Saturday, March 24, 2012

On the banality of spirit

[...] within years...had spoken of a Davos Manifesto, the Davos Club, the Davos Spirit. From the start, there was a patina of altruism. Jacques Costeau came in 1974 to talk about the ocean, and Dom Hélder Camara, the renegade Catholic archbishop from Brazil, scolded the world's élite for their "false values" and their hoarding of the world's resources. [...] but in 1977 the kidnapping and murder by German terrorists of the German industrialist Hanns-Martin Schleyer, who was to have been the chairman of the symposium a few months later, led to an extreme degree of security that has become the Davos hallmark. (N. Baumgarten, "Magic Mountain", The New Yorker, March 5, 2012, p46-47). || In England wurde 1855 ein «Fading Committee» gegründet, das dem Verschwinden der Bilder Einhalt gebieten sollte. | In England in 1855 a "Fading Committee" was founded to arrest the disappearance of images. (via Goncourt: link) || People like to project onto Davos their fears and fantasies about the way the world works. Right-wingers see insidious, delusional liberalism, in its stakeholder ethos and its pretense of world improvement. They picture a bunch of Keynesians, Continentals, and self-dealing do-gooders participating in some kind of off-the-books top-down command-control charade. Left-wingers conjure a plutocratic cabal, a Star chamber of master puppeteers, the one per cent - or 0.1 per cent, really - deciding the world's fate behind a curtain of heavy security and utopian double-speak. ("Magic Mountain", p.47) || When the Fading Committe came to make its report, late in 1855, it found no shortage of factors to blame: harmful chemicals that tended to sneak into the process while no one was looking, human failings (insufficient patience with print-washing), and the ever-deteriorating quality (sulfur content) of London's air. (The Photographic Experience, 1839-1914: link) || He recalled some criticism of Davos of a kind voiced two years ago by Jody Williams, the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Winner. ("These guys just want to convince people that they care about others, which they don't, and then get back to making money as fast as they can," she said at a dinner.) ("Magic Mountain", p.52)


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