Davos, Kiev and Brasília – the sunset of a project



The deconstruction of a belief, a project and a strategy that became the compass of US international politics

“The institutions of the neoliberal project were designed not to liberalize markets but to encase them, to inoculate capitalism against the threat of democracy, to create a framework to contain often-irrational human behavior” (Faroohar, R.. After Neoliberalism, Nov/Dec 2022 https://www.foreignaffairs.com)

At first glance, the title of this article mixes up very different things, but its objective is to demonstrate exactly the opposite: that the events of the first weeks of 2023, which took place in these three cities of the “western world”, are very closely related to each other. . Or, at least, they have everything to do with the deconstruction of a belief, a project and a strategy that became the compass of international policy in the United States, after its crisis in the early 1970s, in particular after the end of the in Bretton Woods and defeat in the Vietnam War in 1973.

At that moment, the European Management Symposium was created, which would later be called the World Economic Forum and would become, in the 1990s, the annual meeting place for a new world economic and political elite that was born in the shadow of the process of financial globalization and of the new International Monetary System, based exclusively on the dollar and the American public debt, and ultimately managed by the FED, the Central Bank of the United States.

At the turn of the millennium, the annual meeting in Davos had already been transformed into the showcase where the great celebrities of this new world were exposed, and where the new world elite debated the problems faced by the globalization project. Hundreds of executives and technocrats from large corporations and international banks, politicians, journalists, religious leaders, organic intellectuals and leaders of non-governmental organizations passed through there, analyzing the countries, governments and programs to which they could shift their investments and production chains, which became the new “magic wand” of capitalist development in “backward countries”.

Gradually, a new power group or “internationalized bourgeoisie” was consolidated, each time autonomous and impermeable in relation to local conflicts and democratic pressures from the approximately 200 existing national states. One of the points, by the way, in which the project of economic globalization achieved complete success, by managing to almost completely autonomize the decisions of the international financial markets in relation to the local governments of most national States (with the exception, of course, of the United States, and in to some extent, also from China). It was no coincidence that in the same period the “political stature” of national rulers became less relevant, especially in the West, where traditional politicians were being replaced by film actors, television entertainers, successful sportsmen, circus clowns, alcoholics , psychopaths and celebrities of any other type who were celebrated by the masses as “rebellious figures”, when in fact they were nothing more than “eccentric figures” who acted, in most cases, as puppets of the new large internationalized centers of financial decision-making.

What was less noticed at that moment of turning point and change in the international strategy of the United States was the simultaneous creation of a kind of “central committee” of the great Western powers (plus Japan), the so-called G7, in 1975, almost at the at the same time that a new international payment system was being instituted, SWIFT, with formal headquarters in Brussels and managed by a committee formed by the Central Banks of the same G7 countries, in addition to Switzerland, Sweden and the Netherlands. A committee that started to centralize all information and control all financial operations carried out around the world, above the control of the central banks of each country.

Thus, the project of financial globalization was laying its foundations and imposing its legitimacy, as other countries were delegating or being forced to delegate their financial sovereignty to the central banks of this new group of international power, the G7+, or SWIFT. A movement of transfer, centralization and control of information and decisions that reached its apex at the beginning of the Global War on Terrorism, declared by the United States in 2001. At that moment, the North American government demanded from its main allies the transfer of the information system and decision-making power, ultimately, within SWIFT, for its own Central Bank and its Department of Justice, which came to control and operate an unprecedented capacity for discretion and use of “classified information”, and the imposition of sanctions financial institutions, against each and every country considered its enemy or competitor.

It was then already possible to see what, after the start of the Ukrainian War, became absolutely transparent, even for the least aware: the project of neoliberal globalization was never just an imperative of the markets, and was always associated with the project of global power of the States United. In fact, the history of capitalist internationalization over the last 50 years is inseparable from the international power strategy adopted by the United States in response to its crisis in the early 1970s. A strategy that reached its full success in the 1990s, after the end of the USSR and the Cold War, and after the resounding American military victory in the Gulf War. A complete expression of this victory was the inclusion of Russia in the G7 group, in 1998, which came to be called the G8, until 2014, when Russia was removed after the intervention of the USA and NATO in Ukraine, and after the answers given by the Russians, with the incorporation of Crimea into their territory. The exact moment in which the implosion of the globalization project and strategy begins, accelerated shortly afterwards by the beginning of the “economic war” declared by the Donald Trump government against the Chinese economy.

This rift increased even more after the decision taken by NATO countries, on January 18, in the city of Ramstein, Germany, to send a contingent of Leopard 2 (German) and Abrams (North American) tanks to Ukraine. , significantly increasing NATO's involvement in an increasingly direct war with Russia, and leaving Europe increasingly fractured and distant from the utopia of globalization. Just look at the speed with which the G7 countries gave up one of their best kept secrets or fetishes – the “neutrality” of currency and international finance – and started to use them as weapons of war against Russia, in some way also against China.

In this sense, it can be said, with certainty, that the pursuit of world military primacy by the United States was what ended up destroying its own economic project of neoliberal globalization. It is not by chance that, in 2023, the Davos Economic Forum chose the problem of “cooperation in a fractured world” as the topic of discussion, and the notorious emptying of the meeting makes it clear that these fractures are now irreversible. There is no longer any serious government in the world that still believes or bets on the “future of globalization”, and all are arming themselves to face a long period of return to their own national and regional economic spaces. Between the project of power and global military primacy and the project of self-regulated markets, the empire project won, which ended up leading the world to an almost permanent war, from 2001, and to a European war that should continue for a long time to come. , and always on the verge of a nuclear catastrophe.

The problem, however, is that the most harmful consequences of the last 50 years of globalization do not stop there. The very success of the deregulation and internationalization of markets, and the exponential accumulation of private wealth, ended up provoking, at the same time, a geometric increase in wealth inequality between countries, classes and individuals, and the strengthening – as we have already seen – of a “ global bourgeoisie” that grew up, in these 50 years, with their backs to their societies of origin, but with an enormous power of command vis-à-vis their national States. And this contributed decisively to the emptying of traditional democratic institutions, which were losing legitimacy in the face of the great masses of the population excluded from the globalization party, trampled, moreover, by the processes of their national deindustrialization and dismantling of their labor legislation and union organizations, with the simultaneous growth of an immense lumpenzinate, without a collective identity or any social and utopian image of the future. It was along this same path that the social democratic parties and, to a certain extent, the left in general, increasingly fragmented and divided between their multiple causes and communitarian utopias, lost their way.

On the other hand, this same global context has encouraged the appearance and expansion of “fascist revolts” that are multiplying everywhere, destroying, breaking and attacking everything and everyone that they consider “accomplices of the system”, including national states. , which lost their effectiveness within the neoliberal economic order that prevailed in the last 50 years.[1].

And it is here that the attacks against the palaces of the three powers in Brasilia, on January 8, 2023, are inscribed. An explosion of fascist and paramilitary barbarism that formally recalls the attack on the Capitol, but which in the Brazilian case appeared as the last chapter of an absolutely chaotic and self-destructive government, which managed to bring together, under the same extreme right-wing military tutelage, religious fanaticism, fascist violence and a group of ultraliberal economists that looked more like “ghosts from Davos”, running after a world which is already over.

When you look at what happened at the beginning of 2023 from this perspective, in places as far away as Davos, Kiev and Brasilia, you can better understand what there is in common between the violence that is destroying Ukraine and the violence of those who destroyed the palaces of Brasilia. In different ways, they are products of the same disaster caused by an economic utopia that was trampled and destroyed by the dispute for global power between the great powers, and above all, by the permanent expansion of the military power of the United States, which was – paradoxically – the great ones”. inventors” and major beneficiaries of the neoliberal globalization project.

That's why, in 2023, the lights of Davos went out without leaving a single glow and its celebrities left and disappeared from the Magic Mountain, in silence and heads down. The party is over, and the “Man from Davos” (1973-2023) died, in the trenches of Ukraine, on the barricades of Brasília and in so many other places in the world where economic inequality, social fractures, geopolitical divisions and violence are advancing. fascism provoked, ultimately, by blind belief in self-regulated and global markets. But be careful, because if the “Man from Davos” is dead, the disaster he left behind him must torment the world for a long time to come.

*Jose Luis Fiori Professor Emeritus at UFRJ. Author, among other books, of Global power and the new geopolitics of nations (Boitempo).


[1] A tendency that could be perceived a long time ago, in the 1990s, at the peak moment and great apparent success of the globalization project, as can be read in a text of ours from 1994: “What has been asserting itself as a consequence of the project of liberal globalization and as an effect of the hollowing out of social democracy, is, on the one hand, barbarism, and on the other, various forms of a fascist nationalism that Charles Mayer called “territorial populism” referring to Berlusconi, in Italy…” (José Luís Fiori, “Words and things” Caderno Mais, Folha de S. Paul, August 14, 1994).


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