Nuclear War? Climate Collapse? No Worries. WEF Says Disinformation is Humanity’s Most Immediate Threat

Image by Luke Jernejcic.

The assorted billionaire geniuses and official intellectual luminaries who gathered in Davos Switzerland January 15-19 proved, for those who doubted, that neither singly nor as a group could these nincompoops find their way out of a paper bag. Weighing the world’s fate in their well-manicured fingers, did they seem concerned about the Ukraine War morphing into nuclear catastrophe, or ditto for a wider Middle East war? They did not. Did they tear their beautifully coiffed hair and rend their designer ensembles over the prospect of the earth heating up like a pancake on a griddle due to uncontrolled climate change? A disaster caused by rich countries gobbling up and belching out burnt fossil fuels? Or did they mouth vague platitudes about extreme weather? Yes, bromides were their plat du jour.

The most immediate threat to humanity, according to this assemblage of well-groomed nitwits (who paid $52,000 apiece to join the World Economic Forum and then $19,000 each for a ticket to the Davos shindig), is misinformation or disinformation – you pick. After all, these bigwigs can take to their pate de foie gras-stocked bunkers if the planet succumbs either to nuclear winter or high temperatures inhospitable to human life. So of course, they regard speech, that is, free speech, as the main threat to their luxurious creature comforts. After all, someone might say something bad about these oligarchs! That surely bodes far worse for our species than radioactivity or a global, climate-change-induced sauna. So the Davos set has grabbed the bull by the horns. Disinformation purveyors beware! As for the rest of the world’s people, well, God help us, as we are led to oblivion by bubbleheads.

I suppose we should take some solace that the Davos jet-set did acknowledge the dangers of extreme weather. As anyone with a functioning brain knows, earth has smashed all calefaction records in recent years, and this has royally interfered with the planet’s thermostat. So we get droughts, floods, intolerable summer heat, balmy weather in January (on the 26th the mercury topped 80 degrees Fahrenheit in Washington, D.C.), followed the next day by an Arctic freeze, due to cold polar air having lost its compass. These developments kill lotsa people and are very hard to ignore. Hence the WEF designation of extreme weather as the greatest long-term concern – in short, a close second to those supposed twin terrors, misinformation and disinformation. WEF’s Global Risks Report 2024 bemoans “a multipolar or fragmented order to take shape over the next decade.” Things were so much simpler when the Exceptional Empire alone held the world’s reins! But when even Davos intellectual heavyweights recognize that it no longer does, you know imperial decline is speeding along.

“An unstable order characterized by polarizing narratives and insecurity…are causing accelerating risks – including misinformation and disinformation – to propagate,” says the WEF’s managing director. Why this bizarre fixation on speech? Because “the nexus between falsified information and societal unrest will take center stage amid elections…” Translation: angry plebs with pitchforks will defenestrate oligarchy-approved rulers. Heavens! Billionaires may be hindered when it comes to selecting their puppets in Western political capitals. Populists – left and right – may seize power! Class privilege could become dicey. Class war, actually waged from below, could erupt.

One danger, not mentioned on the WEF list of Top 10 Risks, is fascism. That’s probably because the Davos nabobs don’t really fear fascism. They know quite well that when fascists grab power, though they handle the proles quite roughly, they treat plutocrats with kid gloves. Many fantastically wealthy movers and shakers have no real beef with fascism – after all, from it they receive the criminalization of strikes, tax cuts, more docile leftwingers, who are too busy to protest as they scrounge to eat grass in concentration camps and, of course, the trains run on time! In sum, a massive defeat for the hoi poloi. From an oligarch’s viewpoint, what’s not to like?

And yet, we all know fake news can be a fascist ploy. Take the lament circulating on Twitter in recent months that millions of male foreigners of military age sneak across the southern U.S. border and are greeted with open arms by namby-pamby liberals, who give them bank cards worth thousands of dollars and free plane tickets to anywhere in the U.S. they choose. My question is this – if each of these supposed potential criminals gets $5000 on a bank card, why do they sleep in tents or welfare hotels? No one answers this, or even addresses it. That’s because the purpose of this fake news is to stir Americans up into a nativist frenzy.

If that’s the type of thing the dim bulbs at Davos were complaining about, why didn’t they say so? Because it’s not – they can live with nativist hysteria, just as easily as they can live with millions of destitute, undocumented immigrants. Neither one ruffles their opulent feathers, because either way their hands remain on the steering wheel. A public in a frenzy over its ethnic purity and millions of desperate, dispossessed arrivals willing to do any degrading, dangerous work for peanuts are not things our rulers fear. After all, the nation was built on such. My guess is they’re more concerned with direct threats to their janissaries, namely the CIA and FBI, posed by their eternal bogeyman, independent media, whom despite their best efforts they never seem to manage to throttle, and by scruffy journalists and activists like Julian Assange, currently, to their likely satisfaction, rotting in jail.

 Also, the Davos honchos do fear some class upheaval on the right, for instance, those very alarming protests that caused toadies of the fantastically affluent to seize Canadian truckers’ bank accounts back in February 2022. That whole episode may appear bizarre to leftists, but it is a harbinger of elite abuses to come. Canadian minister of finance and WEF sachem Chrystia Freeland justified using the Emergencies Act to freeze low and middle-income protestor’s funds, by saying “we faced as a country and as a government an incredibly serious threat.” Now you’re talking! A bunch of unarmed truckers blocking highways had the nerve to challenge the status quo. By all means, freeze their bank accounts, before they write letters to the editor decrying this abuse!

Though the truckers’ “Freedom Convoy” seethed with anti-vax crackpots, they had every right to air their grievances and their government had no right absolutely to flip out and seize their checking accounts. That’s what a fixation on “disinformation” leads to – stealing ordinary people’s money when they’re uppity enough to complain. The Davos imbeciles nodded their heads in approval. You shouldn’t. Left or right, if you’re not rich, you could be next.

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Lizard People. She can be reached at her website.