281.3 The world social forum and the struggle for new political paradigms

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 11:15 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Bruno MÜLLER , Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The purpose of this work is to discuss the ideological approaches interlinking the global justice movements, particularly in the boundaries of the World Social Forum (WSF). We identify three major conceptual frames: human rights and multiculturalism, as positive references; and neoliberalism, as a negative reference. Our hypothesis is that the discourse underlying these concepts represents an adaptation of Cold War left wing tradition, put in motion by the decline of Eastern Europe Socialism, globalization and the political crisis of the working class as the subject of change.
    Each of the aforementioned concepts try to deal with a particular facet of the new historical period. Human rights supply an alternative to socialism as political reference. Multiculturalism aims to broaden the understanding of oppression, seeing every marginalized social group – working class as well as peasants, women, ethnic minorities and indigenous people – as subject of change. The opposition to neoliberalism, on its turn, is a response to the new economic and political order emerging from globalization and the soviet bloc debacle.
    Our work is based on the contributions of critical theory and the concept of cosmopolitanism as discussed by Ulrich Beck, Jürgen Habermas and Boaventura Santos. Our argument is that all three conceptual references fall short of their attempt to provide an alternative to Cold War left wing discourse and organization. Organizationally, although intended to be horizontal, the WSF reproduces, both actively and passively, hierarchical modes, that we define as a “new model vanguard”. Politically, they do not represent a coherent program in the same sense of socialism. Human rights and multiculturalism are, actually, ideas appropriated from liberal and right wing tendencies, whereas the opposition to neoliberalism is based on a very limited critical view of capitalism seen as a means to build a broad alliance between radicals and reformers.