by Brian Balfour
Senior Vice President of Research, John Locke Foundation
For most, the Covid pandemic and subsequent lockdowns were terrifying both from a health standpoint and as an example of government tyranny run amok.
But for one organization of substantial global influence, it represented an “extraordinary opportunity” to reset the global economy to be guided by a theory they’ve been advocating for fifty years.
Most readers have likely heard these terms before and have some familiarity with them. But there remains a lot of misconceptions and gaps in detailed knowledge about the WEF and their push for what Britain’s King Charles III described as a global “paradigm shift” to be implemented at “revolutionary levels and pace,” and the threat to freedom and prosperity that it represents.
The WEF describes itself as “The International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation,” whose mission is to engage with “leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”
Shaping global and industry agendas is no small task. In order to do so, the WEF counts among its leadership team powerful and influential people including the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, the Director-General of the World Trade Organization, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, the President of the European Central Bank, and Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, one of the largest investment companies in the world.
Moreover, WEF’s “partners” include more than 1,000 corporations from around the world, along with national banks and some of the world’s largest nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Fidelity investments, the Bank of China, and every major pharmaceutical company are all counted among the WEF’s partners.
Leading the WEF as its founder and executive chairman is of course the infamous Klaus Schwab, the German-born engineer and economist who looks like he stepped straight out of central casting for a Bond movie villain.
The WEF becomes a de facto one-world government of corporate and government elites dictating behaviors and their preferred incentives to the global economy: Obey our rules or your business will be destroyed.
What does this “reset” look like? The WEF states its desire to transform economies across the globe from a “shareholder” model, in which companies’ primary goal is to maximize profit, to a “stakeholder” model, which asserts that “an organization is accountable to all parts of society.”
According to Schwab, stakeholder capitalism is a model he conceived of 50 years ago that “positions private corporations as trustees of society.”
Indeed, back in 1973 at the third annual WEF meeting, Schwab successfully encouraged the corporate attendees to sign on to the “Davos Manifesto,” which outlined a code of ethics for professional management. Included in the code was a mandate for management “to serve society,” and “assume the role of a trustee of the material universe for future generations.” Schwab’s vision was bold and all-encompassing right from the start.
More recently, in 2019, under the influence of Schwab and the WEF, the Business Roundtable, an “association of more than 200 chief executive officers (CEOs) of America’s leading companies” that represents nearly one-quarter of America’s GDP, agreed to redefine its “Principles of Corporate Governance.” Each year since 1997, these principles stated that “corporations exist principally to serve their shareholders.”
As of 2019, these principles instead focus on “a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders,” which includes “foster(ing) diversity and inclusion,” and “embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.”
Undergirding this drive to transform the economy is Schwab and company’s belief that the capitalism that “created so much prosperity in the golden age of American capitalism in the 1950s and 1960s is now creating inequality and climate change.”
According to the WEF, the Great Reset will consist of three main components. The first involves efforts to “steer the market toward fairer outcomes.” Achieving this component will require governments to make changes to tax, regulatory, and fiscal policy.
The ultimate goal here is more “equitable outcomes” and would also include government policies punishing fossil-fuel companies and “new rules governing intellectual property, trade, and competition.”
The second component would “ensure that investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability.” Massive government “stimulus” and welfare spending, along with “green” energy mandates, are the preferred tools for this goal.
The third is to “harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good.” The Fourth Industrial Revolution refers to the exponential growth of technology in fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and energy storage. The WEF desires the “opportunity and power” to “shape” this technological revolution and “direct it toward a future that reflects our common objectives and values,” with equity and sustainability being foremost among them.
How will the WEF measure success? They’ve got a plan for that, too. The WEF’s set of 21 core and 34 expanded metrics include racial and gender quotas, pay equity between racial and gender groups, greenhouse gas emissions, tax remittances, gender and racial representation in the governing body, and the company’s public policy activism.
The goal is to compel companies to disclose these metrics on their financial statements. Those with higher scores will be rewarded with easier access to capital, while those with lower scores will see diminished access to capital. With the backing of the world’s largest investment firms like BlackRock and State Street, even large corporations will have ample incentive to adjust their behaviors in accordance with these metrics both in order to access capital and to appease these massive investment firms, which oftentimes own substantial shares of the company’s stock.
The threat to freedom, free markets, and prosperity are clear. As former Marxist NYU professor and author Michael Rectenwald wrote, “stakeholder capitalism is a cartel scheme that benefits the compliant and destroys the noncompliant.” Furthermore, stakeholder capitalism “yields a corporate-state hybrid largely unaccountable to the constituents of national government.”
The WEF becomes a de facto one-world government of corporate and government elites dictating behaviors and their preferred incentives to the global economy: Obey our rules or your business will be destroyed. And with so much money and power concentrated among its members and partners, the WEF possesses enough political sway to exert massive pressure to make governments bend to their will.
Indeed, Schwab has written that the “dogmatic belief” that “the market knows best” has been “proved wrong.” To be clear, the market Schwab refers to is people and businesses freely making voluntary exchange. Such voluntary interaction must be overridden with governments – and ruling elites like Schwab – setting “clear rules” for what is allowed to take place in the market, according to the Great Reset.
And make no mistake, the WEF crowd doesn’t sell “stakeholder capitalism” as a superior method of generating wealth and causing poverty to recede. Instead, they view economic stagnation as a feature, not a bug. For instance, they identify “affluence” as the “greatest threat to the world,” while also claiming “it’s not necessarily a bad thing if growth slows to a crawl.”
Economic growth, in their view, is the enemy because of its supposed threats to the environment. Never mind the millions of lives in Third World nations that would be lost due to economic stagnation, they’re but a small sacrifice to soothe the consciences of the WEF elite convincing themselves there are no tradeoffs in their efforts to “save the planet.”
Don’t be fooled by the pleasant-sounding promises of “serving society” and “fairer outcomes” coming from the Great Reset advocates. Their agenda is one of centralized power, forced compliance, and impoverishment.