hAs ever happened a very blatant “meeting had to be an email” like Davos? Every year, the world’s political and finance professors ride in carbon-spitting planes to the World Economic Forum in a swanky Swiss resort teeming with armed guards, where they ruminate anxiously about solving poverty and climate change. The very act of presence exposes all subsequent dialogue as hypocrisy. The event is primarily a rare point of unity for the right and left political wings, both of which agree that everyone out there should be in prison. If all these professional decision makers were really good at making a decision, they would replace the whole charade with a quick annual chat. “So then, we’ll continue working on global capitalism for another year. Agree? Right. Cheerio.”
Davos and similar secret meetings can only be understood as performances. It is the stage when the Masters of the Universe direct the dramatic narrative of their lives. They are exercises in mutual self-affirmation: we are here, and we matter. What good is a powerful office without an ecstatic audience to listen to one’s pronouncements? Anyone can be rich, but only a select few can be influential.
It is this intoxicating allure of performative effect that lends Davos its underlying absurdity. There is nothing remarkable about officials who control the world meeting in secret to make decisions that serve their interests; They do that all the time. This is work. The fatal flaw of the Davos Horde is that they are not satisfied with simply being in control of everything. They also want to be Hassan, or at least to give the general impression that you are good. Thus, the ordinary CEO and presidential interviews and commissions of economic and geopolitical predictions – the real stuff – are leavened with heaps of otherworldly and potent content intended to convey the notion that this crowd of the world’s most powerful and cold-blooded status seekers lies a heart of gold.
Yes, they are here to control all aspects of your life, but they do so with the best interests of humanity in mind. Trust them! Would people who didn’t really care about ethics sit through a panel titled “Profit and Purpose: Accelerating Equal Opportunity?” Checkmate, Marxists! The word “fairness” is in the description!
The pastry-craving Davos crowd will want to nibble on the Swiss chocolate and eat it, too. And this is their fatal flaw. The great irony is that this is an event that purports to identify and analyze global trends—and that has, for years now, worried about the rise of what is inaccurately called “populism,” which threatens to consume the political system that has facilitated corporate capitalism. Postwar hegemony is itself one of the most perfect fuels on earth for populist rage. If Davos’ minds did indeed believe their own nonsense, they would shut down the conference immediately, knowing that it was a threat to the values they profess to believe in. It is no exaggeration to say that the outrage of extravagance that takes place amid the diminishing snowy ridges of the Alps is a potent symbol of all that is wrong with the neoliberal age in the world, which will help bring about its own downfall.
It is symbolic of the insular elites boldly pampering themselves during their lectures on the need for sustainability; It is a symbol of privacy that wraps itself in the language of democracy. It is symbolic of the unaccountable financiers, bureaucrats, and intellectuals who have gone to the right schools and worked for the right institutions and are thus allowed to lock themselves in an impermeable bubble, stare in ignorance at a world whose problems they have never encountered, and describe a course of action that would, coincidentally, Perpetuate the dominance they have enjoyed for generations.
The usefulness of any truly worthwhile networking, communication or sharing of information that takes place in the halls of Davos pales in comparison to the inferno of disgust its presence evokes among the millions of angry, crippled and imprisoned people across the world who will never set foot. inside the security cordon. If nothing else, those present at Davos should shut it down in their purely personal interest. They make everyone angry.
But in the bizarre nature of bubbles, those inside will never know what they don’t know. Convincing the Davos man that his environment is toxic is as impossible as it is convincing Thomas Friedman That talking to taxi drivers did not give him insight into humanity. The problem is not in Davos Existing – I could imagine a world that was a wholesome kind of exile that kept dangerous people confined to a comfortable simulation of reality far from the rest of us, The Matrix for Economic Thinkfluencers, a zoo where you could watch a live cam to Larry Summers explains to Anthony Scaramucci why high unemployment is a good thing . No, the problem is that the Davos Matrix is plugged directly into the mainframe. The decisions these people make in their little air of illusion seep into the real world, leaving the rest of us clutching at the bag as wealth flows more and more upward, decade after decade.
The one useful thing that happens in Davos every year is the launch of Oxfam Report On economic inequality, a document that always points to why Davos is brutal. This year, Oxfam found that the richest 1% captured two-thirds of the total wealth created in the last two years. Many of these people absorbed this news quietly in a nice warm chalet, before heading off to make statements at a Davos committee. The rest of the world boils, the chariots of the lower classes rage. Some will become fascists, some will become socialists, and some will just buy weapons and bide their time. Davos people will continue to talk about “global dangers” without suggesting that their way of life is also in danger. There is much that all leaders at Davos can learn from the wider world. But there is nothing we can learn from them, except who is to blame.