If elites want to fix the world’s problems, they can start by looking in the mirror
Dear Davos delegates,
Once again, you plutocrats are gathering above the rest of us, convinced you hold the key to solving problems you’ve caused. You meet to celebrate your plutocrat religion, Win-win-ism, which teaches that what’s best for the winners of our age is best for all. But we don’t believe you anymore. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg used to be a synonym for optimism. Now he’s a catastrophic joke—a boy-man who pledged to create community while destroying democracy, who said he’d end all disease even as his company became a plague. He may merely be an exaggeration of many of you.
You enabled the nationalism that threatens our societies. You stiffed so many of us. You fought for rules that let you steal the future from our children. You pushed for monopolies and “double Dutch with an Irish sandwich” tax maneuvers and austerity and deregulation. People got angry, and some of them voted for hell. And who benefited? You again. Because instead of following their anger up to the summit where you gather, the enraged were goaded, sometimes by your fellow plutocrats, into punching downward and turning on the most vulnerable.
Hearing this, you may be tempted to do what your type loves to do: solutionizeify. But the hunt for answers to the present mess is not yours to lead. Your moral duty now is to refrain from thwarting those who are working to bury this gilded age and usher in vital reforms. It will be tough on you, though you can afford it: higher taxes on the very rich; stronger protections for workers; new deals, green and otherwise; vigorous antitrust and financial regulation. As the reformers craft societies in which all can flourish, your task is simple: stay out of their way.
Giridharadas is author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World