Davos Man and Open Borders

You could say Parag Khanna is the quintessential “Davos Man.” This silver spoon globe-trotter, a specialist in globalization, wants to change the world forever, openly advocating a mix-and-match “Civilization 3.0” under a decentralized world government. And he couldn’t care less how you feel about it.

The term “Davos Man” was coined by Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington in a 2004 article entitled “Dead Souls: The Denationalization of the American Elite.” Huntington said that these people made up a very small percentage of Americans and were transnationalists who “have little need for national loyalty, view national boundaries as obstacles that thankfully are vanishing, and see national governments as residues from the past whose only useful function is to facilitate the elite’s global operations.”

Parag Khanna certainly fits the description. He wants to see young people in the global South move en masse to the decrepit North. He wants technocratic elites to manage this human flow using digital passports, artificial intelligence analysis, and top-down social engineering. He wants to erase national borders and re-map the planet according to infrastructure connectivity. He wants mega-cities to come alive with smart sensors and our bodies to swarm with nanobots.


above: aerial view of Davos, Switzerland, with the Davos Congress Centre, site of the World Economic Forum, in the foreground (World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons)

Most of all, Khanna dreams of a “Great Migration.” This would emerge from the “Great Lockdown” that we’ve already seen and the “Great Reset” yet to come. But a brief survey of the American landscape shows that Khanna’s dream of a “Great Migration” is already coming true. It has been since at least the 1960s, in a chaotic piecemeal way.

“I believe we will go from nearly zero migration in 2020 to a re-sorting of billions of people in the unfolding post-pandemic era,” Khanna told a Skift Global Forum interviewer last August.

Khanna’s use of World Economic Forum (WEF) buzzwords such as “Great Reset” and its permutation “Great Migration” is no coincidence. He worked for the organization in Switzerland from 2000 to 2002, and continues to be a top WEF agenda contributor. Having been properly groomed in his formative years, he traveled the world on generous publisher advances, passing judgment from on high along the way.

Unsurprisingly, his prolific output reflects the mentality in Davos, Switzerland, where the WEF gathers: aloof, technocratic, and totally out of touch with normal human emotions. Khanna is aligned with international interests over national allegiance. He exudes intellectual superiority and utter indifference to a traditional sense of the sacred. He may not hold the levers of power directly, but he certainly has the ear of many who do.

Hearing his arrogant pronouncements on how the whole world ought to be—and we’re talking about the entire planet here—we can surmise he’s also spoiled beyond redemption. Yet the ideas and actions behind those arrogant pronouncements have been quietly unfolding for years.

The habits of Chinese investors are one example. In recent years, they have been buying up valuable U.S. real estate, from the coastal cities to the heartland. Meanwhile, their children fill our ivory towers, occasionally as spies.

Down on the ground, despondent foreign nationals are pouring across our southern border. In the wake of the Afghanistan debacle, thousands of barely vetted Muslim men were flown into U.S. cities. Most are expecting full citizenship.

In the spirit of anarcho-tyranny, the Biden regime allows this chaos to unfold while contemplating interstate vaccine passports for legacy Americans. Such mandates have rabid support from those who fear the COVID-contaminated Others among their own countrymen.

All of this is in harmony with Khanna’s global vision of Civilization 3.0. “Immunity passports, travel history, criminal records, financial statements—we should be digitizing these certifications and develop secure blockchain platforms that ease the exchange of information across responsible agencies,” he said in the Skift Forum interview. “We need passports on apps.”

Way down the road, Khanna imagines, this organized disruption, coupled with total digitization, will lead to an entirely new type of human being. In his new book Move: The Forces Uprooting Us, this Davos Man writes:

We have wealthy countries across North America and Europe with 300 million and counting aging people and decaying infrastructure—but roughly 2 billion young people sitting idle in Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia who are capable of caring for the elderly and maintaining public services.

What about the problems of incompatible values, social fracturing, and erosion of collective identity that will only accelerate under the weight of more mass immigration? Khanna insists we have nothing to lose.

We should therefore also be very cynical about the notion that ‘culture is destiny,’ as if there is a fixed national culture passed down from generation to generation without modification or adaptation.… Fusion prevails in the end. Our destiny is to be a global mongrel civilization.

But this global fusion won’t stop at bloodline and cultural heritage. Through full digitization, human beings will transcend bodily limitations altogether. “Technology has dematerialized goods, services, and money,” Khanna writes in Move, “turning them into bits instantaneously warped around the world. It was inevitable that this would happen to human minds too.”

Poring over Khanna’s pop books and public lectures, one finds a semi-coherent, if unsettling, worldview taking shape. After living on planes, trains, and the internet for most of his life, Khanna sees human existence in terms of physical and digital infrastructure. In his call for internal migration at the Aspen Ideas Festival last June, cleverly entitled “America’s Next Manifest Destiny,” he looks forward to America’s immanent Infrastructure Bill and corresponding Green New Deal as initial vehicles for his Great Migration.

All traditional distinctions will dissolve in this human deluge. As global connectivity wires us together, Khanna explained at a 2016 TED Talk, our species is becoming a planetary superorganism. Highways, railroads, and sea-lanes are our skeleton. Oil pipelines and electric grids are our veins. Computer screens and fiber optic cable are our nervous system.

And our national borders? Dead skin to be shed without sentimentality.

“Connectivity, not sovereignty, has become the organizing principle of the human species,” he told the TED crowd, pausing for applause. “We will build more infrastructure in the next 40 years than we have in the past 4,000 years.” In the end, this will lead to a borderless “Future Map” drawn to suit elite preferences and capital. The rest of us will be reduced to cells in the superorganism and moved about as needed.

Jarring as this view may be, it’s just a snapshot of the planet’s surface. The deeper journey includes a fundamental transformation of the human soul through advanced gadgetry.

In a prescient and sinister twist, Khanna had already trotted out the term “New Normal” in his 2012 book Hybrid Reality: Thriving in the Emerging Human-Technology Civilization, co-authored with his wife, Ayesha Khanna, an artificial intelligence consultant. “The ‘new normal’ of expressive avatars and social robots is coming very quickly,” they observed. “All our natural biological processes are increasingly subject to technological intrusion.”

Hybrid Reality reads like a corporate promotional pamphlet aimed at budding transhumanists. Khanna and his wife hype the “inevitable” introduction of genetic engineering, blood-borne nanobots, designer babies, remote e-learning, nomadic employment, robotic companions, augmented reality, brain-computer interfaces, blockchain currencies, self-driving cars, smart cities, and artificial superintelligence.

“The Hybrid Age is a new sociotechnical era that is unfolding as technologies merge with each other and humans merge with technology,” they wrote a decade ago. “[I]t is the transition period between the Information Age and the moment of Singularity (when machines surpass human intelligence).… The future may resemble the past so little that interest in the latter will be considered obsolete.”

As with many futurists, the Khannas advocate using technology for self-empowerment. After expressing obligatory concern, they go on to promote the sort of techno-fetishism that will crush everything you know like a sentient freight train.

The same can be said for Khanna’s dreams of a Great Migration, his celebration of the onrushing “Asian Century,” and his open insistence that the world be ruled by technocrats. His provocative decrees would be interesting thought experiments, or laughable conceits, were they not coming to pass with little resistance. And he is hardly alone.

The WEF is the target of endless conspiracy theories, as if its chairman, Klaus Schwab, were a black magician guiding world affairs. But which direction does the arrow of causation really go? Is Davos Man pushing global societies toward his desired end, or merely analyzing trends that exist beyond any one institution’s control? In my estimation, that causative arrow curls back on itself in a feedback loop.


above: Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, addresses the audience during the session Message from Davos: Believing in the Future at the Annual Meeting 2008 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 27, 2008. (Photo by Remy Steinegger/World Economic Forum/Wikimedia Commons)

Not unlike a TED Talk or an Aspen Institute event, the WEF is where technocratic dreams make contact with the world’s most prominent business and political leaders. They then decide to enact them or not, although the former is remarkably common. Concepts and catchphrases first uttered in Davos—“public-private partnerships,” “The Fourth Industrial Revolution,” “The Great Reset,” and some even claim “Build Back Better”—tend to get repeated on high.

Typical WEF concepts such as the Internet of Bodies, formulated by Schwab as “a fusion of our physical, digital, and biological identity,” have a decidedly ominous feel. Arguably, the organization’s most toxic slogan, spawned by a quickly deleted promo video, is: “You will own nothing. And you’ll be happy.” The saying orginated in a WEF think piece, published by Forbes in 2016, entitled: “Welcome To 2030: I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy, And Life Has Never Been Better.

Because the media has long obscured the WEF’s meetings from public view, paranoid alarmists are certain world leaders gather in Davos to don black robes, sacrifice babies, and plot to rule the planet. In reality, they wear black ties, discuss stem cell research, and debate a variety of totalitarian schemes for a “sustainable future.”

In the case of Khanna, the plot is to uproot billions of people, turn them into cyborgs, and have the working class dwell in electric RVs or converted shipping containers as needed. Just as he’s certain that “The Pandemic Proves Only Technocrats Can Save Us,” a proclamation he made in Foreign Policy magazine, he’s equally confident that “experts” can reshuffle and upgrade the human race to fit into Civilization 3.0.

The realization of Khanna’s totalizing dreams would be a living nightmare for the rest of us. Stalin’s forced labor transfers were atrocious for Soviet workers and economically absurd. The 1965 Hart-Celler Immigration Act turned the American melting pot into a pressure cooker. The most likely outcome of a “Great Migration” is further destabilization and social decay, as we saw with the “Great Lockdown” and are still seeing with the “Great Reset.”

It’s no wonder Davos Man has been demonized. Technocrats are demonic in the same way Hindu rakshasas are “evil”—their idea of the good life is in direct opposition to ours. Traditionalists seek transcendence in the Spirit. Transhumanists seek salvation in the Machine. As with other incompatible cultures, it’s difficult to imagine peaceful cohabitation.

Personally, I believe both the Hindu myths and their Christian cognates are correct. “Good” must combat “evil.” And the Spirit, present in Nature, will prevail at each cataclysmic finale.

above: Parag Khanna, senior research fellow at the New America Foundation, speaking at The Future of Globalization event at Chatham House in March 2012 (Chatham House/Wikimedia Commons)

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