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<nettime> World Social Forum: origins and targets
Gustavo Barbosa on 15 Mar 2001 21:30:37 -0000

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<nettime> World Social Forum: origins and targets



World Social Forum: origins and targets

by Francisco Whitaker

In the beginning of 1998, came to the public arena a proposal of a
Multilateral Agreement of Investments, (MAI)- that it was signed by
the richest countries of the world, to be 'proposed ' afterwards and
eventually imposed to the others countries of the world. This
agreement was being discussing secretly in the OCDE, with the will to
become a kind of Capital World Constitution, giving all the rights
especially to the third world countries where the 'investments' would
be made with almost no doubt at all. The French newspaper Le
Monde Diplomatique published a first claim made in United States by
the movement 'Public Citizens', leaded by Ralph Nader, through an
article signed by a lawyer of this movement. Lory Wallach. A reaction
of the paradoxes that this article contained made to grow up a social
movement of protest that by the end of 1998, lead to France to get
out of the talks and finally avoided the consecution of the agreement.

One of this first organizations of this entities was ATTAC, at the
beginning Association for Tobin Tax and Citizen's Help, nowadays
Tax Finance Transaction for Citizens' Help, that begun at that time to
be shaped in France, also after this proposal departure in this way
made by Le Monde Diplomatique. The target of this association, -that
today gathered many followers in the streets in France and outside,
and make to grow up others ATTAC in the rest of the world, even in
Brazil- it was to fight for the concretization of the Tax of the
speculative capital movements proposal made by the Economy Nobel
Price James Tobin.

>From the articulations of these facts helped to build up everywhere,
among those who did not accept the possibility of a world wholly
controlled by the capital interests, they where being organized different
demonstrations against this kind of organizations. The famous ones in
Seattle against the CMO, the one in Washington against de IMF and
World Bank and recently the Prague one, that carry out to the
government delegates there gathered to close the meeting one day
before the foreseeing.

There were twenty years that the owners of the world had being
joined in a Forum named by themselves World Economic Forum that
take place in Davos, little and luxury sky station of Switzerland.
Organized by an entity that today is a big enterprise nowadays gathers,
once a year, farther that the regional meetings that begun to promote
too- who can pay 20.000 dollars for listening to the big thinking heads
to the service of the capital and with to have a talk, like this like
listening as far as critical to the globalization, invited to take part for
legitimation to the Forum. It can say that in Davos- that attracts
correspondents of all big journals of the world, among them,
systematically, our friend Clovis Rossi- who built a theory that
advances in the practical domination of the capital world, within the
parameters of the neo-liberalism.

Therefore, it was happening that some Brazilians, they thought that
would be an option to begin a new period of resistance to this thinking,
main stream nowadays in the world. Farther than the demonstrations
and mass protests, it would be possible to change to a pro-positive
period, looking for a new accurate answers to the defies of building of
'another world', in which the economy would be to the service of the
human being and not in opposite way. Economists and other university
students against to the neo-liberalism , they where already making in
Europe, with the name of Anti-Davos. What they intended
nevertheless was more than that. It was proposed to arrange an other
meeting of world scale with participation of all the organizations who
were already articulating the mass protests, turn round to the social-
the World Social Forum. These meeting would take place to have a
symbolic dimension in the beginning of this new period, at the same
time that the big of the world would meet themselves in Davos.

Exactly who had this great idea- I don't know if he discussed this idea
before with someone else-it was our friend Oded Grajew who put for
me when we were in France, on February this year. We decided all
together with the director of Le Monde Diplomatique, who is also
president of ATTAC in france, Bernard Cassen, to check if the idea
would be well accepted in Brazil.

Cassen got involved and made a proposal to organize a Forum in
Brazil. For him, it had to be in the 'Third World 'country-because of
the symbolic effect- and Brazil was among the countries of better
conditions to receive a Forum like this. It was also from him the idea
to celebrate the forum in Porto alegre, capital of a state that has
becoming knowed all over the world because its democratic
experiences and fights against the neo-liberalism. Cassen launched the
challenge back to us again: If we were able to organize a Forum, we
would have the support not only of his journal as well as the
organizations that around the world are demonstrating against the
capital domination.

Once back in Brasil, we began to verify what organizations could
accept this defy and assume this huge task. The 28 of February met
together in Sao Paulo the delegates of 8 organizations that today have
firmed a 'Cooperation Agreement' for the realizations of the World
Social Forum, which first edition will be in Porto Alegre from 25 th . to
30 th. of January of 2001:
ABONG - Non Governmental Organizations Brazilian Association;
ATTAC - Citizens Support by Financial Transactions Tributation
Action -CBJP - Justice & Peace Brazilian Committee.; CIVES
-Brazilian Entrepreneurs Association for the Citizenship; CUT -
Central United Workers; IBASE - Brazilian Institute of Socio
Economical Analysis; CJG Global Justice Centre; MST Landless
Rural Workers Movement.

In March, a retinue of these entities traveled to Porto Alegre to
consult Olívio Dutra and Raul Pont about the government and
municipal disposition for welcoming the Forum, since that the
promotor of the event will not be these governments, but the civil
society entities which took on the proposal. With the Governor and
Major positive answer, the work began as faster as possible in order
to organize and to come true the new world meeting, inviting even
though other civil society organizations to build up the Brazilian
Commitee Support of the Forum.

For Cassen's suggestion, by the end of June a committee of the
organizations traveled to Geneve where it would be met in an
alternative 'summit' against the UNO'Copenhagen + 5', the main part
of the organizations were being articulating in the outer world in the
demonstrations against the neo-liberalism. A space was opened for the
presentation of our proposal, it was very well accepted- Evenly the
Rio Grande do Sul vice-governor, Miguel Rossetto, traveled to
Geneve to confirm the hosting of Rio Grande do Sul would give to the
Forum - in this occasion it was estabilished a Forum Support
International Committee..

Since then, we started a race against the time, to make sure the
assistance of participants of places all over the world, with fixed
quotas for each Continent and kind of performance. The schedule
definitely foresight two kinds of dynamics: panels in the morning- 4
concomitants during four days, each one with four participants chosen
among great names of fight against the unique thought; and workshops
in the afternoon, coordinated by the participants, in the first part of the
afternoon to exchange experiences and space for discussions , in the
second part for articulating meetings (networking). Also foresights
sessions of testimonies of people involved in different kinds of fight,
and a big parallel schedule in Porto Alegre city, for everybody who
could not participate directly in the Forum, open only for designed
people and subscribed by social organizations

The Forum doesn´t have a deliberative character, and won´t lose time
to discuss details in a final document. This will be the beginning of a
join thinking process, at a world level around the four axes that will
were deal in the mornings panels: the wealth production and social
reprodution; the wealth access and the sustainability; the affirmation of
the civil society and of the public spaces; the power policy and ethics
in the new society. For each one of these axes it was formulated
questions and we have got to get the answers for them and, for each
one questions, there is a series of subjects that we have got to

What we intend is to open space- in each year a new deepened-
within a insight thought also 'globalized', for the searching of
alternatives to the dominant model . Truly the World Social Forum will
be the first step, but a step really new, which it´s winning the
repercussions over and over the whole world. We truly hope that this
repercussions will make sure in a effective way the beginning of a new
period in the fight against a submission of the human being to the
capital interests.

Article published in the 'Correio da Ciudadania', edition 22/01/01 -
Traductor Jesus Bengoetxea and Sandra Guimaraes.

Artigo publicado no 'Correio da Cidadania', edicao 22/01/2001


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