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This week’s front page editor


Francesc Badia i Dalmases is Editor and Director of democraciaAbierta.

Constitutional conventions: best practice

As the suits gather in Switzerland, and the anti-suits in Brazil, openDemocracy lifts the lid on what those involved are really thinking and saying. Ezequiel Adamovsky and Susan George, anti-capitalism activists of different generations, talk about the agenda for Porto Alegre, while a veteran green activist and business advisor John Elkington reflects on whether there is any point to Davos. OpenDemocracy provides ongoing coverage from Porto Alegre.

Commons-sense? Contemporary challenges and prospects of community shared resources

How could shared resources and self-organized citizen systems create new paradigms of economics, politics and culture possible?

How to be radical? An interview with Todd Gitlin and George Monbiot

What kind of radicalism can help turn protest against injustice into a coherent movement for a progressive global politics? Here, leading voices of different generations – Todd Gitlin (‘Letters to a Young Activist’) and George Monbiot (‘The Age of Consent’) – discuss activism, nationalism, violence, and world government in an interview with Anthony Barnett and Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy.

(This article was first published on 5 September 2003)

Taking the right path? The Centre for Alternative Technology and the politics of radical ecology

Reflecting on a recent visit to the Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT) and his life as an eco-activist, Charlie Hill argues that radical ecology needs to reach out to a new audience.

World Social Forum 2009: a generation’s challenge

The "alter-globalisation" movement gathers in Brazil at a moment of crisis in the system it has long opposed. But its triumph is qualified as it searches for a way to turn global breakdown into political opportunity, says Geoffrey Pleyers.

(This article was first published on 28 January 2009)

Strip-mining communities

The useful, life-giving and non-remunerative work people do for each other is not included in governments' calculation of economic value. It should be, says David Boyle.

Lula's flame still burns

The charismatic Chávez, the dynamic Morales, even the mercurial Kirchner are winning the headlines in Latin America – but there is life in Lula yet, says Arthur Ituassu.

The WSF in search of itself

The World Social Forum pioneered new forms of global activism and democracy. Now it is being pressed to take the shape of an older politics, reports Solana Larsen in Caracas. 

Lula and the WSF - the end of the affair

The Brazilian president's absence from the World Social Forum in Venezuela reveals shifting affiliations in Latin America, says Carlos Tautz. Will Hugo Chávez, Néstor Kirchner or Evo Morales replace Lula as the movement's new political icon? 

Portraits from the World Social Forum

Brazilian landless workers, Indian child labour campaigners, Canadian media activists all carried their hopes to the fifth World Social Forum. openDemocracy’s Porto Alegre team – Caspar Henderson, Solana Larsen, Vince Medeiros – talked to them.

Fred Halliday, come down from your mountain!

Fred Halliday’s verbal assault on activists at the World Social Forum rouses Peter Waterman to a passionate defence of the “global justice and solidarity movement”.

Beyond the World Social Forum: the need for new institutions

As campaigners from around the world prepare for the fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, Ezequiel Adamovsky argues that the “movement of movements” has reached a crossroads. It needs a new political focus: inventing institutions that embody not hierarchies of power but cooperation among equals.

Lost in space: the World Social Forum and the media

As 150,000 participants from around the world prepare for the fifth World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil from 26-31 January 2005, Vince Medeiros critically examines western media coverage of this global event.

Delhi Calling

European Social Forum activists and trade unionists condemn the outsourcing of call-centre jobs to India as one of globalisation’s injustices. But what do their Indian employees think? Angela Saini reports.

Islam and politics don't mix: Massoud Romdhani interviewed

The European Social Forum in London floundered over the issue of Islam’s relationship with the west, says Tunisian human rights activist Massoud Romdhani. He tells openDemocracy’s Rosemary Bechler why he prefers Marxist economist Samir Amin to Muslim reformer Tariq Ramadan.

The European Social Forum: time to get serious

Will political and commercial dogma crush the liberating energies of the world’s social justice movements? The European Social Forum in London leaves Paul Kingsnorth with mixed feelings.

A shaft of light at the European Social Forum

Amidst the litter-strewn floors and hard-left headbangers at the 2004 European Social Forum, Paul Kingsnorth raises his eyes to the stars.

Another world is possible, if!

It’s time that the global social justice movement moved beyond its “another world is possible” mantra towards a political strategy. In the week of the 2004 European Social Forum, veteran French-American global justice campaigner Susan George tells Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy that Europeans need to focus, organise – and lead.

Oil <em>jihad</em> in the Niger delta?

Record world oil prices are raising rumours of jihad in the Niger delta. But the conflict in Nigeria’s oil-producing heartland is more complex and localised than this suggests, says a human rights researcher who has met the rebel leader “Mujahid” Asari Dokubo.

'Islam for me was more punk than punk': Aki Nawaz interviewed

The next social revolution will happen where power lies, in the west – and it will arise from the developing world’s global diaspora. Ahead of the European Social Forum in London, leading British Asian musician and founder of Nation Records, Aki Nawaz, talks to openDemocracy.

The invisible majority: Venezuela after the referendum

The decisive referendum victory of Venezuela's populist president, Hugo Chávez, guarantees the continuation of the Latin American oil state's tumultuous political experiment. But in the wake of its latest electoral triumph, can Chávez's "Bolivarian revolution" develop a larger capacity to heal the country's deep schisms? 

West Papuans: neither lads nor cannibals, but humans

The western half of New Guinea is seeking to follow East Timor and win independence from rule by Indonesia’s military and global corporations. When media stereotypes add insult to injury, its campaigners find creative ways to protest.

Between invisibility and dignity: India's 'Dalit' and globalisation

India’s “Dalit” – formerly known as “untouchables” – are mobilising at a global level to move beyond a long history of oppression. A French anthropologist finds a community poised between two worlds.

'It's the system, stupid!'

A third visit to the World Economic Forum left the sustainability campaigner John Elkington enthusiastic about a gathering force which can connect pro- and anti-globalisers: social entrepreneurs.

A space of freedom: the World Women's Forum

This Swedish activist combines observation of everyday Indian experience with her own political commitment to draw a lesson from Mumbai’s World Social Forum: women in the global justice movement are taking possession of space and voice.

Making history: the future of the World Social Forum

The World Social Forum in Mumbai was democracy in action in search of a fairer, people-centred world, says one of its Indian organisers. But to advance its global ambitions, must it look beyond Brazil as the site of future forums?

The Ford Foundation and the World Social Forum

The Ford Foundation, a large United States philanthropy, supported the World Social Forum’s first three meetings in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and will participate in the latest gathering in Mumbai, India. Lisa Jordan of Ford – one of’s backers – talks to Caspar Henderson about the foundation’s engagement with global civil society.

Global civil society: the politics of a new world?

From Porto Alegre to anti-war movements, 2003 was a tumultuous year of political mobilisation. As the 2004 World Social Forum opens in Mumbai, will “global civil society” build an enduring space in support of a more humane form of globalisation?

Dateline Mumbai: the 2004 World Social Forum

Three years on from the first World Social Forum in Brazil’s Porto Alegre, an organiser of the latest WSF in India presents his vision of the purpose of this global gathering of activists, popular movements and NGOs.

The WTO, or how patenting crushes Africans

From Cameroon, a passionate cry of protest against the global intellectual property system that holds African citizens in the chains of poverty.

Goodbye Paris, hello London

The social forum process needs to remain flexible, avoid dogma, and keep in touch with its radical energies, says America Vera-Zavala.

Brazil and the United States: from dependency to equality

Brazil under President Lula is seeking an ambitious new role for itself on the regional and global stage. How will it negotiate this change with the United States, its fellow-giant to the north? To mark the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (FTAA) summit in Miami, a respected Brazilian scholar examines the past, present and possible future of this special relationship

'Another Europe': the second European Social Forum

The energy and scale, the international and human presence of the second European Social Forum in Paris reveal its already strong foundations. But its real tests are still to come.

Looking backward: a response to Daniel Mittler

The German social model needs a dynamic economy. Daniel Mittler’s skewed analysis of German realities blocks understanding of this, says the chief editor of “Die Zeit”.

Is modern Germany lying to itself?

Many Germans continue to believe that their country is the vanguard of environmental and social progress in Europe. The latest European Social Forum is an opportunity to puncture this illusion.

Archaic left challenges the World Social Forum

The forthcoming World Social Forum in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India may be the largest civil society meeting on the planet. But is it at risk from far left elements that would undermine its purposes? Peter Waterman anatomises the thinking of the ‘entryists’.
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