The Morning Call addresses the World Economic Forum
The management has to serve its clients. It has to satisfy its clients’ needs and give them the best value. Competition among companies is the usual and accepted way of ensuring that clients receive the best value choice. The management’s aim is to translate new ideas and technological progress into commercial products and services.
The management has to serve its investors by providing a return on its investments, higher than the return on government bonds. This higher return is necessary to integrate a risk premium into capital costs. The management is the shareholders’ trustee….
The management can achieve the above objectives through the economic enterprise for which it is responsible. For this reason, it is important to ensure the long-term existence of the enterprise. The long-term existence cannot be ensured without sufficient profitability. Thus, profitability is the necessary means to enable the management to serve its clients, shareholders, employees and society.
A fast-changing society requires societal glue provided by the preservation of cultural traditions and shared values. A world where perpetual renewal is king needs more than ever a framework of common moral and ethical standards.
We have been asked more times than we can count what we think about Klaus Schwab and his World Economic Forum. And since the annual meeting of the Forum at Davos took place just last week, we thought we would, at long last, offer an answer to that so salient a question.
What do we think of Schwab and the WEF? Well…for the most part, we don’t.
Now, to be clear, we DO believe that Schwab is grotesque. And we DO believe the WEF and its annual meeting at Davos are unnerving and occasionally disturbing. Schwab is a nasty, arrogant, moralizing Gnostic who preaches the Gospel of Klaus and believes that he and his ilk alone can save the world. And, perhaps more to the point, he’s made a helluva nice living doing so. The Great Reset is a thoroughly dystopian authoritarian scheme that would require the sacrifice of countless civil rights even to begin to enact. There is nothing whatsoever to like or admire about Schwab – a virtual Bond-villain parody – or his organization. They’ve more than earned their reputation as the epitome of the out-of-touch, power-craving elitists, the very personification of the Codevillian “ruling class.”
All of this and more we will concede.
But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they are anything to fear, or even to think about more than once a year. They are power-mad, but they are not terribly powerful. They talk – A LOT, but they don’t really do much. They don’t have the capacity to do much.
The bottom line is that Schwab and his henchmen are technocrats. They are haughty and righteous and preachy, but they are also merely apparatchiks. They are NOT idealogues. And as much as Schwab would like to take credit for the “stakeholder” movement, his actual influence on that movement is negligible, certainly not even a fraction of the influence wielded by someone like R. Edward Freeman (who IS an ideologue).
Whether he puts it in these terms or not, Schwab is an advocate of what is called “the third way,” that is to say that he professes to want to find the middle ground between socialism and capitalism. He favors an economic scheme that is market-oriented in most aspects but is gentler and kinder than the purportedly “harsh” capitalism of yore.
The third way itself has a long and dangerous history, representing the worldviews and ambitions of staunch ideologues from Woodrow Wilson to Lassalle and Bernstein, and from Sorel to Mussolini and Hitler. But look again at the quotes at the top of this piece. These are not the thoughts of a Hitler or even a Wilson. They are, rather, the modest musings of a mediocre mind, the simplistic and largely unobjectionable ideas of an unexceptional functionary. They are, of course, the words of Klaus Schwab, first from his 1973 Davos Manifesto and second from an essay penned in 2000.
Schwab’s “third way” is, in many ways, rather similar to the third way heralded by Bill Clinton and Tony Blair in the late 1990s and elucidated by their scribe Anthony Giddens in his 1998 tome The Third Way: The Renewal of Social Democracy:
Third way politics should preserve a core concern with social justice, while accepting that the range of questions which escape the left/right divide is greater than before. … Freedom to social democrats should mean autonomy of action, which in turn demands the involvement of the wider social community. Having abandoned collectivism, Third Way politics looks for a new relationship between the individual and the community, a redefinition of rights and obligations.
One might suggest as a prime motto for the new politics, no rights without responsibilities.
This is, more or less, what Schwab believes, what he and his cronies advocate and promote. And it’s mostly pablum. The WEF folks are mushy social democrats, not radical remakers of society.
To reiterate: the World Economic Forum and its professed goals are frequently rhetorically disquieting. We won’t argue that. Still, when it comes to actual, real-world plans to operationalize that rhetoric, Schwab and his Forum are like Gertrud Stein’s Oakland: there is no there there.
In short, then, don’t fear the technocrats. Watch them carefully, as they often reflect the values and the intentions of the ideologues, but do not make them the central focus of your concerns about “woke capital.”