DAVOS 2021 - Day 5: The Fate of Ozymandias
By Robert Ingraham
The dilemma now confronting today's would-be Olympian rulers was revealed in stark images presented on this, the 5th and concluding day of the World Economic Forum's 2021 Davos Conference. Once again, there was a plentitude of panel discussions, with heavy representation from global power brokers, such as: HSBC Holdings, Bayer AG, Deutsche Welle, Bloomberg LP, the European Commission, the World Wildlife Fund, Merck KGaA, Siemens, the Economist, Volvo, Siemens, BBC News, the World Health Organization, Hewlett-Packard, Zoom Video Communications, Oxford University, Harvard University, and a slew of others from governments, corporations and think tanks.
The discussions throughout the day followed along the lines of what this reporter has already described from the first four days of the conference, although with a heavier focus today on the subject of "geopolitics" and the urgent necessity of combating resurgent nationalism.
In this report I will not delve into the numerous panel discussions. A mere listing of the titles of some of the panels should suffice to convey the gist of the subject matter: Greening Trade, Boosting Europe's Green Transition, Building on Europe’s Edge in the Green Transition, Fixing the International Trade System, Accelerating Digital Trade, Reimagining Manufacturing for Growth, and Resetting Geopolitics. There was also a moral lecture "Renewing the Moral Foundations of a Post-COVID World," and a panel comprised of four U.S. Congressmen -- all of whom voted for Donald Trump's impeachment -- discussing the glorious potential of the new Biden administration, their commitment to work with the World Trade Organization, and how Trump was responsible for the "insurrection" on January 6th.
However, something else surfaced in the course of the day's discussions, -- something of decisive importance. A critical problem facing these neo-imperialists, -- one which had already appeared in fleeting glimpses on the previous days -- emerged very clearly. I will discuss this later in this report, but before we get to it, first let’s take a look at three individual presentations which were of a particularly perverse nature.
First was the speech by Suga Yoshihide, Prime Minister of Japan. As in the speech by Xi Jinping, it is impossible to peer within the mind of a world leader to determine why he says what he says. Nevertheless, Mr. Suga's speech presented an unapologetic and fervid endorsement of the Davos Agenda. “My administration declared last year that we go carbon neutral by 2050,” Suga said. “We will be moving forward with decisive enhancements of renewable energy, such as hydrogen and ocean windfarm, and regarding electric vehicles we plan that by 2035 all new vehicle sales will be 100 per cent electric.” He said the country's green growth strategy should deliver some 15 million jobs by 2050, when Japan aims to become carbon neutral. He also emphasized Japan's "unwavering" commitment to free trade and its endorsement of digitalization, saying that a digital agency will be established as the command center directly reporting to him and it will commence its activities in autumn.
THE SUBSERVIENT COLONY
Fitting Singapore's heritage as a British Crown Colony, the Special Address by its Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong differed in tone from Suga Yoshihide's apparent bleak acceptance of the new agenda. Lee's boosterism for the new imperial order was manifest in the marching orders he enunciated. On Climate Change, he said "Climate change is clearly accelerating dangerously. And it's late in the day. But if countries work together, humankind can hope to avoid a catastrophe. We can take comfort from the fact that countries are taking climate change more seriously. The US has rejoined the Paris Agreement and China has announced new targets. But more has to be done."
On the fate of the economy, he opined "The pandemic has exposed businesses and jobs that won't remain viable. They have to be let go to allow better jobs and businesses to take their place. Hard decisions will need to be taken." On the new "digital world," he stated "The sustained growth of the digital economy means we need to develop new e-trade regulations. Singapore has concluded digital economy agreements with like-minded countries. We hope this is just the beginning."
And, acting in true British Empire fashion, he proceeded to lecture both the United States and China, "Both countries have adopted more assertive and uncompromising positions. But, it's not too late to 'reset the tone of their interactions', particularly with the new administration in the United States. The strategic landscape has changed significantly, as a result of the emergence of China. Concessions made to China when it was small remain, but these need to be "reconsidered and recalibrated". China needs to take a greater responsibility for providing global public goods. For the U.S., it's a very difficult adjustment." Strip away the deliberately misleading verbiage, and Lee's recipe is that both China and the United States must be brought within the fold of the new imperial agreements which are fast approaching.
A WORLD OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE
The third of the trio of unsettling presentations was a two-way discussion between Laurence D. Fink, CEO of BlackRock Inc. and Masayoshi Son, CEO of Softbank Group Corporation (a Japanese multinational conglomerate holding company headquartered in Tokyo). BlackRock is the largest money-management firm in the world and Son is the second richest person in Japan, so this discussion, in essence, was one of power speaking to power. BlackRock has been in the forefront for promoting "green finance," and Fink has proposed that all financial investments must be based on environmental sustainability. Masayoshi Son graduated from UC Berkeley in 1980. Shortly thereafter he returned to Japan.
Today, Softbank has assets of over $32 trillion and holds 30 percent of the stock of the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba, among other investments. Son has emerged as the fiercest critic of Japan's nuclear industry, calling for its abolition. He also has invested heavily into "the biggest ever solar project," a 200GW development planned for Saudi Arabia, as well as into a planned 275 GW renewable energy project in India.
Softbank also invests huge amounts in "emerging technologies" like artificial intelligence, robotics and the internet of things. In singing the praises of his hoped-for AI future, Son seems remarkably indifferent to actual human suffering. Speaking of the lives lost in the COVID pandemic, Son asserted "Tragedy is tragedy. It's a disastrous situation. But technology-wise, (tech) is now evolving quicker." He then proceeded to enthusiastically discuss how the crisis (including the loss of lives) has opened the door for world transformation. Parenthetically, Son -- like several of these AI freaks -- seems particularly enamored with the introduction of driverless "autonomous" vehicles, a product which no one within society seems to have asked for.
The reality is that if you look closely at all of these AI approaches to manufacturing and trade, they are largely simply high-tech versions of the old "Just in Time" (lean manufacturing) methodology and are designed to manage an economy characterized by scarcity and declining real wages. Son ended his remarks by saying, "For us to get to a zero-carbon future, it's estimated we need to spend $40 trillion." He points to the combination of Solar and AI as the key technologies to achieve the necessary transformation.
BRIEFLY ON GEOPOLITICS
Several of today's discussions took up the issue of geopolitics. The one which dealt with it in the most straightforward way was titled "Resetting Geopolitics." In that panel Kang Kyung-Wha, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Republic of Korea, enunciated a four point program of "musts":
1. Strengthen the WHO.
2. Tackle misinformation and disinformation.
3. Strengthen the multi-stakeholder approach to benefit all, to tackle the SDGs and climate change.
4. Each country must also take responsibility to restore multilateralism. We need to shore up the multilateral institutions.
The other speakers, both on this and other panels dealing with the topic of geopolitics, all stressed the urgent need to prevent a resurgence of "nationalism" and all welcomed the new opportunities that now exist as a result of the election of Joe Biden.
I stated at the beginning of this report that a monumental problem confronts the neo-imperialists who gathered at Davos, as well as their other elitist cohorts who were there in spirit. Actually, they have two problems. The first, which will not be gone into in this report of the Davos proceedings, is that everything they are doing is being driven out of desperation. They are in an all-out panic mode. Their system, which after all is an imperial financial system, is sinking before their eyes. "Panic" is the scientifically rigorous term to be used. The financial system and all the Central Banks are hopelessly bankrupt, and everything that has been done since the crisis of 2008 has only made matters worse.
What I will focus on here is the second problem confronting the imperialists. This was most apparent in a conference panel titled "Building Inclusive, Sustainable and Job-creating Growth in Africa." That panel was composed of government and business leaders from several African nations. A number of erroneous things were stated on this panel and a few of the participants gave the required lip service to Climate Change, but the overriding emphasis was on the human and physical economic destruction they are now facing. The most forceful speaker was Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and I will quote briefly from his remarks:
"The gains African countries have recorded in trying to create societies of opportunities for all our peoples are being seriously threatened. Hopes of a second Africa rising narrative are fast evaporating... We in Africa should make every effort to generate for ourselves the additional funds we need to advance, and hopefully our external partners - private and public - will lend their backing to the priorities we set."
He also said, "Africa cannot lead the recovery from this pandemic by leaving more than half its population behind and underproductive. In 2020, only 47% of women of working age participated in the labor market, compared to 74% of men," and "Africa must stop, again, with the support of our partners, the illicit outflow of resources that cost each of our individual countries, and the African continent as a whole, such huge amounts of money. The transformation if these resources could stay in the African continent would be dramatic."
These words define the problem for the oligarchy. People all over the world are being driven downward. They want a productive future. This requires productive physical economic development. The prescriptions of the Gods of Davos promise the opposite. In 2016 the oligarchy dismissed Donald Trump's chances for election to the Presidency, but it was the "forgotten men and women" who propelled him into the White House. Now, at Davos, a coterie of billionaires and their well-paid underlings think they can dictate the fate of 7 billion people. They believe that they have "fixed their American problem" with the removal of Donald Trump, but they have not fixed their problem in the U.S., Africa or anywhere else (except perhaps with the subservient population of the EU), -- because human beings will not submit to the destruction of their lives, their nations and their futures. Imperial arrogance is not a beneficial human trait. Those who practice it shall suffer their just fate.