World Economic Forum Meets to Discuss Capitalism, Dystopia, and Other Big Ideas

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January 24, 2012; Source: The National | Not many NPQ Newswire readers and certainly no one from the NPQ staff gets invited to the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland. The annual meeting of this global nonprofit organization is a time for what the press calls a gathering of “the world’s elite politicians, businessmen, economists and intellectuals…representing what some have called ‘Davos man’” to discuss the world’s economic concerns. 

This year, the topic in Davos is the future of capitalism. The 73-year-old founder of the WEF, Klaus Schwab, is clear on that subject. “Capitalism in its current form has no place in the world around us,” he says. “A global transformation needs to take place urgently and it must begin by restoring a form of social responsibility.” 

Not surprisingly, “Occupy WEF” protesters are building igloos in the small Alpine town, and some, according to the National, are “planning to disrupt the five-day event.” There are 5,000 security personnel deployed in the Davos-Klosters region to protect the more than 2,600 official participants, who include heavy hitters like Bill Gates, George Soros, Muhammad Yunus (Grameen), Niall Ferguson, Vikram Pandit (Citibank), and politicians such as Germany’s Angela Merkel, the UK’s David Camerson, Russian’s Dmitry Medvedyev, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. 

One of the official WEF documents for this annual meeting addresses—not unsympathetically, mind you—the issues that Occupy Wall Street (OWS) has put on the international agenda, expressing concerns for trends leading the world toward dystopia

Consequently, one of the first WEF panels apparently addressed the “seeds of dystopia,” with the discussion led by New York University economist Nouriel Roubini (known for having predicted the collapse of the housing markets). The corporate and political executives who fund WEF had to have been shaken by some of the conclusions reached by Roubini and his co-panelists, particularly Roubini’s belief that the term dystopia “accurately describes today’s world”. The evidence presented sounds like it could have come from an international version of the OWS playbook: 225 million people across the globe unemployed (or one out of every three people on earth poor or unemployed) and one percent of the world’s population owning 40 percent of the wealth. The dytopia panel summary, according to the National? “In the perpetual tug of war between labor and capital, capital is running away with the game.” —Rick Cohen