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(en) N.Chomsky: World Social Forum for just alternatives to econ.

From ralf@anarch.free.de (Ralf Landmesser)
Date Thu, 21 Dec 2000 03:53:53 -0500 (EST)

      A - I N F O S  N E W S  S E R V I C E

> From: Ilyas Siddique <u20is@abdn.ac.uk>

An attempt is made, in Southern Brazil and globally, to
work on socially just alternatives to the dominant form of
economic globalisation, by the

        on 25th to 30th January 2001 in Porto Alegre, Southern Brazil


The Forum's website hosts a Library of Alternatives at

Below, you can find an article by Noam Chomsky on

        Why the World Social Forum?

and at the end of the message, the
Forum's Manifesto

Warm regards,


World Social Forum 2001 - Library of Alternatives
Text especially written for the Forum launching in Porto Alegre and
reproduced on the newspaper Folha de S.Paulo - 10/09/00

Why the World Social Forum?

Noam Chomsky

After World War II, integration of the international
economy ("globalization") has been increasing. By late 20th
century, it had reversed the decline of the interwar
period, reaching the level prior to World War I by gross
measures - for example, volume of trade relative to the
size of the global economy. But the picture is considerably
more complex.

Postwar integration passed through two phases: (1) the
Bretton Woods period until the early 1970s; (2) the period
since, after the dismantling of the Bretton Woods system of
regulated exchange rates and controls on movement of
capital. It is phase (2) that is usually called
"globalization." Phase (2) is associated with so-called
"neoliberal policies": structural adjustment and "reform"
along the lines of the "Washington consensus" for much of
the Third World, and since 1990, others, such as India and
the "transition economies" of Eastern Europe; and a version
of the same policies in the more advanced industrial
societies themselves, most notably the US and UK. The two
phases have been strikingly different. For good reasons,
many economists refer to phase (1) as the "golden age" of
industrial state capitalism, and phase (2) - the
"globalization period" - as the "leaden age," with
significant deterioriation of standard macroeconomic
measures worldwide (rate of growth, productivity, capital
investment, etc.), and increasing inequality. In the
world's richest country, for most of the workforce wages
have stagnated or declined, working hours have dramatically
increased, and benefits and support systems have been
reduced. Through the "golden age," social indicators
closely tracked GDP; since the mid-1970s, they have
steadily declined, to the level of 40 years ago according
to the most recent detailed academic study.

Contemporary globalization is described as expansion of
"free trade," but that is misleading. A large part of
"trade" is in fact centrally-managed, through intrafirm
transfers, outsourcing, and other means. Furthermore, there
is a strong tendency towards oligopoly and strategic
alliances among firms throughout the economy, along with
extensive reliance on the state sector to socialize risk
and cost, a key feature of the US economy throughout this
period. The international "free trade" agreements involve
an intricate combination of liberalization and
protectionism, in many crucial cases (particularly
pharmaceuticals) allowing megacorporations to gain huge
profits by monopolistic pricing of drugs that were
developed with substantial contribution of the public
sector. The enormous explosion of short-term speculative
capital transfers in phase (2) sharply restricts planning
options for governments, hence restricts popular
sovereignty insofar as the political system is democratic.
The constitution of "trade" is far different from the
pre-World War I period. A large part now consists of
manufacturing flows to the rich countries, much of it
intrafirm. These options, along with the mere threat to
transfer production, are another powerful weapon against
working people and functioning democracy. The emerging
system is one of "corporate mercantilism," with decisions
over social, economic, and political life increasingly in
the hands of unaccountable private concentrations of power,
which are "the tools and tyrants of government," in James
Madison's memorable phrase, warning of the threats to
democracy he perceived two centuries ago.

Not surprisingly, the phase (2) effects have led to
substantial protest and public opposition, which has taken
many forms throughout the world. The World Social Forum
offers opportunities of unparalleled importance to bring
together popular forces from many and varied constituencies
from the richer and poor countries alike, to develop
constructive alternatives that will defend the overwhelming
majority of the world's population from the attack on
fundamental human rights, and to move on to break down
illegitimate power concentrations and extend the domains of
justice and freedom.


Manifesto of the World Social Forum
Porto Alegre, Brazil

The World Social Forum will be a new international arena for the
creation and exchange of social and economic projects that promote
human rights, social justice and sustainable development. It will take
place every year in the city of Porto Alegre, Brazil, during the same
period as the World Economic Forum, which happens in Davos,
Switzerland, at the end of January. Since 1971, The World Economic
Forum has played a key role in formulating economic policies
throughout the world. It's sponsored by a Swiss organization that serves
as a consultant to the United Nations and it's financed by more than one
thousand corporations.

The World Social Forum will provide a space for building economic
alternatives, for exchanging experiences and for strengthening
South-North alliances between NGOs, unions and social movements. It
will also be an opportunity for developing concrete projects, to educate
the public, and to mobilize civil society internationally. The World Social
Forum developed as a consequence of a growing international
movement that advocates for greater participation of civil societies in
international financial institutions such as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization
(WTO). For decades, these institutions have been making decisions that
affect the lives of people all over the world, without a clear system for
accountability and democratic participation.

Brazil is one of the countries that have been greatly affected by global
economic policies. At the same time, different sectors of Brazilian
society are crating economic alternatives in rural and urban areas, in
shantytowns, factories, churches, schools, etc. The richness of Brazilian
grassroots organizations represents a source of inspiration for the
development of the World Social Forum. The Brazilian Organizing
Committee is building alliances with organizations in the Americas,
Africa, Asia and Europe to develop the World Social Forum.

This will be a broad coalition of organizations working on issues such as
human rights, sustainable development, education, and environmental
protection. The World Social Forum will discuss topics such as:

· building economic policies that promote human development;
· creating international strategies for grassroots organizing;
· building proposals to democratize international institutions, such as the
WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank;
· the influence of multinational corporations in local communities;
· creating sustainable development proposals to eradicate poverty and
hunger, and to protect the environment;
· organizing against gender and racial discrimination;
· the protection and preservation of indigenous land and culture.

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