Thousands of prominent political and business figures are congregating in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, as critics accused them of “centralizing power into the possession of hand-picked global elites.”
By : Michael Nevradakis, Ph.D.
Thousands of prominent political and business figures are congregating in Davos, Switzerland, this week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF), whose theme, “Cooperation in a Fragmented World,” focuses on the “cost of living crisis.”
In recent years, the WEF and its founder and chairperson, German engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, generated controversy by promoting ideas such as the “The Great Reset” and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
In promoting ”The Great Reset” in 2020, Schwab said the COVID-19 “pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”
The WEF’s 2016 vision for the future — “Welcome to 2030. I own nothing, have no privacy, and life has never been better” — has also raised eyebrows.
In its mission statement, the WEF claims “it is independent, impartial and not tied to any special interests.”
The statement continues:
“The Forum strives in all its efforts to demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. Moral and intellectual integrity is at the heart of everything it does.”
However, critics describe the WEF as a “fanatical political organization masquerading as a neutral entity” with the goal of “centralizing power into the possession of hand-picked global elites” and for operating with no public input or accountability.
Some critics argue the WEF’s annual meeting “acts as the go-to in-person, invite-only, closed to ideological outsiders policy and ideas shop for the global ruling class.”
Statements emerging from this year’s meeting have done little to quell concerns about the WEF’s real agenda.
The Defender examines some of the key themes of this year’s meeting — taking place under a militaristic security blanket and amid accusations that participants are not practicing what they preach when it comes to their own behavior.
Key themes this year include “combating misinformation,” promoting “public-private partnerships,” “green” politics, buzzwords such as “DEI,” “resiliency” and “sustainability,” “health security,” and continued digitization via the metaverse and “smart” technologies.
Schwab opines on the importance of ‘mastering the future’
In a press release promoting this year’s WEF meeting, Schwab stated:
“We see the manifold political, economic and social forces creating increased fragmentation on a global and national level. To address the root causes of this erosion of trust, we need to reinforce cooperation between the government and business sectors, creating the conditions for a strong and durable recovery.
“At the same time there must be the recognition that economic development needs to be made more resilient, more sustainable and nobody should be left behind.”
In his opening address, Schwab said that current crises around the world, ranging from COVID-19 to the high cost of living, are “serving as catalytic forces for the economic transformation,” adding that “through collective responsibility, innovation and human goodwill and ingenuity, we have the capacity to turn such challenges into opportunities.”
Schwab asked what it means to “master the future”:
“What does it mean to master the future? I think to have a platform where all stakeholders of society are engaged — governments, business, civil societies, young generation … I think is the first step to meet all the challenges.”
Schwab also used his opening remarks to address criticism levied against the WEF in recent years. However, he said the WEF and its global partners must “overcome” such “negative critical and confrontational attitudes.”
In a blog post, investigative journalist Jordan Schachtel noted that the WEF appears to be “playing defense” in response to the “major headwinds” its “extremist agenda” faces, by claiming that it is the victim of “disinformation campaigns.”
For instance, an Aug. 5, 2022, article in Canada’s The Globe and Mail stated the infamous “own nothing and be happy” quote “sparked a misinformation campaign,” even though Schachtel noted that the phrase originated from the WEF itself. The article containing the quote was written by Adrian Monck, now the WEF’s managing director.
And Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently attacked the WEF, remarking that “They run everything and everyone else is basically a serf.”
‘Annual pilgrimage to genuflect to Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab’
The roster of speakers at this year’s WEF meeting represents a proverbial “who’s who” of the global political, business, journalistic and nonprofit elite.
Referencing the significant number of journalists participating as panelists and speakers, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., chairman and chief litigation counsel for Children’s Health Defense, said:
“The American press makes its annual pilgrimage to genuflect to Bill Gates and Klaus Schwab and get its marching orders from the billionaires.”
Among this year’s WEF meeting speakers are 52 heads of state and government, including representatives of royal families, and 56 national finance ministers, 35 ministers of foreign affairs, 30 ministers of commerce and 19 governors of central banks.
Indeed, a record number of heads of state is attending this year’s meeting.
The U.S. contingent at this year’s meeting includes key Biden administration and intelligence community figures, including FBI Director Christopher Wray, Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh, U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai and several members of Congress from both parties.
Schachtel said the U.S. delegation is smaller than last year’s, which he attributed to “the massive blowback the World Economic Forum has received.”
Key international figures on this year’s roster include U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Secretary General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank and former managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and former Vice President Al Gore.
More than a dozen representatives of the EU are attending, including President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, and other key officials, including the EU’s commissioner for the economy and its executive vice president for the European Green Deal.
European heads of state, such as German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Prime Minister of The Netherlands Mark Rutte, are among the speakers, alongside European royal figures such as Queen Mathilde of the Belgians, Queen Máxima of the Netherlands and Prince Albert II of Monaco. A large contingent of Ukrainian politicians also is attending.
Big Pharma also is strongly represented in this year’s speaker list. Attendees include Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla — who at last year’s WEF meeting discussed how microchips will one day be added to pills — Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, top-level executives of AstraZeneca, Bayer, Merck and Sanofi, and Adar Poonawalla of India’s Serum Institute, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.
Key business and financial figures on the speaker’s list include BlackRock CEO Larry Fink, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser and Bain & Company Chairman Orit Gadiesh, alongside the governors of central banks of countries such as France, Israel and The Netherlands.
Five representatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are on the speaker’s list, as are editors and journalists from outlets such as The Associated Press, Reuters and The Washington Post, and Axios, Bloomberg, CBS, CNBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle, The Economist, the Financial Times, Forbes, Foreign Affairs, Fortune, Fox Business, NBC, The Atlantic, The New York Times, Politico and The Wall Street Journal.
There’s also no shortage of Big Tech and fintech representatives on the WEF speakers lineup, including executives from Google, LinkedIn, Meta, Microsoft, TikTok, alongside Mastercard and Visa.
In all, more than 2,700 participants from 130 countries are listed.
Notably, George Soros, chair of Soros Fund Management and founder of the Open Society Foundations, said in a Jan. 10 tweet that he will not be in attendance at this year’s WEF meeting “due to an unavoidable scheduling conflict.” Soros’ son, Alexander Soros, deputy chair of the Open Society Foundations, is on the roster, however.
According to Andrew Lawton, a journalist with Canadian outlet True North:
“Everyone at the World Economic Forum annual meeting — including journalists and participants — has to take a PCR test upon arrival. If you don’t take a test, the chip in your ID badge is deactivated. If you test positive for COVID the badge is also deactivated.”
An intense security curtain has been set up in Davos, with police and military roadblocks and checkpoints, fingerprint scanning and an “unofficial” “World Economic Forum Police.”
Lawton reported that “private bilateral and multilateral” meetings among participants are likely also being held, “which don’t appear on the programme.”
‘We are a select group of human beings’
Despite the presence of so many high-level figures at the annual WEF meeting, Schwab has previously said he doesn’t make “political statements or economic statements which are … in any way influencing political personalities.”
However, Schwab was photographed mingling with global heads of state at the November 2022 G20 conference in Indonesia.
Schwab also previously proclaimed that alumni of his Forum of Young Global Leaders have “penetrated” the governments of multiple countries, where WEF policies are widely being adopted.
In the leadup to this year’s meeting, the WEF raised some eyebrows with its list of the “Top 10 Risks” facing the world over a two- and 10-year period, including the “cost of living crisis,” “erosion of social cohesion” and “large-scale involuntary migration.”
According to Lawton, corporate executives view the benefit of participation in the WEF meeting as “face-time with politicians,” while NGO leaders focus on getting “an audience with business leaders (potential donors) and policy-makers.”
However, Lawton noted that attendance at speeches by world leaders in Davos is “sparse.”
Nevertheless, perhaps revealing how participants view their role as WEF invitees, Kerry, speaking at this year’s meeting, said, “We are a select group of human beings” who “sit in a room and come together and actually talk about saving the planet.”
This theme of “saving the planet” is evidenced by the titles of some of the panels at this year’s WEF meeting, including “Leading the Charge through Earth’s New Normal,” “Tackling Harm in the Digital Era” and “Why We Need Battery Passports.”
Leaders tackle ‘clear and present danger’ of ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’
One of the key themes permeating this year’s WEF meeting is the perceived need to tackle so-called “misinformation” and “disinformation.”
This was evidenced, for instance, by a panel “The Clear and Present Danger of Disinformation” panel, which included former CNN personality Brian Stelter, Times Publisher Arthur Gregg Sulzberger, European Commission Vice President Věra Jourová, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) and Internews CEO Jeanne Bourgault.
During this session, Moulton blamed “mis info” for not “get[ting] people to take a COVID vaccine,” while Sulzberger described “disinformation” as “the most existential” challenge society faces, and Jourová suggested “disinformation” could be fought via enacting “increased regulations,” calling on the U.S. to pass hate speech legislation.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), speaking on another panel, said, “The problem we have is the open press system and basically all the platforms.”
Public-private partnerships: solutions to the world’s problems or ‘top-down vision for technocratic tyranny’?
In its Twitter bio, the WEF describes itself as “The international organization for public-private cooperation.” This is evident in its description of this year’s meeting, where the WEF says, “We’ll look at how we can tackle the numerous and interlinked challenges the world is facing and find solutions through public-private cooperation.”
A Jan. 17 press conference at this year’s meeting, for instance, was titled “Philanthropic-Public-Private Partnerships for Climate & Nature,” and included participants from the Bezos Earth Fund and McKinsey & Company, as well as Børge Brende, former Norwegian foreign minister and current WEF president.
Brende said, “Time is running out to address critical global challenges” and he introduced the concept of “stakeholder geopolitics” as a means of tackling them.
Also on Jan. 17, Spain’s foreign minister, José Manuel Albares Bueno, said the COVID-19 and Ukraine crises “have shown us that the best method is to do things together,” as “we get out of crises quicker and in better shape.”
Schachtel described this focus as “a public-private fascist movement,” where the WEF partners with the “most influential individuals in business, along with central bankers, governmental head honchos, and international organizations, in order to facilitate their top-down vision for technocratic tyranny, or what they call ‘stakeholder capitalism.’”
Leaders arrive in ‘droves of private jets’ to talk ‘Green’ politics
Lawton reported that multiple participants at this year’s conference discussed ideas for how we can transition to a “climate positive lifestyle.”
Gore suggested that activities considered to be “anti-climate” should be defunded, while Guterres said, “To stop our ‘self-defeating war on nature,’ we must close the emissions gap, phase out coal, and supercharge the renewable revolution,” adding that oil companies have perpetuated a “big lie” on climate change.
In turn, Oxford University professor Ngaire Woods suggested the implementation of a “real carbon price” by every country, in order to accelerate the energy transition, while in an interview outside the official meeting schedule, Schwab Foundation member Kola Masha talked about “forcing” environmental policy on the public.
Lawton observed that all WEF meeting participants, upon registration, were surveyed “to calculate their carbon footprint for attending the meeting in Davos.”
Perhaps belying the underlying goal of purported “green” proposals, Kerry said, during a panel titled “Philanthropy: A Catalyst for Protecting Our Planet,” that the only way to achieve a 1.5 degree Centigrade reduction in the global temperature was “Money, Money, Money, Money, Money, Money, Money.”
Articles on the WEF website complementing the meeting program suggest, “Why you should consider adding carbon credits to your climate action plan,” and how cities can adopt “environmental, social, governance” (ESG) management utilizing the metaverse and blockchain, and ideas like the “15 minute city” and “traffic filters.”
In an interview with Nicholas Lyons, Lord Mayor of the City of London, when asked why WEF participants engaged with China in light of its severe lockdowns, he pivoted to climate change, stating, “Human rights issues are always a concern … but also you have to understand, the biggest challenge facing the world is climate change.”
In a press release preceding the start of this year’s gathering, Greenpeace criticized the “hypocrisy” of the WEF delegates, who “arrive in droves of private jets.”
‘DEI,’ ‘ESG,’ ‘resiliency’ and ‘sustainability’: Popular buzzwords dominate panel discussions
This year’s WEF meeting program, and the talks delivered by many of its participants, are peppered with repeated mentions of in-vogue buzzwords, including “DEI” (diversity, equity, inclusion), “resiliency” and “sustainability.”
This is evident in the WEF’s description of the meeting, where Schwab is quoted saying, “There must be the recognition that economic development needs to be made more resilient, more sustainable and nobody should be left behind,” while the description also talks about the need for “industry resilience.”
Vicki Hollub, CEO of Occidental Petroleum, commented during the meeting that, “As we transition, we must not leave developing countries behind,” while Bob Sternfels, global managing partner of McKinsey & Company, said, “Companies that act in a resilient way outperform their peers by up to 50%.”
Fink, a member of the WEF Board of Trustees and a major proponent of ESG, participated in the “Relaunching Trade, Growth and Investment” panel. Another panel, “Technology for a More Resilient World,” included participants from the WEF, IBM, Accenture and The Atlantic.
And as part of the agenda for this year’s meeting, the WEF also suggested that “consumers want sustainable options” and provided suggestions for “what producers, suppliers, and retailers can do now.”
Notably, however, in remarks made to Bloomberg, Fink complained that “the narrative around ESG investing has become ugly” and has led to “huge polarization” — a statement perhaps indicative of the increasing criticism being levied toward Fink, BlackRock, the WEF and other associated entities.
For instance, in a recent tweet, Twitter owner and CEO Elon Musk remarked “The S in ESG stands for Satanic.” The WEF’s Twitter account is not included in the “How to follow Davos 2023” pamphlet distributed by the WEF.
Delegates at BlackRock’s pavilion refused to answer one reporter’s questions.
And, perhaps spelling out what underscores discussions of “inclusiveness,” “sustainability” and “resilience,” a WEF article accompanying this year’s meeting agenda titled “5 dimensions of leadership to address complex challenges” includes, as one of its dimensions, “Muscles: perseverance to translate ideas into action.”
Future ‘pandemics’ and ‘global health security’: Will tuberculosis be the next pandemic scare?
Another prominent theme at this year’s WEF meeting is how to deal with “future pandemics” and “global health security.”
One panel discussion, “State of the Pandemic,” included Bancel and representatives of the Gates-affiliated GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance, the Harvard School of Public Health and European news outlet Euronews.
Participants in “Ending Tuberculosis: How Do We Get There?” included WHO Secretary-General Tedros and representatives from the WEF, The Washington Post, the Wellcome Trust and The Global Fund.
During this panel discussion, Tedros warned that “a resurgence of tuberculosis may be coming …. sooner or later.” In response, Twitter commentator “Chief Nerd” wrote, “fortunately, BioNTech & Bill Gates started testing a mRNA vaccine for TB last year.” The author provided a link to a relevant article from GAVI’s website.
Another panel, “Putting Health at the Heart of Climate Action,” bridged the topics of “global health” and “climate change,” and included panelists from Sanofi, the Africa CDC and UNICEF.
Articles on the WEF website accompanying the meeting agenda include, “A universal flu vaccine: Here’s what you need to know” and “Let’s bring together countries and corporations to grow global pathogen surveillance.”
Other articles promoted a “digital transformation” of healthcare infrastructure and telemedicine as a means of achieving “global health equity.”
Investigative journalists Avi Yemini and Ezra Levant of Rebel News located Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on the streets of Davos today and bombarded him with 29 questions — to which Bourla provided two responses: “Thank you very much” and “Have a nice day.”
In a separate street interview, AstraZeneca Chairman Leif Johansson was more talkative, admitting to Yemini that the COVID-19 vaccines never stopped the spread, but nevertheless justifying the vaccine mandates. According to Yemini, “He scrambled behind the restricted area before I could ask about the recent rise in ‘sudden deaths.’”
The ‘metaverse’ and ‘smart’ technologies: global ‘cooperation’ or global control?
This year’s meeting continues the WEF’s promotion of digital technologies such as the “metaverse” and other “smart” technologies, as solutions for multiple global challenges.
According to Schachtel, the WEF will announce “the first, and long-awaited, outputs of the Defining and Building the Metaverse Initiative,” including briefing papers on “Interoperability in the Metaverse” and “Demystifying the Consumer Metaverse.”
Also this year, Schwab, Microsoft Vice Chairman and President Brad Smith, and Julie Sweet, chair and CEO of Accenture, shared a vision for the so-called “Global Collaboration Village.” Schwab said the initiative can be “trusted” because INTERPOL is participating in the effort.
This “Global Collaboration Village” was first announced in May 2022, as a means to “harness the power of the metaverse to grow and diversify participation in advancing the global public interest.” Panelists this year presented the benefits of a “global VR society” — referring to virtual reality — that would be “without borders.”
The embattled von der Leyen said this week, “the next decades will see the greatest industrial transformation of our times, maybe of any time,” in a clear reference to “The Great Reset” and the “Fourth Industrial Revolution.”
Investigative journalist Noor Bin Ladin characterized von der Leyen’s statement as a “chilling message if you know what this Globalist shill is talking about: Internet of Things (IoT), 5G, and other recent technology advancements [which] are absolutely essential for … the digital jails in which we’ll be trapped.”
Other metaverse-related panels and events this year include “Deployment in the Industrial Metaverse” and “How to Build a Metaverse for All,” accompanied by articles suggesting how the metaverse can impact industry, shape inclusiveness and explaining why and how it needs to be regulated.