In many of his recent Facebook posts, Craig Kelly has talked of “The Great Reset”, when all manner of dire things would be forced upon us by “global elites” at the United Nations.
Like me, you may have wondered if there was any reality to “The Great Reset”, or if it was just another conspiracy theory. It turns out it is both.
What is the Great Reset?
The Great Reset is a proposal by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to help the world recover from “the political, economic and social disruptions” of the Covid-19 crisis, and “build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being”. WEF says the pandemic has weakened economies and we need to rebuild them and the impetus to fight climate change
That idea sounds wonderful to me, if I can believe it. But is there more here than meets the eye?
The World Economic Forum
I have heard of the World Economic Forum, but I had never really thought about what it was. I guess I had assumed it was some kind of intergovernmental body like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). But it isn’t.
WEF is a community of 1000 wealthy and innovative global businesses that was formed 50 years ago this month. Membership is by invitation only. Its stated mission is “improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas”. These aims are supposed to be achieved via public-private partnerships.
WEF holds an annual meeting every year in Davos, Switzerland, where several thousand business leaders, politicians and others discuss global issues. While these meetings have no authority to make changes, they are seen by many as being influential. The Australian government generally sends a representative.
Criticisms of WEF
While WEF’s stated aims sound positive, the organisation has been criticised on several different grounds:
- It is seen by many humanitarian and leftists organisations as being an unrepresentative body serving the interests of global elites without any community or government oversight (see example references at end of post).
- Particularly criticised has been an agreement between WEF and UN to cooperate on achieving sustainable development goals, but which also gives WEF additional access to the UN. Critics say goverments are in danger of being bypassed by business interests.
- While WEF has supported sustainability, action on climate change and human wellbeing, critics say its efforts are token and generally limited in their achievements. Some say its aims have been lower taxes and less regulation of business rather than any benefit to the rest of us.
The Great Reset
The Great Reset is the name WEF has given to its 2020 program to respond to the economic and human cost of the Covid-19 pandemic, which includes the health impacts of the pandemic plus unemployment, global debt and a large financial downturn. WEF says we must rebuild economies, restructure capitalism and commit to sustainability and addressing climate change.
Some governments seem to be supportive – e.g. Canada’s Justin Trudeau and US President Elect Joe Biden have voiced some level of support, or at least for the concept of “building back better“. Likewise the IMF is enthusiastic.
Perhaps more surprising, Greenpeace and the Prince of Wales have come out in favour. The Australian Greens used to be critical of WEF, but recently Senator Rice said The Great Reset is a “very modest World Economic Forum initiative aiming for co-operation among global stakeholders”.
The Great Reset involves three core components:
1. Steering financial markets towards fairer outcomes
- improved government coordination of taxation, finance and regulation, to produce more equitable and sustainable outcomes
- improved trade, and
- a “stakeholder economy” where companies are more responsible to all those who have a stake in their actions, and not just to shareholders.
2. Government investments
Government investments and economic stimulus should be coordinated to produce more resilient, equal and sustainable outcomes globally. This would include investment in “green” infrastructure.
3. Harnessing technological innovation
Properly directed, technological progress can be utilised to address health and social challenges. The pandemic has shown how scientific, medical and industrial inputs can be used to address the common good in a crisis, and this should continue and broaden.
Critics of the Great Reset
All that sounds good, but criticisms of the proposal have been widespread.
Humanitarians and “the left”
Some humanitarian organisations and commentators on the “left” have criticised The Great Reset for being global elites attempting to bypass governments and seek to impose their own agenda on the common people.
- Activist Naomi Klein says it is another example of the WEF program to “further enrich the already wealthy and restrict democratic liberties”, while all the time giving an appearance of doing good. She predicts it includes “some good stuff that won’t happen and some bad stuff that certainly will“.
- The Sociable sees it as an attempt to use the Covid pandemic to carry forward WEF’s long time agenda to allow un-elected bureaucrats to “steer society towards massive surveillance & control”.
- The christian Gospel Coalition is concerned that the reset won’t achieve its laudable goals of “justice, sustainability, and digitalisation”.
Right wing and capitalist groups are not so keen either. They fear their free market might be at risk.
- The Nation Review Capital Matters criticised the idea of stakeholder capitalism (how could it ever work in practice?). It sees the reset as corporatism, which is contrary to the free market capitalism it clearly endorses.
- Australian MPs Matt Canavan and Pauline Hanson have expressed concerns that The Great Reset is socialist and would take away personal freedoms.
- John Mauldin writing in Forbes, sees the need for changes in societies and economies, but believes the WEF proposal will benefit the rich more than the rest. However he thinks it won’t happen.
- The Heartland Institute, writing from a climate change denial and free market perspective, obviously sees the Reset as a threat to the free market and to the fossil fuel interests it seeks to protect.
A number of conspiracy theories have grown up around the Great Reset, and it is clear it is these that have influenced Mr Kelly. Not all conspiracy theories contain the same details, but here’s a quick rundown of ideas doing the rounds (references at end of post):
- The Covid-19 pandemic is either a hoax, or a deliberate plan by a cabal of “globalist” leaders, politicians and organisations (UN, IMF, WEF, etc) to instil fear and allow them to establish a new world order.
- The Great Reset is the next step, a “great deception”, that pretends to renew the global economy and social order and “build back better”. But it will actually take away freedoms and replace company “shareholders with left wing bureaucrats and climate change zealots”.
- The methods of coercion will include compulsory vaccination (which will install microchips inside us all), our DNA being obtained from Covid tests and used in some nefarious way, and isolation camps for those who resist.
- Donald Trump was the only world leader who could stop the plan, and soon he will be gone (many conspiracy theories took off afterJoe Biden won the election).
- The end result will be a totalitarian regime where there is no private property – “you’ll own nothing and you’ll be happy”.
- Right wing conspiracy theorists tend to see the conspiracy as green and Marxist/socialist, taking away individual and financial freedoms, with a climate action agenda. Left wingers fear loss of personal freedoms, they tend to liken the future restrictions to Nazism, and they blame big Pharma, Bill Gates and billionaires.
- Support for the conspiracy theories has come from Fox, Sky News, QAnon, far right politicians and Russian propaganda.
Craig Kelly has taken up many of these features and claims in recent Facebook posts. The conspiracy theories connect three of his major themes, climate change, Covid-19 and dictatorial governments. He stresses the connection with the UN and “global elites”.
If a powerful global cabal was plotting to enslave us all in some way, there is probably no way we could know for sure, nor disprove it. So conspiracy theories have fertile ground in which to grow.
And in this case, there is a factual basis to the story – the actual Great Reset proposed by WEF. It purports to be a plan to do a number of things that appear to be worthwhile, and it is difficult for any of us “normal people” to know whether good will actually result, or not. It is good to be hopeful but wise to be wary. It is interesting that critics come from both the left and right.
But the conspiracy theories are somewhat easier to ignore.
- The WEF has no authority to tell Australia what to do, and it seems unlikely that the present government would agree to some of the good proposals (like climate change action), let alone the loss of private property!
- The idea that the coronavirus was manufactured has been rejected by scientists (unless of course they are all in on the conspiracy!).
- It is a little too convenient for Fox, Sky, Heartland and the rest to promote fears about climate action, Covid, vaccinations and Marxism to further their own agendas. A serious attempt by the business sector to address climate change would be threat to them.
- There have long been exaggerated fears of global conspiracies – the United Nations, the illuminati, the socialists, big business, etc – but none of them have come to pass (so far). It is hard not to think this is all just more of the same.
While global elites and billionaires may be ripping us off, it seems to me that there are more concrete inequalities and rorts much closer to home. Focusing on global conspiracies can take our minds off more obvious problems we can actually do something about.
A supposed climate change conspiracy makes it easier (for some) to disregard the science and avoid taking the action urgently required.
Mr Kelly would serve the Hughes electorate better if he took less notice of global conspiracy theories and creating fear in his followers’ minds unnecessarily. He would do well to follow the facts on climate change and focus his attention on preventing dishonesty and mismanagement in his own government.
WEF & the Great Reset
- The Great Reset, How the world can ‘reset’ itself after COVID-19 – according to these experts and Now is the time for a ‘great reset’. WEF.
- What is the Great Reset agenda and is there need for concern? Adept Economics.
- Great Reset. Wikipedia.
- FIAN International, an international NGO fighting for improved global food and nutrition, fears this is a takeover of the UN by corporate interests whose track record in humanitarian and environmental areas is very poor. The Transnational Institute (TNI), an international research and advocacy institute committed to building a just, democratic and sustainable world shares the same fears.
- The Business and Human Rights Resource Centre shares the same fears that governments will be bypassed in international decision-making.
- Independent or leftist media have similar concerns. EuroNews sees the WEF as become more effective and thus more powerful than the UN in addressing economic and other global issues. Open Democracy thinks the UN agreement gives multinational corporations influence over matters of global governance.
Great Reset – critics and conspiracies
- Great Reset or grating global conspiracy theory? Either way, don’t dismiss genuine anxiety. Sydney Morning Herald, Nov 2020.
- The Great Reset Conspiracy Smoothie. Naomi Klein, Dec 2020.
- A ‘Great Reset’ Is Coming… But Not For Capitalism. John Mauldin, Forbes, Nov 2020.
- The coronavirus pandemic ‘Great Reset’ theory and a false vaccine claim debunked. Jack Goodman and Flora Carmichael, BBC Reality Check. Nov 2020.
- How the ‘great reset’ of capitalism became an anti-lockdown conspiracy. Quinn Slobodian, Guardian, Dec 2020.
- The Great Reset: Wild new coronavirus conspiracy theory takes hold. Benedict Brook, News.com.au, Nov 2020.
- A skeptical look at the ‘great reset’: a technocratic agenda that waited years for a global crisis to exploit. Tim Hinchcliffe, The Sociable, Nov 2020.
- The Great Reset: If Only It Were Just a Conspiracy. Andrew Stuttaford, Nation Review Capital Matters, Nov 2020.
- Global Elites Announce ‘Great Reset’ Plan—And It’s Even More Radical Than The Green New Deal. Justin Haskins, Heartland Institute, July 2020.
- ‘Great Reset’ in Davos at the forefront of a ‘great deception’ in the free world. Sky News, Nov 2020.