Cover Story

The World Forum for Alternatives

Volume 17, Issue 1  | 
Published 07/07/2020

The World Forum for Alternatives was reorganised and founded at a conference in Cairo in April 1997. François Houtart, director of the Tricontinental Centre, became the secretary general and the linchpin; Samir Amin cumulated the functions of director of the Third World Forum and president of the FMA. In their report published in the FMA Newsletter No 1, they wrote:

‘The World Forum for Alternatives entered the international scene by organizing in Davos itself, in January 1999, an “anti-Davos”. Not certainly in the sacred precinct which was obviously forbidden to us, but fifty metres away, on the other side of the snowy street of this beautiful winter resort. We were a small group, associating some committed intellectuals and authentic representatives of the great popular movements of the five continents, chosen for their strong representativeness: the peasant organizations of Burkina Faso, Brazil and India, the workers' unions of South Africa, from Korea and Brazil, the Zapatistas from Chiapas, the activists of the “world march of women”, the “Sans” from France and the ATTAC group. This event had two complementary objectives.

The first was to lift the veil on the main function of this Forum which is to serve as a platform for the powerful States and their transnational oligopolies of the USA, EU and Japan triad in the formulation of new growth policies based on global surplus founded on a part on the continued plundering of natural resources, free overexploitation of peoples and free access to the financial markets of the countries of the South and on the other hand on dismantling of the systems of social protection put in place in the countries of the centre in the period the East-West confrontation and the ramp-up of the Bandung project. The second was to revive the neoliberal protest that fell into lethargy after the success of Seattle.’

This is how Samir and François invest in the formation of the world social forum (WSF) by thinking that it would be for alter-globalization organizations to contribute to the advent of a world system simultaneously anti-imperialist and without exploiting classes of the people, and destructive of planet earth. But the balance of power within the world social forum decided otherwise. This is why Samir launched the project of a fifth international in which socialist components were more effective.

On Theory and History. Samir Amin gave his first Capital Lecture by K Marx before entering university. During his graduate studies in economics, political science and statistics followed by his research work in doctorate in economics (which he supported in 1957), he definitively acquired the conviction that historical materialism is the best if not the only good scientific approach in social sciences. A condition for admitting that certain non-Marxist specialists share the decisive contributions to the understanding of capitalism and that the Marxist and socialist conviction does not provide assurances against errors and mistakes in science as in politics. For these reasons Samir called himself a Marxist socialist without borders. He applied this method by writing Theory is History.

Manifest of the World Forum for Alternatives

It is time to reclaim the march of history

Humanity’s future is at stake. Scientific progress and technical advances, the

supreme achievements of knowledge, fortify the privilege and comfort of a minority. Instead of contributing to the well-being of all, these feats are used to

crush, marginalize and exclude countless human beings. Access to natural

resources, especially in the South, is monopolized by the few and is subject to

political blackmail and threats of war. It is time to reclaim the march of history.

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