FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Boston Social Forum

by SEAN DONOHUE

The “structural adjustment” programs that big corporations, wealthy governments, and international lenders imposed on much of Latin America, Africa, and Asia in the 1980’s and 1990’s are now being applied back home in the U.S. In order to reduce the deficit while still funding the largest military machine the world has seen, the federal government has slashed funding for housing, education, health care, and environmental protection. State governments have followed suit, putting increasing pressure on counties, cities, and towns to privatize everything from prisons to public hospitals to municipal water systems. The wave of privatization has resulted in the loss of union jobs, higher fees for vital services, and a lack of accountability for how public money is spent and basic needs are met. Non-profits are left scrambling to try to meet the needs of people who used to depend on government programs that have now been scaled back or eliminated, and find themselves competing for the same grants and appealing to the same donors to help them through each new crisis.

Meanwhile, progressive social movements in this country find themselves fragmented and lacking a vision for the future. Daily struggles against new wars, new funding cuts, new court rulings, and new arrests leave activists unable to develop a coherent response to the broad assault on the public sector, civil liberties, civil rights, and international law.

In response to this crisis, over fifty labor, environmental, peace, human rights, civil rights, neighborhood, and women’s groups came to organize the Boston Social Forum, which will bring thousands of activists from throughout New England and around the world together at the University of Massachusetts in Boston from July 23-25 to share their ideas and experiences, build new networks and alliances, and articulate an alternative vision for our collective future. Modeled on the World Social Forum, which has brought tens of thousands of activists from social movements around the world together in Porto Allegre, Brazil, and Mumbai, India, together to share their strategies, analysis, and proposals, the Boston Social Forum will be the first major social forum in North America.

Prominent writers, artists, and activists like Winona LaDuke, Angela Davis, Medea Benjamin, Tom Goldtooth, Jim Hightower, Manning Marable, and Harry Belafonte. But the most important conversations will take place between people from radically different walks of life finding common ground. Where else will a union organizer from Rome, a single mother holding down three jobs, the only out lesbian from a high school in rural Utah, an organic farmer from Maine, a college student who spent the winter working for Howard Dean in Iowa and New Hampshire, a South African poet, a seventeen year old rapper, a homeless Vietnam veteran, a campesino woman tortured by the Colombian Army, and an Ivy League economics professor sit down together to explore the inks between the struggles they all face and then spend the night dancing to hip-hop and Afro-Cuban jazz?

Ours will be an open-ended process ­ we will not be hammering out a manifesto, adopting a platform, or issuing a five-year plan. We are uniting around common questions rather than ideology: What kind of future do e want for Boston? For our region? For our nation? Fr the world? What is our vision of a better society? As Suren Moodliar of the North American Alliance for Fair Employment says, “We don’t have the answers but we know who does.” Those answers will emerge from conversations between people from different communities, different movements, and different cultures. Events at the Boston Social Forum will include:

— A benefit concert featuring Billy Bragg, theFoundation, Nora York, and others . . .

— The Active Arts Conference helping young people explore hip-hop music, art, and culture as a positive force for social change . . .

— Over 500 workshops and discussions on a broad range of issues including but not limited to climate change, corporate accountability, health care, education, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered liberation, criminal justice, immigration, labor, environmental justice, nonviolence, peace, labor, global justice, water privatization, and women’s liberation.

— An International Peace and Human Rights conference with delegations from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America

— Presentations by Hasan Barghouthi, Zia Mian, Rep.Dennis Kucinich, Walden Bello, Dennis Brutus, Phyllis Bennis, Danny Glover, Sonia Sanchez, Aichan Vanaik,Pervez Hoobody, Paul Farmer, Diane Dujon, FelixArroyo, Eric Mann, Rabbi Michael Lerner, and others.

— A dramatic recreation of Fannie Lou Hamer’s speech to the 1964 Democratic Convention by activists connected with the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party

— Art, music, drama, and films

— A summit of progressive journalists working tocreate a new national media network (see http://summitnet04.com/ for more information.)

and much more!

The Boston Social Forum won’t be just a conference, it will be a living experiment in real democracy.

We are at a crucial moment right now — environmental protections are being rolled back, our military is occupying two nations, social services are under assault, public utilities are being privatized, civil liberties and civil rights are being eroded. The Boston Social Forum will present us with a chance to build new alliances with activists from other movements, to strategize together, and to assert that” Another world is possible!” And necessary!

Sean Donahue directs the Corporations and Militarism Project of the Massachusetts Anti-Corporate Clearinghouse and is a contributor to CounterPunch’s forthcoming book on the 2004 elections, Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Politics of Lesser Evils. He can be reached at: wrldhealer@yahoo.com

For more information on the Boston Social Forum go to (http://www.bostonsocialforum.org.)

More articles by:
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
Paul Street
Michael Wolff, Class Rule, and the Madness of King Don
Andrew Levine
Had Hillary Won: What Now?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail