are several articles written following the latest WSF, Porto Alegre
2003. Through them, we wish to illustrate the diversity of the Allies’
contributions to this event.
will also find the short presentations of the four Dialogue and
Controversy Round Tables, which was one of the innovations of this
latest edition of the WSF.
of the World Social Forum
World Alliance Artist’s Networks
There were a hundred thousand hearts beating
in Porto Alegre. A hundred thousand eager to meet and build a
better world, a world of all colors, a world where souls are not
bought and sold, where souls are enchanted with the joy and dignity
of a different humanity. Once again, the World Social Forum showed
that it was the most powerful venue of major political importance
when it comes to joining hearts and minds to guarantee the right
to life on this planet. Social movements, NGOs, environmentalists,
artists, the religious, the holy and the lay, politicians, pacifists,
etc. were there debating themes from “the role of mercury
in the daily routine of odontology” to “the writer’s
role in re-enchanting the world”; from faith and politics
to an economy in solidarity; from tolerance and diversity to love
for animals. The spectrum of life is vast and not limited to politics
and economics per se: that is what the World Social Forum has
demonstrated. This year, given the imminent war to be waged by
the U.S.A. against Iraq and the culture of violence governing
daily life the world over, peace was the focus of the meetings
According to the assessment by the World Alliance
Artists’ Network, compared to last year’s Forum, the
quality of the participants changed for the better: less enthusiasm
but greater depth of thought. Perhaps, too, less dreams, but greater,
well-grounded creativity. On the other hand, the Forum was also
much more scattered and disorganized than in 2002.
And yet, the WSF is still too small to host all the world’s
diversity, the broad spectrum of cultural groups who believe in
a better world. The WSF is still essentially Euro-American: it
lacks representation from Asia, Africa, Oceania, from the Native
and Black peoples and from all the world’s Diasporas. All
the same, this year’s WSF seemed more representative, although
not as organized.
The Alliance for a Responsible, Plural and United
World was featured, active, and visible—in the conferences,
panels, seminars, workshops and in the street activities. On every
page of the program, the Alliance was present in several languages:
Artists’ Network, Drums for Peace, informal debates in the
The stands disseminating Alliance material—including that
of the Charles Léopold Mayer Foundation, Pólis,
etc.—also helped to give the Alliance proposal visibility.
The World Artists’ Network was very active
in designing the cultural part of the World Social Forum. We began
attending the Culture Workgroup meetings in mid-2002, in Sao Paulo
and Rio. Our idea consisted in generating lots of space for culture
at the WSF, beyond the usual artistic activities and performances;
it was to enter into the field of values, of the cultural task,
understanding culture in its broad sense of works of art, humanities,
and works of the imagination. We also thought that the Forum should
speak for the people, not just for itself, in an educational and
artistic interaction with the people in the streets. This led
to workshop and conference activities, testimonies and panels;
artistic presentations; the museum of diversity, instant memory,
and Street Sunday. Dozens of entities, networks, and forums became
involved in the organization of all this. The results were hundreds
of artistic activities, videos on “instant memory,”
activities in the living museum of diversity including the flag
of all flags, informal debates with the population at seven different
spots in Porto Alegre on the theme “What world do we want?”,
Voices and Drums for Peace, which delighted the people at the
Municipal Market at the start of the Forum’s opening event.
There were many more workshops this year. Last year, there were
barely half a dozen, most of them organized by the Alliance Artists’
Network. Something to be highlighted in 2003 was the active presence
of culture in all sections of the Forum.
The Artists’ Network participated this year in the following
networks: Identity, Afrodescendants, and the Media; Social Integration
Policies and Movements’ Demands; Anti racism and Building
National Identity; Why write: the writer’s role in the re
enchantment of the world; Art, Social Integration, and Peace Culture;
Reading Circle on (In)tolerance and Identity; and How young people
are seen on TV. The workshops as a whole were attended by about
In our assessment, we came to the conclusion
that the workshops had grown in quality. It would be necessary,
however, to provide for greater use of nonverbal, play language
(in two of the workshops, the puppet Tonico facilitated the public
and debated the themes, in two others we carried out demonstrations
for the re-enchantment of the world) and to break academic patterns.
It would also be necessary for us to be more skillful and find
better combinations of the rational with dreams and desires.
Practically all the workshops we organized and in which we participated
turned into cultural and artistic demonstrations for re-enchantment.
It is important to remember, besides, that many
of the feelings in the forum rallied to the idea of re-enchantment—whether
through street demonstrations with choruses or in the workshops.
Re-enchantment is impalpable, its natural habitat is more Utopia
than the concrete politics of the real world, and yet people hugged
us, became emotional, clapped, vibrated, and thanked us for brining
to the fore a feeling that is dying out, but is also in the process
of being born.
For this, the presence of the Andean Embassy of Music was remarkable,
re-enchanting the places where it performed.
The number of participants, the dispersal, and
the lack of organization makes it difficult to have an view of
the whole of the forum. We always see the events from some specific
place. The sum of the Alliance’s contributions could give
us a view of the whole. The fact is that we were very active in
the Forum, contributing to it all our accumulated thinking and
experiences. The Alliance has increasingly demonstrated that it
is an innovative, creative, and truly plural proposal for the
whole of the actions carried out during the WSF.
It is now the turn of India: it is fundamental for the life of
the Forum to leave Porto Alegre and immerse itself in other civilization
contexts. In India we will have again to take up intercultural
dialogues, street meditations or ceremonies, silent demonstrations
for peace (How would you see something like the Silent Drums for
Peace?), interreligious dialogues, Peace Culture (we could set
up a workshop on this theme) and above all, learn with India (as
Alliance participants we should not so much stick to the workshops
as address the population, go on visits, organize caravans, etc.,
and learn with India). We can learn a lot to build a responsible,
plural and united world.
It is now the turn of India, of its ancient civilization,
of Krishna’s dream of populating our imagination, of the
gentle Ganges bathing the voices of the future, of the awakening
of politics to the spirit of the world, of the generous hearts
of gurus spreading love around the planet, of the simple life
and elevated thought, like the great message of ancient India
and Makarand and Siddhartha and all of us going there and learning
to live more and more, and forever.