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Globalisation 'virus' hits Davos

Spare a thought for the great and the not-so-good who have gathered for the annual party of the rich and the powerful at the luxury resort of Davos in the Swiss mountains for the World Economic Forum (WEF). The 2,500 or so attendees, including 41 heads of state, have been obliged to scale down from the most expensive champagnes like Dom Perignon to “normal champagne”. Some benighted delegates are even downgrading from champagne to white wine, according to a local hotelier.

But the real difficulty they face is that the “Davos consensus”, which has hitherto prevailed at these and similar gatherings – that free-market, globalised capitalism would create a better world – is in now tatters. WEF founder, economist Klaus Schwab, even believes that the present downturn has led to an outbreak of schizophrenia at Davos. 

In his view, the present economic downturn is in reality an accumulation of “an imbalance in the global system, a credit crisis: above all a confidence crisis and a systems crisis”.  In addition, he points to other emergencies – global warming and water shortage, which have to be addressed as well. Schwab’s remedy is a new approach to global confidence and the creation of “an ethical value base and a better, more enhanced, co-ordinated and regulated global system”. 

But the dream of a new consensus is just that. The agreement made at the first G20 summit of developing nations, held last year in Washington, broke down in just a few days, after Russia and India imposed tariffs. Many in Davos will now be watching Wen Jiabao and Vladimir Putin, the Chinese and Russian prime ministers, as well as the leading Indian and US representatives, for further signs of economic nationalism. 

These multiple and interconnected economic, political and ecological crises demonstrate the dialectic at work. The very dynamics of globalised capital that powered decades of growth and expansion over the last four decades have turned into their own opposite. Instead of growth, there is contraction – an unprecedented fall in wealth. As one commentator points out, “the globalisation of the economy appears to have done the opposite [of leading to steadily rising prosperity] – spreading a dangerous economic virus around the world and creating the threat of another global depression”. 

The latest US National Intelligence Council report says that “the international system – as constructed following the Second World War - will be unrecognisable” while former US deputy treasury secretary Roger C Altman notes that “the financial and economic crash of 2008, the worst in over 75 years, is a major geopolitical setback for the US and Europe”. These are serious observations, to put it mildly. 

The severity and depth of the global crisis is forcing a new sobriety and concentrating minds at Davos. The triumphalism of the 1990s has disappeared, almost in an instant. The chastened advocates of capital will muse and drink and ski in their mountain retreat. They will fawn over brutal dictators like Putin and Jiabao. They will ponder “solutions” to force those who create value into unemployment, homelessness and poverty. 

But for ordinary people who are the victims of their system, the threatening catastrophe presents a great challenge. It’s clear that any “new systems of governance” will focus on an attempt to survive the crisis by preserving the rule of rich political and economic elites at the expense of the many – those who in fact create the values and wealth we all depend on for our survival. In the People’s Charter for Democracy, A World to Win outlines concrete solutions to the crisis which preserve and maintain the positive sides of globalisation while replacing the destructive, profit-motivated system of private ownership. The disarray at Davos should spur our efforts to build an irresistible momentum for revolutionary change along these lines. 

Corinna Lotz
AWTW secretary
28 January 2009

Bruce says:

dylan: hope you did not get the idea that i was advacating violent action, your right we must have unity in the face provocations (B.N.P,police,media ect) individual groups of workers may take things into there own hands this is because of a lack of leadership from there traditional organisations (labor party,T.U.C,unions) which in the past have defended and protected people. Without leadership and discipline the transformation of capitalim will not successfuly happen.We have to channel our own skills and energize towards the goal of replacing this outdated system, mabe having demos outside parliament "This shambles of democracy" heroic as it is undeniably, is not in the long run the best use of our time - the Charter for Democracy could prove a better route.


Bruce says:

robbie, If it were easy to change the world i would of done it by my self, experience and history has taught me other wise. have read A Charter for Democracy, it seems very ambitious people will say, but we have to look outside of the existing system and towards the future.Capitalism dose not meet our needs, everyweek theres less and less left for ordinary men wmen and children of all ages to live on.The worlds goverments and so called big buisiness experts have no viable solutions to this mees they do not understand the realities of there own bankrupt system.Capitalism has nothing to offer except a relentless move towards barbarism and wars to be paid in full with our blood sweat and tears.(credit withheld)


Dylan says:

Thanks for that Bruce! I've always had this idea of encouraging anyone disillusioned to just turn up and keep turning up day after day opposite the houses of parliament (small case for them now) saying PEACEFULLY that they are no longer relevant or a representative of us there. We must encourage each other to make our voices heard and then under Police pressure we must not buckle and become violent. Obviously Brian Haw still lives there and He (large case for him) could be joined by hundreds, then thousands, then millions of people in protest at this shambles of a democracy of ours. Then peacefully we will succeed and then we'll have to avoid our own civil war of course, which would be tricky, but democracy should be that and it must be in the name and spirit of peace. And I've plenty more ideas like opp. the h.Of.p idea.


Robbie says:

Bruce says: " So what do i do?" - If it were easy to change the world it would have been done already. But 2 first steps could be:


Bruce says:

Dylan is right we have to change the world - the few must not rule at the expense of the many. So what do i do?


Dylan says:

This for me is a time for action. People must make their voices heard. I must do my bit. We can't keep allowing crisis after crisis happen because goverments and the rich and powerful have little or no resistance to their flored ideas. I am tired of war. The situation in Gaza - where so many families have lost so many is completely unacceptable in a world of climate change and growing poverty. I must act. We must act as people and a public, who continue to care more and more for each other's welfare.


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