During the last year, there was one phrase that I heard more and more often. I saw it on advertising screens. I heard it on the lips of politicians. I read it in opinion pieces in the newspapers. The phrase was this: The Great Reset. In the end I decided I should find out what it was all about.
It wasn’t difficult to get information. I very quickly found out that the phrase was coined by an organisation that calls itself the ‘World Economic Forum’. Go to the WEF website and you’ll find it everywhere. And there are whole books if you get tired of staring at web pages. In fact, a friend sent me one for a Christmas present: a book entitled Covid-19: The Great Reset, written by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret and published by Forum Publishing in June 2020.
The phrase The Great Reset means what it says. The WEF believes that the whole world needs a great reset. All the world’s social, economic, industrial, political, and environmental structures need to be drastically reconstructed. And the time has come to do it.
The World Economic Forum
So what is the World Economic Forum? Well, essentially it’s an organisation linking 1200 of the world’s largest and richest companies and facilitating their interaction with governments. An inner group of 100 ‘strategic partners’ shapes the agenda. They include such giants as AstraZeneca, Barclays, CocaCola, Deutsche Bank, Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Google, IBM, Mastercard, Nestlé, Paypal, Reuters, Volkswagen, Unilever. Together they contribute more than £200,000,000 to the WEF annual budget.
This is what we’re told on the WEF website. ‘The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. The Forum engages the foremost political, business, cultural and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.’
‘The Forum is best known for its Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters. Through the years, numerous business, government and civil society leaders have made their way to the high Alps to consider the major global issues of the day and to brainstorm on solutions to address these challenges…’
‘The World Economic Forum provides a platform for the world’s 1,000 leading companies to shape a better future. As a membership organization, the Forum engages businesses in projects and initiatives – online and offline – to address industry, regional and systemic issues.’
The WEF was founded and is headed up by Professor Klaus Schwab, one of the authors of the book I’d received. Who is he?
‘Professor Klaus Schwab was born in Ravensburg, Germany in 1938. He is Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation…’
‘During the course of his wide-ranging career, Schwab has received numerous honours. He holds 17 honorary doctorates, and national medals of honour, including the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun of Japan, the Grand Cross with Star of the National Order of Germany and the Knight of the Légion d’Honneur of France. He was also knighted by Queen Elizabeth II – Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (KCMG).’
So the WEF is a highly-regarded, very influential organisation through which highly-placed politicians, business people, civil servants, heads of charitable foundations, and so on, from all over the world, meet, confer, and plan together.
Having done some googling, I very quickly realised that many key figures in the UK establishment attend and participate in the Davos meetings. Those who are in the news at present include such figures as our Health Minister Matt Hancock, the government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Patrick Vallance, and Neil Ferguson, the scientist who more than any other shaped the government’s approach to combating Covid-19.
In fact, if you check the names of the most prominent members of the SAGE advisory group, you’ll find that a good many of them are involved with the WEF. But so is Prince Charles. And Greta Thunberg. And David Attenborough. And so are many world-leaders.
Nearly 3000 participants from 117 countries attended the 50th Anniversary Annual Meeting held in Davos, Switzerland, last year. They included 53 heads of state plus ‘the world’s top leaders from politics, business, civil society, academia, media and the arts’.
So clearly an organisation worth knowing about. But what I wanted to know about the WEF is what it stands for – what are its big goals? What is the ideology that shapes its activities and programmes? And what is this Great Reset to which, apparently, it is committed?
With some organisations, the problem in finding out about them is that they are secretive and publish very little information. The problem in finding out about the WEF is the opposite: it publishes huge amounts of information about itself. There must be many hundreds of pages on its website alone. But as I read, some big themes began to emerge.
The WEF is committed to the idea of ever-closer co-operation between different nations. Here is Klaus Schwab writing in the book I was given for Christmas: ‘The more nationalism and isolationism pervade the global polity, the greater the chance that global governance becomes ineffective. Sadly we are now at this critical juncture. Put bluntly, we live in a world where nobody is really in charge…’ So what’s the answer? ‘The absolute prerequisite for a proper reset is greater collaboration and co-operation between and within countries…’
2. Partnership in government
If ‘nobody is really in charge now’, who should be in charge? Answer: national governments in partnership with international business leaders and other élite ‘influencers’ – i.e. the people who come together at Davos each year. The WEF is, according to its Mission Statement, ‘committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional, and industry agendas…’ The agendas for any nation should not be set by the ordinary people of that nation. They should be shaped by the international élite conferring together.
This is already beginning to happen. Here’s an example. An announcement on the UK government website in 2019 informed us: ‘Speaking at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, the Business Secretary confirmed the UK would establish a new partnership with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, based in San Francisco, to develop future regulation which benefits business and consumers.’ We may have exited the EU and escaped its regulations – but new regulations are to be developed in partnership with the WEF.
The WEF is committed to the need for radical action on climate change, carbon emissions, and other environmental issues: ‘If we want to stay healthy, we need a healthy planet. That means we adapt and alter our behaviour – and in the process, build societies resilient to emergencies of all kinds…’
‘We have one chance to get this right. Protecting a much larger share of the natural world is an ambitious goal. But it is one that will secure a vibrant future for humanity and all the species with which we share this planet.’
Our own Prince Charles lectured the businessmen gathered at the 50th anniversary WEF meetings last year. Prince Charles declared: ‘…Global warming, climate change, and the devastating loss of biodiversity are the greatest threats humanity has ever faced – and one largely of our own creation… to move forward, we need nothing short of a paradigm shift, one that inspires action at revolutionary levels and pace. With this in mind, I am delighted to be launching a Sustainable Markets Initiative, with the generous support of the World Economic Forum.’
4. Stakeholder capitalism
Schwab writes, ‘“Stakeholder capitalism,” a model I first proposed a half-century ago, positions private corporations as trustees of society, and is clearly the best response to today’s social and environmental challenges…’
‘…The purpose of a company is to engage all its stakeholders in shared and sustained value creation. In creating such value, a company serves not only its shareholders, but all its stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and society at large.’
Private corporations – i.e. the wealthy men who own and run them – are to be the ‘trustees’ of society. That means they must work for the benefit of society at large – but it also entitles them to shape and govern society.
5. Technological revolution
Professor Schwab has written two books on what he calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution. He writes: ‘We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society…
‘It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological… as a complement to the best parts of human nature – creativity, empathy, stewardship – it can… lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness based on a shared sense of destiny.’
I listed at the start of this article some of the ‘big tech’ companies that are WEF’s ‘strategic partners’ – such companies as Google and Facebook. These pour huge amounts of money into the WEF and work closely with it ‘to help shape industry, regional and global agendas’. These are the companies that the WEF works with to shape our technological future.
6. Economic reform
One recent writer on the WEF website puts it this way: ‘the economy is not working well enough, for enough people. Right now, just 1% of the world’s population holds over 35% of all private wealth, more than the bottom 95% combined…’ Abolishing cash is central to the WEF programme. We have to become a cashless society in which every commercial transaction is recorded digitally. ‘A significant impediment to progress is the problem of cash… Governments cannot afford to continue to pay the cost of cash.’
But there are plenty of other ‘bold ideas that could challenge the status quo’. One WEF contributor offers for example: universal basic income (giving each citizen an income, just because he is a citizen, regardless of the work he does or doesn’t do); redistribution (‘We should share more of the world’s wealth…’); a shorter working week (‘If we worked less and cut out pointless jobs, we’d make fewer errors and have time to do the things we enjoy’); Doughnut Economics (look it up for yourself!); and open borders (completely unrestricted migration).
And other WEF contributors have yet more radical ideas. This is Ide Auken, a Danish MP and a member of the World Economic Forum, Global Future Council on Cities and Urbanization: ‘Welcome to the year 2030. Welcome to my city – or should I say, “our city.” I don’t own anything. I don’t own a car. I don’t own a house. I don’t own any appliances or any clothes. … We have access to transportation, accommodation, food and all the things we need in our daily lives. One by one all these things became free, so it ended up not making sense for us to own much. All in all, it is a good life.’
The WEF is committed to the elimination of discrimination, especially in the realms of gender, sexuality, and race. It endorses and encourages activist groups such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ ‘…The world should understand that commitment to respecting human rights and racial equity shouldn’t be a passive statement of values. It should be a call to action, backed by active measures to acknowledge, understand, measure, and eradicate systemic racism.’
That mysterious phrase
Well, do you understand now what The Great Reset is supposed to be? Just what it says! The WEF hopes to see the whole world reset – transformed and re-established on a completely different basis.
Nationalism will be forgotten. Instead of individual nations making decisions for themselves through elected representatives, decisions will be made for the whole world by a conglomeration of national leaders, industrialists, businessmen, experts in various fields. Together they will set industrial, economic, and social goals and regulations.
All businesses will be measured by the extent to which they implement the ‘environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals’ set by that global élite. There will be far tighter controls on anything that affects the environment: in order to make the world ‘carbon neutral’, every business and every individual’s activities will be monitored and regulated.
That will be easy enough to do because of the astonishing technological developments that will ‘lift humanity into a new collective and moral consciousness’. We will live in a cashless society in which every financial transaction can be tracked. Poverty will be a thing of the past – indeed, private property may have been abolished. Prejudice and inequality will have been eliminated.
This is The Great Reset, and the leaders of the WEF are totally serious about their intention to bring it about – and to do so over the next 10 years. More than that, they believe that the Covid-19 pandemic has given them the opportunity to do it. Hence the title of my Christmas present: Covid-19 and the Great Reset.
This is what Schwab writes in the introduction: ‘…the pandemic will accelerate systemic changes that were already apparent prior to the crisis… But it could go beyond a mere acceleration by altering things that previously seemed unchangeable.’ And again, a few pages on: ‘With the economic emergency responses to the pandemic now in place, the opportunity can be seized to make the kind of institutional changes and policy choices that will put economies on a new path…’
The Covid-19 emergency means, we’re told, that The Great Reset can and must happen!
From Babel to Davos
Now, I’ve only looked at a few of the thousands of pages that you’ll find on the WEF website. It may be that I’ve picked all the wrong ones and I’ve come away with a false impression. But as I’ve read them, one Bible passage has come to my mind again and again. It’s the account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. I’m assuming you’re already familiar with that passage. If not, I suggest you pause here, pick up your Bible and read it now.
It’s an account of how the fallen human race tried to overcome the limitations and judgments that the Lord had imposed upon it. The people who built the tower of Babel knew that as individuals, they were little, weak, and vulnerable. They were frightened that they might be scattered over the earth. One of God’s first commands to human beings was that they should spread out to fill the earth (Genesis 1:28, 9:1) but that was the last thing these fearful human beings wanted to do. They wanted to stay together, to work together, to achieve together what they could never achieve separated from one another.
They dreamed of a single world community, a city where all mankind could be united. Rather than a world divided into many communities each with its own name, they wanted to find a single name that they could all share.
As part of their dream, they planned to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. They believed that above the sky was the realm where God lived. They thought that they could climb up to be like gods themselves. They could shake off their human limitations and make themselves safe and secure. They were still listening to the serpent who said to Adam and Eve, ‘you can be like gods’.
Perhaps they remembered – however dimly – the garden of Eden where Adam and Eve had lived. Eden, high on the mountain, was the centre point for a perfect world. Were the builders of Babel hoping to rebuild that world for themselves? Yes, I believe so – but they wanted to do it without God. Their goal was to overcome the curse that God had laid on the world and on mankind. Instead of waiting for the great Rescuer that God had promised (Genesis 3:15), they would find their own salvation. Their whole project was aimed at making human beings self-sufficient. It was done in disobedience to God and in rebellion against him.
What gave them their confidence? It was the fact that they had discovered a new technology. In the past, the only building materials available had been wood and stone. But now they had invented bricks and learned how to bond them together with bitumen. That opened up possibilities that had never existed before. Instead of moving outwards to subdue the whole earth as God had commanded, trusting him to provide for them and protect them, they made it their goal to build the perfect society by their own ingenuity.
Well, you know how their challenge ended. The Lord came down, inspected their city and tower – and yes, he recognised their astonishing achievement: ‘…nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.’ With the whole human race working together, man’s rebellious dreams could become a reality. But the Lord was determined that it wouldn’t happen. He took away their capacity to communicate with one another; they split up and scattered in all directions. A few stayed in the city they had built – we call it Babylon. The rest went off to build their own cities. The half-finished tower remained as a lasting memorial to the builders’ dream.
The enduring dream
Human beings have never given up the dream that motivated the builders of Babel. One ruler after another in biblical times dreamed of bringing the human race back together under his leadership. Nebuchadnezzar – a later ruler of Babylon. Cyrus the Persian. Alexander the Great of Greece. The Caesars of Rome. And they have had many successors in the modern world.
All have had the same goal – we must unite mankind – whether or not mankind is willing! Then and only then will we be able to shake off every human limitation and make the world what we want it to be.
The Lord has never allowed it to happen. Each attempt to build the new tower to heaven has been thwarted by God’s judgment – and God’s mercy. Human empires built in rebellion against God very quickly become inhuman – in fact, monstrous and beastly. And invariably they persecute believers whose first allegiance is to the Lord, and not to any human regime (read Daniel 7:19-22).
The WEF claims that human beings are essentially good and that, given a push in the right direction, we can build a paradise. One of their writers talks of a ‘deep-seated myth: that humans are intrinsically selfish, uncooperative and aggressive, and without the civilizing influence of governments and leaders, order would soon break down and chaos reign’. She says that ‘we are in reality hardwired to be kind, cooperative and caring…’ All that’s needed for the world to be transformed is for the enlightened élite to be given a free hand to guide it. We have the technology – we can ‘build back better’.
But the Bible tells us what happens when God allows human beings to build the sort of society they would choose: ‘the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually’ (Genesis 6:5).
Do you see why the story of Babel has been in my mind ever since I started reading up on the WEF and its Great Reset? You may warm to some of its ideas and policies. You may be horrified and shocked by others. But as I read its grandiose schemes for the new global society, what an example I find of human arrogance and the desire for human self-sufficiency!
Schwab mourns the fact that ‘we live in a world where nobody is really in charge…’ Invariably, when sinful human beings set out to build their own utopian empires and leave God out of the picture, some individual emerges who is in charge and who uses his power ruthlessly to stay in charge and to impose his will. Perhaps the WEF and its Great Reset will lead to the emergence of such a global leader. But if it does, it will be no Paradise that he will head up: it will be another Babel.
There is only one human being who is worthy to rule mankind and to rule the world. And he is the man whom we put on a cross two thousand years ago. Whatever part the WEF plays in the events of coming years, Jesus of Nazareth will have the last word.
‘There came one like a Son of Man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed’ (Daniel 7:13-14). Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus!
P.S. Today as I write this (Monday 25 January), the WEF is beginning its Davos 2021 meetings, albeit virtually. In the opening session, Professor Schwab introduced his first guest speaker, Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China. You can listen to his address on YouTube. By the end of the week we may know more details about the planned Great Reset. You must decide whether it would be time well spent to check them out!
Unless otherwise stated, Bible quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, English Standard Version, published by HarperCollins Publishers © 2001.
Stephen Rees is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Stockport