Victor Davis Hanson: The Great Regression
Authored by Victor Davis Hanson via AmericanMind.org,
“The following is an excerpt from Michael Walsh’s forthcoming book, Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order, which will be published by Bombardier Books and be available October 18, 2022. Walsh has gathered a series of essays from among eighteen of the most eminent thinkers, writers, and journalists—including the American Mind’s own James Poulos, as well as Claremont Senior Fellows Michael Anton and the late Angelo Codevilla—to provide the first major salvo in the intellectual resistance to the sweeping restructuring of the western world by globalist elites.”
The Great Reset was first concocted at the World Economic Forum in Davos by its founder Klaus Schwab as a way to assemble together global success stories like himself. His idea apparently was that grandees who have done well for themselves could do even better for the rest of us—if these anointed could just be unbound and given enough power and authority to craft rules for nearly eight billion of the planet’s ignorant.
A word of caution is needed about the pretentious and supposedly benign signature title of the Great Reset project. Assume the worst when the adjective “great” appears in connection with envisioned fundamental, government-driven, or global political changes. 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. So often, the adjective “great” is a code word of supposed enlightened planners for radical attempts at reconstruction of a society that must be either misled or forced to accept a complete overhaul.
When “great” is applied to a proposed transnational comprehensive revolution, we should also equate it with near religious zealotry. “The Great Reset,” after all, in all its green and “woke” glory, with all of its credentialed and “expert” devotees, is still a faith-based rather than scientific effort. Its spiritual predecessor was perhaps the eighteenth-century “Great Awakening” of Protestant evangelicalism that swept the eastern seaboard of colonial America in reaction to the secularism of the Enlightenment. But this time around the frenzy is fueled more by agnostics who worship secular progressive totems such as Al Gore or Greta Thunberg.
Given the Davos elite’s cosmic ambitions, “great” also conjures up a messianic reference to God’s “Great Plan” that should from on high reorder earthly life under a few trusted religious authorities. It recalls the notion of Alexander the “Great” of a brotherhood of man, which supposedly was to fuse conquered peoples into one vast and enlightened east-west, Persian-Hellenistic empire—albeit after, rather than before, eastern tribes were conquered, and sometimes slaughtered, in efforts to achieve a common, centrally planned purpose.
To reassure a shared brighter post-Covid-19 path ahead, Schwab drops most of the familiar globalist names that resonate power, money, seriousness, and wisdom. And the Great Resetters are now quite familiar: the world’s third or fourth richest man, Bill Gates, coming off his denials of palling around with the late Jeffrey Epstein; Jack Ma, the Chinese multibillionaire and Alibaba CEO apparently now “forcibly disappeared” by the Chinese communist government for too many candid speeches; the septuagenarian Prince Charles whose long anticipated monumental accomplishments apparently must still await his ascension to the British throne; the polymath Dr. Anthony Fauci who has laced his 2020 “noble lie” assessments of wearing and not wearing masks or achieving and not achieving herd immunity in terms of climate change, race, Chinese cooperation, and global progressive expertise; John Kerry, one of the multilateralist architects of the Paris Climate Accord and Iran Deal; and the usual rotating leaders of the U.N., IMF, World Bank, and the European Central Bank.
In its post-Covid-19 global comprehensiveness, the Great Reset has ambitions to be our greatest “woke” project yet. 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. Reset offers us a global Fabian socialist future, repackaged as a European Union-like top-down diktat. But above all, the agenda incorporates the pop insights of various half-educated corporate billionaires. All now find themselves in a secure enough position to dabble with Trotskyite ideas—to be foisted upon others not so fortunate and lacking their own exemptions from the toxicity of the elite’s theories.
The same linguistic suspicions hold true of the use of the noun “Reset.” It assumes a year-zero arrogance that all that came before was flawed. And all that will follow, we are assured, will not be so defective. Such absolutism is reminiscent of former President Barack Obama’s grandiose promise on the very eve of the 2008 election: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America”—a transformation that birthed the Tea Party revolt just two years later, during the 2010 midterm elections, one of the greatest conservative political pushbacks of the past seventy years.
We remember that just four months after Obama’s promises of transformation, the romance of fundamental change went international with the idea of a foreign policy “reset” that focused on a new détente with Vladimir Putin. The idea was inaugurated in 2009 by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on the assumption that Putin’s past territorial aggressions had arisen from an absence of dialogue and ecumenical outreach from the prior “unilateralist” George W. Bush administration. Bush supposedly had wrongly sanctioned Putin for his 2008 miniature war with Georgia that resulted in the Russian absorption of South Ossetia. And the go-it-alone “cowboy” Bush apparently had also unduly polarized Putin and thus wet the ex-KGB operative’s beak for additional irredentist acquisition.
The reactive makeover that followed from the Obama-Clinton “reset” was unfortunately an utter failure. Its pompous declarations and talk of “listening” and “outreach” ended in fresh Russian aggressiveness, most notably in the 2014 Russian invasions of both Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Such appeasement created the original seeds for Putin’s eventual spring 2022 catastrophic Russian invasion of most of Ukraine and attack on Kyiv. In addition, Russia earlier in 2013 had reentered the Middle East, on Secretary of State John Kerry’s 2011 invitation, after a three-decade hiatus. Then followed Russia’s informal partnerships with both Iran and China, and Moscow’s much greater and more comprehensive crackdowns on internal dissidents. In all talks of the Great Reset, we should then recall that Vladimir Putin apparently interpreted “reset” as American laxity to be leveraged rather than as magnanimity to be reciprocated. In cruder terms, Americans speaking loudly while carrying a twig was no way to “reset” Putin.
The telltale noun “Revolution,” of course, also makes its appearance frequently in Great Reset rhetoric, specifically in connection to Klaus Schwab’s 2017 bestselling book, The Fourth Industrial Revolution. In it, Schwab makes the now familiar argument that the internet, computers, electronic communications, artificial intelligence, and the new global interconnectedness of the prior “Third Revolution” have at last synchronized into wonderful harmony.
The supposedly never-before-seen, never-imagined fusion of the paradigms of economic, social, cultural, and political life offers us a once-in-a-lifetime—or, rather, last—chance to exploit them—even if most of us are not sufficiently equipped to appreciate the opportunity. Yet Schwab makes the fundamental error that these new technologies act as independent drivers of the way people behave and think, rather than as accelerants that nonetheless have not changed ancient fixed and predictable human behavior.
In Schwab’s way of thinking, imagine that a modern computerized high-tech pump sends forth two thousand gallons of water a minute, and therefore its essence, “water,” is now likewise “new” and different from what emerged for millennia at a rate of a gallon a minute from preindustrial hand pumps. Again, we fools outside the Davos agenda would apparently mistakenly believe that greater volume had not much altered from antiquity water’s molecular structure, chemical properties, and use in the natural world.
A glimpse of the idea that Davos-like elites can gather to discuss reset planning in an age of paradigm-changing technology is popular at the national level. A good example is the invitation-only conference on entertainment, technology, finance, and communications held each summer in Idaho at the Sun Valley Resort, hosted by the investment bank of Allen & Company. In 2021, the usual corporate and media globalist suspects showed up, among them Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings, ViacomCBS (now Paramount) chairwoman Shari Redstone, Disney chairman Robert Iger, New York City’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg, GM CEO Mary Barra, WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, Discovery CEO David Zaslav, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, and film and television producer Brian Grazer. The premise was Platonic. A meritocracy—chosen by the metrics of either acquired or inherited wealth, influence, celebrity, or a corporation’s ability to influence millions—immune from private bias and guided by reason, should be given latitude to override the dangerous emotions of the masses.
So there are plenty of linguistic reasons alone to be suspicious of the grandiose notion of a top-down, international, and fundamental transformation of the way the world is supposed to work…