World Social Forum 2009—Beyond capitalism Posted February 11th, 2009 by admin

@ (external link)

By Leonor Hurtado and Frances Lambrick

The world economic crisis spells the death of globalization, and action is needed to protect the poor, said organizers of the World Social Forum as it wrapped up in Brazil on Sunday, February 1st. The forum's leaders hailed the strong participation at this year's gathering, which brought together 133,000 people from unions, religious associations, family organizations, ecologists and other progressive groups. Held at the same time as the World Economic Forum in Davos, the World Social Forum presents an alternative to address the global food and financial crises. The strong critical analysis of neo-liberalism delivered by previous World Social Forums has been proven. The role now is to revaluate neo-liberal policies—and opening the door to social democratic reform of economies and states.

The challenge is daunting, with proposed solutions to the financial crisis in Europe and the U.S that simply continue the culture of debt. In Belem, the test was to come up with alternatives to such solutions. For example, as Walden Bello, esteemed Filipino activist and academic suggests, "We need to contend alternatives from within the system, like an expansion of social democracy for instance." Fatima Mello, member of the forum's organizing committee, said: "The crisis has forced us to improve our proposals. We have built up a big network against the crisis and we will launch various days of world action and campaigns this year to make sure the poor don't pay its high price."

The 2009 World Social Forum put forward several aims, including a key period of demonstrations and campaigning to take place from 23rd March to 4th April, particularly targeting the G-20 summit, which takes place on 2nd April. It is hoped that Argentina and Brazil, both led by progressive governments, will voice WSF demands, such as disbanding or deep reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Another WSF demand—for Israeli troops to withdraw of Gaza—will focus action to impose a trade boycott on March 30th, the Palestinian Day of Return to their Land.

WSF 2009 recommendations include: --nationalization of banks, --land, education, health and work rights, --energy and food sovereignty for the poor, and --sovereignty and autonomy for indigenous peoples.

As Bello says "we need to frame our responses (to the global crisis) in terms of common universal values, like the question of justice, the question of equality".