World Social Forum 2003

Looking back at the World Social Forum

Jurriaan Kamp, Helene de Puy, Tijn Touber and Marco Visscher | February 2003 issue
It is a matter of choice. Either you believe in the world of power and money, of politics and elections and slow change. Or you believe in justice and respect, in your own convictions; you don’t wait, you take action. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the World Economic Forum and World Social Forum. And the difference between Davos and Porto Alegre.
For six days we were impressed by the enthusiasm and the self-awareness, but also by the determination of the 100,000-odd people that came together at the end of January in this Brazilian city. No grandiloquent analyses from thinkers with great names, but inspired stories of anonymous doers that close polluting factories, protect workers and strengthen the position of local governments, native peoples and women.
Protest? Yes, but there is more to it than that. This is primarily a fight for progress, for justice. A fight for people. Or, as Noam Chomsky, the American resistance fighter told a seething stadium crowd: ‘This is about life after capitalism. That is to say, it’s about life.’
Shortly thereafter in that same stadium a new sound erupted that is so characteristic of this fight. The Indian author Arundhati Roy was beaming when she made her closing speech with a sweet but determined voice. The new resistance appears to be particularly feminine. Soft, subtle and extremely effective.
In Porto Alegre the suits were not worn by men, but by women for a change. Which is why our report – inadvertently – mainly focused on a number of these inspiring women. They were marked as resistance fighters, a strange label for people who want to order society from the perspective of respect for life. Knowing the effects of the current process of globalization, what other choice do we have than to resist? How can we remain silent?
The flood of change is gaining strength every day. The explosive growth in the number of participants attending the World Social Forum is an unmistakable signal. Attendance at the first forum in 2001 surpassed the Brazilian initiators’ wildest expectations by 15,000. Last year 60,000 people attended and this year 100,000. What can we expect in India, where the fourth meeting will be held? Big, but the numbers pale when compared to a world of billions. But that is no reason to underestimate its significance. In the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
 

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World Social Forum 2003

Looking back at the World Social Forum

Jurriaan Kamp, Helene de Puy, Tijn Touber and Marco Visscher | February 2003 issue
It is a matter of choice. Either you believe in the world of power and money, of politics and elections and slow change. Or you believe in justice and respect, in your own convictions; you don’t wait, you take action. This is perhaps the biggest difference between the World Economic Forum and World Social Forum. And the difference between Davos and Porto Alegre.
For six days we were impressed by the enthusiasm and the self-awareness, but also by the determination of the 100,000-odd people that came together at the end of January in this Brazilian city. No grandiloquent analyses from thinkers with great names, but inspired stories of anonymous doers that close polluting factories, protect workers and strengthen the position of local governments, native peoples and women.
Protest? Yes, but there is more to it than that. This is primarily a fight for progress, for justice. A fight for people. Or, as Noam Chomsky, the American resistance fighter told a seething stadium crowd: ‘This is about life after capitalism. That is to say, it’s about life.’
Shortly thereafter in that same stadium a new sound erupted that is so characteristic of this fight. The Indian author Arundhati Roy was beaming when she made her closing speech with a sweet but determined voice. The new resistance appears to be particularly feminine. Soft, subtle and extremely effective.
In Porto Alegre the suits were not worn by men, but by women for a change. Which is why our report – inadvertently – mainly focused on a number of these inspiring women. They were marked as resistance fighters, a strange label for people who want to order society from the perspective of respect for life. Knowing the effects of the current process of globalization, what other choice do we have than to resist? How can we remain silent?
The flood of change is gaining strength every day. The explosive growth in the number of participants attending the World Social Forum is an unmistakable signal. Attendance at the first forum in 2001 surpassed the Brazilian initiators’ wildest expectations by 15,000. Last year 60,000 people attended and this year 100,000. What can we expect in India, where the fourth meeting will be held? Big, but the numbers pale when compared to a world of billions. But that is no reason to underestimate its significance. In the words of anthropologist Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.’
 

Solution News Source

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