On January 19–23 the African session of the Polycentric World Social Forum— held separately in 2006 in Africa, Asia, and the Americas—took place in Bamako, Mali. On January 18–19 on the eve of the World Social Forum in Mali a group of around eighty antiglobalization political activists and intellectuals, including Marxist economists and organizers, met to conduct sessions independent of the World Social Forum itself, under the auspices of the Third World Forum, the World Forum for Alternatives, and the Forum for Another Mali. Samir Amin, director of the Third World Forum and author of the Review of the Month in this issue of MR was the leading organizer of the pre-WSF gathering, which he referred to as a “Peoples’ Bandung Conference” in honor of the recent fiftieth anniversary of the conference of nonaligned nations in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955.
MR editor John Bellamy Foster and Marta Harnecker, author of the new Monthly Review Press book, Understanding the Venezuelan Revolution: Hugo Chávez Talks to Marta Harnecker, were participants in these pre-WSF events, along with such notable figures as Aminata Traoré, Malian writer and former cabinet minister; Fatou Sow, Senegalese poet; Rémy Herrera, French Marxist economist from the University of Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne; Bernard Founou-Tchuigoua and Babacar Diop Buuba, university professors in Dakar, Senegal; Miguel Urbano Rodrigues, a former member of the European Parliament from Portugal; Isabel Monal, editor of the Cuban journal Marx Ahora; Francois Houtart, director of the Belgium-based Centre Tricontinental; Paolo Nakatini and Rosa Marques, Brazilian economists and editors of the journal Revista; Jose Reinaldo Carvalho, vice president of the Communist Party of Brazil; Wen Tiejun and Jinhua Dai of Peking University; Lau Kin Chi of Lingnan University, Hong Kong; Ayse Berktay, of the Peace Initiative-Turkey; Ingmar Lindberg of Sweden, a leading Swedish authority on international trade unionism; Leila Ghanem, a Lebanese-French editor; Morteza Hagh-Shens, director of the Persian-language Marxist review Andeesheh va Peykar; Luciano Alzaga, organizer of the rebelion.org website; Antonio Tujan of the Philippine Institute of Political Economy; Mamdouh Habashi of the Anti-Globalization Egyptian Group; Jean Bricmont, Belgian physicist and political commentator; John Catalinotto of the International Action Center in New York; Ignacio Ramonet of Le Monde Diplomatique; Bernard Cassen of Attac-France; Peter Custers, director of the Bangladesh Peoples’ Solidarity Center in Amsterdam; Nicola Bullard of Focus on the Global South; and Susan George, author and critical analyst of the third world debt problem. Cuban National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon also participated in the discussions. Youths from Mali, Senegal, Benin, and Togo, activists from South Africa, and Cuban medical workers located in Mali took part in the pre-WSF conference.
This pre-WSF conference split into ten issue-oriented working groups, each of which met twice, first discussing general principles and next coming up with concrete proposals. The results were combined into a historic document, the Bamako Appeal, to be found on the MR Webzine (www.mrzine.org). It opposes neoliberal capitalism and U.S. military domination of the planet and proposes concrete, coordinated, anti-imperialist, popular actions across the face of the globe. The participants in these pre-WSF events went on to take part in the actual WSF events in Mali with John Bellamy Foster speaking on “The United States and the New Imperial Strategy: A Warning for Africa.”
The next meeting of the Polycentric World Social Forum took place during the following week in Caracas, Venezuela, where President Hugo Chávez supported the presentation of the Bamako Appeal in a stadium before a crowd of thousands, and where it was adopted by the Assembly of Social Movements. We consider these attempts to organize a world peoples’ movement as crucial to building a coordinated struggle against global capitalism and constructing a socialism for the twenty-first century.
The Left Forum 2006 (which has replaced the earlier Socialist Scholars Conference) will gather at the Cooper Union at Astor Place in New York City, March 10–12. The Left Forum “brings together intellectuals, in and out of the universities, and activists from social movements to share their perspectives, strategies, and experiences.” The organizers of the Left Forum include many close friends of Monthly Review, and we urge those of our readers who will be in the area to attend, and come say hello to us at our table. We shall be sponsoring two panels at the Left Forum 2006: (1) “U.S. Imperialism, Neoliberalism, and Resistance” with speakers Forrest Hylton, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, John Bellamy Foster, and chair John Mage; and (2) “Remembering Harry Magdoff” with speakers William K. Tabb, Annette T. Rubinstein, John Bellamy Foster, and others, and chair Percy Brazil.
We were sad to learn of the death on January 27, 2006, at age ninety-five of MR contributor Morris Zeitlin. Zeitlin was an architect, city planner, Marxist scholar, and indefatigable advocate for peace and justice. He authored “In Defense of Utopia” in the December 1996 issue of MR and was a long-time friend of the magazine. His most influential work was American Cities: A Working Class View (New York: International Publishers, 1990).
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