Today, even neoliberal Wall Street is being ‘green-washed’. It is now doing socially, environmentally and financially responsible investing (ESG). And since Green is the narrative, so is the wave of pro-ESG investing which every single bank is pitching to its clients because – well, you know – it’s the socially, environmentally and financially responsible thing to be doing (sarcasm). It turns out that the most popular holdings of all those virtue signalling ESG funds are companies such as. … Microsoft, Alphabet, Apple and Amazon, for which one would be hard pressed to explain how their actions do anything that is of benefit for the environment.
What might this mindset shift portend for the region? Will much change? Nominally, the American-led order will change, but control will stay. Only it will be a climate-based control through rules on CO2 emissions; a global framework for health and pandemics; and a Central Bank regulatory framework for a digital monetary system.
Alexis de Tocqueville would have well-understood the meaning to this dumb, slow march of incremental global regulation across climate, health and rights. Writing in 1835, he predicted that society would fall into a new kind of servitude which “covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules”, which “does not tyrannise but compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies people, till each nation is reduced to be nothing better than a flock of timid and industrious animals of which the government is the Sheppard”.
Some Middle Eastern states may sit on the side-lines, waiting to see whether a forced return to a continuation of the U.S. hegemonic agenda really is feasible today; and to await too, a coming epic climax to this struggle – as resistance builds. For the reality is that Euro-U.S. authority is wafer-thin; its people deeply divided; its systems decried as rigged; and as multiple crises are easily visible on the horizon.
To re-establish a global imperial class the Biden team would have to force a psychologically climacteric backdown onto the Russia-China-Iran axis – one which (like the Cold War outcome) would seem to vindicate the western update to its ‘operating system’. This, however, does not seem a likely prospect.
Some Gulf States, which already have embraced a western post-modernity, are going down the ‘Davos’ Re-set roadmap: concentrating their economies within a tight, controlling circle; maximising centralised operationality. But above all, they have embraced the Davos mantra of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in which AI, robots and Tech change the world (as a supply-side ‘miracle’).
Let’s just pause there a moment: What is going on?