New Worker Banner

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

A week in the Alps

YES, IT’S TIME for the so-called World Economic Forum (WEF) held in the Swiss Alps to allow the great and the good of the capitalist world to transform Davos into a millionaires’ playground to talk about Co-operation in a Fragmented World for a few days in January.

In the town demonstrators from the Swiss Socialist Youth and Greenpeace are demanding a climate tax on the super-rich whilst some 5,000 soldiers and police stand by to protect the 2,700 leaders from 130 countries, including 52 heads of state or government, taking part in a host of meetings in this Alpine ski resort.

The WEF has grown from more modest beginnings as the European Management Forum that was set up in 1971 to bring American and European capitalists together. It has now grown, particularly following the collapse of the Soviet Union, into an annual global jamboree that some of the corporate elite would like to rival and side-line the United Nations. In recent years the forum has reached out to the people’s democracies with the attendance of Vietnam and People’s China and even an invitation to Democratic Korea in 2015 that was, however, revoked the following year over the nuclear issue.

The world’s media pack has naturally descended on Davos to report the set-piece speeches of the leaders of the political and corporate world, but nothing is ever said about what the WEF stands for or even what it actually does.

It’s the same in the bourgeois media, which generally confines ‘business news’ to the ups and downs of the stock exchanges and investment markets along with fiscal law issues and the occasional corruption case. Whilst the traditional rivalry amongst media tycoons has meant that the likes of the Murdochs are put under the spotlight from time to time and are subject to scrutiny, the political motives of the oligarchs who own the big corporations in Western Europe and the USA are rarely, if ever, questioned.

No Western get-together can be without a Vladimir Zelensky video appeal for more guns and money to keep his war with the Russians going, but he has to compete with many others for attention in Davos this week.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, is in Davos posing as ‘Prime Minister in waiting’ and re-assuring the global elite that he’s not another Jeremy Corbyn. But the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, who is one of the global elite, and his Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, have decided to give it a miss. Sunak doesn’t want to be seen lording it abroad in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis that has triggered waves of strikes across the country. And his UK delegation – trade secretary Kemi Badenoch and business secretary Grant Shapps – have been told to keep a low profile at the world forum.

So we have to make do with Boris Johnson comparing Vladimir Putin to “the fat boy in Dickens” in an allusion probably lost to most of the delegates who were actually listening to him, and Greta Thunberg, the perpetual youth protester, at a fringe meeting saying it was “absurd” listening the people at Davos talking about the climate crisis when they are, in fact, the cause of it. And she is, of course, correct.