Davos 2014: The arrogance of the elite hits a new high

29 January 2014

It was recently revealed that the 85 richest people now own as much as the poorest half of the world combined. Statements from the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos suggest that the arrogance of the economic elite grows as quickly as their wealth.

Last week Davos turned into a global “Parasite Street” as representatives of the increasingly rich economic elite met in a lush Swiss ski resort wrapped in security and media hype. The annual World Economic Forum once again saw a group, consisting predominantly of rich old men, plotting the next steps of global exploitation.

With their newly published Global Risk Report, the WEF readily hand out advice on everything from global poverty to social media. The report provides an interesting insight into the growing arrogance of the economic elite.

According to the WEF, one major ‘risk’ of 2014 is rising economic inequality. A bit of a cocky statement considering the overlap between the richest people in the world and the membership of the WEF. To put it bluntly, it is the 1 % telling the 99 % to be more equal.

Likewise, the report (commissioned by some of the world’s biggest polluters) features a warning about spiralling climate change: “Is it possible that we have already passed a point of no return and that Earth’s atmosphere is tipping rapidly into an inhospitable state?”. Maybe it is even more telling that this warning is put in the same section as the threat of adverse psychological impacts from a possible encounter with alien life forms.

Another main risk this year is supposedly ‘digital wildfires’ spreading panic on social media: "While the benefits of our hyperconnected communication systems are undisputed, they could potentially enable the viral spread of information that is intentionally or unintentionally misleading or provocative." If nothing else it shows a lot about their view of us - the ‘common’ people - as digital savages that need to be pacified and controlled (unlike multinational businesses…).

It’s hard not to wonder what kind of misinformation and panic they are referring to. The Arab Spring? Or student protests? As we are bombarded with increasing amounts of corporate lies (such as how Unilever creates a bright future for our children) it seems nothing less than extreme for the world’s top businesses to lecture the general population on what to share online.

To me the WEF of 2014 has confirmed one thing: In this age of austerity, where we are all told to tighten our belts, the rich do not only get richer - they also get more arrogant.



The Paris attacks make climate protests more important than ever

18 November 2015

It will be deeply ironic if climate activists from around the world are among the first to fall foul of France's emergency powers. Of course, those campaigners have nothing to do with the brutal attacks on Paris last Friday night. On the contrary, they will challenge the unequal, unsustainable and militaristic policies on which terrorism has thrived.

Food speculation rules face delay

16 November 2015

The financial press was buzzing last week with reports that the high profile EU legislation to tackle the financial crisis of 2007-8 is at risk of being delayed. This legislation was passed at the beginning of 2014 and thanks to public campaigning here in the UK and across Europe, includes provisions to tackle reckless betting on food prices.

The elephant in Paris – guns and greenhouse gases

13 November 2015

There is no shortage of words in the latest negotiating document for the UN climate negotiations taking place in Paris at the end of November – 32,731 words to be precise and counting. Yet strangely there is one word you won’t find: military. It’s a strange omission, given that the US military alone is the single largest user of petroleum in the world and has been the main enforcer of the global oil economy for decades.