"Our Vision is More Powerful"
Interview with Vandana Shiva
[The physicist and globalization critic Vandana Shiva from India proclaims justice and sustainability as the goals of citizen movements. This interview originally published in: die tageszeitung, February 9, 2002 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, www.taz.de/pt/.nf/spText.Name.neoliberalismus.idx.7.]
taz: Ms. Shiva, what does the World Social Forum mean for the movement critical of globalization?
Vandana Shiva: The sense that a great community exists. People no longer feel isolated. We were on the defensive since we were often identified with the terrorists.
What is new compared with last year?
Vandana Shiva: A qualitative leap has occurred. Last year, equality and social justice were emphasized. Now two central themes are added: peace and sustainability. This is the message of Porto Alegre: No peace without justice. No justice without sustainability.
Should the movement have a common program?
Vandana Shiva: We don't want a declaration along the lines of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a program negotiated behind closed doors and put on the rest of the world. In Porto Alegre, the energies flowed together since a process was redeveloped. We don't produce out of thin air but build on something already existing in our local and national contexts. Thus Porto Alegre should not be seen as a master plan for the world.
Still the expectations are there.
Vandana Shiva: We work on very concrete proposals. For example, I take part in three groups that define alternatives very clearly. One of them is the "International Forum on Globalization". There we ask by what principles must the economy and society be rebuilt. Then I participate in a study group against privatization of the public good water and lastly in an initiative for advancing the debate around intellectual property rights, patenting genetic resources and appropriating the biological and intellectual riches of the Third World.
The opposite side still dominates the worldwide discourse.
Vandana Shiva: Substantively the citizen movements are far ahead of the multinational conglomerates. Our vision is more powerful. The globalizers fear democracy.
What do you think about the reopening of free trade negotiations resolved at the WTO meeting in November in Katar's capital city Doha?
Vandana Shiva: In Doha, a new round of world trade was arranged. This was very controversial, above all with several developing countries. The arrangement was forced at the last minute by a few G8-countries who put the screws on certain developing countries. As a result, the arrangement has no democratic legitimation. Free trade is discredited though the military context is now used to speed up the trade agreement. George W. Bush made the US Congress authorize him in trade questions through the "Fast Track" law. India has argued that an "explicit consensus" must be achieved at the next ministerial round.
Do you hope to gain time?
Vandana Shiva: Until a final decision is reached, the multinational concerns will be under great pressure. The ecological agenda cannot be simply buried as the US wants. Sometime the ruling institutions will no longer function. Legitimacy cannot be forced.