By Michael Rectenwald
Chief Academic Officer, American Scholars
Is the Great Reset a conspiracy theory that sees a vast left-wing plot to establish a totalitarian one-world government? No. Despite the fact that some people may have spun conspiracy theories based on it—with some reason, as we will see—the Great Reset is real.
Indeed, just last year, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum (WEF)—a famous organization made up of the world’s political, economic, and cultural elites that meets annually in Davos, Switzerland—and Thierry Malleret, co-founder and main author of the Monthly Barometer, published a book called COVID-19: The Great Reset. In the book, they define the Great Reset as a means of addressing the “weaknesses of capitalism” that were purportedly exposed by the COVID pandemic.
But the idea of the Great Reset goes back much further. It can be traced at least as far back as the inception of the WEF, originally founded as the European Management Forum, in 1971. In that same year, Schwab, an engineer and economist by training, published his first book, Modern Enterprise Management in Mechanical Engineering. It was in this book that Schwab first introduced the concept he would later call “stakeholder capitalism,” arguing “that the management of a modern enterprise must serve not only shareholders but all stakeholders to achieve long-term growth and prosperity.” Schwab and the WEF have promoted the idea of stakeholder capitalism ever since. They can take credit for the stakeholder and public-private partnership rhetoric and policies embraced by governments, corporations, non-governmental organizations, and international governance bodies worldwide.
The specific phrase “Great Reset” came into general circulation over a decade ago, with the publication of a 2010 book, The Great Reset, by American urban studies scholar Richard Florida. Written in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Florida’s book argued that the 2008 economic crash was the latest in a series of Great Resets—including the Long Depression of the 1870s and the Great Depression of the 1930s—which he defined as periods of paradigm-shifting systemic innovation.
Four years after Florida’s book was published, at the 2014 annual meeting of the WEF, Schwab declared: “What we want to do in Davos this year … is to push the reset button”—and subsequently the image of a reset button would appear on the WEF’s website.
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