Progressives slam World Economic Forum in Davos as “oligarchic” and hypocritical

Climate activists and anti-capitalist groups protested in Davos and Zurich against the four-day annual meet of the World Economic Forum (WEF) 

January 19, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch
WEF Protest - Switzerland
The ‘Smash WEF’ demonstration in Zurich, Switzerland, January 17, 2023. (Photo: via Cayan Orhan/Facebook)

Progressive groups have criticized the ongoing annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss resort town of Davos, which began on Monday, January 16, and will conclude on January 20. This year’s meet, on the theme of ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World,’ saw the participation of political leaders and around 1,500 business leaders from across the world. 

In statements on January 18, the Swiss Party of Labor and the Communist Party slammed the summit as oligarchic, hypocritical, and representative of an undemocratic elitist clique that tries to orchestrate capitalist and imperialist interventions across the world. On January 17, a protest against the WEF by radical anti-capitalist groups was held in the city of Zurich. The WEF is an inter-non governmental lobbying organization founded in 1971 that works to influence global agendas. It is funded mainly by multinational corporations.

Alexander Eniline from the leadership of the Swiss Party of Labor, told Peoples Dispatch on January 18, “the WEF, that currently takes places in Davos, is the main yearly meeting of CEOs of transnational corporations and bourgeois politicians from leading capitalist countries, who discuss, without any democratic legitimacy nor any control from the people, questions that concern everyone. The countries of the global South have nothing to say about decisions that will harm them. This kind of forum shows the fundamentally anti-democratic, oligarchic nature of our system.”

On Sunday, a day before the opening of the summit, climate activists demonstrated in Davos, protesting the participation of energy firms such as Chevron, Saudi Aramco, and British Petroleum (BP) at the WEF, accusing such companies of hijacking the climate debate. Following the protest, the Young Socialists Switzerland (JUSO) stated that “the powerful and rich cannot decide about our future undisturbed! The WEF stands for destruction and we are the future!” 

According to Eniline, “As climate change is dramatically [getting faster], that oligarchy speaks about how to make more money in ‘green’ technologies for the same corporations that are accountable for the current catastrophe. They also discuss how to send more weapons to Ukraine, which implies worsening the war. The Swiss Party of Labor condemns such kinds of forums, and fights for a democratization of international relations.”

At the WEF 2023, a delegation from Ukraine including the wife of President Volodymyr Zelenksy, Olena Zelenska, and Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko was present to lobby for more aid and ammunition for Ukraine to continue the war against Russia.

Sources from the Communist Party of Switzerland told People Dispatch that “one of the main topics of discussion this year is the war in Ukraine. Unfortunately, the participants speak of peace, but Russia is not part of it. In addition, Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, flew to Davos asking for more weapons, whereas the attendees are already discussing how to divide and share—in a neocolonial fashion—Ukraine after the war. This is not helping the cause of peace; to the contrary! They also speak of reducing inequalities, and yet most of the attendees are part of the richest 1% in the world.”

The party added that “the protection of the environment is also a major discussion in the WEF summit. However, every year, 1000 private jets fly to Davos, which is equal to the pollution emitted by 300,000 cars altogether.”