In 1929, Davos was the setting for a debate between two great philosophers of the time. One was Jewish (Ernst Cassirer), the other later became a Nazi (Martin Heidegger). Commenting on the 1929 gathering, the philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (also Jewish), said of the Heidegger-Cassirer confrontation: “I saw the end of one world and the start of another. Ten years later, the second world war broke out, and delivered to us a world that would never be the same again.”

It’s tempting to use Levinas’ observation as some kind of analogy. This week, some of the smartest and wealthiest of people, almost all of whom play a vital role in influencing the ideas and policies that shape the global political economy, are meeting in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2020.

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