Back to openDemocracy Email us Powered by TypePad  
political magazine Help bring democracy to the US
political magazine The New oD Today
political magazine China's modernisation and its discontents
political magazine openDemocracy widget
political magazine Goodbye Habeas Corpus
political magazine Dance the guns to silence?
political magazine Don't be a lawyer in China
political magazine Have we hit the ground yet?
political magazine The strange ways of Falungong
political magazine 2000 dead
political magazine April 2006
political magazine December 2005
political magazine November 2005
political magazine October 2005
political magazine September 2005
political magazine August 2005
political magazine July 2005
political magazine June 2005
political magazine May 2005
political magazine April 2005
My Photo oD Today
A weblog from the editors, staff and friends of openDemocracy.net

« Porto Reflecto: Some WSF Issues | Main | A luta continua »

Open verdict

James Crabtree's previous entry in this blog, Porto reflecto, makes a coherent case on the shortcomings of the forum.  But here are some caveats:

1."The dominant mode of communication is not dialogue, but exhortation".

That's my impression too (although us non-Portuguese speakers, unable to understand around 80% or more of the debates and presentations, should be cautious about jumping to conclusions) .   Frequent marches around the grounds shouting "Não a terrorista Bush" (spelt with a swastika in place of the 's') "Não a la guerra" (no to war) make this place seem more a festival of believers than a laboratory of ideas.  In one case I watched a woman chant this slogan for fifteen minutes while reading a book at the same time.   I am reminded of another quip attributed to Albert Einstein: "everything should be as simple as possible but no simpler".


2. "the bazaar-like set-up and deliberate diversity of purpose means, by definition, that there is no focus"

It's true that no one clear focus is yet emerging from the WSF. On the other hand, for particular groups with particular agendas that may be just fine.  For example, architects, educators, environmentalists and others have told me they find the forum valuable for the opportunity to to share knowledge with people they wouldn't normally meet, and reflect on longer term goals.

On the larger scale, many present at the WSF are likely to endorse the focus advocated by Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez when he addresses 12,000 people later today on "the South-North of Peoples".  The WSF is also likely to help mobilse a lot of people for a world wide day of protest on 20 March against the US-led coalition in Iraq.

3. "the Forum doesn't do a good job of representing those it seeks to help"

Some casual conversations - rather than my own direct observation - suggest evidence to the contrary.  The MST, or Landless Workers' Movement, (who Vince Medeiros has written about in this blog), Indigenous groups from across Brazil, and youth groups from round South America and beyond are here in force.  Their presence is less obvious in the central grounds here at Porto Alegre than, for example, Dalits were at last year's forum in Mumbai because the forum is more spread out.  But that does not mean they are not here - representing themselves.

Also, a meeting this afternoon with Immanuel Wallerstein, Chico Whitker and other intellectual and organisational luminaries will seek to address the "Who? Whom?" questions under the moniker "Power Relations at the WSF - An Open Debate on the Future of the Forum".

January 30, 2005 in World Social Forum | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83454872c69e200d8350d409853ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Open verdict:



Comments

The comments to this entry are closed.

Back to openDemocracy Email us Powered by TypePad