“And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone and slime for mortar. And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And God came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men were building. And God said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is what they begin to do? Now nothing will be withheld from them, everything they intend to do. Come, let us descend and confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So God scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth, and they abandoned building the city. Therefore, the name of it was called Babel, because God did there confound the language of all the earth, and from thence did God scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth.” – Genesis 11:1-9
DAVOS — Klaus Schwab looks into the camera. He is dressed sharply, in a dark suit, crisp white shirt, and blue tie; he is bald and speaks with a thick German accent. He is the founder and chairman of the World Economic Forum; the declared mission of the WEF is to “demonstrate entrepreneurship in the global public interest while upholding the highest standards of governance. … Our activities are shaped by a unique institutional culture founded on the stakeholder theory, which asserts that an organization is accountable to all parts of society.”
All of this sounds rather innocuous. The language reeks of corporate boardrooms and publicity flacks; all that’s missing is the term “synergy.”
And indeed, synergy is what Schwab pursues, along with the elites in nearly every field. “We have continuous partnerships with many governments around the world,” Schwab brags to the camera. “Then of course, we have NGOs, we have trade unions, we have all those different parts – media, of course – and very important experts and scientists and academia … religious leaders, social entrepreneurs …”
So, what precisely are all of these elites gathered to achieve?
They say that they want to build a better world.
All we – the citizens of the world – have to do is to hand them unfettered power, and then trust in their wisdom to change the nature of the economy, the planet, and our very lives.
Schwab has been, since 1971, the advocate of what he terms “stakeholder capitalism.” Stakeholder capitalism is defined in The Davos Manifesto as a reorienting of the purpose of companies away from creating value for shareholders – the actual owners of the company, those with skin in the game – and toward achieving goals on behalf of a broader universe:
The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large. The best way to understand and harmonize the divergent interests of all stakeholders is through a shared commitment to policies and decisions that strengthen the long-term prosperity of a company. … A company is more than an economic unit generating wealth. It fulfills human and societal aspirations as part of the broader social system.
Such “stakeholder” interests require companies to engage in “collaborative efforts with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”
This philosophy of corporate governance is entirely at odds with the dominant corporate model of the past few decades, shareholder capitalism. That notion, coined by Milton Friedman, stood in direct opposition to what he termed the “social responsibilities of business”:
The businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned “merely” with profit but also with promoting desirable “social” ends; that business has a “social conscience” and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers. In fact they are — or would be if they or any one else took them seriously — preaching pure and unadulterated socialism.
What, precisely, was the problem with preaching the “social responsibilities of business”? Friedman pointed out that the term was so vague as to be meaningless. Instead, the very breadth and seeming generosity of the term provided cover for business executives to defy responsibilities to those who employ them: the shareholders. Normally, Friedman pointed out, a corporate executive has “direct responsibility to his employers” (i.e. stockholders) to “conduct the business in accordance with their desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”
Making corporate executives responsible to some other set of priorities frees them from accountability entirely: shareholders aren’t owed a duty by executives, and society cannot punish them for failing to perform their supposedly broad societal duty. As Friedman states:
What does it mean to say that the corporate executive has a “social responsibility” in his capacity as businessman? If this statement is not pure rhetoric, it must mean that he is to act in some way that is not in the interest of his employers. … In each of these cases, the corporate executive would be spending someone else’s money for a general social interest. … Here the businessman — self selected or appointed directly or indirectly by stockholders — is to be simultaneously legislator, executive and jurist. He is to decide whom to tax by how much and for what purpose, and he is to spend the proceeds — all this guided only by general exhortations from on high to restrain inflation, improve the environment, fight poverty and so on and on.
Friedman says that the responsibility to “do good” with others’ money is a governmental function; to do so in the context of private business seizes money from those who have not consented to such seizure, without the public approval that generally accompanies taxes. It is a form of theft, in the same it would be a form of theft for an employee to receive wages while spending his work day “saving society” by protesting at a rally.
And Friedman offers a warning: if business executives say that their main goal is to be protecting “stakeholders” rather than stockholders, they will not be guided by social conscience for long. Soon, it will be the “iron fist of Government bureaucrats” making the rules.
But Friedman’s argument is in full-scale retreat in the halls of power. That’s no surprise, since Friedman’s concept undermines the halls of power – the smoke-filled rooms in which important business people gather to collude with one another in the name of social good. If companies are designed to serve the interests of their shareholders, collusion between businesses will be unprofitable; better to undercut the competition than cooperate with it. Similarly, Friedman’s model cuts against regulatory capture: ambition will check ambition as companies vie for control.
But stakeholder capitalism advocates collusion and regulatory capture. There is a reason President Joe Biden once said that it was “way past time we put an end to the era of shareholder capitalism. … It’s an absolute farce.” For Biden and Schwab and their ilk, business must be reoriented to work hand-in-glove with government to build a brave new world – a world that leaves consumers, producers, and citizens at the mercy of a controlling caste of elite power brokers.
Together, those power brokers will build the new Tower of Babel, challenging the heavens themselves by changing the face of the earth.
The Great Reset And The Great Narrative
To his credit, Schwab isn’t hiding the ball.
In June 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Schwab penned a piece at the World Economic Forum website, titled “Now is the time for a ‘great reset.’” To avoid global crisis, Schwab wrote:
The world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a “Great Reset” of capitalism. … We must build entirely new foundations for our economic and social systems. The level of cooperation and ambition this implies is unprecedented. But it is not some impossible dream.
Schwab stated that this would “require stronger and more effective governments,” as well as “private-sector engagement every step of the way.”
In his book, The Great Narrative (2021), written with Thierry Malleret, Schwab suggests that we unite around a “great narrative,” quoting Johan Rockstrom, joint director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany:
My focus is on defining a safe operating space for humanity on a stable and resilient planet. That’s the grand narrative: we now, in the depths of the Anthropocene where humanity is the dominating force of change, must reconnect to the planet, must become stewards to the planet, and must recognize that the planet has boundaries that are non-negotiable. The big new future for humanity is to be successful, equitable and profitable, all the desirable attributes within the safe operating space of a stable planet.
Practically, this means dispensing with metrics of global progress like Gross Domestic Product (GDP); instead, he says, we ought to measure “what matters most: climate action, sustainability, inclusivity, global cooperation, health and well-being.” In fact, says Schwab, we should actively decrease GDP in the name of such priorities: “We might even find we can live with such a scenario quite happily!”
Schwab is a multimillionaire.
The goals Schwab spells out sound generous, but are actually quite malignant. We can, says Schwab, cure “inequality and the unfairness that underpins it.” He doesn’t mean that we ought to press forward free markets and property rights more broadly – the greatest alleviators of poverty in human history. Instead, he means we ought reorganize the global economy in centralized fashion. Every country ought to pursue “a broader, if not universal provision of social assistance,” plus “a move toward enhanced protection for workers in the form of mandatory benefits.” This inevitably means that governments will “decide that it’s in the best interest of society to rewrite some of the rules of the game and permanently increase their roles.”
This overall centralization program will be egged on by the “younger generation,” which is “likely to be more radical in its demands in the refashioning of our social contract.” What Schwab wants is a sort of inside-outside political game, whereby societal elites – governmental, cultural, media and corporate – respond to the agitation of radical protesters, feeding them cookies while consolidating power. All of this will then be treated as “the best insurance policy against the rise of populism.”
On the back of this crisis, a new cooperative world will be built – run, of course, by the new Babelonians.
From Mercantilism To Economic Fascism To The Great Reset
In truth, there’s nothing particularly new about the new Babelonians; they’ve merely internationalized what used to be top-down national economic policy. In practice, Schwab and his ilk seek an international version of what was originally called mercantilism, and then economic fascism: government cooperating with certain corporations to “organize” the economy in preferred ways.
For much of human history, such policy came in the form of mercantilism. Mercantilism – a policy of centralization of economic power in the crown, particularly during the 15th through the 18th centuries, and in which nations focused on balance of trade as a symptom of underlying economic health, resulting in protectionism, subsidization, and colonialism – closely followed the rise of nationalism after the Middle Ages, as economist Patrick J. Welch of St. Louis University writes. With the rise of nationalism in the aftermath of the imperial collapse of World War I, similar dynamics quickly arose: as Welch says, “What is unique to mercantilism and fascism is the extent to which the state is seen as properly going in carrying out these roles in a largely private enterprise environment.”
Even in the United States, such policies have a long and inglorious history. FDR’s policies verged on economic fascism, which is why Benito Mussolini praised FDR’s book, Looking Forward, by writing, “Reminiscent of Fascism is the principle that the state no longer leaves the economy to its own devices.” FDR’s National Recovery Administration cudgeled businesses into displaying a Blue Eagle as a sign of loyalty and adherence to FDR’s preferred wage and price policies. As Jonah Goldberg has written, General Hugh Johnson, head of the program, “demanded that compliance with the Blue Eagle program be monitored by an army of quasi-official informants, from union members of Boy Scouts. His totalitarian approach was unmistakable. … Johnson’s favorite means of promoting compliance with the Blue Eagle were military parades and Nuremberg-style rallies.”
Fast forwarding some 70 years, Barack Obama echoed this sort of rhetoric when he ran for president in 2008, seeking to label “patriotic” companies that followed his preferred recommendations. Joe Biden’s Build Back Better program relies on the same hackneyed group of bromidic and counterproductive policies: he labels oil companies that don’t lower their prices unpatriotic, calls on social media companies to do his bidding in terms of restricting informational flow, and threatens financial institutions.
There is nothing new about the idea of centralizing economic power in the hands of a governmental elite, working hand-in-glove with certain corporate allies.
What is new is the internationalization of that scheme.
The New Tool For Power
The world, Schwab acknowledges, is a big place. Nations agree on little. But they can agree on “environmental degradation and climate change,” he says, “because they are truly global and represent such a massive threat to us all.” Once we have agreement on environmental concerns, we will move on to the restructuring of our social connections: “It’s hard to comprehend how the move towards environmental sustainability could take place without a concomitant move towards social sustainability.”
This seems pie-in-the-sky; nations have broad disagreement even on environmental policy. Which is why Schwab and company require corporations to lead the way, acting in symbiotic fashion with Left-wing governments and candidates.
Corporations must be the chief tool toward building the new Tower of Babel. Governments are, by nature, national; corporations are transnational. If corporations can be compelled to implement “moral calls and value judgments” in the name of “environmental, social, and social governance,” they can be tools for change. If corporations refuse to comply, they will be destroyed by “employees, clients and voters” who will “force change on them from the outside.” Nations, all of whom seek to grab a piece of the corporate action, will supposedly agree on global rules for corporations that operate transnationally; corporations will essentially be granted global charters by international institutions to operate, so long as they promote the goals of Klaus Schwab and company.
This is why massive investment companies like BlackRock use their enormous holdings to promote ESG – and, unsurprisingly, why so many of these companies back Left-wing politicians who will subsidize the broader agenda; since 2008, a vast majority of donations by BlackRock Inc. have gone to Democrats. BlackRock head Larry Fink is, not coincidentally, a member of the World Economic Forum Board of Trustees. He buys into the agenda, and uses his power on behalf of Schwab’s “stakeholders.” He calls on CEOs to act as political leaders:
Stakeholder capitalism is not about politics. It is not a social or ideological agenda. It is not “woke.” It is capitalism, driven by mutually beneficial relationships between you and the employees, customers, suppliers, and communities your company relies on to prosper. This is the power of capitalism. … It’s never been more essential for CEOs to have a consistent voice, a clear purpose, a coherent strategy, and a long-term view. Your company’s purpose is its north star in this tumultuous environment. The stakeholders your company relies upon to deliver profits for shareholders need to hear directly from you – to be engaged and inspired by you.
He also hedges his bets. While BlackRock is quite loud with regard to Exxon, it’s utterly silent on the environmental predations of PetroChina.
The Stated Goal And The Real Goal
The builders of the new Tower of Babel face two significant problems. First, the measures they suggest will not work; second, the divisions between human beings are far too significant to allow for the Tower to be built even if they did.
Schwab acknowledges that even if firms complied with their environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) goals, they would have a “negligible impact” on climate change. Economist William Nordhaus suggests that in order to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, carbon prices would have to “rise to $300-$500 per tonne by 2030, and go as high as $1,000 per tonne by 2050.” The current rate is hundreds of times lower than that.
But corporate insufficiency can be solved for through massive government mandates. The transition toward the Great Reset must be paved by corporations, but it will be finished by governments.
Schwab quotes Malaysian businessman and founder of The Global Institute for Tomorrow Chandran Nair, who speaks in shockingly brusque terms about what will be necessary in order to construct the Tower:
I think the idea that, by 2050, 6 billion Asians can or should aspire to live like Europeans and Americans through a consumption, resource-intense model is essentially a big lie, and therefore we must redefine the notion of how those people, in a climate- or carbon-constrained world, have access to basic rights. I think that’s a conundrum today. How do we deal with it? We can’t deal with it through pious statements and market instruments, but with draconian rules. And those rules won’t be provided by markets, but only by institutions of society, call it the state.
Which brings us to the second problem with building the new Tower of Babel: the potential for rebellion.
It turns out that most people do not think of themselves as “global citizens,” and do not wish to be pawns in systems created by Klaus Schwab and his coterie. These people – the everyday citizens of their nations, who wish only to prosper and to live their lives in accordance with their cultures – are the enemy. All those who oppose Schwab’s agenda, he makes clear, are members of one of three groups: the ignorant; the uncaring; and the malevolent. They must change or be changed.
This is why so many of the new Babelonians have been terrified by the post-Obama years: Brexit, the victory of Donald Trump, the rise of populism in Hungary and Brazil, the unwillingness of global citizens to go along with COVID lockdowns, among others.
And they have responded with shocking alacrity. In Canada, at the behest of the government, banks froze the accounts of those involved in the trucker protests; social media companies colluded to ban certain accounts, including former President Donald Trump; gun companies have been “debanked”; right-wing outlets like Parler have been denied server space. Should corporations be fully activated in the name of building the Tower, the fallout will be catastrophic, and the blowback severe.
The Midrash, a Jewish source of interpretation, relates that the Tower of Babel became so tall and so grand that it supposedly took a year to shuttle bricks from the bottom of the tower to the top. People mourned when a brick fell and broke, because a year of work had been lost. But when somebody died, there was no mourning – there were always more people to fill the gaps. People were fodder. Bricks were invaluable.
Eventually, the Tower of Babel had to be stopped because its agenda was one of utopian homogeneity. Human beings are innovative and creative; they have unique cultural and national identities. These aspects of their nature will not be changed by bureaucrats in suits – even ones tacitly backed by threat of force. The new Tower of Babel is destined to fail. The only question is how much carnage will occur before that reality becomes manifest.