What is the US Social Forum?
The US Social Forum (USSF) is a movement building process. It is not a conference but it is a space to come up with the peoples’ solutions to the economic and ecological crisis. The USSF is the next most important step in our struggle to build a powerful multi-racial, multi-sectoral, inter-generational, diverse, inclusive, internationalist movement that transforms this country and changes history.
We must declare what we want our world to look like and we must start planning the path to get there. The USSF provides spaces to learn from each other’s experiences and struggles, share our analysis of the problems our communities face, build relationships, and align with our international brothers and sisters to strategize how to reclaim our world.
We live day to day in crisis and struggle. For the first time in history we are experiencing a rapidly deepening crisis of global capitalism affecting millions in the United States and billions world-wide – producing austerity policies and massive permanent unemployment and poverty, unimaginable climate, ecological and social destruction, and intensifying political attacks, repression, and the threat of fascism and war everywhere. At the same time, resistance, activism and organizing are on the rise across all continents, sectors, and fronts of struggle.
This moment requires a huge and unified social movement in the U.S. with millions of politically conscious people to ensure victory for the arising social motion in the interests of the oppressed, exploited, and dispossessed – to protect the earth and affirm life. The US Social Forum can play a role in pushing forward strategic US movement development through the dynamic interrelation of local and regional struggles, and the emergence of a national movement in relation to global movements. The US Social Forum process is striving to step up and take its place in history by advancing the interests of working class, low-income, and grassroots struggles. The moment is urgent and the opportunities are great.
To advance our struggle for shared understanding, political unity, and participation on the road to US movement building and USSF III, we invite you to read and discuss the US Social Forum political framing documents in your organizations, networks, and collectives.
The following statements have been developed through US Social Forum Working Groups and discussed and approved by the USSF National Planning Committee. They form the basis of our political unity and help orient our work together.
What Happens at the US Social Forum?
People's Movement Assemblies
Work Projects & Work Brigades
Expanded activities with internet and radio interface
USSF Village & Canopies
Arts & Culture - Performances, Exhibitions, Film Festival
Children's Social forum & Youth Camp
What are the goals of the USSF?
The following goals build upon discussions at the previous two U.S. Social Forums and subsequent dialogues among participants in the U.S. Social Forum process:
Create a space for social movement analysis, popular and political education, convergence, and strategic discussion.
Advance Peoples Movement Assemblies’ agendas for ongoing action directed toward social transformation.
Build stronger relationships, collaboration, and social movements across fronts of struggle for political understanding, strategic direction, and a powerful political force.
Deepen our collaboration with global social movements and our practice of international solidarity and joint struggle.
Strengthen local capacity to improve social conditions and social struggle.
Model and practice our values and our vision of another world (e.g., celebration, caring, support of identity, cooperation, collectivity, justice, equality, democracy, and sustainability).
What We Believe
We believe that there is a strategic need to unite the struggles of oppressed, exploited, and dispossessed communities and peoples, classes, and genders within the United States (particularly Black, Latino,Asian/Pacific-Islander and Indigenous communities) to the struggles of marginalized, oppressed, and dispossessed peoples and classes around the world.
We believe the USSF should place the highest priority on groups that are actually doing grassroots organizing with working-class people and people of color, who are training organizers, building long-term structures of resistance, and who can work well with other groups, seeing their participation in USSF as building the whole, not just their part of it.
We believe the USSF must be a place where the voices of those who are most marginalized and oppressed from Indigenous communities can be heard--a place that will recognize Indigenous peoples, their issues and struggles.
We believe the USSF must create space for the full and equal participation of undocumented migrants and their communities.
We believe the USSF should link US-based youth organizers, activists, and cultural workers to the struggles of their brothers and sisters abroad, drawing common connections and exploring the deeper meanings of solidarity.
We believe the USSF is important because we must have a clear and unified approach at dealing with social justice issues, and meaningful positions on global issues.
We believe that a USSF sends a message to other people’s movements around the world that there is an active movement in the United States opposing U.S. policies at home and abroad.
We believe that the USSF will help build national networks that will be better able to collaborate with international networks and movements.
We believe the USSF is more than an event. It is an ongoing process to contribute to strengthening the entire movement, bringing together the various sectors and issues that work for global justice.
You'll find more documents and background information on the history of the U.S. Social Forum on our wiki page.
Why a Third U.S. Social Forum?
The first USSF in Atlanta in June 2007 brought 12,000 people together in the belief that "Another World Was Possible!" Movement forces from all over the country took advantage of the opportunity to celebrate, organize, teach, debate and otherwise contribute to a growing sense that "Another United States Is Necessary!" In 2010, the second USSF drew nearly 20,000 participants to Detroit, where capitalism’s collapse has brought some of the country’s highest rates of unemployment, large-scale abandonment of whole urban communities, and a flourishing of popular movements for racial, gender, and economic justice. These experiences clarified the need for us to come together to resist the downward spiral that accompanies capitalism’s economic cycles. They also gave us hopeful lessons of how to build another world. (Click here to learn more about Detroit)
The purpose of the USSF is to effectively and affirmatively articulate the values and strategies of a growing and vibrant movement for justice in the United States. Those who build towards and participate in the USSF are no longer interested in simply stating what social justice movements “stand-against,” rather we see ourselves as part of new movements that reach beyond national borders, that practice democracy at all levels, and understand that capitalism abroad and here in the United States is not the solution. The USSF is a tool for helping us expand beyond our conventional campaigns and issue silos to build a common struggle for economic, social, and ecological justice.
The current moment
The objective situation in the U.S. and the world is a rapidly deepening and widening crisis of the entire global capitalist system. It’s evidenced by an irreversible economic crisis affecting millions in the U.S. and billions world-wide, producing massive poverty and irreversible ecological and social destruction, and heightening political attack, repression, war, and the threat of fascism the world over.
In 2001 the Patriot Act marked the beginning of this intensified period of domestic repression, linkage to the so-called “war on terrorism,” and the formation of the Department of Homeland Security. More recently the federal government has enacted HR 347 – criminalizing dissent, protest, and activism – and the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), bringing militarism and preventive detention to the domestic front of our neighborhoods. The police state continues to fill the prisons with young African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, and the poor. This increasingly rapid economic and political polarization and motion toward fascism require a powerful movement response.
It will take a huge social movement in the United States with millions of conscious people to ensure victory for the arising social motion in society in the interests of the oppressed, exploited, and dispossessed. Movement development is thus an urgent task; and the US Social Forum, in relation to other forces in motion, can be a powerful tool in this process. If we do not act smartly and intentionally to build our movement, the crisis will only worsen – placing humanity and the planet in peril – and the threat of fascism will become a reality.
Resistance is on the rise across continents, sectors, and fronts of struggle. Spontaneous motion in response to the crisis is increasing in the U.S. and globally through mobilizations, campaigns, protests, and occupations. But there is little conscious and strategic movement development within this growing activity. The US Social Forum process can and must add this element and help fill the vacuum by advancing the interests of working class, low-income, and grassroots struggles.
Call to Participate in Building the Road to the third U.S. Social Forum
We call those who fight for justice to converge and act, and to reflect on the potential of our position and the power of our connections. Although we have built organizations that push forward an integrated, multi-issue, multiracial strategy, we have yet to build our movement on a scale relative to our sisters and brothers in the Global South.
The US Social Forum offers the opportunity to continue to gather and unify these growing forces. We must seize this moment and advance our collective work to build grassroots leadership, develop collective vision and formulate strategies that keep a strong movement growing. (Click here to find out how to get involved)
World Social Forum to USSF - Globalizing the Resistance
A global movement is rising. The USSF is our opportunity to prepare and meet it! The World Social Forum (WSF) has become an important symbol of global movement convergence and the development of alternatives to the dominant paradigm. Over the past nine years, the WSF has gathered the world’s workers, peasants, youth, women, and oppressed peoples to construct a counter-vision to the economic and political elites of the World Economic Forum held annually in Davos, Switzerland.
After gathering 100,000 people in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2005, the International Council (IC) decided that in 2006 there would be regional social forums to culminate in a WSF in 2007. The IC delegated Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) to help shepherd the US Social Forum process, stating that it was strategic to hold a gathering of peoples and movements within the “belly of the beast” that were against the ravages of globalization and neoliberal policies in the US and worldwide. GGJ is an alliance that grew out of people-of-color-led grassroots groups who participated in the first WSF. These grassroots leaders initiated a process to create the first USSF National Planning Committee (NPC) and Atlanta was selected as the USSF host city. In early 2009, the NPC selected Detroit as the second host city for 2010.
Learn more about the World Social Forum and social forums happening around the world.
What is Polycentrism?
Review of Online Reference Material Regarding Polycentric Social Forums
For USSF III - Site Selection Committee
Collected by S. Orduño. September 2013.
Polycentrism is the principle of organization of a region around several political, social or financial centres.
In an article in The Nation (March 6, 2006) on "The World Social Forum: Protest or Celebration," Michael Blanding writes, "This year, the Caracas forum was one of three in a new 'polycentric' format intended to foster more regional collaboration." The quotes around "polycentric" indicate that this is a new use of the word. It is apt, in that most of those who attend gatherings like the World Social Forum are opposed to what could be called the "unicentrism" that characterizes imperial, neoliberal, and neoconservative economic and political theories and institutions; such people could be said to adherents to "polycentrism."
Polycentric Social Forum
The World Social Forum: Protest or Celebration?
The World Social Forum in Caracas provided living proof of alternative political and social visions, but raised new questions about government co-optation.
Michael Blanding February 16, 2006 This article appeared in the March 6, 2006 edition of The Nation.
…[T]he Caracas forum was one of three in a new "polycentric" format intended to foster more regional collaboration. Another was held in Bamako, Mali, the previous week; a third is scheduled for Karachi, Pakistan, in March (moved from January because of last year's earthquake).
"Just as with the polycentric forum, countries in the Southern Hemisphere are pushing this model of polycentric globalism. That's the big paradigm shift that's coming on the left that the right hasn't clued in to," said Ponniah. "The question is, How does civil society regulate those regional blocs such that we create a radically democratic, polycentric globalization?" There's also the question of how such a bloc would be organized--leaders like Brazil's Lula and Chile's Bachelet, for example, are much more open to free trade than their northern neighbors. Even so, in many different sessions participants expressed a desire for regional collaboration, even if it's not on the Bolivarian model.
See Internet Site of Polycentric World Social Forum: Bamako/Mali 2006. (Also, Caracas/Venezuela, Karachi/Pakistan.)
Chapter 2: The World Social Forum: Where Do We Stand and Where Are We Going?
by Francisco Whitaker, Boaventura de Sousa Santos and Bernard Cassen
“The challenge now is to ensure coordination and articulation among them all, so that the whole is not fragmented but rather advances with increasing unity towards the World Social Forum to be held in Africa in 2007.”
Re: Paralleling a SF meeting with a capitalist convergence.
“The dates selected for the Venezuela meeting parallel those of the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF) so as to prevent world leaders from marking the beginning of each year by dominating the media’s agenda with the unchallenged expression of their vision for the planet’s future. Past experience has shown that the simultaneity of these two events is an important asset. This had been acknowledged by Klaus Schwab, founder and chairman of the WEF who, addressing journalists in Buenos Aires on 21 March 2001 (two months after the first WSF), argued that the World Social Forum had affected the WEF’s reputation in a negative way: ‘Very smartly, place your name next to another, globally known one, and you become famous.’ In other words, Schwab’s statement was effectively saying, ‘Without Davos, nobody would have ever heard of Porto Alegre.’ While this claim is certainly exaggerated, one has to recognise that we have indeed been able to make the most out of the concurrence of these two events.”
Information on the activities of the World Social Forum
Discussions and conclusions of the International Council
[Unable to cut-paste]
2006: The year of Polycentric Social Forums: Caracas, Mali, Pakistan.
Regional social forums: Athens, Kenya.
The 11 themes outlined in Porto Alegre are likely to be used for the Polycentric Forums.
A polycentric forum for a convergent social movement
[Interview with E.Toussaint] World Social Forum 2006: Defining priorities and common axes
5 December 2005 by Sergio Ferrari
Sergio Ferrari (S.F.): Given the context, then, what are the main aims of the coming polycentric session of the WSF, in January 2006?
Eric Toussaint (E.T.): First of all, it’s important to remember the success of the 5th WSF at Porto Alegre, at the beginning of this year, with its 150,000 participants. And the 1st Mediterranean Social Forum in Barcelona, in June 2005, where over 1000 delegates from the Arab world and numerous Europeans took part.
The 6th WSF presents us with a challenge that was not planned for. In 2004, the frenetic rhythm of the « World Social Forum process » was opened up to debate within the International Council. A number of national and continental forums, as well as various campaigns and movements (including the CADTM), considered that the frequency of WSFs was far too high and that it would be preferable to organise them on a biennial basis. Finally, it was agreed to carry on holding an annual session throughout 2005, 2006 and 2007, but to decentralise it to several venues in 2006.
From Porto Alegre to the three continents
S.F. : So the new polycentric forum, will also be held in Caracas and in Bamako, at the end of January 2006, then in Karachi a few months later...
E.T. : That’s right. But again, instead of avoiding overload, all the WSF actors will be coming under intense pressure at an even faster pace all through the first half of 2006. In January, there will be a North-African pre-forum to prepare the forum at Bamako (capital of Mali), due to take place from 19 to 23 January. From 24 to 29 January, the Caracas meeting will attract particular attention due to the Bolivarian revolutionary process in that country.
The third decentralised session will be held several months later in Karachi (Pakistan), preceded in January by a national preparatory meeting in Lahore. The Pakistani organisers of the WSF have had to delay their session by a few months after the recent earthquake in Kashmir. Other activities are also planned in South-East Asia. Then in late April or early May, the 4th European Social Forum will take place in Athens (Greece). In other words, we have a very busy programme ahead...
S.F. : What are the biggest challenges of the polycentric process?
E.T. : The main aim is to develop regional dynamism while avoiding fragmentation. There is a definite risk of this in 2006, since by not having a single venue, there will not be the opportunity for campaigns and movements to exchange views and to discuss and define their priorities of action, just when the need to progress in defining collective action is felt to be most pressing.
S.F. : Should we expect to see certain contradictions arise between the clarification of options and a decentralised process?
E.T. : That is certainly happening, but I am convinced that the dynamics of the social movement will prevail and that priority will be given to unifying the process. I came out of a recent international meeting in Geneva in October feeling very optimistic. A number of active networks and movements from all four corners of the world were present, including Via Campesina, the CADTM, Focus on the Global South, the CUT of Brazil (the Unified Workers Confederation), several groups of ATTAC and European trade unions. We took stock of the last few years’ actions and we made headway in clarifying certain future priorities. Everything points towards a process of broad consultation to draw up these essential axes.
S.F. : With such an unusual procedure, can the International Council, as the coordinating instance of the WSFs, really manage to keep up with the entire process?
E.T. : The next meeting of the International Council is in March 2006, when we will see how the first three forums went. There is a risk that we might find it hard to keep abreast of events, even though we are well aware of the efforts required to respond to the new challenges.
Convergence of contents
S.F. : What will these decentralised forums be about? Will each session have its own programme, or will there be an identical agenda for all?
E.T. : If we analyse the central themes of these three big meetings, we see a clear convergence. In this sense, I don’t think there is any risk of political fragmentation. For example, an important axis from the Porto Alegre forum of 2005 was « Political power and struggles for social emancipation » will be present in all three meetings. Still, the biggest and most crucial challenge is to identify priorities for common action. It’s nothing new : the same need was emphasized both in the « Porto Alegre Manifesto », presented by a group of well-known intellectuals at the 5th session of the WSF and by the Assembly of Social Movements at the same gathering. At Porto Alegre, in 2005, we agreed on an agenda of common activities. Now we absolutely must decide on our priorities. We can have 2 or 3, but not 15 or 20... I get the impression that most of the constituent members of the WSF, in all their diversity, agree that this is necessary, so I am very optimistic about it.
Habitat International Coalition
Global network for the right to habitat and social justice
Polycentric World Social Forum 2006
The sixth edition of the World Social Forum will be polycentric, which means that it will be decentralized, taking place in different parts of the world, in January 2006. Up to now, three cities will host the 6th WSF: Bamako (Mali-Africa), Caracas (Venezuela – Americas) and Karachi (Pakistan-Asia). The decision of having a polycentric WSF in 2006 was made during the International Council (IC) meeting held from January 24th and 25th 2005, in Porto Alegre….
Bamako (Mali) – January 19th to 23rd, 2006
1. War, safety and peace
2. Globalized liberalism : apartheid in worldwide scale and impoverishment
3. Marginalization of the continent and its peoples, migrations, violation of economic, social and cultural rights
4. Aggression against rural societies
5. Alliance between patriarchalism and neoliberalism and marginalization of women’s struggles
6. Culture, media and communication : critical thinking and reconstruction, symbolic violences and exclusions
7. Destruction of ecosystems, biological diversities and control of resources
8. International order: United Nations, international institutions, international rights/law, reconstruction of the South front
9. International trade, debt and social and economic policies
10. Alternatives that will allow advances in democracy, social progress and respect for peoples’ sovereignity and international law
Caracas (Venezuela) – January 24 to 29
1.Power, politics and struggles for social emancipation
New global power patterns: relations among social movements and organizations, parties and the State. Balance and perspectives of struggles against neoliberal capitalism in the American continent. Relationship between politics and economics. The role of the State: public and private spheres. Struggles for democracy. Social practices of resistance: new political cultures and new forms of organization. The World Social Forum: processes and perspectives. Political projects and program proposals. Solidarity and new internationalism. Women’s movements, struggles against patriarchism and against all forms of violence. The continental current state of affairs and new paths for construction of alternatives. Perspectives and political struggles of peoples and indigenous nationalities. Youth struggles. Horizons for change and social transformation: are other types of socialism possible?
2. Imperial strategies and peoples’ resistance
Neoliberalism of war and imperial order. Militarization, criminalization of struggles and poverty, terror, terrorism and the culture of fear. Policies of military ‘cooperation’: military bases, occupation and immunity agreements in Latin America and the Caribbean. The “war of civilizations” as a new strategy for imperial expansion. Commodification of life and its legal-institutional instruments: “free trade”, foreign debt, international financial institutions; WTO, the FTAA and FTAs; multinational corporations. Electric energy models and energy geopolitics. Crisis of the institutions within the United Nations system and international law. The struggle for human rights, and the rights of peoples. Sovereignty and the struggle against colonialism. SOUTH-SOUTH relations. New perspectives for regional integration and people's integration. The debate on development. Resistance, civil disobedience and struggles for peace.
3. Resources for and rights to life: alternatives to the predatory model of civilization
Capitalism and threats to life: global warming and ‘natural’ catastrophes, loss of biodiversity, desertification. Imperial appropriation and privatization of resources. Struggles for access, redistribution and protection of resources: land, biodiversity, water, seeds and energy sources. Indigenous lands and autonomy. Urban crisis, social apartheid and violence. Struggles for new urban spaces and relations. Patterns of hegemonic knowledge and construction of anti-hegemonic knowledge. Dialogue between knowledges. Intellectual property and appropriation of knowledge. Right to health. Alternative health practices. Sexual and reproductive rights and de-criminalization of abortion.
4. Diversities, identities and worldviews in movement
Plurality and inter-culturality. Indigenous peoples and nationalities and people of African descent. Racism and colonial legacy. Latin-American and regional identities. Local identities. Knowledge, spirituality and inter-religious dialogue. Sexual identity and diversity. Youth cultures and identities. Spaces and rights for people with special needs. Gender identities and sexual diversity.
5. Work, exploitation and reproduction of life
Precariousness, exclusion, inequality and poverty in the North and in the South. Work and gender inequalities. Labor, unions and social organizations. Migrations and new forms of exploitation. Child labor. Human trafficking. Resistance and new social arrangements in labor. Non-mercantile forms of reproduction of life: reciprocal treatment, indigenous communities, solidary economy, family-based agriculture, cooperatives and self-management. Care economy.
6. Communication, culture and education: alternative and democratizing dynamics
Right to information and communication in order to strengthen citizenship. Resistance to the concentration of ownership of the media. Social agenda in communication for building alternatives. and Media communication and oral communication: resistance and alternatives to hegemonic communication. Democratization of access to new technologies. Social appropriation of communication and information technologies, and on-line resistance (internet and mobile telephone systems). Artistic production and de-commodification of culture. Socio-cultural movements as forms of peoples' resistance. Linguistic diversities and critical languages. Right to education and student struggles. Anti-hegemonic educational models and experiences of popular education.
Karachi (Pakistan) – previously planned to take place from January 24th to 29th, 2006, was delayed in 2 months.
A. Imperialism, militarization and armed conflicts in the region and peace movements
i. Peace Initiatives; India- Pakistan, Burma-Thailand, Palestine-Israel, Iraq, Iran-West + US, Afghanistan
ii. Imperialism, Wars, Resistance movement, Militancy, Weapons.
iii. State entrenched violence and other militaristic tendency.
iv. Militarization of state and society.
v. Armed insurgencies.
vi. Nuclear disarmament, demilitarization.
vii. Humanism and peace.
viii. Colonization of civil society by armed forces/military
ix. Affectees of wars and nuclear tests.
x. Terrorism and sectarian violence.
xi. Local disputes as conflicts.
xiii. Smalls arms and lights weapons proliferation.
xiv. Militancy and violence: Women and children/Children in Armed conflicts.
xv. Social policing by religious parties/groups
xvi. Rise and promotion of ethnic and sectarian groups by states
xvii. Impact of 9/11 on global societies, regional and local forces
B. Natural resources Rights, peoples’ control & privatization, and Trans- boundary disputes
i. Natural resources: Water, Gas, minerals, fishing, grazing, forests, Petroleum, other natural resources.
ii. Privatization, closure of industries, retrenchment of labor and curtailment of labor rights.
iii. Water distribution and conflicts.
iv. Land rights.
v. Control over resources (natural, revenue/fiscal, human resources, )
C. Trade Development and globalization
i. Trade-WTO – SAFTA; Asia-pacific Issues, Trade Free and Trade Union Free Zones.
ii. IMF and WB and other IFI’s control of economies.
iii. GM technology and non-organic food production and distribution.
iv. Post modern age analysis of globalization.
v. Regional common trade.
vi. Impact of neo-liberal and globalization policies
vii. Growing poverty and inequalities (among regions, provinces and classes), rural poverty and rise of extreme poverty
D. Social Justice Human Rights and Governance
i. Democracy; de-Institutionalisation of Political systems, Support of Military govt/regimes.
ii. Poverty, Children, Women, Minorities and Human rights issues.
iii. Fundamental rights of expression, speech.
iv. Political victimization.
v. Rights of divided families especially India and Pakistan.
vi. Socialism as an alternative to capitalism.
vii. People’s friendly health policies and inventions.
viii. Issues of social justice and governance.
ix. Child and women trafficking and sexual exploitation.
x. Prisoners across borders.
xi. Labor rights – right to work in trade free zones.
xii. Minorities rights.
xiii. Free labor movements.
xiv. Corruption of state institutions.
xv. Economical rights
xvi. National rights
xvii. Historical rights
xviii. Forms of Bonded labor
xix. Education, health care
xx. Devolution and decentralization
E. State and religion, pluralism and fundamentalism
i. Distortion and indoctrinization of history.
ii. Religious intolerance and oppression against minority community.
iii. State, religion, fundamentalism, tolerance and minorities.
iv. Religious fundamentalism and its promotion.
F. Nation, nationalities and ethnic and cultural identifies
i. State entrenched violence and other militaristic tendency.
ii. Nation, Nationalities, State and Identities.
iii. Culture as expression and political statement.
iv. Media as an instrument of corporate forces.
G. Development strategies, poverty unemployment and displacement
i. Women in conflict zone.
ii. Displaced people; internally conflicts and mega projects.
iii. Socialism as an alternative to capitalism.
iv. Development strategies, mega projects and displacement.
v. Poverty reduction strategies and approaches.
vi. Development Assistance and Conditionalisation
vii. Land rights.
H. Peoples’ movements and alternative strategies
i. People movements, livelihood, rights based and self-determination.
ii. Fisher folk, challenges and problems.
iii. Indigenous people and rights.
I. Women, patriarchy and social change
i. Women in conflict zone, prisons and immigration.
ii. Honor killings and women as victim of militarism.
iii. Militancy and violence: women and children.
J. Environment, ecology and livelihoods
iv. Role of IFIs and degradation of environment
v. Pollution of water bodies and land
vi. Dams and barrages
Problems of mega cities (Infrastructure, environment, transport, housing, violence, uncontrolled influx of population.
- Imperialist globalisation
- Casteism, Racism and Social Exclusions
- Religious sectarianism, Identity Politics, Fundamentalism
- Militarism and Peace
World Social Forum 2006
WSF Polycentric 2006, International Council (IC) Commissions and facilitating group in charge of WSF office (Brazil and India)
Bamako, Mali. September 30 to October 3, 2005
During the last days, another important step was taken in order to make successful the proposal of having a Polycentric WSF in 2006. Members of the Organizing Committees of each polycentric WSF met in Bamako (Mali) with members from the IC and the facilitating collective (Brazil and India). Members from the Maghrebian Social Forum and from Malian social organizations also took part of the meeting.
The main objective of this meeting was to promote the exchange of information and experiences on the preparation of the three venues and give the 2006 event an integrated characteristic, avoiding them to be isolated from each other. The reports are attached. Below you will find a brief summary:
The Future of The World Social Forum
[* This article is the intervention made at the panel entitled “The Polycentric World Social Forum: The Future of the World Social Forum. Development and perspectives of world resistances to Neo-liberalism”, at the VI World Social Forum and the II Americas Social Forum held in Caracas on 25th January 2006. It was first published in América Latina en Movimiento #404-405 in Spanish]
The polycentric experiment
We are entering the first, novel experiment of the Polycentric Forums, which coincide with regional initiatives, and we hope that they won’t be down-graded because up to now the emergence of regional Forums has had the advantage of generating a distinct view of globalisation from specific realities and so broadening the idea of processes that are based on local realities and experiences.
However, in the Forum’s creative process there’s a striking coincidence. The three countries that have responded to the convocation – Venezuela, Mali, and Pakistan – are from the South. This opens up horizons for looking from and towards the South, developing a perspective that recognises the South as a source of alternatives, which inscribes the multiplicity of visions for the future which co-exist here. Because it is precisely here that age-old universal proposals of a different, alternative world to that of the northern-western-centric one continue to survive, though they have not as yet been fully expressed and made their presence felt in the Forum.
From Reactive to Proactive: The World Social Forum and the Anti-/Alter-Globalization Movement
By Marian Pinsky
Global Research, May 20, 2013
McGill Sociological Review, Volume 1, January 2010, pp. 3-28
The World Social Forum seemed to be taking a turn towards representative ‘insurgency from below’. Such a goal was largely achieved in Mumbai, particularly in the vocal and energetic presence of the Dalits or untouchables, who insisted that pervasive caste inequalities be put on the Forum’s agenda. The instantaneous translation in a variety of languages and dialects in the various hosting cities of the Forums also points to the emphasis placed on democracy and intentional inclusion. Moreover, the “polycentric” Forums of 2006 which took place simultaneously in Caracas, Venezuela; Bamako, Mali; and Karachi, Pakistan, attempted to diffuse the Latin American concentration by attracting activists in the Americas, Africa, and Asia (World Social Forum). Similarly, a proliferation of regional and thematic forums, such as the Asian Social Forum and that of the Americas, has broadened the base of participants and topics covered. Significantly, indigenous concerns have been placed on the global agenda (Conway 2007; de Sousa Santos 2006; Leite and Gil 2005; Smith 2004; Buckman 2004).
…While the Forum which immediately followed the Mumbai convention returned to its Brazilian headquarters, 2006 was a year which featured an innovative polycentric WSF. Taking place simultaneously in Bamako, Mali; Caracas, Venezuela; and Karachi, Pakistan, it drew representatives hailing from Africa, the Americas, and Asia (de Sousa Santos 2006).
The WSF 6th edition was decentralized. It was held in different places around the world : Bamako (Mali), Caracas (Venezuela) and Karachi (Pakistan). The Bamako event took place from January 19th to 23rd, 2006. The event in Caracas took place from January 24th to 29th, 2006. The Karachi event took place from March 24th to 29th.
Like in the previous events the WSF polycentric program was built in a participative wayt. Each of the polycentric events had its own methodology and program. For the event in Caracas a thematic consultation were realized and defined six thematic areas and two transversal themes. In Bamako and Karachi the consultation started from a list of themes previously defined by the bodies of these forums.