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Davos and Mumbai - the World Economic and Social Forums
Alex Steffen, 3 Oct 03

Next January, an estimated 75,000 activists from around the world will assemble in Mumbai, India for the World Social Forum. The event is hyped as the counterweight to the World Economic Forum, held annually in Davos, Switzerland, but friends who went to the last one, in Porto Allegre said that the conference involved more marching around, podium-thumping and sign-waving than actual discussion.

The Mumbai organizers are still focusing on a leftist examination of the nature of global problems ("imperialist globalisation, communalism (religious sectarianism and fundamentalism), casteism & racism (oppression and exclusion based on descent and work), patriarchy and militarism"), with only minimal attention given to sharing solutions. That said, the list of participating groups and thinkers is both overwhelmingly broad and inspiringly global.

The Davos approach is obviously intellectually bankrupt (for a telling and funny insight into what Davos felt like this year, read Laurie Garrett's email on the subject). But the Mumbai approach seems equally 20th Century. One has to wonder where the third way lies, where those fully aware of both the problems and possibilities of globalization are gathering to share practical inspiration on what to do. Something like a World Innovation Forum.

That's the World Forum we want to attend.

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