Category Archives: CHALLENGES

Annual fail – The Davos top down approach (World Economic Forum)

Keep course – make irrelevant concessions

Primarily the WEF is kind of apparatchik gathering, though there are some really great minds in between all this groupthink. I have made a test and followed the livestream of some panel discussion. This is a good exercise in ethnographical analysis of “collective rituals of self-affirmation”. There is a very clear agenda – and one easily can sense the invisible “red line”, when attending a “discussion” via livestream. Ethnographically it is a cult with totems and taboos. If the panel allows for some questions from the audience, then you have a litmus test of power. The function of the whole thing becomes crystal clear: Commanding the rules of interpretation, selective perception of reality, setting the parole.

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Ethnographically a cult of totems and taboos

Example by accident: A panel about obesity as a growing problem. Any average informed person knows that the fast food industry is a relevant topic in the debate about the issue (super-size food, seductive advertising, questionable additives etc.). When someone from the audience asks for the responsibility of politics and corporates then the panel’s/moderator’s function is to bring the debate back onto the “right track”, e.g. self-responsibility. Other strategy: Ignore the question … So, this is all quite usual and nothing new. But it should surprise us in the year 2013, where the relevant people listening to such a livestream are on a better level of information so that they will perceive a “guided discussion” like this utterly ridiculous.

So, what about a real World Change Forum instead?

But isn’t there a lot of “critical issues” talked about – e.g. climate change? Sure, it is, but it is not mapping to actions, resolutions – so in the end it still is an annual PR show for the status quo. The planet cannot afford a political-economical elite like this and it cannot afford an event like this. The leaders are actually inactive, when contrasted with the decisions they should take to solve the global mess. What we need instead is a powerful meeting of changemakers – but no, not the kind of “World Social Forum”, which is stuck in rituals and logic of  political camps, counter-lobbyism, it even has been criticised as a “NGO fair“. Please, couldn’t we have a glocal multi-sectoral forum, mixing social change agents and tech innovations, new models of governance, best practices in resilient lifestyle from all continents? A World Change Forum!

Appendix

The global-leadership industry needs re-engineering – economist.com

Davos Man (“stateless elites”, Lawrence Summers etc.) – Wikipedia

Jim Harris: Davos: Talking Champagne on a Sinking Titanic – huffingtonpost.ca

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