Expanding the Legacy

K Schwab Steps Back, Raising Hopes of WEF Demise

World Economic Forum

Klaus Schwab, executive chairperson of the World Economic Forum.

WEF executive chairperson Klaus Schwab (86) is taking a step back from the organisation of the talkshop that brings thousands of ‘thought leaders’ to the Swiss mountain resort Davos each year. Conceived as a low key event to allow movers and shakers to swap ideas and experiences away from probing microphones and cameras, the annual event has of late become a stage for grandstanding from where the holier-than-thou dispense lessons in ethics to the unwashed hoi polloi.

Mr Schwab, a particularly dour German, used his well-stocked rolodex to underwrite his otherwise dubious claim to fame. He possesses a direct line to industrialists, politicians, and government officials around the world. Offered a platform to disseminate their beliefs, ideas, and convictions – as a rule devoid of originality – to the wider world, most travel eagerly to Davos for an opportunity to signal their good intentions which, of course, nobody attending intents to keep. It’s all about claiming ownership of the narrative, never about its contents or message.

Long gone are the days when Mr Schwab’s forum actually kept to its original formula. It was in Davos that Nelson Mandela was cured from his belief that only massive state intervention could build a more equitable society in South Africa. He was told by Russian and Chinese participants in no uncertain terms that the nationalisation of banks, mines, and industry he proposed was unlikely to yield the desired results. To his eternal credit, Mr Mandela saw reason, changed his mind, and proceeded to head the last successful government of South Africa.

The last few years, Mr Schwab has also seen the light and transformed the World Economic Forum into a politically über-correct and -woke event that embraces the doom-and-gloom of assorted climate alarmists. Thus WEF turned into a sideshow, if not freakshow, for tabling predictable, boring, and most of all hypocritical opinions about society and environment.

Moribund Forum

Whilst Mr Schwab is moving towards retirement, he is to retain a role as advisor to the moribund forum. Whilst its demise cannot come soon enough, the WEF for now remains as tone-deaf as ever, ignoring shifting world opinion on a wide range of topics and stubbornly ignoring the fact that it attendees are not the solution to the world’s ills, but the root cause of same.

Corporate leaders expounding ad nauseam their social responsibility and commitment to sustainability sound rather hollow as they keep their attention focussed on the next quarter’s results and the need to pump up share prices by hook if not crook. After all, the few idle ‘haves’ need to be properly compensated for entrusting their capital to them and must get their due.

It has been mentioned a great many times, and must be emphasised yet again: the many hundreds of world leaders converging on Davos do so mostly by private conveyance. In fact, the event draws so many private jets to Switzerland that the country’s airports are unable to park them all. After delivering their owners, quite a few of these jets need to take off again for a short hop to next-door Germany or Austria where they may await the return of their masters.

Meanwhile, these masters of the universe lecture the great unwashed on the need to practice sustainability in mobility, heating, and consumption in general. They do so without any display of discomfort over their own practices which, of course, clash violently with their preaching. Inconvenient truth peddler Al Gore showed the way with a private luxury residence that gobbles up almost 250,000 kWh of electricity annually, only three percent of it generated by renewable resources – a measure of power about twenty times greater than needed to power the average American home. Then again, Mr Gore’s indoor pool needs heating. Nobody denies Mr Gore his aquatic pleasures, however he is not the man best suited to raise the alarm over climate change.

However, the hapless Mr Gore is but an innocent choirboy when compared to the great polluters who gather in Davos to increase their lucre by furthering the destruction of our earthly habitat all the while reminding their audience that they act out of the best of intentions.

Apart from a few bright spots in the 1980s and 1990s, the flagship WEF Davos event is one of the most useless and damaging of its kind. Its original purpose, laudable to begin with, has been distorted to beyond recognition, turning the forum into a self-serving gathering of hypocrites, misguided do-gooders, and miscellaneous people who desire to reshape humanity.

Fourth Revolution

Meanwhile, Mr Schwab became enamoured with his ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ which, he assures time and again, will deliver humankind from want by empowering technological solutions to global issues. However, in real life, the advent of tech heralds an era of increased inequality with now also white-collar work in danger of being displaced by artificial intelligence. Mr Schwab and the other poster boys of a tech-powered future do not tire of reminding all and sundry that there is nothing to fear and that the world awaits a glorious future.

Charging up to $70,000 for an admittance ticket to the main events in Davos, including the inevitable cocktail parties and après-deliberations events that facilitate networking (i.e. plotting with like-minded creeps), whilst also pocketing hundreds of millions of dollars from corporate sponsors, the WEF strayed far from its original mission. The forum also habitually excludes media it deems unworthy of attention, vetting journalists rigorously and denying entry to those that do not meet its secretive standards.

The forum has thus become an ordinary trade fair with very little to show for it in the way of actual accomplishments. Its passing cannot come soon enough. Given the perilous state of global affairs, the world can do without a gathering of the mostly self-anointed powerful, Mr Schwab first and foremost amongst them, who pretend to own the truth and possess the solutions – and then wonder why nobody listens to them.

Cover photo: WEF Executive Chairperson Klaus Schwab.

© 2015 Photo by World Economic Forum

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