Labour Wrap: WEF - problem or solution? | Fin24
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Labour Wrap: WEF - problem or solution?

Jan 22 2015 07:28

CAN 1 000 chief executives of the world’s richest corporations be part of the solution to the world’s ongoing social and economic crises, or are they part of the problem? This is a question Terry Bell asks in his latest Labour Wrap.

He points out that he does so when the latest Oxfam report reveals that global inequality continues to grow; that 1% of the global population will own and control half the world’s total wealth by 2016. And this at a time when the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) extravaganza gets under way in the Swiss Alpine resort of Davos.  

READ: 80 people have the same wealth as 3.5 billion - Oxfam

Because, Bell points out, the WEF is not as generally supposed a genuine, United Nations-type international humanitarian institution. It is, in fact, one of the most powerful organisations representing the 1%, a private club of 1 000 CEOs of the world’s richest corporations.  

Davos is therefore a venue, Bell maintains, where politicians and various power brokers are wined, dined, bribed and bullied to pursue policies that suit the corporate world. And if the corporate world is part of the problem, then we all have a problem.

Bell notes that the Davos meeting has also been turned into a glittering and expensive showpiece where anyone who thinks they are anyone has to be seen, where film and pop stars can parade to show off their hearts on their sleeves and where invited media can rub shoulders, as apparent equals, with presidents, monarchs, and parliamentarians, a very professional example of public relations seduction.

That, Bell says, is the analysis that South African trade unions know and accept, but it is one that will not generally be broadcast or published here - and not only because President Jacob Zuma and a clutch of ministers and officials are in attendance at taxpayers’ expense. A rosily distorted image of Davos and the WEF seems guaranteed because senior figures in the media contingent are confessed acolytes of this uber-wealthy private club.

But when even the WEF sounds desperate about the state of a world at the crossroads, Bell maintains it is essential that propaganda not be allowed to take the place of fact and sensible analysis.


* Add your voice to the big labour debate or simply ask Terry a labour question.

- Terry Bell is a political, economic and labour analyst. Views expressed are his own. Follow him on twitter @telbelsa.

terry bell  |  labour  |  labour wrap

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