The annual meeting of the Illuminati/Bilderberger cabal in Davos has come up with a new motto: “Responsive and Responsive Leadership”. Sounds nice and timely, what with the inauguration of President Douche who has vowed to shake up the existing world order, whatever that’s supposed to mean.
So, the Davos smart-heads are unanimous that the main culprits for The Donald’s shocking rise are the key crises of the recent years: polarized society, income inequality, and many countries shutting themselves in and getting introvert. This years Global Risk Report (something like a Davos manifesto setting the priorities for the next year) outlines five factors that will determine world events from now on. 1) Slow growth plus high debt and demographic shifts that will increase inequality and give ammo to the anti-globalist camp and those who feel marginalized by the current capitalist model. 2) Smeared-out national identities, systematically undermined by globalization, and the subsequent emotion-prone decision-making process. 3) The Fourth Industrial Revolution having changed modern societies, economies, and ways of doing business. 4) The transition to a multi-polar world order that threatens stable global cooperation. 5) The need for urgent action on climate change that’s hanging like a sword over everybody’s heads with an ever growing menace.
This report has been focusing on the major global risks and the relations between them for more than a decade now. The years of growing tensions in various parts of the world have crystallized last year, in the form of strong public discontent against the status quo. Trump and the Brexit are the most obvious examples. Many populists have chosen to ride this wave of discontent for political gains. And this increases the global risks.
The first major challenge, the report concludes, is restoring economic growth and reforming market capitalism. Despite the unprecedented levels of prosperity and the emerging middle class in many countries, the feeling of economic strife is contributing to the anti status quo, populist and anti-globalist sentiments. It’s telling that the 1% in the US have gained 1/3 of income for the last decade, while the remaining 99% haven’t seen any significant progress in that respect. That’s why income disparity is definitely the most dangerous global trend, and it’s here to stay for quite a while. But encouraging economic growth alone won’t help heal the deep rift. Fundamental reform of the market model is also required, and we’re not only not seeing this happening any time soon, but we’re now seeing some major reactionary forces rearing their head and pushing back in the exact opposite direction.
Another big challenge is reinforcing the communities, because the yeas of fast social and economic change has opened up the generation gap even more. In result, issues like national identity and cultural values have become more acute, and now that politics is largely defined by the so called Post-Truth era, where emotion takes precedence over fact and rationality, this creates even more cracks in society. In Europe, this process resulted in the rise of various parties that focus on nationalist values and national sovereignty, their agenda being reinforced by the migration pressure from the Middle East. The question is, is there a way to narrow these deep divisions without hurting individual rights. It’s a delicate problem that no one seems to have a smart answer to.
Technological advancement is another issue. It radically changes the world. But we shouldn’t also forget the fact that 3/4 of all jobs lost in the US for the last decade or so, are due to automatization. The forecast puts almost half of all remaining jobs at risk due to technological progress. This partially explains the deteriorating prospects for some segments of the labor market (but also the emergence of new professions branching out in places unanticipated before). This naturally leads to a sense of distrust in progress as a whole, and the tendency of ordinary folk to vote for anti-establishment parties.
The next big challenge is to find ways to reinforce and reform the systems of global cooperation. Trump’s proposed isolationism isolationism and Britain’s eagerness to divorce with the EU are hardly unique, single events. The examples of countries that want to remove themselves from various international partnerships are increasing by the day. But the Davos experts believe a sharp turn toward a domestically orientated economy would be very risky. In many areas, including the Syrian crisis and the subsequent refugee crisis, international cooperation and multilateralism seem like the only viable option for finding long-term solutions. Everything else is just pouring more salt onto a wound.
Finally, there’s the risk of climate change of course. The last decade has seen a number of environmental challenges emerging: from extreme climate conditions to water shortages to failing attempts to curb carbon emissions. These have consistently featured in all previous analyses, and they bring along a myriad of collateral risks, including social unrest, political turmoil, armed conflict and migration crises. And this year the climate concerns will be more severe than ever, because the last 16 years have broken all temperature records, and the trend seems to be accelerating.
In conclusion, the smart-heads in Davos may be acknowledging all the problems, but the question is, will they move a finger about it this time, or they’ll just stick to talking. It’s evident that the rising political, economic, social, technological and climate tensions will only be increasing the danger of a systematic collapse, and this makes the global order ever more fragile, and puts the world’s collective prosperity at great peril – not to mention its chances for survival. What’s more, if 2016 is any guide, many challenges can’t even be remotely anticipated, let alone tackled. Which puts us in quite “interesting” times, indeed.