A Great Global Reset
- Agenda 2030,Agenda 21,Bill Gates,Complot,Complottheorieen,Conspirituality,Corona,Covid-19,Crisis,Desinformatie,Duurzaamheid,Great Reset,Klaus Schwab,Klimaat,Lockdown,Milieu,Neoliberalisme,Nepnieuws,Pandemie,Solidariteit,Sustainable Development Goals,WHO,World Economic Forum
On green and social recovery, the Great Reset and Agenda 21, and the conspiracy theories about it
Two years ago, in the first waves of the pandemic, Covid-19 was often seen a consequence of our exploitation of nature and our crazy consumer society. An ecological wake-up call. Around the world were calls to see this crisis as an opportunity to make society more sustainable and fair. Besides sadness, fear and uncertainty there was great solidarity and the hope that this crisis would be the beginning of transition. It seems like an eternity ago. Conspiracy theories and mistrust have drowned out all calls for transition. What is left of the wake-up call two years later?
Contents: Nature is sending us a message – This is a global reset! – Resistance and protest – The earth became quiter – Green and social recovery – Bold thinking – The neoliberal bankruptcy – The Great Reset – Criticism on the Great Reset – We citizens are responsible too – Conspiracy theories about the Great Reset – Fallacy in conspiracy thinking – Digital Economy – The world connected – Chips in our brain – You’ll own nothing and be happy – Big government – Global governance – Agenda 21 – The plan to kill you – Inside information – Will Agenda 2030 be carried out? – Will the Great Reset be carried out? – ‘Monopoly: a total picture of The Great Reset’ – Right-wing extremism – Contradictions – Oxfam, inequality and crocodile tears – What is left of the wake-up call?
“Nature is sending us a message,” said Inger Anderson, the Danish head of the United Nations Environment Agency. According to her, the pandemic calls for a fundamental reform of how we deal with animals, nature and ecosystems. That was in March 2020, when the pandemic became global and country after country went into lockdown. We must realize that we are intertwined, “intimately interconnected with nature,” she said. Instead of exploiting, we should see nature as an ally to build a sustainable society together.
It was a message widely proclaimed by scientists, policy makers, climate activists, thinkers and writers. They all pointed out that Covid-19 could only have arisen thanks to our unnatural dealings with animals and that it could only spread so quickly thanks to our modern lifestyle with a lot of travel and flying. For years we assumed that nature would accommodate us, but things can go wrong. Wildfires, air pollution, drought and sea level rise are all symptoms of the same, but with this pandemic it came very close. Wasn’t this the perfect opportunity to really fight for sustainability and animal welfare?
The corona outbreak points to an imbalance in our relationship with nature. If you stuff 10,000 pigs into a barn, you will get swine fever sooner or later. If you have mega fields of monoculture pollinated by bees, you have to feed those bees antibiotics to keep them healthy. It is the imbalance that gives viruses and bacteria free chance. This pandemic is not the first time that our exploitative use of animals has led to a contagious disease. Zika, Hendra, Nipah, Sars, Mers, Ebola, H5N1 (bird flu) and H1N1 (Mexican flu) preceded SARS-CoV-2.
“A very small organism forces the world to its knees,” said Amma, an Indian spiritual leader. From her ashram in India, Amma leads a worldwide community that, in addition to meditation and awareness development, also organizes projects in the field of poverty alleviation, health, education and emancipation. In video messages, she spoke about the pandemic, which she says has changed, or should change, the way we deal with life. “Now we see how risky it is to exploit nature and how vulnerable we really are.”
(Pandemic is natures warning, Coronavirus is a wake-up call)
It has often been said that we should produce more sustainably. That is of course true but it’s not enough. It shifts responsibility fully to companies, while we will have to change our consumption patterns too. And this is going to ask a lot of us. According to Amma, the lockdowns challenge us to practice with it.
And that’s immediately a second link between the pandemic and sustainability: the lockdowns. After a few weeks we noticed that the air was getting cleaner and that animals came to visit the towns. After a few months, air pollution was found to be reduced by 17%. Suppose we do this more often, a large part of the climate problem has already been solved. This is of course not possible in this form, because the lockdown is disease-related and has other consequences that we do not want, such as increased poverty, loneliness, learning disadvantages and a decline in emancipation (most clearly in poorer countries). But experiences of the lockdown can be a source of inspiration to tackle problems in the near future.
“The first lesson of corona,” philosopher Bruno Latour said, “is the most astonishing: that in a few weeks we can put our economic system on hold, worldwide.” We could never have imagined such a thing in advance. We even thought it was impossible. For decades, all politics was about economic growth and strong business. And citizens were quite unwilling to give up anything. So we maintained a polluting system together. That the environment suffered and the earth got warmer and warmer was a side effect. Too bad about the dirty air, too bad about the plastics, but hey, we cannot stop the machine! That conviction has now been broken at once.
It was Bruno Latour who as one of the first suggested that everyone should ask themselves what to take from the lockdown. What would I want to keep when society opens again? How would I like to change my life or the world, if I take the lessons of the lockdown with me?
According to Gregg Braden, a holistic writer and scientist, the pandemic challenges us to explore what really matters to our lives and life on the planet. And to organize society accordingly. Until now, the value of health, care and climate has never been decisive. The economic interest has always been paramount. That seemed unstoppable, even though we knew it was no sustainable choice. Now we see the reverse: it can be stopped. Suddenly we have to choose for human life. For the first time in history we are shutting down industry and airports. So it is possible. “We’ve never had this before. This is a global reset! If we are wise, we take this opportunity.”
“This is a global reset!
If we are wise, we take this opportunity.”
Meditation teacher and writer Deepak Chopra says the lockdown shows that even climate change is reversible: “During this pandemic, the environment has started thriving. The Himalayas are thriving, and pollution levels have drastically decreased, a sure sign that climate change is reversible.”
Climate change always seemed so unsolvable. And then suddenly it appears that we are willing to intervene on a large scale. Now we do it for health, but we could also do it for other purposes: climate, pollution, poverty. The lockdowns prove that it is possible. So from now on we know: whether we do it or not is a choice.
Climate activists finally got hope. People were willing to change their behaviour, to give up some of their freedom and luxuries, to save the lives of others and to keep healthcare system afloat. That hope also came because the support for the corona measures was enormous, especially in the first months of the pandemic. This is apparent from studies in various countries (Cambridge, Ipsos). So perhaps more support for climate measures could finally get off the ground.
Now it is striking that sustainability, a fairer economy and animal welfare have been for years high on the wish list of many people. So we could have expected that people would have risen to demand change, that the streets and squares had filled up, that there were demonstrations in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Chicago: “Now that’s enough! … Look what we have done! … Animal rights in the constitution! … Climate over profit! … Higher wages in care!” That there would be a fight for a different way of dealing with the earth and a different economy. This was the moment.
But something else happened. Indeed, the squares filled up, indeed there were massive demonstrations in Berlin, London, Amsterdam and Chicago. Only they were not about sustainability or green politics, no, they were about something completely different: “We don’t want to wear masks! … Our freedom is being taken away! … Restaurants must open again! … Covid measures are dictatorship! … Stop the lockdown!” The call for a green and social transition was drowned out by resistance to restrictions. First we got the anti-Covid parties, then the anti-Covid demonstrations and then the anti-Covid workshops.
The resistance has been dominated from the start by three groups: the far right, the antivax movement and the alternative and spiritual movement. The latter is nowadays called the wellness community: lovers of yoga, alternative medicine, spiritual philosophy, natural food, workshops and festivals.
In itself, criticism of Covid policy doesn’t need to be left or right. Someone who is scary about vaccines or who doubts the proportionality of the measures is not automatically right-wing. But due to the conspiracy theories that flooded the internet, all kinds of radical right-wing ideas have crept into the debate. Like that the world is ruled by a left-wing elite, that Trump is a hero fighting this elite and that climate change is a hoax – that sort of ideas.
As a result, something bizarre happened: precisely those people who have been shouting climate, environment and a less consumer-oriented lifestyle for years, started overnight to fight for the opposite: climate policy is a ploy to impose even more restrictions, slowing down the consumer society is oppression, seizing the pandemic to make the world more sustainable is a totalitarian coup.
You can read more about this in my blog Van New Age naar AltRight (not yet translated).
During the first lockdown, when the world suddenly became silent, birds started to sing more beautifully. This has been noticed by biologists too. Presumably, those birds felt more free because they no longer had to sing against a buzz of background noise. Whales started calling (singing) more and louder and could communicate better with each other.
For whales, the lockdown was a blessing. Whales, dolphins and sharks are known to be stressed by the noise in the seas. By using ‘soundscapes’ it can be calculated that sounds under water wave through thousands of miles. For many animals sounds are essential to make choices and to communicate. (Guardian). Scientists have been calling for ships to become quieter for some time, but thanks to the lockdowns, they suddenly received a wealth of convincing arguments. Several shipbuilders are already working on it.
Also the noise in the earth became quieter. Man causes vibrations through his many activities (cities, cars, trains, factories). This is called ‘seismic noise’. The vibrations are palpable and in a way also audible, a soft hum, even hundreds of meters underground. The natural noise of wind, sea and rivers produces a softer seismic noise than that of humans. (Science, NRC)
In the months of the first lockdown, the noise was much softer and approached the natural noise again. As a result, geologists and seismologists made the exciting discovery that the noise extends much further than they ever thought. They noticed this because the noise also decreased in remote areas, many miles away from cities and industries. The vibration or hum spreads in large wide movements. Trees, roots, everything that lives underground, vibrates gently with it. We never asked the trees what this is like for them. Trees, as we know, communicate mainly through their roots, through networks that are now called the Wood Wide Web. And then it turned out during the lockdown that it again was naturally quiet under the earth.
We could have expected that people who hug trees and sing “The Earth is Our Mother” would be interested. But they weren’t into that at all. They were demonstrating that they wanted their freedom back and that face masks are oppression.
Due to all the resistance and protests, the question of what we can learn from the crisis has been pushed into the background. However, a lot is happening in the meantime. Internationally, more than ever before, doctors, scientists, policymakers and non-government organizations are working together. Certainly in the fields of medicine, public health and poverty alleviation, but also in other surprising areas: urban planning for example.
Entire cities are being decorated differently, inspired by the lockdown. In Milan, the Strade Aperte (‘open streets’) plan has been developed. There, 35 kilometres of roads are now being renovated to make more space for pedestrians, cyclists and electric scooters. The driving force behind this project, Mayor Giuseppe Sala, now also chairs the Global Mayors COVID-19 Recovery Task Force, in which cities work together to improve public health care, promote equal rights and become more sustainable and climate-friendly. This has become a major international movement.
The Italian-American star economist Mariana Mazzucato is leading an ambitious renewal plan in the London borough of Camden Town, to emerge from the crisis in a more sustainable, social and inclusive way. Camden is a large ethnically mixed neighbourhood with inequality, social problems and economic disadvantage. Mazzucato points out that the damage caused by the pandemic is very unevenly distributed and that the poor suffer much more than the rich and middle classes. Problems of poverty and structural racism have become more visible, also in a relatively wealthy country such as Great Britain. Mazzucato developed the plans in close consultation with residents and also asked school children for ideas. Work is now underway to make Camden greener, make new rental properties carbon neutral, reduce racism and increase citizen participation.
International networks in which mayors and city councils work together and inspire each other have been around for some time, but the pandemic has given them momentum. Greening, equal opportunities, emancipation and the fight against racism are being tackled at an accelerated pace. In the United States, some cities have seized their moment before, namely when Trump became president. As is well known, Trump actively opposed environmental policy, sustainability and multicultural equality, and many cities have set up policies on their own.
Other examples are Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, where people want to bring back darkness at night because it’s so much better for birds and insects. And Athens, where both tourism and urban planning are made more sustainable, with surprises during the lockdown as a source of inspiration (cycle paths, need for outdoor encounters, small squares, more greenery). Many more cities, Paris, Barcelona, Auckland to name a few, have embarked on a fresh start during the lockdown. If you like this sort of things, check out C40 Cities, Sustainable Cities GEF, Sustainable Cities Worldbank , Mazzucato, Mission driven localities.
According to Nobel Prize winner Muhammed Yunus, this crisis requires courageous thinking: ‘outrageously bold thinking to reshape post-COVID society’. Yunus from Bangladesh is the inventor of the microcredit and one of the champions of social enterprises. He is called ‘the banker of the poor’. According to him, current economic structures are a time bomb because they create ever-increasing inequality. And because they are also laid down in all kinds of agreements and treaties, it seems that nothing can be changed.
Of course Yunus understands that changing economic structures isn’t a one go, but we might start with reforming those agreements and treaties. The pandemic is the right moment: distributing vaccines fairly, letting go of patents and market forces, investing highly in local entrepreneurs to absorb the blows of corona. “Redesigning the system” as he calls it. Yunus doesn’t understand, while we have the chance to change the world, so many people only want back as quickly to the way it was. “I do not understand everyone’s eagerness to rush back to a pre-Covid era.”
“Redesigning the system” means reshaping our neoliberal economy. If the pandemic has shown anything, it is that neoliberalism is unsuitable for dealing with a major crisis.
Just to refresh the memory, neoliberalism is the “New Economy” that emerged around 1980 and was vigorously promoted by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. The new economy was designed to allow the free market to do its work unhindered so that business could pursue its unbridled profits. The government had to interfere as little as possible and taxes had to be low. Politics got a new task: it had to serve above all the market economy.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union (1989-1990), moderate left-wing politicians also embraced these principles (Clinton, Blair, Schröder, Kok) and so it seemed as if there were no counterarguments anymore. With the mantras free market, low taxes, deregulation and privatization we plunged into a new world order. That would make us all happy.
But since the breakthrough of neoliberalism, the gap between rich and poor has only widened. While just before that, that gorge was historically small! Too often we forget that wealth has never been as equally distributed as in the1970s. Yet since then, governments have started to tear down that hard-won equality. More and more money fell into the hands of fewer and fewer people, a process that has been going on for forty years now. The voters have chosen this policy every four years, completely voluntarily. Neoliberalism has been called the revolt of the rich against the poor.
Low taxes automatically mean you have to cut back. There is no other way and that has been a permanent cramp since the 1980s. Budget cuts affect the public sector such as health care, education and social services, because they don’t generate but cost money. So in a market economy they become a closing entry.
Since the corona crisis, it appears that healthcare has been stripped down far too much. There also appears to be a need for a government that can intervene, set policy and give direction. See the support packages that go against all neo-liberal market rules. See the calls to give vaccines to poor countries at cost price, also against market rules, or to drop patents, even more against market rules. The pandemic shows how necessary it is.
Economists such as Muhammed Yunus and Mariana Mazzucato have argued for years that politics should get a more active role and be less dictated by business and financial markets. But time and again Western governments and their voters said “no”. Until the pandemic changed everything. Now there is another sound. Even from strongholds of neoliberalism it is now admitted: too much market forces stand in the way of a fair distribution of wealth and a resilient society. One economist after another is now confessing that things have to change. This brings us to the Great Reset.
According to Klaus Schwab, founder and president of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the pandemic shows us that our old systems are not fit any more for the 21st century. “[the pandemic] laid bare the fundamental lack of social cohesion, fairness, inclusion and equality. Now is the historical moment, the time, not only to fight the virus but to shape the system for the post-Covid era.” A lot more voices are advocating now a change of direction, which Schwab calls a “surprising and sudden turnaround.”
In June 2020, Klaus Schwab presented The Great Reset, a call to take this crisis as an opportunity to make the world more sustainable, fair and inclusive. In the Great Reset we find most of the themes I mentioned above: a politics that includes sustainability and climate, a fairer and more equal distribution of wealth, including other economic principles and new business models. Both in the book Covid-19: The Great Reset and in study groups of the World Economic Forum, these recommendations are elaborated in sub-areas, such as digitization, circular economy, sustainable production processes, poverty reduction and emancipation.
Some of the plans have already been devised before, after the economic crisis of 2008, so it is not entirely new, but some of them have clearly come into new light as a result of the pandemic. As a guideline for reforms, the Great Reset aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). These are the goals that are collectively referred to as Agenda 21 or Agenda 2030.
The Great Reset is controversial, mainly thanks to a lot of conspiracy stories going around. More on that later. But also in regular channels sometimes criticism is heard. What is being said is that it would be top-down, which means the reforms would be imposed from the top. This is not true. The World Economic Forum identifies developments, calculates consequences and provides advice. In this they are not fundamentally different from other think tanks or advisory bodies. It is up to politicians, in consultation with social groups, to what extent the recommendations are applied. The World Economic Forum itself also initiates projects. But these too are not imposed from above, but are created in collaboration with organizations and governments from many countries. Check out their site for a few examples.
Another point is that critics do not trust the creators of the Great Reset. The World Economic Forum is a chic think tank where the rich and powerful meet: industrialists, politicians, investors, non-government organizations, scientists. During the annual meetings in Davos, the surrounding airports are full of the visitors’ private jets. Are these the people who are going to make the world a fairer and greener place? It would make a big difference if they paid decent taxes first. And if they really want to, why haven’t they already done it? Understandable criticism, but also a bit too easy.
Of course there is hypocrisy involved, of course there are gaps between words and deeds. But what the critics forget is that there are already large companies and industrialists who are doing a lot. But they are stuck in structures, agreements, fear of competition and much more. The CEOs of Unilever and BP are trying to make their companies more sustainable and are fighting for it with their own shareholders, who prefer more profit and less risk. On the other hand, ExxonMobil has been trying to antagonize and discredit climate policy for thirty years, but is being forced now by its own shareholders to become more climate-friendly. So this battle has many sides and many faces.
In all our criticism we should take a look at ourselves too. Do we drive less? Do we fly less? Are we eating less meat? Do we only buy products that are made without violating human rights? Would we rather pay a little more to give animals better treatment? Most people not, unfortunately. In making agriculture more sustainable and making dairy and meat more animal-friendly, it is mainly the consumer that stands in the way: a large majority simply wants the lowest price (source ACM). We citizens are really not so eager to live more sustainably and socially. Just look at the election results, every four years again.
Then it is very easy to shift the blame to large companies. But high-level struggle isn’t much different from an ordinary household. When you or I donate to Amnesty or Greenpeace, we don’t give our entire income, but assume that every little bit helps. In this way, we can also judge the actions of the CEOs who now promise to make the world more sustainable and righteous, instead of automatically distrusting them. Let’s be honest: if the air has become a little cleaner in the last twenty years, it’s not because we’ve been driving a kilometre less, but because the cars and the petrol are cleaner.
And now for a completely different critique: the conspiracy theories, the deluge of reports, films and interviews that would have us believe that the Great Reset is an evil plan by ’the elite’ to subject the world to totalitarian control. There are so many wild accusations that I can’t list them all, but a few keep coming back.
It is claimed that the World Economic Forum:
- has been preparing the current pandemic for fifty years;
- wants the world to digitize, chip us and enslave us;
- wants to take our money and property;
- wants to establish a world government with totalitarian dictatorship.
Let me start with the charge that “they” have been preparing this pandemic for fifty years. “They” are the WEF, the WHO, the United Nations, Deep State, in short “the elite”. In threads on Facebook you sometimes come across statements like this: ‘They only prepared it for fifty years…’ followed with a wink emoji. With this kind of quasi-tough remarks conspiracy believers show each other which side they are on.
Where did the idea of fifty years come from? “The WEF admits it!” is exclaimed, “It’s on their site!”
Okay, let’s take a look. The World Economic Forum has established several platforms to bring researchers, investors and policymakers together and address global issues. There is a Climate Action Platform, there are more business-oriented platforms and there is also a Covid Action Platform. The latter gives conspiracy theorists the itch. COVID ACTION? So it’s a plan! They have put Covid in the world on purpose!
A video on the World Economic Forum site is explaining what the Covid Action Platform aims to do: bring parties together and share expertise to fight the pandemic, as well as keep affected economies running and food supplies in poor areas up to scratch. It is also said – and now it comes – that this is completely in line with the work the World Economic Forum has been doing for almost fifty years:
“Gathering actors from the public and the private sectors and civil society, to work towards a common goal, has been at the heart of the World Economic Forum’s work for almost fifty years.”
“Did you hear that?” sounds the voice-over in a much-watched conspiracy film, “They have been planning this for fifty years!” Bewildered exclamations on social media: “They’re saying it themselves!” … “No secret, no conspiracy theory! They are confessing!”
So the conspiracy theorists hear something completely different from what is being said. And then they look no further. If you do read or listen further, you will discover what the Covid Action Platform is: of course no plan to introduce Covid into the world, but to limit the damage caused by it as much as possible, through research and collaboration.
What we see here is a set pattern in conspiracy thinking: if the WEF sets up actions to fight the pandemic, those actions are to create the pandemic. So it is reversed. This is so clearly a fallacy that it is unimaginable that people would believe it. But we find it again and again. The World Bank has also set up Covid Projects and it is immediately clear to conspiracy theorists that the World Bank is also in the plan. Logical isn’t it? COVID PROJECTS! “Just found on their site!”
If you look up what the Covid Projects are, you will see that these are not projects to spread Covid, but exactly what one might expect from the World Bank: projects to give developing countries medical and economic aid, promote vaccine distribution and infrastructure to deal with the pandemic.
Another example is Bill Gates, who warned in 2015 in a now famous TedTalk that a pandemic could break out and that the world is not well prepared for it. Again we see the same reversal: according to conspiracy theorists, he organized the pandemic himself. “He wouldn’t have announced it otherwise, would he?”
Another one: Event 201. There is a rumour among conspiracy theorists that Johns Hopkins University held a dress rehearsal before sending the pandemic out into the world. So they too are part of the conspiracy! The proof is a chic October 2019 meeting with politicians, policymakers and specialists simulating a global virus outbreak. They took a coronavirus as an example. That can’t be a coincidence!
But Event 201 was a simulation (Pandemic Simulation Exercise) to investigate whether the world is prepared enough: what to do in such a case, whether the government and health care have enough resources, what to do if hospitals overflow, what to do if distribution channels shut down, is the economy able to keep going, and so on. The disturbing conclusion was that the world is not prepared enough. Johns Hopkins University had run simulations three times before, the first in 2001 involving a fictitious smallpox terrorist attack, followed by two other fictitious epidemics.
“But they took a coronavirus as example! If that’s not enough…”
Yes, they took a coronavirus. Because SARS (2002) and MERS (2012) were also coronaviruses, virologists did estimate that a possible pandemic with a high probability would be corona again.
We keep seeing the same fallacy: if you’re preparing for a pandemic, you’re preparing that pandemic; if you warn against a pandemic, then you knew about it. I could give many more examples, but I’ll leave it for now. The pattern seems pretty clear.
So beware if conspiracy theorists claim that they get their information from official sites. “No conspiracy theory, I got it from the official site.” It has a certain intimidating effect, but know that they misunderstand or wilfully distort the data on those sites. You can read more about these patterns in my blog Why conspiracy theories are wrong.
Something different now: as you know Bill Gates wants to implant you a chip with which you can be tracked and influenced from a distance. A large part of the people now have that chip in them. The well-known anti-vax activist Robert Kennedy said the following about this: they take your cash from you, get access to your bank balance and can block payments. They can even kill you if you don’t cooperate. “They” are of course Bill Gates himself and the secret rulers, Deep State and all that. So you are completely in their power. The message was posted on Instagram and was called “the Digitalized Economy.” It’s completely fake and Kennedy deleted it later, but it did have 36,000 likes and shocked comments underneath.
Now imagine that you believe this… And then you continue googling and end up on the site of the World Economic Forum. There you will find a platform called “Digital Economy”. Then of course you are scared to death: “So it is true! Digital Economy! So they are really going to do this! Nothing secret, just read on the WEF site!” Under a conspiracy video on YouTube someone wrote: “I am really surprised that this is so openly on their site.”
But it isn’t there at all. Apparently you perceive differently, once you believe such horror stories. The disinformation drives the interpretation so strongly that you no longer see what is being written or said. The World Economic Forum is not going to inject a chip into you or take your cash or control payments. What they do say is that they want to expand digital networks and develop platforms. They also explain why.
Global digitization has accelerated in 2020 and 2021 and is being applied in more and more areas. In many developing countries, right from the start of the pandemic, one accelerated health care mapping: how close is health care to remote communities, what are the distribution channels, who already has medicines and who hasn’t yet, who has been vaccinated against what, who has mosquito nets and who hasn’t yet? Those kinds of themes. Containing the pandemic was of course a major catalyst, but it also had spin-offs into other areas, such as malaria, against which mosquito nets can be distributed much more quickly and effectively.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) had estimated that thanks to corona and thanks to the corona measures, many other diseases could be treated less well. On malaria, the WHO feared that the pandemic could cause as many as 200,000 additional deaths, destroying ten years of progress in one year. This figure is still used by corona deniers as an argument against the measures, but it is no longer current. (WHO Malaria Report)
Several countries severely affected by malaria have taken immediate action to improve their prevention, including distributing insecticide-treated mosquito nets. In Benin, a very precise map has been made of where mosquito nets are, who already has them and who hasn’t yet. Logistics has been set up, and so on. this project was coordinated by the government, WHO, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and local organizations. Almost 8 million mosquito nets were distributed in a few weeks, something that would never have been possible without digitization. For a country with 12 million inhabitants and malaria as the number one cause of death, we can imagine the long-term effects of such a project.
Another application of digitization is expanding networks in middle and low-income countries. The aim of the WEF is to give population groups and civil society organizations better access to information through greater connectivity, so that they get the opportunity to participate in discussions, to develop or oppose policy, in other words to emancipate. For women, for example: is there help against exploitation and discrimination? Is my daughter entitled to an education? For people who want to start a business: what networks are there, can you call on microcredit? If your area is polluted: are there organizations that might take action against it? Thus empowerment, an important element of the Great Reset.
There are many such projects underway. If it interests you, read the reports. A lot more interesting than watching conspiracy videos for hours.
Another aspect of the Digital Future as the WEF envisions it is more controversial. This is the far-reaching digitization of our daily lives, with the very latest inventions, and these are spectacular. For example, chips can be planted in our brain that can be used to control a computer. By imagining a certain action, the computer recognizes your intention. It sounds like science fiction, but experiments are already underway, mainly for medical applications. People who are paralyzed can make a computer type thanks to electrodes in their brain. The computer translates their thoughts into sentences. For those people this is a great enrichment. Klaus Schwab predicts that there will be many more applications of this technique: “direct communication between our brain and the digital world.”
Digitization continues to progress. There are already people who took a chip in their arm to enter their favourite disco without a ticket. Entrance fee and drinks are automatically debited. In Sweden, thousands of people have their ID card in a chip in their hand or arm. The chip also contains other data such as train season tickets. No need anymore to carry all those plastic cards in your wallet.
Whether you appreciate these kind of developments I’ll leave it up to you. My point is that the World Economic Forum doesn’t really have much to do with this. These are inventions developed by universities, academic hospitals and tech companies. Klaus Schwab is now portrayed as a Frankenstein monster who wants to turn humans into robots, but he and his WEF are not the creators nor the implementers of this at all.
The Digital Future that the WEF is talking about is part of what has been called a Fourth Industrial Revolution. In this, digitization and global connectivity are becoming increasingly intertwined with our daily lives: socially and personally, with an influence on our thinking and feeling. This sounds scary to some people, but know that we’ve been in the middle of it for decades and are working on it ourselves. Hardly anyone wants to go back to a wired telephone in a permanent place in the house.
Our reactions to digital innovations are usually predictable: at first there is a lot of resistance, but in the end most people accept it and make good use of it. Almost everyone now uses a smartphone and navigation and Google is monitoring your every move. “How was your visit to the supermarket? Write a review.” If I had asked you twenty years ago if you would allow this, you would probably have yelled “No Never Never.”
Some of these developments cry out for social discussion. The European Commission is working with major tech companies on a digital pasport, based on the corona pass: from a test and vaccination certificate to a digital proof of identity on which much more data can be collected, such as bank details. These are older ideas of which the pandemic was a catalyst. Of course it is claimed that it is for collective security and that it makes our lives much easier, but it also has risks. In dictatorial situations you could get that a dissident suddenly can no longer buy food. “Your payments have been blocked.” We live in a democracy, but here too the boundaries of privacy are being stretched. In the longer term, a balance will have to be sought between democracy, privacy and collective security. That is also what the authors of the Great Reset ask for (“The risk of dystopia”, The Great Reset 1.6.3).
“The elite is going to take all your money!” is the next fear that circulates among conspiracy theorists. How do they get to this? “It’s on the WEF website! You’ll own nothing and be happy! They admit it!” It’s the specter of a communist dictatorship, a second China, in which people no longer own any property and have to work for the state. “You really don’t care if they take your money?” someone asked me. Yes of course, but they won’t.
The sentence “You’ll own nothing and be happy” comes from an information clip by the World Economic Forum in which the world of 2030 is outlined. The hope behind it is that we will move more and more towards a circular economy, with less property and fairer access to prosperity. In a circular economy you don’t buy everything yourself to own, but you use communal facilities. Instead of buying a car, you take out a transport subscription. That can be a car or a train or a bus trip or an electric scooter. In this way we can maintain prosperity, but distribute it more fairly with much less waste. The WEF supports several initiatives in this area.
But wait a minute! Isn’t the circular economy valued as a possible solution to waste and inequality? Certainly in alternative circles, where conspiracy theories are so massively embraced, the circular economy has been discussed and written positively for years. But that was apparently only as long as it stayed far away, in Bhutan or something, or in the distant future. Now that the WEF proposes to put it into practice, it is cause for great outrage.
The phrase “You’ll own nothing” literally comes from Ida Auken, a Danish social-democratic politician who also works for the World Economic Forum and who for years has been campaigning for circular economy, climate and environment . The whole story that the WEF is going to take your money and establish a dictatorship is a fallacy. It could only go viral because conspiracy theorists misunderstood an information clip.
The next sore point for conspiracy theorists is Klaus Schwab’s case for a return to “big government.” Okay, this term may not be that tactical, but when the Great Reset was formulated one did not know that conspiracy thinking would take such a flight and therefore that for some people this sounds much like totalitarianism and Big Brother think. However, “big government” means something completely different. The term has a context.
“The era of big government is over,” Bill Clinton said in his 1996 Inaugural Address. In the neoliberal ideology that was dominant from 1979 to early 2020, a government had to be as small as possible and had only those tasks that could not be left to the market. But as we have seen, the crisis now demands an active policy from governments and international organizations. That is a precondition for limiting the consequences of the pandemic, but also the only way – the only! – to be able to place sustainability and poverty reduction above economic growth and the pursuit of profit. The term big government is a response to the small government of neoliberalism.
Perhaps the term “engaged government” would have been more useful. It is about a government that sets goals and dares to place public interest above profit. The critics haven’t understood this at all. Please look at the context before you judge.
The same applies to “global governance”, also something called for in the Great Reset. You see, conspracy theorists say, Klaus Schwab wants world dictatorship. The New World Order is coming! But in political jargon, the term means something else: not global government but global governance, which means international coordination and cooperation. Still a conspiracy theorists nightmare – they usually are for home country first.
Klaus Schwab and his colleagues see the lack of global governance as a problem. As early as spring 2020, they feared that the pandemic would increase nationalist tendencies, slowing economic equity and sustainability. Therefore they argue for more international cooperation and the strengthening of international institutions.
If each country pursues its own interests, policies against poverty and exploitation will never get off the ground. Because exploiting, as harsh as it sounds, benefits some countries, who get cheap products as a result. Climate policy and sustainability will also not get off the ground if countries all fight for themselves. Because where one country closes coal plants, another will jump in and ramp up coal production. Animal welfare will not improve either, because better treatment and larger pens will make meat and dairy more expensive, making the competitive position vulnerable. For all these reasons, more international coordination is needed and less nationalistic self-interest. Not “America First” but “Planet First”. That is what global governance means: jointly formulating and implementing policy.
We have seen these principles at work during the pandemic. Since the start, the World Health Organization (WHO) has called for the lifting of patents on vaccines, so that low- and middle-income countries can also make vaccines. But rich Western countries and Big Pharma are holding back. As a result, vaccination in poorer countries is very slow, as is well known, and production remains largely in rich countries. Our greed is paid dearly, because now the pandemic festers on, variant after variant.
The WHO is in favor of an open source system for vaccines and medicines against Covid-19. This means that important information is available and can be exchanged. To this end, the WHO has set up the Covid-19 Technology Access Pool. They had set up a same sort of Acces Pool years ago, in 1952, for flu vaccines: the Global Influenza Surveillance and Response System. There are no patents on flu vaccines and it works fine: pharmaceutical companies from Western and non-Western countries share their knowledge. Patents are actually not necessary at all. There are also no patents on polio vaccines. But the flu and polio vaccines predate neoliberalism. Then this was still possible.
Many middle- and low-income countries do have a well-developed pharmaceutical industry. Cuba, India, Indonesia, South Africa to name a few. However, the Covid-19 Access Pool never got going. Why not? Because rich Western countries refuse to release patents and information.
An exception is Joe Biden. He also advocates a waiver of patents and thus supports the WHO and non-Western countries. Even though the exemption should be temporary, to compensate for the inequality caused by the pandemic, this is a revolutionary step for an American president. (Trump tried to force companies to supply their drugs and vaccines only to the United States…)
What we see here is that strengthening international institutions, in this case the WHO, could have led to much more international cooperation. For the sake of the world’s population, rather than just for the sake of a few rich countries. This could have been global governance! But the European governments (and the American government when Trump was still president) thought their own economy and the next election more important. So it didn’t happen. A flimsy compromise is now being struck.
And dear conspiracy theorists: here you also see that the United Nations and the WHO are not at all as powerful as you claim. The WHO has previously set up well-functioning partnerships for flu and polio vaccines, but with Covid-19 that failed, simply because a few rich countries and their pharmaceutical companies blocked it.
Let’s turn to Agenda 21, or rather its successor, Agenda 2030. This is one of the pillars of the Great Reset. Since the pandemic, this Agenda has become synonymous with a totalitarian world order, the master plan of the secret rulers, the real reason of the pandemic. You see stickers on lampposts and bus stops: “Corona = Agenda 21”. What is this about?
Agenda 21 is the United Nations’ action plan to promote sustainable and social development, drawn up at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 (United Nations Conference on Environment & Development). The Agenda contains guidelines to reduce the depletion of the earth, protect biodiversity, distribute resources and costs for the environment and climate more fairly, and combat poverty and inequality. The guidelines are voluntary and implementation is slow. That is why a new version was agreed in 2015, when the goals were adjusted and laid down in slightly more robust agreements. This is Agenda 2030, actually an adaptation of the original plan. For convenience I will call them together Agenda 21/30.
The Agenda consists of 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals have a history. First the Millennium Goals for the year 2000, later they became Sustainable Development Goals. They have been formulated in consultation between the United Nations and member states and civil society and non-government organisations. Everyone was allowed to participate in the discussion: in 2015 you could vote for yourself which goals were most important to you. In the end, the member states reached an agreement. The Sustainable Development Goals can be found here.
The goals are both sustainable and social. Much emphasis is placed on cleaner land use, cleaner agriculture, phasing out fossil energy sources and transition to renewable energy. At the same time, it calls for active human rights policies and more opportunities for women and girls, minorities, indigenous peoples and civil society organizations such as trade unions. By giving these groups more say and rights, it is hoped that more equitable solutions to problems can be found. It is also hoped to strengthen international cooperation: “global partnership”. The Agenda is an idealistic and ambitious document. It calls on countries and peoples to take responsibility for their footprint and actively work together for a sustainable and just future.
What’s against this?
The resistance comes entirely from the extreme right, where international cooperation is a dirty word anyway and where any limitation for a greater social purpose is abhorred. So Republicans in the United States started spreading conspiracy stories about the Agenda. The reason was quite transparent, because if the goals were achieved, American companies would no longer be able to carry out their business practices in developing countries without restraint, and the oil and coal industries would also have to go along with sustainability and human rights.
Suddenly, the story spread that Agenda 21 was a United Nations plan to invade the United States, take all private weapons, curb the oil industry, and put an end to the American Way of Life. It was a nonsense story: the UN has no army at all and if it puts together a temporary army, such as a UN peacekeeping force, it needs permission from the Security Council, in which the US has veto power. So it is completely impossible. But conspiracy theorists embraced it and it went viral straight away. Since then, wild stories have emerged, such as the left-wing elite wanting to thin out the world’s population. Conspiracy guru David Icke calls Agenda 21 “THE PLAN TO KILL YOU”.
Here are some of the Agenda’s goals according to conspiracy theorists:
“One World Government, New World Order, End of National Sovereignty.” None of this is in the Agenda. There is, however, a call for better international coordination and a call to give more groups a voice.
“The end of ALL private owned property. The end of the family unit. The end of single family homes.” None of this is in the Agenda, none! These are inventions floating around the internet and random people can add horror fantasies to them. Success ensured they go viral.
“Depopulation, control of population growth”. Untrue but not entirely nonsense. It does state in the Agenda that rapid population growth is a problem, partly because water resources and food production in poor countries cannot keep up with growth. Countries with high population growth will therefore have to develop policies to cope with this. Now many people move from rural areas to large cities, where they fall into poverty. The Agenda recommends investing in those areas so that businesses and agriculture remain active there. At the same time, policies are being developed to discourage population growth. “With respect for women’s rights”: thus discouraging large families through contraceptives, information campaigns and the like. This recommendation is no different from most other development reports. According to Bill Gates, increasing prosperity is the best remedy against overpopulation, because it appears that people then form smaller families.
We’re going on: “Microchipped society for purchasing, travel, tracking and controlling.” Has nothing to do with the Agenda. Probably added since the pandemic.
“The end of private transportation, owning cars.” Again, not in the Agenda, but it says enough about the compilers of this conspiracy story that the ownership of cars is explicitly mentioned.
“Government raised children, government owned and controlled schools. All businesses owned by government.” Nothing about this in the Agenda, nor is it a plan of any government (except perhaps North Korea). It is the classic fear of the far right that the world will become communist.
In fact, the opposite of this is stated in the Agenda: that there is a role for private parties, the business community and social organisations: “We acknowledge the role of the diverse private sector, ranging from micro-enterprises to cooperatives to multinationals, and that of civil society organizations and philanthropic organizations in the implementation of the new Agenda.” It is always emphasized that all goals must be broadly supported, in consultation with various private and social groups. The aim is to involve groups that until now had little opportunity and say in policy making, such as women and indigenous peoples. (Agenda 30 par. 41; Agenda 21 par. 7.26, 7.68, 8.38, 11.3, 13.24)
“The end of private farms and gazing livestock.” None of this in the Agenda, rather the opposite. Probably just added to scare American farmers.
I could go on, but I think it’s clear enough that the conspiracy stories about Agenda 21/30 have nothing to do with the actual Agenda. They are nonsense. Not even a bit true: just nonsense. If you really think the Agenda is an evil plan to seize totalitarian power, then you just haven’t done any research into it. Then you have apparently watched some conspiracy films or sites, without even looking further to see if anything is right.
BUT… the conspiracy theorists have a very strong counter-argument, at least in their own view. Because, they say, “Agenda 21 is NOT what Wikipedia tells you! Nor is it what is in the Agenda itself. What it is is being kept silent by politicians and the media!”
Well, if we think along for a moment, theoretically it’s possible that Agenda 21/30 is a cover for another, hidden plan. But if you make such a claim, you must have very good background information. You should have access to sources close to the Agenda, people who were involved in its creation or implementation and who have talked. So whistleblowers, insiders, people who know what goes on behind the scenes. Let’s see what the conspiracy theorists have to offer.
When we look at conspiracy videos and sites, it turns out that there are no references to sources at all. A New Age woman passionately tells about the grand master plan and the apocalyptic battle taking place. A man tells monotonously that “they” (the secret rulers) needed an “event”, and therefore came up with a fake pandemic, to hypnotize people so they could carry out their plan without resistance. The plan? Partly extermination of the world population and robotization of the part that remains. Another one claims that the vaccinated will die en masse (this should have happened in October 2021) and that this is part of the Agenda. Sources? Themselves, their story. At most they refer to a scholar or pseudo-scholar who says the same on another site.
If external sources are mentioned, these are sites that you and I can find easily, for example from the World Bank, the National Health Service or the World Economic Forum, from which they take some fragments: “Covid Projects!” … “Fifty years!”… “Event 201!” … “You’ll own nothing!”
David Icke in his much-attended lecture “The plan to kill you” simply follows the list I mentioned above, which is completely fiction. He intersperses it with names, photos and citations (without context), and doesn’t search anywhere to see if his accusations are true. In this way, conspiracy theorists remain completely on the outside. While they pretend to expose the backgrounds and deeper currents, they only look at loose statements, preferably one-liners. The backgrounds, context and history are systematically ignored.
Are these insiders with background information? No, these are clearly outsiders, amateurs sending their fantasies out into the world. Their sources are the other conspiracy theorists. No former politicians, no development workers, no people who were involved in the Agenda and know what is happening within the projects.
There are also people who are involved in the Agenda – let’s talk about them. These are people who work in the real world and who are committed to sustainability, equal opportunities, human rights, education and health.
Everything I write here is verifiable. You can email the project leaders and employees and ask questions. You can also contribute to achieving the goals yourself, as a volunteer or as a professional. If you want to know more, you can start here: SDG United Nations, for Netherlands and Belgium: SDG Nederland en SDG België.
What do the people who are committed to this say?
Besides that a lot is happening, you often hear that it is going too slowly. There is corruption which causes money to disappear and projects to stagnate. There are companies that present a beautiful project as a business card, but in the meantime continue to pollute or exploit (‘Greenwashing’ and ‘Rainbow washing’). But the biggest criticism is that the rich countries are slowing down and delaying or even blocking many of the projects in developing countries. That has slowed down the Agenda and largely brought it down. So there is quite a bit of criticism, but of a completely different order than the conspiracy theories.
The early years of Agenda 21, the 1990s, were also the time when the richest Western countries pushed through their neoliberal principles. They demanded free access to markets, a free investment climate and little interference from governments. That went straight against the sustainable development goals. Governments of poor countries were sometimes not even allowed to take environmental or human rights protective measures, if that would harm Western investors (under the guise of “investment protection”). The interests of large multinationals took precedence.
Recall that conspiracy theorists see the Agenda as a plan by the elites of rich countries to seize total power. The opposite is true. Rather, it is an attempt to distribute power more fairly. If anyone is against it, it is precisely those rich countries and their big corporations.
This brings us back to the Great Reset. Because with this the World Economic Forum tries to make it clear to governments of rich countries and CEOs of large companies that sustainability and a fair economy are also beneficial for them. It’s a call to see the 17 sustainable goals not only as ‘development work’, but as a way to make the world healthier and more resilient. Not only to the benefit of poor countries, but in the long run to the benefit of everyone. In other words: it is a call to the rich countries to finally take Agenda 2030 seriously and commit oneself to it.
The internet is full of reports that the Great Reset is being carried out step by step. “This is not a conspiracy theory, just look around!” But if we look around, we see that the Great Reset is not being carried out at all. If only that were the case, the world would look a lot nicer in ten years’ time. But there is mainly opposition. It is only in the field of digitization that the momentum is increasing, the social and green aspects are mainly slowed down and inhibited.
Most western governments don’t see the point, or at least pretend not to see the point. Rather go back to the old economy as soon as possible. There is a compromise slogan, “Build Back Better”, which many government leaders agree with. But if you look at what this means, it is so flexible that everyone can fill it in their own way. It is, as it were, a Great Reset Light: a little more attention to sustainability and climate, but without structural reforms, so no fairer and more inclusive economy. The advantage is that neoliberal governments can join in, the disadvantage is that the reforms will remain cosmetic.
An exception is Joe Biden. His Build Back Better program is ambitious, social and green. But despite the majority of the American people behind it, Biden is unable to implement it. The opposition is strong and well organized: Big Oil, Big Pharma, many large corporations, the wealthy who don’t want to pay taxes, all Republicans and even a few conservatives from Biden’s own party.
This is yet another sign that conspiracy theorists are just shouting around. By believing all the fake news about the Great Reset and Agenda 21/30, they are actually supporting the rich elite and the oil and coal bosses who oppose all change. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.
If you want to check if what I write about the conspiracy theories is correct, you can watch a few videos for yourself. But to be honest, I can’t recommend that to you. They are judgmental, accusatory and thoroughly negative. “The plan to kill you”, “Total World Control”, “The destruction of the middle classes”, “War Room”, “Genocide through mandatory vaccination”. The films are made to evoke anger and hatred. To politicians, to the elite, to virologists and even to doctors and healthcare workers. I don’t give links because I don’t want to spread hate. If you still want to watch, just type in a keyword like Great Reset, Agenda 21 or Deep State and you’ll be flooded. I recommend you do something fun afterwards…
One film I would like to mention and that is “Monopoly: a total picture of The Great Reset.” This film appears reliable and is popular. It has been viewed a few hundred thousand times, in the original Dutch version and in English translation. Even people who were quite critical of the conspiracy hype started to have doubts after seeing it. Yet this film can also be unmasked scene by scene. No argument is correct. I’ll show you that elsewhere. The complete “debunk” will appear on this site soon.
While conspiracy theories come in many guises, from business interviews about the attack on the middle class to New Age videos about aliens, the underlying premise is strikingly similar. Particularly striking is what the spreaders of all this fake news are against: against the “left” elite, against climate and environmental policy (“climate hoax”, “environmental mafia”), against the Great Reset and Agenda 21/30, against international agreements and international institutions (WHO, UN, EU, World Bank, etc.), against an active government, against vaccination, against almost every restriction and therefore also against the Covid measures.
If you follow these posts, you’ll hear sooner or later that the fight against racism and discrimination is paid for by left-wing billionaires, that immigration aims to weaken “white” culture and that this is all part of the Big Agenda. With a bit of bad luck you will be told that the secret rulers are Jews. Even if it looks sometimes like New Age and another time like a political or medical report, in the similarities we recognize the far right ideology.
This is an ideology that has been on the way much longer, but which broke through with the rise of Trump in 2016. Everything that was against him was called the “left” and was the fault of the Democrats, Clinton, Obama, Biden and actually everyone the far right dislikes. All criticism of Trump was “fake” or “MSM” (mainstream media). This fuelled a gut mentality in which you can think anything that suits you and ward off anything that doesn’t suit you. Every counter-argument can be neutralized by saying it’s fake, left or MSM.
None of this had much to do with Covid-19, but when the pandemic broke out, a huge infrastructure was ready to reach a much larger audience. Skilful use was made of the resistance that some people felt immediately when the first restrictions were imposed. In people’s responses to the Covid measures one can find archetypal fears: for government control, for deprivation of freedom, for economic crisis and poverty, for radiation and syringes. In this complex of uncertainty, fear and anger the disinformation could hit the guts right away. Our basic sense of security had already been shaken by the pandemic, the conspiracy theories gave it a horror-like interpretation.
From Trump’s rise in 2016 to the pandemic in 2020, this has been a deliberate campaign of disinformation. It is now known how it was put into the world, which has even been admitted by people who contributed to it. Read “Hacker X-the American who built a pro-Trump fake news empire-unmasks himself” and ‘“Qanon is Propaganda, and we know who’s responsible”’ and my own “From New Age to AltRight” (soon to be translated).
One group was approached with extra attention and that was the wellness community. Through clever links to spiritual jargon, such as that vaccines are murder weapons and that discovering dark conspiracies is a step to higher consciousness, millions of hippies, alternative healers and festival-goers have been drawn to the far-right ideology. Now they are marching alongside neo-Nazis and proponents of free gun ownership.
Of course most of these new adherents won’t admit their shift to the right, but the amount of far-right jargon ringing through the anti-lockdown and anti-vax movements is too great to be accidental. The debate has been infiltrated, hijacked and roughened up. Violence has increased, politicians are threatened with murder, virologists are threatened, doctors and healthcare workers are verbally abused, hate mail is the order of the day, gallows are carried along with demonstrations, calls for tribunals and a “new Nuremberg” go around. Under the guise of love, hatred and violence are propagated.
“I have always been more on the green aspects,” says breathing coach Nicky in the documentary Samenzwevers, “But do I now know that there are also movements that say the climate is being used, that it could be used as an excuse to implement certain changes in the future, certain policies…” She formulates it cautiously, but for her climate policy seems to be part of a greater conspiracy. “Climate is a cover,” says vegan guide Karin in the same documentary. This has become a well-known sound in the far right and wellness communities. On social media you can hardly find anything about climate policy without comments such as “Global warming is a hoax” or “Climate policy is Agenda 21.”
So these are people who previously applauded green policies, but are now mainly concerned with defending their own freedom. If those same people read what is really written in the Great Reset and Agenda 21/30, they would probably recognize a lot of what they stand for. But you won’t find out if you only follow the “alternative media.” That’s the price of fake news and disinformation. People who follow this think they are very critical and awake, but they do not realize that their criticism has nothing to do with the Great Reset, Agenda 21 or climate policy at all. They have been seduced by lies.
As a consequence we see some striking contradictions. It’s quite surprising after preaching green politics for years to start grumbling about “climate hoax.” Or to say for years that you endorse a better treatment of animals and protection of nature and then suddenly praise Trump, who has opposed this as much as he could. Obama had passed several laws to protect animal welfare, biodiversity and wildlife, but Trump abolished those. Joe Biden is now reintroducing them one by one. So conspiracy theorists with some environmental awareness: you are simply mistaken.
Another contradiction: it is precisely in alternative and spiritual circles that the slogan “crisis as opportunity” is popular. The principle behind it is that when we look beyond emotions (like or dislike) and judgments (right or wrong), a crisis can also be an opportunity for transition, to emerge better, wiser, more resilient. This applies to an individual life as well as to groups and societies. And this is exactly what was behind the calls for a wake-up call and a global challenge, and what the World Economic Forum intended with the Great Reset. But all this has passed the self-proclaimed resistance heroes. Instead, the heels have been dug in, the culprits and scapegoats sought and every challenge rejected. It is almost impossible to talk about green and social recovery anymore: “Oh yes, Great Reset for sure. Good luck waking up.”
The greatest contradiction perhaps is that conspiracy theorists keep proclaiming that the system is unjust and that the richest 1% of humanity owns as much as the poorest half, which is unfortunately true. Often they cite Oxfam as a source, which is rightly so. But at the same time they vote in large numbers for right-wing and radical right-wing parties, which are precisely the parties that want to maintain the old economic system and therefore also the infamous 1%! Conspiracy theorists also like to complain about Big Pharma and the big multinationals, but then admire Trump, who has made the rich even richer and who is Big Pharma’s and Big Oil’s best friend. Meanwhile, they grumble at Biden who does want to change the system.
When conspiracy theorists complain about poverty and inequality, they are crying crocodile tears. Because at the same time they undermine any attempt to change it. Any proposal to make international relations more fair is condemned and mocked at, as communism, totalitarian dictatorship, world government, New World Order, second China. In the much-watched conspiracy film “Monopoly” the criticism of Agenda 21/30 is that we must contribute to it with our tax money, “that we must give up our prosperity for the purpose of poverty reduction.” I’m serious.
What does Oxfam itself say? That inequality is a choice, because the interests of rich countries and powerful companies are structurally chosen. In their view this is economic violence. But they also provide solutions:
“We can radically redesign our economies to be centred on equality. We can claw back extreme wealth through progressive taxation; invest in powerful, proven inequality-busting public measures; and boldly shift power in the economy and society.”
So what are they calling for? For progressive tax, so more tax for high incomes (as opposed to Trump who actually lowered taxes) and for public measures, so a government that actively chooses social goals and the common good. In the report Inequality Kills, Oxfam calls for fairer international agreements and more international coordination, because this is the only way to reduce poverty and inequality. So this is in total contradiction to just about everything conspiracy theorists claim, and in line with the Great Reset and Agenda 21/30. My dear conspiracy theorists, maybe add this if you cite Oxfam again.
The pandemic has been under us for more than two years now. What is left of the wake-up call? If we look at the mood now and the choices that are being made, it is mainly a disappointment. The green recovery has not taken off, air pollution is back to pre-crisis levels, major social reforms are being thwarted. Everything indicates that we want to rush back to the old normal as soon as possible. While support for corona measures remained large (source Ipsos), also in countries that suffer much more from it than we do in the rich west, the discussion is much more often about the protests and resistance.
The climate activists who were so hopeful at the beginning because people accepted limitations for a greater individual purpose, are now more gloomy than before. If temporarily cooperating in measures already generates so much resistance and violence, how can we ever gain support for policy that will inevitably demand sacrifices from us again?
What might add to the disappointment is that the choices of most governments and companies do not motivate any idealism. We could have demanded green measures in exchange for economic support, we could have demanded new standards for sustainability, human rights and animal welfare when the economy opened up, we could have changed patent agreements. But governments didn’t want to. As an exception, the French, Italian and New Zealand governments have demanded sustained reforms from their airlines as a condition of financial support. The European Recovery Fund also demands part of the aid amounts to be spent on sustainability and climate. So there is a start, yet it’s not going smoother than before the pandemic.
But aren’t there the Green Deals? That’s right, the Biden administration and the European Commission have ambitious plans. However, they have yet to get through mud fights with the conservative opposition and it remains to be seen how much of it will survive. Green and left-wing politicians are also calling for stronger climate policy. But they’re calling that because they’ve been calling it all along – the momentum is over. And they get the answer they always got: very important, but the economy comes first. There was simply too little social pressure for major reform. The question of what this crisis can teach us has been pushed into the background, something from the early days of the pandemic.
International solidarity too is hard to find. The vaccines have not been distributed fairly and the patents have not been lifted, not even temporarily for these circumstances. “Global governance” has not started. As I wrote: because European governments and Big Pharma are stopping it. The head of the WHO, Ethiopian Tedros Ghebreyesus, called this “a catastrophic moral failure.”
“A catastrophic moral failure”
Tedros Ghebreyesus, head of WHO
Should this blog have been called “The missed opportunities of the pandemic?” In part yes, but not completely. Because in the past two years, international cooperation has started like never before. First of all, between doctors, scientists, healthcare workers, policy makers and non-government organizations. “It’s great that we can contribute with our work,” said virologist Marion Koopmans. “The pandemic is of course a disaster, but if you look at what has been achieved, in terms of knowledge, in terms of diagnostics, treatment, vaccines. Incredible!”
This is about the medical side of the story, but the fight is just as hard for the social and sustainable sides of the story. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres said “… that this human tragedy must be a wake-up call, to re-imagine, redesign, rebuild, rebalance our world.” In that sense, it failed: the wake-up call has faded away, especially with the media and the general public.
But less conspicuously and without much media attention, an incredible amount is being done. We have already seen the sustainability of cities, we have already seen how health care in poorer countries has been mapped more quickly, with a lot of spin-off in specific fields. And many more projects are underway. All less interesting for the media than the umpteenth lockdown protest, but they are developments that will improve the chances and quality of life for millions of people. The choices made now will have effects far into the future.
“This human tragedy must be a wake-up call, to re-imagine, redesign, rebuild, rebalance our world.”
Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General
There is clearly a dichotomy. On the one hand, there are people who are working hard in all kinds of ways to contain the pandemic, deal with its consequences, fight poverty, improve cooperation and organize the world differently. Doctors, healthcare workers, development workers, policy makers, non-government organizations and millions of volunteers. Added to these are the many people who sympathize, think along and cooperate without being very active themselves. Recent years have shown how resilient and creative people and societies can be.
On the other hand, there are those who stand on the sidelines complaining that their freedom and rights are being violated. It is a minority, but one that makes noise and gets a lot of media attention. In addition to sabotaging Covid policy, these groups have also completely failed in the debates and initiatives in the field of social and sustainable reform. “If you need solidarity and cooperation again, don’t count on us,” was the message that was sent out loud and clear.
Perhaps from the future this pandemic will be looked at as a big dress rehearsal. Because it is clear that more crises are on the way: possible new pandemics, the poverty and growing gap between rich and poor, with food scarcity and drought, and of course the climate crisis that is already becoming more visible and tangible every year.
These three crises can only be tackled if we see the world and humanity as one great organism and start working together, instead of just defending our self-interest. And on all three fronts, conspiracy theorists try to discredit causes and sabotage solutions. Above all, not to have to accept any limitation or adjustment whatsoever, not to have to change, not to have to take responsibility.
So we can count on the fact that in the major crises that lie ahead, solidarity will be undermined from the start, fuelled by tidal waves of disinformation. And millions of people will believe it. At the same time, the group fighting for change has probably never been bigger than it is today. “I have never seen the world so divided,” wrote Suketu Mehta in Reconstruction after Covid, “but I have also never seen the world so united.”
Translated by Dirk-Aernout Simonsz and Marius Engelbrecht
Pandemic is Nature’s warning – Amma on COVID 19 – Part 4 – Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, May 25 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-fUNrw_yao.
The coronavirus is a wake-up call – Amma on COVID 19 – Part 5 – Mata Amritanandamayi Devi, May 26 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jb3o_gSZVGs
Deepak Chopra, Reinventing Life During and Post Covid, July 10, 2020.
Public Opinion on the COVID-19 pandemic, Ipsos, January 2022. https://www.ipsos.com/en/public-opinion-covid-19-outbreak
Mariana Mazzucato & Georgia Gould, Mission-driven localities. Social Europe, July 27, 2021. https://socialeurope.eu/mission-driven-localities
Wouter van Noort, NRC, 31 december 2020. Econoom Mariana Mazzucato Geld in systeem pompen is niet genoeg
Event 201: https://hub.jhu.edu/2019/11/06/event-201-health-security/
Coronavirus als voorbeeld: “The emergence and spread of Covid-19 was not only predictable, it was predicted [in the sense that] there would be another viral emergence from wildlife that would be a public health threat,” said Prof Andrew Cunningham, of the Zoological Society of London. A 2007 study of the 2002-03 SARS outbreak concluded: “The presence of a large reservoir of Sars-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a timebomb.” The Guardian, March 25 2020.
Chips in ons brein:
Zij denkt een beweging. En doet zo een muisklik. Niki Korteweg, NRC, 11 oktober 2019. https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2019/10/11/een-lijntje-naar-de-buitenwereld-a3976477
Het eigen brein als proeftuin. Niki Korteweg, NRC, 2 april 2017. https://www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2017/04/02/het-eigen-brein-als-proeftuin-7820405-a1552915
Wetenschappers waarschuwen voor een nieuwe digitale identiteit. Follow the Money, 11 december 2021. https://www.ftm.nl/artikelen/internationale-digid-lobby
Uitvoering Agenda 2030: ‘En voor u, mevrouw, een regenboogspoeling?’ Pieter Leenknegt, MO.be, 14 april 2021.
Oxfam: https://www.oxfam.org/en/research/inequality-kills; https://www.oxfamnovib.nl/Files/rapporten/2022/bp-inequality-kills-170122-en.pdf; https://www.oxfamnovib.nl/nieuws/vermogen-10-rijkste-mannen-verdubbeld-in-pandemie-vooral-vrouwen-betalen-de-prijs
Vaccins kunnen prima zonder patenten. Het bewijs: griep. De Correspondent, 17 juni 2021.
Suketu Mehta, ‘We need a new commons’: how city life can offer us the vital power of connection’. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2021/dec/23/we-need-a-new-commons-how-city-life-can-offer-us-the-vital-power-of-connection; https://www.theguardian.com/society/series/reconstruction-after-covid