Each year thousands of elites descend on Davos, a mountain resort in Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum (WEF). As the BBC puts it, the event usually draws corporate and political leaders, celebrities, campaigners, economists and journalists for panel discussions, drinks parties and schmoozing. But Covid has intervened: the 2022 in-person event is deferred to the European summer; this week participants will gather online instead for what the WEF calls the Davos agenda – a “headline series of State of the World sessions”.
It’s probably just as well: the protesters who traditionally flock to Davos to express their disdain for the whole shindig are going to be extra mad this year. Oxfam has released a new report showing that the wealth of the world’s 10 richest men DOUBLED during the pandemic.
(Yes, men. And all white too).
The charity’s chief executive said: “This year, what’s happening is off the scale. There’s been a new billionaire created almost every day during this pandemic, meanwhile 99% of the world’s population are worse off.”
The situation is deeply unjust – but, as a society, we can’t seem to muster the collective political will to reverse this rapacious form of capitalism gone mad. Why? We like the thoughts of one SA Twitter user responding to the report, Zama Ndlovu:
“Things have gone terribly wrong and because people have been socialised to believe that with enough meditation and hard work this could be them, it’s hard to galvanise the political momentum to reverse this inequality.”
Our obsession with individualism deepens with each new generation. From Gen x to z, we’re told by rappers, politicians and influencers that we, too, can become one of the obscenely wealthy few. It’s time to put that lie to bed and commit to raising a new generation that champions the collective good above becoming wildly successful and famous at others’ expense.