only search

This week’s editor


Sunny Hundal is openDemocracy’s social media editor.

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.

Pressing on: environmental campaigners and UN summits

The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg delivered disappointment to NGO activists – and this leading environmental campaigner says that things have got worse since then. But, he argues, it is too early to give up on UN summits altogether.

Europe and the global south: towards a circle of equality

In May 2003, leading European philosophers challenged Europe to formulate a coherent foreign policy in its own and the world’s interest. Jacques Derrida, Jurgen Habermas and colleagues are well-intentioned but trapped in Eurocentrism, argues this American political philosopher. Europe needs not globalism but a provincialism that will enable a dialogue of equals with the rest of the world.

World Social Forum: what should it be when it grows up?

The spectacular growth of the World Social Forum has outstripped its opaque structures of governance. How should it be reformed? To be effective, must it become a decision-making body, or instead reinvent itself as a smaller theatre for delegated representatives? Should it cut its shadow relationship to the World Economic Forum? These questions of governance reflect fundamental issues of political direction for movements seeking a way beyond the current globalisation model.

Making a new world - Part Four: From the US to West Papua

The global movement for change – decentred, multivocal, democratic – has a right to expect the same approach from those who seek to understand it. Paul Kingsnorth has travelled the world, to track the ways that diverse social, political and environmental struggles combine into the search for a world of fairness and freedom. Here, he talks to Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy about American consumer culture and the struggle for freedom in West Papua – seemingly disparate issues connected by the thread of global corporate power.

World Social Forum: the secret of fire

The World Social Forum in January 2003 represented a new stage in the unfolding project of the global justice and solidarity movement. An experienced observer of the WSF asks whether it can combine its multiple energies with the clarity needed to transcend old politics – while establishing its own forms of legitimate, transparent representation? Who governs the WSF and where is it going?

West Papua: Dutch past, Indonesian present, independent future?

The West Papuan campaign against rule by Indonesia and corporate exploitation of the territory’s rich resources is one of the world’s most important and least known resistance movements.

Making a new world - Part Three: Apartheid: the sequel

Post-apartheid South Africa promised a new, fairer country. But Paul Kingsnorth, author of “One no, many yeses – a journey to the heart of the global resistance movement”, tells Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy that the African National Congress’s pro-globalisation policies are making many activists feel the country is in an even worse position than before.

Making a new world - Part Two: From Genoa to Cochabamba

Global activists find the Zapatista movement in Mexico an inspiration. But a campaign against water privatisation in Bolivia and state violence at the 2001 Genoa summit, show the scale of the challenges they face. Paul Kingsnorth continues his world tour in conversation with Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy.

Making a new world - Part One: Roads to Chiapas

Today's global movement for change - networked, with many voices, democratic - demands an equivalent type of engagement from observers. Paul Kingsnorth has travelled from Mexico to Italy, from Bolivia to South Africa and from Brazil to West Papua to track the ways that diverse social, political and environmental struggles combine in the search for a world of fairness and freedom. His interview with Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy starts in Chiapas, Mexico. 

Another world is necessary

The World Social Forum is a potent liberating force, but its leadership risks being hijacked by the West’s old left. It must listen to women and to the Third World. They need exchange on an equal basis.

Another Cameroon is possible!

The benefits of globalisation are hard to see in Cameroon. The deprivation of the rural majority, says one of its social activists, is reinforced by the venality of the World Trade Organisation, giant corporations, and local politicians. The answer? Cameroon people must learn from the vibrant protest movements of India and Latin America, and imagine themselves into a better country.

The World Social Forum 2003: a personal impression

An Indian veteran of 1960s political struggles, invited to speak on war, empire and unilateralism at Porto Alegre, is inspired by the encounter with a newly-hopeful generation. Yet he warns that such exciting events need to be part of a long-term strategy.

The Asian Social Forum: a new public space

The first Asian Social Forum, held in Hyderabad in January 2003, anticipated the World Social Forum at Porto Alegre, Brazil later that month. But it was a pioneering event in its own right.

India in the face of globalisation

There is intense concern in India about the divisive impact of globalisation on the country’s economy, society, culture, and even its democracy itself. Our Delhi columnist reports from a recent conference where discussion centred around the dilemma: should the beast be fought, tamed, or humanised?

Another world for Gaia and her people

Of the two visions that dominate the World Social Forum, our collective survival depends on the minority view.

The World's Fair

A new world is also a new way of seeing. The World Social Forum, warmed by the electoral success of Brazil's new president and infused by the energies of its global citizenry, offered openDemocracy confirmation that shifts of power and perspective go together. For Susan Richards, it all came together at Porto Alegre. 

Under a tree in Porto Alegre: democracy in its most radical sense

What are the main points of disagreement – and agreement – among the world’s social movements? In the first book in English on the World Social Forum, two American activist/academics talk about the process, the people, and their vision for a future world. Thomas Ponniah and William Fisher spoke to openDemocracy's Solana Larsen under a tree in Porto Alegre.

Voices from a new world

Solana Larsen talks to the foot soldiers at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre.

What is the point of Porto Alegre? Activists from two generations in dialogue

The World Social Forum in Brazil’s Porto Alegre brings together campaigners from around the world in debate over alternatives to globalisation. Here, two key activists – one Argentinian, one Franco-American - talk to Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy about the best way forward for a movement at a pivotal moment in its history.

Why I'm going to Davos

A veteran green activist, allergic to summits, looks at the past and future of the World Economic Forum.

The end of the beginning?

The tide is turning and the times a-changing. The second World Social Forum in Porto Alegre is no longer simply an ‘alternative’ to Davos’s illustrious jamboree – it is a phenomenon in its own right, a key channel for making the arguments and longings of global protest and radical movements into a coherent force for a different social order.
Syndicate content