Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.
I included something about this yesterday, but it’s worth further consideration. One take on the World Economic Forum, from the originators of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Adbusters, “Capitalisms’ Cinderella’s Ball”:
This years’ World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, marks the start of the perennial capitalist meet-and-greet summit season.
The economic equivalent of the Oscars, the WEF is a time for the 0.1% to celebrate the achievements and successes of free-markets, and to discuss how to keep the crumbling ship from running ashore … .
Nestled in the picturesque Swiss Alps where the melting glaciers are deceptively intact and the hotels serviced by an army of invisible temporary workers, approximately 2000 global elites discuss everything from redistributing their obscene profits (a.k.a philanthropy) and environmental sustainability, to forecasting new areas of expansion and the future of capitalism.
In an interview on NPR’s Morning Edition today,
Renee Montagne talks to Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, about key issues dominating this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. With Europe on the brink of recession, the mood at the meeting is not as upbeat as it was last year.
Behravesh said there are lots of panels on income inequality, and attention to Obama’s SOTU focusing on the same kind of things. But, he said, there’s not much attention to the Occupy WEF group. Really? Does the guy not get that the panels and concerns he mentions, as well as much of Obama’s SOTU, are direct reflections of the Occupy message? Oh, they can ignore the igloo village, like many ignored the Occupy camps. Or they can, as has been widely done, shut down the camps. But neither ignoring or “making them go away” eliminates the inequalities or the people determined to keep those inequalities out in the open. When WEF attendees, along with Electeds and Wannabe’s, feel compelled to acknowledge what Occupiers have made very public, they reveal the power of the movement.
For a very interesting read, check out “Davos man weighs future of capitalism” here, which includes:
A survey of 1,200 experts the WEF published on Monday showed fear of a major geopolitical disruption over the next year has risen significantly to 54 percent from 36 percent last quarter.
Not a particularly philanthropic, feel my neighbor’s pain kind of concern, but definitely something to get the attention of those at the top. “Major geopolitical disruptions” aren’t good for business (except for the “military industrial complex,” including “riot gear” sales to police departments).
In a ‘Call to Action’ ahead of Davos, 11 leaders of international organizations … said economic growth, jobs and protectionism are the top three worries at the start of 2012. …
Of 30 video messages from Davos co-chairs and partners posted by the WEF ahead of the meeting, all are from men, with only a few Asian or Middle Eastern faces among the ranks of middle-aged white males. … One is Arif Naqvi, chief executive of Abraaj Capital, a private equity manager that specializes in emerging markets.
‘We have a crisis of leadership,’ Naqvi said. ‘The Occupy Wall Street movement is going to gain momentum in different cities simply because of the inequality issue and we need to address it.’
There’s more to show that the “Davos man” is aware that he has a problem.
‘Rising inequality is one of the major risks to our future prosperity and security,” said OECD Chief Economist Pier Carlo Padoan …’ .
A participant in one WEF debate, Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said:
‘It is too simplistic to say we need a new system. The system is not working because of extraordinary greed, extraordinary inequality and attacks on workers’ rights that are leading to a crash in demand.’
Another WEF participant pointed out how
capitalism’s original distinction between the entrepreneur and the salaryman has been corrupted by excessive pay. …
Remember, these are the words of those who meet the wealth standard to attend WEF. And again, it sounds much more like “we’re going to be hurt” rather than “we’re hurting the masses” is behind these comments, but clearly these people have moved beyond “ignore it or dismiss it and it will go away.”
‘There is a tremendous risk of social discohesion with the slow growth in the economy that is currently happening so job creation for companies is tremendously important,’ said Unilever (ULVR.L) chief executive Paul Polman in a WEF video message. …
“Discohesion.” I just wanted to point out the word. Back to WEF concerns:
Along with creating more jobs, the OECD also urges governments to consider raising taxes on the rich to reduce inequality, a move already endorsed by billionaires Warren Buffett and L’Oreal SA … heiress Liliane Bettencourt. …
Klaus Schwab, who initiated WEF in 1971, was asked whether anyone from the Occupy WEF had been invited to address the attendees.
… Schwab said that the forum wanted to engage, but not with those who only criticise.
‘We are looking for such people who can make an interesting contribution. The problem is sometimes if you look at ‘Occupy Davos’ or ‘Occupy Wall Street’ or whatever it is, it’s a movement but who are really the significant representatives?’
The “Davos man” acknowledges there’s a problem, but doesn’t want to hear about it from anyone actually involved in making the problem so obvious it can’t be ignored.
Come May, in Chicago, there will be more such people, totally unwilling to be ignored or controlled. More about that tomorrow, when I’ll look at the upcoming G8 and NATO summit, and the plans for an international Occupation.
(Occupy WEF poster via Occupy WEF)