What is the 'Social Forum' Movement?
by Bob Stone
Its motto is 'Another World is Possible' another world besides the neo-liberal globalized corporate dominated world we are fighting. The third annual World Social Forum took place Jan. 23-28 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Five years ago, in 1998, when the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) was announced, anti-globalization activists began to organize against it. In France, the non-government organization ATTAC took a leadership position in opposing the MAI, and indeed the French government voted against it and killed it. In late 1999, as the WTO (World Trade Organization) was to announce a huge expansion in its jurisdiction, anti-globalization activists from US trade unions, environmental groups and other groups around the world protested their opposition to the WTO in Seattle. Coalition building between these many disparate groups had as one result the convening of the World Social Forum to counter the World Economic Forum. The latter is a meeting of representatives from governments around the world and the CEO's of the world's largest transnational corporations those who had pushed the MAI and the policies of the IMF and World Bank. The goal of the World Social Forum is nothing short of an alternative economy based on participatory democracy, democratic work places, democratic planning, and the recognition of one's right to feed oneself. It takes place in Porto Alegre, Brazil, a region of southern Brazil where the local citizens with the help of the PT, the ruling Labor Party, have democratically run the region for over ten years. The World Social Forum has spawned local, regional and country- social fora to discuss ways to make the local economy serve the needs of the people and not the other way around. From Nov. 6-9, 2002, the European Social Forum took place in Florence, Italy. Its theme, in addition to 'Another World is Possible,' was 'The Creation of a New Political and Social Citizen;' it highlighted its opposition to globalization, racism and war. This was a significant meeting of up to 60,000 peace and anti-globalization activists primarily from Europe. The meeting, where local and regional economic issues were discussed, culminated in a million person march on Sat., Nov. 9, against the U.S. war against Iraq. This marks an important development in the anti-globalization or alter-globalization movement: embracing peace as a fundamental demand from the world's peoples in order to pursue democratic economic alternatives to neo-liberalism.
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