2007-10-17

The (World) Social Forum (WSF)

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by Neil Godfrey

Election is under way again in Australia hence adding a few more resource links for associates and interested persons over next few weeks.

Costello labels the Social Forum as an “extreme left wing group” consisting in “very large part of former-communists”.

This is part of his attempt to smear Julia Gillard for being a former organizer of Social Forum.

Facts about Social Forum:

For best quickest outline of what the WSF is see the Wikipedia article.

Note there that WSF is often criticized by communists and socialists. Fact: socialists love organization and ideological commitment. The WSF is an attempt to organize alternative thinkers, not socialists. Socialists are most welcome along with the rest. Trying to organize alternative thinkers is like trying to herd cats, or fill a wheelbarrow full of live frogs one by one. Things will only happen out of any organization when enough cats and frogs decide to work together.

Official website.

Social Forum was established as a democratic/people’s response to the World Economic Forum which has gained the reputation of being an agenda setting engine for neo-liberal corporate globalization. That of course is why it’s painted as a big bogey-man by the Howard government.

WSF is intended to be a popular forum for networking and exchange of ideas on how to improve the lives of “the masses” in all countries — alleviating poverty, promoting human rights, environmental issues, etc.

WSF is a useful organizing tool for helping initiate and coordinate mass public movements such as the February 2003 world wide demonstrations against the impending Iraq War.

Scott Parkin (also on Wikipedia) attended the last Social Forum I was at in Brisbane weeks before his deportation from Australia.

Violence is simply not part of the thinking of Social Forum attendees. The focus is always on peaceful and constructive solutions.

Personal experience:

Brisbane Social Forum started out with a bang but has not lived up to the initial hopes, although I have missed the last two years forums. I wonder if they needed a benefactor to help sustain them with the resources needed to bring in keynote international names of sustain followup media resources.

(I think GetUp has done more to fill a nation-wide mass networking need instead, since.)

Social Forums that I have attended have included just about every imaginable “alternative” or “social issues” type group imaginable, environmentalists, health food groups, human rights groups with specialist focus, social support groups, unesco and arts groups, you name it. The number or socialists I have ever seen has been very few in relative numbers — I know because I attended my first Social Forum with some socialists and felt like part of a very lonely boat drifting in the sea of all the rest. There were more hippies there than socialists. And the hippies were also a small minority.

Social Forums in Australia are great places for networking and making contacts to get actively involved with specific issues.

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Neil Godfrey

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