A century after violent efforts to suppress resistance to class exploitation, the nation has learned to think about people and the economy with a language that favors the wealthy and elides issues of power.
As political and business elites gather in Davos, a coalition of international and regional groups is launching a coordinated drive against the great economic divides these elites foster.
Countries the world over are facing an inequality emergency, and it’s time for global elites to listen to the rest of us, especially the most marginalized people.
In 2015, my organization, ActionAid, joined with several other groups to form the Fight Inequality Alliance to campaign against inequality in all its forms. This Alliance includes other global organizations like Greenpeace, Oxfam, the International Trade Union Confederation, the ACT Alliance, and Civicus, as well as regional members like Focus on the Global South, Femnet, and the Asian Peoples Movement on Debt and Development.
Starting on January 14, our Alliance is sponsoring a Fight Inequality Week of Action, an effort timed to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, an annual festival of sorts for the world’s richest 0.001 percent. Our Fight Inequality Alliance will be taking action around the world and speaking out on social media to disrupt the cozy conversations of the world’s political and business elites.
We need your participation to help give this week of action the maximum possible impact. Our social media pack for the week contains many ideas for coordinated actions — and they’ll only take a few minutes of your time. If you would like to plan other actions, please tell us about them — or get more information and ideas — at email@example.com. And use the hashtag #fightinequality.
But the Davos World Economic Forum isn’t all, of course, that’s happening this week. Davos will be the initial focus for our actions, but we know the week will climax with a crucial event for inequality fighters. On Friday, January 20, the first billionaire U.S. president — a mover and shaker who has built his fortune through inheritance, dubious business deals, and tax avoidance and his political success through exaggerations and lies — will be inaugurated in Washington.
Our week of global action can help demonstrate and organize the resistance that will be needed in the weeks, months, and years to come.
Donald Trump and the elites at the Davos forum all portray themselves as friends of those on the other side of the inequality equation. And indeed they may well take steps — persuasive studies or selfless speeches in Davos, small business loans or an “America First” approach to trade policy from Trump — seemingly intended to reduce our great global divides, even as their actions contradict that intent.
But the problem of inequality is systemic. Those who already have power devise and maintain systems of governance, finance, and social order. Even the best-intentioned people with power are unlikely to take steps to meaningfully dismantle systems that have sustained them and their peers. We cannot afford to be blinded by the Davos critiques of global inequality or Trump’s inflated promises.
Both the Davos forum and Trump are products of a global economic system, underpinned by patriarchy, that creates and sustains gross imbalances of power and wealth. Their concerns for the plight of those with less, sincere or not, are greatly outweighed by the impact of the very systems that amplify their claims and promises.
We know it’s possible to have a society where everyone matters, and nobody is rich or powerful enough to be immune from the rules. But powerful elites and corporations won’t change a system that works for them without pressure. That’s why need you to join us in the Fight Inequality Week of Action to loudly challenge the concentration of power in the hands of an elite few and to demand a better future where governments, and all of us, fight inequality.
Soren Ambrose directs policy, advocacy, and research at ActionAid International. He’s based in Nairobi, Kenya.