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GOLDSTEIN: Elitism, not populism, threatens our democracy – Toronto Sun

Published Jan 11, 2023  •  3 minute read

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Participants check their messages on electronic devices during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 23, 2020.
Participants check their messages on electronic devices during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on Jan. 23, 2020. Photo by FILES /GETTY IMAGES

Elitism poses a far greater threat to democratic institutions than populism and the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week is a case in point.

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From a Canadian perspective anyone who cares about democracy should worry a lot more about the WEF than the Freedom Convoy.

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It’s an annual meeting of 3,000 of the world’s global elites — billionaires, millionaires, tech giants, captains of industry, politicians, celebrities and bureaucrats, held in an uber-expensive, hard-to-reach ski resort in the Swiss Alps.

Created by German economist Klaus Schwab in 1971, originally as a business conference, it has grown under Schwab’s relentless promotion into an annual global gabfest that is simultaneously hilarious and alarming.

Hilarious because it sees global elites emerging from their private jets and cocoons of privilege lecturing the rest of us on how to save the planet by consuming less to reduce our carbon footprint.

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Alarming, because we never see the deal-making that goes on behind closed doors at the WEF, as opposed to its public face of elitist benevolence.

The WEF has no power in and of itself.

But it is a global incubator of terrible ideas, leading to bizarre government policies that inevitably develop when elitists who have no understanding of how ordinary people live, delude themselves into thinking that, having created many of the world’s problems, they know how to fix them.

For example, their absurd idea that the pandemic was the ideal moment in history for a “Great Reset” to power modern industrialized countries with wind and solar power.

This as opposed to the current reality that nations around the world are now desperately scrambling to acquire more fossil fuel energy, because they forgot the importance of energy security in their obsession with so-called “green” energy.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has spoken at the WEF and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is a member of its board of trustees.

On the other hand, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre condemns it as an annual meeting of elites who understand nothing about the lives of ordinary people and in their arrogance, think they know what is best for them, vowing a Conservative government will have nothing to do with it.

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While Liberals and liberal media have mocked Poilievre for engaging in tin foil hat conspiracies, Freeland herself in her award-winning 2012 book written before she entered politics, Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else expressed similar concerns about the WEF.

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So did former Conservative PM Stephen Harper, who twice spoke at the WEF and praised Schwab in his 2018 political memoir, Right Here, Right Now — Politics and Leadership in the Age of Disruption, for creating an “outstanding organization” and a “remarkable event” at the start.

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But he also described the WEF today, as “a bit disturbing … in recent years, Davos has taken on an atmosphere of elitism that would be hard to surpass.

“Many of its attendees seem to view themselves as some kind of supreme world council …

“The one commonality in virtually all the new, populist or disruptive political movements of recent years is their suspicion of such globalism … They believe such ‘globalists’ do not share their values and do not care about their interests. And, too often, they are right.”

Award-winning New York Times global economics journalist Peter Goodman expressed similar concerns in his 2022 book, Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World.