WSF as an "open space" idea can either be implemented in a
liberal direction or in a committed, progressive direction, says
Walden Bello, senior analyst of Focus on the Global South.


How do you see the WSF's World Day of Action. How effective can it


I think the WSF Day of Action is a good idea. It is a first step in
moving the WSF from being simply a forum for discussion to becoming
an arena for action. It will push people into actively taking on
issues and mobilizing for them. Being local actions being undertaken
globally, the many protest activities will also underline the
transnational character of the social movements in the WSF, which is
one of their key strengths.


You have suggested that the WSF turns into a "new form".
How do you see the future and shape of the WSF?


Taking stands on key issues like US aggression in the Middle East,
Zionist oppression of the Palestinian people, and the
poverty-creating neoliberal paradigm is vital to making the WSF
vibrant and relevant. Refusing to take stands on the grounds that
these will drive away some people is a sure way of ultimately making
a movement irrelevant. The movements that advance and grow are those
that are not afraid to take stands on the vital issues of our times.
I am not talking about staking stands on 1001 issues but on the core
issues of our times, maybe about six or seven of them. The WSF as an
"open space" idea can either be implemented in a liberal
direction or in a committed, progressive direction. Being partisan on
issues that advance justice, equality, and democracy should be seen
as a virtue, not as a stance to be shunned.


What is the right balance between political action in the from of
political parties and within the socal movement? How can this have an
impact in Southeast Asia?


Political parties continue to be important vehicles for political
transformation. However, social movements should see parties as one
vehicle for transformation and should use other institutions and
agencies, like unions and NGOs, to push their agenda. The
vanguardist or Leninist party subordinating civil society
organizations and movements to one overriding objective — seizing
political power — is obsolete and dysfunctional. Transformation
must take place along several fronts, and the process is just as
important as the goal.


movements must push for the instititutionalization of mechanisms,
such as national assemblies of social movements, that could serve as
a check on the bureaucracy, parliament, and other political bodies.
Civil society should aggressively serve as a counterweight to both
the state and the private sector. Civil society is a key actor in
reinvigorating the democratic revolution, which has ossified into
electoralism in most countries in the North and South.


Since the first WSF, Latin America has experienced a spectacular
shift to the left, in different shapes. What has this development to
do with the WSF? Do you think this process will lead to meaningful
change or will it eventually turn righwards?


Well, I think the WSF emerged from a process in Latin America where
social movements were, as in Brazil, shaking up the traditional
institutions of political representation. The Workers' Party in
Brazil was, in its initial stages, an energetic hybrid of political
party and social movement that captured the allegiance and
imagination of the masses. However, a new stage was reached when the
Workers' Party became a serious contender for power. It became
"professionalized" and began attracting middle class
elements that were interested only in limited social transformation.
Then, in the last few years, during the Lula presidency, the state
and the ancien regime have captured the Workers' Party.


the same time, in Venezuela, a charismatic relationship between a
populist president and the urban poor became the vehicle for change
in a country with weak social movements. Then in Bolivia and
Ecuador, we had social movements with strong roots in the indigenous
people achieve power electorally and begin, unlike in Brazil, a
transformation of the state.


How do these developments reflect in the WSF?


All of these developments have been reflected in the WSF, where, as
in the continent from which it sprang, there are contending political
tendencies in the ranks of the people. You have trends that are
closer to the People's Party tendency and others that are closer to
the Venezuelan and Bolivian tendency.


is important though is that the WSF and its associated movements
remain independent of governments and parties and maintain their
ability to criticize governments when they conciliate the US and
neoliberalism, like Brazil under Lula, and lend critical support to
governments like those of Venezuela and Bolivia.


should be able to express broad support for an initiative like the
Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas (ALBA) while criticizing some
of its more controversial plans like the building of oil and gas
pipelines from Venezuela to Argentina, which would create ecological
problems and destabilize indigenous peoples.


they remain independent of one another, social movements like the WSF
and the new progressive governments can develop a healthy, positive