At the latest iteration of the annual World Economic Forum's Davos clusterf@ck, the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, supplied the virtual audience with a special address along with WEF Founder and self-appointed Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, a perfect stand-in for a Bond movie villain. Here are some highlights with all bolds throughout this posting being mine.
Let's start with Schwab's introduction:
"Russia is an important global power, and there’s a long-standing tradition of Russia’s participation in the World Economic Forum. At this moment in history, where the world has a unique and short window of opportunity to move from an age of confrontation to an age of cooperation, the ability to hear your voice, the voice of the President of the Russian Federation, is essential. Even and especially in times characterised by differences, disputes and protests, constructive and honest dialogue to address our common challenges is better than isolation and polarisation.
Yesterday, your phone exchange with President Biden and the agreement to extend the New START nuclear arms treaty in principle, I think, was a very promising sign in this direction.
COVID-19, Mr President, has shown our global vulnerability and interconnectivity, and, like any other country, Russia will certainly also be affected, and your economic development and prospects for international cooperation, of course, are of interest to all of us.
Mr President, we are keen to hear from your perspective and from that of Russia, how you see the situation developing in the third decade of the 21st century and what should be done to ensure that people everywhere find peace and prosperity.
Mr President, the world is waiting to hear from you."
With that, let's move on to selected excerpts of what Putin had to say to the world on several key subjects:
1.) International affairs and the impact of extreme politics:
"We are seeing a crisis of the previous models and instruments of economic development. Social stratification is growing stronger both globally and in individual countries. We have spoken about this before as well. But this, in turn, is causing today a sharp polarisation of public views, provoking the growth of populism, right- and left-wing radicalism and other extremes, and the exacerbation of domestic political processes including in the leading countries.
All this is inevitably affecting the nature of international relations and is not making them more stable or predictable. International institutions are becoming weaker, regional conflicts are emerging one after another, and the system of global security is deteriorating….
I would like to point out the negative demographic consequences of the ongoing social crisis and the crisis of values, which could result in humanity losing entire civilisational and cultural continents.
We have a shared responsibility to prevent this scenario, which looks like a grim dystopia, and to ensure instead that our development takes a different trajectory – positive, harmonious and creative."
2.) Global military conflict:
"Klaus has mentioned the conversation I had yesterday with the US President on extending the New START. This is, without a doubt, a step in the right direction. Nevertheless, the differences are leading to a downward spiral. As you are aware, the inability and unwillingness to find substantive solutions to problems like this in the 20th century led to the WWII catastrophe.
Of course, such a heated global conflict is impossible in principle, I hope. This is what I am pinning my hopes on, because this would be the end of humanity. However, as I have said, the situation could take an unexpected and uncontrollable turn – unless we do something to prevent this. There is a chance that we will face a formidable break-down in global development, which will be fraught with a war of all against all and attempts to deal with contradictions through the appointment of internal and external enemies and the destruction of not only traditional values such as the family, which we hold dear in Russia, but fundamental freedoms such as the right of choice and privacy."
3.) Global socioeconomic challenges:
Indeed, judging by the statistics, even despite the deep crises in 2008 and 2020, the last 40 years can be referred to as successful or even super successful for the global economy. Starting from 1980, global per capita GDP has doubled in terms of real purchasing power parity. This is definitely a positive indicator.
Globalisation and domestic growth have led to strong growth in developing countries and lifted over a billion people out of poverty. So, if we take an income level of $5.50 per person per day (in terms of PPP) then, according to the World Bank, in China, for example, the number of people with lower incomes went from 1.1 billion in 1990 down to less than 300 million in recent years. This is definitely China’s success. In Russia, this number went from 64 million people in 1999 to about 5 million now. We believe this is also progress in our country, and in the most important area, by the way.
Still, the main question, the answer to which can, in many respects, provide a clue to today’s problems, is what was the nature of this global growth and who benefitted from it most….
What about the developed economies where average incomes are much higher? It may sound ironic, but stratification in the developed countries is even deeper. According to the World Bank, 3.6 million people subsisted on incomes of under $5.50 per day in the United States in 2000, but in 2016 this number grew to 5.6 million people.
Meanwhile, globalisation led to a significant increase in the revenue of large multinational, primarily US and European, companies….
But then again, in terms of corporate profits, who got hold of the revenue? The answer is clear: one percent of the population.
And what has happened in the lives of other people? In the past 30 years, in a number of developed countries, the real incomes of over half of the citizens have been stagnating, not growing. Meanwhile, the cost of education and healthcare services has gone up. Do you know by how much? Three times.
In other words, millions of people even in wealthy countries have stopped hoping for an increase of their incomes. In the meantime, they are faced with the problem of how to keep themselves and their parents healthy and how to provide their children with a decent education….
These imbalances in global socioeconomic development are a direct result of the policy pursued in the 1980s, which was often vulgar or dogmatic. This policy rested on the so-called Washington Consensus with its unwritten rules, when the priority was given to the economic growth based on a private debt in conditions of deregulation and low taxes on the wealthy and the corporations."
4.) Sociopolitical challenges:
"The rise of economic problems and inequality is splitting society, triggering social, racial and ethnic intolerance. Indicatively, these tensions are bursting out even in the countries with seemingly civil and democratic institutions that are designed to alleviate and stop such phenomena and excesses.
The systemic socioeconomic problems are evoking such social discontent that they require special attention and real solutions. The dangerous illusion that they may be ignored or pushed into the corner is fraught with serious consequences.
In this case, society will still be divided politically and socially. This is bound to happen because people are dissatisfied not by some abstract issues but by real problems that concern everyone regardless of the political views that people have or think they have. Meanwhile, real problems evoke discontent."
5.) Exacerbation of international problems:
….unresolved and mounting internal socioeconomic problems may push people to look for someone to blame for all their troubles and to redirect their irritation and discontent. We can already see this. We feel that the degree of foreign policy propaganda rhetoric is growing.
We can expect the nature of practical actions to also become more aggressive, including pressure on the countries that do not agree with a role of obedient controlled satellites, use of trade barriers, illegitimate sanctions and restrictions in the financial, technological and cyber spheres.
Such a game with no rules critically increases the risk of unilateral use of military force. The use of force under a far-fetched pretext is what this danger is all about. This multiplies the likelihood of new hot spots flaring up on our planet."
Putin then outlines his four priorities:
1.) Comfortable living conditions for all.
2.) Employment that provides income growth and a decent standard of living.
3.) High-quality and effective medical care.
4.) Decent education for all children regardless of family income.
Let's close with these quotes which I found particularly interesting given the censorship-heavy model being used by the American social media oligopoly that was clearly on display, particularly during the transition from the Trump to the Biden Administrations and the 2020 American election as a whole:
"Modern technological giants, especially digital companies, have started playing an increasing role in the life of society. Much is being said about this now, especially regarding the events that took place during the election campaign in the US. They are not just some economic giants. In some areas, they are de facto competing with states. Their audiences consist of billions of users that pass a considerable part of their lives in these eco systems.
In the opinion of these companies, their monopoly is optimal for organising technological and business processes. Maybe so but society is wondering whether such monopolism meets public interests. Where is the border between successful global business, in-demand services and big data consolidation and the attempts to manage society at one’s own discretion and in a tough manner, replace legal democratic institutions and essentially usurp or restrict the natural right of people to decide for themselves how to live, what to choose and what position to express freely? We have just seen all of these phenomena in the US and everyone understands what I am talking about now. I am confident that the overwhelming majority of people share this position, including the participants in the current event."
If you wish to watch Putin's entire address, please click here. It is always an interesting exercise to actually read and understand how "the other side" views the current global reality.
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