By Alex Stuart
At the end of January, the world’s elite meet in the exclusive Swiss ski resort of Davos to discuss how to maintain and improve their lot in the economy. Both the setting and speeches are utopian, as politicians and bankers profess the virtues of neoliberalism. While millions are spent on round-the-clock security and caviar, we are told of the dangers of largesse spending by the state and the need to slash public services: life is tough at the top.
At home and overseas, there is significant evidence capitalism is no longer being accepted as the given status quo, as the global population demonstrates its increasing unwillingness to embrace an economic system based on inequality and self-interest. Such discontent has manifested in multiple ways; one need only look at the election of Donald Trump to understand the needs of a population left behind by capitalism who look up to the leadership of Trump as a self-proclaimed champion of the American working-class. Similarly, such discontent is mirrored in Britain, as the 2017 General Election demonstrates the millions enthused by Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party, and more specifically, his promise to run the economy ‘for the many, not the few’.
Yet unfortunately, such protest against capitalism remains futile. Although claiming to act in the interests of the working class and disadvantaged, Trump falls within the bracket of many previous administrations who have led a government in the interests of the private and wealthy. Davos itself has become nothing more than a bolthole for bourgeois politicians to take a break and formulate a strategy to re-sell capitalism to the masses. Theresa May persistently talks of tackling “burning injustices”, yet her government’s failure to give state funding for the installation of sprinklers in tower blocks, even in the wake of the Grenfell Disaster, represents the unwillingness and fear of all national leaders to truly commit to the reform, if not complete removal, of capitalism. European leaders will opine about the need for greater integration within the bloc, but do so in order to open up new markets for capital. Plus ça change.
Of course, both Trump and May were featured speakers at Davos and gave an expected lacklustre performance, yet so were Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn. As the official Opposition, they have no reason not to adopt a firm stance against corrupt and immoral capitalist values and it is clear both will give concessions to capital unless there is an organised labour movement behind them. Thus, whilst the capitalists organise in the Alps, it is more important than ever for the population to unite against standards of inequality and ruthless economic pursuits in a show of consolidarity which demonstrates the frustration of a population no longer satisfied with a system working for the few against the majority interest.