PORTO ALEGRE, Brazil - With his usual biting wit, noted linguist, philosopher
and social activist Noam Chomsky gave the audience at his "teach-in", during the
second World Social Forum (WSF) in this southern Brazilian city, a strong dose
of exactly what they were looking for. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology
professor first defended the anti-globalization movement, then neatly exposed
the motives behind the US government's ongoing "War on Terrorism", and finally
trashed the entire rationale the global elites give for the policies of neo-liberalism
"A sane and just form of globalization is what the anti-globalization movement
is all about," Chomsky said at his Friday workshop, urging everyone at the WSF
to "reject with scorn" the canard that they were opposed to all globalization
French farmer and activist Jose Bove appears at rally of protesting factory workers
in Guiaba, about 20 miles from Porto Alegre, Brazil, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2002. Bove,
a symbol of the struggle against neoliberal economics, visited the rally as a
side trip while attending the five-day World Social Forum, a shadow event to the
World Economic Forum. (AP Photo/Douglas Engle)
Calling the WSF - which emerged as a counterpoint to the World Economic
Forum, the annual gathering of the global corporate elites traditionally
held in Davos, Switzerland - "the most exciting development in recent
times," Chomsky said it is a continuation of the struggle for an integrated
world of human beings that has been a part of people's and workers'
movements for more than a century.
Speaking on the main theme of his testimonial "A World Without Wars",
Chomsky said that the weapons of mass destruction in human possession could
currently wipe out the world completely.
"Either we have a world without war or we have no world," he warned,
pointing out that despite this dire threat there are developed countries,
like the United States, that are pursuing research on even more deadly ways
of destroying the world.
Chomsky traced the history of modern wars to the rise of the nation-state in
Europe several centuries ago, when rising elites used violence to demarcate
their boundaries of jurisdiction and interest.
The US government's War on Terrorism came in for a particularly strong
attack from Chomsky, who said that it is a campaign that only increases the
risks of worldwide destruction.
He questioned the US government's moral right to undertake such a war when
Washington itself is guilty of promoting and implementing terrorism
internationally on many occasions in the past.
"If one looked at the official definition of terrorism, it would be
identical to the official definition of US foreign policy," Chomsky said to
wild cheers from the audience.
The current campaign against terrorism, he pointed out, is being run by US
officials who in the mid-1980s were themselves responsible for running an
international campaign of terrorism against leftist-run countries in Latin
America and the Middle East.
In a sarcastic aside, he added that this is "a telling comment on the
educated classes of the free and democratic societies."
Referring to the business and political elites who dominate global affairs
and are meeting in the World Economic Forum this year in New York, instead of
Davos, as the "Masters of the Universe", Chomsky said that globalization today
was entirely designed to suit the needs of that wealthy minority. It is only popular
movements like the WSF that can return power and resources back to the ordinary
people and build a truly just and democratic world.
Copyright 2002 IPS