par Michael Ramirez* et Orion Cruz*
(Ce texte est provient d’une liste d’envoi de courriels WSFDiscuss. Nous le publions ici pour en faire profiter les lecteurs de ce blogue. Ceux qui veulent s’inscrire sur la liste peuvent le faire à la fin du billet. la première partie se trouve ici et dernière là)
The Lula Factor
Brazilian President Lula da Silva was one of the original craftsmen of the WSF. His government contributed approximately U.S.$50 million to this year’s event. In a move that signified the relative importance of the forum, Lula opted to attend the WSF rather than participate at Davos as had been universally assumed. Instead, Brazil’s Minister of External Relations, Celso Amorim, and the President of the Banco Central do Brasil, Henrique Meirelles, represented the regional superpower at the World Economic Forum.
Lula’s decision to attend the WSF should not have come as a complete surprise. His roots lie deep within social movements dating as far back as the late 1970s. Although a founder of the WSF, Lula’s presence at Belém rather than at Davos cannot be entirely attributed to the conference’s return to Brazil. Instead, Lula saw the forum as a podium to condemn traditional capitalist countries such as the U.S. He claimed, “now the crisis is theirs, not ours,” attesting to the current economic crisis that resulted from grossly lax banking regulations in the market economies.
Lula’s decision to speak at the WSF contributed to the forum’s legitimacy and surely sent a message to the world that alternatives to the current economic model being promoted by the international lending agencies – the IMF and World Bank – are seriously being sought. That message also carried with it a relatively new significance, since Brazil has emerged as a regional superpower at a time when Latin America is expanding its ties with the outer world like never before in its history.
The WSF has created an opportunity for various private and public organizations to meet and discuss their concerns, and seek tentative solutions. Attendees at Belém typically were individuals seeking social and economic improvement for themselves and their communities. Many, if not most of the discussions heard there focused primarily on educating participants about the world’s multiplicity of problems, particularly about how the application of the neoliberal development model has often mechanically led to inconceivably gross corporate profits at the expense of average citizens and their fundamental human rights. Advancements in poverty eradication and gender equality were among the other imperative subjects discussed. By way of example, the importance of such debates can be seen in the case of Colombia’s alarmingly high number of internally displaced peoples.
Alvaro Uribe’s administration in Colombia has been repeatedly criticized by human rights organizations, which have challenged it for its negligent response to ensuring the safety and security of struggling tiny and isolated communities in that country, such as the Curvaradó and Jiguamiandó in the northwest region. The exploitation of natural resources and agricultural developments, along with the internal conflict that had engulfed the country for over forty years, has left entire communities displaced. In an analysis released by COHA this past year, the organization found that there are “20 million Colombians who are suffering from hunger, increased human rights abuses, lack of access to healthcare, accelerated environmental degradation, increased inequality, and a deeply flawed educational system.” These are the common injustices minorities become subjected to under state repression, as well as the absence of fundamental access to economic, social, and cultural rights.
It is important to understand the past and the development of contemporary circumstances in order to establish a clear direction for the future. The dialogues at Belém, however, failed, according to some, to place enough emphasis on the future. For well-informed attendees therefore, the forums may have lacked attention to proportionality, in this respect attributing to some confusion in understanding the vast global issues at stake. Many of the forum’s almost overwhelming number of discussions, lectures, and debates were, however, carried out in small groups and provided the opportunity for those who had questions or may have felt something was missing to find answers to their inquiries.
21st Century Socialism: Socialism of the Future
Under the terms of Article IX of the WSF Charter of Principles, Presidents Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Fernando Lugo of Paraguay, and Rafael Correa of Ecuador jointly addressed the attendees in a vigorous dialogue titled The “Proper Integration of Our America,” a discussion prepared by La Via Campesina. This session synthesized the progress that Chávez’s 21st Century Socialism – often referred to as the Bolivarian Revolution – has made over classical socialism. While maintaining the philosophical supremacy of human labor over capital, the modern model accepts that traditional class struggles do not always provide a satisfying explanation for all social phenomena.
Highlighting some of the major characteristics of 21st Century Socialism, the aforementioned presidents were quick to denounce classical socialism for its inability to produce the efficient development, ethnic equality, and intergenerational equity which the system promised. The Russian model of socialism, for the most part, lacked a process that would accurately record the demands of the people and in many ways was merely a construct trying to challenge U.S. policies across-the-board, rather than create and implement them for the common good. Most significant, however, is “classical socialism’s” failure to raise all of the serious questions to confront the reigning capitalist development model at its roots.
Unlike the Soviet version, Chávez and his colleagues’ leftist vision for the world, which is rapidly emerging from Latin America, is that of an entirely parliamentary democratic brand; it is a manifestation of people’s desire for liberation from the neo-liberal capitalist model of development, and, rather than copying an existing worn-out model for the future, a new community is authoring it. Instead of attempting to “develop” an alternative way through what is commonly seen as endless economic growth rooted in unwarranted U.S. optimism, this new Latin American socialism is forming a strong ecological awareness as well as a desire to counter the dependency policies born from traditional U.S. hegemony in the region. The people, from this chavista perspective, are creating something new and trying to free themselves from an antiquated system that has so far failed the majority of them.
Lula and his colleagues utilized the WSF to take issue with the Western version of the capitalist system. The lack of regulations that precipitated the current global economic crisis has been a crucial component of left-oriented arguments against the neo-liberal system. Irish artist and social activist Tony Kenny maintained that, “The systems formulated in Davos are collapsing, disintegrating and beginning to rot. So there has been this clearing away, this brush fire within the financial system that has been built over the last 100 years.” Magdalena Leon, a member of the Latin American Network of Women Transforming the Economy, also argued against the inefficiency and marginality of the capitalist system, emphasizing the immediate obligation to implement an alternative structure. Leon argued that now more than ever, under the current economic circumstances, measures should be taken to create the change and institutions the world so desperately needs; failure to act promptly would allow the current financial system, which is viewed as being of a “neocolonial nature,” to revitalize itself and shed its irrelevance and chronic obsolescence.
*Les auteurs sont des chercheurs au COHA
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