The world’s ruling elite are going to gather in Davos in a few days “to address the state of the world and discuss priorities for the year ahead.”

It’s deja-vu all over again, to quote noted social theorist Yogi Berra.

Fifty heads of state. Fifty-six finance ministers. Nineteen heads of central banks. Fifteen hundred business leaders, including six hundred CEOs and assorted experts, toffs, and celebrities rounding out the gathering.

The host’s website (World Economic Forum) is chocked full of glossy videos and weighty sounding white papers about the ills of the world. This year’s theme is “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” because, as the WEF’s president says, “There really is a lot at stake.”

For sure.

Climate change. The risks of recession and inflation. Chronic economic disparities. War in Ukraine and the geopolitical fantasies swirling around in Moscow and Beijing. Populism, fueled in large part by the continued erosion of faith in our governments and institutions. The social and psychological effects of our digital technology.

We need solutions that challenge the status quo and force us to think outside of the box. Ideas that don’t neatly fit our expectations. Actions that make a difference.

But here’s the rub: The self-selected savers of the world have been getting together in Davos every year for over a half-century.

The WEF’s description of the agenda from 2 years ago looks scarily current. The only major changes to this year’s event seem to be the celebrities on hand to perform and schmooze.

Is Davos secretly very effective and its attendees worked behind the scenes to help mitigate the world’s problems? Could its blathertastic public pronouncements, like its declaration a few years ago that companies should have more “purpose” than just making money, be purposeful distraction from its really meaty work?

Yeah, right.

I suspect that the truth is the opposite. The elite who gather there are beneficiaries of said issues. It’s all a charade.

I’m not alleging some dark conspiracy. There are no plots, no Trilateral Commission or Illuminati-like activities. They’re doing nothing other than producing happy propaganda.

And that’s the point.

Most of the world’s problems are side-effects of the way it’s run. Outcomes of how business make profits. Perpetuated by the short-term politics that decide elections. Tolerated by us because we’re unwilling to make meaningful changes to what we buy and how we live.

The elite meeting in Davos won’t change the Status Quo because they are the Status Quo.

Sure, we’ll see more videos and fawning media coverage of important topics presented in speeches and discussed by expert panels. Announcements will be made that the attendees have agreed on the importance of “doing more” or “doing differently.”

Then we’ll see more of the same next year, when they get back together to do it again.

And the world will continue to burn and fall apart.

Categories: Essays