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Review ::
08 Jul 2004
Sean Donahue's Article on the Boston Social Forum
From July 23-25, thousands of activists from around
the world will gather for the Boston Social Forum at
the University of Massachusetts’ Boston campus. The
weekend-long event will feature discussions, meetings,
panels, talks, films, art exhibits, and performances
on issues ranging from corporate accountability to
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered liberation to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Boston Social Forum was organized by a coalition
of over fifty labor, peace, economic justice, civil
rights, civil liberties, neighborhood, and women’s
groups in response to a growing economic crisis facing
cities and towns throughout the U.S.

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.

Organizers hope that the Boston Social Forum will
allow activists from many movements to come together
and develop coherent responses to the broad assault on
the public sector, civil rights, and civil liberties.

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 campesina 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? For
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

The Boston Social Forum won’t just be a conference
about democracy – it will be a living democratic
experiment, proof that “another world is possible.”

Copyright by the author. All rights reserved.