The World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos (Switzerland), whose work is now coming to a close, has had a "twin-brother" for more than three years now. This is the World Social Forum, which has been renamed the World Social Summit (WSS) this year. Since its very inception, the forum's angry founders have projected it as an alternative to the WEF (which is shown by their names). For this reason, the two forums are held nearly simultaneously.
This year, the "anti-Davos forum" (which is already over) was not held in Porto Alegre, like the three previous forums, but in the great Indian city of Mumbai (formerly Bombay). As before, it was a grand event: 100,000 guests from all over the world attended it, instead of the expected 75,000.
Whereas the Davos forum is held in a small and well-protected settlement high in the mountains, the anti-Davos forum is open to all those wishing to come. Huge fees are paid for participating in the WEF. It is, after all, a meeting of this world's rich and powerful. WSS participants are not so affluent: they often sleep outdoors or in tent settlements organising something like a multinational carnival within a whole city.
It is impossible to describe what really took place in Mumbai this year. There were some 200 events every day, from concerts to debates. The focus of discussion was the consequences of the last two wars waged by the United States (in Afghanistan and in Iraq), and the need to coordinate peace movements. At the same time, the problems of racism and social prejudices, the globalisation of the mass media and their manipulation, religious fundamentalism and others were discussed.
The results of the two forums cannot be described, either. In principle, any global forum or conference should be a factory of ideas, a thermometer for the world's "temperature". In the given case, the temperature of two different worlds. The point is that the very existence of the Davos and anti-Davos forums reflects deep divisions in the world. The Davos forum is for the "golden billion", for the one-fifth of mankind that produces and controls the majority of the world's wealth. The Mumbai forum is for the rest of mankind. Under the motto "Another World Is Possible", it works out alternative economic thinking, policies and a different world outlook. Delegates from dozens of countries take part in this forum, which shows how serious it is.
The part of the world which is orientated to Davos deems it necessary to ignore its new opponent calling the World Social Summit an annual gathering of anti-globalists, idealists, hooligans, scandal-mongers, and, primarily, of the poor. The global media present nearly verbatim reports of what is happening in Davos and say next to nothing about the Porto Alegre events and the more recent Mumbai ones.
This is wrong, because for the other four billion people the situation is different. Their media cover the anti-Davos forum in detail, since they consider it their own forum. Those attending the alternative world forum, including Nobel Prize winners, political figures, economists and ideologists, are no less famous in that, other, world than those debating in Davos.
With all its wealth, the "golden billion" sees itself (and justly so) as an island among the ocean of poverty. This world structure is extremely dangerous. The so-called new challenges, including terrorism, epidemics and many others, are not caused by the confrontation of Christianity with Islam, but by the poverty of the four-fifths of mankind who live much worse than the other one-fifth and seek a way out of this situation. It is a dangerous lack of foresight to ignore this fact and mock "the anti-globalists from Porto Alegre".
The thing is that some of the countries orientated to anti-Davos are getting ready to win key positions in the future world. Brazil, where the WWS originated, is a giant of the near future. India, where the alternative world forum was held this year, is a giant of tomorrow. It is known that by about 2050, the Indian economy (in terms of volume) will outstrip the US economy, while China (which respects the WSS and covers it in detail in its media) will do so even before India. This is a point not to be disputed. But what is most important is that the people meeting in Davos know this full well and take due account of this in their long-term plans.
Thus, another world is not only possible, but inevitable. At their social forums today, the future lords of the world want to be heeded by its present lords, the lucky ones from the "golden billion". Dialogue between the two forums may prove to be the most reasonable way to achieve this.