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The Rise of the Global Left

The Rise of the Global Left

Boaventura De Sousa Santos


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Leading sociologist Boaventura de Sousa Santos makes an impassioned case for the politicisation of the World Social Forum, arguing that its full potential as a force for social, economic and political change can be achieved only by taking a stand against neo-liberal globalization, war, famine and corruption. However, since its inception in Porto Alegre in 2001, the World Social Forum has refused to adopt political positions on world events, preferring instead to provide a platform that facilitates cooperation between diverse social movements. Through a detailed analysis of the WSF's history and organization, he demonstrates that it has always been an inherently political organization, and argues that if the WSF is able to realise its potential as an institution for a new form of politics, it will become a global power to be reckoned with in the 21st century.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos is Professor of Sociology at the University of Coimbra in Portugal and a Distinguished Scholar of the Institute for Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is a leading Portuguese social theorist and has written and published widely on issues of globalization, sociology of law and the state, democratic theory, social movements and epistemology.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover\r Cover
Contents v
Tables and figures viii
Preface ix
Introduction: forty years of solitude and the novelty of the WSF 1
Notes 9
1 | The WSF as critical utopia 10
2 | The WSF as epistemology of the South 13
The World Social Forum and the sociology of absences 15
The World Social Forum and the sociology of emergences 29
3 | The WSF as an insurgent cosmopolitan politics 35
A very broad conception of power and oppression 36
The equivalence between the principles of equality and recognition of difference 37
Rebellion and non-conformity 38
The WSF aims at a new internationalism 38
Transversal political terrains of resistance and alternative: an ongoing process 39
The struggle for radical democracy must be a struggle fordemo-diversity 40
Transcultural criteria 40
Promoting and strengthening counter-hegemonic forms of high-intensity democracy 41
No democracy without conditions of democracy 43
No global social justice without global cognitive justice 44
The many names for another possible world 45
Notes 45
4 | Organizing fragmented counter-hegemonic energies 46
Internal democracy 48
Transparency and hierarchies in participation 51
Parties and movements 55
Size and continuity 57
The evaluation of the 2003 WSF 58
The Mumbai demonstration and the 2005 WSF 72
The 2006 polycentric WSF 80
Notes 81
5 | Representing this world as it fights for another possible world 85
Who represents the WSF? Composition and functionality of the International Council 100
Notes 107
6 | Making and unmaking cleavages: strategy and political action 110
Reform or revolution 111
Socialism or social emancipation 113
The state as enemy or potential ally 114
National or global struggles 115
Direct or institutional action 117
Equality or respect for difference 119
The WSF as a space or as a movement 120
Notes 126
7 | The future of the WSF: self-democracy and the work of translation 127
Self-democracy 129
The work of translation 131
Notes 146
8 | The WSF and self-learning: the Popular University of the Social Movements 148
A proposal for collective transformative self-learning 149
The PUSM, 2003–06 154
Notes 158
9 | The left after the WSF 160
The phantasmal relation between theory and practice 160
The twenty-first-century left: depolarized pluralities 166
Notes 180
Conclusion 182
Annexe I: Composition of the International Council of the WSF (2005) 188
Annexe II 196
Approved charter 196
Indian version 198
African version 201
Notes 204
Annexe III: Manifesto of Porto Alegre 205
Another world is possible: twelve proposals 205
Annexe IV: Financial support to the World Social Forums 208
Bibliography 210
Index 216