Not many working people would have ever heard of the World Economic Forum. Once again the captains of capitalism spread across the sleepy Alpine ski town partying and chitchatting. One of the most revealing clips was to see the sleek plutocrats emerging from a session on the world’s hungry to tuck into a lavish Chinese buffet to the sound of Abba’s Money, Money, Money.
And despite the valiant efforts of business journalists trying to make sense of the chatter, in the end there was anything new said, apart from the usual managementese speak which is no surprise considering that the WEF vacuous motto itself would not stretch beyond “improving the state of the world”.
Whilst many economists now predict a double dip recession with the latest unemployment figures continuing to wreak havoc for working people, the sleek plutocrats left the resort feeling relaxed about the state of the global economy – something that Axel Weber, chair of Swiss bank UBS, blasted as bordering on complacency. "The mood has been good, in brackets too good to be true." he said.
Complacent also was Christine Lagarde, IMF chief, who waxed lyrical about the benefits of “a more equal distribution of income” while turning a blind eye to the ravages of deregulation and privatisation she has been championing. The rampant inequality since the 80s continue to rise. Recent research by Oxfam uncovers the frenzy by a kleptocratic corporate elite which keep feeding inequalities in many countries – “in the US the share of national income going to the top 1% has doubled since 1980 from 10 to 20%. For the top 0.01% it has quadrupled”.
Representatives of the international labour movement also attended the schmooze-fest armed with dramatic statistics and well-thought out arguments. But this is the trick. Davos gives the impression that it is a forum for the free flow of ideas where everybody is open-minded and prepared to be convinced. Unfortunately when delegates hear that the worst of the financial crisis was over and see opportunities to dismantle the welfare state once and for all, thereby not having to be responsible anymore for their less fortunate fellow countrymen, would they listen?
So where is the call-to-arms in response to this ghastly situation? It was left to the Ukrainian women activist group Femen to expose the sham by protesting topless with “SOS David” painted over their chest to raise the plight of women’s poverty around the world. It proves once more that only direct action makes the headlines.