The Internet offers an unparalleled chance to spread an alternative to the news served up by the mainstream media, the "second power" of globalization, affirmed the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre
The organizers of the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, were expecting 2,000 people to attend a debate on "another possible world" in the last week of January. To their surprise, this "anti-Davos" attracted 5,000 fans. So how did the organizers of the forum, who like to cast themselves as visionaries, explain their all too modest forecast? Why, the Internet of course: they had set up a website one month before the Forum. Although very basic, it spurred much greater interest than anticipated.
The unexpected turnout was one more feather in the cap of the anti-globalization movement. Activists had already spent much time pleading for communication in general--and the Internet in particular--to be considered a leading "issue in the fight against neoliberalism." As such, it deserved the same attention as the campaign for the Tobin Tax, the cancellation of Third World debt or the control of world financial organizations. If not, they argued, cyberspace would become their adversaries' haven. According to the conclusions of a Forum workshop on communication and citizenship, the Internet has already been instrumental in shaping the economic and "ideological" revolution that has marked the process of globalization.
An ideological machine
Workshop participants launched a stinging indictment: "If the first power is economic and financial, the second belongs to the media," declared Ignacio Ramonet, director of the monthly Le Monde Diplomatique, upon opening the workshop. "It is the ideological machine of globalization." Participants asserted that …