People's Struggles, People's Alternatives is the theme of the World Social Forum in Nairobi, a theme which certainly is of relevance to antimilitarists and pacifists. And a theme, that is also very relevant in the African context, where people struggle against neo-colonial exploitation, and against war and violence.

Since the beginning of the World Social Forum process in 2001, antimilitarists and pacifists have remained more on the sidelines of this process, thus missing the opportunity to engage in a debate with movements from all over the world. Certainly, there are differences of opinion, of strategy, and most importantly often a differing view on the use of violence. While we should stand firm in our commitment to pacifism and antimilitarism, we still have a lot to learn from other movements - but also a lot to give.

Nonviolence has a huge repertoire of tools and experience in practicing real grassroots democracy, empowering people, and building alternatives. This experience - often derived from anarchism and feminism - is valuable for the World Social Forum process, which struggles with issues such as participatory democracy, decision making and others. Not that we have all the answers - far from it - but we can contribute our valuable experience.

We think it is now not the time to sit on the fence and criticise the WSF and other movements from a purist perspective. It is time to engage with other movements, to use the space provided by the World Social Forum - not uncritically - in order to be part of the development of new alternatives and new strategies to change the world. Because change - radical, revolutionary change - is needed, if we want to break out of the cycle of violence, poverty, environmental destruction, and potential nuclear overkill.

Andreas Speck & Javier Gárate

Programmes & Projects

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