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The Barcelona Meeting - The Future of the Alliance

World Network of Artists in Alliance
Artists Socioprofessional Network

"If the Alliance didn’t exist, it would have to be invented". Inspired by these highly symbolic words from Marti Olivella, we held our (historic) meeting at Barcelona on the Alliance’s present and future. The meeting gathered 30 allies and members, mostly comprised of persons from the social-economic sector, and participants from other socioprofessional networks and workshops such as Yin-Yang, journalists, artists, territories, etc. and concluded on the importance of facing the challenge of a new phase of the Alliance.

Everyone agreed that something has to change. Words and expressions such as redefine, relaunch, reorganize, a new stage, etc. were heard during the different speeches and discussions.

The FPH has played an important role in the Alliance’s development. In the future, it should continue its support though without any hegemonic dimension, so that we can also show that the Alliance is growing. This would also be very positive for the FPH.

On the other hand, the Alliance is subject to segmentation, fragmentation, the lack of any clear project of what we really want, a lack of clear organizational rules, without formalization. There is little cross-linking –there is no connection between the different groups - they do not work together, few meetings are organized between workshops and only a few actions are anchored in the territory. The process maintains continuity as long as finance exists. The decision-making process is centralized and the use of English and French as the main languages makes communication on a wider basis between the allies difficult. The Alliance is more European and Latin-American than Asian and African. Furthermore, the way in which the workshops of the geo-cultural groups operate is precarious and lacks direction.

However, active groups of allies exist in China, India, Japan and other Asian countries, as well as in different African countries, so it is possible to say that the Alliance is also alive in these two continents.
We all acknowledge that the Alliance plays an important role in different movements, as proved by its involvement in the World Social Forum. Furthermore, it has been active during the three forums in conferences, panels, workshops, cultural activities, street events, etc.

Throughout its existence the Alliance has contributed towards forging different directions, such as:

The laboratory of political thinking – providing new topics, considerations, proposals and activities, thus widening the scope of political understanding.

Contributions to intercultural processes – such as the efforts made for the China-India dialogues, the Charter of Human Responsibilities, the Artists’ Caravan in Palestine, the permanent dialogue on an alternative world, the Drums of Peace, etc. The Alliance is one of the rare global spaces that is genuinely concerned with deepening intercultural dialogue.

The publication and dissemination of experiences: the Alliance has certainly contributed towards increasing the quality of social, cultural and environmental experiences, etc. The proposal papers, experience records and web sites are all examples of this and have permitted communicating these experiences.

New topics related to civilization, due to reflection on the non-sustainability of the present system and exploration of directions for other forms of socially oriented development that place cooperation before competitiveness, by focusing on the development of humankind.

The laboratory of paradigms: the Alliance gathers and systematizes in-depth reflection on the future of the world, encouraging myriad visions of the human adventure and global/local approaches of social processes.

The realm of the symbolic and values: the diffusion of pluralism and diversity, dissemination of the values of Peace –Peace Culture Councils, Street Conversations (Brazil), “Ecole de la Paix” (France), African Caravan for Peace, India/China Dialogues, Peace Culture in different places around the world.

The re-enchantment of the world: the Alliance promotes change via cultural challenges, joy, spirituality, the celebration of events, restoring poetry to life. All this was clearly demonstrated at Barcelona. The importance of new languages was recognized, not only political and rational languages, but above all those that humanize society.

Today, new challenges are now coming to light: neo-conservative globalization has been replaced by neo-imperialist globalization. We live in an era of uncertainty, preventive war and imperialism acting outside the law. The control of the media, aggravation of inequalities and the tendency to make use of populist and authoritarian messages all erode the position of civil society. Economics has taken control of the public arena. Fundamentalism is increasingly present in politics and the great powers the rest of the world to submit to their non-sustainable practices.
It has become vital to strengthen social movements, the many actors that impel them and the organizational capacities of civil society. Pluralism and diversity are dimensions that must be strengthened in an imperialist world.
Permanent links are required to face these challenges, with better organization and a clearer strategic project.

A Few Proposals:

- Strengthen social movements and collaborate in the process of their "empowerment";
- Strengthen the political impact of social movements;
- Strengthen the values of solidarity in society;
- Facilitate cultural dialogues and intercultural actions between countries and regions;
- Strengthen networks for change;
- Stimulate Culture for Peace;
- Link the local and global together to impel new reflection at this time of uncertainty;
- Combine the 3 P : Protest+Proposals+Pratices (I added a fourth P for Peace during the meeting);
- Be attentive to new actors representing new movements;
- Re-conceptualize the economy: not only monetary aspects but also the "invisible skein that organizes society". Remove the economy from the centre and understand the cross-cutting nature of human life.
- Recognize the existence of the grassroots citizen, create dialogues with people;
- Take stands in international debates;
- Re-enchant the world by celebrating differences, cultural wealth, the diverse poetics of social life, spirituality, dreams, utopia, in brief as the platform states "seek the guidelines for action based on the best of our traditions and our civilizations, and with our most generous impulses."

Build an Alliance organization capable of learning from this rich diversity: one that is flexible, polycentric, decentralized, and transversal, since the present form of organization does not create identities.

Thus we recognize the importance of giving ourselves a Global Project:
What relations do we want to build between ourselves and what unites us?
What type of Alliance do we want and what relations do we want with society and the world?
How can reflections and practices, and local and global actions be linked?
How can different visions, ideas and dialogues be linked?
A new Alliance?

"We must be sufficiently creative and audacious to do something in this direction", said one ally. Indeed, "the Alliance is an informal network of people, institutions and movements; a space for debates, dialogues, formulating common proposals, a social movement that aims at facilitating and strengthening social and cultural dialogues" (synthesis of debates in different groups).

We must write a new founding text that takes into account the present situation: this means formulating together a new reference text in this new context: "Alliance XXI: the paths of change for a responsible, plural and united world".

We need to seek financial independence by transforming projects into proposals, consultations, etc.; set up structural projects.
We should build a more flexible and more active organization.
Regroup socioprofessional networks and geocultural workshops.
Guarantee the presence of the Alliance in the WSF.

Build a new, radically distinct organization:

- A decentralized organization of networks with concrete responsibilities for fixed periods;
- Financially: act as consultants on projects, collect subscriptions from our own allies, and obtain support from the FPH and other foundations;
- The name should be changed though the key words should be kept: ALLIANCE 21 for a responsible, plural and united world. This will mark our re-foundation / re-launch / new stage.

Short-term action plan:

- A two-page letter inviting the allies to debate the formulation of a new text – until the end of July.
- A writing team will draw up a 10 page document with the conclusions of the meeting.
- Debate in regional groups and workshops: launch collective but not diluted conversations; invite people to involve themselves in the Alliance process.
- Until December 2003: formulate a new founding text and structural projects.
- Financial plan: start by shares of 1% for the secretariat; call for support for initiatives to develop the work.


Hamilton Faria
Brazilian poet. Co-founder of the Instituto (...)
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Themes involved

-The Alliance story

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