Wisconsin and The Great Reset

Under capitalism, the erosion of child labor laws is just business as usual.

A little more than a year ago, the World Economic Forum held another one of its annual meetings in Davos. You have almost certainly seen them do this before, because every time it happens we usually get some pro forma press coverage, some eyerolling on the left, and maybe a few protests. In the media, the Davos events are presented as a great meeting of our world’s most elite minds (IE the rich) where they soberly inform each other about the world’s problems and decide how to tackle them. Think of a cheap fantasy novel’s Council of Wizards; this is the image they want to present.

In fact, of course, this is just PR. Davos certainly serves as a networking opportunity for some of the world’s most powerful people, much like a Senator’s annual Christmas party or a closed-door reception for contracting execs at Quill; but for the most part, it’s where rich and powerful people roll out some socially conscious marketing spin on business plans and political moves they were already going to do anyway.

Davos PR wants you to think Council of Wizards — but the better comparison is one of those bizarre ads where Raytheon brags about its commitment to diversity. Who exactly is in the market for ballistic missile defense systems that would be swayed by Raytheon’s recent donation to HBCUs? The same sort of people who care that a bunch of finance tycoons and intergovernmental org bureaucrats sat down for twenty minutes to listen to an Ivy League professor’s presentation on climate change. Davos is a chance for rich people to tell themselves — and anyone else who bothers to listen — that they aren’t just rapacious parasites, and that the capitalist system that they maintain is capable of managing the ever-escalating problems afflicting everyone and everything else. It’s the world’s biggest, most prestigious, most expensive, and most pathetic cope.

And when they did it again in June 2020, it was mostly more of the same. As Naomi Klein noted, “anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Davos speak, and the number of times it has attempted to rebrand capitalism as a slightly buggy poverty alleviation and ecological restoration program, will recognize the vintage champagne in this online carafe.” But there were, last year, two notable differences: first, of course, the global Covid pandemic, which demanded a different focus and a different marketing spin. And second, as you have probably also heard, a new annual brand: this time around, the summit’s theme was “The Great Reset.”

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