Friday, February 17, 2012

World Economic Forum: “shift in mentality”

From Davos to Dystopia
January 2012 - Not long ago the World Economic Forum (WEF) found itself in the sights of the global economic justice movement. At the turn of the last century, before anyone was “occupying” public spaces in protest at the growing inequalities between the top strata of society and the rest, a broad global coalition of environment, development, and peace activists were targeting the public meetings of major institutions such as the WTO, the IMF, and the G8. In September 2000, activists shut down the opening of the WEF’s Asia-Pacific Summit in Melbourne, Australia in protest against an unrepresentative and unaccountable elite gathering to set the economic agenda for the year in a region marked by enormously uneven income distribution.

A mere 12 years later, in an intriguing reversal, the WEF has released a new report calling for a “shift in mentality” to address a looming crisis typified by rebellion, protest, and political violence, sparked by inequality and marginalisation across the world. The seventh edition of the organization’s Global Risks report highlights the increasing importance of marginalization as a security issue over the coming decades. It describes the “seeds of dystopia” threatening both social and political stability across the world.

“As the world grows increasingly complex and interdependent, the capacity to manage the systems that underpin our prosperity and safety is diminishing,” the report declares. This conclusion presents perhaps the most radical call to arms from what would normally be considered a key player of the global political “establishment”.

After decades of entrenched poverty, massive debt and struggling against an unfair global trading system, those who languish on the margins of the global community are in revolt. Yet our existing frameworks and reference points for building a response to this sort of global insecurity provide little assistance. To put it simply, Washington, Brussels, even Beijing and New Delhi have been caught off guard. The time for some radical thinking is upon us. That such calls are now coming from one of the engine rooms of neoliberal economics is a sign that we may be reaching a tipping point.

Revolt of the Masses

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