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From The Socialist newspaper, 31 January 2018

Capitalists fear for their system at Davos

Monopoly man with axe dancing on money bags, 1% super-rich austerity inequality, photo torbakhopper (Creative Commons)

Monopoly man with axe dancing on money bags, 1% super-rich austerity inequality, photo torbakhopper (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

Stephanie Hammond

Representatives of the world's ruling class again gathered for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Davos mountain resort in Switzerland.

Significantly, the official theme was "creating a shared future in a fractured world" - a departure from the shameless openness about capitalist theft usually espoused by the conference.

A coterie of world leaders gave talks at the event including Donald Trump and Theresa May.

Trump, the least popular president in American history, hypocritically called for "peace" - while his reckless actions exacerbate conflict in the Middle East and risk war with North Korea. May was snubbed and prattled blandly about artificial intelligence to a nearly empty room.

The backdrop to the meeting is that in 2017 a billionaire was created every two days on average - the highest growth in the 31 years Forbes magazine has listed it.

Meanwhile, international relations between the great powers are strained. Poverty, hunger, war and want are at the door of practically every country, and inequality is at its highest point in history.

So it was that left-wing professor Guy Standing was able to speak at the conference of the dangers of "rentier capitalism," the obstacles faced by the "precariat," and the "plunder of the commons."

And Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell was a panellist for a session about the free market. He warned attendees that tax avoidance on an "industrial" scale had alienated ordinary people who feel the system is a "con trick" and "rigged."

This couldn't be more accurate. But many of the academics, chief executives and world leaders in attendance cannot see the wood for the trees.

Short-sighted

Even the less short-sighted capitalists who understand that growing anger about inequality fundamentally threatens their wealth are dumbfounded about how to restore faith in the system. They are completely integrated within it - and the interests of their class are directly opposed to ours.

Socialists welcome any progressive reforms which improve the lives of ordinary people. But with capitalism in crisis and the super-rich unwilling to pay for it, any serious programme of reforms will have to tackle the capitalist system itself.

So the fight for every possible improvement must be linked to the fight to send the entire system to the scrapheap, replacing it with socialism. The Davos meeting should be confined to nothing more than a historical curiosity.

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