Angel: Davos 2017: Aristocrats Face the Pitchforks
The disconnect between the Davos community—among the principal beneficiaries of globalization— and the rest of the world is striking
By GERARD BAKER Jan. 16, 2017 5:00 a.m. ET
If the highly integrated, early 21st-century global economy had an aristocracy, it would be roughly the group of people who gather this week in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.
There, the heads of governments, central bankers, chief executives of major banks and global corporations, leading academics, the gorgeous media and entertainment stars, meet each January to survey the global landscape they have constructed and ruled to discuss how to improve it.
This year, the aristocracy that comes to Switzerland might, if it is sufficiently sentient, begin to feel uncomfortable parallels with the condition in which its equally well-heeled forebears found themselves in late 18th-century France or early 20th-century Russia.
The tide of populist anger that swept the major economies in 2016—highlighted by the British vote to leave the European Union and the election of Donald Trump in the U.S., marked also by rising support for nationalist parties and antiestablishment causes elsewhere in the developed world, is lapping at the elegantly appointed front door of Davos Man.
The World Economic Forum, under whose auspices the Davos crowd meets, does its best to play down the elite nature of this week’s gathering, frowning on some of the more ostentatious sybaritic displays and encouraging earnest dialogue about the responsibilities rather than the privileges of being among life’s winners.
But the champagne will still be poured and the caviar devoured almost as copiously as at Versailles in the 1780s or in the Winter Palace in the early 1900s.
The bells are tolling now as loudly as they ever have for the world’s globalist leadership, and if there is one institution and one set of people that most neatly represents the target of so much anger and nationalist fervor, it is Davos itself.
Davos isn’t merely a place or a group of people as it is an idea—a very successful idea; indeed the dominant idea of the 25 years since the end of the Cold War.
Its essence is that the world is one great market, opportunity and polity. That barriers to global economic activity should be removed—that national borders and national sentiment and national sovereignty need to be subordinated to global and supranational institutions, that in the face of challenges such as climate change and global poverty and disease, the nation state is not only powerless but actually a dangerous impediment to progress.
The Davos community has been—no coincidence—among some of the principal beneficiaries of this idea.
Supranational institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations and indeed the WEF itself; multinational companies that have gained enormous financial advantage from shifting production south and east to low-cost emerging markets.
Bankers who have fed off this globalization—and helped fuel it—with fat fees for investment, deals and trading.
A cultural leadership in the academy, the arts, the media and entertainment that is on a permanent global circuit and migrates seasonally between New York, St. Barts, London and St. Moritz.
The disconnect between this fraternity and the rest of the world is striking. These are Americans, Britons, French, Chinese, Indians, who have far more in common with each other than they have with their less globally adroit compatriots back home in Wisconsin, Lincolnshire, the Pas-de-Calais, Chongqing or Gujarat.
And this is the core of the problem. The Davos idea has worked brilliantly for these deracinated globe-trotting leaders. But for those left back home—less well-educated, with less access to resources that are needed for success in a flattened economic landscape—the net benefits aren’t apparent.
Globalization has surely helped the world economy grow rapidly in the last quarter century and has lifted out of poverty hundreds of millions of people.
But for many, especially in the traditional West, the costs have been heavy. And for many people everywhere, the elevation of global as opposed to national solidarity just doesn’t resonate. In the age of terror especially, national borders look less like frustrating barriers to travel and trade and more like secure protection against unfathomable menace.
The question for the Davos leadership this year is twofold: Will they continue to dismiss and deride voters who want to maintain or restore those borders as racist, xenophobic or even neo-fascist? Or do they at least want to try to acknowledge the legitimacy of national sentiment over globalist ideology?
And second, what, if anything, do they intend to do about it?
The history of aristocracies has mostly ended unhappily. If the Davos crowd doesn’t begin to answer these questions in 2017, the best they may be able to hope for is a less violent, less terminal, but ultimately no less significant modern-day version of what happened to the Bourbons or the Romanovs.
Angel: …..”The question for the Davos leadership this year is twofold: Will they continue to dismiss and deride voters who want to maintain or restore those borders as racist, xenophobic or even neo-fascist? Or do they at least want to try to acknowledge the legitimacy of national sentiment over globalist ideology?
And second, what, if anything, do they intend to do about it?
The history of aristocracies has mostly ended unhappily. If the Davos crowd doesn’t begin to answer these questions in 2017, the best they may be able to hope for is a less violent, less terminal, but ultimately no less significant modern-day version of what happened to the Bourbons or the Romanovs.”
Hmmm! I imagine that they had better get this GCR done asap….people are tired world
over of these greedy, immoral people, that have sucked the world dry of it’s natural resources i.e. gold, diamonds, other precious stones, oil, etc., and have funneled monies to themselves, family members and friends. I say, yes, it’s time to get out the pitch forks.
Bill Holter : NEW UPDATE Paper Currencies approaching their Real Value -ZERO
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