Continuing today, and for the next 13 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 II: THE POLITICAL
Excerpt from "Resetting the Educational Reset," by Angelo M. Codevilla
In 2020, the self-proclaimed “key global governmental and business leaders” who meet yearly in Davos, Switzerland, issued a statement that “the Covid-19 crisis” showed the “inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions of multiple systems—from health and financial to energy and education.” From this, there ensued “global context of concern for lives, livelihoods and the planet.” The statement promises to answer this through a “Great Reset Initiative.” By that initiative the authors intend to change “the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models and the management of a global commons.” This is to result, no less, in “a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.”
By, of, for Whom? And for What?
The “initiative” does not say what the “inconsistencies, inadequacies and contradictions” under which Western health economics, and education have been laboring, how or what the Covid-19 episode taught us about them, whose is the “global context of concern,” what that concern and that context might be, how alleged problems ought to be remedied, or what these words might mean. It does not argue for specific measures because it is not about convincing. Instead, it is an attempt to induce, cajole, perhaps force nonstakeholders (i.e., ordinary people), into letting their lives be reordered according to the stakeholders’ judgment. That judgment’s basis is these very stakeholders’ claim that the Covid affair showed Western civilization’s failings, and that they know better ways to improve efficiency and enhance dignity. Their authority lies solely in their claim to authority.
They claim to act on behalf of “a global multi-stakeholder network,” meaning such as Bill Gates and George Soros, Jamie Dimon, and other corporate and governmental figures. But mostly the initiative is by, of, and for whomever hungers for a touch of all that coolness, power, and money. Least of all does the initiative argue why these prominent persons should have any right to change the way we live, or why anyone should follow them. Its boldness and lack of foundation may be exceeded only by the authors’ chutzpah.
Chutzpah, because the initiative’s authors—the lords of Davos—are themselves chiefly responsible for turning a virus with an overall infection/fatality rate well within the range of ordinary flus, into a catastrophe for billions of people. Covid-19’s dire effects came almost exclusively because the government, business and educational leaders, stakeholders, and others of the sort who meet at Davos propagated and weaponized a patent untruth—that the virus is some sort of plague—while knowing and hiding the truth. To promote their own self-interest in power, they lied, causing havoc, pain, and death. Their guilt is very great indeed.
The initiative’s claim to represent something new tops off its fraud. In fact, its august personages have been increasing their near-total control of public life in the West over the past half century. In every field of endeavor, they have set the tone and the reigning priorities. Hence the Great Reset, far from a proposal for new ways of living, is an attempt to tighten Davos Man’s grip on our lives and to foreclose alternatives to the way of life that they have been in the process of imposing on us, and that the rest of us are now stubbornly rejecting.
Education tops the list of the aspects of public life with which Americans are dissatisfied. The Covid affair contributed to the dissatisfaction by forcing millions to become acquainted with what happens in K–12 classrooms. College students’ exclusion from campuses also has led Americans to question as never before how important their sons and daughters actually being there really is.
The closer one looks at education today, the more one sees that the dumbing down and perversion of America to which people object most strongly is the continuation of a century-old decay in our civilization. Problems with education bespeak civilizational ones, of which the phenomenon of Davos Man is but one manifestation.
Education Feeds Civilization
Any civilization is the totality of the language, habits and ideas in which people live and move—the human reality that defines their practical limits. To see how grossly unequal to one another civilizations are, it is enough to glance at how much or little understanding of reality the languages they speak contain—what any given language enables, or not. We are accustomed to Greek, Latin, English, French, Italian, German, and other languages with their massive dictionaries full of definitions, pronouns, tenses, moods, and concepts, all tied together by grammar that flows from logic. When we speak these languages correctly, we hardly realize that we are wielding powerful tools of reason, developed over thousands of years.
Without going to any depth in the debate between the human possibilities that nature and nurture provide, enough experiments have been carried out that show that nature does not limit babies born into primitive tribes to lives near the level of quadrupeds, just as it does not endow the offspring of PhD’s with high IQs. Quantification is unnecessary for us to know that much of civilization depends on the habits of body, heart, and mind into which we are civilized.
We may never have heard of Plato’s prescription that the body and mind are best trained for reason by physical discipline, that the right kind of music enhances these and the wrong kind hinders it. We may no longer play musical instruments as much as earlier generations. And yet all who are part of Western civilization carry with us, among
other things, a musical heritage based on mathematics and melody that also sets us apart from other civilizations.
Aristotle tells us Westerners that our capacity to speak is for the purpose of persuading each other about right and wrong, better and worse. To do that, and so that we might not confuse one another, the words we speak and think must have well-defined relationships with reality. That is why common, matter-of-course acceptance of these meanings—embodied in dictionaries—is so essential. When asked questions about what is around us, we in our civilization answer ordinarily with yes or no, though we probably never heard that Jesus Christ told us that this is how we should. But Westerners are peculiar. When we hear Japanese and others answer plain questions not with yes or no but with the equivalent of “I hear you” and “as you please,” it does not take us long to conclude that they are less interested in objective reality than they are in relative power.
And why should anyone pay less attention to relative power, to getting along with those more powerful than ourselves, than about what is true and false? We do because we believe that God created the heavens and the Earth intelligibly, and created each of us equal to one another. This is our civilization’s chief peculiarity. But, like every other civilization, all its parts are subject to the ever-rolling stream of biological deaths and births. For renewal, each civilization depends on
educating each successive generation.
How Education Changes Us
What, then has education been doing to our civilization? The very concept of IQ, the Stanford-Binet test, and things similar, is, as its critics argue, a cultural construct—less a measure of potential than of capacities already developed. It’s no surprise that persons growing up in environments which stimulate and enable the development of human possibilities do in fact develop more of these. Some studies suggest that what each generation conveyed to the next made those generations more intellectually/morally potent than their predecessors through the early twentieth century but that this process has reversed itself over about a half century and average IQ has dropped by some fourteen points. The decline seems to have come at the top of our civilizational pyramid. Speculation about the causes is less relevant than noting the effects.
But the deepest philosophical causes are not in dispute. After Descartes’s Discourse on Method reduced reality into something wholly comprehensible by truncating it, the very peaks of Western philosophy reversed the relationship between reality and the observer. Kant and Hegel’s “idealism” is neither more nor less than the further affirmation that the mind, for its own sovereign convenience, can take possession of what it perceives. From these philosophical peaks, any number of streams of far less sophisticated thought have flowed, which effectively and explicitly place the mind’s product under the sway of man’s will, and hence of man’s various interests.
The intellectual mechanism is straightforward: presume to abolish the objective status of what you see and presume to retake possession of what you then supposed to be reality based on what matters to you...
Next week: an excerpt from "Big Tech: Sacred Culture or Cyborg Rapture?" by James Poulos.