Common Dreams is currently running an essay about the Global Justice Movement, excerpted from an optimistically titled book by Mark Engler, How to Rule the World.
The optimistic Mr. Engler sees signs of extraordinary progress in a series of gatherings in Port Alegre, Brazil, but I can't quite share Mr. Engler's optimism.
"Tents holding discussions on the need to curb corporate power have advanced a slate of innovative proposals."
Isn't there something slightly pitiful about this picture? The radicals plotting to overthrow the global corporate oligarchy are chattering in tents in Brazil.
Tree houses in Tasmania?
Tiny people whispering together in a shoe box?
"In other tents, family farmers and food safety advocates from throughout the world have gathered to promote models for redistributive land reform."
One of the unfortunate aspects of "redistributive land reform" is that before you can redistribute land, you have to take it away from the people who own it. In the United States, the Fifth Amendment prohibition against "taking" without just compensation means that the land to be redistributed must be bought at market value, and in all countries at all times this purchase can only be accomplished with mountains of ad hoc currency, which dilutes whatever value the rest of the money in circulation may have. Hyper-inflation inevitably follows, and since the new possessors are previously inexperienced with the management of anything (cf. land "reform" in Zimbabwe), the entire economy falls to pieces, militias appear, and you find yourself in that condition of society which Hobbes succinctly described as "the war of all against all."
Since the shooting will inevitably begin eventually, successful attempts at "redistributive land reform" have taken the precaution of shooting first and observing local analogues of the Fifth Amendment later. In the immortal words of Chairman Mao, "This is not a simple, clean, or quick struggle."
Chairman Mao's recipe isn't much different from the Bolshevik cookbook: Start with peasants and workers, add guns, subtract the aristocracy and bourgeoisie, and try to survive a few decades of chaos until another ruling elite emerges to make the machine work again.
But way down south in the tent-city of "global justice," there's always yet another hopeful gang of crusaders meeting in yet another tent.
"Groups meeting in tents designated for discussion of energy and the environment have strategized about ways to break our dependence on the oil economy."
Small hand-made windmills may be sprouting all over a landscape somewhere, but not too far from the chattering tents in Port Alegre peasant entrepreneurs are cutting down the last remnants of the rain forest that produces the air we breathe, and all the chatter about "global justice" will soon be moot, because none of us will survive to enjoy it.