Davos Newbies Home

Back home, I at last have some time to catch up on some of the Davos coverage. What’s remarkable to me is how many journalists have a deep-rooted animus against what they persist in calling Davos man. My impression of Davos 2000, and one echoed by many people I spoke to, was that full voice was given to alternative views on globalisation and Americanisation. In the programme itself, we stressed themes such as “It’s not the economy, it’s the society”.

The UK’s Observer seems to have missed this. Will Hutton, on the verge of leaving his editor-in-chief chair, found an atmosphere of complacency and self-congratulation. At least Hutton had the good grace to come to Davos to observe this for himself. In the same paper, the lazy Emily Bell wrote a whole column on Davos, even though, to my knowledge, she has never been to the Annual Meeting. She excused her nonattendance by writing that she doesn’t ski (I don’t think she was invited, in any case).

Newsweek’s Michael Elliott has a good summary on MSNBC. From a different angle, Walden Bello, one of the NGO heads in Davos, wrapped up the Annual Meeting for a Philippines newspaper. From the look of the URL, I fear that the link may “rot” over time. Here’s a sample of Bello: “Deeply disturbed by Seattle and the din of the rising global resistance to corporate-led globalization, the captains of business, industry and establishment culture, like Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, came to Davos to draw on the intellectual and moral reserves of their caste.”

The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen gave us details of his sleigh ride with Madeleine Albright, together with a rousing view of president Clinton’s triumph in Davos. Bruce Nussbaum in an oddly self-congratulatory Business Week article identified two Davoses: the rising waves of anti-globalisation and the new economy. Tom Friedman, in The New York Times, focused on what he termed the star of Davos, Seattle. I think Tom is right.

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