The globalists in world politics and international finance are celebrating a somber occasion in Davos, media reports indicate, as their influence on the global stage is waning rapidly in the wake of the U.K. referendum to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of Donald Trump to the presidency.
“The global economy is in better shape than it’s been in years. Stock markets are booming, oil prices are on the rise again and the risks of a rapid economic slowdown in China, a major source of concern a year ago, have eased,” Reuters’ Noah Barkin writes from Davos, Switzerland, at the annual summit of the world’s elite. “And yet, as political leaders, CEOs and top bankers make their annual trek up the Swiss Alps to the World Economic Forum in Davos, the mood is anything but celebratory. Beneath the veneer of optimism over the economic outlook lurks acute anxiety about an increasingly toxic political climate and a deep sense of uncertainty surrounding the U.S. presidency of Donald Trump, who will be inaugurated on the final day of the forum.”
The Sydney Morning Herald’s Clancy Yeates has a piece detailing how this year’s World Economic Forum at Davos—at which Chinese president Xi Jinping will speak, but German Chancellor Angela Merkel will not—there is a focus on the “backlash” voters worldwide have delivered against globalization.
“Chief executive pay has become a powerful symbol of the widening gap between the winners and losers created by globalisation, and boards must put more focus on justifying the bonuses they pay executives amid a backlash against free-market policies,” Yeates writes. “That is the view of the chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, Elizabeth Proust, one of the Australian business leaders attending the powerful summit in Switzerland this week. The annual meeting of the global economic and political elite, in a town in the Swiss Alps, takes place against a backdrop of growing inequality in many countries, seen as a key driver for anti-establishment political shocks including Brexit and Donald Trump’s win.”
The globalists at Davos still don’t seem to fully understand what is happening, as the World Economic Forum’s website published a column from Robert Muggah of the Igarape Institute with a headline stating boldly: “Populism is poison.” He and co-author Misha Glenny, a writer and broadcaster, advocate for “plural cities” to defeat populism.
— World Economic Forum (@wef) January 15, 2017
“If cities are to defeat populism, they need to know what it is,” Muggah and Glenny write. “According to Princeton’s Jan-Werner Muller, at the core of populism is a profound rejection of pluralism. It is animated by two basic ideas – an opposition to diversity and a rejection of the so-called establishment. Populists contend that outsiders threaten the national way of life and that ‘the people’ need to exclude outsiders. The antithesis of the people is, oddly, migrants.”
Populists aren’t likely to slow their winning streak any time soon. Globalization is on the decline everywhere in the world, from Guatemala—which elected a television comedian, Jimmy Morales, as its president back in late 2015—to Italy, whose recent referendum led to the resignation of prime minister Matteo Renzi. Obviously, America just elected Donald Trump and the British voted to leave the European Union. French and German presidential elections in 2017 threaten to see the potential rise of ultra-populist Marine Le Pen and the possible demise of mega-globalist Angela Merkel all in one fell swoop.
It’s unclear if Merkel will go down, or if Le Pen will win in France. But that we’re even at this point where it’s possible is remarkable in and of itself. Le Pen spent the past few days in New York City, making a surprise appearance at Trump Tower hoping for a meeting which she didn’t get with the president-elect. Merkel, meanwhile, is clearly scared enough of a potential electoral loss in 2017 that she’s skipping her regular appearance in Davos at the World Economic Forum so as to avoid providing populist opponents of her globalism with any ammunition heading into this year. It comes on the heels of her pledge to ban burkhas in her speech announcing she intends to stand for re-election, a complete reversal from a leading open borders advocate who’s perhaps singlehandedly overseen the importation of millions of Muslims into mainland Europe including Germany.
The New York Times’ Michael J. de la Merced and Russell Goldman detail how the World Economic Forum has, for decades, been the exclusive annual hang-out for the world’s political, financial and cultural elites—a place where they gather together, and celebrate themselves.
“The annual meeting runs on a tiered system of colored badges denoting just how important one is, or is not,” Merced and Goldman write. “White badges are for attendees able to attend any official event and make full use of the forum’s facilities. Orange badges are reserved for the 500 journalists who cover the forum, but are not allowed at some parties. Other badges, like purple ones, denote technical or support staff and limit their holders to a few areas. If that system were not complicated enough, local hotels like the Belvedere and the InterContinental often sell their own badges to the bankers and consultants who descend upon Davos — but not the forum itself — to strike deals and chat up clients. These souls camp out at the hotels, renting rooms for business meetings by day and soiree hopping at night.”
While most of the official events are things like lectures, speeches, panels and discussions, the Times writers highlight some of the “more esoteric attractions” like “a simulation of a refugee’s experience, where Davos attendees crawl on their hands and knees and pretend to flee from advancing armies.”
There are also lots of parties and schmoozing behind the scenes, where the elites bond together.
“There are several official cocktail receptions, but the action really lies in a galaxy of events hosted by corporations. Some are small, intimate dinners that feature the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio and Bono,” Merced and Goldman write. “Others are dazzling affairs: JPMorgan Chase, for example, has previously taken over the Kirchner Museum Davos for drinks with its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. Google’s annual party at the InterContinental Hotel has become the hottest ticket in town. The investor Anthony Scaramucci, now an adviser to Donald J. Trump, for years has hosted a reception at the famed Hotel Europe featuring a sometimes eye-popping list of high-end Champagne and Bordeaux red wine. A more recent up-and-comer is hosted by Salesforce.com, a business software maker, whose chief, Marc Benioff, is one of the forum’s most ardent boosters. Last year’s Salesforce party included Mr. Benioff flying in scores of fresh flower leis and a band from Hawaii, as Eric Schmidt of Google and other tech notables danced in a corner. Several years ago, Sean Parker of Napster and Facebook fame, hosted an over-the-top gathering that featured stuffed animal heads shooting laser beams out of their eyes. And the Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has thrown opulent gatherings at a nearby villa where the Champagne flowed freely For a nightcap, the Davos crowd traditionally retires to the Tonic Bar at Hotel Europe, sipping cocktails while the forum fixture Barry Colson leads the crowd in Billy Joel singalongs.”
At last year’s Davos, the elites were certain the people of the world would never vote for things like Brexit or Trump or the Italian referendum. In other words, all was well.
“Last year, the consensus here was that Trump had no chance of being elected. His victory, less than half a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, was a slap at the principles that elites in Davos have long held dear, from globalization and free trade to multilateralism,” Barkin wrote in Reuters.
This year, though, it’s a much gloomier affair in Davos. These world elites have found out, thanks to voters worldwide, they’re no longer the center of the universe. Financial elites are losing control on the world markets while political elites are losing control of international governments and cultural elites are seeing their star power fade.
“Trump is the poster child for a new strain of populism that is spreading across the developed world and threatening the post-war liberal democratic order,” Barkin adds. “With elections looming in the Netherlands, France, Germany, and possibly Italy, this year, the nervousness among Davos attendees is palpable.”
And now, the gloomy affair in the Swiss Alps is getting even more depressing. According to Bloomberg’s Matthew Campbell and Simon Kennedy, those at Davos are even beginning to wonder if they’re “part of the problem.”
“Did the global elite’s devotion to borderless capitalism sow the seeds of a populist backlash?” reads the subhead of a recent Bloomberg piece from Campbell and Kennedy.
The piece quotes Harvard professor and former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Kenneth Rogoff as admitting that Davos is never correct.
“A joke I’ve told 1,000 people in the months since leaving Davos is that the conventional wisdom of Davos is always wrong,” Rogoff said. “No matter how improbable, the event most likely to happen is the opposite of whatever the Davos consensus is.”
The elites at Davos are worried as the working class folks worldwide have stormed their castles and disrupted their lovely lives, the Bloomberg writers say, and they don’t find it very funny.
“The repeated failure of business and political elites to predict what’s coming—last year, that included the U.K.’s vote to leave the European Union—doesn’t strike those returning this month to the Swiss Alps as very funny,” Campbell and Kennedy wrote. “After a year in which political upsets roiled financial markets and killed off the careers of once-dominant Davos-going politicians, the concern for delegates attending this year’s meeting isn’t that their forecasts are often wrong, but that their worldview is.”
Populists shouldn’t take this as proof the war is over: The globalists will always try to fight back. There’s even rumblings that Party of Davos regular former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a disgraced ex-GOP leader who lost his own primary election back in 2014 to now Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA), may try for a political comeback down the road. But if past is prologue, it’s unlikely these world elites will regain power and authority over the people who took their power away in the first place.