In Ukraine, Cold War II Meets the 'Great Reset'

Luckily for humanity, the outbreak of the Second Cold War has hampered the Great Reset project by fragmenting the international order on whose concerted coordination it is premised. The international order is split anew. For the first time since the end of Cold War I, Russian oligarchs were not welcome at the annual World Economic Forum gathering. "Russia’s absence at Davos," write Fidler and Simmons at the Wall Street Journal, "marks the unraveling of Globalization... The Davos meeting ... came to symbolize the era of globalization... Now, many participants are convinced that the era is over, its demise accelerated by the war in Ukraine."

Even before Putin's armies actually crossed the Ukrainian frontier, it was clear that an important part of the global world order had broken down. At a speech before the Munich Security Conference on Feb 19, 2022, three days before the invasion, British prime minister Boris Johnson said "we have to steel ourselves for the possibility of a protracted crisis, with Russia maintaining the pressure and searching for weaknesses over an extended period, and we must together refuse to be worn down. What Europe needs is strategic endurance, and we should focus our energies on preserving our unity and on deepening trans-Atlantic cooperation... After a generation of freedom, we’re now staring at a generation of bloodshed and misery."

Four months later, during a visit to embattled Kyiv, Johnson confirmed his prediction based on battlefield events. "I am afraid that we need to steel ourselves for a long war, as Putin resorts to a campaign of attrition, trying to grind down Ukraine by sheer brutality... the U.K. and our friends must respond by ensuring that Ukraine has the strategic endurance to survive and eventually prevail. Everything will depend on whether Ukraine can strengthen its ability to defend its soil faster than Russia can renew its capacity to attack... Our task is to enlist time on Ukraine's side."

Time running out for Plucky Little Ukraine?

Historians in the future may well regard Boris Johnson's "strategic endurance" speech as the equivalent of Churchill's Iron Curtain warning, when the unity of the anti-Nazi coalition collapsed into the first Cold War. "From Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic, an iron curtain has descended across the Continent," the old lion warned less than a year after Nazi Germany surrendered. It took a little longer after the fall of the USSR to happen, but Russia and China are also building a separate world.

Foreign Affairs puts the date the split formally began as Feb 4, 2022: "There they were, meeting in Beijing on February 4: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Shortly before the start of the 2022 Winter Olympics, the two leaders released a remarkable 5,300-word joint statement about how the partnership between China and Russia would have no limits: "the existing world order, which aspired to build a global commonwealth, had already been failing." Twenty days later, Russia invaded Ukraine.

Yet neither the Davoisie nor the Biden administration saw it coming. Instead of recognizing the pandemic that China covered up as the death knell of the global world, they saw it as a chance for its fulfillment. Up until the outbreak of the war both Europe and America were obsessed with "climate change," so when Russian oil and Ukrainian wheat went off the world market Washington was caught completely off guard by the energy crisis and threat of famine that ensued. Biden, reports Politico, is racing against time to unlock Ukraine’s trapped grain. "The Biden administration is desperate to find ways to move as much grain as possible out of the war-torn country. They estimate the blockade is holding back more than 20 million tons of grain from the world food supply, driving food prices and world hunger to near-crisis levels." The current world clearly has higher priorities than the diversity, inclusion and environmentalism envisioned by the Great Resetters. It needs in the first instance, simply to eat.

Time for a volte-face?

There are no quick fixes. The fuel crisis has forced Biden to wrench his energy policy into reverse. But even those desperate reversals, says the New York Times, "which environmentalists and many Democrats oppose because they would retard efforts to combat climate change — would have little immediate impact because it takes months for new oil wells to start producing and pipelines can take years to build." Bill Maher ripped Biden for getting off fossil fuels without a replacement and with the president now begging Saudi Arabia for oil. "But the truth is that when people get off fossil fuels before they have a replacement, they wind up going back to even worse fossil fuels," Maher added, "Germany said, 'We don’t want nuclear power anymore,' which is the cleanest, and what did they have to go back to? Coal."

Coal is what China and India have never stopped doing in a big way. "If you think the world is moving beyond coal, think again. The post-Covid economic rebound and surging electricity demand have resulted in big increases in coal prices and coal demand. Since January, the Newcastle benchmark price for coal has doubled. And over the past few weeks, China and India have announced plans to increase their domestic coal production by a combined total of 700 million tons per year. For perspective, U.S. coal production this year will total about 600 million tons." Edward Grey's famous remark from August 3, 1914 comes to mind. "The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

But today Grey might add that the oil would keep the lamps burning in China. Few realized that at best renewables would take decades to implement; that it would take trillions to revamp the grid and other infrastructure before wind and solar could be depended on to any major extent. Biden and the Western Europeans failed to account for this, or assumed that the Woke West could surreptitiously make up the difference from Russian imports indefinitely -- and are now paying the price.

A British military think tank  argues that if the West is to have any hope winning the new long war against Russia and China -- acquire strategic endurance in Boris Johnson's words -- it must reindustrialize immediately. "The war in Ukraine has proven that the age of industrial warfare is still here. The massive consumption of equipment, vehicles and ammunition requires a large-scale industrial base for resupply – quantity still has a quality of its own."

This reality should be a concrete warning to Western countries, who have scaled down military industrial capacity and sacrificed scale and effectiveness for efficiency. This strategy relies on flawed assumptions about the future of war, and has been influenced by both the bureaucratic culture in Western governments and the legacy of low-intensity conflicts. Currently, the West may not have the industrial capacity to fight a large-scale war.

Even achieving stalemate in Ukraine would mean re-shoring industry and reducing dependence on China/Russia. That would mean the end of the global world, and for the moment at least, a halt to the dream of Davos and the Great Reset. While this would be a cruel disappointment to the Left there's no help for it. The West will need vast quantities of everything Woke doesn't make to win Cold War II: food, energy, freedom, healthy demographics and testosterone. It is possible to win Cold War II or be Woke, but not both. This is the fundamental choice Western politics must wrestle with in the coming years.

Against the Great Reset: 'The Great Regression'

Continuing today, and for the next 16 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 Great Regression," by Victor Davis Hanson

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.

On sale Oct. 18: pre-order now at the links above.

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...

Next week: an excerpt from "China, Covid, Realpolitik, and the Great Reset," by Douglas Murray.

Property Rights? Not in Canada

A few years back, my wife and I were staying at a family-run country inn for a couple of weeks of R&R in the Thousand Islands, a magnet for summer visitors from around the world. Sitting on our balcony, we observed a group of Chinese tourists filing out of a tour bus, several of whom, carrying packed lunches, negotiated the rock perimeter that separated the establishment from the road, strolled across the carefully tended lawn, entered our landlady’s garden gazebo, and made themselves at home.

They proceeded to spread their lunches across the table and fell to amidst convivial chatter, oblivious to the fact that they were on clearly marked private property. Somewhat taken aback, it slowly dawned on us that they had no sense of private property, no awareness that such a concept even existed—the collectivist mindset in a nutshell, or in a gazebo. The inn’s grounds and gardens were, apparently, held in common by the people, to be enjoyed at no expense of personal investment and maintenance.

All your stuff belongs to us.

Ownership of property, as John Locke famously argued in The Second Treatise of Government, which establishes the legitimacy of “original appropriation” and rightful exclusion, is the keystone of the democratic state and the very foundation of personal liberty. Our visitors were plainly strangers to the idea, having been educated and domesticated in a totalitarian nation. What is one to make, then, of a high-placed public official in a liberal democracy who plainly shares an equivalent sensibility?

Responding to questions concerning Bill C-19, currently in its second reading before the Senate, Canada’s Justice Minister David Lametti recently claimed that “You don’t have an absolute right to own private property in Canada.” Among a series of other repressive measures, such as new luxury taxes and Climate Action Incentive payments, the bill would allow the government “to seize and cause the forfeiture and disposal of assets held by sanctioned people and entities, to support Canada’s participation in the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs Task force in light of Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.”

The problem is not only that the bill may be in violation of international law. The problem is that the bill can be readily weaponized by the government at any time against its own citizens, thereby stealing their property via a form of nationally-implemented eminent domain, exercised arbitrarily over every facet of citizens’ lives. We can’t say we weren’t warned. In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville pointed out that, without safeguards and a sense of “civic virtue,” democracies were prone to elevate tyrannical rulers intent on “penetrating into private life.”

Democracy in Canada is no different. Knowing the authoritarian proclivities of the Tyrant on the Hill, as prime minister Justin Trudeau is colloquially called, it’s a safe bet that the concept of a private self, and of the belief in personal property which anchors it, are not especially cherished by our Dear Leader, except insofar as it applies to him. Trudeau is more than capable of initiating Canada’s “illegal invasion” of his own country. His justice minister has merely expressed the prime minister’s deepest sentiments and controlling agenda.

Told ya.

Such perfectly demagogic statements uttered by the justice minister also perfectly encapsulate the state of affairs in what can no longer be considered a democratic nation. We may “have no absolute right to own private property,” which can be expropriated whenever the government desires, but the outright theft and suppression of citizens’ rights do not stop there. 

As Canada’s draconian Covid legislation and coercive vaccination policies ensured, we have no absolute right over our own bodies, a most intimate form of private property—Naomi Wolf’s The Bodies of Others is a must-read in this respect, especially as it pertains to Canada. We also have no absolute right over our own opinions, which can be whimsically banned under Bill C-36 that would legislate against “hate speech,” as conveniently defined by the authorities. We have no absolute right to our bank accounts and financial assets, once regarded as an inalienable form of private property, which can be illegally frozen at the government’s discretion, as occurred in the aftermath of the Truckers Convoy. We have no absolute right to our Charter freedoms, which, as we have learned to our cost, can be ignored or suspended at will. 

Parliament itself has become something of a joke, acting as a pedigreed club in which substantive issues affecting the lives and livelihoods of citizens will not be seriously discussed. It appears that we have no absolute right through the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to examine dodgy and controversial government documents and orders leveraged against citizens, which are increasingly sequestered under the chevron of confidentiality and solicitor-client privilege. Senator Claude Carignan unavailingly chided the evasive and supercilious deputy prime minister Chrystia Freeland in special committee treating of the Emergencies Act, frivolously invoked to suppress the Truckers’ anti-vaccine protest: “We need information and documents, not a figure skating show.”

As Rex Murphy pungently quipped in a National Post column, “Granted the committee investigating the use of the Emergencies Act is only about piddling, trivial matters: Civil Liberties. Bank Accounts frozen. Arson alleged. Property seized. Police jamming the streets. Jail without bail.” The parliamentary exchange, he continues, “is proof of how far [our leaders] have drifted from the feelings and understandings of ordinary people”—though I would add it is also evidence of how far our leaders have strayed from the basic presuppositions and principles that ground the existence of a parliamentary democracy. We have no “absolute right” to expect fairness, honor or constitutional responsibility from our elected representatives.

Freeland: all your stuff belongs to us, eh?

One recalls the catchphrase adopted in essence by Claus Schwab’s World Economic Forum (WEF) planning the New World Order, envisioned as the Great Reset: “You will own nothing and you will be happy.” The first part of the statement is true, the second part not so much. More to the point, the oligarchs, technocrats, plutocrats and directors of the administrative state promoting the Great Reset will own everything and they will be exceedingly happy. We know that Justin Trudeau and Chrystia Freeland are graduates of Schwab’s Young Leaders training programs, and are fully on board with the WEF’s globalist project to remake the world in the interests of a powerful and unaccountable elite. Our absolute rights are now the government’s absolute prerogatives.

It is as if we are watching Justin Trudeau, his cabinet and his caucus strolling across our property, entering our gazebo, and spreading their lunch across the table. The irony is that we, who once assumed that we were guaranteed property rights to our dwellings, our bodies, our opinions, our bank accounts, our need for information, and our Charter and Constitutional provisions—now watch helplessly as the political tourists who roam in and out of public office in this country are now the de facto proprietors of our legal and legitimate possessions. The experiment in confiscatory policy is occurring before our eyes as our very lives are inexorably subject to official annexation. It appears that David Lametti was correct. Indeed, we have no absolute right to anything and Canada has become the world’s shining example of the greatest act of larceny in the history of the democratic state.

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.

THE COLUMN: Dead on Arrival

At the opening of the 1950 classic film noir, D.O.A., Edmund O'Brien strides purposefully into a big-city police station, proceeds down long, endless corridors, and finally arrives at a door marked Homicide Division. "I want to report a murder," he says to the head detective. "Who was murdered?" asks the cop. "I was," replies O'Brien.

In this, year two of the dreadful administration of Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr., we Americans know just how he feels. From the moment this blustering blowhard of a United States senator of no accomplishment from a meaningless state took office in January 2021, he has been busily poisoning the country for the simple reason that he can, he wants to, and there is no one to stop him.

The beneficiary of the hinkiest election in modern American history thanks to the illegal changes in balloting occasioned by the unnecessary Covid panic, and given the narrowest possible margins of control in both the House and the Senate, the superannuated chief executive has done everything in his power to show his contempt for the American people, to damage our patrimony, and make our lives increasingly miserable. 

And yet, like O'Brien, we're not quite dead yet, and still staggering around trying to catch our murderer before time runs out. Barring the hand of God, the first opportunity we'll have to put Biden out to pasture won't come until November 2024, and while the congressional elections this fall could possibly remove both houses of Congress from the geriatric clutches of the bibulous Nancy Pelosi and the baleful Chuck Schumer, that can only stanch but not stop the country's internal hemorrhaging. Like the hapless Frank Bigelow, desperately searching in his last hours for the psycho killer who poisoned him before the "luminous toxin" kills him, we're unsure whom to trust, with both friends and foes suspects alike. 

"This can't be happening," we think, but it is. Under the cloak of Covid "emergency"—the punitive lockdowns, the destruction of our education system, the loss of social contact, the delusion that our fellow humans were carriers of a deadly disease who needed to be shunned or even imprisoned—Americans' constitutional freedoms were summarily abrogated without a shot being fired, and we were consigned to effective house arrest (and worse in places like Australia and Canada). Our freedom of movement—essential to life in a country as large as the United States of America—was drastically curtailed and our transportation system deliberately wrecked. Meanwhile the "climate change" canard continued apace, and the push for electric vehicles was intensified, even as the nation's electric grid was tangibly collapsing.

Since Robinette took office, gas prices have more than doubled, part of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve has been emptied, our hard-won energy independence achieved during the Trump era has been frittered away, and we've been reduced to begging erstwhile enemies like the "kingdom" of Saudi Arabia to do the jobs Americans just can't be allowed to do. If this looks like a conspiracy to you, don't worry: it is. And one that the conspirators have been quite open about for decades. They're a suicide cult, hell-bent on killing us as well as themselves:

Analysis has now shown that the carbon embedded in existing fossil fuel production, if allowed to run its course, would take us beyond the globally agreed goals of limiting warming to well below 2˚C and pursuing efforts to limit to 1.5˚C. The global carbon budgets associated with either temperature limit will be exhausted with current fossil fuel projects, and in fact some currently-operating fossil fuel projects will need to be retired early in order to have appropriately high chances of staying below even the 2˚C limit, let alone 1.5˚C.

Therefore, we, as over 400 civil society organizations from more than 60 countries, representing tens of millions around the world, call on world leaders to put an immediate halt to new fossil fuel development and pursue a just transition to renewable energy with a managed decline of the fossil fuel industry.

The first step in this effort is a simple one: Stop digging. No additional fossil fuel development, no exploration for new fossil fuels, no expansion of fossil fuel projects. We need to keep fossil fuels in the ground.

Just about every word in this screed is either a false premise or an outright lie. The notion of keeping global temperature increases to under 2℃ is purely arbitrary, while the idea of carbon being a pollutant is anti-humanism at its most pernicious, since we are carbon-based life forms who breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon dioxide—the very stuff of life for the green trees and fields the Left constantly celebrates, the concept of symbiosis being apparently beyond them. The unsightly forests of Brobdingnagian windmills currently uglifying landscapes around the world testify to the success of their monomania. 

Their blatantly dishonest attempts to link "climate" with weather, however, have had their intended effects on public opinion, pushed largely by propagandistic media outlets such as NPR and the New York Times, which has a whole "hub" devoted to the subject as well as a regular section on "climate and environment." It's important to note here that the Times's reach extends far beyond its direct readership, since its news judgment sets the table for every other media outlet in the country, while your tax dollars subsidize NPR's increasingly deracinated fixations on "climate change," race, and trannies. And naturally you know who's on board with the whole thing:

So those high prices for gasoline and the long, chaotic lines and canceled flights at the airports are not a bug, they're the lynchpin of the whole scheme, which is itself part and parcel of the entire Great Reset project (about which much more tomorrow; watch this space). In order for the Lords of Davos to control you they must first curtail and control your freedom of movement, and what better way to do that than to make the price of oil prohibitively expensive? First your cars stop moving, then the trucks that deliver almost everything of value, including food, to the stores. An inability to move freely and without government oversight will vanish as computers take over your automobiles and which, when they are fully electric, can be disabled at will. As they like to say: You'll own nothing, and you'll be happy
 
What better metaphor, then, for the parlous state of our national affairs than the sight of Biden on his keister after toppling off his bike over the weekend. This frail, thoroughly nasty man with some very peculiar tendencies and an immediate family that might best be described as Caligulan in its behavior, not only embarrassed himself but the country he pretends to lead. "I'm good," he said after his tumble, which may be his biggest and most brazen lie of them all.
 
In the the meantime, we keep rushing around in the dark, trying to figure out why this happening and who is doing it to us. We know the answer, but feel there's nothing we can do about it. Like Bigelow, we'd like to see the man in charge, but nobody is, not really. We can breathe and we can move, but we're not alive because we took that poison, and nothing can save us. We know who the psycho killer is, half our fellow countrymen voted for him, and the murder is taking place in full view from sea to shining sea.
 
Unless a miracle happens, we're D.O.A. and our final destination is dead ahead. 

Somewhere Near Davos, Hanging from a Cleft

The direction of the future can never be predicted or plotted with certainty; as the saying goes, man plans and God laughs. The turmoil that characterizes political affairs at the present time is a practical illustration of this proverbial truth. The array of contending variables on the contemporary national stage seems a veritable rat’s nest of identity crises and transition paradigms: civil disintegration, conservative revivalism, populist uprisings, autocratic leadership, and Globalist systematization. Which of these factors will prevail is an open question—a question which can be reformulated in terms of the distinction, lately widely discussed, between core countries and cleft countries.

A core country enjoys a stable central government, strong institutions, and a reasonable sense of unity, bound by ties of custom, economy, and heritage that allow for relative cultural harmony and political accord. One thinks of Japan. A cleft country, by contrast, is defined as a nation with cultural groupings sufficiently large and separate from one another in origin, faith, language and/or political convictions as to create profound or insoluble tensions. One thinks of worst-case scenarios like India or Yugoslavia splitting into territorial belligerents, or currently of Ukraine. Ivan Katchanovski’s Cleft Countries, written mainly for regional specialists, treats of the concept with specific reference to Ukraine and Moldova.

Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order deals with the subject on a larger, if controversial scale. According to Huntington, cultural tensions inevitably arise in “cleft countries… when a majority group belonging to one civilization attempts to define the state as its political instrument and to make its language, religion, and symbols those of the state.” The Clash of Civilizations proposed that a new kind of conflict, one centred on cultural identity, would become the focal point in the field of international relations. At the same time, cultural disparities and politically charged loyalties can and have become the focus of high-stress domestic relations as well.

The center cannot hold.

The phenomenon is treated from a somewhat different scholarly perspective in Immanuel Wallerstein’s compendious World-Systems Analysis. (See also his premonitory 2003 The Decline of American Power.) Writing from a Leftist orientation, Wallerstein provides a detailed if somewhat clotted overview of the complex mechanics of what is now called "globalization" spread across diverse fields of knowledge and practice, including professional disciplines, economic arrangements, “race, sexuality, geopolitical structures and relatively open frontiers.”

Referring to the “spirit of Davos,” Wallerstein maps and effectively endorses the globalist-inspired replacement of the nation-state in a vast, interlocking system encompassing a new kind of social and political reality. But his account of the fraught maneuverings in the international realm as it “reconfigures the world economy”—or, in the words of a WEF panelist, “recalibrates” the structures of governance, trade, finance and permitted discourse—may also be applied to the intrinsic sphere of the nation-state. As Wallerstein writes, “The moral constraints traditionally enforced both by states and by religious institutions are finding their efficacity considerably diminished.”

The concept of the “state-nation,” as opposed to the “nation-state,” has also gained some traction of late. In Crafting State Nations, Alfred Stepan et al. isolate a class of political entities characterized by “geographically concentrated ethnocommunal differences.” The attempt to weld these diverse identities into a single national unit or structure leads ultimately to internal political conflict. State-nations are volatile and subject to dissolution, in part like Huntington’s cleft countries and Wallerstein’s frail nation-states whirled asunder by the centrifugal forces of globalization. Admittedly, the difference between these state entities may appear to be more a question of terminology than of substance, although the issue here entails the forcible amalgamation of unassimilable groups and sectors. State nations are historical tinderboxes.

The situation is complicated by the rise of populist movements, such as the trucker convoys in Canada, the U.S. and other countries, which oppose both the surge of sectarian divisions and civil decay within the state as well as the drift toward globalist consolidation under the rubrics of the W.H.O., the U.N.’s Agenda 2030 and the Great Reset. Such patriot movements are intent on the restoration of cultural unity and national coherence rooted in scripture, common law, the constitutional tradition, the family and local government. The effort to build Galt-like parallel societies and “earthship” communities appeals to a growing number of people with pastoral sympathies, but remains a fringe development. Parallel digital networks and crypto currencies may contribute to the strengthening or rehabilitation of conservative traditions and institutions. At the end of the day, populist movements of a national stripe represent the only significant alternative to the breakup of civil society and the offloading of national responsibility to international organizations and agencies.

Hang on, little Eva.

This argument is brilliantly expounded by Yoram Hazony in Conservatism: A Rediscovery, which defends “economic liberties and other kinds of individual rights and freedoms,” in short, “the traditional pillars and cornerstones of Anglo-American civilization.” Hazony is aware of Huntington’s thesis—who isn’t?—and understands the fissiparous threat of violent disintegration posed by cleft countries, which can only be countered, he believes, by a “freedom-loving religious nationalism.” He would vigorously protest the dissipation of the nation state à la Wallerstein to non-local centers of power. “Reassigning the powers of government to international bodies,” he sagely asserts, “inevitably tend[s] toward arbitrariness and autocracy” rather than “protect[ing] the particularity of the nation and its traditions.”

In the light of these considerations, I am particularly concerned with developments in my own country, which, to quote Michael Walsh, “is now completing its post-Covid descent into a fascist tyranny.” Canada is no longer the proximately coherent nation it once was, despite its origin in two founding peoples and occasional secessionist rancor. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau may have been correct when he claimed that Canada has “no core identity,” that it is a “post-national state” (to which he is accessory), which is to say that it is no longer even recognizably intelligible as an integral country, ruined by failed leadership like Trudeau’s own, digital surveillance of citizens, cowcatcher immigration policies, class divisions, ruinous economic policies, tensions between eastern and western provinces, and competing cultural, tribal and political internal groups. It has become a textbook cleft country, provoked and embittered by the sidelining of the Constitution and a derecho of draconian measures, such as vaccine mandates, travel restrictions, information censorship, punitive carbon taxes and the like.

The U.S. has also devolved into a cleft country marked by an open border, millions of illegal refugees, ethnic voting blocs, artificially stoked racial hostilities, irregular elections, media censorship, administrative incompetence, political dystrophy, and domestic terrorists setting cities aflame. The Financial Times foresees the possibility of civil war. National tensions are at their highest level since the 1860s. The country’s motto might as well be E Pluribus, Multi Plures.

Obviously, with only few exceptions major nations with large populations are almost inevitably to some extent cleft, divided by hierarchical levels of political and economic structures. The danger is that social and cultural fissures—“fault lines” in Huntington’s terms—are always in danger of widening. When the “core,” the common set of beliefs and customs, begins to dissolve, the constituent groups that make up the nation’s census, regardless of power differentials, then become not partners in a common project but antagonists in a culture war no one can win—except, perhaps, the cleftocrats.

Hurtling toward the abyss?

As former Canadian provincial premier Brian Peckford said in a speech delivered on the steps of the British Columbia Legislature, “A system that sees our society being run by the four horsemen—big government, big press, big pharma and big tech,” will inexorably destabilize the cohesive nation-state and render the individual vulnerable to a cabal of international unelected bureaucrats and conscienceless power-brokers. The concept of individual autonomy in functioning democracies is plainly under siege. “Unless we take matters in our own hands and move forward with new paradigms,” he avers, and pursue the struggle against “the brutal reality of a failed existing system,” it will be game, set, match. Peckford is right, of course, but so is Huntington. 

“The nations of the West are hurtling toward the abyss,” Hazony warns. Democratic institutions are increasingly at risk and the bonds of social unity in nation after nation are fraying. The dilemma for many of us is that we are living in uncharted territory without a compass to provide direction. Here be dragons. A great decoupling of the historical tenses seems underway as past, present and future have begun to feel disconnected and temporally unrelated, unamenable to reflective extrapolation for guidance and understanding. History does not always repeat itself. As founder and president of the Brownstone Institute Jeffrey Tucker writes of our cultural moment, “it is hard to find historical examples.” Something unprecedented seems to be emerging.

The fact is, we are living in a cleft world. May God help us.

Into ze Future mit Stakeholder Capitalism

I thought of the song “Tomorrow belongs to me” from the movie Cabaret when listening to Klaus Schwab’s opening remarks at last month’s extravaganza in Davos. His pronunciation of ‘the’ as ze (according to my inexpert Standard English phonetic rendering) adds to the perturbing Teutonic effect. Be perturbed.

Ze future is not just happening. Ze future is built by us. By a powerful community, as you here in this room. We have the means to improve the state of the world.

He must have seen the movie. Subliminally, the unsettling phraseology pops out. Mind you, don’t discount the possibility that he’s deliberately messing with our minds. If so, it worked on me.

Australia’s eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, got a spot at Davos. Didn’t recollect that we had an eSafety Commissioner, though she’s been in the job since January 2017. Maybe most countries have something similar these days? Fine, if they are employed to track and counter child sexual exploitation. But, of course, Parkinson’s Law prevails as does its counterpart, mission creep. A new Act (2021) gives Ms Grant extended powers to regulate online content. Has this gone to her head like bubbles in a glass of champagne? Apparently. There she is at Davos telling the assembled VIPs that we need a “recalibration” of free speech.

Here's something else. In 2020, the World Economic Forum (WEF), together with Apolitical, a global organisation of government bureaucrats, whose mission is to “help build 21st century governments that work for people and the planet,” appointed Ms Grant as one of the, so-termed, #Agile50. To wit, “one of the most influential leaders revolutionising government.” Who knew?

I dare say Nina Jankowicz would have been in line for a similar honorific; if only the Disinformation Governance Board had not been wantonly sabotaged, so it's sadly said, by disinformation. Anyway, it’s all too much for me to take in. The future obviously doesn’t belong to me.

What is the future? A good question to which I seek answers from the revised Davos manifesto issued in 2020. And, for historical perspective and to get a sense of the trajectory of the WEF's "Great Reset" agenda, I compare this with the first manifesto; issued in 1973, only two years or so after the WEF was established in January 1971. The 2020 manifesto declaims on the purpose of a company in the so-called fourth industrial revolution; the 1973 manifesto, on a code of ethics for business leaders. They are similar yet subtly, and not so subtly, different. Evolution has occurred.

“Professional management” charged with serving the interests of “stakeholders” in the first manifesto, morphs into the “company” in the second. This is not incidental. Companies encompass boards and large influential institutional investors as well as professional managers. All must be engaged in order to change the nature of capitalism and the world. And it’s working. It’s hard to find a company board or large institutional investor these days which hasn’t adopted ESG as its Holy Writ. Management eagerly complies with the expensive help of supremely woke major consulting firms.

AGL, Australia’s largest electricity supplier, had planned to split out its coal-power business. Along comes large shareholder, and green enthusiast, billionaire Mike Cannon Brookes, with institutional investors in his wake. A coal business on its own might not be eager to self-destruct. Won’t do. The split is derailed. Welcome to the world of the second manifesto.

To be clear, the manifestos are not all bad. Both emphasise the need for companies to earn sufficient profits, act ethically and pay their taxes. Ho-hum. Also, it’s unexceptional, on its face, for businesses which want to thrive to pay heed to the interests of their stakeholders. Small businesses know this instinctively. Customers matter, as do employees. As does the environment within which they operate. Being antisocial by throwing garbage into the street or local river might not be conducive to long-term success. Thus, you might query, why does the WEF make so much of stakeholder capitalism?

Two points. First, the focus is on companies rather than on businesses more generally. It’s all about the big guys. As Herr Schwab says, it’s about the “powerful community,” executing an agenda determined by, wouldn’t you know, the powerful community. It’s not immediately clear that this kind of stakeholder capitalism goes to the interests of small business or, say, those coal miners living in Poland or West Virginia. who find themselves unable to learn computer programming. Ah well, one can't make an omelette without breaking eggs.

Second, is the sheer reach of Schwab’s stakeholder capitalism. In the first manifesto this is described as management assuming “the role of a trustee of the material universe for future generations.” Can’t see Con the fruiterer in the corner shop embracing that concept very easily. The second manifesto goes further in asserting that a company “acts as a steward of the environment [as well as] the material universe for future generations [and that it] consciously protects our biosphere and champions a circular, shared and regenerative economy.”

Instructive too in the second manifesto, missing in the first, is the reference to multinationals. A multinational company, it says, “acts itself as a stakeholder—together with governments and civil society—of our global future.” And in case you think such a company might simply make, say, cars for profit, it’s required as being part of “corporate global citizenship [to collaborate] with other companies and stakeholders to improve the state of the world.”

As I’ve noted, serving stakeholders has always been part of capitalism. The leap in the first manifesto is to focus particularly on professional managers and to enjoin them in protecting the material universe. Where that starts and stops is anybody’s guess. The leap in the second is to broaden the focus to companies—and big ones to boot—and to enjoin them collectively as global citizens in protecting the biosphere; and, back to Schwab’s opening remarks at Davos, in improving the state of the world.

Improving the state of the world is like a team aiming to win a cup final. It comes from having the right systems in place. That doesn’t guarantee success, but it’s an essential prerequisite. The system of free-market capitalism has put trophies galore in the display cabinet. Got that perfect feeling that a rewarding future won’t stem from Schwab’s souped-up version of stakeholder capitalism, orchestrated by a global elite?  A miserable future? It’s happening. Covid diktats, soaring energy prices, power rationing, ESG, CRT, DEI; throw in rainbow flags, transgenderism, puberty blockers, regularising drug use, etc. Foretastes one and all. Willkommen, Bienvenue, Welcome.

Manchin Brags About Sinking 'Build Back Better'

If you required further proof that Senator Joe Manchin, the last sane Democrat, is proud of having tanked his own party's multi-trillion dollar "Build Back Better" bill, look no further than this campaign ad he just cut -- for a Republican no less -- in which he brags about his opposition to it for voters in his home state of West Virginia:

The context requires a bit of explanation: redistricting has led to Republican Reps. Alex Mooney and David McKinley fighting to represent the same district, WV-2. Mooney has accused McKinley as being soft on BBB, which is wildly unpopular in West Virginia. And now Mr. Anti-BBB himself has stepped in say that that claim "is an outright lie," in the course of endorsing McKinley.

But that context is less important than the fact that Senator Manchin is now wearing his position as the great slayer of Build Back Better as a badge of honor. And make no mistake -- Build Back Better would have been a disaster As the New York Post explained back in December,

The $5 trillion BBB bill would have been a handout to Democrat-backed unions, federalizing child-care and pre-K workers into their ranks. It was full of gifts for everyone from rich people living in Democratic states (via the state and local tax deduction) to journalists (via media subsidies). Besides being a colossal waste of money, its “climate change” subsidies would have hurt Manchin’s state of West Virginia...

The legislation would have driven up the cost of everything for everyone — adding to our already historic inflation. It was nowhere close to being “paid for,” as President Biden claimed. And yes, it is $5 trillion, not the $1.75 trillion Democrats dishonestly advertised — by pretending programs would disappear after a year or two, when they knew they’d extend them forever. Even not accounting for that gimmick, the bill would add at least $367 billion to the federal deficit.

Considering the fact that Manchin's critiques of the bill (along with other massive spending proposals authorized by Congress and the White House since the outbreak of Covid-19) were always built upon his concerns about impending inflation, he's been proven more prescient than most of his colleagues. Of course they despise him for it. And judging by this commercial, he's ready to say with another Democrat of old, "They are unanimous in their hate for me — and I welcome their hatred."

Good on you, Senator. You've earned it.

In Ukraine, Farewell to the 'New World Order'

Hostilities in the Ukraine are now in their second month, devastating the country, destabilizing economies around the world and provoking fears of a wider conflict. It is a war in which there are no heroes: Putin is a military aggressor, Zelensky is the beneficiary of the U.S.-inspired 2014 Euromaidan coup, and Biden and other Western leaders are reckless provocateurs. Interestingly, it has been said that Ukraine is not only about Ukraine or even about Russian imperialism but also about the expansion of neo-Liberal global reach into the economic structure (via SWIFT, the International Monetary Fund, etc.), military organization (via NATO) and the political order of other nations, along with regime change in Russia or its reduction to a pariah state.

There is considerable agreement among scholars and experts that substantiates the hypothesis. Former Portuguese Secretary of State for European Affairs Bruno Maçães points out that “the West feels entitled to pursue its particular vision with all the tools of state power—in many cases, military power… Western values and norms [need] to be interpreted and enforced, and the most powerful nations in the West have always arrogated that task to themselves.” 

More recently, in a wide-ranging interview in The New Yorker with specific reference to Ukraine, University of Chicago political scientist John Mearsheimer argues that “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for this crisis.” Mearsheimer’s hypothesis is clearly predicated on Thucydides’ classic History of The Peloponnesian War. The issue unraveled there is extraordinarily complex, but Thucydides isolates the root cause of the conflict in Athenian power projection and Sparta’s fear of military encroachment and market domination. Each of the belligerents felt it had justice and reason on its side—the concept of πρόφασις (prophasis—the reason or excuse for going to war), which Thucydides carefully distinguishes, will obviously vary, depending on whether you are an Athenian or a Spartan, an American or a Russian. Who is the real aggressor? 

It's all about prophasis.

Mearsheimer, like his historical predecessor, underscores fear or apprehension as the central prophasis. “There is a three-prong strategy at play here,” he writes: “E.U. expansion, NATO expansion, and turning Ukraine into a pro-American liberal democracy.” Russian “fear” of Western power projection on its intimate borders is, for him, the crucial issue.

Mearsheimer is not an oracle—he was patently misguided in his denunciation of the “Israel lobby”—but his view on the Ukrainian imbroglio is persuasive. Moreover, whether he is wrong or right on Ukraine pales in comparison with the geopolitical events now massively underway. Certainly, if Western expansion is the plan, it does not appear to be working.  Unintended consequences will often prevail. As Robert Burns famously wrote, “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.” 

The quagmire in which the West now finds itself is deep, but Zelensky’s urging NATO to “close the skies” is an option that, so to speak, will not fly, short of igniting a major, perhaps nuclear, war that no sane person wants. Indeed, at this point in time, perhaps the most convulsive effect of American and European policy is the unanticipated decoupling of a major part of the world from the so-called New World Order and from a global market ideology, both promoted and imposed by Western powers

Additionally, the laying of crushing sanctions on Russia—the current version of the “Megarian decrees” invoked to exclude Megarian merchants from Athenian markets and, according to Thucydides, one of the initial sparks of the Peloponnesian War—has been an abysmal failure. The result should have been predictable: “enormous economic repercussions” and recessionary pressures at home and the strengthening of the Russian ruble, which has rebounded from its near collapse to become one of the world’s best-performing currencies, currently pegged at 83 to the dollar. 

Putin’s requiring payment in rubles from “unfriendly” nations for Russia’s energy and commodity exports has also helped to recapitalize the ruble. In effect, the severing of Russia from the West has solidified the country’s trade relationships with non-compliant nations like China, India and the Arab bloc, as well as encouraged it to replace its reliance on the international SWIFT banking and messaging network with the Chinese alternative, the Cross-Border Interbank Payment System, or CIPS. Russia and China are also intent on promoting growing cooperation with BRICS, an overlapping economic group consisting of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, in order tooptimiz[e] global economic governance.” According to Ross Kennedy of the Securities Studies Group, this collaboration will eventually lead to a notable increase in non-dollar and non-euro denominated trade.”

This rupture has led to the emergence of what scholars call “Civilization States,” a term coined by ethnopologist Emil Pain as “civilizational nationalism.” Whether this is a pioneering or a regressive development is irrelevant; it is a fact. The concept is elaborated in Taras Kuzio’s just published Russian Nationalism and the Russian-Ukrainian War, which is not kind to Putin, and in an important essay by Fabian Linde referring to countries, in Emil Pain’s words, that affirm an “ideology of separateness” intended to consolidate “society on the basis of concepts of a common historical and cultural essence and to counterpose [one’s] own special and unique community to ‘foreign’ communities.” 

In opposition to the universalist philosophy of the West, such countries embrace their own history, culture, traditions and “currency first” legislation, establish their own trade and diplomatic rules for dealing with the international community, focus on linguistic and religious continuities, stress the importance of longstanding parental and kinship relations as a means to social coherence, and strive to become self-sustaining cultural mega-units via multipolar trade and currency partnerships with other civilization states. In Russia’s case, as noted, these would be China, India and the oil-producing Arab states. Smaller nations, as well, are considering following Russia’s example. The dominoes are beginning to fall. 

In the words of Samuel Huntington from The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order, “a civilization is the broadest cultural entity” where people “feel culturally at home.” Former Cambridge University sociologist Göran Therborn similarly describes civilization as “an ancient cultural configuration… the deepest layer of contemporary cultural geology,” a more comprehensive and historically unified totality than the discrete political organization and constitutional frameworks of nation states. In essence, a civilization state is a more encompassing prescriptive category than that of the nation-state. 

How's that globalism workin' out for ya?

As Indian General Secretary of the ruling Bharatiya Janatra Party Ram Madhav has deposed, “Asia will rule the world, and that changes everything because in Asia we have civilizations rather than nations.” Analogously, Bruno Maçães recalls, during a visit to China, being told by his handler: “Always remember that China is a civilization rather than a nation state.” Nation-states, Maçães reminds us, “are a Western invention. Civilizations are an alternative to the West… a common, increasingly integrated political and economic landscape.” The civilization-state refuses to sacrifice its specific culture for the sake of the secular and cosmopolitan unipolar project adopted by Western societies. Nor does it consider the so-called “international community of nations” as more than a convenient Western figment.

Another basic distinction between the Western nation-state in its contemporary evolution and the Eastern civilization-state in its current emergence has to do with borders. While retaining its governing apparatus, the modern nation state is increasingly porous, opening its borders to refugees legal and illegal and rampant immigration. The development of a centralized banking network equally plays into the dissolution of independent monetary policy—that is, the nation-state has opened its fiscal borders as well. The civilization-state, while larger in its population mass and in its embracing of long-enduring cultural values and historical antecedents, is paradoxically smaller in the sense of keeping its borders closed to outliers and resisting global control of its currency protocols, trading provisions and supervening organizations. 

This is very bad news for the missionary universalism of the neo-Liberal unipolar West and its presumably unstoppable historical thrust toward a global neo-liberal system, which Francis Fukayama enthusiastically touted in The End of History and the Last Man. As a result of a momentous miscalculation regarding the Ukraine conflict, treating it as a pretext to augment its own political, military and fiscal hegemony, the days of Western supremacy appear to be over and the Globalist fantasy dead in the water. 

Fukuyama: maybe not the "end of history" after all.

According to CBS, in a meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov painted a picture of a new and different “world order,” saying the world was "living through a very serious stage in the history of international relations” and that Russia and China, along with others, will move to create a new and unique multipolar world.

The march of Western nations toward an interlocking fiscal system based on the petrodollar as the world’s reserve currency and governing the world’s trade arrangements and political future seems helpless before the tectonic shift of Eastern and Eurasian polities toward a new system of communal and economic interdependence. The civilization-state is in process of supplanting the independent-but-allied Western model of decentralised states regarded since the Peace of Westphalia as the global paradigm for political organization and cross-national codification of a particular set of laws and treaty obligations—often, be it said, more honored in the breach than in the observance. The conflict in Ukraine has been the catalyst of a scalar reconfiguration in the political orbits of nations and civilizations.

In The Rise of the Civilizational State, Christopher Coker warns that we are “living in a world in which civilization is fast becoming the currency of international politics.” The evangelical zeal and self-interest of Western-centric liberalism, with its one-size-fits-all rule-based political structure and its dominant financial institutions as embodied in the nation-state, is coming to an end. “The west may be out of the business,” he writes, “of shaping history for everyone else, or even itself.” The best laid schemes of military planners and state politicians do often gang aft a-gley.

The Davos Road to Serfdom

A recent tweet from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: “In a modern, moral, & wealthy society, no American should be too poor to live.” There is nothing remarkable about this empty trope. Scratch any leftist. Out it comes. Even those on the right of the political spectrum might nod along in unthinking moments. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Pope would nod along in their thinking moments.

Christian religious leaders are prone to flights of fancy. Justin Welby and Francis are keen on so-called inclusive capitalism to solve the ills of the world. Utopia in the here and now. Heaven can wait. Call it also stakeholder capitalism, if you prefer the nomenclature of Klaus Schwab’s great reset of capitalism.

A first thing to say is that this surreal transfiguration of capitalism has no correspondence with reality. It’s made up. A chimera. It cannot be brought to sustained life. At least not the life envisaged. It could morph into something which can be brought to life; albeit a dissolute life. It’s called socialism.

Would you buy a used electric car from this man?

A friend of mine, and fellow Christian, is fond of echoing Gottfried Leibniz (1646-1716) in asserting that the universe and all of its contents, animate and inanimate, could not have been better made. It’s an article of faith but impregnable. Try something. For example, if only those pesky tectonic plates didn’t move and cause devastating earthquakes. Okay, if you want to sit on a powder keg in flatland. Everything is on such a knife edge that serious tampering always leads into an abyss. Capitalism is like that.

Capitalism is “free-market capitalism,” or else it isn’t capitalism at all. Yes, I know, capitalism is always accompanied by cronyism and never more so since global-warming boondoggles took off, but that in itself speaks to its power to survive sleazy deals.

Schwab sets "stakeholder capitalism" against what he calls shareholder capitalism, which he associates with (scary) Milton Freidman. But shareholder capitalism is, in fact, another name for free-market capitalism. Owners looking primarily to increase their profits is the way shareholder capitalism, aka free-market capitalism, works to make everybody better off. It’s the reason why poverty in the industrialised world has continually trended down since the mid-eighteenth century.

Best to remember too that the term shareholder capitalism gives a distorted picture of capitalism. Capitalism isn’t just a collection of giant corporations. For example, businesses with from one to 999 employees, account for almost 60 percent all U.S. private sector jobs. Those wielding influence at Davos should put themselves into perspective. Private jets tend to beget arrogance.

How the one percent lives.

We need a better understanding of capitalism. It dispels flights of fancy. As I’ve previously argued, capitalism is akin to a “living system.” Living systems (see James Grier Miller’s defining work) are systems which self-organise and interact with their environment. They are open systems which resist entropy. The second law of thermodynamics has its way with all closed systems. Entropy eventually undoes them.

An open system must have inputs which are higher in complexity than its outputs. Among other things, this gives it the capacity to forestall decay and undertake repairs and renewal. Additionally, an open system must have what Miller calls “a ‘decider” which causes its components to interact optimally.

Only free-market capitalism meets the requirement of an open economic system. A complex brew of resources—raw materials, skilled labor, physical and financial capital, ingenuity, invention, innovation and entrepreneurship—freely interact to produce outputs in the form of goods and services. The “decider” is market prices, which govern where resources are allocated. As for relative complexity, consider the engineering ingenuity which forms just one part of the inputs in producing, say, motor vehicles.

Now consider so-called stakeholder capitalism. “Shared value creation” must predominate according to Schwab. “Environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals… should complement financial metrics.” Executive salaries “should align with the new measure of long-term shared value creation.” Large companies should “work with other stakeholders to improve the state of the world in which they are operating. In fact, this proviso should be their ultimate purpose.”

A fascist spanner in the works.

At every step the open system is stymied. Profitable opportunities can’t be seized. Instead, they are subject to almost never-ending processes to discover their compatibility with normative external aspirations. Executives are prevented from seeking maximum reward and thus businesses which can best employ their skills are denied their services. Large companies face the unenviable and impossible task of improving the world. How’s that for inducing entrepreneurial paralysis.

One way or another, stakeholder capitalism walls off the economic system. Nebulous social and environmental obstacles are put in the way of the system responding to market forces. Prices aren’t the decider. Result: entropy and misery. Increasing prosperity is not an immutable facet of human existence. Plenty of examples of economic regression, e.g., real wages in Argentina more than halved in the thirty years between 1975 and 2005. I’ll leave it to Miller:

Walling off living systems to prevent [free] exchanges across their boundaries results in death by confinement... entropy will always increase in walled-off living systems.

Of course, there are no absolutes in real economic life. It is not a question of there being walls or no walls. How formidable are the walls, is the question? As to that, I don’t sense stunted ambition among the elite at Davos. And recall that a festering ambition to reset capitalism preceded climate-change alarmism and Covid hysteria. These are large dollops of additional grist for their build-back-better mill.

I’m sometimes prone to put the Great Reset in the category of bad things which might come about. A mistake. It’s already afoot; enervation underway: ESG and its ugly sister EDI (equity, diversity & inclusion) permeate boardrooms. Green lawfare, subsidised renewal energy, and woke financial corporations and fund managers are putting fossil fuels out of business. Except, that is, when it comes to Russian tanks and planes. Now there's a thought.

When the lights go out, expect not to see remorseful recanting elites but despotic measures to keep us energy-starved, newly-manufactured, serfs in check. Covid has given them practise runs. State premiers in Australia have shown themselves adept at tyranny, as have many U.S. state governors. As it turns out, mere novices compared with Canadian Duce Justin Trudeau. No shortage of willing Stasi, informants and Jobsworths to enforce rules. It’s time we stopped tiresomely pointing the finger at tyranny abroad and turned it inwards. Ask not for whom the bell tolls.