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The WSF on the Move

At the end January 2010, there was an important evaluation of the ten years of the
World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre (Brazil), including a debate on its future. At
the same time, many events took place in seven cities in the metropolitan region, which
gathered more than thirty thousand people. The major media did not report on this. They
rather inundated their readers with details about the meeting of the World Economic
Forum (WEF) taking place in Davos. This is odd, since the analyses and previsions of the
WSF during the last decade turned out to be much more precise than those advanced by
the WEF. In 2001, the WEF considered neoliberalism (privatizations, free trade and
economic and finacial deregulation) to be the final solution for the cyclical crises of
capitalisms. This was the case until the 2008 financial crisis, which the WEF did not
foresee. The WSF, on the contrary, maintained that neoliberalism was not the sole
solution, indeed, that it was the most unfair one, and that the crises that neoliberalism had
been provoking in many countries smothered by the IMF’s recipes would end up striking
the heart of global capitalism. This is exactly what has happened. It seems, therefore,
wise to bring to light the themes that will be prominent in the WSF in the forthcoming

The first theme is peace and democracy. WSF’s analyses foresee the increasing
militarization of social conflicts in the next decade, including criminalization of social
movements and citizens’ protests vis-à-vis growing economical difficulties and widening
inequalities. They also take into account the discontent of victims who are always the
morally more honest, socially more vulnerable, and politically less powerful – a triple
condition plaguing the great majority of the world population. This preoccupation
concerns many of the activities scheduled for 2010, from the WSF in the USA to the
eight forums to take place in the Arab or Islamic world : the first WSF in Iraq, the sixth
European WSF in Turkey as well as the thematic forums featuring unions
(Algeria),sexual discrimination (Tunisia and Jordan), rural workers (Egypt), peace and
education (Palestine), and democracy (Bangladesh). All this converging toward the next
edition of the unified WSF to take place in Dakar in de 2011, under the topic of South-
South dialogues, an emergent topic to be much heard about in the next decade.

The second theme is the civilizational crisis resulting from the unsustainability of
the dominant economic model. There is no question about this, even though the WEF,
once again wrongly, denies it : the current economic model, based on infinite growth,
indiscriminate use of natural resources, privatization of common goods (such as water, air,
biodiversity), consumption (or desire for consumption), as gauge of a way of being lying
on the obsession of having and a life style lying on the premature discarding of
indifferently personal objects, is not only unfair but also unsustainable, and its dangers
for mankind will soon be irreversible. What this means is that the bogus of the
civilizational superiority on the basis of which the West excluded or destroyed whatever
threatened it turns now against itself. The response may be destructive, but it may also
herald a new planetary consciousness made up of unexpected convergences among
ancestral wisdom (indigenous, peasant, grassroots), environmental concerns, and feminist
ethics of care. The civilizational debate will be at the core of the fifth Pan-Amazonic
Social Forum (Brazil) and the fourth Social Forum of the Americas (Paraguai).

The third theme concerns the political subjects carrying on struggles for peace,
democracy and a post-capitalist social, cultural and economic model. This is the theme
that compels the WSF to reflect on itself. How to avoid squandering the transformative
energies it has generated ? How to build transcontinental alliances among political parties
and movements with converging realistic agendas carrying new hegemonies ? How to
render the world increasingly less comfortable for predatory capitalism ? Perhaps the
WSF should create its own WSF.

Les opinions exprimées et les arguments avancés dans cet article demeurent l'entière responsabilité de l'auteur-e et ne reflètent pas nécessairement ceux du CETRI.