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Culture War Roundup for the week of January 16, 2023

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A few notes:

Do you have examples of right-wing anti-WEF conspiracy theories before the pandemic? Since before the pandemic the only anti-WEF criticism I can remember came from the left, and it didn't concentrate on Schwab or even the organization WEF itself but mainly the Davos conference. Like the term "WEF" would probably not have rung that many bells within the antiglobalization/anti-neoliberal set but the term "Davos" certainly would have. Or at least that's my experience.

If you look at images like this, Schwab looks like he's leaning into his newfound rep as an evil genius. Then again, I'd imagine it would be quite a rush to be a fairly minor (in the grand scheme of things) middle-manager type for the global jetset and suddenly find yourself the head of the global Illuminati in the conspiracy-theorist central casting. Examples abound of similar leaning into "cool dark" image, from teenage goths to the "Dark Enlightenment" (remember that?)

One of the things that WEF is into is trying to make predictions and scenarios of the future - the whole exercise that the "You will own nothing..." things is a part of is a part of that. Schwab's boring books also have a similar affect. We know that trying to predict the future is fun and exciting, considering how popular various superforecasting contests are and how much this topic features in, for example, Scott's blogging.

If you fancy yourself a noblesse-oblige type wealthy benefactor of humanity (surely how these types see themselves, even if it's probably not how others would describe them), and if you have the sort of networks and amounts of non-public data that you might get from private conversations in global elite meetings like this, you'd probably try to use them to heighten your predicting ability. After all, you know stuff that others don't, and that's a rush in itself. (I wonder how many people, after reading enough stuff about conspiracies, just resolve that they just must know more about this and that they must attempt to join the conspiracy itself to do this?) And, of course, various governments and businesses will draw up scenarios for the future as a part of their normal functioning.

However, if your predictions are too good, it will cause problems - since many people will just decide that nobody can predict things this specifically, they must have made them happen. Thus, you have the various pandemic scenarios used by conspiracy theorists to argue that they're correct enough about specific things that they show that the people making these predictions (global think tanks etc.) must have made the pandemic happen and announced this beforehand for... uhm, reasons. I wonder if this will eventually lead to such predicting diminishing, or becoming less and less specific.

The infamous "You will own nothing..." scenario is fairly creepily expressed, and I don't think it's just that Auken is presenting it as both utopian and dystopian. Auken has actually had a varied career in the Danish parliament, representing three different Danish parties - while she started in the Socialist People's Party, a party somewhat analoguous to Greens in many other countries, she has also been a Social Liberal and now a Social Democrat. Her thinking doesn't seem to represent as much any sort of doctrinaire socialism as a sort of a green, urbanist liberalism.

Then again, that sort of stuff, combined with a kind of a political autism, can lead to politicians making weird statements - I distinctly remember one Finnish Green, in an election panel for out city election, exclaiming that his ideal city would be have everyone living in a dense city with "wolves running outside the city wall". In my experience this kind of experience is often less a proof that you're a part of a global conspiracy and more a result of being the precocious kid in some rural village experiencing moving to a bigger city as a life-changing revelation showing the superiority of all urban life to ruralism, combined with playing too much SimCity.

Anyway, what strikes me about the "You will own nothing..." video is that whatever utopian aspects there are are basically putting a hippy-dippy sheen on a process that's basically predicated on pure capitalism - ie the expansion of the "rent, don't own" model, already popular when it comes to Netflix, the "sharing economy" etc. to all other facets of life as well. Generally, though, this is not done to help humanity or to abolish private property (it's just concentrated in fewer and fewer private entities) but to make piles of cash and profits for stockholders. And "putting a hippy-dippy sheen on processes designed to make money" describes quite a bit of what WEF does, really.

When it comes to the whole "eat the bugs" thing, the bug-eating trend attempts have come and gone for years now, and they fail every time - bug-eating just plain isn't a part of the Western culture. However, I've never got the impression that the bug-eating promoters are trying to make the proles eat the bugs - rather, it's almost like an progressive middle-class version of kids trying to dare each other to eat worms. An enlightement status game among hipsters, with no-one, in the end, being truly willing to commit to this bit, mainly because, as said, bug-eating just isn't a part of the Western culture, and the ones who are willing to commit to avoiding meat for environmental reasons can just go vegan.

Finally, one of the participants in the current Davos conference is, of course, the Finnish PM Sanna Marin, and the Finnish media has duly featured her trip there, where she has used her newfound publicity to make statements like this, a basic and pedestrian statement in Finnish politics but apparently manna from heaven to many foreigners looking for firmness and resolve regarding the Ukraine war.

The fact that she's participating openly in this "conspiracy" seems to make conspiracy theorists, both foreign and domestic, almost confused - why is she so open about being a WEF puppet? - and this confusion in turn leads to more confusion among more traditional political types. Yes, she's participating in an event featuring global political and business actors and trying to ingratiate herself to them, that's a major part of her job! When you're a leader of a small country and participating in abroad events like this, you are inevitably also operating as the brand ambassador of Business Finland, trying to convince foreign corporations that Finland is worth investing in, hopefully leading to jobs and wealth.

If she was to declare that she will never participate in events like this - which is something she might have done in her younger and more leftist years - presumably she could then well be attacked for failing to do her job and making Finland poorer and less integrated to the global economy. And, of course, that's how the global elite networks keep operating - even if you wouldn't want to attend, there's always something that might mean you basically have to.