There’s money in misery, so the world’s corporate elite welcomes eco-catastrophist Greta Thunberg to its cult center at Davos. There’s also money in optimism, the fuel of markets and speculation — but Davos doesn’t like Donald Trump. Strange that a legendary capitalist turned deregulating politician is the odd man out on the magic mountain of money, but a socialist child who calls for overriding democracy and the forced transformation of national economies is a spiritual figurehead for the masters of moolah.
The smart money at Davos is on Greta, because the risks are lower in the command economy that Greta and her drones want. The outcomes are pre-ordained, and all innovation is fixed between business and government. Business wants command of the economy too, because corporatism means guaranteed profit. In this conception of the future, nation-states and democracy are obstacles.
Davos has adopted Greta as a farmer adopts a cattle prod, to shove the producers into the stalls so they can be milked more efficiently. But Greta, it seems, actually believes in the environmental End of Days. Trump has survived the end of his world several times over, usually by the Davos-approved method of drawing on other people’s money. Projections of disaster can mean little to a man who has borrowed massively to build three casino-hotels in Atlantic City but found that only one of them makes any money.
Trump’s rejection of the ‘perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse’ is the most alliterated call to prosperity and optimism since Spiro Agnew bashed the media as ‘nattering nabobs of negativism’. He is entirely right to expose eco-leftism as ‘radical socialism’ — so right, in fact, that CNN, while demanding that we should be ‘appalled’ at Trump’s statement of the obvious about Greta, fails to mention ‘radical socialism’ in its report from Davos.
Donald Trump and the Prophets of Doom sounds like the title of a Spielberg movie, perhaps one along the lines of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Greed: an American scholar of economics travels to a magic mountain and frees a young woman from the grip of an apocalyptic cult, only to find that the cult is controlled by a group of unelected businessmen. At stake, the future of our societies.
As a patriot, Trump believes in the quaint obstruction called sovereignty. As an American, he knows that the pursuit of happiness is the purpose of life, not the morbid and medieval cult of disaster that Norman Cohn — no relation to Roy Cohn — called The Pursuit of the Millennium. He grasps exactly why the notion that we have only 12 years in which to prevent the planet from turning into a fireball is so damaging to the fabric of society. Who would invest in property, let alone take out a 25-year mortgage on a branded apartment in a luxury location, if their asset could disappear under flood waters at any moment?
The confection of outrage at Trump’s remarks exposes the arbitrary rules of a rigged game, and why Greta is such a useful piece for the rule-makers. When the game of society evolves, so does its rules. When the middle classes played the game of the nation state, they wrote new rules as they went along and produced a new game. The next rules of the global economy are being written in front of us now, in Chinese. Davos adopts Greta as a strategy of consolidation, and Greta adopts Davos because only rich Westerners care for eco-apocalyptics. Of course Trump is correct to advise Thunberg to divert her attention away from the US, whose emissions have been falling for decades, and toward the ‘dirtier places’ of the Earth.
The global society is always a conceit in search of a reality. Meanwhile, the global reality that does exist is commercial, and commercial relationships, as Trump, Thunberg and Karl Marx would all agree, are the foundation of society. This is why Davos matters, why the media promote its mottos, and why politicians, always on the edge of electoral irrelevance, attend so compliantly. For business leaders and political leaders, being at Davos, and being visibly on its side, is a hedge against disaster — not environmental disaster, but the disaster of popular democracy and the nation state, which still retain the right to demand a different future.
It is against the new rules for a man to mock a woman, for the tall to deride the short, for a coarse American to criticize a righteous Scandinavian, for the neurotypical to criticize the atypical. It is against the rules for a populist interloper to expose the corrupt intimacies of business, government and media. It is compulsory to attack Trump for criticizing someone with Asperger’s, it is compulsory to claim that Trump is unfit for office because he is evidently senile, and it is compulsory to claim that Joe Biden is fit for office despite his evident senility. It is, however, compulsory for the powerful to hector the weak, the famous to patronize the obscure, and the rich to impose environmental taxes on the poor.
We are forbidden to ‘punch down’, because honesty is the new cruelty. We are forbidden from punching up, because that would parry the ceaseless downward blows from our betters in government, business and media. Remember to light a candle to St Greta, and thank her and the Davos doctrine for making you a better global citizen. Say a prayer for democracy while you’re at it.
Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.