Political parties and civil society: the challenge of Mumbai

What is the relationship between political parties and social movements? How can and must politics accept the challenges and demands of civil society and civil movements? These and other questions were at the centre of one of the plenary sessions in the second day of the WSF, a conference which significantly brought together speakers from South and North. Among the former, the Indian speaker, Suniti, emphasized the necessity to ?change first politics before it can change us; we know what the meaning of politics is in terms of power and corruption, and we are not interested in this?. The most passionate intervention came from a Bolivian peasant leader, David Choquehuania: ?We are not asking for a better life? he shouted ?we ask to live with dignity, we ask neo-liberal economic policies and the multinationals to allow us to live according to our traditional norms: with humans and nature complementing each other, for consensus without imposition?. Among the Western speakers two were striking: one was a French representative of the green party, and the other an Italian, Fausto Bertinotti, Secretary of Rifondazione Comunista, a party from the extreme left. The former underlined the challenge facing social movements today: to become an autonomous political force, or to find new forms of partnership with political parties. The latter expressed his admiration for what is happening in Mumbai, and denounced ?the new capitalism that is no longer capable of governing the world because it produces only uncertainty, instability and hence war.? The non-global movement, he added, is opposed to this and is capable of expressing constantly new forms of participation and democracy. (Stefano Femminis and Daniele Frigeri S.J.). [HL40116]