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Former Davos Executive Slams Meeting's Leftist Bent

Image: Former Davos Executive Slams Meeting's Leftist Bent
Al Gore at the Forum in Davos. (AP)

By    |   Wednesday, 20 Jan 2016 08:33 AM

In his new memoir, "Davos, Aspen, and Yale: My Life behind the Elite Curtain as a Global Sherpa" (WND Books; Jan. 19, 2016), Ted Malloch, to wonderful comic effect, skewers the world’s richest and most powerful and several of their most celebrated institutions. The book is a rollicking journey through one power-center after another where Malloch’s splendid career as an economist, diplomat, scholar, and organizational impresario took him.

Malloch’s treatment of the World Economic Forum at Davos, on whose executive board he served, is withering. In Malloch’s view, the world’s economic titans are all-too-eager to outspend each other to be part of an organization that despises their interests.

As Davos 2016 begins, I asked Malloch to summarize the meeting’s appeal and what he calls its “globalism.”

“Davos today is a ‘celebrification’ of power if ever there was one,” Malloch said. “An orgy of power. But underneath lies a thin veil of anti-Americanism, a New Age philosophy, and a cult of personality. Capitalism is neglected both morally and financially in these elite circles. They believe in state power and seek a one-world leftist solution.”

Some within the American business community seem enamored of China’s economy, which, like Davos, embraces an ideology of state-control while depending on capitalists for its economic dynamism. I wondered whether the contradiction in such a system would eventually cause even more serious problems than the present slowdown in China.

“The problems in China are real,” he said. “They include the economic growth question, whether anything like the current pace is sustainable. The intellectual property question—there is little to no protection. The corruption question, the rule of law and transparency are lacking. The finance question, nonperforming loans are worsening. And finally, the ideology question, can you have a communist political system and a capitalist economy. I see many contradictions here and for these reasons predict an inevitable implosion if there is no real change.”

Much of the comedy and the poignancy in Malloch’s memoir lies in the disparity between what people know to be true — or should know — and how they actually behave. While Malloch ran seminars on leadership for the Aspen Institute, people whose self-regard was only matched by their incompetence headed the organization. I asked him how he accounts for leaders who should know so much about leadership being so bad at practicing it.

“This is a perennial problem,” Malloch said. “The leaders you see are as failed as the next person. Most leaders today are not given to the discipline of the virtues. Instead, they fall prey to the ever-present temptations of the vices. As Augustine and St. Paul suggested, the reason has to do with original sin and man’s hubris and narcissistic conceit.”

More and better education is often prescribed as the solution to such problems. Malloch’s years as a research scholar at Yale taught him not to expect much help from that quarter.

“If parents knew what their children were being taught, the 'sex weeks,' the political correctness, and the ideology of far-far leftism on campuses, they would vomit. The nihilism and utter depravity make education today almost unrecognizable as education, and recent events around free speech only prove it.”

Clearly, Malloch believes that we have lost our moral bearings. I asked him whether he thought this might have been the ultimate cause of the Great Recession of 2008, as Michael Lewis’ "The Big Short" and the new movie based upon it suggest.

“Diseased corporate cultures that allowed such abhorrent behavior had a lot to do with it. Blame is to be shared among all the actors — the government that created the housing bubble, the predatory lenders, the NINJA loans, the excessive greed on the part of Wall Street, and also the public, which stuffed the returns into its own pockets, until the music stopped. The ‘way back’ involves greater personal responsibility, values based corporate cultures and leadership, and some regulatory reforms.

“But — and I underline this — we appear to have learned next to nothing as the same practices, excesses, and unethical behavior is returning to our economy. Like athletes on steroids we are doing the same old financial doping all over again and this time the fall will be harder. Capitalism itself is at risk.

"Adam Smith in his 'Theory of Moral Sentiments,' written 17 years before his better known 'The Wealth of Nations' put it this way: We need ‘the best head joined to the best heart.’”

Harold Fickett is the former publisher of Aleteia.org's English edition. He was a co-founder of the journal Image, and was president and editor-in-chief of Catholic Exchange. He is the author of "The Living Christ."

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Ted Malloch’s treatment of the World Economic Forum at Davos, on whose executive board he served, is withering.
davos, climate, meeting
Wednesday, 20 Jan 2016 08:33 AM
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