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The World Social Forum, a sustainable model?

February 12, 2010

Pierre Rousset  in International Viewpoint:

After a period of remarkable expansion, the process of the World Social Forum (WSF) has stalled. The balance sheet of the most recent big assemblies turns out to be very contrasting – we can say, simplifying a lot, politically negative in the case of Nairobi (Kenya) in 2007 and positive in the case of Belem (Brazil) two years later.

The question that is raised is not primarily one of numbers: success does not depend (or does not only depend) on the number of participants, it is political: what is the point of the forums? The answer seemed obvious in the early 2000s, but that is not the case today.

In the past there was a lively interrelation between the Forum process, large anti-globalisation mobilisations, social struggles and international campaigns – a synergy that reached its peak with the mobilising and popularising role which the European forums (Florence, Italy) and global (Porto Alegre, Brazil) played in preparing the anti-war day of March 2003. The expansion of the WSF was phenomenal: in only a few years it had taken shape in Europe and Latin America, then in Asia, North America and Africa. It rooted itself in the national and local forums. The network and the Assembly of Social Movements played a dynamic role. The manifold expansion was driven by a dynamic combination of expansion and radicalisation. In the framework of the forums questions were raised which the traditional labour movement had not yet been able to answer. [More]

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