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A Time of More Complex Global Crises

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=54363 WORLD SOCIAL FORUM A Time of More
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 6, 2011
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      A Time of More Complex Global Crises
      By Mario Osava

      RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 4, 2011 (IPS) - Neoliberalism and the attendant
      financial globalisation were a common enemy that unified and mobilised
      activists of the most diverse tendencies who founded, ten years ago in
      Porto Alegre in southern Brazil, the World Social Forum (WSF) as a space
      to meet, reflect and debate, under the slogan "Another World Is Possible".

      But in its 11th year, the WSF is meeting Feb. 6-11 in Dakar, Senegal, at
      a time when neoliberal, free-market policies stand out less in a world
      threatened by collapse from a combination of crises: financial, climate
      change, food and water.

      U.S. imperialism, another favourite target of the activists, has seen
      its economic clout wane while another superpower, China, emerges with
      its own colonial practices, although without militarism or the export of
      its belief system and way of life -- for now.

      The dynamic growth of the emerging economies has pulled hundreds of
      millions of people out of extreme poverty. But inequality in the world
      and within countries is still marked, as is the hunger people face on
      many parts of the planet.

      The climate threat is felt in the rising number of people killed and
      displaced by extreme weather events, and the increasing losses suffered
      by agriculture.

      Finance has a strong destructive force, with 860 trillion dollars in
      speculative capital circulating around the globe -- 13 times global GDP
      -- according to the Bank of International Settlements.

      All of which is aggravated by "planetary misgovernance" -- the lack of
      institutions capable of dealing with "global problems," according to
      Brazilian economist Ladislau Dowbor, who is heading to Dakar to share
      the ideas of a group of intellectuals who, under the title "Crises and
      Opportunities", are discussing systemic solutions for the "convergent

      The growing concentration of wealth that has left two-thirds of humanity
      excluded from progress and living on just six percent of global income
      is not sustainable, said Dowbor, a professor at the Catholic University
      of São Paulo.

      Nor is it possible to continue forward on this "environmental Titanic,"
      exhausting natural resources, "the soil, the marine life," he added.

      The basic document of the group of intellectuals that includes Dowbor,
      Polish-French "ecosocioeconomist" Ignacy Sachs, and British futurist and
      evolutionary economist Hazel Henderson, rejects "simplified visions of
      the social decision-making process," calls for rescuing "the public
      dimension of the state," and suggests replacing GDP as the main economic
      indicator, among other recommendations.

      The WSF is returning to Africa for its eighth global edition just as a
      popular uprising has toppled the dictatorship in Tunisia and another one
      is threatening to do the same in Egypt.

      This year's Forum "will be vibrant, with new people," but it will take
      place in precarious conditions, "with one-third of the initially
      projected budget," said one of the founders of the WSF, Cándido
      Grzybowski, director of the Brazilian Institute of Social and Economic
      Analysis (IBASE).

      In many of the events, for example, there will be no simultaneous

      Some 50,000 participants are expected, one-third of the total who
      registered in the last global edition, held in 2009 in the northern
      Brazilian city of Belém in the Amazon jungle. "But that figure could
      double, with the influx of Europeans," Grzybowski hopes.

      Senegal has a population 15 times smaller than Brazil's, said Chico
      Whitaker, another WSF founder, who explained that 80 percent of
      participants in these events generally come from the host country.

      The Latin American presence will be much smaller, partly due to the
      financial difficulties faced by non-governmental organisations as a
      result of the decline in foreign donor funds, aggravated by unfavourable
      exchange rates and scarcity of national financing. And air tickets to
      Dakar are costly, because there are no direct flights from Latin
      America; flights go through Europe.

      The organisational limitations in Dakar reflect the lack of government
      support, lending credence to the position taken by one Brazilian current
      of activists who held a thematic forum last year in the northeastern
      Brazilian state of Bahia and who advocate alliances with progressive
      governments, to strengthen WSF events and give them a broader impact.

      The WSF defines itself as a civil society initiative in which government
      leaders only participate as guests in events organised by social
      movements and organisations. However, most of the global editions,
      including the five held in Brazil, have received financial support from
      national or local governments.

      Former Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, a guest at
      previous editions, will now take part in Dakar as a "member of civil
      society" in a seminar on Monday Feb. 7, the Africa and Diaspora Day in
      the WSF 2011 schedule.

      Lula has announced that Brazil's relations with Africa will be a
      priority in his post-government activities.

      For the next unified global Forum, which has been held every two years
      since 2005 -- the others are "polycentric," with different regional
      events -- many Brazilians want to bring the WSF back to its origins in
      Porto Alegre, while others are pushing for it to be held in Bahia, the
      state with the largest proportion of people of African descent.

      But Europe, another strong candidate for hosting the 2013 edition, is
      focusing on other approaches, such as attempting to have an impact on
      the big issues of the moment.

      However, it is the new paradigms of "another world" of the future, more
      than current challenges, that are of greatest concern to the founders of
      the WSF. "Development that is killing life on the planet is a major
      problem," said Grzybowski, who ruled out "the green economy" as a
      solution, saying it is really just "greenwashed capitalism" that does
      not modify the mechanisms underlying the tragedy.

      His proposal is "to go beyond the WSF" and take advantage of next year's
      Rio+20, the U.N. Conference on Sustainable Development, which will bring
      up-to-date the debate launched at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro.

      Social movements should organise a strong presence at the 2012
      conference, to forge an alliance with the Brazilian government with a
      view to changing the way the environment and development are thought
      about, he said.

      Global problems are immense and complex, but "the world doesn't stop,
      and people make history," as seen in the Arab world in the last few
      days, he said. (END)

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord Weÿrdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      Skipper: Professor, will you tell these people who is
      in charge on this island?
      Professor: Why, no one.
      Skipper: No one?
      Thurston Howell III: No one? Good heavens, this is anarchy!
      -- _Gilligan's Island_, episode #6, "President Gilligan"
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