The Great Reset? No Thanks

These are disconcerting times we are living in, and prior assumptions about the way the world works are being blasted out of the sky like so many fairground ducks. Since the virus panic took hold early in 2020, governments, corporations and their media accomplices have fallen over themselves in an attempt to force the notion on us that there will be no going back to what was considered normal in 2019. Radical change, they tell us, is on the way and we had better get used to it. There is no alternative.

Nowhere is this more clearly laid out than in the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) so-called Great Reset. This radical manifesto, written by the Bond villainesque Chairman Schwab, lays out a future in which an authoritarian commissariat uses an array of high-tech systems to micromanage our everyday lives, with everything from the widespread adoption of DNA altering vaccines, universal basic incomes replacing wages, digital currencies replacing cash, and the ownership of personal property being replaced by a system of sharing and on-demand services. It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn’t.

Just as our work will be done by robots, neither will we need to bother thinking too much, as much of this will be performed on our behalf by computer algorithms which already know us better than we do. Leisure, learning and socialising will increasingly take place in a virtual world powered by artificial intelligence, negating the need for us to be together in the flesh.

If you want to get a glimpse into how this planned utopia will be, look no further than this fictional sci-fi piece by the Danish politician Ida Auken, which features on the WEF’s main website. In it, she envisages ‘her city’ (which, from the accompanying images, is clearly Copenhagen), where “ … we don’t pay any rent, because someone else is using our free space whenever we do not need it. My living room is used for business meetings when I am not there.

In Ida’s city, everything is free, including herself. She is free to take a bike ride in the fresh air (pollution and cars have been done away with), cook herself a nice meal using a borrowed pasta machine dropped off by a drone, and dress up in any number of outfits she chooses, which are also not hers. The only cost she has to contend with in this carefree life is the cost of her own personal autonomy and privacy, as government surveillance pervades every aspect of her life. But, hey, she’s got nothing to hide, so it’s a small price to pay in her view, as she says:

Once in awhile I get annoyed about the fact that I have no real privacy. No where I can go and not be registered. I know that, somewhere, everything I do, think and dream of is recorded. I just hope that nobody will use it against me.” Nevertheless, after this brief spell of reflection she concludes, “All in all, it is a good life. Much better than the path we were on …

It isn’t all love and light in Ida’s world, however. Sadly, she tells us she worries for the unwashed deplorables and misfits who had chosen to live outside the city in the hinterlands. With great concern, she tells us about “those we lost on the way” who – for incomprehensible reasons – “live different kind of lives outside of the city. Some have formed little self-supplying communities. Others just stayed in the empty and abandoned houses in small 19th century villages.”

I don’t know about you, but the idea of living in a ‘self-supplying’ (?) community of quaint old houses in the countryside, instead of living in a sterile rented box within a re-enacted movie set of Logan’s Run is rather appealing, and I bet the social scene is a whole lot funkier. As a matter of coincidence, I re-watched Logan’s Run (1976) recently for the first time in decades – and this time not just so I could see Jenny Agutter disrobing in an ice chamber. For those who don’t know, the story is of a future Utopian society within a vast dome where every want and need is provided for and decisions are made by a computer. The citizens are hedonists, and can pretty much do as they please, within the narrow bounds decided by the Computer.

The only downside to Logan’s synthetic world is that, to prevent overpopulation, the happy citizens get ‘recycled’ in a specially observed ceremony when they hit 30, with a crystal on their palms indicating how much time they have left. When it flashes red, it’s time to start deciding what music you want played at your recycling ceremony. Naturally, our hero Logan has a suspicion that it’s all a sham and manages to escape into the outside world which turns out to be a ruin-filled forest where once stood Washington DC. And yes, while the acting may be hammy, the interactions of the main characters a bit outmoded, and the special effects – well – special, the story strikes a deep enough chord to keep you glued to the screen. 

Logan’s Run, the bit when they find themselves in the White House wondering what the hell ‘democracy’ was

On the other hand, the first thing that strikes you about Ida Auken’s fabulous vision of the future is how unimaginative it is. She claims that it is a just a bit of harmless fun, a kind of thought experiment, but the fact that it’s being touted by the WEF is telling. Haven’t we been having this kind of green techno-utopian hallucination for several decades already? Heck, it’s 2020 and most of us don’t live in shiny, wealthy enclaves of prosperity, we instead bide our time working badly paid jobs in insalubrious towns and suburbs that are often covered in litter and graffiti and dog mess; the kinds of places where you don’t have to look too far to find gnawing poverty, mental breakdown and spiritual despair. John Michael Greer puts this succinctly in his latest post on his Ecosophia blog, titled The Great Leap Backward:

It’s not just that life in the year 2020 doesn’t feature the domed cities and space colonies it was supposed to, or in particular that it lacks the limitless material abundance that was promised so freely not so many years ago. It’s that life in the year 2020 is looking decidedly shabby even by comparison with life in the recent past.  The grand march of progress from the caves to the stars wasn’t supposed to result in a future of grubby, violent, and dysfunctional cities, entrenched rural poverty, crumbling infrastructure, failing public health, and the pervasive crapification of everyday life—and yet that’s where we are.”

Indeed. The second noteworthy thing about Auken’s fantasy is that it seems not to be much more than a tired old set of bullet points dressed up as first-person prose. This shouldn’t be surprising, I’ve done enough editing work for corporate executives in the past few years to know that the bullet point list is considered the pinnacle of artistic expression. Often it is sanctified and enshrined by the silver screen of the PowerPoint presentation, or suspended in space beside a glowing globe as a backdrop to a TEDx talk. 

There are other questions one could ask about the sci-fi 2030 Utopia envisaged by Auken, such as where do all the high-tech resources come from that enable the functioning of society? Who mines the cobalt and lithium for them? Who decides what is permissible and what is not permissible in the absence of democracy? Where does the energy come from given that every honest assessment of ‘green’ energy indicates it can only provide a small fraction of the amount we currently get from (albeit rapidly depleting) fossil fuels? Why are no positive human qualities, such as genuine empathy, integrity, courage, self-awareness and love mentioned, while mindless consumption and a craven need for unaccountable authority is? And who exactly does one protest to if one receives a letter a week before your 30thbirthday telling you to report to your local recycling centre? 

Funnily enough, I’ve encountered the mindset of the Great Resetters before when I lived in Copenhagen and worked as a newspaper editor, which I wrote about here. During the 2009 Climate Conference I spoke to the then environmental chief at the city council who told me, without any trace of irony, that if everyone on the planet lived like Copenhageners then there would be ‘no environmental problems’. And yet, when I looked around, Copenhagen was like any other rich world city: filled with cars, covered in concrete, and with a level of consumption and material privilege that was one of the highest anywhere in the world. The level of disconnect was clear. 

Are these really the geniuses we are up against? Most senior members of the WEF, such as Chairman Schwab, are just that: seniors. Nearing the ends of their lives and having lived for so long in a luxurious bubble, these doddering has-beens are little more than corporate aristocrats, surrounded by sycophants, yes men and private security details. Could it be that these geriatric dreamers, facing corporeal collapse, are merely projecting their desperate narrative of control onto the world at large? They push out fresh faced and naive politicians like Ida Auken to be their spokespeople, confidant that their message will be lapped up. The young and/or impressionable, who stripped of their own indigenous cultural narratives or befuddled by the techno smog of war, then blast out these scripted solutions via their Twitter accounts and through opinion pieces in their captured media platforms as if it were the Word of God. 

Unable to see people as anything more than unimportant meat robots who can be pushed around, organised, injected, and got rid of at will, the wannabe masters of the universe have become blind to the idea that those outside their bubble might have the basic intelligence to see that their Great Reset won’t actually be all that great for them. In fact, if they want to know what the unintended consequences of their revolutionary wet dream might look like, they should just ask a Cambodian older than 45, or anyone who has read up on the Russian revolution or Mao’s Great Leap Forward. When it comes to the odds of the Great Reset succeeding, history is firmly against them.

But, in the absence of a knowledge of history, these senile elites should perhaps be careful about the forces they unleash as they circle the plughole of their own irrelevance, for as Yeats warned in his poem The Second Coming:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere   

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst   

Are full of passionate intensity.

And yet, there are plenty of other ways to live in the world other than as a lab rat in a technocratic experiment brought into reality by the fevered minds of a senile elite. The challenge is to create a totally different narrative that is at odds with the one being forced upon us, a kind of parallel society that allows for the ongoing development of our potential. What this might look like is anyone’s guess at this stage, but imagination is boundless, as is creativity, and the less centrally controlled it is, the more likely will be its success. In fact, the more alternative realities that are created, the more chance there is that one of them will be useful to the human project. Ecology loves diversity.

So, no, I don’t think I’d like to be part of the Great Reset thanks very much, and neither should you.

8 thoughts on “The Great Reset? No Thanks

  1. I cannot personally imagine why anyone would want to live like this. So sterile, so impersonal, so joyless. But having had to step outside “the norm” several times in my life, I’m only too aware that most people are actually terrified of going against the flow and things could just drift in that direction, if it’s presented as the right thing to do/what the mythical Joneses are doing that we need to keep up with. I think we need to stay awake!

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    1. I think this is something that people can easily drift into. Maybe they think it is wrong on some level but they are not willing to rock the boat. They just think ‘if I blend in, everything will be okay.” – everyone is after an easy life. We are trained to be obedient and to welcome change from an early age. Of course, this is a recipe for disaster …

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  2. Another collapse aware acquaintance forwarded me Greer’s post and this was my reply ( mostly about Auken’s essay, not Greer’s wider points)

    ……Four thoughts on this.

    one: first, the silly essay/fairy tale is more an own goal than a serious cause for alarm. While the WEF and other power centers do have an agenda that may not have us regular folk best interests at heart, it is quite stupid to put out a fluff piece that gets the untermenschen riled up. The better way to get a handle on their actual agenda is to poke around on the WEF website. Some will feel reassured that some smart people are going to get us out of our predicament, while others will see that maybe the essay does show their hand.

    two: Greer and others are worried about the potential for WEF and other centralized powers in general to use the pandemic as a great opportunity to ramp up control for supposed better ability to manage a complex world, but will really just add to oppressive loss of freedoms. Legitimate concern, but this is nothing new. Patriot Act after 9/11 was a classic example, never let a crisis go to waste. Manipulation of public sentiment has been going on for a long long time.

    three: Greer frames this as the elite quietly shifting the narrative from a shiny Star Trek future to a consumer paradise built of smoke and mirrors, presumably because they realize the stars will never be ours. I dunno, there are a lot of voices out there. I think there are a lot that think both are still on the menu. Elon and a LOT of engineers still think we are going to Mars. Some stupid company just came out with another flying car startup, and it’s being funded generously.
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremybogaisky/2020/11/23/joby-toyota-flying-cars/?sh=773916424cb8

    four: Nothing to worry about. WEF website is all about AI, blockchain, our glorious tech future, but they really don’t seem to see the connection to energy inputs that drive it all are slowly bending downward. They even have an article in the “fourth industrial revolution” section raising concerns about how the mining industry will need to adjust, mentioning declining ore concentrations, but they just aren’t connecting the dots. Not sure if it is mass delusion/denial, or intentional spin to avoid a panicked rush to the exits. Things will crater before all this crap can deploy here in the U.S. While China has already gone further down the Orwellian path, I predict that when China’s economy tanks, the leaders will have a real rebellion on their hands. The newly created middle class and expanded elites will not want to give up their new standard of living AND stay under oppressive surveillance.

    As usual, continue to get more self reliant each year, and stay away from crowds.

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    1. Thanks Steve – I was just reading my way through some of the 538 (at present) comments on that blog post, but hadn’t got to yours yet.

      JMG makes the point that the Great Reset project will probably get tried out on a handful of the more compliant states, and henceforth it will crash messily as resource limits become apparent and the compliant become uncompliant. Like, they would never test this on Eastern Europe, where people still have clear and vivid memories of the less attractive aspects of central planning. Denmark and Sweden will probably be test cases, maybe followed by Ireland. I can’t see them rolling it out in Britain as things are too dysfunctional here as it is – successive governments have failed to organise anything to any great effect, something I regard as a positive rather than a negative. Even the Romans gave up on Britain in the end – our somewhat ‘feral’ nature thwarts the best laid plans …

      As for China … that will be an interesting one to watch. I’ve never been there, but people who have tell me that it’s a whole lot less homogenous than we are led to believe. There are very many ethnic and cultural groups who’ve made sure to hide what they consider valuable from the CCP, and may merely be biding their time.

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  3. Quote ” … the then [2009] environmental chief at the city council who told me, without any trace of irony, that if everyone on the planet lived like Copenhageners then there would be ‘no environmental problems’.”

    That took me back!
    I came across that sentiment in the 50s in comfortable tory v.large majority suburb Epsom outside London. Except in those days it wasn’t so much ‘environment’ but all those people living in poverty (think cold-water multi-occupation housing) a few miles away whose homes had survived the blitz.but were later to be gentrified or ‘developed’. These people needed to learn to live like us. Environment? Well we got Thatcher picking up litter, and there was always dogs’ muck to complain of in letters in the local paper, and so on. Some of the righteous got a bit confused in the 90s, but giving up coal (and miners) and ‘recycling’, helped solve worries about who might be to blame. And there were plenty of happy enough hedonistic shoppers who could believe in progress and IT (“technology”).

    BTW Ida Auken (not read it) sounds more like satire or parody, but I don’t suppose they do that at WEF? Seriously I go with Steve’s above comment.

    best
    Phil H

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    1. Jason
      I rather regret writing the above comment. However it has taught me perhaps something about myself. The attitudes I picked out were unrepresentative of the whole of that London suburb, let alone the whole of each individual person who gave them currency at the time. I was being a bit high and mighty. Your example of the City Council Chief on the other hand is more to the point I guess; a belief in progress or ‘development’ can blind us to realities especially the ones we have no answer to, perhaps?
      I add my thanks for your writing.
      Phil H

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  4. Jason,

    I found your new blog when I checked 22 Billion Energy Slaves. This is a great piece. Resistance to the so called “Great Reset” has already formed, even here in a small, sleepy town of western Canada. A small, but growing, number of people know something is up and they are making it known through peaceful protest.

    “The best lack all conviction, while the worst | Are full of passionate intensity.” Indeed, and I find myself wondering more and more how to resist the quiet tiptoe towards totalitarianism without putting my family at too much risk. But perhaps that’s not possible. My family and I have been making choices for over a decade now to reduce our reliance on large systems and we are definitely benefiting from those choices now. Perhaps that is the kind of the resistance we need: to create an example for others to show that life without all the modern bells and whistles ain’t so bad. But maybe I need to more.

    Thank you for your writing.
    Tim

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  5. Thanks for that, Jason. I only just read it because it had slipped down the list of emails received. Living in a small community of outsiders certainly sounds preferable to me, instead of a purposeless, sanitised shadow-life. Schwab’s utopia reminds me of the ‘Watership Down’ rabbit warren where the rabbits wanted for nothing because they were being farmed by the warrener.

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