In Davos, in 2024, recall the pieces of fractured capitalism

SOn the heights of Davos, a wealthy village in the canton of Graubünden, in the far east of Switzerland, a massive 1900 hotel dominates the resort. It is in these Alpine heights that Thomas Mann drew the landscape of his Magic Mountain. A young engineer from Hamburg discovers the life of the “people from above”, these great bourgeois, recluse in their comfortable world, who constantly balance between the dream of the Enlightenment and the awareness of an inevitable decline, on the eve of the first World War.

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Davos has lost none of the poisonous charm that Thomas Mann describes. Every year, the people from above come back to haunt the place to feel sorry for the miseries of the world… and to do good business. Since its creation in 1971 by Klaus Schwab and its transformation in 1987 into the World Economic Forum, it has brought together the elite of business and politics for a week.

This year again, from Monday January 15 to Friday January 19, nearly 2,800 businessmen, intellectuals and politicians will meet to talk about the progress of the world. Since its rise, during the 1990s and 2000s, the forum has symbolized the rise of a world without borders, pacified by gentle commerce, where politicians and merchants worked in the same direction.

“Social divisions”

We believed the principle of this forum had been surpassed by the three events which have shaken global capitalism in five years: the Sino-American confrontation, the health crisis and the war in Ukraine. The fire has been smoldering for a long time, but is now spreading its flames. “We face a fractured world and exacerbating social divisions, leading to the spread of uncertainty and pessimism. We need to rebuild trust”, assures Klaus Schwab by way of welcome. Davos attempts to hold together the bonds of a severely frayed fabric. And for those who doubt the interest and success of a demonstration at the end of the course, the 85-year-old professor lists the impressive list of bosses and politicians who have once again taken the path to the Graubünden station.

On Wednesday January 17, we will meet a Chinese Prime Minister, his counterparts from South Korea, Vietnam, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands, an American Secretary of State, a President of the European Commission, a President newly elected Argentinian, a defeated Pole, other presidents and emirs from the Gulf, Africa, Israel. A form of “Business United Nations”. With less protocol.

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The only notable absentee is Russia, ostracized by Europe and the United States. The Ukrainian enemy will be very present in the person of its president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Emmanuel Macron will also make the trip, flanked, in the absence of ministers, by the presidents of four French regions (including Valérie Pécresse, president (Les Républicains) of Ile-de-France) and around twenty start-up bosses to praise the attractiveness of the country in this prestigious year marked by the Paris Olympic Games.

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