by John Ward
The senior members of the annual Davos skiing jolly (aka World Economic Forum) have published a damning indictment of those in charge of shaping the future for life on Earth. I could more easily accept that verdict if the Klosters crowd was in turn willing to accept some level of blame for it.
It’s hard not to sigh with a thin smile on reading the WEF’s image of itself:
‘The World Economic Forum is an independent and impartial International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. Its objective is to improve the state of the world. It does not promote any political, commercial or personal interests’
It says it is ‘the only yearly gathering that brings together leaders of global society’, thus opening with the acceptance that there is such a thing as global society, which there quite obviously isn’t. About the the most daring thing it does at Davos is to hear ‘the disruptive voices of the Forum’s Young Global Leaders, Global Shapers and Technology Pioneers’, but describes their input with the Freudian use of a negative adjective which sounds anything but impartial.
Indeed, its very belief in public-private cooperation is a clear political statement from a gathering which places itself above politics. Most Europeans do not have much in the way for nice things to say about that ‘cooperation’: thus far, it seems largely to have been a means for enriching bureaucrats and screwing taxpayers.
I’m not at all impartial about Davos. There – God help me – I’ve said it.
The World Economic Forum has just released its annual Global Risks Report (GRR) following the meeting two weeks ago. To call it vapid would be to insult the weightiness of vapour. There’s no shortage of hand-wringing, but precious little evidence of open-minded thinking.
It makes three overall observations: that globalisation ‘needs to find new modes of practice that respond to the insecurity many people feel’; that political tensions and the increasing polarisation of society, require ‘a radical rethinking of existing institutions’; and finally, although the risks are intensifying, ‘the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking, divisions are hardening, and we are drifting deeper into global problems’.
You can almost hear the lobbying pitches the WEF must have endured in order to reach conclusions that spell imminent danger with close to zero culpability: the attitude that sings out (albeit off key) says there is nothing wrong with our assumptions, we just need to change our tactics.
Qu: “How many forums does it take to change a strategy?”
Ans: “We are not changing the f**king strategy”.
Equally, I have rarely seen three trend assertions demonstrating such a blind ability to make them sound mutually exclusive. So then, globalised tax evasion, mechanisation invstment, offshore plant siting, Trust-like price manipulation and financialisation have nothing to do with the rise and rise of the Gilets Jaunes and populism alongside old Left revivalism? The power of multinationals and central banks to blackmail politicians has nothing to do with falling trust in the political class? And rigid economic ideologies are – of course – utterly removed from hardening attitudes between the various political activist groups? Perish the thought.
Deconstruct the three main ‘points’ the GRR is trying to make, and they are devoid of anything that challenges the status quo. There’s nothing wrong with globalism as a theory, it just needs a little more humanity here and there. Monetarism isn’t a mathematically flawed excuse to push government onto the sidelines and grab as much privatisation loot as possible. By all means let’s be radical, but hey – the institutions are just fine as they are. Most everyone lacks the will to tackle the deepening problems, but let’s not get hasty about changing the cast of characters.
But I finally lost it with the WEF when – you’ll never guess – they listed ‘by far the greatest and most immediate threat’ as……global warming.
There is no globally consistent data to firmly establish based on science something credible called ‘global warming’. We have a variety of climate changes which are obvious and getting worse; however, nobody – and I do mean nobody – has a clear or even half-proven idea of either what’s causing it, or thus what the blithering blue blazes to do about it.
But to call climate change the most immediate threat (in a lucky bag that also contains global debt, consumer impoverishment, the power of business to kill liberal democracy, nuclear proliferation, geopolitical energy tensions, wildly overvalued bourses and increasing ideological violence) is beyond parody, and most definitely isn’t funny.
I’m not a climate change denialist, and I dismiss most of the conspiracy theories advanced by the Delingpole/Trump end of the climate opinion spectrum. But the CO² science is equivocal at best – and while I do think that a trebling of the human population and farting cows definitely produce more greenhouse gases than are healthy, which trees to plant (and how many, if any) depends entirely on whether you’re in Brazil or Sweden.
Last but not least, I wonder if any of our more thoughtful Sloggers see globalism per se as, you know – call me wacky – somewhat implicated in those genuine ecological problems. Extensive farming, bourse-quoted crops, rapaciously devoured timber, genetic modification, polluted waterways, fracking, chemical fertilizers, auto emission cheating, metals mining, commodity price manipulation….how long have you got?
Here are some basic raw materials that I think globalism, quoted companies, large bureaucratic organisations, senior board directors, Wall Street, the City, bankers, neoliberals, monetarists, mass media and the entire energy sector are rapidly running out of:
Ethics, morality, genuine conduct codes, integrity, decency, honesty, honour, principles and humanity
The more think-tanks called ‘World’ this and ‘Global’ that remain in hopeless denial about the abject failure of neoliberal globalism, the more the equally delusional hard Left will claim that the problem is with capitalism per se….and what we need is stultifying collectivism.
The first step towards facing up to Crash2 and its consequences has to be acceptance by the current élites of the fact that neoliberal ideas about a global village are utterly toxic.
As members of that 3% Village, they are globaholics and neolibolics – diseases every bit as dangerous as being an alcoholic. That they do not represent a form of creative and entrepreneurial community capitalism, but rather a rapidly tightening financialised monopoly which, as mercantile global trade becomes a fight for resources, could very easily see off the planet….and will undoubtedly render Homo sapiens extinct.
And by the way, this is just sour grapes because they didn’t invite me. How very dare they not.