Forty years after the movements of 1968, intellectuals and activists reflect on the heritage of that movement and analyze its influence on the last decade’s wave of globalizing and densely networked movements. This paper analyses the findings of the critical scholarship on the 68 aiming to expand those reflections to make sense of the current global convergence of social movements. Strengths and weaknesses of the Global justice Movement in its most institutionalized and organized form, the World Social Forum, are looked at in transparence highlighting how they stretch back in time and are, to a certain extent and with the due differences, articulations of the ethos and politics of the movements of the 68. Such an analysis builds on extended fieldwork in the World Social Forum and suggests that a short sided vision of its historical and genealogical positioning risks to limit considerably the ability to appreciate its nature and role in current world politics. Moreover, a thorough look at the ‘roots’ of the current global movement can contribute to provide it with further grounding while projecting it towards the future as a powerful actor of social transformation and not only at the cultural level.
Some working ideas:
The concentration of the several strands that made the Global justice and Solidarity Movement into an institutionalising setting such as the World Social Forum, begs analytical attention in light of the literature on mobilisation – demobilisation – and institutionalisation of social movements but also on wider literature dealing with social transformation and world politics. This preliminary study suggests to recover the experience of the instituionalisation of the 1968 movements into what has been defined as the NGO movement or the New Social Movements wave. It is argued that current analysis of the process of transformation taking place within the World Social Forum and in the interaction between the WSF and its adversary (the WEF and its ideology: neoliberalism) has not taken into consideration the outcome of comparable historical events. The relevance of such a comparison is twofold: on one hand this work aims at establishing fresh analytical tools to investigate processes of movements transformation, on the other hand it aims at indicating the potential outcome of such processes of transformation. I argue that it is legitimate and founded to infer that just as the 1968 struggles created the conditions of instrumental use of its slogans and ideology by new following neoliberal onslaught, it is possible to investigate the potential for instrumental use of the ideology on which the WSF is built: openness, diversity, secularity, non-party politics, non-violence.