It’s all about “The Great Reset”. In a few months’ time, in the wake of a year of pandemic and lockdowns,
world leaders will meet at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland to, as organisers put it, “integrate all stakeholders of global society into a community of common interest, purpose and action”.
The term ‘Great Reset’ is taken from the book of the same name published after the financial crash of 2008 calling to “integrate stakeholders of global society into a community of common interest”. Is there any reason to think it will be any more successful this time?
Perhaps the organisers and backers give us a clue.
The Prince of Wales made the announcement of this year’s theme, so that’s encouraging as far as common interests go.
That would be the same Prince of Wales who is the largest private landowner in England.
Joint aficionado of the ‘Reset’, and big buddies with the prince, is professor Klaus Schwab, who set up the WEF in the 1970s with the express purpose of bringing together government and business.
Klaus is particularly interested in that old neoliberal wheeze, the public private partnership, putting corporations at the heart of things providing, as they do, the possibilities of “agile” governance, drawing on the private sector’s experience of “adapting to a new, fast- changing environment”.
This is the same kind of “partnership”, with its barrage of outsourcing and privatisation strategies, which served the rich so well during the pandemic. Take the “agile and innovative” way in which the Tory government addressed a persistent problem with sourcing personal protective equipment. In June, the Department of Health and Social Care paid a company called Brandology £70 million to provide face masks.
Brandology had never produced face masks before but were “adapting”.
The company has one director, Hannah Halstead- Morton, and supplies “luxury packaging solutions and promotional items”.
According to an investigation by Byline Times, Brandology’s assets at the time the government windfall was awarded were just shy of £500,000, so the contract represented a 35-fold increase on the previous year.
Turns out Hannah is the great granddaughter of the Governor of Canada. It’s possible she may have been moving in the right circles.
In a recent feature in the Financial Times, Martin Sandbu talked about the rise of the “kleptocrats”. A kleptocracy is the capture of political power for the purpose of theft or embezzlement. While we might not be quite there yet, two things are true.
Rarely has the corruption and cronyism at the heart of capitalism been so visible, a cronyism that has made Halstead-Morton and a small clique of incompetents even richer while consigning millions of people to misery.
This cronyism is not some sort of malfunction, it is the authentic expression of a system in decline.