World Social Forum

From Academic Kids

Noam Chomsky at World Social Forum 2003. Photo by Marcello Casal Jr/ABr.
Noam Chomsky at World Social Forum 2003. Photo by Marcello Casal Jr/ABr.

The World Social Forum (WSF) is an annual meeting held by left wing members of the alternative globalization movement to coordinate world campaigns, share and refine organizing strategies, and inform each other about movements from around the world and their issues. It tends to meet in January when its "great capitalist rival", the World Economic Forum is meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The first WSF was held from 25 January to 30 January, 2001 in Porto Alegre, organized by many groups involved in the alternative globalization movement, including the French Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions for the Aid of Citizens (ATTAC). The WSF was sponsored, in part, by the Porto Alegre government, led by Brazilian Worker's Party (PT). The town was experimenting with an innovative model for the local government which combined the traditional representative institutions with the participation of open assemblies of the people. 12,000 people attended from around the world. At the time, Brasil was also in a moment of transformation that later would lead to the electoral victory of the PT candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The second WSF, also held in Porto Alegre from 31 January to 5 February, 2002, had over 12,000 official delegates representing people from 123 countries, 60,000 attendees, 652 workshops, and 27 talks. One famous speaker was famed American author and self-proclaimed dissident Noam Chomsky.

The third WSF was again held in Porto Alegre, in January 2003. There were many parallel workshops, including, for example the Life After Capitalism workshop, which proposed focussed discussion on non-communist, non-capitalist, participative possibilities for different aspects of social, political, economic, communication structures [1] (

The fourth WSF was held in Mumbai, India, from 16-21 January 2004. The attendance was expected to be 75,000 and it shot over by thousands. The cultural diversity was one notable aspect of the forum. The other notable decision that was taken was the stand on Free Software. One of the key speakers at the WSF 2004 was Joseph Stiglitz.

The fifth World Social Forum for 2005 was held in Porto Alegre, Brazil between 26 January-31. A number of participants in the forum released the Porto Alegre Manifesto.

In 2006 the forum will be held simultaneously in different cities around the world.

The WSF has prompted the organising of many regional social forums, including the European Social Forum, the Asian Social Forum and the Boston Social Forum. All social forums adhere to the Charter of Principles drawn up by the World Social Forum.


The WSF has been criticised, particularly by socialist and communist left parties, for producing few practical ideas, concentrating instead on general and vague criticisms of neoliberalism and imperialism. On the other hand some, particularly anarchists, have criticised the WSF for attempting to act as a central decision making location for dissident groups, as the Communist Internationals once did.

The WSF is also subject to the same criticisms as the anti/alternative globalisation movements, namely that the globalisation and capitalism they oppose are inevitable. WSF participants have responded that this idea of the 'inevitability' of globalisation is simply an ideological myth, hence their embrace of the slogan, 'Another World is Possible'.

Right-wing opponents of the current global order have criticised the supposed pluralism of the WSF, as it only includes movements on the left (from social democrats to anarchists and ultra-leftists).

Some activities by activists attending the WSF have also been criticised, such as in the WSF 2001, where activists invaded and destroyed a plantation of experimental transgenics of the Monsanto enterprise. [2] (

External links

es:Foro Social Mundial eo:Monda Socia Forumo fr:Forum social mondial gl:Foro Social Mundial id:Forum Sosial Dunia nl:Wereld Sociaal Forum no:Verdens sosiale forum pl:Światowe Forum Społeczne pt:Fórum Social Mundial


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