The uniqueness and importance of the I International Anti-Fascist Conference to be held in Porto Alegre, May 17-19

International Antifascist Conference

[Update: On May 6, the organisers of the I International Anti-Fascist Conference confirmed that the gathering would have to be postponed due to the tragic floods that have hit the state of Rio Grande do Sul and its capital, Porto Alegre, "which has already resulted in nearly a hundred deaths, thousands displaced, and the destruction of infrastructure". You can read the full statement here.] 

First published at CADTM.

In recent years, several international conferences have been held in response to the (re)rise of the far right worldwide. These have usually been organised by a single political party or political affiliation, or by a particular foundation, such as the Rosa Luxembourg Foundation.

The first unique feature of the current initiative is that it is being organised by several parties and has the support of other left-wing political parties, who have set aside their disagreements for the time being. In this case, two left-wing parties with different histories, the PT and the PSOL from Porto Alegre, the capital of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, have agreed to call this conference together and to form a joint local organising committee. They obtained the support of their national organisation. That’s the most striking feature. It’s unusual when you consider how divided the left is in the four corners of the planet.

The second unique feature is that other left-wing parties have followed suit and are supporting this conference, notably the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB, of Maoist origin) and Popular Unity.

The third distinctive feature is the active support of major social movements, including the Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST, a member of La Via Campesina) and trade unions such as CEPRS, Assufrgs (university technical and administrative staff), and the Unified Workers’ Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores - CUT) in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. Other social movements have also lent their support.

The fourth point of uniqueness is that all the continents and almost all the major regions of the world will be represented, albeit unevenly. There will be delegates from North America, all (or most) of Latin America and the Caribbean, North Africa and the Arab region, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Australia, etc.

The fifth uniqueness: international networks such as CADTM or ATTAC, foundations such as CLACSO (the Latin American Council of Social Sciences), the Transnational Institute based in Amsterdam or the Copernicus Foundation based in France will also be present. International political organisations and forums will be there: the Sao Paulo Forum, the Fourth International, the International Socialist League (ISL), the International Socialist Tendency (IST) and, we hope, the Progressive International and probably others. From France, La France Insoumise and the NPA will be present; from Spain, Anticapitalistas, the CUP (Catalonia) and ATTAC; from Portugal, the Left Bloc (Bloco de Esquerda),... From the United States: Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). From Australia: Green Left. From Argentina: Workers’ Socialist Movement, Libres del Sur, Unidad Popular, Marabunta, MULCS, FOL, CPI, and also the Autoconvocatoria for the suspension of debt payments, Crisis magazine, ATTAC-CADTM Argentina, left-wing economists and unions such as the CTA. To see the list of ‘personalities’ whose participation has been confirmed, visit

The sixth unique feature: while political parties as such are not allowed at the World Social Forums and their continental counterparts, in this case, political parties, social movements, and citizens’ associations will be present together.

The seventh unique feature is that it is not just a question of interpreting the world of the far right, but of trying to launch an initiative to change the situation. Admittedly, it will be a modest one, because we are only at the beginning of the process, but if the Porto Alegre stage is encouraging, we can move forward step by step. This will mean overcoming the divisions that are dramatically weakening the left in order to confront the far right.


It is very encouraging to note that on May 2, 2024, two weeks before the start of the conference, 1,376 people had registered on the website to physically attend the conference. Several trade union organisations in Porto Alegre are making collective accommodation and meeting rooms available for the conference. They are also providing buses to transport people from working-class neighbourhoods to the starting point of the opening march, which will take place on Friday 17 May from 6 pm. Thousands of people are expected to take part in the march. This, too, is unusual, because in recent times, the Left has not mobilised large numbers of people in Brazil. And there have been no large street demonstrations against the far right anywhere in the world recently, except in Germany at the beginning of 2024. Of course, and this is encouraging, there have been massive demonstrations around the world in solidarity with the Palestinian people against Netanyahu’s far-right government. In fact, at the Porto Alegre conference, the link will be made with the mass mobilisations on university campuses in the United States.

It should also be pointed out that in states other than Rio Grande do Sul, united initiatives are being taken in preparation for the Porto Alegre conference, notably in the state of Ceara.


There will be 8 successive plenary sessions organised under the auspices of the local organising committee between the morning of Saturday 18 and the afternoon of Sunday 19 May. In addition, there will be dozens of self-organised activities. See the plenary programme: There will probably be field trips for participants who arrive before the conference starts or stay after Sunday 19 May. There will also be cultural activities. It should be pointed out that the PT and PSOL are in opposition in the capital Porto Alegre and the right-wing-dominated state of Rio Grande do Sul. All the logistics are organised without any institutional support. It’s all down to the efforts of activists and the financial support of the political and social organisations behind the initiative.

Why Porto Alegre?

In 2001, Porto Alegre was the birthplace of the World Social Forum, which has met here on several occasions with a very large turnout: up to 100,000 participants. It was a different time, of course: we were at the height of major global mobilisations against the neo-liberal capitalist offensive, and the so-called alter-globalisation movement was born, with the slogans: ‘Another world is possible’, ‘The world is not a commodity’. Then the WSF and these major mobilisations declined. In a frankly unfavourable context, with the massive rise of the far right and the retreat of the left in many parts of the world, we have to try to re-launch a dynamic of accumulation of forces. This will not be easy. So making a fresh start from Porto Alegre, the birthplace of the World Social Forum, is a good choice.

There’s a second reason why Porto Alegre is the right place to hold this first conference: its relative proximity to Argentina (by road it’s about 1,300 km, less than 1,000 if you go through Uruguay). It is possible to travel by public transport from Buenos Aires or other parts of Argentina to Porto Alegre. A dozen Argentinian left-wing organisations are coordinating to send two buses to Porto Alegre, carrying around a hundred activists. The active presence of comrades from Argentina is particularly important in view of the government of Javier Milei, which is trying to implement a shock programme against social gains and which clearly identifies with extreme right-wing ideas.

The third reason: in this city, the PT and the PSOL are allies and have overcome their differences, for example, to run together in the municipal elections to be held in October 2024. They are not alone, however, with the PCdoB, the REDE party, etc. They also have the support of social movements such as the MST and the trade unions.

Why in 2024 and why in Brazil?

Such a conference is long overdue. It should be remembered that Bolsonaro and his supporters attempted, by storming the centres of the three branches of government - the judiciary, the legislature, and the executive - in Brasilia on January 8, 2023, to stage a remake of the invasion of Congress in Washington on January 6, 2021, organised by Trump and his supporters. It was already clear that Bolsonaro was preparing his comeback by destabilising Lula’s newly elected government. What’s more, Bolsonaro and his supporters have just demonstrated again in February 2024, with a gathering of almost 200,000 people in Sao Paulo, showing that they can mobilise their supporters en masse in the streets. The left showed by uniting electorally that it could beat Bolsonaro at the ballot box, but the victory was very short-lived and the Brazilian people were far from being rid of Bolsonaro and the far right for good. More recently, at the end of 2023, Javier Milei’s election victory in Argentina was another very serious warning signal at continental level.

During 2024, the far right, which made gains in several European countries between the end of 2023 and April 2024, particularly in the Netherlands, Portugal and Germany, will gain further strength in the European elections in June 2024 and in other national elections. Similarly, Modi’s far-right government is likely to emerge stronger in the May elections in India. Bukele in El Salvador was re-elected in early 2024, Putin was re-elected and of course there is the risk of a Trump election victory in the November 2024 presidential elections. Not to mention the ongoing genocide being perpetrated against the Palestinian people by Netanyahu’s fascist government.

For all this in 2024, it was high time to launch an international initiative, and Brazil is one of the best places to do it.

Far right takes the initiative

The far right is taking advantage of the capitalist crisis in its various forms, to make headway and show that it has the wind in its sails at the international level. Meetings of the far right are multiplying at an international level, and the fact that it heads governments is giving it wings. Milei’s swearing-in at the end of 2023 was another opportunity to show the convergence, despite their diversity, between Victor Orban, the Hungarian prime minister, Donald Trump, Bolsonaro, Netanyahu, the Spanish far right, etc. In July 2024, representatives of the far right will meet in Sao Paulo.


If the PT-PSOL alliance wins the Sao Paulo mayoral election in October 2024, Brazil’s economic capital could perhaps host a second anti-fascist conference in 2025. Why not? And if not, we’ll have to find a suitable venue to continue the effort.

Continental or regional initiatives would also be very useful. After the shock caused by the strengthening of the far right in the European Parliament, will there be a salutary reaction on the part of a significant number of left-wing forces to convene a major united European conference? And in North America (USA, Canada, Mexico...), could the left also organise an initiative? Initiatives could be launched in other parts of the world...


We are only at the beginning of a process and a positive outcome is not guaranteed. What is certain is that if we do not try to build a powerful international movement against the far right, the latter is likely to continue its advance and become emboldened. The ineffectiveness of the counterattack against the rise of the far right is largely due to the divides within the left on the several continents. Among the many problems that arise in the attempt to build a major united initiative, we can mention the following: the desire to prioritise its own construction as a political force; the refusal to help the success of a united initiative because of the fear that this would strengthen a political competitor; the resistance to align with political parties whose policies foster disenchantment, which prompts many left-wing voters or new voters to shift their votes to the right; the lack of previous collaboration, the difficulty of bringing together parties, social movements and citizens’ associations; of bringing together organisations and individuals... These are all very real problems, and they are not easy to overcome. Moreover, in building a vast international movement against the extreme right, we need to be able to debate these problems, to understand them, to try to resolve them or to set them aside temporarily in order to strengthen the convergence on an operative united platform.

Adopting such a united front approach in no way implies that each organisation gives up its autonomy, its programme, and its action. For anti-capitalists, building an anti-far-right, anti-fascist alliance, which can include left parties participating in governments, that practice class collaboration, should go hand in hand with redoubling efforts to make a revolutionary perspective and practice credible. In any case, success in confronting the rise of the far right will depend on the ability to develop large popular mobilisations and to help them lead to political changes that break with the capitalist system and favour a socialist ecologist (‘ecosocialist’), feminist, anti-racist, internationalist, etc. outcome.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France.