The Great Reset is a proposal by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to rebuild the economy sustainably following the COVID-19 pandemic. It was unveiled in May 2020 by the United Kingdom's Prince Charles and WEF director Klaus Schwab. It seeks to improve capitalism by making investments more geared toward mutual progress and focusing more on environmental initiatives. A petition in Canada to stop it gained 80,000 signatures in less than 72 hours. A conspiracy theory has spread in response, claiming it will be used to bring in a supposed New World Order.
According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), the COVID-19 pandemic presents an opportunity to shape an economic recovery and the future direction of global relations, economies, and priorities. When Britain's Prince Charles introduced the plan, he stated that it would only happen if people wanted it.
According to Prince Charles, the economic recovery must put the world on a path to sustainability, with systems being redesigned to help. Carbon pricing was mentioned as a way to help achieve sustainability. He also outlined that innovations, science, and technology need to be reinvigorated so we can achieve significant breakthroughs that help us make sustainable ideas more profitable. According to the WEF, we should also adapt to the current reality by directing the market to fairer results, ensure investments are aimed at mutual progress including accelerating ecologically friendly investments, and to start a fourth industrial revolution, creating digital economic and public infrastructure.
Prince Charles emphasized that the private sector would be the main drivers of the plan. According to Klaus Schwab, they would not change the economic system, but rather improve it to what he considers to be "responsible capitalism". A book written by Schwab and economist Thierry Malleret was published detailing the plan. It will be the main theme of the WEF's 2021 summit.
Political leaders such as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Joe Biden have endorsed the idea of "building back better", as has UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Trudeau has made rhetoric similar to that of The Great Reset.
Following the dissemination of Trudeau's speech, a petition was launched by the Canadian Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre to "stop The Great Reset"; the petition amassed 80,000 signatures in less than 72 hours. He saw this as an attempt by Trudeau to enforce a "socialist ideology" in Canada. His rhetoric was criticized by multiple commentators and editorial boards. The Toronto Star editorial board criticized the petition claiming it was "giving oxygen" to the baseless conspiracy theory. Aengus Bridgman, a McGill PhD candidate, said that the timing of Poilievre's petition was unlikely to be a coincidence. Poilievre responded saying he was simply quoting Trudeau and the WEF. Ahmed Al-Rawi, a professor at Simon Fraser University, claimed that this reaction was a misinterpretation of Poilievre's attacks on the government. Around the same time, Conservative leader Erin O'Toole criticized the idea of a reset, claiming that Trudeau was using the pandemic to implement a massive and risky experiment.
Naomi Klein, writing for The Intercept, also criticized it, claiming that it was simply a "coronavirus-themed rebranding" of things that the WEF was already doing and that it was an attempt by the rich to make themselves look good. Klein wrote that Schwab had given each meeting at Davos a theme since 2003. "The Great Reset is merely the latest edition of this gilded tradition, barely distinguishable from earlier Davos Big Ideas," she wrote.
The conspiracy theory of the Great Reset first spread following the initiative's announcement. It spread in response to the plan alleging that "global financial elites" and world leaders have planned a pandemic, deliberately letting loose the coronavirus to cause the conditions that will allow a restructuring of the world's governments. It alleges that the main goals of the Great Reset are to take global political and economic control by instating a Marxist totalitarian regime and by extension, the New World Order. It is claimed that such a regime would abolish personal ownership and property rights, send the military into cities, impose mandatory vaccination, and create isolation camps for people who resist. Examples claimed by proponents as evidence of a conspiracy include a 2016 WEF piece describing what life might be like in 2030, Joe Biden's campaign slogan "Build Back Better", and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's September 2020 speech. According to The Daily Dot, this is merely discourse illustrating how to create a more just and sustainable world. In some variations of the theory, then-US President Donald Trump was the only world leader keeping the scheme from happening, based on a video from August 2020 which has been viewed over three million times.
Following the spread of the now-viral September 2020 speech by Trudeau, in which he speaks about the Agenda 2030 goals, a conspiracy theory was spread via far-right internet personalities and groups, some also supporting the QAnon conspiracy theory, and conservative political commentators including Canadians Maxime Bernier and Ezra Levant. "The elites want Covid-19 lockdowns to usher in a 'Great Reset' and that should terrify you," said Tucker Carlson on a November 17 Fox News broadcast. In the same month, Candace Owens saw the Great Reset as an attempt to "implement Communist policies", while Fox pundit Laura Ingraham claimed it was a ruse to "force radical social and economic change across the continents". Glenn Beck claims it is an attempt to enforce restrictions inspired by the Nazis. In October, a chain email spread, claiming to be from a member of a non-existent committee within the Liberal Party of Canada, and was picked up by QAnon-associated groups.
BBC News has said the conspiracy theory lacks sufficient and reliable evidence. Flaws with the conspiracy theory include that the WEF lacks authority to tell countries what to do. Without evidence, the BBC says, are the proponents claims that politicians planned the COVID-19 pandemic, that they have formed a secret cabal, or that they are using the COVID-19 pandemic to destroy the global market-based economy.
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- Alba, Davey (November 17, 2020). "The baseless 'Great Reset' conspiracy theory rises again". The New York Times. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
- Goodman, Jack; Carmichael, Flora (November 22, 2020). "The coronavirus pandemic 'great reset' theory and a false vaccine claim debunked". BBC News. Retrieved November 22, 2020.
We start with the revival of the baseless conspiracy theory, known as the 'Great Reset'. ...Similarly, a French documentary which also refers to a secret global plot has gone viral on YouTube... it promotes a slew of previously debunked claims
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