National Sections of the L5I:

First World Social Forum meets to debate effects of globalisation

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If there are forces prepared to demonstrate on the streets and confront the exploiters and their state forces then the reformist wing of the anti-globalisation movement is meeting in warmer and safer places. The Declaration of Berne, a human rights group, and Friends of the Earth and other NGOs are staging a "counter-conference" in Davos itself The 'Public Eye on Davos' is a series of events highlighting the negative side of globalisation.

This speechfest will bring together about 20 well-known figures from the “north” and the “south” who all call for a fairer economic and financial world, more “transparency”, greater democracy, etc – i.e. for reform of the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank. Participants in this alternative forum include Martin Khor, of Malaysia, who is president of the NGO Third World Network, and also due to take part in the official forum.

Organisers of the counter forum have been eager to stress that they are not associated with demonstrations in the streets. Doubtless they will condemn any violence that occurs and blame the demonstrators rather than the “forces of order”.

A third event has been organised in Zurich for January 26 by the European sections of Attac, (the advocates of the Tobin Tax in financial speculation). Amongst speakers will be French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu who works with another group called 'Reasons to Act', set up 1996 by researchers critical of the leading eco-political idea.

At the same time, up to 10,000 other anti-globalisation supporters will be thousands of miles away in Porto Allegre in southern Brazil, Porto Allegre is a bastion of the Brasilian Workers Party, PT.

This “World Social Forum” is called by Brazil’s Attac (Association demanding the taxation of cross border financial transactions for the benefit of ordinary people), by the landless organisation Sem Terra and many NGOs.

The guest list includes such dignitaries as former South African President Nelson Mandela, Nobel Prize for Literature winner José Saramago and the veteran “anarchist” writer Noam Chomsky.

Whilst the speakers and representatives of many “third world “organisations will undoubtedly expose many of the horrors of exploitation and oppression that the transnational corporations, the international financial institutions and the governments of the “third world” perpetrate, they will offer up only the same recipe as the NGOs are doing in Davos.

All of these “respectable” antiglobalisers– however sharp their denunciations of debt slavery or environmental destruction – concentrate on reforming the existing system.

There has been no shortage of these counter-summits. “It’s good to talk”, says the British Telecom advert, but it’s even better to turn words into actions. Conferences can only help if they are made up of representatives of those who are fighting the system not parleying with its well-heeled representatives. John Wolfensohn, let alone his masters in the White House and on Wall Street, are not in ignorance of the sufferings of the poor. Their policies and actions are not some sort of ghastly mistake.

The demonstrators in the streets – rank and file trades unionists anarchists revolutionary socialists, radical ecologists are increasingly aware that this system cannot be reformed only destroyed.

In Seattle, Prague, Nice amongst the young demonstrators who tried to close down these gatherings, slogans like One Solution: REVOLUTION are getting stronger and stronger. To destroy the forces of capitalist globalisation means linking this vanguard of activists to the masses of organised workers and poor peasants of the so-called first, second and third worlds.

Of course exposure of the corporate globalisers is a necessary task. But just to exact promises of greater transparency, an 0.05% Tobin tax on financial speculation, or debt “forgiveness”, is useless. Worse than useless because it is just a “democratic” cover-up for the continued exploitation of the banks and the multinationals.

Of course we can and must demand immediate gains We want the abolition of business and state secrecy – the opening of the books and computers of the corporations and the governments to workers and popular inspection and control. We want swingeing taxation of the rich and the MNCs to meet the social demands of the workers, the peasants and the poor, we want socialisation with no compensation of MNCs who sweat or sack their workers and destroy the environment.

It means mobilising millions openly and consciously against global capitalism. Even if the Swiss authorities succeed in sealing off Davos, the sheer fact that the corporate raiders and the imperialist politicians can meet only within a ring of steel indicates the fast rising tide of hatred for them.

No wonder they have chosen the sultanate of Qatar as the venue for the next WTO meeting in November. The anti-mobilisation represents – along with last years general strikes and mass demonstrations in India, Argentina, Korea, Mexico Bolivia etc – that an anticapitalist globalisation of resistance is taking place. Now let us make Mayday 20001 a truly historic world mobilisation against Capital. Then... on to Genoa!