The World Economic Forum, Davos, regularly presents its global risk report. If last year’s was a true confession of the incompetence of the ruling class, this year’s one marks a leap in the concerns of the cloud of experts who, around the world, advise the top of the corporate bourgeoisie and governments. In focus: the acceleration of workers’ mass impoverishment and imperialist tensions between states.
Table of Contents
- A growing sense that systemic contradictions will create an increasing number of tipping points
- Global risks and the historic crisis of accumulation.
- A new stage in imperialist tensions
- The consequences of global risks according to the World Economic Forum
- Why does it matter?
A growing sense that systemic contradictions will create an increasing number of tipping points
The majority of respondents expect the next three years to be characterized by constant volatility across the board with many tense moments, “surprises” and “catastrophic outcomes” defining tipping points between “relative winners and losers” in both inter-country competition and class structure. Less than 16% of the experts surveyed are confident or optimistic about the global outlook and only 10.7% believe that the global recovery will accelerate. Quite a mood.
More importantly, “social risks”, a tepid way of referring to the backlash received by the ruling classes and their states, are at the forefront of concerns.
The advisors and gurus of the world bourgeoisie see a mounting and potentially explosive “erosion of social cohesion” coming immediately. And not only in the weakest countries and the most stressed G20 ones such as South Africa. Argentina and Mexico, France and Germany are already facing what they fear will be the groundswell of rising discontent over the next three years.
The “erosion of social cohesion” is the risk that has worsened the most globally since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, according to GRPS. It is perceived as a critical threat to the world in all time frames – short, medium and long term – and is considered one of the most damaging for the next 10 years. In 31 of the 124 countries surveyed in the EOS-including Argentina, France, Germany, Mexico and South Africa among those in the G20-“erosion of social cohesion” was seen as one of the top 10 near-term threats to their countries.
In response to what? First of all to what they call a “livelihood crisis” which in the end boils down to massive precarization and pauperization and which, they recall, manifests itself, among other things, in the fact that the “deterioration of mental health” will affect broader layers.
This “livelihood crisis” is the second most immediate threat globally in the GRPS, and the first at the national level in the Executive Opinion Survey (EOS). It is the most immediate national threat in 97 countries, including 16 of the G20 economies.
Global risks and the historic crisis of accumulation.
As a basis for all this they themselves recognize the historical crisis of capitalism. They expect accumulation in the core countries – except China – to be globally stagnant. By 2024 they expect a growth over 2019 levels of only 0.9%. And those would be the “winner” countries. Among the rest, they expect the total production value to remain 5.5% lower in the same year.
We already know the states’ response: to suck more and more income from labor in order to maintain the profitability of capital at all costs. And this, with capital concentrating and with little or no more production to be distributed, makes class inequality painfully visible.
Quoting the World Bank, they point out that the richest 20% recovered half of their losses during 2021 and that in 2030 51 million more people than those already counted are expected to be living under conditions of extreme poverty.
And in the meantime, the system will offer the great mass of the world’s workers nothing but a deterioration of their most basic living and working conditions.
The world economy will need at least until 2023 to create the jobs lost by COVID-19, but many of these jobs are expected to be of low productivity and poor quality, according to the International Labor Organization.
In other words, they expect pauperization to be so pervasive that it becomes impossible for them to maintain the egalitarian and “welfare” fictions at the core of the states’ “social justice” discourse, which worries them and gives them a sense of urgency..
Income disparities run the risk of increasing polarization and resentment within societies.
A new stage in imperialist tensions
This year’s Global Risks Report has shifted to talk about “geopolitical fractures” in the present tense.
Competition between the United States and China is on the rise. China’s growing military prowess is shifting the balance of power in the Western Pacific. The United States is strengthening Pacific-centric alliances in response, most recently with the Australia-United Kingdom-United States (AUKUS) security pact.
Other states, such as Russia and Turkey, are also showing greater capacity and willingness to project power abroad. Meanwhile, major world and regional powers are testing the limits of international law and cooperation by conducting military exercises around tense areas, such as the Russia-Ukraine border and the Taiwan Strait.
Most interestingly, the report highlights not only this process of bloc formation, but how these blocs are already tearing the global markets apart by linking trade warfare and war preparation as well as militarizing space and cyberspace.
Competition is intensifying in new dimensions and geographies, as evidenced by the militarization and weaponization of space and the evolution of cyberspace, where already acute tensions between governments affected by cybercrime and governments complicit in cybercrime will continue to grow.
Geopolitical tensions are spilling over into the economic sphere. For example, India and Japan implemented protectionist policies during the pandemic. Western companies in sensitive sectors, such as technology, are finding it increasingly difficult to do business in China and Russia, and Western countries themselves are restricting investments by their geopolitical competitors in strategic sectors.
The consequences of global risks according to the World Economic Forum
The resulting panorama of forecasts, as expected, is not at all hopeful. To the scenario of massive impoverishment we should add the result of the collapse of entire states – starting with their social security and basic care systems – a sustained increase in involuntary migrations, an explosion of mental illnesses and a defeatist culture among the youth.
On the other, the explosion of imperialist struggles for control of strategic resources linked to the Green Deal and an increasingly strong tendency towards military conflict between states. And all around, new epidemics and an environmental disaster already underway with increasing consequences for the health, safety and well-being of hundreds of millions of people.
Why does it matter?
An increasing number of reports and analyses from the world bourgeoisie’s opinion makers and think tanks are acknowledging the human and environmental disaster generated by capitalism, starting with tendencies towards war.
But the World Economic Forum’s annual report on global risks goes beyond that. It can be understood as something similar to an annual “management report” of the world bourgeoisie with its funds, companies and states. It is a summary of how the conditions and expectations of exploitation of the system they manage are going in the first person plural, written from the direct feedback of their thousands of trusted advisors and technicians.
The result is bleak. It describes a class that is already anti-historical, incapable of facing the consequences of the very system it manages, which hardly achieves growth and when it does, it is at the cost of the most basic human development. A real obstacle for Humanity that it is more and more urgent every day to remove from the course of our species.