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Two Worlds Converging

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  • Clore Daniel C
    News for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo January 31, 2002 LA Times EDITORIAL Two Worlds Converging Today capitalists in New York
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2002
      News for Anarchists & Activists:
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo

      January 31, 2002

      LA Times

      EDITORIAL

      Two Worlds Converging

      Today capitalists in New York City and anarchists,
      socialists and radicals of every stripe in Porto Alegre,
      Brazil, will take on the same big issue: how to convince
      rich nations to invest in the well- being of poor people in
      poor countries. There is precious little common ground
      between the powerful men and women attending the World
      Economic Forum and the angry outsiders convening for Porto
      Alegre's World Social Forum. But it's encouraging that the
      latter group, which vehemently opposes corporate
      globalization, has matured to the point that it's seeking
      legal and nonviolent means to achieve change. More
      heartening still is that the people meeting in New York seem
      to acknowledge that while globalization is now a fact of
      life, the world won't fully accept--and free trade and
      international cooperation won't truly thrive--until power
      brokers address the monumental matter of social and economic
      inequity.

      The 30-year-old World Economic Forum, traditionally held in
      Davos, Switzerland, is a well-known platform for debate and
      action on key global issues. About 3,000 invitees, including
      30 heads of government, the archbishop of Canterbury and
      Hamid Karzai, the interim leader of Afghanistan, will attend
      this year's event. The so-called global justice movement is
      a hodgepodge of activists within a very loosely knit network
      in the United States, Europe and the Third World. Some
      participants come from labor, others from religious or
      peasants' organizations, with environmentalists, students
      and teachers swelling the ranks. What unites them is the
      fight to rid the world of sweatshops and the overuse of
      fossil fuels and their support for the rights of workers,
      indigenous people, women and immigrants. About 60,000 of
      these folks are due today in Porto Alegre, where discussions
      will center on alternatives to corporation-led
      globalization.

      With luck, the Social Forum organizers will be able to avert
      the street violence that has marred anti-globalization
      protests from Seattle to Davos to Genoa. And while the power
      brokers meeting in New York will certainly--and should
      certainly--ignore the naive anti-capitalist ravings of the
      fringe protesters, they'd be well advised to pay attention
      to certain underlying themes.

      Opponents of globalization, for instance, encourage the
      strategic cancellation of poor nations' debt. Already some
      labor groups are working with the International Monetary
      Fund and the World Bank to this end. This is not just a
      give-away. It can have positive reverberations even in the
      strongest economies. In 1999, the leaders of the seven major
      industrial countries agreed to erase up to $27 billion in
      debts owed by as many as 41 impoverished countries. To
      qualify, the countries had to funnel the savings into health
      and education programs. The participants at the Economic
      Forum should look at this as a blueprint for addressing the
      Social Forum's concerns.

      Another thing: At the World Trade Organization meeting last
      fall, governments agreed to give poor countries better
      discounts on drugs for AIDS and other killer diseases. This
      is the sort of progress that can occur when people with
      competing visions let their fiery rhetoric cool and start to
      listen. Let's hope that happens again this week.

      --
      Dan Clore
      mailto:clore@...

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