Conclusion: It is Time to Reclaim the March of History

The Other Davos: Globalization of Resistances and Struggles
by Francois Houtart and Francois Polet

Conclusion: It is Time to Reclaim the March of History

By way of conclusion, we reproduce the manifesto of the World Forum for Alternatives, adopted in Cairo in March 1997, that expresses the spirit and the objectives of the Other Davos.

It is time to reclaim the march of history

Humanity’s future is at stake. Scientific progress and technical advances, the supreme achievements of knowledge, fortify the privilege and comfort of a minority. Instead of contributing to the well-being of all, these feats are used to crush, marginalize and exclude countless human beings. Access to natural resources, especially in the South, is monopolized by the few and is subject to political blackmail and threats of war. It is time to reclaim the march of history.

It is time to make the economy serve the peoples of the world

The economy provides goods and services mainly to a minority. In its contemporary form, it forces the majority of the human race into strategies for abject survival, denying tens of millions of people even the right to live. Its logic, the produce of neo-liberal capitalism, entrenches and accentuates grotesque inequalities. Propelled by faith in the markets self-regulating virtue, it reinforces the economic power of the rich and exponentially increases the number of the poor. It is time to make the economy serve the peoples of the world.

It is time to break down the wall between North and South

Monopolies of knowledge, scientific research, advanced production, credit and information, all guaranteed by international institutions, create a relentless polarization both at the global level and within each country. Trapped in patterns of development that are culturally destructive, physically unsustainable and economically submissive, many people throughout the world can neither define for themselves the stages of their evolution, establish the basis of their own growth, or provide education for their younger generations. It is time to break down the wall between North and South.

It is time to confront the crisis of our civilization

The confines of individualism, the closed world of consumption, the supremacy of productivism - and, for many, an obsessive struggle for sheer daily survival obscure humanity’s larger objectives: the right to live liberated from oppression and exploitation, the right to equal opportunities, social justice, peace, spiritual fulfillment and solidarity. It is time to confront the crisis of our civilisation.

It is time to refuse the dictatorship of money

The concentration of economic power in the hands of transnational corporations weakens, even dismantles, the sovereignty of States. It threatens democracy - within single countries and on global scale. The dominance of financial capital does more than imperil the worlds monetary equilibrium. It transforms states into mafias. It proliferates the hidden sources of capitalist accumulation, drug trafficking, the rams trade, child slavery. It is time to refuse the dictatorship of money.

It is time to replace cynicism with hope

Stock prices soar when workers are laid off. A competitive edge is gained when mass consumerdom is replaced with elite niche markets. Macro-economics indicators react positively as the ranks of the poor multiply. International economic institutions coax and compel governments to pursue structural adjustment, widening the chasm between classes and provoking mounting social conflict. International humanitarian aid trickles to those reduced to despair. It is time to replace cynicism with hope.

It is time to rebuild and democratize the state

The programme of dismantling the state, reducing its functions, pilfering its resources and launching sweeping privatizations leads to a demoralized public sector, weakened systems of education and health and the eventual usurping of the state by private economic interests. Neoliberal globalization divorces the state from the population and encourages corruption and organized venality on an unprecedented scale: The state becomes a repressive instrument policing the privilege of the few. It is time to rebuild and democratize the state.

It is time to recreate the citizenry

Millions of people are deprived of voting rights because they are immigrants. Millions more fail to vote because they are angry or discouraged, because parties are in crisis or because they feel impotent and excluded from political life. Elections are often distorted by influence-mongering and deceit. But democracy is about more than elections. Democracy means participation at every level of economic, political and cultural life. It is time to recreate the citizenry.

It is time to salvage collective values

Modernity, conveyed by capitalism and ideologized by neo-liberalism, has destroyed or profoundly corrupted existing cultures. It has imploded solidarities and dismantled convictions, extolling instead the high-performance individual evaluated on the basis of economic success. Rather than bringing emancipation to the peoples of the world, modernity is generating a crisis in education, fuelling social violence and triggering an explosion of insular movements that seek salvation and protection in nationalist, ethnic or religious identity politics. It is time to salvage collective values.

It is time to globalize social struggles

In all this, it is not the internationalization of the economy per se that is to blame. It could represent a dramatic step forward for material, social and cultural exchanges between human beings. But in its neoliberal form it becomes a nightmare lived by the victims of unemployment, young people traumatized by the future, workers shut out of the productive system and nations subjected to structural adjustment, labour deregulation, the erosion of social security systems and the elimination of networks serving the poor. It purports to link and unite, yet separates and imprisons. It is time to globalize social struggles.

It is time to build on peoples’ resistance

Across the world, people are organizing resistance, engaging in social struggles and creating alternatives. Women, men, children, unemployed people, excluded and oppressed people, workers, landless peasants, communities suffering from racism, impoverished city dwellers, indigenous peoples, students, intellectuals, migrants, small business people, outcasts, declining middle classes - citizens - are asserting their dignity, demanding respect for their human rights and natural heritages, and practising solidarity. Some have given their lives for theses causes. Others practice heroism in their day-to-day existences. Some are rebuilding knowledge on the basis of the concrete situations, some are trying out new economic forms, some are creating the basis of a new kind of politics, and some are inventing new cultures. It is time to build on peoples’ resistance.

Now is the time for joining forces

Convergence of struggles, of knowledge, of resistances, of innovations, of minds and hearts for a world of justice and equality, invention and material progress, optimism and spiritual development. We can build this world by seeking and discovering viable alternatives to neoliberalism and unilateral globalization, alternatives based on the interests of peoples and respect for national, cultural and religious differences. Now is the time for joining forces.

A time of creative universal thought has arrived

Honest, probing analysis of the current economic organization and its economic, social, ecological, political and cultural consequences can only delegitimize this phenomenon which is paraded to the world as the paragon of progress. The search for a balance between personal initiative and the pursuit of collective goals - based on a celebration of human diversity and creativity - must open the way to new models. Studies of expanding non-market sectors, productive techniques that respect the well-being of those who use them, and the organization and nature of work will help create more human forms of organization. A time of creative universal thoughts has arrived.

The time to rebuild and extend democracy is here

Democracy is no longer merely a goal for the organization of societies. It is also the key for the functioning of communities, social movements, political parties, businesses, institutions, nations and international bodies. It is progressively experienced as an essential contribution to the respect of popular interests, and the preservation of national and international security. By prizing open spaces for all cultures - not patronizingly, but because they represent humanity’s endowment - we can reverse the retreat into enclaves of narrow self-interest and the seclusion of identity politics. The existence of democratic, competent and transparent states is considered the basis for restoring their power to regulate. Regional economics and political groupings based on international complementary are viable answers to the real needs of the population and a necessary alternative to neoliberal globalization. Strengthening and democratizing regional and international institutions is a realistic imperative. It is a condition for progress in international law and the indispensable regulation of economic, social and political relations at the global level, particularly in the fields of financial capital, taxation, migration, information and disarmament. The time to rebuild and extend democracy is here.