Davos is particularly fond of borrowing authoritarian capitalist ideas…
While it’s easy to see how this establishment structure could provoke an uprising, two developments over the last decade have made it especially susceptible. First, the rise of technology encouraged the globalist class to emulate the fantastical, world-changing perspectives of Silicon Valley’s boy geniuses. Second, the rise of China revealed the Davos crowd’s latent admiration for illiberal forms of government. Deemed outsiders when they first arrived at Davos, tech entrepreneurs and the Chinese elite now take pride of place in Vanity Fair’s annual “New Establishment” issue. (Last year, the most exclusive party at Davos was thrown by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma.) Though they represent a small slice of the universe, tech and China have been deemed the future and have become the focal point for people with globalist leanings, leading to their further isolation from the circumstances that affect most people throughout the world.
Viewed through a Davos lens, technology is nothing less than the most efficient (and glamorous, now that it has proven its billionaire-making abilities) way to solve age-old globalization friction points. Google is a platform for accessing and organizing all the information fit to be on the internet. Facebook facilitates human connections that were previously costly or impossible. Uber, WeWork, Airbnb and similar companies that make up the sharing economy enable people to earn a living on their own terms, seemingly independent of local economic conditions. Virtual reality will eventually allow you to be present anywhere in the world from the comfort of your own home base.
Meanwhile, the technology space is also stepping into roles previously occupied by governments. Despite the Paris Agreement on climate change passed earlier this year, policy initiatives have not done as much for energy neutrality as, say, Tesla or BYD. Elon Musk dreams of a solar panel on every rooftop and a giant tube that will transport large groups of people over long distances at hyper-speed, an energy-efficient replacement for airplanes. And with healthcare costs continuing to skyrocket, Silicon Valley is conditioning people to program their bodies for longevity. The success of these ideas has encouraged a “startup” mentality among the globalist class: always aim to change the world in unexpected, disruptive ways.
China’s rapid growth has inspired a similar taste for unconventional ideas. For the Western establishment, modern China is both an exotic political success case that flouts the wisdom of liberalism and a tribute to the ability of the Bretton Woods system to lift entire nations and fold them into the international community. Since the success of the Beijing Olympics in 2008, Davos has been particularly fond of borrowing authoritarian capitalist ideas for the West’s political reform agenda.