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(Date: 21 October 2004)
On 23 and 24 August, those two IC commissions have met in São Paulo and they defined eleven Terrains – as were named the thematic sections from 5th WSF. The Terrains were defined from the Consultation thematic analysis – in which 1.863 organisations participated voluntarily. In this Consultation, the organisations informed which issues they intend discuss in Porto Alegre 2005. From this estimation, the Terrains were defined.
Transversal themes for the 11 terrains at the WSF 2005
In response to International Council discussions of the experience gained and lessons to be learned from previous editions of the Forum, particularly the 4th World Social Forum held in Mumbai, India, in January 2004, a number of structural changes have been introduced for the 5th World Social Forum. These changes will be reflected in the new “territorial” dynamic of the Porto Alegre Forum fostered by grouping activities by thematic terrains along the banks of the Gauíba River.
Arranging the Forum around 11 thematic terrains reflects the fundamental aims discussed and agreed by consensus at the meetings of the International Council and its Methodology and Thematic Content Commission held in the course of the Mumbai forum.
Firstly, the intention is that these discussion frameworks be designed and interlink fundamentally in terms of ongoing processes of struggle so as to give greater visibility to currently ongoing opposition to neoliberal globalization led by social movements and organizations that participate in the World Social Forum. Therefore, definition of the 11 thematic terrains was the outcome of a debate about the most significant processes of struggle and campaigns and an analysis of the consultation conducted via the Internet. On the other hand, the Forums structure and dynamics seeks to foster and consolidate processes and domains favourable to convergence among struggles and campaigns, with a view to extending mechanisms for democratic collaboration and participation that can assist towards developing alternatives for another possible – and necessary – world.
These 11 thematic terrains are to be the favoured context for expressing the plurality and diversity that are one of the main features and major strengths of the movement of resistance to neoliberal globalization. Nonetheless, any thematic fragmentation of discussions that may hamper or prevent achieving the above aims of convergence and synthesis is to be avoided. That is why three transverse themes have been proposed; these are designed to function as “horizons” and concerns common to the debate in each of the 11 thematic terrains. The three transverse themes selected are as follows:
I) Social emancipacion and the political dimension of the struggles
The movement against neoliberal globalization that has burst onto the scene since the mid-90s is certainly the most significant political phenomenon of the start of the new century. This actions of this international movement have proven decisive in recent years in calling into question and delegitimizing the intention to “naturalize” capitalism as the historical horizon beyond which humankind cannot aspire. The manifold international mobilization to oppose war has revealed clearly that the logic of “armed neoliberalism” and the “war without limit” are being rejected worldwide as means to restoring legitimacy to neoliberal globalization. The diverse and constant efforts of this movement are at the same time opportunities for fashioning, spreading and infusing new societal and civilizational alternatives to the forms of social oppression, domination and discrimination inherent in contemporary capitalism. Inquiry and debate about the dynamics of emancipation are allied with necessary debate about the political content and scope of struggles of social movements. The action taken by most of those who participate in the World Social Forum at all levels often encounter political obstacles. On a number of occasions in recent years, both in the South and the North, a majority of citizens have clearly rejected neoliberal policies, both on the streets and in elections. Nonetheless many of the governments elected as a result of this repudiation of neoliberalism have continued, in breach of their electoral promises, with the implementation of neoliberal policies, in some cases intensifying militarization policies and the social criminalization of protest. Given these realities, as participants in the 5th World Social Forum, we have to think about avenues and strategies tending to reverse this “hijacking” of rejection for neoliberal policies.
II) Struggles against capitalism and patriarchy
The militarization of international relations that followed President Bushs declaration of “infinite war against terrorism” after September 11, 2001 is a clear example of how forms of domination have sharpened in contemporary capitalism. The imperialist invasion of Iraq and the killing of civil populations is the starkest example today of this tendency to militarize social relations. That contemporary forms of exploitation are becoming more acute is shown by – among other things – the over-use of natural resources, wage labour (“flexible” labour relations, and child and female slave labour), the concentration of wealth on a planetary scale and the spread of unemployment and misery for millions of people. In this context, women in particular are victims of a dual mechanism of exploitation: capitalism and patriarchy are mutually reinforcing and feedback into each other to keep women in a situation in which they are culturally inferior, socially devalued and economically marginalized, their existence and their work invisible, and their bodies commodifed – all situations resulting from a systematic endeavour of exclusion. Because the present globalization is sexist, it accentuates the massive and growing feminization of poverty and leads to the intensification of the multiple violence perpetrated against women. Womens sustained resistance to these particular forms of oppression and exploitation is reflected in how important the various womens movements have come to be in the international movement against neoliberalism in general and in the World Social Forum in particular. In the context of discussions on the scope for emancipation it is decisively important to discuss forms of struggle against capitalism and patriarchy.
III) Struggle against racism
Neoliberal globalization has given new currency and scope to the mechanisms for human segregation established since the origins of capitalist development, although 20th century “progress” intended to have eradicated them. The introduction of slave production in Latin American societies since the colonial era meant that racism spread as a means of segregation based on skin colour against populations of native peoples and slaves originally from Africa. Despite political discourse urging multiracial coexistence and equality of opportunities, racism finds virulent expression in Latin American societies and is far from disappearing. In Brazil, host country of the 2005 World Social Forum, efforts to combat racism take on particular importance as a result of the weight that its colonial past and the prejudices inherited from that period of history still carry in that countrys political and social life. Black and indigenous people are the prime, although not the only, victims of this scourge that still combines and conspires worldwide, and particularly in Latin America, with other forms of discrimination by social origin, caste, gender, religion, philosophical conceptions etc. The struggle against racism and all other forms of discrimination thus takes on special importance at the 5th World Social Forum.
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