Share The World's Resources at the first United States Social Forum (USSF)
STWR attended and ran a series of workshops at the first ever United States Social Forum (USSF) held in Atlanta, Georgia, from June 27-July 1 - the first in a series of regional gatherings aimed at decentralising the World Social Forum.
The first ever United States Social Forum (USSF) ended this weekend with the slogan “Another World is Possible. Another U.S. is Necessary”.
Share The World’s Resources (STWR) attended the event held in Atlanta, Georgia, with over 10,000 other participants and more than 900 workshops held on a spectrum of global justice issues, from workers and immigrants rights to U.S. imperialism, indigenous sovereignty and Gulf Coast reconstruction.
Held at a critical time in U.S. history in the birthplace of Martin Luther King J.R., the five day series of lectures was accompanied by a myriad of stalls, street theatre, music, and a long march through the city attended by thousands of demonstrators. Plenary discussions at the end of each day were attended by up to 1,500 people, with a People’s Assembly held on the final day to discuss proposals and joint calls for action.
STWR manned a stall during the event with information on our proposals for economic reform, including around 3,000 leaflets that were handed to visitors. During a series of workshops ran by STWR, we overviewed our perspective on the unsustainability of the present direction in world affairs, and the reasons for why economic globalization is unable to combat the crises of global poverty, conflict and climate change. Positive feedback was given from participants on STWR’s proposals for economic reform based upon the principle of sharing, with some valuable contacts made and serious discussions taking place after the talks.
Following the much-anticipated event, the USSF became a focus for discussion on the future direction of the Social Forums by various thinkers in the movement. Walden Bello, one of the most prominent voices in the global justice movement, queried whether the direct democracy process of the WSF network was becoming too fragmented to achieve any clear social aims or objectives. The WSF “is at a crossroads”, he concluded, and posed the question of whether, having “fulfilled its historic function of aggregating and linking the diverse counter-movements spawned by global capitalism, is it time for the WSF to fold up its tent and give way to new modes of global organization of resistance and transformation?”
As further national social forums take place prior to the next WSF in Brazil, 2009, it remains clear that social mobilization and grassroots campaigning is a growing and fundamental component of the global justice movement. During the workshops held by STWR, we outlined our views and objectives for utilising the principle of sharing as a way of guiding the process of global economic reform, alongside offering a truly democratic platform that can unite all movements behind a single banner.
The United States Social Forum, although easily criticised for its lack of coherence in the construction of ‘another world’, nevertheless offered great hope in its demonstration of humanitarian values through an open space that allowed a widespread debate on the required direction for change.