Will will the world’s most cutthroat plutocrats and cold-blooded status-seekers stop trying to convince us they have a heart of gold?
Has there ever been a “meeting that should have been an email” so glaring as Davos? Each year, the world’s masters of politics and finance ride carbon-spewing jets to the World Economic Forum in a lavish Swiss resort town bristling with armed guards, where they opine somberly about solving poverty and climate change. The very act of attendance exposes all the subsequent dialogue as hypocrisy. The event serves primarily as a rare point of unity for political right and left wings, both of whom agree that everyone there should be in jail. If all of these professional decision-makers were really good at decision-making, they would replace the whole farce with an annual quick chat. “So then, we’ll carry on with global capitalism for another year. Agree? Right. Cheerio.”
Davos and similar conclaves can only be understood as performances. They are the stage upon which the Masters of the Universe act out the dramatic narrative of their own lives. They are exercises in mutual self-affirmation: we’re here, and we are important. What good is a powerful position without a rapt audience to listen to one’s pronouncements? Anyone can be rich, but only a select few can be influencers.
Hamilton Nolan is a writer at In These Times