Addressing a Calgary Stampede event in summer, then-Conservative Party leadership hopeful Pierre Poilievre bluntly repeated his opposition to the World Economic Forum’s globalist agenda. “Freedom means making our own decisions here at home,” he said. “And that means banning our federal ministers from attending the World Economic Forum.” Anyone thinking of jumping into the crowded chorus ridiculing Poilievre’s position as paranoid conspiracy-mongering might consider first reading Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order.
“Why is the Swiss-based World Economic Forum (WEF) advocating a complete ‘re-imagining of the Western world’s social, economic and moral structures?’ And why now?” asks the book’s editor, Michael Walsh, in his introduction. A former prominent art critic who has spent the past 20 or so years prodigiously critiquing the left’s tightening grip on the Western mind, Walsh is currently editor of the online magazine The Pipeline.
Posing the questions “that the men and women of the WEF are hoping you won’t ask”: Former art critic Michael Walsh, editor of Against the Great Reset.
What follows are 18 essays by distinguished authors from various disciplines, perspectives and countries including Canada who, as Walsh writes, delve into the WEF’s “aspirations, prescriptions and proscriptions and how [the Great Reset] will prospectively affect us.” The contributors range from American Classicist Victor Davis Hanson to experts on digital and green technologies James Poulos and Salvatore Babones. They collectively deliver densely reasoned and well-put questions, concerns and in some instances condemnations of the Great Reset.
These are the questions “that the men and women of the WEF are hoping you won’t ask,” Walsh notes. But ask we must and the answers, verdant with historical, economic, scientific, religious and philosophical intellectual roots, are more than unsettling.
When Just Talking Is No Longer Enough: The WEF’s Expanding Ambitions
Founded in 1971, the WEF is a non-profit organization headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland from whence it acts as both a think-tank and organizer of annual invitation-only “big idea” networking conferences in Davos, a sprawling resort town in the Swiss Alps. These are attended by the world’s leading industrialists, bankers, NGO heads, representatives from international organizations like the UN and EU, politicians, royalty and other luminaries – and, of course, the global news media.
From its seemingly unremarkable origins the WEF has evolved into an activist organization that prescribes, organizes and facilitates public policy development emphasizing private-public cooperation and other initiatives among its key players. The WEF is funded by some 1,000 corporate members, each with annual revenue of typically $5 billion or more. A subset of “young global leaders” lead initiatives aligned with the WEF mission in their home regions. WEF executive chairman and founder Klaus Schwab, a German-born Swiss business professor and author, has boasted that current Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and many of his Cabinet members are among the program’s graduates. Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland and former Governor of both the Bank of England and Bank of Canada Mark Carney are or have been members of the WEF’s Board of Trustees.
The WEF’s key policy prescriptions were developed in three books. Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering, written by Schwab in the WEF’s founding year of 1971, introduced the idea of “stakeholder capitalism.” This argues that modern corporations must directly serve not only the shareholders who own them and to whom all corporations owe a fiduciary duty, but various other parties that also allegedly hold a “stake” in a corporation’s activities but typically have social, environmental or redistributive desires.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution, also written by Schwab and published in 2016, more expansively details how “previous industrial revolutions liberated humankind from animal power, made mass production possible and brought digital capabilities to billions of people. This Fourth Industrial Revolution…is characterized by a range of new technologies that are fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, impacting all disciplines, economies and industries and even challenging ideas about what it means to be human.”
The third and by far most controversial book, The Great Reset, co-written with Monthly Barometer author Thierry Malleret and published in July 2020, considers the “far reaching and dramatic implications [of Covid-19] on tomorrow’s world.” It espouses Three Great Reset Principles that would, first, “steer the market towards fairer outcomes,” second “[reference] environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics…[to] ensure that investments advance shared goals such as equality and sustainability…[and] third harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good, especially by addressing health and social challenges.” (This C2C essay by David Solway further explores the Great Reset’s implications, particularly for the middle class.)
From merely influencing the market economy by adjusting the roles and responsibilities of the modern corporation, to heralding a “fourth” industrial revolution that may alter our understanding of “what it means to be human,” and onward to calling upon the world’s governments and global organizations to engineer a “Great Reset,” the WEF’s stated ambitions have swelled enormously. Generating ideas of its own, and with well-financed tentacles reaching into institutions and organization all over the planet, the WEF’s actions suggest an organization intent on developing the mechanisms to encourage their adoption. Clearly no longer a mere talk-shop – if it ever was. What the WEF’s ideas might mean for humanity are explored throughout Against the Great Reset.
“Equality,” “shared goals,” “sustainability,” “fair outcomes,” “innovations that support the public good” and, seemingly best of all, a “Great Reset” sound like noble goals. Surely, a reasonable person might conclude, following a debilitating pandemic and with economic and social challenges clearly evident in our early 21stcentury world, the planet could do with a reset or two.
Historian Hanson pleads for caution in the book’s opening essay, “The Great Regression.” “Assume the worst when the adjective ‘great’ appears in connection with envisioned fundamental, government-driven, or global political changes,” Hanson urges, guided by his long view of history. “What was similar between Lyndon Johnson’s massively expensive but failed ‘Great Society’ and Mao’s genocidal ‘Great Leap Forward’ was the idea of a top-down, centrally planned schema, cooked up by elites without any firsthand knowledge, or even worry, how it would affect the middle classes and poor.”
The manipulative and deceptive use of language by elites is one of the book’s recurring themes. As Walsh warns, “The viper tongue of totalitarianism is most often bathed in palliatives before it strikes.”
In “Socialism and The Great Reset,” prominent American political essayist Michael Anton asserts that the catch-phrases “Great Reset” and “Build Back Better” serve to sugar-coat a harsh reality, namely that these programs would engineer the gradual impoverishment of everyone outside the ruling elite. “Perhaps the ultimate expression is the now-ubiquitous WEF slogan ‘You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy’,” Anton writes. “Note that the WEF doesn’t say they will own nothing, only that you will.” That this phrase’s very existence has been denied by the WEF’s apologists or, failing that, that it means what it says, hints at both its incendiary implications and revelatory significance. The clip can be viewed here.
Reconstructionist Critiques of Capitalism
The Western economic system that emerged in the 1700s and soon achieved the Industrial Revolution is, in the words of Conrad Black in “The War on Capitalism,” “undeniably the most successful form of wealth creation and distribution that has ever been devised.” The keys to this system’s incredible success included individual and corporate freedom and a generally light government touch with clear and usually simple rules.
Having been a frequent invitee to Davos, what the author, prolific commentator, Member of the British House of Lords and former newspaper magnate observed there is, unfortunately, hardly encouraging. One worrisome indicator is the WEF’s expressed collective belief in what Black calls “the virtues of universal supranationalism.” Black describes the WEF as being “for democracy, as long as everyone votes for increased public sector authority in pursuit of green egalitarianism and the homogenization of all peoples in a conformist world.”
Democracy and other freely operating systems and independent institutions, then, must not be allowed to frustrate the WEF’s desire to act on its strange antipathy to the free market economy. For the very system that made its members the staggeringly wealthy and influential figures they are today now stands in the way of the WEF’s broader ambitions to remake society. As Black writes: “Capitalism was to be overborne by economic redistribution; all concepts of public policy were to be divorced from any sense of nationality, history, spirituality, or spontaneity and redirected to defined goals of imposed uniformity.”
Much of this agenda long operated in the shadows. While not exactly secret, it was advanced subtly enough to render anyone attempting to raise the alarm appear unhinged. That changed with The Great Reset. Published amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, it revealed the plan explicitly and in detail. Rather than a revelation of all-new ideas, though, the book is more akin to a retroactive blueprint – disclosing a long period of planning and gathering of required materials.
Although plutocrats form the WEF’s financial backbone and much of its membership, Black leaves little doubt that the organization’s overall outlook and animating project are fundamentally leftist. He takes the reader through the three-decade-long revival of the Western left from its “bone crushing defeat in the Cold War” to its increasingly aggressive attacks on “every industry as a threat to human survival for ecological reasons.” Notes Black: “The wellsprings of these reconstructionist critiques of capitalism have been visible to us for a long time from places like the Club of Rome and most notoriously, Davos’s WEF.”
Scattered Leftist Agendas Fused, Globalized and Supercharged
Hanson considers some of the Great Reset’s specific objectives. Like Black, Hanson regards them as deeply anti-democratic and essentially leftist: “On examination, it is a kitchen-sink mishmash of agendas that incorporate the U.N.’s long stale ‘Sustainable Development’ plan (‘Agenda 21’), the Green New Deal, tidbits of Black Lives Matter sloganeering, critical race theory, ‘stakeholder’ capitalism that often champions ESG, or forced corporate embrace of ‘environmental and social governance’ over shareholder profitability, open-borders rhetoric, and boutique redistributionism dumbed down from Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century.”
Worse, while each of these movements was capable of wreaking considerable damage, they typically operated mainly at local or national levels. Schwab’s version of steering “the market toward fairer outcomes” takes things to a new level; it would be managed by an international consortium of the now-familiar international luminaries who would lobby to change laws and to regulate and tax international capital and income, to cite just a few of their envisioned powers.
This is not just idle narcissism, asserts Hanson. In June 2020, heads of the G-7 nations “agreed in principle to the Biden administration’s post-Covid-19 ‘Build Back Better’ plan to harmonize global tax rules in multilateral fashion…thus ending any country’s idea of creating a more free-market environment to attract job-creating industries.” As for corporations, the duty to protect and increase stockholder investments would be redefined “by how much they paid in taxes to governments who could redistribute the profits more responsibly.” Effectively, government and corporations would be fused into one entity.
Mussolini and Peron’s Corporatist Fascism in Better Suits
This theme is developed by Alberto Mingardi, director general of the Milan-based free-market think-tank, Istituto Bruno Leoni, in his examination of Schwab’s “stakeholder capitalism.” Stakeholderism would interconnect governments, civil society, companies and the international community, Mingardi writes. And not in a good way: “It has, in this regard, an interesting predecessor in the ‘corporatist’ outlook theorized and practiced by the fascist regime in Italy under Mussolini and also by the Peronistas in Argentina.” Whether genuinely fascist or a softer 21st century variety, stakeholderism would hand influence to any number of aggressive interests – but without risk or responsibility for them. The costs would be borne by shareholders and consumers.
Economic freedom isn’t the Great Resetters’ only significant target; their supranationalism makes them equally dubious if not contemptuous of national sovereignty. “The general assumption,” Hanson concludes, “is the supposed inability of elected leaders and legislatures of Western constitutional governments to solve problems independently and in concert with and on the directive of their own voting citizenry.” Justin Trudeau isn’t alone in his admiration for “basic dictatorships.”
The Promise of Transnationalism: Nonsense on Stilts
Essayist and art critic Roger Kimball, editor and publisher of The New Criterion and owner of Encounter Books, digs into the future of the nation state and finds it “under greater siege than at any time since the dissolution of the Roman Empire.” Claiming (as the WEF does) or believing (as international activists and all-too many well-meaning citizens appear to) that international bodies will protect human rights amounts to what Enlightenment era English philosopher Jeremy Bentham called “nonsense on stilts,” Kimball writes. “And,” he argues, “when it comes to the erosion of the nation-state and its gradual replacement by unaccountable transnational entities like the E.U., the U.N. or the so-call World Court the results are ominous.”
“Ominous” indeed: To believe that international bodies will protect human rights after supranational entities override the nation-state is, as 19th century English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (left) wrote in another context, “nonsense on stilts,” concurs the New Criterion’s publisher and essayist Roger Kimball (right).
Equally corrosive is the administrative/managerial state that has grown dominant in most Western countries and that stakeholderism is swelling further. In a disquisition meriting much more attention than is possible here, Kimball cites political theorist James Burnham whose 1941 The Managerial Revolution informed George Orwell’s 1984 and now, apparently, the Great Reset. But while the former regarded it as a component of dystopian horror, the latter has seized upon it as an inspirational how-to manual.
Either way, the “managerial state” is largely upon us. Burnham and Orwell each describe a geopolitical landscape in which the means of production are controlled by technocrats in industry, bureaucracy, the sciences and the military while entrepreneurial and working classes disappear. Private property no longer exists but neither does common ownership. Superstates coalesce around the industrial centres in Europe, Asia and the Americas, each ruled by an elite overseeing cohorts of semi-slaves.
While such an arrangement should make anyone shudder, it is profoundly alluring to a certain mindset, Kimball points out. “Emancipated” from our national, spiritual, cultural (and should we add biological?) identities, we can apparently become better “citizens of the world” and so better serve all of humankind. Or so goes the progressivist Utopian chant. Yet without compelling motivations such as a sense of duty to God, family, monarch, honour or country, or an exalted vision of the meaning of history, Kimball asks what is left except bloodless abstractions? Who, as Burnham put it, is willing to die for “progressive education, medicare, humanity in the abstract, the United Nations, and a ten percent rise in Social Security payments?”
The Useless Class: Demoting the Proletariat
Still, even modern capitalists realize the lower orders need money, writes Anton, who is also a lecturer at Hillsdale College in Michigan, especially money that can be spent on their goods and services. His chapter “Socialism and the Great Reset” recaps the essentials of communism as prescribed by Marx and Engels. But their vaunted proletariat, Anton predicts, will fare badly in The Fourth Industrial Revolution, where “highly remunerated intellectual work” (those “managers” again) will prevail. Replaced by artificial intelligence, robots, drones, self-driving cars and other innovations, tomorrow’s proletariat effectively has no valuable labour with which to negotiate.
As for the assertion (or hope) that the infamous “You will own nothing and be happy” is too cynical even for today’s elites, Anton points to the “blunt remarks of WEF favorite Yuval Noah Harari: ‘The biggest question…of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people? The problem is more boredom and what to do with them and how will they find some sense of meaning in life, when they are basically meaningless, worthless? My best guess, at present is a combination of [recreational] drugs and computer games as a solution for [most]. It is already happening.”
This utterly degrading and dehumanizing society, Anton spells out, will be brought about by an unseemly alliance: in a digitally monitored woke world, the “virtuous expert classes” will buy off the lower classes with “endless government spending, cheap debt and grievance politics,” followed by teaming up with them and “painting the middle class as the true rulers and hence the oppressors.” It is notable that the middle class or “bourgeoisie” (i.e., you and me) was all-but erased in almost every leftist tyranny, as well as in Orwell’s 1984; now it lies in the Great Reset’s sights.
You will certainly own nothing, but will you be happy? “The biggest question…of the coming decades will be what to do with all these useless people?” mused Yuval Noah Harari (top), Klaus Schwab’s lead advisor. The lost souls depicted in Brave New World (bottom) might not remain sci-fi for long. (Sources of photos: (top) Facebook/WEF; (bottom) Brandon Dalaly)
Especially dystopic is the view of James Poulos, a tech expert, author and editor at the Claremont Review of Books, whose unfortunately jargon-riddled essay “Big Tech: Sacred Culture or Cyborg Rapture?” regards the Great Reset as an attempt to fully integrate all available technologies and mechanisms to impose the long-sought quasi-socialist managerial state. It will especially emphasize digital technologies to control all aspects of human life. These will include, of course, digital currencies that can be centrally controlled, and a version of China’s horrific “social credit” system. While all this will be almost incomprehensibly complex, Poulos presents the structure of its implementation as conceptually simple: “social media >> social credit >> social justice.”
The Ratchet Effect
The immediate and practical effects of the Great Reset are already to hand. Covid-19 was the trial run, asserts author, former New York Times columnist and now City Journal contributing editor John Tierney in “The Shape of Things to Come: The Tyranny of Covid-19.” What might be next? Tierney predicts a trend of “More centralized power due to the ‘ratchet effect’ documented by Robert Higgs in his 1987 book, Crisis and Leviathan.” It argued that programs enacted during emergencies are never fully abolished and become a source of permanent government growth.
But while plagues come and go, the Earth’s climate will never stop changing. This, Tierney argues, furnishes an excuse to keep expanding government control without end: “Reducing carbon emissions will give bureaucrats an excuse to regulate any human activity. Climate activists around the world are celebrating the Covid-19 response as a ‘paradigm shift’ and ‘blueprint’ for future policies.”
Cancelling History, Facts, Religion – and Perhaps Civilization Itself
“History and the Great Reset” by Jeremy Black, Professor Emeritus of History at Exeter University in England, deconstructs critical race theory and cultural Marxism and argues that the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci’s “long march through the institutions” is basically complete, with 60s-era rebels and their descendants in charge. “History’s place at the fore of culture wars is no surprise,” Black writes. “The destruction of alternative values, of the sense of continuity, an appreciation of complexities, and of anything short of a self-righteous presentist internationalism, is central to the attempt at a Great Reset.”
So is rendering facts “irrelevant or disposable” – including where race and biology are concerned. This makes real debate impossible, a situation which Black notes “is compatible neither with a democratic present nor with a civilisation based on debate and rights.” There’s a word for such people: “totalitarians,” an argument that has been mounted by other writers, such as Matthias Desmet in The Psychology of Totalitarianism.
Other aspects of Black’s broad thesis of metastasizing Marxism are explored in several other essays, including one by retired University of Ottawa Professor of English Janice Fiamengo. “The Great Reset Feminist Style” considers the role of women vis-a-vis the workplace, the family and the bedroom and concludes that the Great Reset will further widen the male-female fault-line opened by radical feminism. Her recap of the #MeToo eruption, “when thousands of women demanded swift punishment of men accused of sexual misconduct as a flood of allegations, many of them anonymous and most of them made without evidence, began to circulate on the internet and mainstream media,” meshes with Poulos’s prediction that “justice” in the coming techno-ethical era will be meted out digitally by the “cyborg swarm.”
Woke Investment Versus Technological Investment: China Wins
It is up to the polymath, author and financial analyst David Goldman (“Spengler” in The Asia Times and PJ Media) to place the Great Reset in a clear-eyed though still gloomy economic perspective.
The Great Reset’s economic consequences are already happening “in the form of the most radical transformation of world economic policy in modern history, with the possible exception of World War II,” Goldman writes. “One-fifth of the industrial nations’ GDP shifted to the balance sheet of governments during the Covid-19 pandemic.” Add in the leap in government transfer payments to individuals (like Canada’s infamous CERB), further concentration of wealth in the hands of a few tech giants, and a reordering of investment priorities “in the service of the quixotic goal of eliminating carbon emissions,” and we have a “utopian experiment as sweeping as the old Marxist vision of state-owned industries directed by a technocratic elite.”
The Great Reset would give governments “unlimited license” to spend more for “equality” as well as for the environment. This will exhaust the West’s investment capacity in projects that add nothing to productivity, Goldman predicts, while China focusses its resources “on rapid deployment of 5G, which is the enabling technology for a wide variety of industrial, transportation, commercial, and medical applications.” A stunning example is how Shanghai’s major port, fully automated with 5G communications, handles 44 million containers per year while Long Beach, California, America’s largest port facility, ships only 8 million containers a year and is a significant bottleneck in the U.S. economy.
That’s just the beginning. “The role of 5G broadband in the Fourth Industrial Revolution is comparable to the role of railroads in the First Industrial Revolution: it is a carrier technology that enables a range of other technologies,” Goldman writes. “The productivity enhancement will be enormous.” The effects will be everywhere. “Ultimately,” says Goldman, “the country that dominates global supply chains will dominate the currency system.” Hit hardest, he suggests, could be the U.S. dollar, long the world’s reserve currency. Goldman’s bleak conclusion: “The destructive consequences of the Great Reset for the productivity of the Western industrial nations may well hand the leadership of the world economy to China by default.”
Like Goldman, Douglas Murray too laments how the Great Reset will exacerbate the West’s failure to meet the China challenge. To the prolific British author and journalist, the Great Reset is no conspiracy theory but a gigantic exercise in misdirection facilitated by a banal set of prescriptions that provided politicians with a new vocabulary of cliches. “Building back better” and regarding the pandemic emergency as a new opportunity buried what Murray regards as the most urgent priority: a “clinical, careful and failsafe analysis how this novel corona virus managed to come out of Wuhan.” Instead, Murray writes in “China, Covid-19, Realpolitik, and The Great Reset,” governments “immediately moved onto a restructuring of…free societies that seemed already to be sitting there, ready-made.”
To Regenerate Rather than to Reset
If the foregoing suggests a demanding reading exercise, you would not be mistaken, yet the message is clear and will be appreciated by any reader: a world run by unaccountable, faceless technocrats in remote institutions proffering Stalinesque “solutions” on a global scale not only threatens individual rights and freedoms but places Western civilization itself at economic and geopolitical risk.
That said, it is not a book without humour. Two sections are laugh-out-loud funny. “You Will be Made to Laugh – Humour in the Great Reset” by Harry Stein traces American television humour from the uninhibited days of All in the Family to today’s politically correct, hyper-race-conscious remnants. Michael Walsh’s Grande Finale, “What an Artist Within Me Dies,” is a tour-de-force of satire and irony which draws parallels between the “Davoisiemes” and the doctors controlling patients in Thomas Mann’s grim novel Magic Mountain, also set in Davos.
Current events are already bearing out some of the essayists’ warnings. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine followed by sanctions on Russian natural gas have, thanks to Great Reset-compatible “green agendas” in Europe, exposed an existential energy crisis largely of Europe’s own making whose increasing number of casualties may yet include the British Pound and still another Conservative party leader.
Similarly, worldwide protests against climate-driven government assaults upon farmers, particularly in Sri Lanka and the Netherlands, are underway, even as the recent election of conservative governments in Sweden and Italy evoke the Brexit and Trump election backlashes – and will perhaps build upon them. Such events attest to Kimball’s observation of how the administrative state’s totalitarian goals have fed popular uprisings here and in Europe. “‘Populist’ is one word for the phenomenon,” Kimball writes. “A reaffirmation of sovereignty, underwritten by a passion for freedom, is another, possibly more accurate, phrase.”
Against the Great Reset is a profound and valuable gift to conservatives. All the evidence and ideas required to convincingly oppose the WEF and Schwab’s agenda are gathered in one place, eloquently and substantively argued. Remedies also are included. While no election will be won on a platform of Localism versus Globalism, this book can support the Poilievre Conservatives in meeting the challenge of offering Canadian voters not merely pushback but a platform that sets forth concrete steps towards aspirational goals that, rather than reset, regenerate Canada’s economy, environment and institutions.
Margret Kopala is a policy analyst and lead author of The Dog Bone Portfolio A Personal Odyssey into the First Kondratieff Winter of the 21st Century. It examines the history of how the technological transition cycle was identified, how it is playing out today and its implications for investors, policy makers and nations.
Source of main image: Rijdende Redactie/Shutterstock.