The annual gathering of the World Social Forum (WSF) – the left’s response to the elitist annual Davos World Economic Forum – runs in Montreal from August 9 to 14 with several thousand people from dozens of countries attending.
More than 1,000 self-managed sessions have activists discussing and creating progressive alternatives to traditional political, economic and social policies that they will take back to their own countries.
While as many as 100,000 people have attended sessions some years in some developing countries, perhaps only as many as 10,000 are taking part in Montreal.
While Montreal was selected this year because it has been the site of strong social and political activism, participants from the South found it too expensive to travel to Canada. In addition, hundreds of activists from some countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco, Iran, Nigeria, Haiti and Nepal, were having problems arranging visas.
The WSF has an illustrious and radical history. Its first meetings, held in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, were inspired by socialists such Luiz Lula da Silva, the soon-to-be president of Brazil. Attended by 12,000 people, the sessions brought together anti-globalization activists from all over the world to talk and organize.
The Forum is an exciting event. “The scene bursts with energy as people who work on particular causes at home—feminism, the environment, indigenous rights, economic justice, human rights, AIDS…