This week’s annual Davos meeting has been met with protests and condemnations from bipartisan political commentators.
- The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has brought many critics from many points of view.
- Progressive activists are calling out the hypocrisy and inaction of wealthy elites gathering together to discuss contentious issues without doing anything to address problems like climate change and wealth inequality.
- Conservative commentators alternatively dismissed the event as either a gathering of hypocritical elites with delusions of totalitarian control or tyrannical global controllers eager to take over the world.
Why It is Important
Scores of business leaders, policymakers, and celebrities fly into Switzerland every year to attend Davos and its dozens of panels discussing some of the most severe problems facing the world today. Activists on both sides of the political aisle see the event as hypocritical and out of touch.
Davos is an event exclusively for the ultra-wealthy and powerful. It is one of the most prohibitively expensive regular events in the world, with the cost of admission reportedly exceeding $250,000, apartment rentals costing $15,000 per night, and concession hot dogs costing $43, according to MarketWatch.
While Davos 2023 may not directly affect government or corporate policies going into this year, the ideas that are discussed there are all already deeply entrenched in the business world, with many significant CEOs and politicians embracing ideas like stakeholder capitalism, ESG, and a clean energy transition.
The Progressive Viewpoint
Davos, Switzerland, has had several dozen demonstrators since the opening night of the event. According to Euronews, members of several European socialist groups, including Swiss Socialist Youth, Strike WEF, and Greenpeace, protested outside of the event this week, demanding taxes against the ultra-wealthy and carrying signs saying “World Economic Failure: Climate Justice NOW.”
Climate activist Greta Thunberg criticized the WEF for allowing the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to sit on climate change panels, describing it as “ridiculous” that they would have a seat in discussing the future of their industry. The 20-year-old activist was also detained on Tuesday during a German anti-mining protest and took time this week to speak out against the event that helped make her famous when she spoke at Davos 2019.
As National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty notes, “I suspect that among many conservatives, the reflexive response to the Davos conference is disdain … it’s that so many Davos attendees arrive with an ambitious plan to save the world, and that plan to save the world usually involves making the rest of us change to fit their visions.”
DailyWire writer Tim Meads dismisses the WEF as “totalitarian freaks,” saying that “The WEF isn’t really the main source of collectivist plans for global unity, it just serves as a convenient meeting place to gather thoughts. It’s one giant party, replete with champagne, flashy clothes, and ladies of the night.”
CNN’s Oliver Darcy notes that the WEF and Davos have become lightning rods for paranoid conservative conspiracy theories spread by political commentators like Alex Jones, Tucker Carlson, and Glenn Beck—claiming that “globalists” are using these organizations to spread “sinister schemes.”
“In particular, [the ADL warns against] ‘‘The Great Reset’ conspiracy theories, noting that the term has ‘largely been divorced’ at this point from its 2020 Covid origins and become ‘a broad brand for conspiracies’ about how global elites are plotting to use the masses for their own benefits.”
Some conservative activists have downplayed concerns about the WEF for this reason. Conservative activist Christopher Rufo says, “Unpopular opinion: the obsession with Klaus Schwab, Davos, and the WEF is misguided, as they have little real power over life in America. It’s also enervating, as it shifts the locus of control to far-away figures, while constructive action can be taken at home.”
Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk dismissed Davos as “ominous,” Tweeting that “How is WEF/Davos even a thing? Are they trying to be the boss of Earth!?” He also agreed with Rufo though, saying, “We shouldn’t be obsessed with WEF/Davos, but they take themselves so seriously that making fun of them is awesome.”