Report from Belem.
That Other World
By Diego González
Between January 27 and February 1, the ninth World Social Forum (WSF) took place in Belém do Pará, Brazil. The northeastern port city, which sits on the banks of the Amazon, hosted 133,000 representatives of various organizations, social movements, left-wing parties, nongovernmental organizations, as well as other alterglobalists from 142 countries, for a debate that had become an inevitability. For some, the WSF had to carry on being a "non decision-making" space for "civil society" which should limit itself to a space for meeting and exchanging experiences. But the issues raised by many others veered in the opposite direction. By understanding the Forum not as a solution in itself, but rather as a tool to build an "other world" that so many years ago was said to be possible, the crux of this new debate had to center on providing a moderately-structured response to the current financial collapse and the various wars taking place.
Eight years on from the first WSF, the world has changed. Capitalism has again shot itself in the foot, devouring itself, demonstrating, this time around, a lack of capacity for reinvention. As such, the World Economic Forum in Davos lives on but this time it is without the significance traditionally attached to the event. Only desperate proclamations and nervous faces emerged from the Forum. The neoliberal crisis, the silence of the Left, and the ascent of progressive governments in the region demanded another type of debate. Raised fists and eloquent slogans didn't go far enough when faced with this battle.
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