The World Social Forum between politics and NGOs
This paper by Simone Lovera-Bilderbeek has been published in the journal Globalizations, as part of the “Transformational Responses to Authoritarian Capitalism: Learning with the World Social Forum” series
The WSF was established as a forum that gathered movements opposing a certain political ideology, neoliberalism, but it has refrained from openly supporting a political ideology. The WSF has empowered more radical leftish movements and thus played a role in the separation of these movements from more conventional left-wing parties that have embraced neoliberal capitalism as an undefeatable reality. Right-wing politicians have capitalized on this separation by promoting a populist rejection of capitalist elites. WSF itself has profiled itself as a forum of social movements rather than a forum of socialist movements. The article analyses to what extent the hegemonic role of NGOs in the WSF is at the roots of this apolitical positioning and to what extend rightsholder movements might have benefited from a more explicit embracement of a coherent socialist political alternative rather than the diversity that WSF has fostered as one of its central principles.