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Introduction

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For some years now we have been witnessing a convergence of social movements. From Seattle at the end of 1999, to Genova in 2001, from the Other Davos also in 1999, to Porto Alegre II in 2002, the demands, convergences and search for alternatives have all continued. The « movement of movements » remains multiple and open, but certain orientations are taking definite shape. The capitalist system, in particular in its neoliberal version, is seen as the main source of various evils - social, ecological and cultural - and the debates on alternative strategies for development are intensifying and gaining ground.

This production of the World Forum for Alternatives, The Globalization of Resistance : the state of struggles in the world, 2003, inaugurates what we hope will be a tradition : a regular report on the state of struggles around the world. There is no lack of annual reports concerning the state of the world economy and society or chronologies recalling the important events and problems of the year. They give useful information and make interesting analyses. But this report is different : its vision comes from below. It supports the positions the popular movements are defending in their everyday struggles and through the information produced by their organizations. It gives a critical presentation of their points of view and of the alternatives that seem to stem from them.


The individuals and organizations participating in the World Forum for Alternatives have taken up their position. They are against the dominant neoliberal views, knowing they can only produce what we see round us : the polarization of wealth ; the deterioration, sometimes dramatic, in the living conditions of whole populations, particularly of workers, women and indigenous peoples ; the accelerating degradation of the environment ; and the destruction of unique cultures. Fortunately there is an abundant literature that presents these facts so we do not need to repeat their valuable contributions. Our modest aim is to strengthen the convergence of the popular social movements. To do this we are opening up dialogues to help enrich analyses of economic, political and cultural realities, as well as to contribute to discussions on the issues and challenges encountered by the victims of the system in their struggle strategies.

What could be another world - using the expression of the World Social Forum - remains unknown because historical evolutions - positive and negative - are, we believe, brought about by actors and are principally produced by the transformation of social relationships, now characterized by immense inequalities. That is to say, it is a question of social struggle. It is not that ideas and theories are superfluous : they are an integral part of the material forces that shape history. The interaction between theory and practice, between thinking and action, between inspiration and achievements, is an essential condition for all those who want to « change the world. »

This report has great ambitions. First of all because it tackles the world as a whole - all the worlds, in the North and South. This choice is based on the belief that globalization - both new and old - has weaved ties of (unequal) interdependence between the regions and peoples of the planet so that any desired changes must progress at all levels, national and global. We are internationalists and we think that, faced with the globalization of capital, we must build the globalization of peoples. This is the only way of achieving a different form of globalization than the unacceptable one proposed by the globalist neoliberals. This report then attempts to tackle all aspects of reality - economic, political, social, ideological, cultural - for we did not wish to overlook any important issue. Fortunately good analyses on these problems do exist. We shall not repeat their content but try to relate them one with another.

This first report involved the collaboration of a large number of people. We have not been able to cover all regions of the world exhaustively. Nor have we taken into account all the cross-cutting issues that affect humanity as a whole, but we do hope to deal with them gradually over the years to come. In this first edition, our special concern has been to situate everything in a historical context.

We are optimistic. The arrogance of the globalized neoliberal discourse has had a bad licking. During the second half of the 1990s, events like Seattle and Porto Alegre caused the discourse to lose much of its credibility. People no longer believe in the virtues claimed by the dominant discourse, nor in the ineluctable character of the practices that it imposes. « There is No Alternative ! » proclaimed Mrs. Thatcher. « There are plenty of alternatives ! » is what we say today : alternatives in the plural. Not only because we want to avoid all academic dogmatism and highlight the positive character of the diversity that is constructing the future, but also because, as we have already said, the future will be the result of interaction between the social movements. And we do not know in advance the extent of its coherence and its nature.

Readers will find more detailed texts on the web (www.forum-alternatives.net) by the collaborators in this project of the World Forum for Alternatives. We have tried to extract the essence of their work in this book. The different views expressed are not necessarily shared by all those responsible for the project and the editorial team, let alone more generally. We have not tried to formulate any kind of platform or a common denominator on which a consensus could be found, but rather to provide elements for continuing the debate, which remains open.

The volume is divided into four main parts :

1) a presentation of the situation of resistance and struggles ;

2) an analysis of some cross-cutting questions ;

3) a reflection on the challenges faced by the movements and the issues at stake ;

4) an evaluation of the alternatives being germinated by the popular social forces.

In conclusion, we express our sincere thanks to all those who have supported the project, while emphasizing that the views expressed in the report belong to those responsible in the World Forum for Alternatives and its collaborators and do not commit any organization or individual.

Samir Amin

Francois Houtart

President of the World Forum for Alternatives

Secretary of the World Forum for Alternatives

Director of the Third World Forum

Director of the Tricontinental Centre