Hear me out: Klaus Schwab used to be cool
The WEF chairman once gave new and interesting voices a platform
Major news is coming out of Davos this week. The ritual January circus that is the World Economic Forum appears, for the first time in its 52-year history, to be in serious trouble.
For years the world’s foremost power players have delighted in gathering at the Swiss ski resort to chat business, politics and culture in a face-to-face setting. But no more. Most G7 leaders have opted out of the forum this year, fearful perhaps of the optics of being associated with a high-flying event during a year in which tens of millions are suffering through a cost-of-living crisis.
Like what you’re reading? Get the free UnHerd daily email
Already registered? Sign in
Those who have shown up, such as Germany’s Olaf Scholz, have done so in the context of a defeatist mood and a conscious retreat from the globalist messages that have defined the conference over past years.
But if Davos really is dying, it’s worth asking what killed it and why.
Important clues lie with the motives and agenda of the man who founded the whole thing: Klaus Schwab. Conspiracies about Schwab abound, but the irony is that, unlike today’s cancellation mob, he has always strived to give a platform to anyone he considers an influential stakeholder in the system. That’s regardless of whether their influence stems from elected, corporate or cultural power or whether the status quo agrees with them or not.
This attitude has led in recent years to WEF hosting everyone from Vladimir Putin to Xi Jinping, Jair Bolsonaro and Justin Trudeau. The idea being that a globalised order needs to account for the views of all stakeholders, with Schwab operating as a mere go-between.
But power corrupts even the best-intentioned and most neutral folk by making them blind to their own hypocrisies. We saw it happen to those who ran Twitter. We are now also seeing it happen to Schwab. His control and influence is further waning as the question of his succession hangs over the future of the spectacle — a problem for an event so intimately tied to the personality of just one man.
To succeed, who or what follows will have to atone for WEF’s biggest missteps. The biggest is a failure to understand that in the internet age the nature of power and influence, and thus who qualifies for stakeholder status, has changed.
Those who carry disproportionate influence online or in digital fiefdoms — especially in the realm of what the elite like to disparage as disinformation or conspiracy theory — cannot be snubbed, suppressed or disinvited from what is supposed to be an inclusive party.
This is a lesson not yet learned. A WEF panel on the ‘danger’ of disinformation this week was fronted by a man conspiracy theorists despise, former CNN anchor Brian Stelter, and featured a predictable array of established media names, including New York Times chairman A.G. Sulzberger.
The old, still-in-touch Schwab would have made an effort to include the other perspective. At a minimum he might have even invited a highly influential go-between like Joe Rogan.
Elon Musk was not wrong when he tweeted earlier this week that the world will continue to need a neutral ground for dialogue between influential stakeholders. But WEF, just like Twitter before it, is now at the point where it has too much baggage to operate as a neutral Rick’s Cafe or Cantina.
The future includes the communities of the internet, including the Left, the Right, the centre and beyond. Davos’s failure to grasp how the fiefdoms of the online age work will now set the tone for its replacement. The new Klaus Schwab might just be Joe Rogan.
Given that many of the attendees will have come through the Schwab Young Leaders Programme, it always ran the risk of morphing into an echo chamber with limited room for diverse opinion. I don’t see how it can continue on any other narrow path.
It would be nice to believe the rumours that perspective and reflection has broken out amongst the Davos gang. But given every media head will be in Schwab’s pocket, and/or up his proverbial, I take any suggestion of humility as a meaningless press release.
Because we all know doubt and admission of failure is not something this lot will ever contemplate. A wrecking ball that started attacking and weakening the West just as East Germans were tearing down the Berlin wall. No person with any real life experience listens to them, unless WEF pays them to do just that.
The rush to ecological virtue and globalism has enabled states like Russia and China to become enemies we cannot say no to. Embrace of de-industrialisation has created populations who don’t fear generational unemployment as much as expect it. Increasing numbers escaping their own country, leaving elderly relatives behind and their society’s own infrastructure/public services in a state of decay.
The bad news is, nations turning to BRICS raises the real possibility of the World Economic Forum being anything but “World”. Keynote speaker this year – Ursula Von der Leyen – really? Tomorrow’s “WEF” audience will be increasingly European/Anglosphere, including the occasional American to make sure nothing gets discussed that impacts their interests. Probably headed up by Blair. Europe – that’s us – will be their trainset. God help the next generation.
It’s a circle-jerk of what John Kerry likes to call “select human beings”. The rest of the world has sussed these shysters out.
Oh my. Joe Rogan is the new Klaus Schwab? I’m having trouble wrapping that around in my head.
Is this the same Joe Rogan who’s willing to interview controversial guests with heterodox ideas? Is this the same Klaus Schwab who endlessly beats us over the head with the approved narrative on all the fashionable topics of the day?
The WEF may have the occasional controversial guest speaker, but it’s always the same globalized blah blah blah topic of discussion.
Maybe the glumness is due to the realisation that the game will soon be up, in relation to the disastrous safety/efficacy profile of the mRNA ‘vaccines ‘. We can but hope…
As a commentator said in an article i read can’t recall where: “Share tip – invest in pitchforks and burning torches – their future is bright” If WEF + its lackeys overreach they will get blow back at pitchfork and state level ( PRC and India particularly ). Look at Ceaucescu (lynched) or F Batista (fled to Portugal,lost millions) as examples. Classic case of overreach whilst in a hole digging, If they’d played a softer hand they may have had a softer landing. WEF careful what you wish for LOL. Edit – Batista era Cuba had a huge % of prostitutes compared to most countries – Davos similarities all the way!
Nonsense. Nothing to do with WEF and factually completely incorrect. However, I doubt if you will pay any attention to an unbeliever like me,
What is it you don’t believe in son of Sina? That people who claim power over others return to dust the same as us mortals? or you don’t undertand the old aphorism “the harder they come the harder they fall” Please tell us? Messenger RNA is too young a science to be rolled out like it was for a disease with a CFR of 1-2%. I agree for 50%, maybe 33% its worth a shot and maybe even at 18% CFR like the 1918 H1N1. I had 1st and 2nd vaccines summer 2020 ( both Pfizer ) NO side effects – had 3 + tests for “Covid” (SARS CoV2) before and 5 + tests after – twice with symptoms – first one like flu, 2nd like gastric flu ( D&V). So whilst i am not an anti-vaxxer by any means i am sufficienlty life-science literate to know that 1. Flu mutates too fast to vaccinate and 2. a flu that survives needs a low CFR otherwise it will get a darwin award, something i’d love to present to you lol
Please explain what flu has to do with mRNA vaccines. BTW the mortality of 1-2% is a population rate and does not reflect that in vulnerable groups who were vaccinated against Covid
Eh? i don’t suggest flu has anything to do with MRNA experiments… My suggestion is you shouldn’t take risks with drugs on other ppl – sure try it yourself who cares? What is it you don’t belive in about Mr Bacon’s comment?
mRNA vaccines are not harmful and have saved millions of lives. That’s what I believe. I’ve been in medicine for 40 years and have always supported the idea that people should be given the tools to manage their own health. It never occurred to me that medical research could be misinterpreted by apparently intelligent people.
Read Robert Malone’s work he was an MRNA pioneer and raised the worries – why did Merix and Curevac fail to take off in the late 90s – US DoD only ppl left trying MRNA on owt except mice until Biontech – the tech is way too young and way too little understood – fine with liposomes for vax delivery BUT 1998-now is too short to see whole of life side effects as pre Biontech Covid MRNA was never tried as a mass vaccine. I won’t down vote your comment as you seem genuinely interested – i am also keen to know what you’ve done in medicine? Aside from design of respirators for newborns and dialysis machines i only offer Biology A Level. Though i have 5 surgeons and a “retired” epidemiologist former surgeon amongst family and in laws and do try to keep up with both the science and politics of the medical sector
If it never occurred to you in those 40 years that medical research could be misinterpreted, then saying that you are naive is being too kind.
I agree that tools to manage our health are one good thing, but these mRNA injections were forced upon many of us, either literally to keep a job or via social coercion. Why were all dissenters labeled as being cranks or accused of spreading misinformation? Something very sinister was afoot and we will hopefully learn the truth a decade or two from now.
I think Mr O’Sani/Ibn Donnell is poss a troll? MRNA is 40 years old as a concept but has only been tried in human trials the last 20 years and never got much traction and our antagonist seems to want to avoid a debate.
Certainly not a troll, but I like to think that I’m a rational person. I just happen to get upset by people who look for conspiracies under every stone. What sort of debate are you looking for? I’m not interested in all the people who choose to posture on YouTube. I don’t see the relevance of your 40 year 20 year point. Maybe you just don’t understand exactly how sophisticated molecular biology has become. It’s not the dissenters who are cranks but the evangelists. You aren’t one of those are you?
By the way I am not a fan of the WEF, and have a healthy mistrust of politicians
The likes of WEF look sinister but I think are just stupid. Bad actors like WEF, Gates, Covid supporters, wokists etc don’t understand history – one group or ideology can never control everything – world’s too big and change too random – luck and accidental causation are bigger players than human agency. Their huge wealth blinds them to this IMO.
Electronics ideas like VLSI and entropy in thermodynamics show how complex systems maintain, change or lose their functional states. 75% of the worlds $400 Trn assets are NOT in the western banks and stock markets. These poundshop Bond villains will need a lot more power than they have at the mo if they want their plans to succeed.
Its true they’re a conspiracy but only in the sense that Mexican cartels “conspire” to sell drugs, or the Pope “conspires” to increase numbers going to mass. I think the cartels are doing better than the Pope if the stats are correct but ultimately they will leave the world as they arrived – with nothing but themselves.
Check Bergson or Popper or Kuhn for the philosophical basis for why WEF is a circus of clowns, Jared Diamond, Steven Pinker and pre -polemic Dawkins as to why its a circus rather than just “clowns at rest” or “clowns at a summit”.
You might be on to something. In my past work with EU officials I found them not necessarily to be evil, just pompous and stupid. I think a lot of people who work for NGOs and intergovernmental organizations tend to be like this, I experience somewhat of the same here in the US where academics and college administrators insist that their students and coworkers call them ‘doctor’.
Sadly those that rise to the top of closed de-meritricious systems tend to be bad apples – as Marx (Groucho) wisely opined ” i would’t want to belong to any club that would accept me”. Those who lack his humility are brilliant exhibits of the “banality of evil”, the “poverty of historicism” and the “ideology of failure”. Schwab & other bureaucrats EU/UK/US etc are only “supreme beings” for life!
I miss the old SPY magazine, particularly its skewering of those in positions of power who got there by failing up.
Yeah – i read it in the 80s working with US expats in ME&A – like Private Eye without the posh school clique sniffiness.
Agreed with the idea that they are not evil. Being pompous, naive or grossly misinformed is not evil. Believing that we can change global climate by mandating electric cars and eliminating fossil fuels is not evil, but grossly misinformed. Where evil sets in is when the belief is so deeply engrained that they turn to totalitarianism to carry out their plan to “save” the rest of us from ourselves.
Interesting – i think the point of Arendts book was Eichmann wasn’t “Evil” like a serial killer say – by his lights he was a “good German”. I agree we need to use the term Evil for such ppl when they cross the line the average bod sees as evil – usually when the body count rises. I see Greta Thunberg claims to be “autistic” (c21st NOT c 20th meaning) I wonder if most other totalitarians and pound shop villains are a few pumpkins short of a pie?
The greatest tyrannies are always perpetuated in the name of the noblest causes.
I thought this was a good article, I think she’s right, Joe rogan or the like would have been a good idea perhaps. I understand why the idea of a place for people to come together in such a way could be useful, but her conclusion was bang on, the WEF have too much baggage. Their reputation is shot to pieces. The own nothing and be happy did it I think.
I certainly hope it is correct what this article claims that WEF is out of touch – which the rest of us common people knew.
They should have had a loop of previous Brian Stelter ‘conspiracy’ opinions on CNN – all of them proved wrong. What on earth was he doing there.
Join the discussion
To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.
Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.Subscribe