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On participating in the World Social Forum - Porto Alegre, 2005


On participating in the World Social Forum - Porto Alegre, 2005

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									On participating in the World Social Forum - Porto
Alegre, 2005

By Rogério Silva a development practitioner with Fonte, an
organisation development NGO based in Brasil (

I arrived in Porto Alegre in a week of discoveries. I had just come from diving into
Essay on Blindness, by José Saramago and was engaged in reading Casa Grande e
Senzala, by Gilberto Freire; the former opened my eyes and drove me to a level of
consciousness on the dialectics of seeing that I had not yet experimented; the latter
showed me a view of the genesis of Brazil, that we are an exuberance of a tropical
summer experimented by the senses of touch, smell, taste, sight and sound, intensely.

Arriving in the land in the South of Brazil with my eyes open, I found the World
Social Forum in myself. Like a magical process of ideological imagination,
phagocitizing voices and feeding the reconstruction of new dreams and practices, the
movement I joined in Porto Alegre was that which satisfies the hunger of beliefs, to
eradicate the thirst of causes, to perceive struggles and embrace passions; to
understand that the walk is on the borders of the unacceptable in the in-between of
polarity, transformation-maintenance of the world. We shout for changes.

The Forum was the amplification of the unacceptable. A way of transforming the pain
of many unknown faces into the pain of those who were there, their struggles into our
struggles. If among the over two thousand workshops that received the over one
hundred thousand participants I met the struggle of the Barrios de Pie from Buenos
Aires, their struggle became mine. If it was Hugo Chavez who shouted for the new
Venezuela firm before imperialism, his struggle was mine; if it was the cruelty of
child prostitution in the capitals of the northeast of Brazil that reached my ears, this
indignation became mine; the shouts of the excluded in the country and in the city,
mine; human rights neglected, aggression to Earth, the exclusion in schools and
universities, discrimination of gender and race, the destruction of cultures,
unemployment, unruly privatization, so much, everything so close, all mine, all ours,
all there.

It was the phenomena of approximation of the peoples and the amplification of the
struggles, some of the essential strengths of the World Social Forum. At these times in
which the hegemonic strengthens itself in the fragmentation of people, at these times
in which the media furore smarms itself in the emphasis towards self-made-man
iconized in the pathetic experience of the global big-brother, in these times of Anglo-
American colonial neo-crusades, in these times of “each one for himself”. Of the
fundamentalism of accumulation, the World Social Forum rose up an authentic and
concrete counter-hegemonic movement, inviting men and women to walk together
and reinvent life.

A renewed life of utopic energies becoming transformations today, life rebuilt and
rebuilding actions of solidarity, of convergence around the right to your own life, full
of rights, full of care, full of awareness and autonomy, dynamic, complex, life in
development. The Forum was the setting to experiment novelties. From the
resounding criticism of José Saramago to utopism, from the convocation of prudent

knowledge of Boaventura, from the networks that grow and strengthen themselves,
the experiences of fair trade, new organizations, youth present as never, critical and
proactive. Porto Alegre, yes, saw, heard, lived proposals of another possible world.

It was the World Social Forum of subjects. A forum built with organizations from the
whole world that proposed paths, created spaces organized meetings, brought
experiences. A forum producing concrete alternatives for men and women of the
world, a moment of celebration of the organic, complex, that which is real and alive,
willful and politically alive, autonomous and socially alive, consciously and
biologically alive.

The forum showed itself a concrete social organism. It expanded, transformed,
matured, lived its crises, made explicit its paradoxes. In it was perceived the
movement between accommodations and discomforts; in it were seen the strength of
actions, sensations and thoughts; in it were manifest archetypes; in it lived the
contradictions of disputes, power, conflicting power, the margins and the center, the
conflict of certainties; in it there was everything that is human, excessively human, if I
were to call on Nietzsche.

Yes, the Forum lived the tension of being man and woman. Under pressure from
concrete needs, poverty and hunger, violence and environmental collapse, the Forum
sewed what is new, the imposing breeder on the banks of the Guaíba with its phallic
symbol at the Usina do Gasômetro. Sought out by the weariness and solitude of so
many, the forum was the receiving female in whose breast Porto Alegre lay down; a
conic, concave, soft, renewing, comforting territory. The forum was her and was him.
Embraced in the hot city, the forum symbolized political fertility, blew messages, was
sweet and hard, was stick and prose, was pink, red, white. It made itself heard, from
north to south, east to west, from here to Davos.

And with its conquests, it must also exploit these hot, beautiful, treacherous
contradictions. I saw with discomfort the conservative pedagogical path adopted in
most of the workshops, in which a few spoke for hours and many had the role of
receiving their discourses. For another possible world in which live subjects, it is
necessary to renew itineraries of construction, bring standards to awareness, resignify
them. Revealing values, the polarities speak-listen, give-receive, offer-accept must be
built with a new status in the next editions. Caracas in Latin America and many other
places around the world have thrown out the challenge for 2006, the challenge not to
reproduce the values that need to be fought.

A challenge which is also present when analyzing what were the cat calls and shouts
that stopped some voices from being heard in Porto Alegre. Although the discontent
is understandable, understand that the catcalls to the Lula Government and his allies
come from the legitimacy crisis in the face of some forces on the left, from PSTU,
PSOL, sectors of MST and the discontent from other areas and nationalities, it is
difficult to see that the rejection of dialogue is different from intolerance and
autocracy, so conservative, so combated. In the face of shouts of fascist, neo-
berlusconi, Tony Blair of the tropics, Bush’s friend, betrayer and traitor, there was not
an opportunity in the forum for the Lula Government and some of the social
movements present to find new paths of cooperation and understanding. The struggle
will continue.

Finally, we left Porto Alegre with the sensation that there is a lot to be done, that the
other world possible is above all a necessary world. We left Porto Alegre with the
sensation of permanent struggles, of a dynamic and living forum which does not
interrupt now, but simply changes its nature; it remains in each one of us, the agents,
actors, subjects, militants. It remains in the networks and dialogues. On the banks of
the Guaíba river, we recovered strength, organized struggles, chose strategies, we
refreshed our canteen and stores. We left for the five continents, more aware, awake,

I see! Said the first blind man when the day was barely breaking on the final pages of
the Essay on Blindness. I see!

May the World Social Forum become a pandemic of seeing in the 21st century. Let us
see, all of us!

(Republished on the CDRA website - - with kind permission from the author.)


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