WSF Dakar: the revival of alter-globalisation?

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Original article by Dany Stive was published on the 12th of Feb in l’Humanité. Translated by David Lundy.

The 11th annual World Social Forum (WSF), held in Dakar, has just closed its doors. Buoyed by developments in North Africa, this forum had a significant impact, reviving interest in the global justice movement.

The people of Tunisia and Egypt offered a glimmer of hope for the alter-globalisation activists gathered on the campus of the University Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal’s capital. Gustave Massiah, member of the International Council of the WSF noted in l’Humanité on February 4 that these people “do not define themselves as alter-globalists as such, but many of the organisations they are involved with recognize and participate in the social forums”.

Their claims and their way of defending them reinforce radical alternatives: the link between freedom and social justice, the calling into question of oligarchies, and the demand for wealth redistribution.

If the anti-globalization movement was, in recent years, less visible, the Dakar forum marked its return to the spotlight. The presence of the Presidents of Bolivia, Evo Morales, Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, and former Brazilian President Lula in the Senegalese capital gave political weight to this global meeting. On site, participants considered how proposals such as ‘food sovereignty’ or the ‘fight against financial secrecy’ as voiced yesterday, were today if not shared, then at least flaunted by many political (and other) officials.

This creates a unique challenge for activists in preventing these demands from becoming misguided and, more importantly, ensuring their implementation to give substance to this other world dreamt up ten years ago.



Immanuel Wallerstein is also talking about the World Social Forum in his latest commentary and about events in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

“There was nonetheless one underlying complaint among those in attendance. People said correctly we all know what we’re against, but we should be laying out more clearly what it is we are for. This is what we can contribute to the Egyptian revolution and to the others that are going to come everywhere.”

He says that while there are multiple demands from disparate groups within a global movement for social justice we are still “justified in being semi-optimistic” about the current transformation and what it will bring.


One Response

  1. John Green

    February 24, 2011 5:30 pm

    Interesting conclusion by Wallerstein there too.

    “This debate about a “civilizational crisis” has great implications for the kind of political action one endorses and the kind of role left parties seeking state power would play in the world transformation under discussion. It will not be easily resolved. But it is the crucial debate of the coming decade. If the left cannot resolve its differences on this key issue, then the collapse of the capitalist world-economy could well lead to a triumph of the world right and the construction of a new world-system worse even than the existing one.”

    I recall Cornelius Castoriadis saying something very similar. If we don’t get our act together it’ll be a world of water and food rationing, xenophobia, and militarism.