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Old 01-22-2003, 05:02 PM   #1
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Why the World Social Forum?

On the eve of the opening day of World Social Forum 2003, here in Porto Alegre, Brazil, I found the article below, written by US writer and activist Noam Chomsky. It´s very interesting and informative and I thought some of you could be interested. It´s on the Library of Alternatives section of the Forum website. The main page is located in the link below, in 4 languages, in case you want to check it out:

http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/home.asp

29/08/2002
Why the World Social Forum?

After World War II, integration of the international economy ("globalization") has been increasing. By late 20th century, it had reversed the decline of the interwar period, reaching the level prior to World War I by gross measures – for example, volume of trade relative to the size of the global economy. But the picture is considerably more complex.
Postwar integration passed through two phases: (1) the Bretton Woods period until the early 1970s; (2) the period since, after the dismantling of the Bretton Woods system of regulated exchange rates and controls on movement of capital. It is phase (2) that is usually called "globalization." Phase (2) is associated with so-called "neoliberal policies": structural adjustment and "reform" along the lines of the "Washington consensus" for much of the Third World, and since 1990, others, such as India and the "transition economies" of Eastern Europe; and a version of the same policies in the more advanced industrial societies themselves, most notably the US and UK. The two phases have been strikingly different. For good reasons, many economists refer to phase (1) as the "golden age" of industrial state capitalism, and phase (2) – the "globalization period" – as the "leaden age," with significant deterioriation of standard macroeconomic measures worldwide (rate of growth, productivity, capital investment, etc.), and increasing inequality. In the worlds richest country, for most of the workforce wages have stagnated or declined, working hours have dramatically increased, and benefits and support systems have been reduced. Through the "golden age," social indicators closely tracked GDP; since the mid-1970s, they have steadily declined, to the level of 40 years ago according to the most recent detailed academic study.
Contemporary globalization is described as expansion of "free trade," but that is misleading. A large part of "trade" is in fact centrally-managed, through intrafirm transfers, outsourcing, and other means. Furthermore, there is a strong tendency towards oligopoly and strategic alliances among firms throughout the economy, along with extensive reliance on the state sector to socialize risk and cost, a key feature of the US economy throughout this period. The international "free trade" agreements involve an intricate combination of liberalization and protectionism, in many crucial cases (particularly pharmaceuticals) allowing megacorporations to gain huge profits by monopolistic pricing of drugs that were developed with substantial contribution of the public sector. The enormous explosion of short-term speculative capital transfers in phase (2) sharply restricts planning options for governments, hence restricts popular sovereignty insofar as the political system is democratic. The constitution of "trade" is far different from the pre-World War I period. A large part now consists of manufacturing flows to the rich countries, much of it intrafirm. These options, along with the mere threat to transfer production, are another powerful weapon against working people and functioning democracy. The emerging system is one of "corporate mercantilism," with decisions over social, economic, and political life increasingly in the hands of unaccountable private concentrations of power, which are "the tools and tyrants of government," in James Madisons memorable phrase, warning of the threats to democracy he perceived two centuries ago.
Not surprisingly, the phase (2) effects have led to substantial protest and public opposition, which has taken many forms throughout the world. The World Social Forum offers opportunities of unparalleled importance to bring together popular forces from many and varied constituencies from the richer and poor countries alike, to develop constructive alternatives that will defend the overwhelming majority of the worlds population from the attack on fundamental human rights, and to move on to break down illegitimate power concentrations and extend the domains of justice and freedom.
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Old 01-22-2003, 09:49 PM   #2
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Perfect.

Well said.

Join it.
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Old 01-23-2003, 01:26 AM   #3
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boy, that is dense follower

lucky i didn't go to MIT if the lectures are anything like this, not that that is a lecture, but i just can't see a logic to do a good skim.

and i know that air pollution does tend to cloud the mind...

but this is an interesting subject and maybe someday i will take the TIME to decipher it

thank you!
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Old 01-23-2003, 12:04 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally posted by DebbieSG
lucky i didn't go to MIT if the lectures are anything like this, not that that is a lecture, but i just can't see a logic to do a good skim.
Debbie, I didn´t get it...what does MIT mean? Remember, I´m not from US And even though you don´t agree with the author you cannot deny that the gap between rich and poor is getting wider, don´t you think? So, we must seek for the reasons and also for a better world.

Now some news about the WSF available on the net today. From Yahoo:

WORLD SOCIAL FORUM - India, not Brazil, to Host Next Year's Meet

Mario Osava, Inter Press Service

PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil, Jan 22 (IPS) - The international board of the World Social Forum (WSF) decided Wednesday that the giant annual meeting of social activists and left-leaning political leaders and academics will be held in India in 2004, before returning to Brazil the following year.

The process of selecting the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, which hosted the regional Asian Social Forum Jan 2-7, as the site of the fourth WSF involved lengthy discussions because the organizers in India had asked for one month to assess whether they were in a position to take on the enormous responsibility.

But in the end, the aim of ''internationalizing'' the forum by holding some of the meetings in other regions won out. Porto Alegre, where the first two meetings were held, will continue to be the host every other year.

The third WSF opens Thursday with an inaugural ceremony and a massive march through the streets of Porto Alegre, the capital of the southern Brazilian (news - web sites) state of Rio Grande do Sul, which will kick off five days of panels and workshops on the pressing problems facing today's world and on how to build a better future for humanity.

One novel aspect will be the presence of Brazil's new President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former steelworker, on Friday. This will be the first time that a head of government or state addresses the gathering of social movements, non-governmental organizations, and leftist political parties and academics.

Lula took part in and spoke at the first two meetings in Porto Alegre, but he did so as the head of the leftist Workers' Party (PT) and possible presidential candidate for the October 2002 elections that he ended up winning in a landslide victory.

This time around he will be speaking as president of this South American country of 170 million, in the midst of a controversy over his decision to also attend the World Economic Forum (news - web sites) (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland.

His plans to participate in the WEF on Saturday and Sunday drew fire from many people taking part in the WSF, which emerged precisely as a sort of counterpoint to the annual meeting of the world's most powerful business and political leaders in Switzerland.

Unlike the first two editions, the WSF was preceded this year by a series of preparatory gatherings, held in the past five months.

For instance, Argentina held a Thematic Social Forum in August, the European Social Forum took place in Florence, Italy in November, the Asian Social Forum was held in early January, and the Pan-Amazon Social Forum took place in Belém, in northern Brazil, on Jan 16-19.

In addition, three events held in the run-up to the WSF ended Wednesday in Porto Alegre.

One of them was the World Education Forum, which drew 20,000 educators and experts from around the globe Sunday through Wednesday, who took part in 60 panels, seminars and debates that discussed 785 papers on experiences and innovations in education and heard more than 200 speakers.

The ''decolonization'' of education, popular education, democratic participation, and the effects of armed conflicts on schools in Angola, southern Mexico and Colombia were several of the subjects discussed at the gathering, which was held for the second year in a row as part of the WSF.

The third Forum of Local Authorities for Social Inclusion, which brought together around 1,000 mayors and other participants from 26 countries on Tuesday and Wednesday, called for ''contracts'' between governments and civil society to tackle serious problems like lack of access to health care and education.

Among the proposals set forth by the meeting was the drawing up of an ''Agenda 21'' for cities, in favor of the development of culture and the creation of an international network that would link all mayors' associations in a single global movement.

Culture should be viewed as ''a basic social necessity'' based on the recognition of diversity, the right to identity by all ethnic and social groups, and the right to recreation, education and the use of public spaces, said Margarete Moraes, culture secretary of the city of Porto Alegre.

The deepening of participative democracy in municipal governments was advocated by Portuguese sociologist Boaventua de Sousa Santos and mayors like Bernard Birsinger of Bobigny, France, and Edmilson Rodrigues of the northern Brazilian city of Belém.

Judges also held their second global forum Monday through Wednesday, with the presence of 510 members of the judiciaries of countries in the Americas and Europe.

The speakers underscored the need for regional and international courts, due to the frequent clash between the interests of transnational corporations (TNCs) and human rights.

The judges pointed, for example, to the frequent disregard of the environment by TNCs when conservation efforts cut into their profit margins. In addition, they said that respect for citizen rights required the real possibility of taking TNCs to court.

Only truly independent judges aware of their role in society can exercise the law in such a way as to check the advance of the political and economic powers, the magistrates said in their final declaration, which called a new meeting in Brazil next year.

Two other global gatherings, of trade unionists and parliamentarians, began Wednesday.

Around 600 labor activists are discussing the challenges of globalization in their first two-day meeting organized in Porto Alegre by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, the World Confederation of Labor, and the European Trade Union Confederation.

Meanwhile, legislators from around the world are holding their third meeting parallel to the WSF, which will run through Friday, and the World Farmworkers Assembly is taking place Tuesday through Thursday.

Finally, the Intercontinental Youth Camp and the World Junior Forum have drawn youngsters from all over the world.

Organizing the WSF and the parallel and national or regional gatherings is a gargantuan task involving fund-raising efforts by many organizations around the world that have scarce finances, especially since the number of participants in the WSF has basically doubled each year.

This year more than 100,000 people are expected, since 30,000 delegates and 70,000 participants have signed up. The organizing costs will run to nearly 3.5 million dollars, said Candido Grzybowski, one of the members of the Brazilian organizing committee. Only 800,000 dollars are coming from the registration fees paid by participants, he added.

The governments of the state of Rio Grande do Sul and Porto Alegre are donating a total of 600,000 dollars, the Ford Foundation has provided 500,000 dollars, and the state-owned Bank of Brazil and Petrobras (news - web sites) oil company are donating 400,000 dollars.
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Old 01-23-2003, 07:03 PM   #5
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MIT, isn´t that the Massachusets Institute of Technology?
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Old 01-23-2003, 07:42 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
MIT, isn´t that the Massachusets Institute of Technology?
I wouldn´t know, LOL. But it makes sense.

I think that this might be of interest of some US citizens, members of this board. It´s a press release, from the WSF website (link available in my first post):

21/01/2003
Largest-Ever U.S. Delegation Will Promote Anti-War Movement

The third annual World Social Forum will open January 23 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and will feature the largest delegation of U.S. participants since its first edition in 2001. This year, U.S. participation is expected to number close to a thousand, more than double that of last year, and will be the second-largest country delegation after the host, Brazil. Many of the Americans attending come from community-level grassroots organizing efforts, including a 100- person grassroots Global Justice delegation, frontline community activists from the New Voices on Globalization project, and representatives from the U.S. peace movement. Notable U.S. personalities featuring in Forum events include leading author and activist Noam Chomsky, and actor and longtime activist, Danny Glover.

Conceived as a popular response to the World Economic Forum, the closed-door summit of business executives and world political leaders which meets annually in Davos, Switzerland, the WSF attracted nearly 15,000 participants to its first gathering in January 2001 and over 60,000 to its second in February 2002, both of which also took place in Porto Alegre. This year, organizers expect the number of participants to swell to 100,000.

As in previous years, activists at the World Social Forum will be protesting the meeting of the World Economic Forum, and offering alternative sessions on economic and social issues. But the Forum is also the subject of increased anticipation this year on the part of U.S. activists, given the recent deployment of U.S. troops to the Gulf, and widespread speculation that the January 27 report by U.N. arms inspectors could a trigger an attack on Iraq by the U.S. government. This year marks the first time that the thematic area Democratic World Order, Fight Against Militarism and Promoting Peace, will be a primary axis of discussion, planning and activity at the Forum.

Several events at the Forum will bring together prominent activists from the labor and global justice movements in the U.S. to speak out against the Bush administration’s plans for war against Iraq. Topics to be addressed include the formation of a new labor-based antiwar group, the impact of U.S. war plans on Israel-Palestine and the relationship of the war to Washington’s pursuit of neoliberal, free-market policies in the developing world. Speakers will also discuss the January 18 demonstrations in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, where tens of thousands of Americans gathered to demonstrate in the largest showing of U.S. anti-war sentiment since the government announced its plans to attack Iraq last year. One such event scheduled for 26th January, is a seminar on “U.S. Voices Against War” which will feature, among others, Dennis Brutus, world-renowned poet and leading U.S. global justice activist, and Medea Benjamin, peace activist and former Green Party candidate for the U.S. Senate in California.

Participants from the U.S. peace movement see the World Social Forum as a crucial step in the efforts to build international solidarity against war. “We don’t want those outside the U.S. defining all Americans as followers of Bush,” said Kevin Danaher of Global Exchange.

WSF Foreign Press Communications Staff
Giancarlo Summa – Communications Deputy Coordinator: wsfpress@uol.com.br
Sarah Insanally – International Press: wsfpress1@uol.com.br
www.forumsocialmundial.org.br

edited to add: 50.000 people on the streets of Porto Alegre today in a peaceful and organized manifestation.
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Old 01-24-2003, 08:50 AM   #7
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I intend to keep you informed about the events that have taken place here, during the WSF, for those possibly interested.

Some pics of the public parade of protest yesterday:

The crowd in Porto Alegre downtown streets:




The youth camp:


Some nice ones of the sunset in my hometown:

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Old 01-24-2003, 05:26 PM   #8
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Some links from today´s international coverage of the WSF:

BBC News:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/2692585.stm

Associated Press:
http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...cial_forum&e=4
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...d_social_forum

Reuters:
http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...brazil_lula_dc

We had also a Greenpeace protest against nuclear power.



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Old 01-24-2003, 10:46 PM   #9
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Wow, beautiful pictures, follower. Must be quite a mood.
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Old 01-25-2003, 01:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
Wow, beautiful pictures, follower. Must be quite a mood.
Thanks The sunset over the river is always a beautiful sight. And during the 4 nights of the WSF we have some nice shows there on the riverbank, when the sun goes down, mostly by latin american and african artists. So a lot of fun as well

I´m glad to read in local newspapers today that a motion for a WSF in Washington in the near future has been proposed, in support of US citizens that are against the war. That´s a good thing, in my viewpoint.

Yesterday our president Lula participated in the forum, and at the end of the day he gave a speech for more than 70.000 people (me included ) that had gathered at the anfitheater on the riverbank. Lula is in Davos today, and he is carrying on the message of the people at WSF to the people at WEF. I found part of his great speech of yesterday night transcribed on The New York Times. I´ll copy it here for those not registered at NYT:

"A lot of people in Davos don't like me, although they don't even know me," the Brazilian president said. "But in Davos I will say exactly what I say here.

"We need a new world economic order that distributes wealth more fairly," he said, "so that impoverished countries have a chance of becoming less impoverished, so that African babies have the same right to eat as a blond, blue-eyed baby born in Scandinavia."

"The world doesn't need war, it needs peace and understanding," he said. "I often wonder why, instead of spending billions and billions of dollars on arms, they don't spend it on bread, rice and beans that could help feed the poor of the world."

I found also this article from Associated Press today:

http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=stor...d_social_forum

Some pics from yesterday, during Lula´s speech:





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Old 01-25-2003, 02:10 PM   #11
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Great speech, I think.

Viva Lula... viva...
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Old 01-25-2003, 03:37 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by whenhiphopdrovethebigcars
Great speech, I think.

Viva Lula... viva...
Why am I feeling some irony here?

I´m kidding, no problema. He has been true to his beliefs. That´s what matters for people like me.

You know, I´m feeling a bit like a reporter on the front lines of a battle at the end of the world, LOL . But it´s worth, more 100 views already. I think I have helped people to get aware of these happenings. Some will remember that one day, I´m sure.
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Old 01-25-2003, 04:41 PM   #13
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I have heart that Lula was the first president who visit the slums.
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Old 01-25-2003, 06:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rono
I have heart that Lula was the first president who visit the slums.
More than that Rono, when his familiy left the countryside in the northeast, the poorest region of Brasil, they went to São Paulo, the State. He and his mother and siblings lived in a very poor area near São Paulo, the city, where he started working, selling candies and as a shoe-shine boy, to survive. He never forgot his origins and never denied them.
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Old 01-25-2003, 07:11 PM   #15
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Viva was more like... keep living, enough others have been shot for what you say.
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