WSF: from debate to action

All the speeches at the inaugural function shared a common note: a critique of the international economic and political order. The approaches and strategies mooted, however, have been different. Two striking and contrasting opinions emerged: from Francisco Whitaker, one of the founders of the WSF; and the other, a strong call to action given by the renowned Indian writer Arundhati Roy. Whitaker, the more conciliatory of the two, conceives the WSF as a space for engaging in debate, sharing experiences, and searching for alternatives. He pointed out that there are a great number of social movements. Many in the world today oppose globalisation and want to build a more just world and these people are organised through a great variety of social movements and NGOs. The problem is not one of quantity but of quality: how to act together, how to become a social force at national and international levels. The difficulties arise from the huge number of movements and institutions, the diversity in the conditions of exclusion and poverty they have to face, and the multiplicity of strategies for action. For example, some attend only to the effects, while others act on the causes. The challenge today, according to him, is how to articulate civil society so that it can have an impact on the economic policies that govern the world. As against the conception of the Forum as a space for analysis and exchange, Arundhati Roy made a call to act as a movement. In a warm and clear speech that the audience loved, her intervention was a ferocious attack on the existing economic order that governs the world. Faced with the increasing victims of globalisation, and confronting their exclusion, social movements cannot, she added, only limit themselves to criticising globalisation, but must emphatically state ?this is enough?, and move into action. It is necessary to start taking steps and achieve concrete objectives. In her call for mobilisation she made a concrete proposal: a boycott of the multinational corporations that will benefit from the reconstruction work in Iraq. She went on to propose that the WSF make public a list with the names of these corporations and their business addresses throughout the world. We shall keep you informed about this proposal. If accepted, it might change the nature of the WSF as mainly a space for encounter and debate. (Cristina Manzanedo). [HL40108]