The term ‘Davos Man’ was originally coined by the Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in an essay entitled ‘Dead Souls’. It was intended to describe a member of “an emerging global superclass”, or “gold collar workers”, who owed more allegiance to the elite cosmopolitan class than they did to their countries. Why ‘Davos Man’? Because the members of this class – or, at least, the gold-tier members – meet every January in Davos at an annual conference organised by the World Economic Forum, dating back to 1988.
In UnHerd, Thomas Fazi, co-author with Toby Green of the forthcoming book Covid Consensus, has written a good piece about the WEF, which, as readers of this site will know, features in many conspiracy theories that have circulated in the last 21 months. Fazi doesn’t think the WEF is guilty of secretly trying to use its global political influence to pursue a particular policy agenda – rather, it’s doing that quite openly and has been for years.
The issue, to my mind, isn’t whether Klaus Schwab and his cronies are trying to implement various policies in different countries without worrying about democratic accountability – if that’s a conspiracy, it’s a conspiracy in plain sight. Rather, the question is about how it goes about doing this. My view is that the WEF, via annual jamborees like the one that’s about to kick off in Davos, has been so successful at selling its policy solutions to ‘crises’ such as the pandemic, ‘global heating’ and the ‘infodemic’ – to PR-ing them, you might say – it doesn’t have to worry about the mechanics of implementing them. That’s where the conspiracy theorists go wrong. They make all sorts of implausible claims about the degree of control exercised by Schwab and his coterie of billionaire buddies over senior political leaders because, in their minds, that’s the only way to make sense of the fact that so many governments are dancing to the WEF’s tune. As I’ve argued before, it’s just not credible to claim that Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, Justin Trudeau, Mark Rutte, Jacinda Arden et al are receiving instructions from Schwab or one of his intermediaries via a back channel because: (a) someone in their governments would have leaked that by now; (b) there are numerous forces at play when it comes to political decision-making, not least “events, dear boy, events”, and the wishes of one person or cabal of people are never more than one consideration among dozens, if not hundreds; (c) the day-to-day decisions political leaders make are often so last-minute, chaotic and contradictory, seeming to follow one agenda one day, only to do a U-turn the next, the idea of there being some controlling intelligence or mastermind behind these decision simply doesn’t make sense. But above all, there’s no need for such micromanagement because the world’s senior political leaders, with a handful of exceptions, have already embraced the broad sweep of the WEF’s policy agenda. Schwab is the global power elite’s in-house public intellectual; he’s not a puppet-master. Indeed, if he tried to be he would soon lose his intellectual influence.
Fazi is more conspiratorially-minded than me, although we agree that the WEF has far too much influence, most of its policies are designed to further the interests of “gold collar workers” and the way it goes about promoting these policies is designed to by-pass the ballot box. Here are the final paragraphs of Fazi’s piece:
Global health policy and ‘epidemic preparedness’ have long been a focus of the WEF. In 2017, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) — an initiative aimed at securing vaccine supplies for global emergencies and pandemics, funded by government and private donors, including Gates — was launched in Davos. Then, in October 2019, just two months before the official start of the outbreak in Wuhan, the WEF co-sponsored an exercise called Event 201, which simulated “an outbreak of a novel zoonotic coronavirus transmitted from bats to pigs to people that eventually becomes efficiently transmissible from person to person, leading to a severe pandemic”. In the event of a pandemic, the organisers noted, national governments, international organisations and the private sector should provide ample resources for the manufacturing and distribution of large quantities of vaccines through “robust forms of public-private cooperation”.
So, it is safe to say that when the Covid pandemic broke out, the WEF was well-positioned to take a central role in the pandemic response. It was at the 2020 gathering in Davos, on January 21st-24th — a few weeks after the novel coronavirus had been identified in China — that CEPI met with the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel, to establish plans for a COVID-19 vaccine, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US. Later in the year, CEPI was instrumental in setting up COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax), in partnership with the WHO, and in providing funding for several Covid vaccines.
These public-private and corporate-centred coalitions — all with ties to the WEF, and beyond the reach of democratic accountability — played a crucial role in promoting a vaccine-centric and profit-driven response to the pandemic, and then in overseeing the vaccine rollout. In other words, the pandemic brought into stark relief the consequences of the WEF’s decades-long globalist push. Again, it would be wrong to view this as a conspiracy, since the WEF has always been very candid about its objectives: this is simply the inevitable result of a ‘multistakeholderist’ approach in which private and ‘philanthropic’ interests are given greater voice in global affairs than most governments.
What is troubling, however, is that the WEF is now promoting the same top-down corporate-driven approach in a wide range of other domains, from energy to food to global surveillance policies — with equally dramatic consequences. There is a reason governments often seem so willing to go along with these policies, even in the face of widespread societal opposition: which is that the WEF’s strategy, over the years, hasn’t just been to shift power away from governments — but also to infiltrate the latter.
The WEF has largely achieved this through a programme known as the Young Global Leaders (YGL) initiative, aimed at training future global leaders. Launched in 1992 (when it was called Global Leaders for Tomorrow), the initiative has spawned many globalist-aligned heads of states, cabinet ministers and business leaders. Tony Blair, for instance, was a participant in the first event, while Gordon Brown attended in 1993. In fact, its early intake was packed with other future leaders, including Angela Merkel, Victor Orbán, Nicholas Sarkozy, Guy Verhofstadt and José Maria Aznar.
In 2017, Schwab admitted to having used the Young Global Leaders to “penetrate the cabinets” of several governments, adding that as of 2017, “more than half” of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet had been members of the programme. More recently, following Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s proposal to drastically cut nitrogen emissions in line with WEF-inspired ‘green’ policies, sparking large protests in the country, critics drew attention to the fact that, in addition to Rutte himself having close ties to the WEF, his Minister of Social Affairs and Employment was elected WEF Young Global Leader in 2008, while his Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Sigrid Kaag is a contributor to the WEF’s agenda. In December 2021, the Dutch Government published its past correspondence with representatives of the World Economic Forum, showing extensive interaction between the WEF and the Dutch Government.
Elsewhere, the former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe — who last year was forced to resign following a popular uprising against his decision to ban fertilisers and pesticides in favour of organic, ‘climate-friendly’ alternatives — was also a devoted member and Agenda Contributor of the WEF. In 2018, he published an article on the organisation’s website titled: ‘This is How I Will Make My Country Rich by 2025.’ (Following the protests, the WEF swiftly removed the article from its website.) Once again, it seems clear that the WEF’s role in forming and selecting members of the world’s political elites is not a conspiracy, but rather a very public policy — and one which Schwab is happy to boast about.
Ultimately, there is no denying that the WEF wields immense power, which has cemented the rule of the transnational capitalist class to a degree never before seen in history. But it is important to recognise that its power is simply a manifestation of the power of the “superclass” it represents — a tiny group amounting, according to researchers, to no more than 6,000 or 7,000 people, or 0.0001% of the world’s population, and yet more powerful than any social class the world has ever known. Samuel Huntington, who is credited with inventing the term ‘Davos man’, argued that members of this global elite “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations”. It was only a matter of time before these aspiring cosmocrats developed a tool through which to fully exercise their dominion over the lower classes — and the WEF proved to be the perfect vehicle to do so.
Worth reading in full.
Some people will read the above and regard it as proof that the WEF goes beyond the intellectual role I’ve ascribed to it and applies pressure on political leaders in more sinister ways. But merely pointing to the political figures who’ve been to Davos, or were once members of the WEF’s Young Global Leaders initiative, doesn’t prove that Schwab controls them in the way the conspiracy theorists imagine, only that they’re likely to be influenced by him and his policy agenda when it comes to framing their own solutions to the global problems the WEF is constantly flagging up. Yes, Schwab boasts about penetrating the Cabinets of various governments, but I interpret that as egotistical braggadocio and fundraising flimflam, not a rare moment of candour. Let’s face it. If he really was a Bond villain he wouldn’t dress like one or do his best to sound like one.
Stop Press: Andrew Orlowski has written a different piece about the WEF for the Telegraph, taking it much less seriously than Fazi:
It’s a pity that Schwab’s networking club has become the focus of so many wild conspiracy theories, for if you had to create a surreal comedy movie to discredit the modern progressive Left, it would look very much like The WEF: not only for its tedious wokery, but it’s absurdly tone-deaf pleas to surrender our personal property, and eat insects. Needy and desperate for attention, it deserves to be mocked, not feared.
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