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"It is certainly not our task to build up the future in advance and to settle all problems for all time, but it is just as certainly our task to criticise the existing world ruthlessly. I mean ruthlessly in the sense that we must not be afraid of our own conclusions and equally unafraid of coming into conflict with the prevailing powers."
Karl Marx, 1844


Published Date: 5 April 2004

The year 2004 has up to now (April 2004) been marked by three key developments of significance for the social justice movement in South Africa. The first two of these developments are also of particular significance for the global justice movement. The first important development was the move of the World Social Forum to Mumbai, in India. The second important development was the occasion of the first anniversary of the occupation of Iraq by the United States of America and its allies. The third significant development is the occasion of the first 10 years of the political revolution in South Africa, and the holding of the 3rd general elections. In different ways, this 5th edition of the Khanya Journal is devoted to all these three developments.

Significance of the WSF-Mumbai

The first major theme of this edition is the debate around the significance of the fourth World Social Forum held in the city of Mumbai in India. Held between 16 and 21 January 2004, the Mumbai WSF event was by far the largest in the (short) history of the WSF. Accounts of attendance range between 100 000 and 150 000. But numbers alone cannot capture the real significance of WSF-Mumbai. Three articles in this edition attempt to reflect on the political and historical significance of WSF- Mumbai. Mondli Hlatshwayo and Oupa Lehulere, Carol Barton, and Paul Nicholson and Josu Egireun in different ways discuss how and to what extent has the Mumbai experience opened up a new chapter in the development of the anti-globalisation movement in general, and of the WSF in particular. Hlatshwayo and Lehulere look at the first real entry of the masses in the terrain of the WSF, Carol Barton argues the need, in the light of the Mumbai experience, to link feminist activism more clearly with the politics of race and class.

Over the last few years of the WSF there has been a steadily growing debate about the purpose, structure, and politics of the WSF. One of the legacies of WSF-Mumbai has been to bring this debate to the fore in a more dramatic fashion.

This is largely thanks to the launch of Mumbai Resistance 2004. In their various ways all the articles dealing with the WSF in this edition make contributions to this debate. In particular, three articles make specific interventions in this debate. Oupa Lehulere takes issue with the politics of Mumbai Resistance 2004 (MR2004), and argues that while it raised important issues facing the global justice or anti-imperialist movement, MR2004 fails to make a serious contribution to the strategic challenges facing the movement. Paul Nicholson and Josu Egireun pick up the debate, who argue the need to re-examine the structure, the frequency of the WSF meetings, the composition of the WSF International Council, as well as the way social movements relate to the WSF. George Dor, on the other hand, focuses on a more specific item in this debate when he looks at the African Social Forum, and poses questions about how those committed to a militant anti-neoliberal and anti- globalisation politics should relate to the African Social Forum.

Sharing Experiences

The WSF is always an opportunity to meet militants from various movements, and through informal and at times rather late-night encounters, to learn and exchange ideas about how the global movement is being built today. In this edition we carry a report by Samuel Malindi, who attended the youth camp in Mumbai, in which he shares his experiences of meeting and engaging young militants from other parts of the world. We also carry two interviews with militants in the global anti-imperialist movement. Leila Khaled, from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Milton Jose Fornazien of the landless movement in Brazil, the MST, share their experiences and perspectives about their various movements with us.

The interview with Leila Khaled is also pertinent for another reason. The year 2004, in particular the month of March, marks the first anniversary of the invasion of Iraq by the Empire. In this edition MP Giyose writes of “that standing symbol of rot and barbarism in capitalism today: the war against the Palestinian people”. Lindsey Collen today, takes up the question of imperialism and war, so central to the struggle in Palestine in her discussion of the struggle to close US Military bases in the Mauritian island of Diego Garcia.

The themes of the WSF, and of war and occupation in Iraq are again taken up in a number of documents that are reproduced in this edition. We reproduce documents adopted at the Social Movements Assembly and at the Anti-War Assembly at the WSF.

Social movements and the elections in SA

Next to the key themes of the WSF, imperialism and war, the other key theme of this edition is concerned with the 2004 elections in South Africa, and the state of the social movements on the eve of this election. In other editions of the Journal this year we will continue with this theme. We plan to examine different components of the movement the urban based, youth, labour, women and other movements – and in relation to all of them we want to ask the key question: what is the state of the movement 10 years after the political overturn in 1994? Of course, the topic of “10 years of democracy” is now the flavour of the month, as every newspaper, conference, journal and many a book, are pronouncing their verdict on the last 10 years. The Editorial Collective has decided that our angle to the 10-year discussion will be to look at the state of the movements – their organisational, ideological, political and even philosophical state and character.

This edition begins this discussion, and five articles take up the discussion on the 2004 elections, on the performance of the ANC in power over the last 10 years, and on the state of the movements today. In two related articles Ashwin Desai and Richard Pithouse, and Brian Ramadiro look at the last 10 years of ANC rule: the first article takes an overview of ANC rule across a broad front, and the second looks at ANC education policies. Nina Benjamin reflects on the discussions on the elections in the APF in Gauteng, and makes an argument for the role of the discussion in accumulating strategic experience for the movement.

These discussions on the elections and the last 10 years of ANC rule are supplemented by documents produced by the social movements. We publish positions on the elections by the APF Gauteng, the Cape Town APF, and the Khayelitsha Anti-Evictions Campaign.

MP Giyose and John Appollis continue our 10 year theme discussion by looking at the politics of the social movements today. Where Appollis looks at different ideological and political currents within the social movements today, Giyose takes a look at the Social Movements Indaba. On the eve of its second national meeting, held in Johannesburg in March this year, Giyose took a critical look at the SMI, its prospects and its tasks.

“Damn the digital divide”!

At its reflection meeting early this year the Editorial Collective decided to provide space in the Journal to introduce new debates and issues to the militants in the social movements. Of course, these – we hope – will be issues relevant to building the local and global social justice movement today. In this edition we introduce a discussion on a topic which does not occupy the minds of militants today, but we think is integrally related to the struggle against imperialism, war and poverty: it is the issue of the so-called “digital divide”. In this edition Mothobi Mokhethi introduces the debates and discussion on Open Source Software and Free Software, and argues that the OSS/FS movements have the potential to contribute to the global and local justice movements.

We close this edition with our regular features: the Barometer of Resistance, and with our Review of Progressive Websites. Anna Weekes and Mondli Hlatshwayo compile the Barometer for us, and Eli Kodisang reviews websites dealing with the WSF.

Let’s keep in touch, and lets meet in the next edition of the Khanya Journal!

Yours in solidarity

Oupa Lehulere (Convening Editor)

Originally published here: https://khanyajournal.org.za/kc-journal-no-5-april-2001-debating-wsf-mumbai-and-social-movementsin-south-africa/

"Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and forever." -Leon Trotsky

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