U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta June 27 – July 1
With the byline “Another World is Possible; Another U.S. is Neccessary”, the U.S. Social Forum will be held in Atlanta GA June 27 – July 1. This is a coordinating meeting for diverse organizations and individuals of the anti-corporate globalization movement.
There is a World Social Forum, which meets every few years as a convention for popular globalization from the ground up, to reorient the integrating economy around the needs of people, instead of profit. It is response to the World Economic Forum (sometimes known as “Davos” for its Swiss resort locale) and, the G-8 summits which champion corporate globalization.
The forums have been criticized for everything implied by such a large project: taking on too much, a shambolic structure, anarchism (by some leftists), statism (by anarchists), and empowering NGOs rather than individuals, or debilitating disorganization (by lots and lots of participants). The centrifugal tension between bureacritization and fragmentation are inherent in any ongoing association: the larger the forum becomes, the more organizations will seek to participate, the more individuals can be involved. The planners appear to be seeking out the loci of this tension. Last year’s WSF was held in Venezuela, which allowed for a interaction between activists from around the world and the new socialist project of Hugo Chavez. The previous WSF was in the right-ward moving Brazilian government. This kind of placement keeps the keeps the possibilities spinning. When the debate stops, that’s when you know something has fundamentally changed in this body.
The NGO criticism is warranted. As the Atlanta Progressive News announcement referenced above notes, the SF does accept some foundation funding. At least they are up front about it:
The USSF has raised money mainly through registration fees and individual donations, although there have been some donations from organizations and foundations.
One major grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation recently awarded to Project South, a USSF anchor organization, provided $40,000 to help low-income people attend the USSF and for follow-up planning, according to a press release.
While the minimum registration fee for individuals is $15 and applicants are encouraged to give more, Dykes said there are different scholarships available to people who cannot afford the $15.
For example, The Third Wave Fund provides full scholarships for women and transgender activists aged 15-30. The Hill Snowdon Foundation awards $25,000 in Opportunity Fund grants to support recipients’ involvement in the USSF.
Its more likely at this stage that an conference of this size would ossify than fly apart. As long as they can keep it going, without falling into the trap of endorsing an existing politics, the greater the likely hood that it will survive to take advantage of some new political opportunity.