|8 Mar 2002 @ 00:39, by Flemming Funch|
Below are reports from an attendee of the World Social Forum II held at Porto Alegre, in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil from Thursday 31st January to Tuesday 5th February 2002, and various other snippets.
From experiencing the energy of the many thousands of people who came together from all over the world singing that "Another world is possible", it is but a short step to sensing that a post capitalist world is not only possible but that its flowering is inevitable. A successful application for a grant from the Council for International Development in New Zealand in the name of Proutist Universal enabled Bruce Dyer of Nelson, New Zealand to attend the second World Social Forum. This report forms part of my responsibility to report back to New Zealand NGOs about the Forum.
The Forum was timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum meeting in New York, which represented the interests of the worldÂ’s corporates. The World Social Forum (WSF) on the other hand is a deliberate attempt to focus an alternative social and economic structure as reflected in the ForumÂ’s theme "Another World is Possible".
The first WSF held in Porto Alegre a year earlier was attended by approximately 20,000 people. The second WSF II was an impressive if not overwhelming event. It was attended by between 50,000 and 60,000 mostly young people, with representatives from 119 countries, 107 local administrations and 1,000 lawmakers. The largest delegations from countries other than Brazil were Italy (979 delegates), Argentina (924), France (682), Uruguay (465), and the US (406).
In comparison the World Economic Forum could only muster a few hundred attendees and the hypocrites of that forum had to protect themselves by some 6,000 police officers. A barricade between the people and the hands of greed was set up. In contrast the WSF needed few police resources and was an open forum.
The WS Forum was held with the backdrop of the collapse of the Argentinean economy, and the bankruptcy/insolvency of the Enron Corporation. Regarding Argentina, Mario Soares the former Portuguese President stated that "Argentina reveals a country that is entering a situation of chaos and destruction of the State and it is crucial for international organisations to help prevent the spread of the crisis to the rest of Latin America. Uruguay is at risk, as is Brazil."
Each morning of the World Social Forum there were 7 conferences to choose from and in the afternoon sessions, a smorgasbord of 700 workshops and 100 seminars. From 6-8pm each day there were testimonials given by prominent people.
The conferences covered 4 themes viz: Production of Wealth; Access to Wealth and Sustainability; Civil Society and the Public Realm; and Political Power and Ethics. Summaries of the activities at the WSF 2002 will shortly be available on the WSF website, while a summary of the proposals from the conferences can be found at [link]
Interest groups were able to present their issues in one of the hundreds of information stalls. 150 computers were made available for the 2,800 journalists and 402 press organisations covering the event. The Forum enlisted the support of 1,800 volunteers. During the Forum there were approximately 500,000 daily hits on the ForumÂ’s website www.forumsocialmundial.org.br
Parallel forums included a World Parliamentary Forum, a Forum of Local Authorities which challenged local mayors to ensure their policies facilitated social inclusion and to democratise wealth (in contrast to the World Economic Forum who choose to concentrate wealth in the hands of few centralist corporations), a World Forum of Judges which encouraged judges to respect the peaceful struggles of all people for social inclusion, A Forum of Trade Unions Organisations which included the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, The World Labour Confederation and the ILO, World Junior Social Forum (6-14 years of age), a Preparatory Forum for Rio 10 to be held in Johannesburg in September 2002 and a Pan-Amazonian Social Forum which set up a framework for popular and social movements and organisations located in the countries bordering the Amazon.
Little wonder with such support the World Economic Forum lives in fear and has to hide behind its barricade of police.
Other special events included a Peace conference addressed by Noam Chomsky and Nobel Peace prize winners, an Assembly of the participatory budget on war expenditures that discussed how funds allocated to military purposes might be better used, an International PeopleÂ’s Tribunal on the External Debt that analysed the global implications of foreign debt, a Climate Tribunal that discussed the models of production and consumption defended by the West and their relation to the increase of poverty in the world with the goal of pointing out alternatives, a Youth Camp with 15,000 young people and a programme of political and cultural activities, a dawn meditation that brought together people representing a wide range of spiritual traditions and a Continental March against the Free Trade Area of the Americas on the last day of the World Social Forum. Again, in contrast to the psychological alliance between the World Economic Forum and religious dogmatists of the West whose corrupt psychology deeply penetrates the thinking of those on the WEF (directly or indirectly).
Significantly the World Social Forum received organisational and financial backing from the State Government of Rio Grande du Sul (10.2 million people) and the Municipality of Porto Alegre (1.4 million people). The State announced it had spent $US1 million in organising the Forum but expected to take $US10 million. In contrast the WEF obtains money only from a handful of corporates who sponsor it.
An editorial in "Agora" the Journal of the Municipality of Porto Alegre reflects the MunicipalityÂ’s position in relation to the Forum. It contrasts the World Social Forum with the World Economic Forum as follows:
"During several days, the southernmost capital of Brazil and the North American metropolis, a symbol of progress and wealth, are promoting events that represent two absolutely opposite views of the world. .... In Porto Alegre, thousands of people will be involved in building alternatives for a society that is more just, and the focus will be the need for peace among the most diverse peoples of the earth. In New York, the tendency is to create new forms to mask the disparity between the rich and poor countries. Not even the smoke rising from the destruction of the World Trade Centre towers will be capable of hiding the inequalities around the globe Â the concentration of wealth and lands, the property as an asset that superimposes upon life itself, the exclusion, and the unemployment of many."
Comments from a few of the main speakers follows.
Vandana Shiva condemned BushÂ’s war on terror as being a war on those excluded by the neo-liberal system, that is, 80% of the worldÂ’s population. "This is a failed world." According to her, the main issue must be recovering sovereignty. Globalisation has turned nations into feudal states. She cited water as an example of privatisation. Further she said "The market system also keeps the poor from having access to food. We need to protect the biodiversity of our seeds, not accepting patents and corporate control. We stand for compassionate globalisation and not that of stealing and greed."
At his press conference, Professor Noam Chomsky of Boston's MIT, one of the strongest critics of the present system said he saw the World Social Forum as further evidence of the globalisation of a movement for change.
Martin Khor of the Third World Network, Malaysia described the WTO and the IMF as machines that are generating poverty by protecting the rich, destroying the poor and exploiting us all.
Dot Keet of the Africa Trade Network drew attention to the inequality of global trade, which had increased by 30% since 1994 at the expense of developing countries whose share had declined from 50% to 44%.
Some general comments follow.
Speakers and their audiences made it clear that the dominant neo-liberal paradigm of the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO are unacceptable.
The Forum was valuable for deepening awareness of the issues facing the world community. As more and more people become aware of the dysfunctional nature of the present system, the more they are likely to seek alternatives to the status quo.
Resistance to globalisation included exposing the truth about so-called "free trade" as means of development and progress. According to Sudha Sundararaman "the market is not free. It is operated by and for the wealthy." She quoted as an example the selling of water in buckets in India, which even caused the murder of a community leader who urged other women to resist this kind of privatisation.
Proutist Universal released a new book at the Forum entitled "After Capitalism Â PROUTÂ’s vision for a New World." The model it outlines is based on co-operatives, ethics and universal spiritual values designed to enable human society to realise its full potential. Co-operatives are considered the most efficient organisational and economic vehicle for a dynamic economy and contrast markedly with the corporate dole syndrome of many corporations and the state capitalist enterprises of communism.
Significance of the World Social Forum ...
The significance of the Forum is that as Chomsky has said it represents a burgeoning global movement for change. As it develops, such a movement has the potential to form the basis of interrelated peopleÂ’s movements which have the capacity to effect dramatic change. Such movements saw IndonesiaÂ’s Suharto driven out of office in 1998 and the PhilippinesÂ’ President Estrada in 2001. Most recently, in December a popular uprising overthrew the Argentinean government of Fernando De la Rua.
Media Information Exchange ...
The website [link] facilitated the sharing of journalistsÂ’ reports. It enabled publications and independent study centres or those connected with social movements to produce, and have access to, ample coverage of the World Social Forum, given that the large number of events (conferences, seminars, workshops, political and cultural meetings) were hard to cover on an individual basis. It is likely to be the seed of an ongoing endeavour to interlink initiatives in independent journalism world-wide.
Contrast that to capitalist media, which will only publish, print and air news (often that news is rubbish infotainment) that is suitable for its ends.
One should note the clash and cohesion of the WSF that makes it dynamic (in contrast to the static and stultifying atmosphere of the WEF). Thus by way of example, in "Next Stop Johannesburg" Ranjit Devraj, of Terra Viva IPS wrote about how "The spirit of Porto Alegre will be carried to Rio 10 in Johannesburg come September" and in "Dissent Rumble in the WSF Jungle" Satya Sivaraman wrote that "dissidents within and outside the movement are raising serious questions about both the composition of the Forum and the direction in which it is headed."
"In an open letter to the thousands of participants gathered from around the world" she wrote, "a group of Brazilian trade unionists have accused the Forum of trying to give 'a human face to globalisation' through minor reforms like the Tobin tax and not addressing the underlying realities of 'global capitalism'. Capitalist globalisation has destroyed nations, democracy, and the sovereignty of the poor. It cannot be 'humanised'", says the letter signed by over 20 trade union leaders including Julio Turra, National Executive Committee, of Brazil's Central Unica dos Trabalhadores (CUT), which is one of the organisers of the WSF. The signatories to the letter have decided to boycott all the panels, workshops and official sessions of the World Social Forum which adopt a meagre reformist approach.
In January 2003 next yearÂ’s World Social Forum will also be held in Porto Alegre. In 2004 it will be held in India and in 2005 in Africa.
Regional Social Forums ...
The organising committee of the World Social Forum is supportive of regional social forums being held in different parts of the world prior to the next World Social Forum. Discussions are underway for a New Zealand city to host an Australasian Regional Social Forum in January 2003. Internationally known speakers who attended the World Social Forum can be expected to attend.
World Social Forum Charter of Principles (Available by email.)
Copies of the Declaration from the Preparatory Forum for Rio 10 (an A3
The summary of an upcoming report on Alternatives to Economic Globalisation
produced by the International Forum on Globalisation.
Towards Sustainable Economies. A challenge to the neoliberal economic
globalisation agenda produced by the Friends of the Earth.
Notes towards a new Politics Â new strategies for people power produced by
Hilary Wainwright of the Netherlands Transnational Institute.
Copies of Terraviva Â the independent daily of the 2nd World Social Forum
produced by IPS-Interpress Service. (4 issues)
Alternatives to the WTO regime by Dot Keet of the South African Alternative
Information and Development Centre.
The UN Secretary-GeneralÂ’s message to the World Social Forum
The Dignity Line as an indication of socio-environmental sustainability by
Sara Larrain of the Sustainable Chile programme.
Newsletter of the Focus on the Global South produced for the World Social
Transcripts of talks by Vandana Shiva, Immanuel Wallerstein, Susan George,
Wolfgang Sachs, John Cavanagh, Naomi Klein and Walden Bello.
Video and 87 page booklet about the State of Rio Grande do Sul.
Copies of "After Capitalism Â PROUTÂ’s Vision for a New World" 169 pages
Copies of political cartoons funded by the Rio Grande do Sul State
Government (A3 posters)
Sometimes anybody's hopes and aspirations for a better tomorrow may get a little blurred or even faded when in meeting with "everyday realities". But in order to achieve a better tomorrow we have to act on great ideas today, and therefore need to step out of the obvious and into the visionary here and now! There is a column along this line in today's "The Guardian", the link to which is hereby enclosed:
MORE DETAILS ABOUT THE WORLD SOCIAL FORUM
Â“Another world is possible, if you want it.Â” This theme song enchanted the crowds during the closing ceremony of the Second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. And the message printed on the back of the registration booklet was: Â“It is not necessary that everyone speaks the same language; it is enough that we share the same dreams.Â”
The numbers alone were stunning: 67,000 people took part (43% were women). Of them, 35,000 paid full registration, from 131 countries, speaking 186 different languages, representing 4,909 different organizations. 15,000 young people stayed in the Youth Camp, and 2,500 kids registered in the childcare center.
The official WSF report said in part: Â“The question of religions arose in a number of occasions, in relation to ethics, with cultural and religious pluralismÂ…. There were moments of religious expression, including a dawn celebration in the cityÂ’s main amphitheater, with the participation of various religions.Â”
Ananda Marga organized a 3-hour dawn meditation and inter-religious program. More than 500 people attended despite a short drizzle at the beginning. The city government printed 5000 leaflets announcing the event, a printing press donated 500 full-color posters, the city gave the event the biggest outdoor stage in the city and paid for the sound engineers to run the sound system. . Frei Betto and Father Marcelo Barros, both famous authors in Brazil, participated with the Brahma Kumariis, Hare Krishna, a Brazilian Buddhist lama. Dada Nabhaniilananda played two songs and then led kiirtan (spiritual chanting and dancing) at the end that everyone danced to followed by a short meditation.
A Few Resolutions ...
The resolutions that were read out in the closing ceremony were:
1) In the second half of the year, in different parts of the world, continental and regional versions of the World Social Forum will be held.
2) The Third World Social Forum will again be held in Porto Alegre, Brazil next year during the same dates as the World Economic Forum (dates will be announced soon). The Indian delegation offered to organize the WSF in 2004 in India.
The unanimous consensus of the Proutists from overseas who attended this program was that it was a compelling and unforgettable vision of the future. Please seriously consider accepting our invitation to attend the WSF next year.
"The right wing benefited so much from September 11 that, if I were still a conspiratorialist, I would believe they'd done it."
"When the whole property of this universe has been inherited by all creatures, how can there be any justification for the system in which some one gets a flow of huge excess while others die for a handful of grains?" P. R. Sarkar
PROUT (Progressive Utilisation Theory) is a new socio-economic philosophy that uniquely integrates the spiritual dimension of life, recognising that balanced progress involves physical, mental and spiritual harmony.
For more information about PROUT mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Also check out www.prout.org & www.proutworld.org
Why another world is an imperative ...
The following comes in the form of a compelling video and tells why we need to commit and recommit to transforming the world in which we live.
The Philidelphia Independent Media Center now has a permanent feature at their site - The "Alternatives to Globalization" page at:
at which a variety of alternatives are featured.
New at TomPaine.com!
BUSH-SPEAK FROM CHURCHILL TO GOLDILOCKS Using Simplicity As A Smokescreen by David Kusnet Behind Bush's simple State of the Union language, there are carefully crafted misrepresentations of his proposals -- populist arguments for elitist economics. [link]
LOOKING TO AID IN ALL THE WRONG PLACES New War, Same Bad Old Strategy by David Roodman Propping up Pakistani despots during the Cold War failed miserably. So why is the USA administration trying it again? [link]
THE PETER PAN SYNDROME Infantilized by Instant Gratification by M. W. Guzy People no longer "save up" for future purchases but rather have to "cut back" to pay off yesterday. In effect, an entire generation has taken the Peter Pan pledge by refusing to grow up. [link]
At the WSF (from World Social Forum Offers Pieces of Giant Jigsaw Puzzle for Global Justice by Chris Strohm 3:27am Mon Feb 4 '02 www.dc.indymedia.org)
A major conference at the social forum on war and peace concluded Sunday with the issuance of a sweeping manifesto stating that a world without wars is possible but only if the United States cuts military spending and stops military aggression in the world.
The manifesto was agreed to and issued by a panel that included three Nobel Peace Prize winners Â Morten Rostrup (1999), Rigoberto Menchu Tum (1992) and Adolfo Perez Esquivel (1980) and the governor of Rio Grande Sul, OlÃvio Dutra with his deputy governor.
Â³A world with no wars is possible,Â² Dutra said. Â³It is possible at the utmost urgency if (humankind) wishes to have a future.Â²
Dutra is with the Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT), or the WorkerÂ¹s Party, which paid for and sponsored the World Social Forum.
The manifesto states that a world without war is possible if countries use the money spent on weapons to meet the needs of the worldÂ¹s population; cancel the debt of countries in the Global South and eliminate illegal financial exchanges; and rebuild the world with a commitment to diversity and culture.
On a daily basis, multiple groups march around the campus, carrying signs, dancing and chanting slogans, creating a colorful collage of ethnicity and culture and setting an example of how different groups can interact and co-exist. For example, on 3 February a large meditation circle was spontaneously made on the lawn in front of one of the universityÂ¹s buildings. The meditation circle was formed by people from diverse backgrounds, such as India, Brazil and the United States.
Â³Everybody is thinking for the future and what we can do for peace,Â² said Didi, with Ananda Marga, an Indian non-governmental organization that does social work to help local governments find money for projects. Didi, said any solutions that are developed from the social forum need to be spiritual.
Â³Here you see unity,Â² she said looking around at people. Â³Unity is very important. If you can be united (throughout) the world then you can create change.Â²
WORLD SOCIAL FORUM, PORTO ALLEGRE, BRAZIL
Reports on the World Social Forum in Porto Allegre, Brazil.
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