Posts tagged with: davos

Sojourners’ Jim Wallis has been at the Davos gathering in Switzerland and is urging us to be guided by a new Davos “covenant.” If you’ve never heard of Davos, Michael Miller’s RealClear Politics piece “Davos Capitalism” describes the gathering and its unassailable hubris this way:

Davos capitalism, a managerial capitalism run by an enlightened elite–politicians, business leaders, technology gurus, bureaucrats, academics, and celebrities–all gathered together trying to make the economic world smarter or more humane…. And we looked up to Davos Man. Who wouldn’t be impressed by the gatherings at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum at Davos, a Swiss ski resort? Sharply dressed, eloquent, rich, famous, Republican, Democrat, Tory, Labour, Conservative, Socialist, highly connected, powerful and ever so bright.

Then, when the whole managerial economy collapsed, the managers and technocrats lost faith in markets. But they did not lose faith in themselves, and now they want us to entrust even more of the economy to them.

As if on cue, Jim Wallis writes in a recent public letter:

This week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, we are looking to the future and asking “what now?” At a Saturday session — “The Moral Economy: From Social Contract to Social Covenant” — a document will kick off a year-long global conversation about a new “social covenant” between citizens, governments, and businesses.

Why dispense with the yeomen-like “contract” language in favor of a new “social covenant”? Wallis explains that “in the past 20 years, the world has witnessed the death of social contracts. We have seen a massive breakdown in trust between citizens, their economies, and their governments…. Former assumptions and shared notions about fairness, agreements, reciprocity, mutual benefits, social values, and expected futures have all but disappeared. The collapse of financial systems and the resulting economic crisis not only have caused instability, insecurity, and human pain; they have also generated a growing disbelief and fundamental distrust in the way things operate and how decisions are made.” (more…)

I promise not to belabor this point any further (well, unless something really juicy comes in…), but Jay Nordlinger, in the latest National Review, offers more observations [subscription needed] on the religious qualities of “secular” environmentalism, from his perch at Davos. Along the way, he cites my PowerBlog post from a couple weeks ago. The relevant passage:

In other words, you can contribute to an anti-global-warming fund in order to relieve your guilt at having used, for example, an airplane. I put this in Jacksonian terms (I mean Jesse, not Andrew): Don’t be emittin’ without remittin’. Later, Kevin Schmiesing of the Acton Institute will write that these remissions remind him of the indulgences of old, whereby you washed away your sins by your financial contributions. The notorious German friar Johann Tetzel (allegedly) said, “As soon a coin in coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs.” (He was a rhymer too, at least in English translation.) And more than a few of us have described a certain kind of environmentalism as a modern religion.

The basic idea has gained traction at the top levels of the Catholic hierarchy, as this column by Cardinal George Pell of Sydney demonstrates. I must tip my hat to His Eminence, by the way, for introducing an important nuance: the most zealous promoters of global warming hysteria are not really “religious” in a Christian sense (that would give religion a bad name); they are more accurately described as “”superstitious.”

Blog author: kschmiesing
Thursday, February 1, 2007
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Among the immediate causes of the sixteenth-century split in Western Christianity was the sale of indulgences. The theological crudity of this abuse was encapsulated in the venality of Dominican friar Johannes Tetzel, whose activities in Wittenberg riled Martin Luther. Tetzel allegedly preached “Sobald das Geld in Kasten klingt, die Seele aus dem Fegefeuer springt.” (“As soon as the coin in the box clinks, the soul out of purgatory springs.”)

That slogan came to mind as I was reading Jay Nordlinger’s account of the most recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Nordlinger quotes an e-mail notice circulated to all attendees:

Climate Change is at the centre of our discussions, and you can act now. Please consider compensating your greenhouse gas emissions related to participating in the Annual Meeting in Davos.

This is possible with 1 click at any kiosk or at the Davos Climate Alliance desk.

That is to say, for the sin of contributing to climate change by jetting to Davos, one can atone by contributing to the Davos Climate Alliance—”an initiative of the World Economic Forum to promote sound measures and best practice aimed at mitigating carbon related risks.”

Lest anyone doubted that environmentalism is, for some, a religion (of a pre-Reformation variety, no less).

[Ed. Note: See also "Guilt Free Ecology."]