Calling Klaus Schwab
The klaxon alarms are going off everywhere. As a self-confessed unapologetic centrist/globalist, my news feeds are stuffed with the product of pundits that I greatly, truly admire and respect. People like Fareed Zakaria, Ian Bremmer, Heather Cox-Richardson, the Bulwark’s Jonathan V. Last and Anand Giridharadas are all, daily, telling us that the world is at a unique inflection point, and that the good guys (us) are losing. And each and every day, they and the thousands of pundits like them, deliver cogent, thoughtful expert prescriptives to save our societies, our world.
Every day, thousands of new prescriptives, tens of thousands each week, hundreds of thousand each month - you get the idea. All cogent, thoughtful and expert. And all in the end, just noise. Depressing, dispiriting noise at that. Lot’s of potentially great solutions spewn out like sewage.
To whom? It seems the intent is (generally) twofold. For many, like Fareed Zakaria, he’s really trying to influence policymakers, whereas others like Heather Cox Richardson are attempting to inform and mobilize the electorate. However, as I have noted many times, the institutions and the leaders that lead them are simply insufficient to the demands of the day. Imploring these actors with greater and greater urgency, and greater and greater frequency is highly unlikely to address the inflection point we’ve all agreed that we are at. It might even be argued to be self-deluding.
And why are they doing what they are doing? Well, of course, if one takes them at face value, they are ‘good’ unapologetic, centrist globalists sharing their POV for the benefit of us all. But the really frustrating part of this is that they are making a lot of money along the way. In virtually every instance, the call to arms they issue results in something that looks a lot like purchasing that 20-piece set of Gotham Steel cookware you’ve always had your eye on. More to the point, there’s no more capacity for interaction or engagement with Fareed’s, Heather’s or Anand’s books or newsletters than there is with your 20 pots and pans, for virtually all of the pundit class are inaccessible, protected behind the media platforms they use and the handlers they employ.
Now, as a good capitalist, the capitalism 3.0 kind, not the Ann Rand kind, I understand that they need to build their brands, that they need to compete for clicks and subscribers. We all need to eat. But I believe that the pundit class can and must do better. There is a point at which this incredibly gifted and powerful cohort needs to take ownership of the problems that they address. They need to assume agency.
What prevents them from doing that? For sure it’s easier to talk than to assume the personal responsibility of action, but I’m not yet that cynical. I take them at their word that they are conscientious centrist globalists working to a better world. But imagine if Fareed Zakaria started his next program on CNN, not with his ‘take’ but rather a declaration that he was forming a global cohort of peers to tackle problem X. That he in fact was going to own problem X. In fairness, it also must be said that there is no platform to fund and support Fareed in making such a commitment. No expert secretariat to professionally manage this daunting challenge while he and his peers attend to their day jobs.
Which brings me to Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the much maligned1 organization that can be fairly said to represent the segment of the world’s 2,300 billionaires with whom their mission of the Great Reset resonates. That is, to “offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons.”
That’s a big, centrist globalist agenda that I could really get into, because substantively (and more or less), it’s what the world - IMHO - needs. Except that actually I can’t - not unless I pay €30 per month for the Premium access package, or better yet the Pro access package for just €90 per month, neither of which actually provide much in the way of access to anything. Not unlike the pundits who very often are (or want to be) members or guests of the WEF, the richest and best resourced entity on the planet to tackle all of the existential issues we’re dealing with offers “insights” when increasingly it is action that must be taken. And like the pundits, your upfront money gets you little or no chance for being heard, for engagement, for true collaboration.
There is good reason for the suspicion in which they are held. They are a pretty secretive group of the world’s wealthiest individuals and companies. But as such, with their Mission, they may also be the best positioned entity in the world to facilitate the platform that unites the Pundit class (and here I also include subject-matter-experts and thought leaders) with a connected, empowered and mobilized citizenry. Turning a distrusted elite effort into a mass centrist movement - if done with a nuanced hand.
Temperatures are rising literally and figuratively on our planet and between and within our societies. In the face of institutional and leadership insufficiencies globally, many on the left and the right are increasingly calling for violence, for revolution or even anarchy in a way I have not seen as a fairly attentive 66 year old. The secular ‘assets’ that we’ve always turned to - our institutions and leaders - simply cannot be counted on as before to deliver the goods in time. So we wait for a quite likely, if not inevitable system collapse - with it’s attendant incomprehensible catastrophe - or the far less likely prospect that our existing systems and actors will somehow get their shit together in the next few years to save the day before there are no more days. To beat climate change. Stop war. End inequity. Etc.
The scaffolding for a historic, new entity, with the capacity to become a new order is the only option for humanity. One driven by the largest, wealthiest cohort on earth - the centrist globalists inspired not by ideology but by humanist values, and by our common future - not the imagined glories of our fractious past.
We need all hands on deck to achieve this. We need our best and brightest on this task NOW. We need more, much more from our pundits, and the few organizations like the WEF with the scope and shared vision to actually transform the world in years, not decades. To assure a new Age of Wonder. We need #actionnotgrift.
Photo by Wikimedia Commons | License details Copyright: Eric Miller / World Economic Forum 2008
According to a June 22, 2022 report by Toronto-based Abacus Data “20% [of Canadians] believe it is definitely or probably true that “the World Economic Forum is a group of global elites with a secretive strategy to impose their ideas on the world.” Another 37% think it is possibly true or aren’t sure either way.”