The World Social Forum took place in Salvador (BA) from March 13 to 17, 2018. Three Brazilian PROUT activists gave lectures during the event. The following is an interview with Luís Fernando Zen, one of the presenters, excerpted from the Dharma For All Journal.
D4all Journal: What was Prout’s role in the WSF?
Luís Fernando Zen: The forum was a meeting place for people interested in social change in this country. The lectures were intended to present Prout as an alternative form of social organization. We know that capitalism it is not working, and people who are interested in social matters end up not finding other alternatives in current theories such as communism or socialism. So the lectures were very practical, talking about what is already happening in Prout in the world, and what changes Prout proposes that can gradually transform the present system to another, more humane, system. It was a gathering of resistance. This was the motto of this forum, which was different from others whose idea was “another world is possible”. This was something like “transformation through resistance,” because the forces of the left have been weakened. It’s a grassroots effort.
D4all Journal: What is already happening in Prout, in practice, in the world?
Luís Fernando Zen: For example, Prout talks about economic democracy. Where does that happen in practice today? In authentic self-managed associations and cooperatives. It is the workers themselves who decide the future of the enterprise. And when this happens on a larger scale — for example, in a community with many associations and cooperatives — it means that people are being taught to deliberate about their local economy. Thus, they are enabled to participate in local forums and in municipal councils that decide economic concerns in the municipality.
We have already had a participatory budget in several prefectures in Brazil. It began in Rio Grande do Sul and spread to other cities in the country. But when the government is voted out, another enters that doesn’t support such measures, and places that once had them no longer do. I participated in the installation of a participatory budget in the City Hall of Teresópolis in the state of Rio de Janeiro for a year. It didn’t last long. The mayor lost the election and we left. The debates were insightful, each side marshaling their arguments to sway the community’s voters to their proposal. It was a very special moment, seeing economic democracy at work. For this is what it preaches: when you take away the decision-making power over public resources from the politician, it passes to the citizen. Thus, you take away the power that corrupt politicians have nowadays.
Another practical example is the idea of socio-economic territories, which should seek to be self-sustainable, making sure that production and the local economy are geared to meeting the needs of the population and not producing for export, for example. An example of this, which has not evolved much due to political disputes here in Brazil, was the citizenship territories. The federal government separated some territories that had more need and began to think about special public policies for them. The role of the politician in Prout is to support these initiatives.
How are people going to accept Prout as an option when most people haven’t heard of it? The goal of Prout’s global movement, which is based in Denmark, is to make Prout known within the next five years.
This article is excerpted with permission from the Dharma for All Journal. https://journal.d4all.org/