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Who is Klaus Schwab, What is WEF (World Economic Forum)


As we read news of the annual meeting of WEF in Davos, Switzerland this week, it is important for concerned citizens, and educated activists to have a clear, informed understanding of the roots and purposes of Mr. Schwab, and WEF.

Timothy Seekings in his Substack column Paradigm Lost provides a clear, succinct, itemized account of the vision and work of Klaus Schwab and the community founded and led by him, World Economic Forum (WEF).

Seekings begins his 19-point explanation in this way:

WEF [is] a manifestation of 21st-century global fascism. I mean this in the sense this term was first coined by the Italians, a collaboration between state and corporate power with the objective of running society. On a global scale, this means that the World Economic Forum, which is basically a club for the world’s most powerful and wealthy corporations and individuals, is tightly intertwined with national governments and transnational institutions and governing mechanisms. Much like its 20th-century counterpart, 21st-century global fascism is not about the separation of power but about bundling it, true to the etymological origin of the word “fascio”, meaning “bundle of sticks”. 

This article is based on the sound research and direct involvement and knowledge of Timothy Seekings.

Who is Klaus Schwab, What is the World Economic Forum, and Why should I care?

Mini-series: Part 1 – The behemoth in the room

The questions in the title deserve long and elaborate answers, weaving together context, chronology, and diverse perspectives. These answers, the reader may seek in their own time. Here, I provide only a short answer, an opinion, if you like.

Part 1 – The behemoth in the room

I attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) Summer Davos in China as a journalist. I subscribe to their newsletter, I have engaged with their various publications including websites, pod casts, newsletters, and video clips. And I have formed an opinion, a somewhat informed opinion. Here, I present a litany of sorts, of things that I object to or find myself in disagreement with. Let’s start.

1.      Well, I see the WEF as a manifestation of 21st century global fascism. I mean this in the sense in which this term was first coined by the Italians, as a collaboration between state and corporate power with the objective of running society. On a global scale this means that the World Economic Forum, which is basically a club for the world’s most powerful and wealthy corporations and individuals, is tightly intertwined with national governments and transnational institutions and governing mechanisms. Much like its 20th century counterpart, 21st century global fascism is not about the separation of power but about bundling it, true to the etymological origin of the word “fascio”, meaning “bundle of sticks”. The power is bundled in a global corporate-state elite that makes the decisions on behalf of the people. Unlike its 20th century counterpart, 21st century fascism is not about nationalism but about globalism, or maybe global elitism. Expect hierarchical power structures, democratic deficit, and creeping authoritarianism.

Bundle Of Sticks | BH12
A bundle of sticks

2.      The ideology that is espoused by Schwab and many of his associates I would describe as a mix of techno-utopianism, magical scientism, and transhumanism. Prominent themes include that science, technology, and engineering can solve any problem, that the idea of a soul or a spirit or anything that humans declare as sacred are merely superstitions and that humans are basically biological machines that can be hacked, programmed, and genetically edited and re-engineered, that the future is characterized by bio-digital convergence, whereby human biological and digital identities will merge, and that this merger will make it very hard if not impossible to determine where biological life ends and artificial life begins (this applies to plants and animals, too).

3.      Techno utopianism renders everything and everybody connected through the internet of things and humans. AI, big data, smart drugs, wearable and embodied sensors and chips, will tell us when and what to eat, how to exercise, and how to behave in different contexts. Data about our organism, our behavior, and every other aspect of our lives are collected, analysed and used to tailor political messages and marketing according to our individual psychometric profiles. Precision medicine will be prescribed preventatively, based on statistical modelling on the chances of us developing diseases or other health pathologies. A social credit system will be used to condition us into proper behavior through incentivizing specific consumption patterns and sanctioning deviant behavior.

technological singularity archives | [ weird things ]
An old cyborg,×450.jpg

4.      A global ID system (e.g. the known traveler digital identity (KDTI), and the European Digital Identity ID 2020) will facilitate the surveillance of peoples’ movements and serve to grant or deny access to social participation, employment, travel, and cultural life. The ID will be linked to a vaccination pass and act as an interface to the person’s digital identity in which all aspects of life and identity are digitally stored and managed, including credit rating, insurance premium, social credit scores, contact tracing, police record, etc.

5.      Digital centralized currency will replace cash to enable better control, and all payments will be recorded. Taxes, fees, and fines can be automatically deducted and consumption can be directed through geographic and timely restrictions on the validity of the currency.

6.      The great reset and the fourth industrial revolution are intended to amount to a redesigning of the social contract to lay the groundwork for the upcoming envisioned changes. There is no place for democracy in this vision. There is no place for a separation of powers. There’s no place for the human as a creative and autonomous agent imbued with spirit. There’s no place for me. It’s a new paradigm.

7.      The WEF has for decades trained and nurtured present and future leadership in its Young Global Influencers and Young Global Leaders programs. Schwab himself boasted that in some countries more than half of the cabinets are comprised by “their” people. Merkel, Macron, Trudeau, and Ardern are just the tip of the iceberg of “leaders” that were prepared and coached for their “jobs” by the WEF. Not really what I would call democratic. Not grass roots and not inclusive by any stretch of the imagination.

8.      On a global scale, the WEF collaborates with transnational bodies such as the United Nations and the World Health Organization to implement a range of governance structures and processes.

9.      Governance, for example of global health emergencies, is deliberated and decided by unaccountable bodies within these global /corporate governance structures, and effectively overrides national sovereignty in decision making and the implementation of policies. This type of national policy enactment through the mechanism of global governance structures will essentially be used to implement a wide range of policies for example concerning climate change, sustainable development, and the management of common pool resources. This is what people mean when they speak of a “one-world government”. This is actually a misnomer. What it actually is is a global governance system consisting of structures and mechanisms that allow for the implementation of global but at the same time nationally binding policies. The problem is that the designers of this system, the structures and processes, and the people who staff the various nodes and bodies within this structure are not our democratically elected representatives, but associates of one kind or another of the global corporate/state elite aka. the WEF and its buddies, or the global “deep state”, if you like.

What's holding back environmental sustainability? | World ...
Global governance,

10.  I think it was the credo of the Right Livelihood Award to seek to help “the South” find a technology to match it’s philosophy, and help “the North” find a philosophy to match its technology. Wade Davis recounts a lama saying to him once on the question of the merit of Western science that it has made great achievements for minor needs. In the writings of Klaus Schwab and the WEF, I have not once found a shred of anything that I would call wisdom, a sentence that I have to read twice and that makes me pause to ponder its deeper meaning. Instead it’s all about smartness. Smart gadgets, smart cities, smart everything. Call me old-fashioned, but I believe in the value of wisdom. And I think smartness, is kind of the opposite. I’m not a traditionalist. I am quite happy going forward, but we should take the accumulated wisdom of our forefathers with us and not replace it with some hype about smartness, especially when it comes from an elite that is disconnected from the daily reality of “normal” people, and with that I mean people who don’t have a private jet to fly to an international meeting.

11.  “By 2030 you will own nothing and you will be happy” -WEF. This begs one question. If I don’t own anything anymore. Who will own it all? You guessed it.

12.  While the World Economic Forum purports to be about “economics”, which means “the management of the household”, it is actually engaged in “chrematistics”, which is the study or practice of “the creation of wealth”. But this is the topic of a follow-up article that I will post later.

Forbes Billionaires 2021: The Richest People in the World

13.  Anyways, by now, you will think that I’m a mad-raving conspiracy theorist with foam coming out of my mouth. Well, I have to disappoint you. I’m just summarizing off the top of my head what disturbs me about Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum on the basis of what they have communicated in their various materials and through various “spokespersons” over the years. I have just scratched the surface. This is the scenario that will come into being if they have their way.

14.  To conclude this short litany, I feel that most of this is deeply dehumanizing. It robs us of our own agency, by replacing it with the agency of technology. It denies our claim to a sacred experience of the self by rendering us hackable biological machines. It turns everything on its head by seeking to re-create the individual human to fit the machine that they envision, rather than to devise a system that serves the human. Do you know what I mean? It undermines any democracy that we have left. It is creating the perfect conditions for total control and surveillance. European MP, Cristian Terhes, said it this way. When you know everything about your government, that is democracy. When your government knows everything about you, that is tyranny. What Klaus Schwab and the WEF envision falls in the latter category.

15.  The ideology espoused by the WEF or “the Davos clique” favours an elite ruling the masses, a kind of expertocracy of technocrats and transhumanists. They really believe that they are smarter than nature, smarter than evolution, and that they can remodel and redesign life itself through science and technology. But this belief rests on a fallacy and on the delusion that science and technology represent the whole picture. They don’t. They are just one way of looking at the world. There are many others, and many that are far older and wiser. Hence, I would argue that they are deluded. Considering that they intend to impose their ideology on everybody else, regardless of whether people want it or not, they seem to display a lack of empathy. Hence,  I would argue that they are sociopaths.

16.  Yes, change is ok. Traditions are living adaptive systems. Life evolves. There is a thriving global civic society that has for decades and centuries worked together to envision our collective future. There is a World Social Forum, for example, and a European Social Forum (ESF). I went to the ESF in 2004, in Alexandra Palace in London. It was a carnival of ideas and political statements and a breeding ground for visions of a better future. And it was messy. A radical fringe hijacked their own plenary to prevent then-mayor of London Ken Livingston from giving a speech. Humans are messy, but the mess is also part of what’s fun. It is part of what it means to be human. If the resources were equitably distributed, civic society would actually have a chance at implementing their grass roots ideas for a better and more just world. Regrettably, the odds are stacked against them in a configuration where the richest 85 people on earth control as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion (most of them are probably members of the WEF).

The World Social Forum is alive

17.  The WEF packages their corporate authoritarian ideology in fashionable language. They used to call this greenwashing, but it’s better described as perception management or the consciousness industry, basically state-of-the-art propaganda. But at the heart of this ideology is an old and problematic idea, an idea that centuries of labour movements and democratic movements and civil rights movements have sought to address: the idea that society should be governed by a small elite, and that this elite sees itself in the tradition of past aristocrats and feudal lords in that they believe they have the divine right to rule and that they stand above the law. We have collectively understood that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The painful lesson was that power needs to be separated, distributed, and checked, at all costs. But for Klaus Schwab, the WEF, and the invisible interests behind this phenomenon, power needs to be concentrated and controlled by a designated elite, which happens to be them.

18.  In conclusion, the world that Klaus Schwab and the WEF envision is twisted and upside down. It is essentially dehumanizing, because at the heart it intends to transform the human into a biodigital entity, basically a cyborg. I believe that we can envision a better world than that, a world in which we can remain human and in which we treat each other as real humans with feelings, dreams, hopes, pains, and our own idiosyncrasies. I believe that we can create a system that serves us and not the other way round (not least to prove Thoreau wrong who observed that “men have become the tools of their tools”).

19.  Finally, the whole thing with the ideology of the WEF is like what Prince (the artist) once said. “It’s cool to get on the computer, but don’t let the computer get on you. It’s cool to use the computer. Don’t let the computer use you. Y’all saw the Matrix. There’s a war going on. The battle field is in the mind and the prize is the Soul. So, just be careful. Just be very careful.”


The next article will investigate the case of misleading labelling. Is it really “economics” that is in the “World Economic Forum” or something else? And what is “economics” anyway?

Further Reading

A detailed history of Klaus Schwab and the WEF (English)

An episode of the Corbett Report titled “Meet the World Economic Forum” with Corbett’s analysis and lots of links to original WEF material (English)

Some history of the WEF and biographical data on Klaus Schwab (German)

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By Timothy Seekings  ·  Launched 2 years ago

Creative and experimental writing in the boundary spaces of disciplines and genres.