THE STILL UNCONSUMMATED MARRIAGE OF INTERNATIONAL UNIONISM AND THE

GLOBAL JUSTICE MOVEMENT

 

A Labor Report on the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre,

January 31-February 5, 2002

 

 

Peter Waterman

 

waterman@antenna.nl

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/glosodia

www.antenna.nl.~waterman/

 

 

Abstract

 

Combining reports written on the World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 31-February 5, 2002, this paper deals with the difficult relationship between the international social movement of the 19th and 20th centuries, and what appears to be that of the 21st. The paper is written out of a 50-year commitment to and involvement with labor and socialist internationalism, and on the basis of a 15-year academic/political concern with the new labor and other internationalisms. Despite the sobering account of institutional international labor's reluctance to abandon its partnership with global corporations and the inter-state institutions furthering neo-liberal globalization, the paper nonetheless suggests the value of an alliance of the old and new movements in the interest of both. Along the way the paper reflects on questions of movement institutionalization, of representation, of the meaning today of 'Left', of the necessary movement from a logic of organization to that of communication, of the continuing commitment of the unions to the former, and of the necessity and possibility of a new international labor 'commonsense' coming out of its engagement with/in the Forum.


Foreword: From FSM to FSM

(São Paulo, February 18, 2002)

 

In going to the Second World Social Forum (WSF II, the Forum), in Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 31-February 5, 2002, my intention was quite literally to follow labor's presence there, or its absence, or the nature of its involvement in this dramatic event. I represented no one but myself. I paid my own way. I went as a lifelong activist in the international labor movement. I went as someone who attended his first international encounter as a 15-year-old British Young Communist. This was at a World Youth Festival, a front for the international Communist movement, and the event was held bang in the middle of the Cold War, in East Berlin, a half century ago, in 1951.

 

Between then and now I worked twice for international Communist organizations, the first time for the International Union of Students in the 1950s, the second for the World Federation of Trade Unions in the 1960s (which, like the WSF has the Spanish initials FSM). Both times were in Prague, and I was there when Soviet tanks invaded Czechoslovakia in 1968 – incidentally convincing me of the error of my belief in the peaceful transition from authoritarian to democratic socialism. I began a 30-year-plus academic career in labor and social movement studies. This was mostly in studies of Third World, then international labor, later of the new social movements and internationalisms more generally. Along the way, I discovered for myself the value of networking in advancing a new kind of labor and democratic internationalism.

 

As a pensioned - but not particularly retiring - academic, I continue to research and write on the 'new global solidarities' and 'global solidarity culture', to publish books and articles (in Spanish, Portuguese and Korean as well as English), and to be involved in various internet activities. In the last few years I have also attended academic, political and union conferences, which I have placed, in my mind, under the rubric of 'International Labor's Millennial Dialog'. What I had not done was to participate, more than marginally, in either the major anti-globalization demonstrations or in those focused on alternatives to neo-liberalism, like the first World Social Forum in 2001.

 

These, then, are my successive reports on WSF II, written in Lima, Porto Alegre, or outside Montevideo, Uruguay. I have below preserved the basic structure and argument of the originals, whilst editing the texts for errors and repetitions, and adding some qualifying footnotes. In the interest of readability, I have left all but minimal references to the final Resource List. Finally, I intended to add a seventh, 'after the ball', report but this has turned out to be a separate piece (Waterman 2002).


 

1. Love at Second Sight?

(Lima, January 22, 2002)

 

The major organizations of labor internationally may be making more of an impact on the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, January 31-February 5, this year than they did in 2001. It is too early to talk about marriage, or even a love affair, but the prospect of an increasing articulation between the world's largest mass organizations and the world's most influential movement network is of more than passing interest.

 

The WSF, or Forum, became an instant symbol of the 'anti-globalization', 'anti-capitalist' or 'global justice' movement, when it took place in this Left-governed city last year. The event was deliberately timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum, meeting behind the razor-wire in Davos, Switzerland. Although the WSF is actually the more civil face of the global justice movement, it is, nonetheless, way to the left of the union internationals. As such it is seen by the international labor movement - the major democratic social movement of the 19th-20th century? - with considerable ambiguity.

 

The Forum is energetically supported by the Central Única de Trabalhadores (CUT) of Brazil, which is itself a relatively new member of the International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU). The CUT is also a major force within the ICFTU's regional organization for the Western hemisphere, known internationally as the ORIT. Whilst two other Left ICFTU affiliates from the South (Korea and South Africa) might have been present at Porto Alegre in 2001, (alongside radical unionists from the North), there was little presence or impact there of the major international unions or confederations.

 

The reason is that the ICFTU and its 'family' (industry-specific internationals, regional organizations, specialized agencies, media) have long invested heavily in lobbying the very inter-state institutions against which the Forum was publicly protesting and proposing alternatives to, and in the face of which the Forum was asserting that 'another world is possible'. (For this traditional international union posture, see PSI 2001, in which the keywords are probably 'lobby', 'expertise' and 'consult' – with 'campaign' as an occasional recent addition). Indeed, the major inter/national union leaders were in Davos, shaking hands with the world's corporate and political elites, whilst the first Forum was taking place in the South, thousands of kilometers away. The old international institutions, moreover, have been either hostile, skeptical or cautious about the global justice movement, a 'movement of movements' much wider than the Forum, that is not only new and challenging but also seemingly unstructured and almost literally out of control.

 

Whereas the typical international union conference is a ritual affair, with major decisions taken beforehand or in corridors, and provoking near-zero media interest, the Forum is more like a teach-in, a happening, a festival, and is more concerned with stimulating networking and alliances than with resolutions. And the Forum is also a cultural event, attractive to both the corporate inter/national media and the increasingly professional alternative international communicators.

 

The institutionalized international labor movement (which includes parties as well as unions) has also had difficulty with the 'unrepresentative' nature of the global justice movement. The ICFTU, for example, 'represents' some 157 million workers worldwide. But, with the rare exception, these workers are unaware of who represents them at international level, how they are represented by these and what effect such representations might have. In so far as workers are becoming active against neo-liberal globalization, they may be drawn toward or influenced by this consciousness-raising, catalyzing and mobilizing - if 'unrepresentative' - movement. The new movement also has an attractive and universalistic ethical message, something the heavy dancers of institutionalized labor have long traded in for sectoral 'influence'. Such an attraction may be even more the case for the growing majority of 'atypical workers', un- and under-employed, in the world labor force (Gallin 2001, Waterman 2001d).

 

After 2001, a year in which the ICFTU Family alternately danced toward and away from the global justice movement (dramatically away when as the former identified itself with the US-led 'War on Terrorism'), it looks as if at least parts of the institutionalized international union movement may be taking a more positive and assertive position at Forum II. Markers, as faint as footsteps in the sand, are the following:

 

·             The CUT, together with the South African COSATU (plus the Korean KTUC and others, representing the radical South or Left within the ICFTU), appears to be responsible for the labor theme within the Forum. (The CUT itself is proposing seminars on unions and the unorganized and relations between trade unions and the anti-globalization movement!)

 

·             The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) is apparently proposing a program of seminars at the Forum, in the presence, or anyway in the spirit of, the International Labor Organization (ILO), but dependent on a discourse of 'decent work';

 

·             Even the now-marginal leftover of the once regionally-significant World Federation of Trade Unions (which has shared the decline of its Communist state backers) is proposing a pre-Forum meeting of 'class-oriented unions' to decide the position it will take there against the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas.

 

These may be - to change metaphors - simply straws in the wind. And any impact will be anyway hard to identify and measure in the presence of 60,000 + participants, dozens of Conferences and Seminars (more formal) and literally hundreds of Workshops (less so).

 

Moreover, whilst the Forum might be labor-friendly, it is not union oriented. 'Labor' at the Forum, will be neither confined to the unionized nor controlled by unions. Even at the level of sub-themes, labor questions will appear under such rubrics as Trade, Transnationals, Solidarity Economics, Migration and Human Rights. And we can expect the energetic presence of social movements and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) speaking on, or for, or about, women workers and women's work, child labor, rural labor. The less-formal Workshops, moreover, already list dozens of labor topics, sponsored by national or local unions, by social workers, academics, and socialist parties or groups.

 

It may even be difficult for interested labor movements and activists, outside Brazil, to find information on labor organizations and issues at the Forum. The major international union websites (including that of the ICFTU, of Global Unions and the ETUC – for which see Resources below), whether in English or Spanish, have so far shown little to zero interest in, or awareness of, the Forum. The international press agencies, and even the 'alternative' news media, are likely to be more interested in the most dramatic and colorful events, and in speculating on the growth of, or divisions within, and the future of the Forum and the global justice movement more generally.

 

There may be labor coverage in Le Monde and Le Monde Diplomatique (which has been energetically supporting the Forum, and collaborating in the publication of imaginative special issues in Brazil) as well as part of the left-liberal press internationally. And also on the alternative international news websites. Left labor and socialist print media may, again, however, be more interested in the nature of the event as a whole, and in the global justice movement it has come to stand for, than in any specific union presence/absence, orientation or impact. Time will tell. Alternatively, as they say: Watch this (cyber)space!

 

 

2. The International 'Right', 'Left' and 'Center' Respond

(Lima, 25 January, 2002)

 

With just one week to go before the World Social Forum meets, a flurry of activity – mostly on the web – suggests a growing response from the international trade union movement.

 

The 'right'

 

Most dramatic is the announcement that almost 20 leading figures from the family and friends of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, will be attending. These include International and Regional officers of the ICFTU (and associated international industry or functional organizations), but also such more-radical Southern union leaders as Yoon Youngmo (KCTU Korea), Kjeld Jakobsen (CUT Brazil), and Willie Madisha, President of COSATU (South Africa).

 

This extensive participation, significantly, will be 'balanced off' by an equally weighty (if whiter) ICFTU presence at the World Economic Forum in New York, on overlapping dates. Whereas the latter event exists for only one year as a summit of a 'global civil society in formation', the former is long established as a symbol of globalized corporate capital. The WEF will be confronted by the now customary protests of both the anti-globalization movement and the Porto Alegre Forum. How the ICFTU Family will articulate its traditional presence within the WEF with its new one within the WSF will be interesting to watch.

 

It is also not yet clear either what the ICFTU Family's 'World Forum on Labor and Trade Unionism' on January 31 – which includes a demonstration ('optional') in the afternoon – is itself intended to demonstrate. Nor how it will be articulated with other labor events during the Forum. However, the proposed participation suggests some kind of understanding between the ICFTU Family, the (one-time Catholic) World Confederation of Labor, the Organizing Committee of the Forum (Candido Grzybowski of Brazil) and the International Labor Organization (Juan Somavía of Chile). The nature of such a possible alliance, and its relationship to the global justice movement more generally, also remains to be seen.

 

The 'left'

 

At another pole of the international labor movement can be found the International Liaison Committee (ILC), a Trotskyist party that has national affiliates all over the world, and that has been actively trying to articulate the increasing labor protest against globalization and its various nefarious effects on work, workers and their organizations. Its Brazilian affiliate, one of the tendencies represented within the leadership of the CUT, has announced that it wants to dialog with others about the Forum…but that it is also boycotting it! The motivation for the boycott is, in large part, its adoption of 'civil society' discourse:

 

The very concept of 'civil society', which is so popular of late,
erases the borders between social classes that exist in society. How, for example, is it possible to include in the same category of 'civil society' both the exploited and the exploiters, the bosses and workers, the oppressors and oppressed -- not to mention the churches, NGOs, and government and UN representatives? (Turra et. al. 2002).

 

This position is supported by an extensive critique of the Forum, of its leading sponsors and strategies, of the NGOs and their state/corporate funding, and even of the 'participatory budgeting' strategy of the Left-governed host city (Cristobal 2002)! Whilst the critique may be well founded, and certainly raises questions about the nature of the Forum and the broader global justice movement, the reluctance of the ILC to join in the Porto Alegre dialog suggests other factors at play. These may lie not so much in the ILC's ideological differences with the Forum (where other militant socialists and Trotskyists will be present), as with its preference for international labor or union dialogs which it itself sponsors and controls (Waterman 2001b:17-19). Given the forceful challenge the ILC makes to the Forum, its absence is surely regrettable.

 

The 'center'

 

A third union position, if national, may nonetheless impact on the Forum, since it comes from a leader of the CUT (Freire 2002). It appears to express the position of what is the major Brazilian center and a co-sponsor of the Forum. Although written in Portuguese and published in a small (electronic) magazine, the international orientation of the CUT is familiar to the world of international unionism (e.g. Jakobsen 1998, 2001), and influential amongst both Latin American and Southern unions more generally. Freire recognizes the new generation, new collective subjects and new organizational mode of the movements 'against neoliberal globalization', and evidently welcomes them. Whilst recognizing the diverse nature of the movement, and the tension between the 'fixers' and the 'nixers' (my language) with respect to the international financial institutions, he considers that the settlement of this difference will be determined not by fiat but by the development of the movement itself. He notes the opportunities that the Forum has provided for CUT to ally itself with others, as well as the success in attracting other unions to Forum II, and the possibility of building some kind of 'global social alliance'. Finally, he stresses the possibility, precisely, that the Forum provides for further discussion and specification of the slogan 'another world is possible'.

 

The new world anti-globalization disorder

 

These three labor movement tendencies, and unlisted yet expected others, are trying to orient themselves toward a movement that does not yet actually have a name! 'Global Civil Society', 'Anti-Globalization', 'Anti-Corporate', 'Anti-Capitalist' and 'Global Justice' represent as much projects as descriptions, analyses or an agreed-upon name.

 

And 'global civil society' is a term which specialists have difficulties defining, or are continuing to argue about (Anheier, Glasius and Kaldor 2001, Waterman 2001e)! 'Global civil society' is a highly-disputed discourse, with origins in anti-authoritarian struggles in Latin America and Eastern Europe, but now being recycled by corporate neo-liberalism, funded by inter-state agencies, and reduced to 'global civil society babble' by some involved in the Forum itself. What has, however, been offered to it by the anti-globalization movement is, precisely, the naming of the enemy as corporate capitalism (Starr 2000). Under such an understanding, global civil society is as much in tension with corporate capitalist globalization as with the inter-state institutions that underlie or advance this. And - pace the class-fundamentalists in the ILC - it is possible to speak of 'global civil society' without making class disappear.[1]

 

The WSF, moreover, does not encapsulate the global justice movement (as I am evidently preferring to call it here). Another wing or tendency is represented by People's Global Action – a major force behind, or inspiration for, the anti-globalization demonstrations that have made the movement a focus of media, corporate and (inter)state concern - not to speak of fear and loathing.

 

If the Forum has been largely supported by the more-militant international NGOs, Left parties and unions, the PGA and related initiatives have been more inspired by ecological, anarchist and libertarian thinking and practice (Juris 2002). The Forum, whilst rejecting both Old Left analyses, vanguardist strategies and a lobbying role vis-à-vis the international financial institutions, has proven itself open to at least the presence of less-neo-liberal inter-state institutions, which themselves are obviously hoping to incorporate the ideas and harness the energy of the Forum.

 

Thus, the international labor movement, which stands on the rapidly-moving conveyor belt of globalization (moving backward as well as forward and shaking workers off in both directions) is confronted with the rapidly-changing characters and scenes of a play, with many authors and names, that is being written as it goes along. The matter is even more complex. Within a dialectical understanding of the matter, the international labor movement has to be considered a part of the global justice drama, whether it sees itself to be inside or outside the movement, independent from it or autonomous within it. It is part of the drama, but so far, perhaps, only as a voice-off, or a sword-bearer, rather than as a major personage with a speaking part.

             

However, this is 'not your father's international trade union movement'. Because it is no longer your mother's capitalist world order. Just how different the Left, Right and Center of the international labor movement might look, as a result of participating in the Forum remains to be seen. Just as we will still have to see what kind of global justice movement might come out of a closer articulation with an international labor movement with maybe 200 million members.

 

Indeed, in relation to this new global-solidarity-movement-in-the-making, it may be that 'Left', 'Right' and 'Center' will no longer have the meaning assigned to them (in distancing quotes) above. They are, after all, categories of pre-industrial capitalism, derived from the seating arrangements in the Constituent Assembly of the French Revolution. The matter requires further consideration.


 

3. Getting Warmer in Porto Alegre

(Porto Alegre, January 29, 2002)

 

The international labor leaders arrive

 

With a couple of days to go before the second World Social Forum really begins in this city of Southern Brazil, a major figure of Latin American unionism has already arrived. He is Luis Anderson, a leader of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) and of its regional organization for the hemisphere, the Organización Regional Interamericana de Trabajadores (ORIT).

 

Anderson, an imposing, white-haired mulatto from Panama, is a veteran figure of Latin American unionism, from the days in which the ORIT was considered by the Left as a puppet of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO, then known to the Left internationally as the AFL-CIO-CIA). He has, however, presided over the movement of the ORIT in the direction of the global justice movement, taking part first in a Continental Social Alliance of the Americas, in Chile (ACJR 2001), in the late-1990s, and more recently in the World Social Forum. Anderson, who is bilingual - at least - informs me that in addition to the 20 or so official delegates of the ICFTU, there will be maybe 60 more from ICFTU affiliates. Together with the CUT from Brazil, itself a major force behind the first Forum, the ORIT now apparently finds itself on the Left of the ICFTU and a leading force for articulation with the global justice movement. The reason for the interest of the ORIT in the Forum lies in the profound crisis of the Latin American trade union movement, immobilised as it is 'between union corporatism and the loss of collective imagination' (de la Garza 2001). (Should that not be the other way round?).

 

The labor program

 

The Forum Program is a 150-page bilingual tabloid magazine!  It reveals a union program that has been apparently negotiated at a late moment between the CUT, ORIT, ICFTU and related international union bodies. 'Labor' will be but one of 24 'Conferences' (delegates only) held on February 1. On the platform, in addition to earlier-mentioned organizations there will be a Filipina from the World March of Women, the President of the South African COSATU, and even someone from the shopfloor COBAS (base committees) from Italy. This is a dramatically-widened (or lowered) platform for those accustomed to traditional international union ones.

 

Moreover, work and workers will be the subject of at least two of the other conferences – one on transnationals (TNCs) the other on 'economy in solidarity' (solidarity economies and economics, an alternative to those dominated by market and/or state). Whereas the first of these events looks likely to reproduce the 'union plus non-union alliance' suggested by the Labor Conference, the solidarity economy one is dominated by NGOs. The notion of an alternative to the market economy is, possibly, a Forum Too Near for the international unions – although workers and the unemployed in countries like Argentina are increasingly turning to the barter economy and other forms of consumer and producer cooperation.

 

Then we have the less-formal 'Seminars' (open to all).  There are maybe 150 of these, of which perhaps 20 are directly relevant to labor, some sponsored by international unions, others by national or even local Brazilian unions. Supported by the ICFTU and/or its regional or national organizations will be such as 'Decent Employment: Defending Workers' Rights against Globalization', 'Concrete Experiences of Changing the Trade Union Model', 'Fundamental Labor Rights in Multinational Factories', 'Unions and the Anti-Globalization Movement', etc. Others are offered on women and work, labor and the environment, peace and work.

 

Lastly there are 800 or more 'Workshops', being offered by anyone with a subject and a hope of public interest. Since these will be all in competition with each other (and the Seminars), and since they will be customarily in either Portuguese or Spanish or English, they have to be understood as stalls in this new international and internationalist agora (market- or meeting-place), in which we cannot know who will attend or what incidental impact they might have on the outcome of WSF II or elsewhere later. 'Labor' is scattered through here, with events sponsored by unions, NGOs, social movements, socialist parties, academics, religious groups. The workshops address such topics as: worker health, union-social movement relations, citizenship and class struggle, women and work, Japanese workers, rural workers, the future of work, a worker university, workers in the informal sector, life and conditions of oil industry workers, socialism and the revival of a revolutionary project.

 

Ba(s)king in Porto Alegre

 

Right now Porto Alegre is either basking or baking at a temperature of 35 degrees something centigrade. Although this may accord with some Northern notion of Southern weather, the city gives the impression of being in Southern Europe rather than any other kind of south. If this is the Third World, then where, in the name of Dependency Theory, are Lima, Lagos or Luxor? Porto Alegre has had, for a decade or more a democratic socialist administration, under the Workers Party (PT), as has the whole state of Rio Grande do Sul. The local model of 'participatory budgeting', or participatory democracy, has become something of a model for much of the global justice movement - as well as for the World Bank (which may be more interested in its potential for recouping control of the world's rumbling cities). Without such local government support, there would not have even been a WSF I. Into the present one it is pouring US$ 17 million (according to Le Monde, 27-8, January, 2002)! The comparison that springs to my mind here is the support for World Youth Festivals provided by Communist states during the Cold War (and some radical-nationalist Southern ones since). But these were part of the nation-state-socialist project and subject to Communist 'single thinking' and control.

 

Whilst talking of funding – and influence, if not control - another US$ 650,000 has been donated by major Western development funding agencies such as Oxfam International (which includes such agencies as the Dutch Novib). And a considerable US$ 350,000 has been paid in subscription fees (my individual one was US$50). So Porto Alegre has to be seen also as a terrain disputed between the PT, the Brazilian NGOs, the social movements, the international NGOs, and then the hundreds, if not thousands, of groups and individuals who will be carrying its message home. The message, this year, may be influenced by the international union presence. But a question must remain of how any messages – union or other – will be passed back to constituencies the participants either represent or wish to address.

 

Communicating the Forum

 

Communication will be a matter of discussion in the Seminars and Workshops, though not in the Conferences. There will, as at Forum I, be a computerized and multilingual information exchange, now called Ciranda II[2]. And there will, no doubt, be coverage in the alternative international media of the global justice movement. But what about the mass media? BBC World will be doing the World Economic Forum in New York, and staging some 'debate' around it. But, in so far as Forum II, whilst colorful and media-worthy, is unlikely to see blood on the streets, the Beeb is equally unlikely to give this seven-day event as much as five minutes of fame.

 

The exception to the rule that 'if it's not bad news, it's not news' is likely, on both past and present evidence, to be provided by Le Monde and Le Monde Diplomatique. My reference above was extracted from an eight-page supplement on 'The Other World of Porto Alegre' (Le Monde, January 27-28, 2002, pp. 1, 11-18). Although Le Monde has been closely associated with the French Tobin Tax Movement (ATTAC – now internationalizing both widely and wildly), and therefore sympathetic to the WSF, this is far from an advertising supplement.

 

The eight pages provide background, critical analysis, and draw attention to some of the tensions within WSF II. It provides lists of printed and electronic sources (not only French). And it has a perceptive view of the past resistance of much of the international union movement to the new global justice one, and of how this is now changing. None of which means that the 175+ million members of trade unions across the world are going to receive even some leadership-filtered account of what might have taken place here – far less the attractive graphics and question-raising information the French-reading intelligentsia can find in Le Monde.

 

So, whilst international union leaders might be here involved with and even in the global justice movement, it might take years - even a decade - before the global justice movement really impacts on the union millions.


 

A City in Movement

(Porto Alegre, February 1, 2002)

 

It's five a.m., February 1, 2002, in Porto Alegre, host city of the Second World Social Forum, the day on which everything really begins at the major site, the Catholic University. I was woken by an unusual coolth in the hotel room, since the air conditioner had been fixed and the temperature had dropped from 36c (slightly warmer than nighttime Porto Alegre itself), to a wind-chill factor of maybe 20c. Yesterday it drizzled, providing some comfort to those who had been Sleepless in Porto Alegre, but also suggesting that we might have to be later Singin' in the Rain. God, however (who always rained on Ban the Bomb demonstrations in the UK in the 1960s), was clearly on the side of this march, and provided us with an increasingly glorious evening.

 

Municipal socialism, old and new

 

The January 31 opening consisted of a demonstration in the city center, followed by a 5km march to a park on the edge of the estuary/lake/river that lies alongside Porto Alegre, where a rally and concert took place. This was the introduction, for foreign visitors, to the host city and to a major aspect of the event that is not revealed in the published program or declarations.

 

Jeff Juris, who I referred to earlier, suggests that – in comparison to the anarchist-inspired demonstrations of Seattle, Davos, Genoa and Wherever – the Forum belongs to the socialist tradition. Yesterday helped me understand why. The local forces behind the event – the municipality, the state of Rio Grande do Sul, the CUT trade union confederation, the rural-based Movimento Sim Terra (Movement of Landless Rural Workers), the Partido dos Trabalhadores (the Workers Party that governs both city and state) and the myriad other local union or party factions, are all demonstrably part of a socialist movement that is itself both old and new.

 

The old part is revealed by the Che Guevara icons, the references to Cuba, the red flags, the hammer and sickle of the Brazilian Communist Party, the calls for socialism from the urban and rural movements. The music, the energy, the variety – the whole urban scene here – call up some possibly mistaken memory of London or Vienna at the turn of a previous century, when labor and socialism were young, energetic, and a political factor of import in national life. And when the activists were not only municipal socialists or nationalist politicians but convinced internationalists also.

 

The new part was suggested by the chaotic variety of the march (which at one moment was proceeding in both directions up and down a main city avenue). The 'leadership', which included PT presidential candidate and former union leader, Lula da Silva, and former Portuguese President, Mario Soares, was eventually one or two city blocks back from the front of the march. The vanguard was occupied by children of the MST – themselves chanting socialist slogans. Whilst there was some verbal confrontation between the MST and a small group of dangerous-looking but perfectly peaceful Black Bloc look-alikes, there was no sign of PT control or even marshalling of this motley crew. This despite the fact that top leaders of the PT have been recently both threatened and killed by unidentified assassins. And that the MST is surviving despite a series of massacres. But the mounted police here were an entirely unthreatening presence, as was the overhead helicopter.

 

Press coverage

 

The local media, press and television, is giving the Forum major attention. Local TV yesterday interviewed Luis Anderson of the ORIT, who spoke in defense of labor rights. Yesterday's edition of the local Zero Hora gave the Forum front-cover treatment, with another four or five pages inside. Its treatment draws attention to other aspects of the Forum, listing as 'major names' national and international political, governmental and academic figures, alongside those of Adolfo Perez Esquivel and Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Latin American Nobel Peace Prize winners for 1980 and 1992 respectively. It also, however, draws attention to a number of would-be notable (notable would-be?) participants, from neo-liberal national governments and the World Bank, who have been informed that their presence would be unwelcome or even inadvisable. These include the Prime Minister of Belgium and an External Relations honcho of the World Bank. Zero Hora reminds us of the various fringe events taking place here, including one of mayors involved in an international Network of Cities for Social Inclusion. And of activist judges – including the campaigning Spanish judge who nailed Pinochet, Baltasar Garzón. The paper, finally, provides the customary statistics, including the 150 nationalities present, the 1,800 volunteer supporters, and the 2.3 million Reales (around $1 million and a fraction of what was suggested by Le Monde), provided by the State Government.

 

Where are the international unions?

 

Yesterday's opening was an overwhelmingly Porto Alegrian and Brazilian event, the city being itself plastered with a wide variety of posters, either welcoming the barely visible foreign visitors, or offering political and cultural activities, these being either within or beyond the fringe of the Forum.

 

Much of the international element was provided by the Brazilians themselves, since they seem to be the major force within, for example, the international rural movement, Via Campesina. Nonetheless, I saw activists and banners from Canadian unionists, from the militant COBAS Italian shopfloor workers movement, the indigenous and rural movements of Central America, and, of course, the drums and flags of neighboring Argentina. Chile was present, with banners recording the assassinated President Allende.

 

Standing quietly observing the demonstration I identified Frei Betto, a Brazilian liberation theologist, and Hilary Wainright, British socialist-feminist and editor of Red Pepper. Earlier I had seen Samir Amin, an intellectual survivor of the Thirdworldist movement – both political and intellectual – of the 1960s-70s, now himself heavily involved in a global justice network of more-universal reach and influence. I heard also that Juan Somavía, General Secretary of the International Labor Organization, was here – remarkable given that he could have opted for presence at the World Economic Forum in New York.

 

Latin American feminism, miffed at the macho blind eye to women at WSF I, announced its presence with a visually striking campaign against fundamentalism (this including the economic variety). That their hot air balloon failed to get off the ground did not prevent it from being witnessed by the assembled thousands, since its slogan 'Your Mouth, Fundamental Against Fundamentalism' could be seen across the field.

 

Where, in all this celebration, was the possibly small but nonetheless significant international trade union delegation? Nowhere I could see, but, then, the CUT itself seemed to be sprinkled throughout the crowd rather than marching in anything like a serried rank. And what kind of impact might this city, with its pluralistic labor and socialist culture, have made on international union officers more accustomed to protesting globalization in corridors, conferences and consultations than streets? I was later given to understand that the unionists had met together separately, as planned, to prepare themselves the Forum, in an uninspiring meeting. Uninspiring or not, the fact that there were 400 or so unionists present at an event that is now in a direct and public relationship with the International and Organizing Commmittees of the Forum is more than a footstep in the sand (for more on this event and international union participation in general see ETUC 2000).[3]

 

I await today's Opening Labor Conference, out at the university, for some indication of what it is going to further contribute. But the question arises in my mind of whether it would not have been more worthwhile, for international unionists, demonstrators and the local public alike, if the foreign union visitors had at least made the effort of the feminists to turn up at the demonstration and then tried to turn hot air into a visual and visible statement.


 

5. One small step for international unionism?

(Porto Alegre, February 4, 2002)

 

International labor activity at the Second World Social Forum got off to an inauspicious start on the first working day of the 60-70,000-strong event in Porto Alegre. Timetabled as but one of the six inaugural 'conferences' (actually panels) within each of the four 'axes' (themes) of the Forum, labor never got even as far off the ground as the previous day's feminist balloon.

 

If someone had wanted to sabotage the labor event, they could not have done better than to put it in an echoing basketball court, with the panel lined up in the middle, and the several hundred strong audience, behind safety netting, twenty meters away. And then to have failed to provide the necessary simultaneous translation equipment on time. And then, when it turned up, to have it channel listeners to music and news from local broadcasters rather than the prominent international labor leaders.

 

The union balloon fails to fly

 

There was, however, no such sabotage, even if Kjeld Jakobsen, Head of the International Department of the Brazilian CUT, was quietly cursing the Forum organizers for dumping labor in this off-campus army stadium. Even, however, if technical hitches had not effectively spoiled this first major labor demonstration at the Forum, it would unlikely have been either an inspiring or a thought-provoking start.

 

Not that the star performers were missing. We had, after all, Willie Madisha, leader of the South African COSATU, Luis Anderson of the ORIT and the ICFTU, and Kjeld Jakobsen himself, a bear-like and multilingual (Portuguese, Danish, English and even some Dutch) figure, valiantly swimming against the stream of techno-piranhas. Alongside these were, notably, such non-ICFTU or non-union representatives as the American Jeff Faux, of a new international network of union-related research institutes, and Silvia Estrada-Claudio, a Filipina from the Left-Feminist World March of Women – an anti-globalization campaign which has a high profile at the Forum (WMW 2002). We had here a hint of ICFTU recognition of the import of the broader labor and feminist movement to union struggle under globalization. Missing, however, was the earlier-listed speaker from the COBAS shopfloor union coordination from Italy. Would the new ICFTU pluralism have been over-stretched by this particular presence?

 

Finally, yes, there was Juan Somavía, Director of the ILO. His presence amongst the union leaders and motley Brazilian and international labor officers, suggests an implicit alliance between this inter-state organization and the international trade union movement. The common interest of the unions and the ILO lies in the damp fate with which both are threatened by the tsunami of neo-liberal globalization. And the presence of these two forces at the Forum suggests the recognition by both of the importance of this potent, or at least potential, third force. I asked Somavía whether it was significant that he was here rather than at the (neo-liberal) World Economic Forum in New York. 'Well,' the diplomat parried, diplomatically, 'I'm here!'.

 

The really interesting thing that happened at the Labor Conference would have been obscured for most participants by the piranhas. This was Willie Madisha's reference in public to the COSATU contribution to the ICFTU's 'Millennial Dialog' (COSATU 2001). This 'dialog', announced at the ICFTU's last congress, has taken place behind the back of not only civil society but of the labor movement and even of the unionized workers themselves. (Neither the ORIT nor the CUT have seen fit to make their positions public; indeed, it appears that neither has made even a confidential written input into this exercise). Now COSATU has broken the union equivalent of omertá (the mafia's law of silence).[4] Not that this represents more than a moderate challenge to the old internationalism. Yet it is still a pity we could not hear it, nor any hypothetical ICFTU response. But, as Willie Madisha said, it is on the COSATU website. As also, I think, on that of the CUT, which apparently identifies itself with this Southern position. What the intrepid translators and interpreters of the Ciranda made of it can be read in Appendix 1.

 

As is customary at international conferences, whether labor, political or academic, the most useful things happen in the intervals and interstices. The morning event provided time enough for such.

 

Here was the indefatigable International Secretary of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, You Youngmo, who combines the roles of representative and translator/interpreter at such events. The Korean unions are campaigning for the release from prison of their General Secretary.

 

There were several people from the COSATU-related research institute, NALEDI, themselves part of the new international network of such. This is the blandly - and misleadingly - named Global Policy Network (why not, for example, Global Union Policy Network?). One of them, former South African union officer, Alistair Smith, had been recently at a conference of a network of southern socialist unions, the Southern Initiative on Globalization and Trade Union Rights (SIGTUR). We speculated on its absence from the Forum, an event that brings together unions and social movements in a manner that SIGTUR itself claims to promote. Such curious evasions and absences suggest the confused state of even Left unionism in the face of the neo-liberal juggernaut.

 

I met Tim Costello, co-author of a major political manifesto in the US, Globalization from Below. This does not so much represent an international union or even labor position as embrace both within a wider social movement perspective. Tim works with an organization of 'contingent' workers in Boston, and with a network of such support centers for the temporary, casual, part-time and other non-unionized workers - whose numbers are growing in the US as elsewhere. He had recently himself been to an international conference on such workers in Ahmedabad, western India. The organizing, internationally, of the massive numbers of globalized labor's 'others' (non-unionized or non-unionizable) in network form is, it appears, picking up.

 

I met, further, Robert O'Brien, one of an increasing number of younger generation academics, at least in the Anglophone world, taking an interest in international unionism on the global stage. O'Brien has a sabbatical from his university and is using it to write a book on the development of a new international union movement in the face of globalization.

 

From all of these I received an impression of ferment in the world of international labor that is hardly projected by the union organizations themselves.

 

Grasping at the straw of 'decent work'

 

The first union 'seminar' (another panel of experts reading texts at an audience!) had been moved to a second site. The ensuing confusion allowed me to meet up with other lost labor souls, this time a half-dozen African trade unionists, whose ICFTU labels revealed their sponsorship. Amongst them was longtime leader of the Nigerian Labor Congress and the Organization of African Trade Union Unity, Hassan Sunmonu, who had had to leave behind him a major national conflict, during which the NLC General Secretary had been arrested. Argentina, evidently, is not the only country confronted by major labor protest while we meet.

 

In the hall assigned to the seminar on 'decent work', could be found union officers from the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC, for which see again ETUC 2000), and from the Latin American regional organization of the formerly-Catholic World Confederation of Labor (WCL). As also a leading Black and bilingual woman leader, Linda Chavez-Thompson, representing here both the AFL-CIO and the ORIT. She addressed the audience in Spanish, bringing warm greetings from both these organizations.

 

'Decent work', I finally discovered from a WCL pamphlet, is the latest figleaf behind which the international unions are hiding their nakedness in the face of neo-liberal globalization. The unions are – to change metaphors in midstream - grasping at the straw of 'decent work' as something to keep them afloat in the cesspit of 'indecent work' and worklessness that globalization is increasingly producing. What 'decent work' looks like, in the publication of the WCL, is the kind of job that workers in industrialized capitalist countries had – or were told by employers that they had – before neo-liberal globalization.

 

'Decent work' has apparently to do with 'rights' and 'dignity' and being 'free from exploitation'. It allows a worker to be an actor in an economy 'at the service of mankind' ('mankind' here presumably embraces 'womankind'). This Social-Christian doctrine takes us back less to the 20th than to the late-19th century and the papal encyclical on human labor. Depressed, even before it had really begun, by another display of union failure to come to terms with the real nature of work and workers under a globalized and neo-liberalized capitalism (for which see Andre Gorz 1999), I decided to seek my crock of gold at the end of another rainbow.

 

U and non-U labor

 

At the end of, well, not so much a rainbow as many agrophobia-enducing floors and corridors, I fought my way to a seminar on unions and unemployed workers. This was organized by the radical French union alliance, SUD (Solidarity, Unity, Democracy). Although the official language was French, informal translation was taking care of Portuguese, and the event was being attended by people speaking other languages also. SUD apparently considers the unemployed as part of the working class, and recognizes that unless they are organized and defended, capitalist division and competition will be at the cost of the organized. It was, however, also recognized that the French union movement more generally addresses itself to fee-paying members than such others.

 

A young Frenchwoman suggested that at least the Brazilian CUT demonstrated a model of solidarity with the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST). Not so, replied several red-tee-shirted Brazilian participants. Whilst there were cases or places of such solidarity relations, the links of the CUT with the Workers Party (which, remember, is again promoting the charismatic labor leader Lula as Presidential Candidate) prevents the union from identifying itself consistently with an organization that some Brazilians consider lawless or even revolutionary. The MST supports land invasions, competes with a CUT rural workers union, and purportedly practices participatory rather than representative democracy.

 

Whatever the case here, this seminar, with its smaller size and participatory procedure, was the first such one I have attended that seemed to relate to actually-existing work and workers, and to address, seriously, the relationship that exists inter/nationally between union organizations and social movements.

 

Still sitting on the razorwire

 

In the meantime, we have received a document distributed by the Global Unions Group, a new alliance at international level, which includes the WCL alongside the older ICFTU Family. (I suppose we must now call this the ICFTU Family Plus). The statement is on 'Globalizing Social Justice', and was issued simultaneously to the neo-liberal corporate capitalist World Economic Forum in New York and to the anti-neo-liberal civil-society forum in Porto Alegre. How does the Global Unions Group justify its presence within, and address to, these quite profoundly opposed parties? Because it believes that

 

Trade unions are part of civil society just as they are part of industry. In order to be relevant to their members, they must engage in dialogue with employers for which workers toil, at the same time as working together with others in the community. (Original stress)

 

The posing of a political and, indeed, moral equivalence between 'industry' (capitalism) and 'civil society' (here posed against both corporate capitalism and the state/inter-state organizations that support or subordinate themselves to such) might lead Forum participants to consider the international unions as themselves fatally compromised with and/or subordinate to corporate capitalism.[5]

 

This would, however, be to ignore the development, admittedly slow and painful, of the international unions from a single and simple 'partnership' with international capital and inter-state organizations in the past, to a moment in which the increasing violence done to workers and unions by neo-liberal globalization has brought them to Porto Alegre. There are other elements within the statement that reveal a growing discontent with neo-liberalism and a search for something, or, indeed, anything – a globalized neo-Keynesianism? – beyond this (see the Forum speech of Jeff Faux 2002).

 

One small step for global justice movement; one giant step for the ICFTU Family Plus?

 

Are there no international union forces coming out unambiguously against  corporate capitalism at this Forum? A 1950s-style leaflet from the Latin American region of the World Federation of Trade Unions might suggest otherwise. I was unable to attend its two-day event just before the Forum. This was intended to bring the clasista (class-oriented) unions of Latin America together to draw up a statement attacking the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA, in Spanish ALCA). The leaflet appeared to be an outcome of this meeting. Entitled 'Another America is Possible, No to the FTAA!', this is a statement in which 'protest' still swamps 'proposition' (to make use of the Latin American feminist slogan, which urged, years ago, the move from the one to the other). The condemnation cannot be faulted – and will no doubt be endorsed in a projected demonstration at the Forum. But the meager 25 percent of space allowed for the alternative ends with an appeal to not so much class or socialist principles as to pre-industrial (indeed pre-socialist) liberal-nationalist or liberal-cosmopolitan ones:

 

Our struggle today continues the numerous battles carried out with exemplary resistance by the bravest sons [no daughters? PW] of America during the last decades and that brings us together toward the destiny announced by the Liberator Simón Bólivar, who, almost two centuries ago, in the middle of a colossal campaign against colonialism declared: I desire, more than anything else, to witness the creation in America of the greatest nation in the world, not so much for its immense territory and riches as for its liberty and glory. (Stress as original).

 

If one is to classify the position of the ICFTU+Family+ as stuck in the later-20th century, would one not have to characterize that of the WFTU as stuck in the early-19th (c.f. Bolívar 1980, Retta et. al. 1988)?

 

Antonio Gramsci, martyred Italian labor leader, Communist and Marxist innovator, recommended to us 'skepticism of the intellect, optimism of the will'. At this moment, in a Forum resounding with youth, energy, son et lumière, here in Porto Alegre, at the beginning of the 21st century, it is difficult for someone concerned with labor internationalism, for half of the 20th, to bring up much of the optimism.


 

6. Making labor sense of (and in) a global civil society in formation

(Porto Alegre, 5 February, 2002)

 

As the previous five parts of this report may have already suggested, I have been both seriously overwhelmed, by the 60,000 plus visitors and 1,000 or more events during five or six days at the 2nd World Social Forum, and seriously underwhelmed by the international union presence here.

 

Overwhelmed

 

Labor, as already reported, had just one of 24 first day events, but it has also had some line of activity which people more single-minded than myself might have been able to first discover and then follow.

 

For example, a pamphlet produced by the Brazilian union center, CUT, contains a 10-12 page program on 'Workers at the World Social Forum'. This program, however, identifies over 100 different events, which means at least 20 per day, whilst the most that any human being could attend would, surely, be three or four.

 

On the one hand, this wealth and breadth of CUT interest is consistent with its energetic commitment to the Forum (at least if we take the pre-Forum article by CUT leader, Rafael Freire Neto as indicative). On the other hand, even a more-determined labor activist or specialist than I would be likely torn between dishes in this surfeit of riches. And what labor sense could s/he then possibly make of Labor @ Porto Alegre?

 

Moreover, I only picked up this brochure, from a tiny CUT stall, on the third day. It was in Portuguese, and I then only chanced upon the program buried on the inside pages, since the cover headline was 'Toward the National Strike: In Defense of Worker Rights'. This referred to a forthcoming general strike, of obvious importance to the CUT, but it concealed the program inside. So the brochure would have been, at best, a guide for the numerous Brazilian (and maybe other Latin American) unionists here. It would have been of great value to have had on the CUT stall either the article of Freire Neto, or others by its international secretary, Kjeld Jakobsen, or even the international policy of the CUT that Freire Neto appears to mention. Even in Portuguese.

 

Underwhelmed

 

Whilst referring readers to the previous five parts of this report, I should qualify the criticism there expressed by mentioning a couple of activities on February 3. First, there was a considerable labor presence on a major panel concerning the future of the Forum and the global justice movement. Indonesian union leader, Dita Sari, was unfortunately not present. (She is due to receive some Reebok human rights award for young activists, in a ceremony at the Winter Olympics in the US shortly: one hopes her activity there will more than compensate for her absence here). But a leader of a Mercosur (the Common Market of the Southern Cone of Latin America) union body was present, and revealed himself to be both committed to the Forum and critical of union slowness or shortcomings in relation to the global justice movement. Also present was a leader of the movement of the rural poor in distant Thailand – a body that has been forcefully present within the global movement. I was further given to understand that a previous day's session on unions and the informal sector had been a more than worthwhile exercise. But I also met a trade unionist from the UK who had evidently been interested in everything but the labor events. And the profile of international labor here has been much lower than that of international feminism.

 

The challenge for organized international labor became clearer to me when I heard the Canadian anti-globalization writer, Naomi Klein, speak at the session on the future of the movement. Klein, who has written widely and wisely on the global justice movement, including WSF I, is not only a Great Communicator, capable of moving audiences with a series of sound-bites that combine fresh metaphor with a clear message and ethical appeal. She is also prepared to challenge the Forum organizers, and the audience. She did this by reminding us that she was the only woman on the platform (and therefore deserved double time!), that she was critical of civil-society babble (NGOs reaching empty agreements with state and inter-state bodies that only want to incorporate them), that she preferred 'civil disobedience' to 'civil society'. But what she by her performance mostly suggested was that the frontline of the (non-violent) war against neo-liberal fundamentalism, runs increasingly through the sphere of communication, culture, the media.

 

Still seeking the union balloon

 

I was moved by Naomi Klein where I was bored out of my pants by even the most forceful union speaker - though I am sure he might have been informative for labor activists. And I am not someone inclined to worship movie stars, movement stars, leaders, or even such icons as Che Guevara (dominant at the Forum, but hardly representing the kind of human-being, or enunciating the kind of message, necessary to advance the work of the WSF).

 

The unions seem to think that an organizational presence, reference to their size, plus critique of globalization or Yankee imperialism, a banner or two, or rhetorical reference to another future, is the adequate formula to impact on global civil society here (and the World Monetary Fundamentalists in New York?). If, however, under a globalized and informatized capitalism, the medium and the message are increasingly inter-related, the union medium is unlikely to move either the global justice movement, the international labor movement, or the World Economic Forum.

 

Where are labor's Naomi Kleins? Its balloons? Its subversive posters and street hoardings? Its address to the senses? Its ethical appeal? Its call on the imagination? Its attraction to the young? (Well, mostly back in the late-19th or early-20th century, when the movement moved both itself and society).

 

Sources for a new international labor commonsense

 

The sense I am trying to make in this report can be that of only one member of the international labor movement. Others will have to do the same thing, to build for themselves – and hopefully transmit to both comrades and public - their sense of Labor @ Porto Alegre. But where, how and when might such individual or organizational understandings be brought together in some kind of global agora, where a new commonsense could be formed? For Brazil, this dialog might happen on web pages hosted by the Brazilian labor research center, DIEESE. But this will, of course, be a national site, and in Portuguese (which I can only anyway myself understand through my limited Spanish).

 

Anther hypothetical resource for such sense-making might be the Forum's daily newspaper, Terra Viva. This remarkable daily is something that has been present at all the 'alternative' international conferences since at least that on the environment in Rio, 1992. It is produced by the Inter Press Service (IPS), an independent, non-commercial news agency, oriented toward 'development', the UN agencies and, evidently, the world of NGOs. Appearing in a mixture of English, Portuguese and Spanish – and not afraid to reveal at least some of the tensions within the Forum in any of these – Terra Viva has certainly been helpful in giving me an overview of the event. But, then, it does have a decade of experience and 20 or so experienced professional journalists from all over the South. And…it has to cover everything and everybody, not just labor issues and international union leaders. So labor has to 1) catch its eye – which it has hardly so far done, and 2) cannot depend on this to make labor sense of the Forum.

 

One could, of course, turn on the TV, in the hope of finding something from that particularly self-satisfied purveyor of objectivity and both-sides-of-the-question, BBC World TV. February 4, in my Porto Alegre hotel room I did just this. What we got was references to Porto Alegre but filtered through the extensive coverage of the World Economic Forum in New York. We here had the quite impressive sight of UN head honcho, Kofi Annan, lecturing the WEF on the necessity to moderate its elitist and heedlessly greedy behavior – and referring to the WSF in Porto Alegre as being just as important as the WEF (did I dream this? I couldn't find it on any site the next day). The only labor coverage, however, was of a woman leader of the Australian unions – part of the ICFTU delegation to the WEF – urging the rich to introduce a 'more fair' globalization. How fair, exactly, 'fair' might be, she did not inform us.

 

I have been unable to check the IndyMedia website for Labor @ Porto Alegre, but my guess, again, would be that it is limited. Someone had to actually be motivated to produce the information and ideas and post them on IndyMedia. And though I suspect that the ICFTU has a communications officer here, I suspect, yet again, that the ICFTU or Global Unions websites are going to provide us with official statements rather than information and interpretation, and the kind of intellectual and visual excitement that we can feel here. (I just checked, on the afternoon of February 5. Suspicion confirmed).

 

There is one significant labor movement oasis in this desert, though so far we need either French or Portuguese to enter it. It was also produced before WSFII. This is a book produced by the French activist and thinker, Christophe Aguiton. Called, modestly, The World Belongs to Us, this provides an overview and interpretation of the global justice movement, and includes a 30-page chapter on labor - one of five dealing with movements. Aguiton has the right background for his task, having been a leader of the shopfloor SUD unions in France, an organizer of the European Marches Against Unemployment in the later-1990s and, more recently, the international officer of ATTAC, a major force behind the Forum. Only one of five chapters? Yes, because Aguiton, like the US writers, Jeremy Brecher and Tim Costello, has evidently found that to get the movement back into the labor movement, one has to first go beyond it. The chapter on labor is, however, excellent, revealing not only Aguiton's own experience but also his wide reading.

 

Later – with access to the book in a more familiar language – I hope to review it. In the meantime, I note that Aguiton's cautious identification of 'poles' within the movement cuts across the labor and, indeed, socialist movement. They are, in this order, a Radical Internationalist, a Nationalist and a 'Neo-Reformist' pole. The Radical Internationalist one is the one looking beyond capitalism and the nation state, the Nationalist (mostly Southern, Aguiton says, though it could include a lot of French supporters) looks to the nation state as the only defense against globalization, and the Neo-Reformist one (mostly Northern, as in the collection of Rikkilä and Patomäki 2001) looks to 'global governance' to balance off the power of uncontrolled multinational corporations.

 

In relation to these three - admittedly tentative - poles of Aguiton, it is clear that international labor finds itself still drawn most powerfully toward the last. Yet national and international labor movement tendencies – also at Porto Alegre – could be found drawn toward the other poles also. The most important point here is that labor, as such, has no pole of its own. Farewell, if not to the proletariat, then to the Left? It would appear from the Aguiton model that labor, as an international movement, is presently a follower rather than a leader. (The same could also be said for socialists and socialism, feminists and feminism, all of which can be found within, or drawn toward, each of these poles). This book, along with one or two others (Brecher, Costello and Smith 2000, Starr 2000), certainly provides points of reference for those trying to understand the movement. What neither Aguiton nor the others fully address, however, is the problem of moving from the logic of organization to that of communication.

 

International labor's fear of flying

 

I do not think that we can depend on the final declaration of the Brazilian Organizing Committee, to do this political/communicational job for labor, or for the global justice movement more generally. The organizers' own mandate is limited to providing us with this agora in which to ourselves spell out the meaning of the Forum slogan, 'Another World is Possible!'. (I am delighted to have been proven wrong. See Appendix 2, which incorporates basic international union demands and thus provides a charter unionists can urge their organizations to endorse, implement and help develop!)[6].

 

The notion that another world is possible has been a brilliantly subversive one in the face of those who have drummed into our heads that 'There is No Alternative'. But I am left wondering whether the effect of the 1,000 different events is not one that leaves one or two committees, with maybe 20 or even 100 self-appointed members, to themselves determine – though behind transparent doors - the form of the Forum.

 

In the meantime, and well before the next such Forum, next year in Porto Alegre, the international union movement has to learn this lesson: if you don't fly, you die. If it wants advice on how to overcome its incapacity to communicate to anyone other than itself, it could do worse than to consult the women who organized here the media-sensitive campaign against fundamentalism, or with Naomi Klein, pro-labor and pro-feminist, who clearly has no fear of flying.


 

Postscript

(São Paulo, February 15, 2002)

 

Some women also demonstrate the value of standing one's ground. About the time the Forum was winding up, Dita Sari sent an open letter to the Reebok Foundation, giving reasons for her decision to reject the human rights award and cash prize offered her, and to be presented at the Winter Olympics in the USA (not reported on the international union sites as of mid-February!). She turned it down, after consultation with her comrades (and, possibly, some friendly, if concerned internet exchanges) because of the sweatshop conditions Western footwear multinationals are responsible for in Indonesia, as well as for some more Reebok-specific behavior in the past. My regret is that she didn't come to Porto Alegre and make her decision public here. Labor needs its heroines in international public space much more than in prison. In the meantime, however, Dita's behaviour here provides a model of principle and dignity to the international trade union movement.

 

 


Resources

 

These lists have been built up before, during and after the Forum (30.1-5.2.02). Relevant contributions, preferably in the same style, would be more than welcome, and acknowledged in later editions.

 

 

Bibliography

 

 

AFL-CIO. 2001. 'Remarks by AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney, World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland. January 28'.

 

ACJR. 2001. Globalización, ALCA y Democracia: De las Cumbres de Santiago de Chile a las Cumbres de Quebec, Canadá (Globalization, FTAA and Democracy: From the Summits of Santiago, Chile to the Summits of Quebec, Canada). Santiago: Alianza Chilena por un Comercio Justo y Responsable. 207 pp.

 

Aguiton, Christophe. 2001. Le monde nous appartient (The World Belongs to Us). Paris: Plon.

 

Aguiton, Christophe. 2002. O mundo nos pertenece (The World Belongs to Us). Sao Paulo: Viramundo. 222 pp.

 

Anheier, Helmut, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds). 2001. Global Civil Society Yearbook 2001. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 360 pp.

 

Anheier, Helmut, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor. 2001. 'Introducing Global Civil Society', in Helmut Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds), Global Civil Society Yearbook 2001. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 3-22.

 

Anheier, Marlies Glasius and Mary Kaldor (eds). Global Civil Society Yearbook 2001. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 195-217.

 

Bolívar, Simon. 1980. 'Proyectos Panamericanos (1824-6) (Panamerican Projects), in Simon Bolívar: Escritos politicos. Bogotá: El Ancora Editores. Pp. 97-121.

 

Brecher, Jeremy, Tim Costello and Brendan Smith. 2000. Globalization from Below: The Power of Solidarity. Boston: South End Press.

 

Carotenuto, Gennaro. 2002. 'Documento final de los movimientos sociales: Una cosa es hablar y otra escribir' (Final Document of the Social Movements: It's One Thing to Talk and Another to Write), Brecha (Montevideo),  February 8, pp. 16-17.

 

COSATU. 2001. 'A Strategic Perspective on the International Trade Union Movement for the 21st Century'. 14 pp. http://www.cosatu.org.za/index.html

 

Cristobal, Miguel. 2002. 'ATTAC, the "Tobin Tax", and the World Social Forum of Porto Alegre (Brazil): Is this a Way Forward to Fight Global Capitalism?'. Email from International Liaison Committee for a Workers International (ILC). theorganizer@igc.org, 23.1.02.

 

de la Garza Toledo, Enrique. 2001. 'Las transiciones políticas en América Latina, entre el corporativismo sindical y la pérdida de imaginarios colectivos' (Political Transitions in Latin America, between Union Corporativism and the Loss of Collective Imagination) in,  Enrique de la Garza Toledo (ed), Los sindicatos frente a los procesos de transición política. Buenos Aires: CLACSO. Pp. 9-23.

 

Escobar, Arturo. 2000. 'Notes on Networks and Anti-Globalization Social Movements', 2000 AAA Annual Meeting, San Francisco, November 15-19.

 

Estanque, Elísio. 2001. 'The Reinvention of Unions and New Emancipatory Challenges: From Local Despotism to Global Mobilization'. Contribution to the Project on Reinventing Social Emancipation, Center of Social Studies, University of Coimbra, Portugal.

 

ETUC. 2000. 'Foro Social Mundial 2002. Porto Alegre 31 enero-5 febrero 2002: Informe de la delegación de la CES'. Brussels: European Trade Union Confederation. 9 pp.

 

Faux, Jeff. 2002. 'A Global Strategy for Labor' (Speech to Labor Conference, World Social Forum, Porto Alegre, February 1). Global Policy Network Website.

 

Federación Sindical Mundial. 2002. 'No al ALCA! Otra América es posible! Por la integración solidaria entre iguales para la conquista de la justicia social y el bienestar de nuestros pueblos' (No to FTAA! Another America is Posible! For the Solidarity Integration between Equals for the Conquest of Social Justice and the Welfare of Our Peoples). 2 pp.

 

Freire Neto, Rafael. 2002. 'O sindicalismo e os movimentos de luta contra a globalização neoliberal' (On Unionism and the Movements against Neo-Liberal Globalization), Ponto a Ponto Cadernos (São Paulo), No. 4, January.

 

Gallin, Dan. 2001. 'Propositions on Trade Unions and Informal Employment in Times of Globalization', in Peter Waterman and Jane Wills (eds), Place, Space and the New Labor Internationalisms. Oxford: Blackwell.

 

Global Social Forum. 2001. 'Porto Alegre Call for Mobilization', http://www.focusweb.org/publications/2001/Porto%20Alegre%20Call%20for%20Mobilisation.htm

 

Global Unions Group. 2002. 'GLOBALIZING SOCIAL JUSTICE: Trade Union Statement to the World Social Forum (Porto Alegre) and the World Economic Forum (New York), January-February 2002'. 3 pp.

 

Gorz, Andre. 1999. Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society. Cambridge: Polity. 185 pp.

 

Jakobsen, Kjeld Aagaard. 1998. 'Nuevos rumbos en la ORIT' (New Challenges in the ORIT), in Maria Portella de Castro and Achim Wachendorfer (eds.). 1998. Sindicalismo y globalización: La dolorosa inserción en un mundo incierto. Caracas: Editorial Nueva Sociedad. Pp. 307-19.

 

Jakobsen, Kjeld. 2001. 'Rethinking the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and its Inter-American Regional Organization', in Peter Waterman and Jane Wills (eds.), Place, Space and the New Labor Internationalisms. Oxford: Blackwell. Pp. 59-79.

 

Juris, Jeffrey. 2002. 'Research Project: The Movement for Global Resistance in Barcelona' (Draft). (On GloSoDia Group/List).

 

Klein, Naomi. 2001. 'A Fete for the End of the End of History', The Nation (New York), March 19.

 

Le Monde. 2002. 'L'Autre Monde de Porto Alegre' (The Other World of Porto Alegre). Le Monde. January 27-28, 2002. Pp. 1, 11-18.

 

Le Monde Diplomatique/Cadernos Diplo. 2000. 'Globalização e mundo de trabalho' (Globalization and the World of Work), Diplô Brasil/Le Monde Diplomatique, No. 1. 40 pp. September.

 

Le Monde Diplomatique/Cadernos Diplo. 2002. 'Que outro mundo é possível?' (Which Other World is Possible?), Diplô Brasil/Le Monde Diplomatique, No. 3. 50 pp. January.

 

LRCI. 2001. [Anti]Capitalism: From Resistance to Revolution. An Action Guide. London: League for a Revolutionary Communist International. 40 pp.

 

Malentacchi, Marcello. 2001. 'A Tribune for Global Unions', March 19. http://www.imfmetal.org/imf/main/main_opinions.cfm

 

Monoreo Perez, Manuel. 2001. 'Propuestas para un nuevo internacionalismo' (Propositions on a New Internationalism), in Manuel Monorero and Miguel Riera (eds), Foro Social Mundial: Porto Alegre: Otro mundo es possible. Madrid: El Viejo Topo. Pp. 49-55.

 

Mouvement National des Chômeurs et Précaires. 2001. 'Quebec, du 9 au 12 Octobre: Vers une solidarité globale' (Quebec, from October 9 to 12: Toward a Global Solidrity), MNCP Solidarités Chômages (Paris), No. 6, Décembre 2001.

 

OSAL. 2002. 'Perspectivas del movimiento global de la sociedad civil. Elaborado por el Observatorio Social de América Latina (OSAL) Consejo  Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO)' (Perspectives of the Global Movement of Civil Society. Elaborated by the Social Observatory of Latin America, Latin American Council of Social Sciences).

 

Pianta, Mario. 2001. 'Parallel Summits of Global Civil Society', in Helmut Anheier,

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Ponto a Ponto. 2002. 'Elementos para um balanço do II Fórum Social Mundial' (Elements for an Evaluation of the 2nd World Social Forum), Punto a Punto (São Paulo), No. 7, February.

 

Public Services International. 2001 'Stop the World? No! Shape it!', Policy, Practice, Program. No. 2. Geneva: Public Services International. 50 pp.

 

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Riethof, Marieke. 2001. 'The Brazilian Labor Movement on the Internet', Paper prepared for presentation at the Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, Chicago, February 21-24, 2001. Amsterdam School for Social Science Research/International Political Economy, University of Amsterdam.

 

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Starr, Amory. 2000. Naming the Enemy: Anti-Corporate Movements Confront Globalization. London: Zed. 268 pp.

 

Terra Viva. 2002. '"The alternative is not civil society but civil disobedience" - Naomi Klein'. http://www.ipsnews.net/terraviva/05_alternativaeng.shtml.

 

ETUC. 2000. 'Foro Social Mundial 2002. Porto Alegre 31 enero-5 febrero 2002: Informe de la delegación de la CES'. Brussels: European Trade Union Confederation. 9 pp.

 

 

ETUC. 2000. 'Foro Social Mundial 2002. Porto Alegre 31 enero-5 febrero 2002: Informe de la delegación de la CES'. Brussels: European Trade Union Confederation. 9 pp.

 

Teivainen, Teivo. 2002. 'Democratizing the World: Reflections After Porto Alegre', Helsinki: Network Institute for Global Democracy. (Draft, 31.5.01).

 

Trías, Ivonne. 2002. 'II Foro Sindical Mundial: Si la gente quiere' (2nd World Social Forum: Brecha (Montevideo),  February 8, pp. 16-17.

 

Turra, Julio et. al. 2002. 'Open Letter to the Trade Unionists and Activists Participating in the World Social Forum 2002 in Porto Alegre, Brazil: Is it possible to put a human face on globalization and war?'. Email from International Liaison Committee for a Workers International (ILC). theorganizer@igc.org, 23.1.02.

 

Waghorne, Mike.  2000. 'Getting a Seat in the WTO Restaurant', Transnational Associations (Brussels), No. 4, pp. 163-72.

 

Wahl, Peter. 1998. 'NGO-Transnationals, McGreenpeace and the Network Guerilla: On Some Recent Trends in International Civil Society' (Shortened translation of an article published in the German quarterly, Peripherie, No. 71). Email received February 2001.

 

Waterman, Peter. 1999. 'International Labor's Y2K Problem: A Debate, a Discussion and a Dialogue', Working Paper Series, No. 306. The Hague: Institute of Social Studies.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001a. 'Emancipating Labour Internationalism', [Contribution to, 'Reinventing Social Emancipation', a project funded by the MacArthur Foundation. www.ces.fe.uc.pt/emancipa/en/themes/index.html].

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001b. 'Trade Union Internationalism in the Age of Seattle', in Peter Waterman and Jane Wills (eds), Place, Space and the New Labor Internationalisms. Oxford: Blackwells.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001c. 'Learning to Talk across Difference in an Interconnected World of Labor: The Bangkok 2001 Roundtable of Trade Unions, Social Movements and NGOs on Labor and Globalization'. Transnational Associations.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001d. 'Shall the Last Be the First? The Internationalism of Labor's Others'. (Incomplete draft outline). 6 pp.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001e. 'Sobre la exportación e importación de la sociedad civil en tiempos de globalización', (On the Import and Export of  Civil Society in Times of Globalisation), Nueva Sociedad (Caracas), No. 171, pp. 120-31.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2001f. 'The ICFTU, the WTO and the Anti-Corporate Movement: Still Sitting on the Razor Wire?'. http://groups/google.com.group/GloSoDia/ August.

 

Waterman, Peter. 2002. 'After the 2nd World Social Forum in Porto Alegre: What's Left Internationally?'. 35 pp.

 

World Confederation of Labor. 2002. 'World Confederation of Labor and Decent Job'. Brussels: World Confederation of Labor. 2 pp.

 

WMW. 2002. 'World March of Women Building the World Social Forum'. Montreal: World March of Women. 4 pp.

 

 

Internet Resources

 

ATTAC www.attac.org

 

Brecha (Uruguayan left weekly) info@ie.edu.uy, www.universitario.edu.uy

 

Ciranda (2nd Forum Information Exchange) http://www.ciranda.net/

 

COSATU http://www.cosatu.org.za/index.html

 

DIEESE en@dieese.org.br, www.dieese.org.br

 

Focus on the Global South www.focusweb.org

 

Global Policy Network tavirgan@epinet.org, www.gpn.org

 

Global Solidarity Dialogue Group/List http://groups.yahoo.com/group/GloSoDia

 

Global Solidarity Dialogue Website http://www.antenna.nl/~waterman

 

Global Unions: World Social Forum and World Economic Forum 2001 http://www.global-unions.org/wef-wsf.asp

 

IBASE ibase@ibase.br

 

ICFTU: Pages on World Social Forum and World Economic Forum 2001 http://www.icftu.org/displaydocument.asp?Index=991214591&Language=EN

 

IndyMedia (USA) http://www.indymedia.org/publish.php3

 

Labour News Network [See link on LabourStart below]

 

LabourStart http://www.labourstart.org/

 

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (in English) www.mstbrazil.org

 

National Labor and Economic Development Institute www.naledi.org.za

 

One World http://www.oneworld.org/

 

Oxfam www.oxfam.org.uk

 

Ponto a Ponto ponto.a.ponto@uol.com.br

 

Riethof, Marieke. 'The Brazilian Labor Movement on the Internet',

riethof@pscw.uva.nl, http://home.pscw.uva.nl/riethof

 

Terraviva www.ipsnews.net, www.portoalegre2002.net

 

World Confederation of Labor info@cmt-wcl.org, www.cmt-wcl.org

 

World March of Women Marcha2000@ddq.qc.ca, www.ffq.qc.ca

 

World Social Forum Website

http://www.forumsocialmundial.org.br/eng/index.asp

 

World Social Forum-Forum Social Mundial List

http://groups/yahoo.com/group/wsf-fsm


                                                                                                                                              Appendix 1

 

Fórum Social Mundial - World Social Forum

      

Proposals towards another world / Programme of the WSF2002

 

Global social justice in labor

 

The conference about labor, which was discussed on February 1st, closed the debate with a primary consensus: It is necessary that world trade unions build alliances with each other and also with the other social movements. This idea had already been launched at the Forum of Trade Union Confederations, which occurred on January 31st, in Porto Alegre.

 

One of the conclusions achieved at the conference was that neo-liberal economic globalization develops at the expense of growth of unemployment, wage reduction and reduction of rights, and consequently worsens living conditions. It is time to change this situation.

 

“ We have criticized this process, but that’s not enough.  It is necessary to develop practical work and bonds of solidarity”, declared the president of CUT (Central Union of Workers), João Felício, who coordinated the conference.

 

The secretary of ORIT (Labor Iteramerican Regional Organization), Luís Anderson, emphasized the need for unity.

 

“ There are countries that have up to seven groups, which represent the dispersion of our resources and energy. We must get together and put an end to the prejudice against non- governmental organizations too”.

Yet, he proposed objectivity in action:

 

“ We have to identify the workers priorities and be ready to answer them.”

 

Global Social Justice

 

The proposal, with different tones and contributions, was reiterated throughout the morning. Willie Madisha, from Cosatu- the central union of workers of South Africa- defended a leadership role in the fight for global social justice.

 

“ It is necessary that a revolutionary trade union force rise, with a social, political and economic agenda. And solidarity is essential to build alliances against the Washington Consensus”, he asserted.

 

Basing his ideas on the South African experience that fought Apartheid, Madisha believes that in order to meet the interests of great corporations, to which many governments are subordinated, it is necessary to find a common base of action for the globalization of rights. In his opinion, fundamental steps towards this aim are the identification and exposure of the ones who actually retain power and decide the current world directions, and the control of financial funds and efficient measures for distribution of income.

 

These steps could benefit from using experiences like the participatory budget in Porto Alegre or the people’s budget that is discussed in South Africa.

 

“There will be resistance from local and global elites, who have their hearts where their money is, in a Swiss bank, for instance. But we must accept the challenge. Or else, they will lead us to a social and ecological disaster”, he warned.

 

Social equality

 

The representative of the World Women’s March, Sylvia Estrada-Claudio, put forward the need of the trade unionism include on its agenda the defense of human rights, especially women’s.

 

“They are the last ones to be hired, the first to be fired, have the worst job positions and incomes and are the majority of the informal sector. In addition to that, they are minority in the fields of power and decision, including the trade unions movement. To have a full picture, they are threatened at home, at work and on the streets”, she reported.

 

Sylvia urged the trade unions movement to offer women and youth, another discriminated class, real means of demanding rights.

 

“Unless this democracy is achieved, all the talk about another possible world is empty.”

 

According to her, the vision of a new society includes equal conditions at work, protection of informal and domestic labor, warrant of freedom to women’s trade unionism, promotion of the division of tasks and complete support to family, with child care, community kitchens, etc.

 

“States must put an end to patriarchal values and violence against women must stop everywhere, in war or in peace”. 

 

Decrease of income

 

The representative of CTA’s youth (Central of Workers of Argentina), Pablo Reyner, talked about the situation in his country, a great victim of a policy that ignores the interests of citizens and labor.

 

”We have been living a model of social exclusion that led us to this point”.

 

The director of the Global Policy Network, Jeff Faux, confirmed the damage that neoliberalism has caused to the world in the last 25 years.

 

” Even in the NAFTA area, there was a decrease of income and a rise of informality that stamps out rights, a common occurrence in  rich and poor countries alike“, he said.

 

He denounced how fallacious the theory is that growth, which was supposed to be generated by the Washington Consensus, would solve all problems.

 

“The IMF says that a rising tide lifts all boats. Unfortunately, all statistics show that, for the last 25 years, inequality has only grown and that the concentration of income has brutally worsened”.  

 

Faux believes that the fight for changes should be based on the two great advantages of workers:

 

“They’re the majority everywhere and are essential. It is possible to imagine a world without financial investments, but not without workers.”

 

“Placing decent labor in focus of the response to globalization” is also the thesis of the general director of OIT (General Organization of Labor), Juan Sornavia..

 

“The current model is weak because it does not answer to the people’s demands. It is necessary to put ourselves against it and create one that will ensure social justice”.

 

He considers fundamental among the points fundamental to this process the end of the exploitation of children.

 

Traduçao por: Mariana de Lima Medeiros     

 

 


                                                                                                                                                          Appendix 2

 

        II Ciranda – 07 Documento - Call of social movements 08/02/2002 22:18

 

Call of social movements

 

      1) In the face of continuing deterioration in the living conditions of

      people, we, social movements from all around the world, have come

      together in the tens of thousands at the second World Social Forum in

      Porto Alegre. We are here in spite of the attempts to break our solidarity. 

      We come together again to continue our struggles against neoliberalism

     and war, to confirm the agreements of the last Forum and to reaffirm

     that another world is possible.

 

      2) We are diverse - women and men, adults and youth, indigenous peoples,

      rural and urban, workers and unemployed, homeless, the elderly, students,

      migrants, professionals, peoples of every creed, colour and sexual

      orientation. The expression of this diversity is our strength and the

      basis of our unity. We are a global solidarity movement, united in our

      determination to fight against the concentration of wealth, the

      proliferation of poverty and inequalities, and the destruction of our

      earth. We are living and constructing alternative systems, and using

      creative ways to promote them. We are building a large alliance from our

      struggles and resistance against a system based on sexism, racism and

      violence, which privileges the interests of capital and patriarchy over

      the needs and aspirations of people.

 

      3) This system produces a daily dram a of women, children, and the elderly

      dying because of hunger, lack of health care and preventable diseases.

      Families are forced to leave their homes because of wars, the impact of

      "big development, "landlessness and environmental disasters,

      unemployment, attacks on public services and the destruction of social

      solidarity. Both in the South and in the North, vibrant struggles and

      resistance to uphold the dignity of life are flourishing.

 

      4) September 11 marked a dramatic change. After the terrorist attacks,

      which we absolutely condemn, as we condemn all other attacks on civilians

      in other parts of the world, the government of the United States and its

      allies have launched a massive military operation. In the name of the "war

      against terrorism," civil and political rights are being attacked all over

      the world. The war against Afghanistan, in which terrorists methods are

      being used, is now being extended to other fronts. Thus there is the

      beginning of a permanent global war to cement the domination of the US

      government and its allies. This war reveals another face of neoliberalism,

      a face which is brutal and unacceptable. Islam is being demonized, while

      racism and xenophobia are deliberately propagated. The mass media is

      actively taking part in this belligerent campaign which divides the world

      into "good" and "evil". The opposition to the war is at the heart of our

      movement.

 

      5) The situation of war has further destabilised the Middle East,

      providing a pretext for further repression of the Palestinian people. An

      urgent task of our movement is to mobilise solidarity for the Palestinian

      people and their struggle for self-determination as they face brutal

      occupation by the Israeli state. This is vital to collective security of

      all peoples in the region.

 

      6) Further events also confirm the urgency of our struggles. In Argentina

      the financial crisis caused by the failure of IMF structural adjustment

      and mounting debt precipitated a social and political crisis. This crisis

      generated spontaneous protests of the middle and working classes,

      repression which caused deaths, failure of governments, and new alliances

      between different social groups. With the force of "cacerolazos" and

      "piquetes," popular mobilisations have demanded their basic rights of

      food, jobs and housing. We reject the criminalisation of social movements

      in Argentina and the attacks against democratic rights and freedom. We

      also condemn the greed and and the blackmail of the multinational

      corporation supported by the governments of the rich countries.

 

      7) The collapse of the multinational Enron exemplifies the bankruptcy of

      the casino economy and the corruption of businessmen and politicians,

      eqving workers without jobs and pensions. In developing countries this

      multinational engaged in fraudulent activities and its projects pushed

      people off their land and led to sharp increases in the price of water and

      electricity.

 

      8) The United States government, in its efforts to protect the interests

      of big corporations, arrogantly walked away from negotiations on global

      warming, the antiballistic missile treaty, the Convention on Biodiversity,

      the UN conference on racism and intolerance, and the talks to reduce the

      supply of small arms, proving once again that US unilateralism undermines

      attempts to find multilateral solutions to global problems.

 

      9) In Genoa the G8 failed completely in its self-assumed task of global

      government. In the face of massive mobilisation and resistance, they

      responded with violence and repression, denouncing as criminals those who

      dared to protest. But they failed to intimidate our movement.

 

      10) All this is happening in the context of a global recession. The

      neoliberal economic model is destroying the rights, living conditions and

      livelihoods of people. Using every means to protect their "share value,"

      multinational companies lay off workers, slash wages and close factories,

      squeezing the last dollar from the workers. Governments faced with this

      economic crisis respond by privatising, cutting social sector expenditures

      and permanently reducing workers' rights. This recession exposes the fact

      that the neoliberal promise of growth and prosperity is a lie.

 

      11) The global movement for social justice and solidarity faces enormous

      challenges: its fight for peace and collective security implies

      confronting poverty, discriminations, dominations and the creation of an

      alternative sustainable society.

 

      Social movements energetically condemn violence and militarism as a means

      of conflict resolution; the promotion of low intensity conflicts and

      military operations in the Colombia Plan as part of the Andes regional

      initiative, the Puebla Panama plan, the arms trade and higher military

      budgets, economic blockades against people and nations especially against

      Cuba and Iraq, and the growing repression against trade unions, social

      movements, and activists.

 

      We support the trade unions and informal sector worker struggles as

      essential to maintain working and living conditions, the genuine right to

      organise, to go on strike, to negotiate collective agreements, and to

      achieve equality in wages and working conditions between women and men.

 

      We reject slavery and the exploitation of children. We support workers

      struggles and the trade union fights against casualisation, subcontracting

      of labour and lay offs, and demand new international rights for the

      employees of the multinational companies and their affiliates, in

      particular the right to unionise and space for collective bargaining.

      Equally we support the struggles of farmers and peoples organisations for

      their rights to a livelihood, and to land, forests and water.

 

      12) Neoliberal policies create tremendous misery and insecurity. They have

      dramatically increased the trafficking and sexual exploitation of women

      and children. Poverty and insecurity creates millions of migrants who are

      denied their dignity, freedom, and rights. We therefore demand the right

      of free movement; the right to physical integrity and legal status of all

      migrants. We support the rights of indigenous peoples and the fulfillment

      of ILO article 169 in national legal frameworks.

     

      13) The external debt of the countries of the South has been repaid

      several times over. Illegitimate, unjust and fraudulent, debt functions as

      an instrument of domination, depriving people of their fundamental human

      rights with the sole aim of increasing international usury. We demand

      unconditional cancellation of debt and the reparation of historical,

      social, and ecological debts. The countries demanding repayment of debt

      have engaged in exploitation of the natural resources and the traditional

      knowledge of the South.

 

      14) Water, land, food, forests, seeds, culture and people's identities are

      common assets of humanity for present and future generations. It is

      essential to preserve biodiversity. People have the right to safe and

      permanent food free from genetically modified organisms. Food sovereignty

      at the local, national, regional level is a basic human right; in this

      regard, democratic land reforms and peasant's access to land are

      fundamental requirements.

 

      15) The meeting in Doha confirmed the illegitimacy of the WTO. The

      adoption of the "development agenda" only defends corporate interests. By

      launching a new round, the WTO is moving closer to its goal of converting

      everything into a commodity. For us, food, public services, agriculture,

      health and education are not for sale. Patenting must not to be used a

      weapon against the poor countries and peoples. We reject the patenting and

      trading of life forms. The WTO agenda is perpetuated at the continental

      level by regional free trade and investment agreements. By organizing

      protests such as the huge demonstrations and plebiscites against FTAA,

      people have rejected these agreements as representing a recolonisation and

      the destruction of fundamental social, economical, cultural and

      environmental rights and values.

 

      16) We will strengthen our movement through common actions and

      mobilizations for social justice, for the respect of rights and liberties,

      for quality of life, equality, dignity and peace. We are fighting for:

 

      - democracy: people have the right to know about and criticize the

        decisions of their own governments, especially with respect to dealings

        with international institutions. Governments are ultimately accountable to

        their people. While we support the establishment of electoral and

        participative democracy across the world, we emphasise the need for the

        democratisation of states and societies and the struggles against

        dictatorship.

 

      - the abolition of external debt and reparations.

 

      - against speculative activities: we demand the creation of specific taxes

        such as the Tobin Tax, and the abolition of tax havens.

 

      - the right to information

 

      - women's rights, freedom from violence, poverty and exploitation.

 

      - against war and militarism, against foreign military bases and

        interventions, and the systematic escalation of violence. We choose to

        privilige negotiation and non violent conflict resolution. We affirm the

        right for all the people to ask international médiation, with the

        participation independant actors from the civil society.

 

      - the rights of youth, their access to free public education and social

        autonomy, and the abolition of compulsory military service.

 

      - the self determination of all peoples, especially the rights of

        indigenous peoples.

 

      In the years to come, we will organise collective mobilisations such as:

 

      In 2002:

    

      - 8 March: International women's day

      - 17 April: International day of peasant's struggle.

      - 1 May: Labour Day.

      - 7 October: world day for the homeless.

      - 12 October: cry of the excluded.

      - 16 October: world food day.

    

      Other global mobilisations will take place:

 

      - 15-16 March: Barcelona (Spain), summit of the EU.

      - 18-22 March: Monterrey (Mexico), United Nations Conference on

        Financing for Development.

      - 17-18 May: Madrid (Spain), Summit of Latin America, Caribbean and

        Europe.

      - May, Asia Development Bank Annual Meting, Shanghai, China

      - 1 May: "International day of action against militarism and peace"

      - End of May, 4th preparatory meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable

        Development , Indonesia

      - June: Roma (Italy), world food summit;

      - 22 -23 June: Sevilla EU summit

      - July: Toronto and Calgary(Canada), G8 summit.

      - 22 July: USA campaign against Coca Cola

      - September: Johannesburg (South Africa), Rio+10.

      - September, Asia Europe Meeing (ASEM), Copenhagen

      - October: Quito (Ecuador), Social continental forum "A new integration is

        possible"

      - November: Cuba, 2nd Hemispheric meeting against FTAA

      - December: Copenhagen (Denmark), summit of EU.

 

      In 2003:

 

      - April: Buenos Aires (Argentina), summit of the FTAA.

      - June: Thessaloniki EU Summit

      - June, France, G8

 

WTO, IMF and World Bank will meet somewhere, sometime.

 

And we will be there!

 

 



[1] One presumes that the ILC, like Marx, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Gramsci and Che manage to talk about 'the nation', and even defend some kind of 'nationalism' without making class disappear: so why the problem with civil society - national, global or whatever – except that it cannot be found in some Trotsky Lexicon?

 

[2]  The Ciranda, which was a major disappointment to me last year when I was trying to follow the Forum from Europe, continued to disappoint when I was trying to follow it this year in Porto Alegre. The idea looks good, and so does the site. But, despite its intention to pool journalistic reports, it seems incapable of either taking stuff in or putting much of it out. Its archive of longer papers, moreover, only reinforces the feeling that there is a glass ceiling at the Forum, with insiders and outsiders, and the insiders deciding which outsiders are to have access to the Ciranda, or that we (outsiders) are to have access to. One major problem here, as elsewhere on the Forum sites, is that we get no access to any human being responsible. Or, in the exceptional case that a name is provided, we get no answer! Compounding the problems for communication specialists were, this year anyway, the totally inadequate public internet facilities. With around 50 monitors for – let us guess – 5,000 users, sending or checking email from the Forum site required lengthy queueing. It is difficult to believe that some swinging Brazilian service provider or computer company would not be willing to provide more access than this to an event largely dependent on and even stimulating the brave new world of the internet.

 

[3]  This detailed and informative 9-page report-back, which only appeared on February 13, suggests that – the ORIT apart - the ETUC may be that part of the ICFTU Family most favorable to the WSF. The ETUC has itself initiated or taken prominent part in street protests and therefore seems unafraid of at least the most moderate and structured part of the global justice movement. In considering the potential of such radicalism, however, two caveats are in order, these also applying to the radical position of the ORIT: 1) this may remain a leadership position, or be modified by more conservative national unions within the confederation; 2) it may remain a confidential position, rather than a public and a campaigning one.

 

[4]  To avoid misunderstanding, either outside or inside the leadership of the ICFTU Family, this is meant to be a joke. The customary secrecy surrounding relations between the ICFTU and its members is something accepted by even the radicals. If the COSATU here went public this was, I suspect, not so much with the intention of breaching even an unwritten rule as due to the more transparent culture of the latter. For a more deliberate breach of ICFTU etiquette, see Jakobsen 2001, where the International Secretary of the CUT compares the operations of the ICFTU to the Bolshevik or Comintern model! Since I have worked within this latter model, I can assure both the ICFTU and Jakobsen that this is not the case. It remains, however, a glaring anomaly that the ICFTU can claim to be the world's most democratic international movement, and identify itself with hegemonic neo-liberal doctrines of good governance - which surely include transparency - whilst signally failing to practice either itself. One further example: we are not informed of the extent to which the 'development' or 'solidarity' funding of the ICFTU and its members is actually state, rather than union funding (which certainly was a Communist practice). Here the ICFTU reproduces the state-dependency of the NGOs it continues to criticize. But such state-funded development-funding agencies make no secret of the balance between state and public funding of their activities. And whilst we do not know how much the ICFTU spends on attending the meetings of the International Financial Institutions (and where this funding comes from), the World Social Forum makes no secret of its funding.

 

[5] If not fatally compromised, then the unions remain profoundly ambiguous about capitalist globalization and the necessity for unionism to follow rather than contest it. The Public Services International and one of its leading officers, Mike Waghorne, have been in the forefront of international union cooperation/confrontation with both the International Financial Institutions and those involved in the World Social Forum. This does not mean that the PSI is the most advanced of the ICFTU Family, except in publicly expressing, or unintentionally revealing, the profound ambiguity common to the international unions. Waghorne's extensive pre-Seattle paper was entitled 'Getting a Seat at the WTO Restaurant' (Waghorne 2000). This metaphor, worked out in excruciating detail throughout the paper, is doubly problematic. In the first place it reveals the extent to which the unions still depend on admission to and acceptance at the elite chomping grounds of labour's most ferocious enemies.  In the second place, this has to be the most insensitive, if not provocative, metaphor in recent labor and social movement writing. At the very moment at which the ecological, consumer and farmer movements are condemning the McDonaldisation of food, that young militants are throwing bricks through its windows, and that McDonald's is barricading its restaurants, here is an international union leader begging for a seat in the WTO restaurant. Waghorne's metaphor runs out of steam at the point at which the unions are valiantly deciding for themselves which food they will eat – not whether to organize the restaurant's workers, far less to turn it into a worker self-managed, multi-racial, gender-sensitive and ecologically-friendly eating place! If readers feel that I am making a meal out of a metaphor (and a paper which Mike later told me was already 'outdated'), then how about the title of PSI 2001? This is 'Stop the World? No! Shape it!'. The suggestion that some unnamed but clearly ridiculous others want to 'stop the world' would be misleading and offensive, if it were not both laughable and self-damaging. It is laughable in the face of the generally expressed demand of the global justice movement for 'another world' – i.e. one not determined by the interests of anti-worker, anti-ecological, unethical and, indeed, anti-human corporations. It is self-wounding in so far as it is rather the international unions that want to keep these corporations and inter-state institutions in existence, and that any 'world-shaping' the international unions have achieved over the last decade lies largely in the eye of their office-holders. (I have been led to believe, for example, that the ICFTU Family privately recognizes that, despite decades of activity and tens of  thousands of dollars, its 'Labor Rights through lobbying the IFIs' policy has failed). Given that the PSI, of all the International Trade Secretariats, has the most direct need of public support internationally, and that it is the one most likely to receive such, the insensitivity to the feelings of the most active and labor-friendly part of the public suggests just how far the ICFTU Family has to go in getting full and friendly service at – or in helping to design - the Global Justice Restaurant.

 

[6] However, in the absence of a source, authors or signature, this statement might give readers the impression that it was a declaration of the Forum as a whole. It was not. Like one from the previous Forum (Global Social Forum 2001), it was produced by an alliance of movements attending the Forum. For more on the present declaration, see Schwartz 2002.