At first glance, it appears there really is nothing new under the sun. Progressives of every stripe were on hand for the recent World Social Forum in Tunis.
Claiming to be a counter to the World Economic Forum and the perceived threats of globalization, the annual gathering of non-governmental organizations not only recycles the same overused socialist rhetoric under the guise of a “message to the world,” but the tired message has been used again and again since the nineteenth century, calling for an egalitarian society and the overthrow of what was once known as the bourgeoisie, now universally labeled the 1%.
The goal of the participants of the World Social Forum, which drew between 40,000 and 50,000 from around the world, can be summed up in the final call to arms of their closing document, the Declaration of the Assembly:
Social movements of the world, let us advance towards a global unity to shatter the capitalist system!
Vague Demands and Threats of Uprisings
The same concluding document makes another statement which at first seems a bit over-the-top:
We demand reparations for all the peoples who have been victims of colonialism across the world.
Yet delving into such a sweeping statement, a distinct lack of precision becomes immediately apparent. For instance, no definition is forthcoming of colonialism, or what it means to be a victim of it. What are these reparations, and who exactly will be making them? Should we start with the peoples who were “victims” of the “colonialism” of the Roman Empire? Or perhaps the millions affected by Islamic hegemony? In all likelihood, it would appear consistent that they are referring to those “colonialist” countries still in existence today which happen to possess considerable wealth (any remnants of the Soviet Union need not apply).
No event of this nature would truly be complete without a statement of intentions of future action:
Inspired by the history of our struggles and by the rejuvenating strength of the people on the streets, the Assembly of Social Movements call upon everyone to mobilize and develop actions – coordinated at the world level – in a global week of mobilization against capitalism from 17 to 25 October, 2015.
Progressing Further than Marx and Engels?
These latter-day disciples of the godfathers of communism spent the week in Tunis attending sessions advocating one-world government, which included such offerings as Towards a World Citizens Movement: Actions for Transnational Change and Building a Utopian World Network. Other progressive causes about which Marx and Engels were conspicuously silent were given full attention here, such as Gender and Climate Change and Towards a Comprehensive Climate Justice Movement. Lest the more technologically adept participants be left out, the official Hackathon rounded out the schedule.
Should one wonder as to the goal of this reunion of radicals, we need look no further than a statement from the final document which clearly indicates the direction chosen by the participants of the World Social Forum 2015:
We call for democratic mass media and alternative media, which are fundamental to overthrow the capitalist logic.
Marx, Engels and their numerous socialist counterparts never openly called for an overthrow of logic, but that’s exactly what it will take to fully implement their radical agenda in the twenty-first century.
In the final analysis, social forums like this one just rehash the same old socialist narrative. When it comes to original material there is nothing new under the sun.