Or, at least, they have everything to do with the deconstruction of a belief, a project and a strategy that became the compass of international policy in the United States, after its crisis in the early 1970s, in particular after the end of the of Bretton Woods system and their defeat in the Vietnam War, in 1973.
The European Management Symposium was created then, and would later be called the World Economic Forum and become, in the 1990s, the annual meeting place for a new economic elite and world politics that was born in the shadow of the process of financial globalization and the new International Monetary System, based exclusively on the dollar and the American public debt, and ultimately managed by the FED, the American Central Bank.
At the turn of the millennium, the annual meeting in Davos had already been transformed into the showcase where the great celebrities of this new world were exposed, and where the new world elite debated the problems faced by the globalization project.
Hundreds of executives and technocrats from large corporations and international banks, politicians, journalists, religious leaders, organic intellectuals and leaders of non-governmental organizations passed through there, analyzing the countries, governments and programs to which they could shift their investments and production chains, which became the new “magic wand” of capitalist development in “backward countries”.
Gradually, a new power group or “internationalized bourgeoisie” was consolidated, increasingly autonomous and impervious to local conflicts and democratic pressures fromthe approximately 200 existing national States.
One of the points, by the way, in which the project of economic globalization achieved complete success, by managing to almost completely autonomize the decisions of the international financial markets in relation to the local governments of most national States (with the exception, of course, of the US, and to some extent, China).
It was not by chance that in the same period the “political stature” of national rulers became less relevant, especially in the West, where traditional politicians were being replaced by film actors, television entertainers, successful sportsmen, circus clowns, alcoholics, psychopaths and celebrities of any other type who were celebrated by the masses as “rebellious figures”, when in fact they were nothing more than “eccentric figures” who acted, in most cases, as puppets of the new large internationalized centers of financial decision-making.
What was less noticed at that moment of turning point and change in the international strategy of the US was the simultaneous creation of a kind of “central committee” of the great Western powers (including Japan), the so-called G7, in1975, almost at the same time that a new international payment system was being instituted, the SWIFT, with formal headquarters in Brussels and managed by a committee formed by the Central Banks of the same G7 countries, in addition to Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands.
A committee that started to centralize all information and control all financial operations carried out around the world, above the control of the central banks of each country. And so, the project of financial globalization was laying its foundations and imposing its legitimacy, to the extent that other countries were delegating or being forced to delegate their financial sovereignty to the central banks of this new group of international power, the G7+, or SWIFT.
A movement of transfer, centralization and control of information and decisions that reached its apex at the beginning of the Global War onTerrorism, declared by the US in 2001. Then the US government demanded from its main allies the transfer of the information system and decision-making power, ultimately, within SWIFT, for its own Central Bank and its Department of Justice, which came to control and operate an unprecedented capacity for discretion and use of “classified information”, and the imposition of sanctions on financial institutions, against each and every country considered its enemy or competitor.
It was then already possible to see what, after the War in Ukraine, became absolutely transparent, even for the least aware: the project of neoliberal globalization was never just an imperative of the markets, and was always associated with the project of global power of the US. In fact, the history of capitalist internationalization over the past 50 years is inseparable from the international power strategy adopted by the US in response to its crisis in the early 1970s. A strategy that reached its full success in the 1990s, after the end of the USSR and the Cold War, and after the resounding American military victory in the Gulf War.
A complete expression of this victory was the inclusion of Russia in the G7 group in 1998, which came to be called the G8, until2014, when Russia was removed after the intervention of the US and NATO in Ukraine, and after the answers given by the Russians, with the incorporation of Crimea into their territory.
The exact moment when the implosion of the globalization project and strategy begins, accelerated soon after by the beginning of the “economic war” declared by the Donald Trump government against the Chinese economy.
This fracture increased even more after the decision taken by NATO countries, on
January 18, in the city of Ramstein, Germany, to send a contingent of Leopard 2 (German)and Abrams (American) tanks to Ukraine, significantly increasing NATO´s involvement in a more direct war with Russia, and leaving Europe increasingly fractured and distant from the utopia of globalization. Just look at the speed with which the G7countries gave up one of their best kept secrets or fetishes -the “neutrality” of currency and of international finance- and started to use them as weapons of war against Russia, and in some way also against China.
In this sense, it can be stated that the pursuit of world military primacy by the US was what ended up destroying its own economic project of neoliberal globalization. It is not by chance that, in 2023, the Davos Economic Forum chose the problem of “cooperation in a fractured world” as the topic of discussion, and the notorious emptying ofthe meeting makes it clear that these fractures are now irreversible. There is no longer any serious government in the world that still believes or bets on the “future of globalization”, and all are arming themselves to face a long period of return to their own national and regional economic spaces. Between the project of power and global military primacy and the project of self-regulated markets, the empire project won, which ended up leading the world to an almost permanent war, from 2001, and to a European war that should continue for a long time to come, and always on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe.
The problem, however, is that the most harmful consequences of the last 50 years
of globalization do not stop there. The very success of the deregulation and internationalization of markets, and the exponential accumulation of private wealth, ended up provoking, at the same time, a geometric increase in the inequality of wealth between countries, classes and individuals, and the strengthening -as we have already seen- of a “global bourgeoisie” that grew up, in these 50 years, with their backs to their original societies, but with an enormous power of command vis-à-vis their national States.
And this contributed decisively to the emptying of traditional democratic institutions, which were losing legitimacy in the face of the great masses of the population excluded from the globalization party, trampled, moreover, by the processes of their national deindustrialization and dismantling of their labor legislation and union organizations, with the simultaneous growth of an immense Lumpen proletariat, without a collective identity or any social and utopian image of the future.
It was along this same path that the social-democratic parties and, to a certain extent, the left in general, were lost, increasingly fragmented and divided between their multiple causes and communitarian utopias. On the other hand, this same global context has encouraged the emergence and expansion of “fascist revolts” that are multiplying everywhere, destroying, breaking and attacking everything and everyone that they consider “accomplices of the system”, including national states that lost their effectiveness within the neoliberal economic order prevailing over the last 50 years.
And, it is here that the attacks against the palaces of the three powers in Brasilia, on January 8, 2023, are inscribed. An explosion of fascist and paramilitary barbarism that formally recalls the attack on the US Capitol, but which in the Brazilian case appeared as the last chapter of an absolutely chaotic and self-destructive government, which managed to bring together, under the same extreme right-wing military tutelage, religious fanaticism, fascist violence and a group of ultraliberal economists that looked more like “ghosts from Davos”, running after a world which is already over.
Therefore, when looking from this perspective to what happened at the beginning of
2023, in places as far away as Davos, Kiev and Brasilia, it is possible to better understand what there is in common between the violence that is destroying Ukraine and the violence of those who destroyed the palaces of Brasilia. In different ways, they are products of the same disaster caused by an economic utopia that was knocked down and destroyed by the dispute for global power between the great powers, and above all, by the permanent expansion of US military power, which was -paradoxically- the “great inventor” and major beneficiary of the neoliberal globalization project.
This is why, in 2023, the lights of Davos went out without leaving a single glow, and its celebrities left and disappeared from the Magic Mountain, in silence and heads down. The party is over, and the “Man from Davos” (1973-2023) died, in the trenches of Ukraine, on the barricades of Brasilia and in so many other places worldwide, where economic inequality, social fractures, geopolitical divisions and fascist violence are advancing, brought about, ultimately, by blind belief in self-regulated and global markets.
But, be careful, because if the “Man from Davos” is dead, the disaster he left behind him must torment the world for a long time to come.
*Brazilian researcher and essayist, professor of international political economy and author of several books on geopolitics.