As any deplorable knows, the pre-game was sometimes the best part of any National Football League (NFL) game, at least before Colin Kaepernick entered the league, and Davos is no exception. Sadly the Gulfstream of your poor correspondent (YPG) is in the shop, so we’ll have to do the pregame from somewhere other than Switzerland. The important thing about the pregame is that it puts the upcoming game in context, and that’s what we’ll do here for next week’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos.
First off, China’s president Xi JinPing will be there, a first for China. There are four major players in international relations—Americans, Europeans, Chinese, the Middle East—with the Russians are a wildcard. Normally the Americans, Europeans, and the Middle East dominate, but this year the Americans will be distracted with Trump’s inauguration, so JinPing’s presence means that the World Economic Forum will pivot east as well as the US Defense Department.
Of course the major topic of the conference, with the arrival of Brexit and Trump on the international scene, will be increasing populism that threatens globalism. Xi argues that the rejection of globalism risks “poverty and war,” and for China that may be true, but the shortcomings of globalization have significantly impacted voters in Great Britain and the US, and that’s what matters. The term “populism” however seems loaded and is often used along with “nativism” and “xenophobia,” but the most applicable term seems to be “nationalism.” The Davos grandees seem to be intent on acquiring national wealth and redistributing it, which has negative impacts on those whose wealth they’re appropriating. That they’ve responded to this purposive impoverishment by voting their economic interests is perfectly rational, but it does take some of the luster off of the WEF’s self-congratulations.
Finally, topics associated with relationships among nations like international relations, foreign affairs, and international political economy has a certain leftish, socialist, and pacifist component that, to YPC, was not completely obvious. Just think about the Peace Corps, the United Nations, or the US State Department, all of which both exhibit that peacenik vibe. The opposite side of that foreign affairs coin is the US Department of Defense and the intelligence community that, while they operate internationally, exhibit a distinctly nationalist vibe. Of course, the WEF attendees at Davos emphasize peace over the military, so they emphasize globalism over nationalism. Both are necessary and have their role, but globalism has been emphasized to the extent that nationalism has been maligned, and now large voter blocs of key countries have been impacted negatively. Now is the time to relearn the reasons why nationalism is important and necessary, but the odds of that being discussed at Davos are—small.