By Andy Eyschen
On 3 June 2020, the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Founder and Executive Director Klaus Schwab launched “The Great Reset” with the assistance of UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, HRH Prince of Wales, IMF Head Kristalina Georgieva, CEO of BP Bernard Looney, MasterCard CEO Ajaypal Singh Banga, among other luminaries.
This event was followed a month later by the launch of the book “Covid-19: The Great Reset”, diving deeper into the concept of a great reset, the transformation of global society actually, and providing greater details of what needs to be done to make society “greener, smarter, fairer” and, above all, “more inclusive and sustainable”.
The Great Reset project is very ambitious, touching on every aspect of our social, environmental, technological, economic and political lives. Ordinarily it would be dismissed as a utopian vision of a few deluded personalities. However, that would be a mistake: these people are not only serious but also sufficiently influential to make it happen or at least attempt to make it happen. And the Covid-19 pandemic is providing the perfect trigger for the Great Reset.
Everybody is expected to participate and will have a role to play. That includes of course Libertarians, although the words Freedom and Liberty were nowhere to be seen. The total restructuring of society has been attempted before in history, whether by Stalin, Hitler or Mao or other less significant dictators. This time, however, it will be different and every human being, living now and in the future, will be a beneficiary of this new technocratic system and will make the world green (saving the planet), smart (with artificial intelligence and technology) and fair (being inclusive, sustainable, eliminating racism, inequality, and other undesirables). That’s the promise!
Replacing the Market Mechanism
The Great Reset aims to replace the “invisible hand” of the market to respond to the countless needs, wants and desires that individuals express day in and day out and thus add value to individuals’ lives that they are prepared to pay for. These values are entirely subjective and the market has proven to be the best mechanism yet to provide the goods and services that provide value to everyone.
While it may be pointed out that the efficiency of this mechanism could be improved upon, we have seen throughout history that any attempt to do this has always resulted in loss of human freedom, rise of totalitarian regimes, and individual values being consolidated into aggregates that satisfy no-one.
The emergence of Big Data, an Information Technology term referring to the large volume of data that inundates a business on a daily basis, gives the impression that we now have the technological ability to determine the needs and wants of virtually everyone and can therefore plan an efficient system to meet all of them for all individuals. Digital analytics enables forecasting and predictability to an extent not known previously. It is easy to get carried away and to assume that we no longer need the market to fulfil this role.
Add artificial intelligence algorithms and machine language into the mix and, voila, we can dispense with the market!
The time has come to vigorously defend the market mechanism and to demonstrate its superiority over any proposed technocratic monstrosity and the loss of human freedom that inevitably accompanies such implementations.
To the critics of the Great Reset, Klaus Schwab replies: “What is the alternative”? He has a point. I have not seen an alternative as comprehensive, thoroughly thought through, detailed, all-encompassing as the Great Reset.
Challenge to Libertarian Community
And this is where I would like to challenge the Libertarian community. As Libertarians, a technocratic, controlled, engineered, and all-inclusive is not only repugnant but contrary to all of the principles that classic Liberal philosophy stands for: Individual liberty and sovereignty, free market economics, individual choice and human dignity. Schwab is cognizant of the fact that his Great Reset requires a new definition of humanity, one that is consistent with the vision of the Humanity+ trans- and post-human movements, one that allows humans to connect directly to the Internet, for instance, full of neural networks, Internet-of-Things devices, augmentation and all the technological paraphernalia you can think of.
If this is your vision of the future of mankind, then the Great Reset is for you! If you are more hesitant or suspicious of these grand ideas and still value your personal freedom, you may indeed pursue the alternative: a society of free individuals that can choose and decide for themselves. That these two visions are incompatible and mutually exclusive is a no-brainer.
The primary purpose for writing this article is to alert the Libertarian community of the imminent danger a Great Reset poses to our fundamental values and principles of individual liberty and sovereignty as espoused by philosophers like John Locke and John Stuart Mill.
I encourage all freedom-loving people to do their own research, evaluate what is being said, and arrive at their own conclusions.
How the Libertarian community responds to this threat, both as individuals and as a community, may very well define the future of Libertarianism and classic liberal philosophy both in the short- as well as the long term.