The Forum and the new hope!

5 February 2009 by Sushovan Dhar

The Forum in its 8th edition decided to be at Belém in the Amazonian region of Brazil. This was to highlight the issues of the indigenous populations and ecology, both of which are facing a cruel assault in the region as in any other part of this globe. It was an important convergence witnessing a turnout of more than a hundred thousand participants from over 150 countries. There was a great deal of enthusiasm around the event and especially being an occasion of such a scale, at a crucial juncture when we are passing through the worst systemic crisis since the end twenties and the early thirties; the event generated immense passion as well.

In spite of the extreme heat and humidity at this time of the year in this part of the world, the Forum carried fresh soothing breeze in terms of its political content. Certainly, it was qualitatively much different and positive after the experiences of Nairobi in 2007 which raised serious questions about the future of the Forum. As compared to that, the event at Belém prompted a large number of participants to claim that it was a renaissance of WSF. Responding to this grave financial, ecological, food, energy, political and overall the profound capitalist crisis, the Forum witnessed substantive political mobilizations from the Brazilian and the continental mass movements, trade unions and political parties of the left. It was also interesting to note the presence of youth and new generations that are radicalized by their objective realities. The difference was also due to the comparative advance of the political situations and the social movements on a continental scale that started twenty years back with the popular uprisings in Venezuela on 27th February, 1989. Finally, everyone was talking about a ‘capitalist crisis’ and the political terms and categories like Capitalism, Socialism, State, Power, etc. were no more taboos in the global justice movement. For once it seemed that the global justice movements in spite of the hurdles and impediments have been able to come out of its shell and have started speaking with some confidence and of course with a much better understanding about the possibilities and the urgencies of another world. Indeed, it was reassuring to note such maturity of the movement.

The forum was also marked by around two thousand different programmes, workshops and collective activities covering almost all issues of human concern. There were lively, intense and serious discussions, debates and exchange of ideas. People were physically fatigued at the end of the days but returned with great motivation and mental and spiritual energy. No one can deny the fact that a bought of good rain after a terrible hot and scorching summer is always very refreshing and should be welcomed at all cost. However, the fact itself is not enough to bring a good harvest or successive harvests.

Certain traits manifested by the Forum raise concerns regarding its capacity to be a viable centre of transformatory politics leaving apart the questions of leading it. These limitations were quite obvious and should be treated as a matter of concern by all of us who participate here and also follow the processes. It was quite disheartening to see the Forum so integrated with the state government of Para, which doesn’t have a very good position vis-à-vis the popular movements in the region. This has been a region in the recent times marked by land conflicts and severe state repression of the landless peasantry. The presence of two hundred anti-riot police, especially hidden in the poor neighbourhoods of the city in order to ensure “safety” for participants, notably overseas participants leaves a bitter taste in the mouth. The eviction of poor people that happened in certain parts of the city puts us, all participants in shame. It was disgraceful to note that the organizing committee did not raise a single word about it. On the contrary, the international council of the WSF invited and went to meet President Lula who was in Belém during the event. There would be no great disagreements to state and accept the fact that the Lula government with a progressive mask has been in the forefront of implementing neo-liberal capitalist offensive and is sub-imperialistic in the region.

This was clearly a chance that it took to project a movement-friendly façade of itself to the global presence and attention to Belém. There could be little disagreement about the fact that it is always better for the forum to maintain distances with the governments and the authorities of such nature. Such authorities always prey upon these chances and contribute little to the richness of the process. Instead, their efforts are geared more towards public show in terms of the beautification of the Belém and certain public propaganda. A parasitic mechanism that feeds on the forum as it does with any other part of the society or social structures.

A number of discussions, debates and workshops at the forum which dwelt upon the current capitalist crisis rightly pointed out that at the centre of the genesis of this crisis with such immense dimensions were the transnational corporations and their relentless quest for accumulation. It was in such conditions not very heartening to see the big Brazilian corporations like Petrobras, Banco do Brasil, Caixa, etc. as the official sponsors of the forum and even worse that the same was marked on all memorabilia and grand billboards for the occasion. We have to really think about the necessity of such sponsors and the messages they transmit across the world. Should we also have a forum if we are unable to raise the entire resources from alternative sources and are left dependent on such companies to support our processes?

In these circumstances and a number of other political, ideological and practical difficulties and problems we must not only try to limit such conditions but, eliminate them as well. It would be otherwise a serious injustice to the phenomenal energy, passion, commitment and the motivation for another world generated during and by the forum. The forum is a very important component of the global transformatory politics. It articulates, reinforces and unites people for another world. Another forum is also possible. Let’s do it now!

Other articles in English by Sushovan Dhar (59)

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