Billionaires explain to millionaires how ordinary people should live
The meeting of the global political and high finance establishment at the World Economic Forum (WEF) from 25 – 29 January did not take place at the the Swiss ski resort of Davos as per usual. Instead, it was held digitally, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. In May, the Forum shall again be held, but in Singapore. This meeting shall remain a physical meeting. Whether the participants will have been vaccinated by this time remains to be seen. The World Economic Forum itself invites around 1,500 representatives from over 70 countries who are involved in various sectors of society – especially from politics and business – attending the virtual summit meeting of the self-proclaimed global elite. This year, the Forum is paying particular attention to Asia, where more than 50% of global economic output is generated. This is one reason why Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were present at this year’s event to address the corporate managers of the leading global players.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab (© World Economic Forum, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
The End of Normality
This year's official WEF agenda included the five primary topics of industrial transformation through the creation and introduction of new technologies, the impact of the digital revolution on multinational companies, the future of the labour market, improving global co-operation and the question of how economies can be made more resilient to future crises (not limited to pandemics). This particular Forum was especially politically charged due WEF founder Klaus Schwab – whose recent book, The Great Reset, was met with no small amount of scepticism – shared his belief that business leaders would be expected to play a much more “active role“ in the “great new beginning“, due to take place after the end of the pandemic. This focus on business leaders makes one wonder about the appropriate democratic legitimacy behind the said Great Reset, which seems to presuppose that people would actually be willing to give up their "old normality" as a matter of course. In Schwab's book mentioned above, an extract reads as follows:
At the time of writing (June 2020), the pandemic continues to worsen globally. Many of us are pondering when things will return to normal. The short response is never. Nothing will ever return to the ‘broken’ sense of normalcy that prevailed prior to the crisis, because the Coronavirus pandemic marks a fundamental inflection point in our global trajectory.
Global Regime Change
On its homepage, the WEF proclaims, among other things, that the pandemic has accelerated systemic changes that were already apparent before its inception. The fault lines that emerged in 2020 now appeared as critical crossroads in 2021. The time to make crucial choices was fast approaching, as the urgency to reform systems grew stronger worldwide. But what is meant when there is mention of global regime change? Is this so-called Great Reset perhaps not a new start, but rather – following the shortcomings of increased globalisation having become visible to all – a reset to prevent an anti-globalist, multi-polar, regionalist turnaround? Publicly, the Great Reset is packaged as an improvement of capitalism, whereby the protagonists exclude a non-capitalist alternative from the outset, bringing us back to the fatal message of there being “no alternative“. It would make more sense to aim for making improvements to the market economy to the effect that it is no longer contaminated by capitalist, an without risking becoming a left-wing socialist economy. But is this to be expected from a Forum where predominantly billionaires meet to explain to millionaires how ordinary people should live? Probably not.
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jingping
Regardless of the high-finance lobby character of this Forum, renowned heads of state also made their appearances. However, Angela Merkel's appearance remained colourless and well-trodden to the extent that one need not even bother paying heed to it. Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping were the two most important politicians who do not belong to the political caste of the West. Regarding the socio-political challenges, Putin warned that the world's global security system was deteriorating, and is comparable to the state of global security in the 1930s. The Russian leader also drew attention to the growing influence of digital giants in modern society, which – as Putin correctly noted – are no longer just economic giants, but are already de facto competing with entire states, in some areas. In particular, Vladimir Putin called on European leaders to eliminate the phobias of the past that hinder co-operation with Russia.
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Not least because of the increasing tensions between China and the United States of America – especially since even the pro-Democrat US broadcaster CNBC noted that 2021, geo-politically, would be more favourable for China than the USA – Jingping's speech was eagerly watched. After all, despite COVID-19, China proclaimed a GDP growth of 2.3% for 2020. From a national and multi-polar perspective, Jingping's following statements were noteworthy:
No two leaves in the world are identical, and no histories, cultures or social systems are the same. Each country is unique, with its own history, culture and social system, and none is superior to the other…The different histories, cultures and social systems are as old as human societies, and they are the inherent features of human civilization…Difference in itself is no cause for alarm. What does ring the alarm is…the attempt to impose hierarchy on human civilisation, or to force one’s own history, culture and social system upon others…We should advocate fair competition – like competing with each other for excellence in a racing field – not beating each other on a wrestling arena…
One might agree with this, as long as China also sees itself in practice as a regional power committed to multi-polarity, and does not seek to ultimately replace a Pax Americana with a Pax Sinica – whether by military or economic means.
Sascha A. Roßmüller
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