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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 wellbeing of all, these feats are used to crush, marginalise and exclude countless human beings. Access to natural resources, especially in the South, is monopolised by the few and is subject to political blackmail and threats of war. It is time to reclaim the march of history.

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 hudreds of millions of people even the right to live. Its logic, the product of neoliberal capitalism, entrenches and accentuates grotesque inequalities. Propelled by faith in the market's self-regulating virtue, it reinforces the economic power of the rich and exponentially increases the numbers of the poor. It is time to make the economy serve the peoples of the world.

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 polarisation both at the global level and within each country. Trapped in patterns of development that are culturally destructive, physically unsustainable and economically submissive, many peoples throughout the world can neither define for themselves the stages of their evolution, establish the basis of their growth, or provide education for their younger generations. It is time to break down the wall between North and South.

Confront the Crisis of our Civilisation

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 fulfilment and solidarity. It is time to confront the crisis of our civilisation.

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 a global scale. The dominance of financial capital does more than imperil the world's monetary equilibrium, it transforms states into mafias. It proliferates the hidden sources of capitalist accumulation - drug trafficking, the arms trade, child slavery. It is time to refuse the dictatorship of money.

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. Macroeconomic indicators react positively as the ranks of the poor multiply. International economic institutions coax and compel governments to pursue structural adjustments, 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.

Rebuild and Democratise the State

The programme of dismantling the state, reducing its functions, pilfering its resources and launching sweeping privatisations leads to a demoralised public sector, weakened systems of education and health and the eventual ursurping of the state by private economic interests. Neoliberal globalisation divorces the state from the population and encourages corruption and organised venality on an unprecedented scale. The state becomes a repressive instrument policing the privilege of the few. It is time to rebuild and democratise the state.

Recreate the Citizenry

Millions of people are deprived of voting 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 then elections. Democracy means participation at every level of economic, political and cultural life. It is time to recreate the citizenry.

Salvage the Collective Values

Modernity, conveyed by capitalism and ideologised by neoliberalism, 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 bring 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 identity politics - nationalist, ethnic or religious. It is time to salvage collective values.

Globalise Social Struggles

In all this, it is not the internationalisation 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 traumatised 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 globalise social struggles.

Build on People's Resistance

Across the world, people are organising 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 these causes. Others practise heroism in their day-to-day lives. Some are rebuilding knowledge in the basis of concrete situations, some are trying out new economic forms, some are creating the basis of a new kind of politics, and some are inventing a new culture. It is time to build on people's resistance.

The Time for Joining Forces

Convergence of struggles, of knowledge, of hearts and minds 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 globalisation - alternatives based on the interests of people and respect for national, cultural and religious differences. Now is the time for joining forces.

A Time of Creative Universal Thought

Honest, probing analysis of the current economic organisation and its economic, social, ecological, political and cultural consequences can only delegitimise 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 wellbeing of those who use them and the organisation and nature of work will help create more human forms of organisation. A time of creative universal thought has arrived.

Rebuild and extend Democracy

Democracy is no longer merely a goal for the organisation of societies. It is also the key to the functioning of communities, social movements, political parties, business, institutions, nations and international bodies. It is progressively experienced as an essential contribution to the respect of popular interest and the preservation of national and international security. By prizing open spaces for all cultures - not patronisingly, 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 of restoring their powers to regulate. Regional economic and professional groupings based on internal complementarity are viable answers to the real needs of the population and a necessary alternative to neoliberal globalisation. Strengthening and democratising 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.

The Time for Action

This is why the signatories of this declaration support the creation of World Forum for Alternatives. At this moment, we need to create a network of committed individuals, popular organisations, social movements and research centres. The time has come to establish a "forum of forums", bringing together existing organisations throughout the world. To think and work together, support the social struggles that embody hope for the future, encourage viable alternatives to neoliberal experience. These tasks are imperative. We believe it is possible to build viable, democratic alternatives that respect the identity and dignity of every human being.

Goals and Objectives of the World Forum for Alternatives

World-wide, the need is manifest for a Forum bringing together committed individuals, social leaders, intellectuals, social movements, existing regional or specific forums and initiators of alternative solutions to neoliberalisation and unilateral globalisation. The fate of humanity is at stake. The present economic system, far from delivering goods and services to all human beings, denies these - and even life itself - to the majority. Transnational enterprises monopolise economic decision-making and minorities hoard wealth and power with the complicity of national and international regulatory bodies. This economic system is engineering and propelling dramatic social changes, weakening public institutions, dismantling social solidarity, destroying natural resources and the environment, and eroding cultutal and ethical values. At the same time, many forms of resistance are being mounted across the world and new perspectives are arising for the future of our planet. They are providing hope and are identifying the possibilities for the creation of new economic, social and political alternatives. It is from them that the World Forum for Alternatives draws its will and inspiration.

We invite you to join the forum and to bring movements and institutions that share these ideals, and to which they belong, into the Forum.

For more information about the goals and objectives of the Forum and concerning membership, contact:

World Forum for Alternatives
Third World Forum
P O Box 3501
Dakar, Senegal
Telephone/fax: (221) 211144

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