Against the Great Reset: 'China, Covid-19, Realpolitik, and the Great Reset'

Continuing today, and for the next 15 weeks, The Pipeline will present excerpts from each of the essays contained in Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, to be published on October 18 by Bombardier Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster, and available now for pre-order at the links. 

 

PART I: THE PROBLEM

Excerpt from "China, COVID-19, Realpolitik, and the Great Reset," By Douglas Murray

It is a good rule of thumb that one should become skeptical—and perhaps also concerned—whenever everyone in a position of authority starts to say the same thing. Particularly when they also all do so at the same time.

Such a moment arrived in 2020 when nearly every Western statesman, and a few others who might aspire to that role, began to use the phrase “Build Back Better.” Boris Johnson claimed that he might have used it first. Joe Biden seemed to believe that he had. But they were hardly the only people to use it from the early days of the Covid-19 crisis onwards. Almost overnight, it seemed as though absolutely everyone was using the same words. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said it down in New Zealand. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau used it in Canada. Bill Clinton used it as he was campaigning for Joe Biden. And the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, used it as he was campaigning for himself. Even minor royals could be heard parroting the same alliterative pleasantry. According to Prince Harry, speaking from his self-imposed exile in California, the Covid pandemic “undoubtedly” presents “an opportunity for us to work together and build back better.”

The prince is no stranger to political cliché, as he showed there, managing to pack in two of them into just half a sentence. Yet nor did people far more self-aware than him at any stage seem to realize that the phrase sounded strange in the first place, never mind that they should all also be using it at the same time. A year and a half after the phrase was first being used, President Joe Biden was still struggling to get his Build Back Better bill through the U.S. Senate. The phrase became so ubiquitous that almost no one in a position of power stopped to ask the question that ought surely to have loomed.

Why should a global pandemic be seen as simply an opportunity? In the immediate aftermath of the coronavirus leaking out from Wuhan, China, millions of people around the world died from the effects of contracting that virus. The global economy contracted at an unprecedented rate. Government borrowing soared to rates unknown outside of wartime in order to furlough millions of people who would otherwise have been destitute. Entire economies—including a U.S. economy that was roaring in an election year—were suddenly forced to a halt. None of this looked like a source of optimism. Ordinarily, the mass laying off of the workforce, the racking up of unprecedented peacetime debt, and the ordered shuttering away of the citizenry in their houses would be a source of concern and fury before it was a cause for optimism and opportunity.

But with only a couple of notable exceptions, during the Covid era, Western politicians skipped the rage stage. Indeed, they even skipped over the blame stage. Just as the WHO and other compromised international bodies failed to get to the roots of the source of the virus, so most Western politicians spent zero time or political capital on the question of why the virus had been unleashed on the world in the first place. Instead, they jumped straight to the question of just how much could be achieved by the unprecedented opportunity that the virus had allegedly gifted us.

Within a little over a year, politicians themselves seemed to be laughing at the phrase, even as they could not stop using it. In October 2021, Boris Johnson’s office seemed to imagine that the British public had become so thrilled by the “build back better” tagline that it was time for some riffs on the theme. At this stage, somewhere between lockdowns umpteen and nineteen, Johnson released a number of videos on his social media pages in which the slogan build back better was posted on the screen. Johnson seemed to imagine that the British public was in a playful mood around the theme. The videos included one of him spreading butter on some pieces of toast and looking at the camera and saying “build back butter.” In a second video, with the build back better motif over it, the Prime Minister could be seen unrolling a packet of fish and chips. “Mmm” he says appreciatively, before looking at the camera and saying “Build back batter.” Terms like “pathetic” and “inadequate” would fail to do justice to such political moments.

The obvious comparison to make at this stage is with great plagues in history. And though most were of a degree of seriousness that far outweighs the effects of Covid, it is a sobering consideration. Who, for instance, viewed the so-called “Spanish flu” of a century ago as an opportunity? Who would have dared in the early months or years after that pandemic ravaged the planet to see it as an opportunity to rebuild the global economy in a different way?

There are two things that are most visibly disturbing about the political reaction to all of this. The first is the desire to leapfrog over the most obvious stage in the post-pandemic era. Which should have been a clinical, careful and failsafe analysis of how this novel coronavirus managed to come out of Wuhan. The second disturbing thing is that the leap should have immediately moved on to a restructuring of the global economy and of free societies that seemed already to be sitting there, ready-made.

The extent to which that first stage was leaped over has many reasons. But one of these undoubtedly had much to do with the incumbent in the White House when the “China virus” first came into the world. President Trump was in an election year and was understandably intent on not shuttering the U.S. economy ahead of an election. He was also keen to attribute blame toward the place where he saw the virus originating. Whether the cause of the leak was a Wuhan wet market (as was early on deemed the only permissible explanation) or the Wuhan Institute of Virology (as soon seemed likelier), Trump was keen that China got the blame for releasing the virus into the world. And there was much to be said for this. Even if the leak had been an accident, it was one that the Chinese authorities did nothing to contain, allowing flights out of the region even as the first knowledge of the virus made the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) shutter flights and regions within Chinese borders.

But keen observers will have noticed that Trump was a divisive president and that what he said was the case was strenuously pushed back against by his critics when it was true as well as when it was not. Early in 2020, as Trump continued to talk about the source of the virus, his political opponents decided to claim that identifying China as the source of the virus would lead to an upsurge in anti-Chinese racism. And so Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, for instance, not only deplored the president’s language but also implored Americans to demonstrate their contempt for the president’s “racism” in a practical way. Speaker Pelosi implored people to visit their local Chinatown and show solidarity with Chinese people. In Florence, Italy, the mayor went one better in the global game of grandstanding against Trump. On February 1, 2020, Dario Nardella urged Florentines to “hug a Chinese” person to combat racism. It is not known how many Italians contracted the virus through this demonstration of Sino-fraternalism.

The point is that from the earliest stage of the virus, the opportunity to point fingers appeared to have been queered by the fact that one of the only people in the world pointing fingers was a person who most of the political class around the world were ostentatiously opposed to. Even to speak of lab leaks or Chinese culpability in those days was to sound Trump-like, a fact that played very well indeed into the public relations campaign orchestrated by the CCP.

The effectiveness of that PR campaign was visible from the very start of the virus, and showed the extent to which a swathe of the scientific, media, and political establishments in the West were already literally or figuratively in the pocket of the CCP...

Next week: an excerpt from "Sovereignty and the Nation-State" by Roger Kimball. 

Against the Great Reset: 'Introduction'

Starting today, and continuing for the next 17 weeks, The Pipeline will present excerpts from each of the essays contained in Against the Great Reset: 18 Theses Contra the New World Order, to be published on October 18 by Bombardier Books and distributed by Simon and Schuster, and available now for pre-order at the links. 

 

Part I: the Problem

Excerpt from the Introduction: "Reset This," by Michael Walsh

What is the Great Reset and why should we care? In the midst of a tumultuous medical-societal breakdown, likely engineered by the Chinese Communist Party and abetted by America’s National Institutes of Health “gain of function” financial assistance to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, 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? What are its aspirations, prescriptions, and proscriptions, and how will it prospectively affect us? It’s a question that the men and women of the WEF are hoping you won’t ask.

This book seeks to supply the answers. It has ample historical precedents, from Demosthenes’s fulminations against Philip II of Macedon (Alexander’s father), Cicero’s Philippics denouncing Mark Antony, the heretic-hunting Tertullian’s Adversus Marcionem¸ and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s Nietzsche contra Wagner. Weighty historical issues are often best debated promptly, when something can yet be done about them; in the meantime, historians of the future can at least understand the issues as the participants themselves saw and experienced them. Whether the formerly free world of the Western democracies will succumb to the paternalistic totalitarianism of the oligarchical Resetters remains to be seen. But this is our attempt to stop it.

So great is mankind’s perpetual dissatisfaction with its present circumstances, whatever they may be, that the urge to make the world anew is as old as recorded history. Eve fell under the Serpent’s spell, and with the plucking of an apple, sought to improve her life in the Garden of Eden by becoming, in Milton’s words, “as Gods, Knowing both Good and Evil as they know.” The forbidden fruit was a gift she shared with Adam; how well that turned out has been the history of the human race ever since. High aspirations, disastrous results.

The expulsion from the Garden, however, has not discouraged others from trying. Indeed, the entire chronicle of Western civilization is best regarded as a never-ending and ineluctable struggle for cultural and political superiority, most often expressed militarily (since that is how humans generally decide matters) but extending to all things both spiritual and physical. Dissatisfaction with the status quo may not be universal—timeless and static Asian cultures, such as China’s, have had it imposed upon them by external Western forces, including the British and the Marxist-Leninists—but it has been a hallmark of the occident and its steady civilizational churn that dates back at least to Homer, Plato, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Pericles, and Alexander the Great, with whom Western history properly begins.

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, assaying the inelegant Koine, or demotic, Greek of the New Testament in Beyond Good and Evil, observed: “Es ist eine Feinheit, daß Gott griechisch lernte, als er Schriftsteller werden wollte—und daß er es nicht besser lernte”: “It’s a particular refinement that God learned Greek when he wanted to become a writer—and that he didn’t learn it better.” Nietzsche, the preacher’s son who became through sheer willpower a dedicated atheist, was poking fun at the fundamentalist belief that the Christian scriptures were the literal words of God himself (Muslims, of course, believe the same thing about the Koran, except more so). If something as elemental, as essential to Western thought as the authenticity of the Bible, not to mention God’s linguistic ability, could be questioned and even mocked, then everything was on the table—including, in Nietzsche’s case, God Himself.

With the death of God—or of a god—Nietzsche sought liberation from the moral jiu-jitsu of Jesus: that weakness was strength; that victimhood was noble; that renunciation—of love, sex, power, ambition—was the highest form of attainment. That Nietzsche’s rejection of God was accompanied by his rejection of Richard Wagner, whose music dramas are based on the moral elevation of rejection, is not coincidental; the great figures of the nineteenth century, including Darwin and Marx, all born within a few years of each other, were not only revolutionaries, but embodied within themselves antithetical forces that somehow evolved into great Hegelian syntheses of human striving with which we still grapple today.

Wagner, the Schopenhauerian atheist who staggered back to Christianity and the anti-Semite who engaged the Jew Hermann Levi as the only man who could conduct his final ode to Christian transfiguration, Parsifal. Charles Darwin, ticketed for an Anglican parsonage but mutating into the author of On the Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, and all the way to The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms. Karl Marx, the scion of rabbis who father converted to Lutheranism and, like Wagner for a time, a stateless rebel who preached that the withering away of the state itself was “inevitable”—and yet the state endures, however battered it may be at the moment.

It’s fitting that the “Great Reset of capitalism” is the brainchild of the WEF, which hosts an annual conference in the Alpine village of Davos—the site of the tuberculosis sanatorium to which the naïf Hans Castorp reports at the beginning of Thomas Mann’s masterpiece, The Magic Mountain. Planning to visit a sick cousin for three weeks, he ends up staying for seven years, “progressing” from healthy individual to patient himself as his perception of time slows and nearly stops. Castorp’s personal purgatory ends only when he rouses himself to leave—his Bildungsreise complete—upon the outbreak of World War I, in which we assume he will meet the death, random and senseless, that he has been so studiously avoiding yet simultaneously courting at the Berghof.

Central Europe, it seems, is where the internal contradictions of Western civilization are both born and, like Martin Luther at Eisleben, go home to die. And this is where the latest synthetic attempt to replace God with his conqueror, Man, has emerged: in the village of Davos, in the canton of Graubünden, Switzerland: the site of the annual meeting of the WEF led by the German-born engineer and economist Klaus Schwab, born in Ravensburg in 1938, the year before Hitler and Stalin began carving up Poland and the Baltics.

On sale Oct. 18; pre-order now.

Once more into the breach, then: behold the present volume. In commissioning sixteen of the best, most persuasive, and most potent thinkers and writers from around the world to contribute to our joint venture, my principal concern has been to offer multiple analyses of the WEF’s nostrums and in so doing to go poet Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” a few better. Then again, given the surname of the WEF’s chief, perhaps a better, more potent literary citation might be Margret’s little ditty from the Büchner/Alban Berg expressionist opera, Wozzeck (1925): In’s Schwabenland, da mag ich nit—"I don’t want to go to Schwab-land.” Nor, as Hans Castorp’s journey illustrates, should anyone wish to visit Davos-land if he prizes his freedom, his possessions, and his sanity. To the Great Resetters, we are all ill, all future patients-in-waiting, all in dire need of a drastic corrective regimen to cure what ails us.

In these pages, we shall examine the Great Reset from the top down. The eminent American historian Victor Davis Hanson begins our survey with “The Great Regression,” locating Schwab’s vision within its proper historical context. He is followed by Canada’s Conrad Black and America’s Michael Anton and their views of capitalism and socialism, with not a few attacks on conventional, osmotic wisdom that will both surprise and enthrall. Britain’s Martin Hutchinson outlines the contours of the Reset’s “Anti-Industrial Revolution,” even as the American economist David Goldman confronts both Schwab’s notion of the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” and China’s immanentizing its eschaton in real time, along with the Red Dragon’s commitment to the upending of Western civilization and its own Sino-forming of a post-Western world.

American writer, editor, and publisher Roger Kimball tackles the implications of a neofascist Reset in his essay, “Sovereignty and the Nation-State,” both of which concepts are under attack in the name of “equality,” its totalitarian successor “equity,” and the political consequences of our re-embrace of Rousseauvian concepts as applied to governments. British historian Jeremy Black discusses the misuses toward which the study of history has been and will be put to by the Resetters. The late Angelo Codevilla contributes what alas became his final essay, “Resetting the Educational Reset,” to sound the tocsin about the dangerous left turn of the once-vaunted American educational system, now reduced to a shrill, sinistral shell of its former dispassionate glory.

From Down Under, the Philippines-born Richard Fernandez twins two eternally competing faiths, religion and science; the American-born, Australian-based political sociologist Salvatore Babones contributes a remarkably clear explication of the kinds of transportation feasible under the “green energy” regimen the Reset seeks to impose upon us, and its practical and social implications. Writing from Milan, Alberto Mingardi, the director-general of the Istituto Bruno Leoni, gets to the heart of the Great Reset’s deceptive economic program with an essay concerning faux-capitalist “stakeholder capitalism” and its surreptitious replacement of shareholder capitalism in the name of “social justice.”

The Great Reset, however, is not strictly limited to matters financial, pecuniary, or macroeconomic. Social and cultural spheres are of equal importance. James Poulos looks at the Reset’s unholy relationship with the predatory Big Tech companies that currently abrogate the First Amendment by acting as governmental censors without actually being commanded by an act of Congress or, increasingly, an arbitrary presidential mandate. From British Columbia, noted Canadian author and academic Janice Fiamengo weighs in on the destructive effects of feminism upon our shared Western culture while, on the lighter side, Harry Stein examines the history of American humor—which in effect means worldwide humor—and how the leftist takeover of our shared laugh tracks has resulted in a stern, Stalinist view of what is and what is not allowed to be funny.

The British writer Douglas Murray has a go at the permissible future of Realpolitik under the panopticonic supervision of the Reset, the Chinese Communist Party, and the Covid hysterics, while the American journalist John Tierney lays out the road to civilizational serfdom that the unwarranted panic over the Covid-19 “pandemic” has triggered during its media-fueled run between 2019 and 2022. My contribution, in addition to this Introduction, is an examination of the Reset’s—and, historically, elitist tyranny’s—deleterious effects on Western culture: the very thing that gave birth to our notions of morality and freedom.

At its heart, the Great Reset is a conceited and self-loathing central-European blitzkrieg against the cultural, intellectual, religious, artistic, physical, and, most of all, moral inheritance we have received from our Greco-Roman forebears. This has been latterly shorthanded, with the rise of “wokeness,” to “white” culture. Typically racialist, if not outright racist, the cultural Marxists behind wokeness insist on reducing humanity to its shades of skin color and then claiming that although all skin colors should achieve in exact same proportions to their share in a given population, some skin colors are better than others and any skin color is preferable to white. It’s a deeply repellent principle that masquerades as a perversion of Judeo-Christianity but is in fact a simultaneous attack on individuality and merit that seeks to roll back the scientific and cultural advances of the past two millennia, wielding both science and culture as weapons against our shared technological and moral heritage.

The goal, as always, is power—the eternal fixation of the socialist Left...

Next week: an excerpt from "The Great Regression," by Victor Davis Hanson.