Once, I went to Davos. Like Lewis Lapham, I didn’t have to pay as I was then a “prospective supplier of supportive adjectives” ie. a journalist. For those who haven’t read it, whether Davos attendees, wannabees, or refusniks, Lapham’s 1998 book The Agony Of Mammon: The Imperial Global Economy Explains itself to the Membership in Davos is an instructive perspective on the phenomenon. I like the Walter Bagehot quotation he opens with: “Poverty is an anomaly to rich people. It is very difficult to make out why people who want dinner do not ring the bell.”
The Agony of Mammon: The Imperial Global Economy Explains Itself to the Membership in Davos, Switzerland
I’d certainly never pay to go back to the WEF-fest up the mountain, and have never since been offered the zero-price option. Perhaps I’d be vain enough to accept such an offer, but I hope not. There is something highly corrupting about it – more so, despite the interesting comparison John Gapper draws in today’s FT (Davos: Infotainment, Not A Conspiracy) – than is the case with other elite ‘clubs’ such as TED. I think it’s simply the sheer amount of money required to get there and concentrated there. Enough money to reflect real power.