Thursday, January 28, 2010

World Social Forum - Day 3: "Earth Can't Sustain Capitalism"

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil

The principle theme of today's meetings on the third day of the World Social Forum was a focus on quality of life, the growing reach of Western capitalism, and the preservation of self-determination in developing nations. Not unlike the imperialism of previous centuries, which conquered people of life and land, the influences of modern consumerism are robbing cultures of their traditional values and the world of a sustainable future, argued several speakers at today's meetings. Meanwhile in the lush Brazilian countryside, thousands of participants from across the world descended upon the Forum's campground to create a 'model society' to demonstrate what a sustainable world might look like.

The 'Good Life' Is Unsustainable

Ivar Pavan, a Brazilian parliamentary leader, was the keynote speaker today at a panel discussion entitled "Living Well." He pointed out that for more and more people in the world, the goals which would constitute a 'good life' are unsustainable, like buying cars, electronics, or consumer goods. The growing trend of consumerism particularly among previously contented peoples, he believes, is moving the notions of 'living well' out of the realm which Earth can support.

Likewise, South African activist Mercia Andrews noted that while much of the world is looking to material luxuries to improve their quality of life, there are many with far more modest desires. She spoke of her experience with people living in poverty and found that most still strive for decent farmland, schools for their children, medical assistance--or, in a word, dignity.

They were so low, just wanted equality and respect. However, capitalism can not meet these demands. To achieve a good life that we become aware and understand the simple things in life which we have had in the rural more at