarai Reader 04.

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