by Michel Chossudovsky
September 20, 2010
"Everything the [Ford] Foundation did could be regarded as "making
the World safe for capitalism", reducing social tensions by helping
to comfort the afflicted, provide safety valves for the angry, and
improve the functioning of government
(McGeorge Bundy, National Security
Advisor to Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson
(1961-1966), President of the Ford Foundation - 1966-1979)
"By providing the funding and the policy framework to many concerned
and dedicated people working within the non-profit sector, the
ruling class is able to co-opt leadership from grassroots
communities... and is able to make the funding, accounting, and
evaluation components of the work so time consuming and onerous that
social justice work is virtually impossible under these conditions"
(Paul Kivel, You Call this Democracy,
Who Benefits, Who Pays and Who Really Decides, 2004, p. 122 )
"Under the New World Order, the ritual of inviting "civil society"
leaders into the inner circles of power - while simultaneously
repressing the rank and file - serves several important functions.
First, it says to the World that the
critics of globalization "must make concessions" to earn the
right to mingle.
Second, it conveys the illusion that
while the global elites should - under what is euphemistically
called democracy - be subject to criticism, they nonetheless
And third, it says "there is no
alternative" to globalization: fundamental change is not
possible and the most we can hope is to engage with these rulers
in an ineffective "give and take".
While the "Globalizers" may adopt a few
progressive phrases to demonstrate they have good intentions, their
fundamental goals are not challenged.
And what this "civil society mingling"
does is to reinforce the clutch of the corporate establishment while
weakening and dividing the protest movement. An understanding of
this process of co-optation is important, because tens of thousands
of the most principled young people in Seattle, Prague and Quebec
City [1999-2001] are involved in the anti-globalization protests
because they reject the notion that money is everything, because
they reject the impoverishment of millions and the destruction of
fragile Earth so that a few may get richer.
This rank and file and some of their leaders as well, are to be
applauded. But we need to go further. We need to challenge the right
of the "Globalizers" to rule. This requires that we rethink the
strategy of protest.
Can we move to a higher plane, by
launching mass movements in our respective countries, movements that
bring the message of what globalization is doing, to ordinary
people? For they are the force that must be mobilized to challenge
those who plunder the Globe."
Wall, April 2001)
The term "manufacturing consent" was initially
coined by Edward S. Herman and
"Manufacturing consent" describes a propaganda
model used by the corporate media to sway public opinion and "inculcate
individuals with values and beliefs...":
The mass media serve as a system for
communicating messages and symbols to the general populace. It is their
function to amuse, entertain, and inform, and to inculcate individuals
with the values, beliefs, and codes of behavior that will integrate them
into the institutional structures of the larger society. In a world of
concentrated wealth and major conflicts of class interest, to fulfill
this role requires systematic propaganda.
(Manufacturing Consent by Edward S.
Herman and Noam Chomsky)
"Manufacturing consent" implies manipulating and
shaping public opinion. It establishes conformity and acceptance to
authority and social hierarchy. It seeks compliance to an established social
"Manufacturing consent" describes the submission
of public opinion to the mainstream media narrative, to its lies and
In this article, we focus on a related concept, namely the process of
"manufacturing dissent" (rather than "consent"), which plays a decisive role
in serving the interests of the ruling class.
Under contemporary capitalism, the illusion of democracy must prevail. It is
in the interest of the corporate elites to accept dissent and protest as a
feature of the system inasmuch as they do not threaten the established
social order. The purpose is not to repress dissent, but, on the contrary,
to shape and mould the protest movement, to set the outer limits of dissent.
To maintain their legitimacy, the economic elites favor limited and
controlled forms of opposition, with a view to preventing the development of
radical forms of protest, which might shake the very foundations and
institutions of global capitalism. In other words, "manufacturing dissent"
acts as a "safety valve", which protects and sustains the
New World Order.
To be effective, however, the process of "manufacturing dissent" must be
carefully regulated and monitored by those who are the object of the protest
How is the process of manufacturing dissent achieved?
Essentially by "funding dissent", namely by channeling financial resources
from those who are the object of the protest movement to those who are
involved in organizing the protest movement.
Co-optation is not limited to buying the favors of politicians. The economic
elites - which control major foundations - also oversee the funding of
numerous NGOs and civil society organizations, which historically have been
involved in the protest movement against the established economic and social
order. The programs of many NGOs and people's movements rely heavily on both
public as well as private funding agencies including the Ford, Rockefeller,
McCarthy foundations, among others.
The anti-globalization movement is opposed to Wall Street and the Texas oil
giants controlled by
Rockefeller, et al. Yet the foundations and charities
of Rockefeller et al will generously fund progressive anti-capitalist
networks as well as environmentalists (opposed to Big Oil) with a view to
ultimately overseeing and shaping their various activities.
The mechanisms of "manufacturing dissent" require a manipulative
environment, a process of arm-twisting and subtle cooptation of individuals
within progressive organizations, including anti-war coalitions,
environmentalists and the anti-globalization movement.
Whereas the mainstream media "manufactures consent", the complex network of
NGOs (including segments of the alternative media) are used by the corporate
elites to mould and manipulate the protest movement.
Following the deregulation of the global financial system in the 1990s and
the rapid enrichment of the financial establishment, funding through
foundations and charities has skyrocketed. In a bitter irony, part of the
fraudulent financial gains on Wall Street in recent years have been recycled
to the elites' tax exempt foundations and charities.
These windfall financial gains have not only
been used to buy out politicians, they have also been channeled to NGOs,
research institutes, community centers, church groups, environmentalists,
alternative media, human rights groups, etc.
"Manufactured dissent" also
applies to "corporate left" and "progressive media" funded by NGOs or
directly by the foundations.
The inner objective is to "manufacture dissent" and establish the boundaries
of a "politically correct" opposition. In turn, many NGOs are infiltrated by
informants often acting on behalf of western intelligence agencies.
Moreover, an increasingly large segment of the
progressive alternative news media on the internet has become dependent on
funding from corporate foundations and charities.
The objective of the corporate elites has been to fragment the people's
movement into a vast "do it yourself" mosaic.
globalization are no longer in the
forefront of civil society activism. Activism tends to be piecemeal. There
is no integrated anti-globalization anti-war movement. The economic crisis
is not seen as having a relationship to the US led war.
Dissent has been compartmentalized. Separate "issue oriented" protest
movements (e.g. environment, anti-globalization, peace, women's rights,
climate change) are encouraged and generously funded as opposed to a
cohesive mass movement.
This mosaic was already prevalent in the counter
G7 summits and People's Summits of the 1990s.
The Seattle 1999 counter-summit is invariably upheld as a triumph for the
"a historic coalition of activists shut down
the World Trade Organization summit in Seattle, the spark that ignited a
global anti-corporate movement."
(See Naomi Klein,
Copenhagen: Seattle Grows
Up, The Nation, November 13, 2009).
Seattle was an indeed an important crossroads in the history of the mass
Over 50,000 people from diverse backgrounds, civil society
organizations, human rights, labor unions, environmentalists had come
together in a common pursuit. Their goal was to forcefully dismantle the
neoliberal agenda including its institutional base.
But Seattle also marked a major reversal. With mounting dissent from all
sectors of society, the official WTO Summit desperately needed the token
participation of civil society leaders "on the inside", to give the
appearance of being "democratic" on the outside.
While thousands of people had converged on Seattle, what occurred behind the
scenes was a de facto victory for neoliberalism. A handful of civil society
organizations, formally opposed
the WTO had contributed to legitimizing the
WTO's global trading architecture.
Instead of challenging the WTO as an an illegal
intergovernmental body, they agreed to a pre-summit dialogue with the WTO
and Western governments.
"Accredited NGO participants were invited to
mingle in a friendly environment with ambassadors, trade ministers and
Wall Street tycoons at several of the official events including the
numerous cocktail parties and receptions."
(Michel Chossudovsky, Seattle and Beyond:
Disarming the New World Order, Covert Action Quarterly, November 1999,
Ten Years Ago: "Manufacturing Dissent" in Seattle).
The hidden agenda was to weaken and divide the
protest movement and orient the anti-globalization movement into areas that
would not directly threaten the interests of the business establishment.
Funded by private foundations (including Ford, Rockefeller, Rockefeller
Brothers, Charles Stewart Mott, The Foundation for Deep Ecology), these
"accredited" civil society organizations had positioned themselves as lobby
groups, acting formally on behalf of the people's movement. Led by prominent
and committed activists, their hands were tied.
They ultimately contributed (unwittingly) to
weakening the anti-globalization movement by accepting the legitimacy of
what was essentially an illegal organization. (The 1994 Marrakech Summit
agreement which led to the creation of the WTO on January 1, 1995). (Ibid)
The NGO leaders were fully aware as to where the money was coming from.
within the US and European NGO community, the foundations and charities are
considered to be independent philanthropic bodies, separate from the
corporations; namely the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation, for instance, is
considered to be separate and distinct from the Rockefeller family empire of
banks and oil companies.
With salaries and operating expenses depending on private foundations, it
became an accepted routine: In a twisted logic, the battle against corporate
capitalism was to be be fought using the funds from the tax exempt
foundations owned by corporate capitalism.
The NGOs were caught in a straightjacket; their very existence depended on
Their activities were closely monitored. In a
twisted logic, the very nature of anti-capitalist activism was indirectly
controlled by the capitalists through their independent foundations.
In this evolving saga, the corporate elites whose interests are duly served
the World Bank and the WTO, will readily fund (through their
various foundations and charities) organizations which are at the forefront
of the protest movement against the WTO and the Washington based
international financial institutions.
Supported by foundation money, various "watchdogs" were set up by the NGOs
to monitor the implementation of neoliberal policies, without however
raising the broader issue of how the Bretton Woods twins and the WTO,
through their policies, had contributed to the impoverishment of millions of
The Structural Adjustment Participatory Review Network (SAPRIN) was
Development Gap, a USAID and World Bank funded NGO based in
Amply documented, the imposition of the IMF-World Bank Structural Adjustment
Program (SAP) on developing countries constitutes a blatant form of
interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states on behalf of
Instead of challenging the legitimacy of the IMF-World Bank's "deadly
economic medicine", SAPRIN's core organization sought to establish a
participatory role for the NGOs, working hand in glove with USAID and the
The objective was to give a "human face" to the
neoliberal policy agenda, rather than reject the IMF-World Bank policy
"SAPRIN is the global civil-society network
that took its name from the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review
Initiative (SAPRI), which it launched with the World Bank and its
president, Jim Wolfensohn, in 1997.
SAPRI is designed as a tripartite exercise to bring together
organizations of civil society, their governments and the World Bank in
a joint review of structural adjustment programs (SAPs) and an
exploration of new policy options. It is legitimizing an active role for
civil society in economic decision-making, as it is designed to indicate
areas in which changes in economic policies and in the
economic-policymaking process are required.
Similarly, The Trade Observatory (formerly WTO
Watch), operating out of Geneva, is a project of the Minneapolis based
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), which is generously
funded by Ford, Rockefeller, Charles Stewart Mott among others. (see Table 1
The Trade Observatory has a mandate to monitor,
the World Trade Organization (WTO)
the North American Free Trade Agreement
(NAFTA and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
About Trade Observatory,
accessed September 2010)
The Trade Observatory is also to develop data
and information as well as foster "governance" and "accountability".
Accountability to the victims of WTO policies or accountability to the
protagonists of neoliberal reforms?
The Trade Observatory watchdog functions does not in any way threaten the
WTO. Quite the opposite: the legitimacy of the trade organizations and
agreements are never questioned.
Minneapolis Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy (IATP) largest donors
(for complete list
1994 – 2006
Rockefeller Brothers Fund
1995 – 2005
Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
1994 – 2005
1995 – 2005
1996 – 2004
2001 – 2006
Bauman Family Foundation
1994 – 2006
Great Lakes Protection Fund
1995 – 2000
John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur
1991 – 2003
John Merck Fund
1992 – 2003
Harold K. Hochschild Foundation
1997 – 2005
Foundation for Deep Ecology
1991 – 2001
Jennifer Altman Foundation
1992 – 2001
2000 – 2004
The World Economic Forum -
"All Roads Lead to Davos"
The people's movement has been hijacked.
Selected intellectuals, trade union executives,
and the leaders of civil society organizations (including Oxfam, Amnesty
International, Greenpeace) are routinely invited to the
Davos World Economic
Forum, where they mingle with the World's most powerful economic and
This mingling of the World's corporate elites
with hand-picked "progressives" is part of the ritual underlying the process
of "manufacturing dissent".
The ploy is to selectively handpick civil society leaders "whom we can
trust" and integrate them into a "dialogue", cut them off from their rank
and file, make them feel that they are "global citizens" acting on behalf of
their fellow workers but make them act in a way which serves the interests
of the corporate establishment:
"The participation of NGOs in the Annual
Meeting in Davos is evidence of the fact that [we] purposely seek to
integrate a broad spectrum of the major stakeholders in society in...
defining and advancing the global agenda...
We believe the [Davos] World
Economic Forum provides the business community with the ideal framework
for engaging in collaborative efforts with the other principal
stakeholders [NGOs] of the global economy to "improve the state of the
world," which is the Forum's mission.
(World Economic Forum, Press Release 5
The WEF does not represent the broader business community. It is an
elitist gathering: Its members are giant global corporations (with a
minimum $5 billion annual turnover).
The selected non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) are viewed as partner "stakeholders" as well as a
"mouthpiece for the voiceless who are often left out of
(World Economic Forum - Non-Governmental
"They [the NGOs] play a variety of roles in partnering with the Forum to
improve the state of the world, including serving as a bridge between
business, government and civil society, connecting the policy makers to
the grassroots, bringing practical solutions to the table..."
Civil society "partnering" with global
corporations on behalf of "the voiceless", who are "left out"?
Trade union executives are also co-opted to the
detriment of workers' rights.
The leaders of,
the International Federation of
Trade Unions (IFTU)
the European Trade Union Confederation
the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC),
...among others, are routinely invited to
attend both the annual WEF meetings in Davos, Switzerland as well as to the
They also participate in
the WEF's Labour
Leaders Community which focuses on mutually acceptable patterns of behavior
for the labor movement.
"believes that the voice of Labour is
important to dynamic dialogue on issues of globalisation, economic
justice, transparency and accountability, and ensuring a healthy global
"Ensuring a healthy global financial system" wrought by fraud and
corruption? The issue of workers' rights is not mentioned.
(World Economic Forum - Labour Leaders,
The World Social Forum
- "Another World Is Possible"
The 1999 Seattle counter-summit in many regards laid the foundations for the
development of the World Social Forum.
The first gathering of the World Social Forum took place in January 2001, in
Porto Alegre, Brazil. This international gathering involved the
participation of tens of thousands of activists from grass-roots
organizations and NGOs.
The WSF gathering of NGOs and progressive organizations is held
simultaneously with the Davos World Economic Forum (WEF). It was intended to
voice opposition and dissent to the World Economic Forum of corporate
leaders and finance ministers.
The WSF at the outset was an initiative of France's ATTAC and several
"...In February 2000, Bernard Cassen, the
head of a French NGO platform ATTAC, Oded Grajew, head of a Brazilian
employers' organization, and Francisco Whitaker, head of an association
of Brazilian NGOs, met to discuss a proposal for a "world civil society
event"; by March 2000, they formally secured the support of the
municipal government of Porto Alegre and the state government of Rio
Grande do Sul, both controlled at the time by the Brazilian Workers'
A group of French NGOs, including ATTAC,
Friends of L'Humanité, and Friends of Le Monde Diplomatique, sponsored
an Alternative Social Forum in Paris titled "One Year after Seattle", in
order to prepare an agenda for the protests to be staged at the upcoming
European Union summit at Nice.
The speakers called for "reorienting certain
international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank, WTO... so as to
create a globalization from below" and "building an international
citizens' movement, not to destroy the IMF but to reorient its
(Research Unit For Political Economy,
Economics and Politics of the World Social Forum, Global Research,
January 20, 2004)
From the outset in 2001, the WSF was supported
by core funding from the Ford Foundation, which is known to have ties to the
CIA going back to the 1950s:
"The CIA uses philanthropic foundations as
the most effective conduit to channel large sums of money to Agency
projects without alerting the recipients to their source."
The Ford Foundation and
the CIA, Global Research, September 18, 2002)
The same procedure of donor funded
counter-summits or people's summits which characterized the 1990s People's
Summits was embodied in the World Social Forum (WSF):
"... other WSF funders (or 'partners', as
they are referred to in WSF terminology) included the Ford Foundation, -
suffice it to say here that it has always operated in the closest
the US Central Intelligence Agency
and US overall strategic interests
the Heinrich Boll Foundation, which
is controlled by the German Greens party, a partner in the
present  German government and a supporter of the wars on
Yugoslavia and Afghanistan (its leader Joschka Fischer is the
[former] German foreign minister)
major funding agencies such as Oxfam
(UK), Novib (Netherlands), ActionAid (UK), and so on...
Remarkably, an International Council member
of the WSF reports that the,
"considerable funds" received from these
agencies have "not hitherto awakened any significant debates [in the
WSF bodies] on the possible relations of dependence it could
Yet he admits that,
"in order to get funding from the Ford
Foundation, the organizers had to convince the foundation that the
Workers Party was not involved in the process."
Two points are worth noting here.
First, this establishes that the
funders were able to twist arms and determine the role of
different forces in the WSF - they needed to be 'convinced' of
the credentials of those who would be involved.
Secondly, if the funders objected to
the participation of the thoroughly domesticated Workers Party,
they would all the more strenuously object to prominence being
given to genuinely anti-imperialist forces.
That they did so object will be become clear
as we describe who was included and who excluded from the second and
third meets of the WSF...
...The question of funding [of the WSF] does not even figure in the
charter of principles of the WSF, adopted in June 2001. Marxists, being
materialists, would point out that one should look at the material base
of the forum to grasp its nature. (One indeed does not have to be a
Marxist to understand that "he who pays the piper calls the tune".)
But the WSF does not agree. It can draw
funds from imperialist institutions like Ford Foundation while fighting
"domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism"
(Research Unit For Political Economy,
Economics and Politics of the World Social Forum, Global Research,
January 20, 2004)
The Ford Foundation provided core support to the
WSF, with indirect contributions to participating "partner organizations"
the McArthur Foundation
the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation
the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung
the W. Alton Jones Foundation
the European Commission
several European governments (including
the Labour government of Tony Blair)
the Canadian government
a number of UN bodies (including UNESCO,
UNICEF, UNDP, ILO and the FAO)
In addition to initial core support from the
Ford Foundation, many of the participating civil society organizations
receive funding from major foundations and charities.
In turn, the US and European based NGOs often
operate as secondary funding agencies channeling Ford and Rockefeller money
towards partner organizations in developing countries, including grassroots
peasant and human rights movements.
The International Council (IC) of the WSF is made up of representatives from
NGOs, trade unions, alternative media organizations, research institutes,
many of which are heavily funded by foundations as well as governments. (See
Fórum Social Mundial).
The same trade unions, which are routinely
invited to mingle with Wall Street CEOs at the Davos World Economic Forum (WSF)
including the AFL-CIO, the European Trade Union Confederation and the
Canadian Labor Congress (CLC) also sit on the WSF's International Council
Among NGOs funded by major foundations sitting
on the WSF's IC is the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
(see our analysis above) which oversees the Geneva based Trade Observatory.
The Funders Network on Trade and Globalization (FTNG), which has observer
status on the WSF International Council plays a key role. While channeling
financial support to the WSF, it acts as a clearing house for major
The FTNG describes itself as,
"an alliance of grant makers committed to
building just and sustainable communities around the world".
Members of this alliance are,
C. S. Mott
Merck Family Foundation
Open Society Institute
...among others. (For a complete list of FTNG
funding agencies see
FTNG acts as a fund raising entity on behalf of
Fund the Counter-Summits and Repress the Protest Movement
In a bitter irony, governments including the European Union grant money to
fund progressive groups (including the WSF) involved in organizing protests
against the very same governments which finance their activities:
"Governments, too, have been significant
financiers of protest groups. The European Commission, for example,
funded two groups who mobilized large numbers of people to protest at EU
summits at Gothenburg and Nice. Britain's national lottery, which is
overseen by the government, helped fund a group at the heart of the
British contingent at both protests."
Counter-capitalism, FT.com, October 15 2001)
We are dealing with a diabolical process:
The host government finances the official
summit as well as the NGOs actively involved in the Counter-Summit. It
also funds the anti-riot police operation which has a mandate to repress
the grassroots participants of the Counter-Summit, including members of
NGOs direcly funded by the government.
The purpose of these combined operations,
including violent actions of vandalism committed by undercover cops (Toronto
G20, 2010) dressed up as activists, is to discredit the protest movement and
intimidate its participants.
The broader objective is to transform the
counter-summit into a ritual of dissent, which serves to uphold the
interests of the official summit and the host government. This logic has
prevailed in numerous counter summits since the 1990s.
At the 2001 Summit of the America in Quebec City, funding from the Canadian
federal government to mainstream NGOs and trade unions was granted under
certain conditions. A large segment of the protest movement was de facto
excluded from the People's Summit.
This in itself led a second parallel venue,
which some observers described as a "a counter-People's Summit.
In turn, with both the provincial and federal
authorities that the protest march would be move towards a remote location
some 10 km out of town, rather than towards the historical downtown area
were the official FTAA summit was being held behind a heavily guarded
"Rather than marching toward the perimeter
fence and the Summit of the Americas meetings, march organizers chose a
route that marched from the People's Summit away from the fence, through
largely empty residential areas to the parking lot of a stadium in a
vacant area several miles away.
Henri Masse, the president of the Federation
des travailleurs et travailleuses du Quebec (FTQ), explained,
"I deplore that we are so far from the
center-city... But it was a question of security."
One thousand marshals from the FTQ kept very
tight control over the march.
When the march came to the point where some
activists planned to split off and go up the hill to the fence, FTQ
marshals signaled the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) contingent walking
behind CUPE to sit down and stop the march so that FTQ marshals could
lock arms and prevent others from leaving the official march route."
Lessons of Quebec City,
International Socialist Review, June/July 2001)
Security Perimeter - Quebec
The Summit of the
Americas was held inside a four kilometer
"bunker" made of concrete and galvanized steel fencing. The
10 feet high "Quebec Wall" encircled part of the historic city
center including the parliamentary compound of the National
Assembly, hotels and shopping areas.
Quebec City, April 2001
Quebec City 2001, Building the Security fence
Quebec City April 2001
Toronto G20 Security Fence $5.5 million, June 2010
NGO Leaders versus
The establishment of the World Social Forum (WSF) in 2001 was
unquestionably a historical landmark, bringing together tens of thousands of
committed activists. It was an important venue which allowed for the
exchange of ideas and the establishment of ties of solidarity.
What is at stake is the ambivalent role of the leaders of progressive
organizations. Their cozy and polite relationship to the inner circles of
power, to corporate and government funding, aid agencies, the World Bank,
etc, undermines their relationship and responsibilities to their rank and
file. The objective of manufactured dissent is precisely that: to distance
the leaders from their rank and file as a means to effectively silencing and
weakening grassroots actions.
Funding dissent is also a means infiltrating the NGOs as well as acquiring
inside information on strategies of protest and resistance of grass-roots
Most of the grassroots participating organizations in the World Social Forum
including peasant, workers' and student organizations, firmly committed to
combating neoliberalism were unaware of the WSF International Council's
relationship to corporate funding, negotiated behind their backs by a
handful of NGO leaders with ties to both official and private funding
Funding to progressive organizations is not unconditional. Its purpose is to
"pacify" and manipulate the protest movement.
Precise conditionalities are set by the funding
agencies. If they are not met, the disbursements are discontinued and the
recipient NGO is driven into de facto bankruptcy due to lack of funds.
The WSF defines itself as,
"an open meeting place for reflective
thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free
exchange of experiences and inter-linking for effective action, by
groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neo-liberalism
and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism,
and are committed to building a society centered on the human person".
Fórum Social Mundial, accessed
The WSF is a mosaic of individual initiatives
which does not directly threaten or challenge the legitimacy of global
capitalism and its institutions.
It meets annually. It is characterized by a
multitude of sessions and workshops. In this regard, one of the features of
the WSF was to retain the "do-it-yourself" framework, characteristic of the
donor funded counter G7 People's Summits of the 1990s.
This apparent disorganized structure is deliberate. While favoring debate on
a number of individual topics, the WSF framework is not conducive to the
articulation of a cohesive common platform and plan of action directed
global capitalism. Moreover, the US led war in the Middle East and Central
Asia, which broke out a few months after the inaugural WSF venue in Porto
Alegre in January 2001, has not been a central issue in forum discussions.
What prevails is a vast and intricate network of organizations. The
recipient grassroots organizations in developing countries are invariably
unaware that their partner NGOs in the United States or the European Union,
which are providing them with financial support, are themselves funded by
major foundations. The money trickles down, setting constraints on
Many of these NGO leaders are committed and well
meaning individuals acting within a framework which sets the boundaries of
dissent. The leaders of these movements are often co-opted, without even
realizing that as a result of corporate funding their hands are tied.
Global capitalism finances anti-capitalism: an absurd and contradictory
"Another World is Possible", but it cannot be meaningfully achieved under
the present arrangement.
A shake-up of the World Social Forum, of its organizational structure, its
funding arrangements and leadership is required.
There can be no meaningful mass movement when dissent is generously funded
by those same corporate interests which are the target of the protest
In the words of McGeorge Bundy, president of the Ford Foundation
"Everything the [Ford] Foundation did could
be regarded as 'making the World safe for capitalism'".