(21 January) This week saw some of the most influential people on the planet gathered in the Swiss town of Davos for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Ostensibly, the declared mission of the WEF is to improve the world by facilitating political, business, academic and other leaders in efforts to shape political, economic and social agendas. The event took place between January 16th-20th 2023 and focused on various themes including geopolitics and globalization, sustainability, food security, economic growth, and energy. This year attendees include Germany’s Chancellor Olaf Scholz, as well as the presidents of Spain, South Korea, Poland and the Philippines among 51 heads of state present. Along with them were 56 finance ministers, 19 central bank governors, 30 trade ministers, 35 foreign ministers and various celebrities attended along with former British Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Boris Johnson.
Certainly, the most significant issues that formed the backdrop of the conference were the war in Ukraine and the persisting COVID crisis. Both dilemmas have rocked the global economic and social systems and have stunted economic growth resulting in soaring inflation. The sheer scale of these challenges is reflected in the declared theme of the conference which is ‘bold collective action’ with the aim to inspire dialogue and cooperation between the private and public sectors to propel future recovery.
On Wednesday the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional video appeal to world leaders for greater international support for Ukraine in the war against Russia, particularly seeking out more tanks and air defense systems. In his speech, he highlighted how Ukraine’s struggle against Russia was a defense of democratic values stating: “We routinely defend values that some of our allies take for granted as a fact of life. At first the world underestimates a threat, then it unites to resist it, and then the world wins.” His words bear the stench of hypocrisy as it was Zelensky who withdrew Ukraine’s membership from the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People in 2020. During Israel’s barbaric bombardment of Gaza in May 2021, Zelensky portrayed Israel as the victim of Palestinian aggression. Indeed, Professor Joseph Massad has commented how ‘Ironically, that Zelensky thinks Israel’s neighbours “want to see us dead” may be no more than a psychological projection of what he and the Israelis want to see happen to Palestinians, not the other way around.’
Furthermore, the conference has also served to highlight other glaring hypocrisies. To combat alleged climate change and find coherent global solutions, a new coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate launched, bringing together over 50 countries to increase ‘international cooperation on climate, trade and sustainable development.’ These same dignitaries who called for immediate action on climate change were berated for arriving at Davos airport in a slew of gas guzzling private jets. In a statement Greenpeace official Klara Maria Schenk said “Meanwhile, the rich and powerful flock to Davos in ultra-polluting, socially inequitable private jets to discuss climate and inequality behind closed doors,” Furthermore, a study commissioned by Greenpeace found the previous year’s jet emissions to be equivalent to “about 350,000 average cars.” Private aircrafts accounted for 1,040 trips to airports near Davos, or one out of every two flights to the summit, the study identified. Not really the way to achieve their sustainable utopia.
In one of the most concerning initiatives proposed at the conference, the former British Prime minister Tony Blair called for states to closely monitor vaccine data to identify vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Blair, who is tipped to replace Klaus Schwabb as the next WEF chairman, said: “Some of the vaccines that will come on down the line will be multiple shots, so you’ve got to have, for reasons to do with the healthcare more generally, but certainly for a pandemic or for vaccines… a proper digital infrastructure and many countries don’t have that. In fact, most countries don’t have that.” Considering the plethora of concerns regarding vaccine safety and alleged vaccine related fatalities, this news has been met with widespread concern and former Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage branding Blair ‘pure evil’.
A more sordid aspect to the conference is highlighted in the soaring demand for sex workers at the conference. According to several reports in the mainstream media, prostitution is well represented at Davos with some escorts reportedly charging up to $2,500 a night. During the course of the WEF conference, escorts have reportedly been booked to stay at the same hotels as Davos’ most prominent guests. Salome Balthus, a sex worker and writer, said one of her American clients who regularly visits Switzerland and her multiple times a year is among the 2,700 conference attendees this year. In 2020, Swiss law enforcement informed the Times newspaper of how at least 100 escorts had made their way to Davos to ply their wares at the conference.
Overall, the WEF conference was a nauseating spectacle of power, privilege and hypocrisy, attended by the.000001% of the global elites. It is unlikely that genuine altruistic sentiment was the primary incentive for many of the participants at the conference. We have witnessed many empty suits preach about inequality and injustice yet balk at the idea of they themselves paying more tax to alleviate some of the burden. The majority of the attendees were egregiously wealthy white men who most likely consider themselves most qualified to rectify the world’s problems. The fact that they themselves created those same problems matters not to them.