Tag Archive for: TheGreatReset

Sustainable Development: Sustainability

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The World Economic Forum (WEF) held its annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 16–20 of this year. It is difficult to overestimate the WEF’s influence on the Western world. Attendees included political leaders such as Justin Trudeau, Emanuel Macron, Biden Administration “Climate Czar” John Kerry, Current U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska and many others. Corporate leaders included BlackRock’s Larry Fink, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, and some 1,400 more.

A WEF poll of 1,200 world business and political leaders conducted by Bloomberg prior to the event found that among their top concerns were “energy inflation, food and security crises,” with cost-of-living increases the top immediate concern. Over the next 10 years “climate change” will take precedence.

Despite all this hand-wringing, WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab announced last summer that fuel prices—a major driver of inflation—aren’t anywhere near high enough. He wants to see gasoline prices higher by multiples in order to “safeguard democracy.” Schwab claims the answer will require an unprecedented level of “public-private cooperation.”

We had our first big taste of that with President Barack Obama’s “green energy” program, where the only “green” from that list of multi-billion-dollar failures went to Obama’s political allies and supporters. Ironically, given the past two years of endless left-wing name-calling against “fascist” America, public-private “partnerships,” in which private companies are recruited to serve government interests, are the essence of Fascism. And seeded everywhere within the WEF agenda and statements by political and corporate leaders is the term “sustainability.”


Sustainability has become a household word. We see it on product labels and hear it discussed in relation to everything from electrical generation to financial investments. Most people remain unaware, however, of its origin, true nature, or the goals pursued under this seemingly innocuous word.

“Sustainable development” was first articulated in 1987 in Our Common Future a paper produced by the UN World Commission on Environment and Development.[5] What came to be called the Brundtland Commission was led by Gro Harlem Brundtland, Socialist International leader and former prime minister of Norway. As derived from the commission report, the UN defines “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet its own needs.” To accomplish this, Brundtland stated that it constituted, “A global agenda for change.”

Other luminaries on the Brundtland Commission included UN heavyweight Maurice Strong (more about him later); William Ruckelshaus, first head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (the only American), and luminaries from such enlightened states as Zimbabwe, Communist China, Russia, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Cote D’Ivoire.

Sustainable development is found at the intersection of the three “Es” of economy, environment and (social) equity. It implies government restraint of economic growth to limit the depletion of natural resources over time and prevent anthropogenic climate change, while redistributing resources to achieve “equity”—i.e., socialism.

This socialist aspect of “sustainability” was emphasized throughout the Brundtland Report. For example, on page 22, point 70, it states, “Many essential human needs can be met only through goods and services provided by industry, and the shift to sustainable development must be powered by a continuing flow of wealth from industry.”

This article was published by Capital Research Center and is reproduced with permission.

The Great Reset and Its Critics: The Technocrats

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

In mid-2020, after COVID-19 and lockdown policies to (unsuccessfully) stop it had spread across the world, the World Economic Forum (WEF) leader Klaus Schwab, along with the man now known as King Charles III of the United Kingdom, announced the Forum’s “Great Reset Initiative” to guide a state-managed, environmentalist, and corporate-aligned reconstruction of the world economy. Schwab built on the initiative with a book co-authored with French economist Thierry Malleret titled COVID-19: The Great Reset. In their book, they made predictions about how the pandemic and ruling regime it ushered in would “reset” society to the benefit of environmentalism and management of the economy by a concert of state and “stakeholder.” The sequel, The Great Narrative, proposed an approach to selling the WEF’s reset agenda based on Schwab and Malleret’s discussions with 50 mostly left-wing, mostly academic thinkfluencers; It calls for more global governance. The radicalism of the “reset”—it’s right there in the name—and the influence of Schwab and the WEF, have elicited firm opposition.

Few quotes stick in the conservative or libertarian craw. quite like the infamous musing of incoming White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel to President Barack Obama, “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.” For Emanuel, the Obama administration, and Democrats’ generational-scale majorities in both houses of Congress, that meant enacting the fiscal stimulus, a then-outrageous $787 billion boondoggle of building projects; regulatory legislation like the Dodd-Frank banking act; and Obamacare, the statist restructuring of health care finance.

The Technocrats

But the quote sticks because the impulse is far from Emanuel’s alone. Nothing in the COVID-19 pandemic period so vividly demonstrated the impulse “to do things that you think you could not do before” as the name given to a project launched at a 2020 virtual conference of the World Economic Forum (WEF), the think tank and business league based in Europe best known for hosting the annual Davos meetings at which international politicians and corporate bigwigs lay out their visions for the world.

That name was “The Great Reset.” Demonstrating the WEF’s influence over a European metropolitan left-leaning sort, the project was launched by Klaus Schwab, the German academic who has led the WEF and been a leading opponent of shareholder primacy in corporate governance since 1971, and then-Prince of Wales, now King Charles III of the United Kingdom. The project, in the words of International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva, aspires to frame the emergence from the COVID-19 pandemic in the creation of “a greener, smarter, fairer world.”

Later in 2020, Schwab and French economist Thierry Malleret published COVID-19: The Great Reset­, a book-length examination of the changes in society the authors presumed were likely to happen and perhaps desirable as a result of the pandemic. Increased power of the state and left-wing activism were presumed certain; rapid adoption of environmentalist-aligned, “stakeholder”-influenced corporate practices was presumed to be a necessity.

Schwab has opposed “shareholder primacy,” the view that corporate management owes shareholders the greatest profits that can be obtained in obedience to law and custom, since the 1970s. Like the financial crisis of 2008 did for Emanuel’s American Democrats, the crisis created by the COVID pandemic and the unprecedented-in-modern-times attempts to suppress it offers Schwab and the WEF the opportunity to press home their environmentalist and statist goals.

But can central planners remake a world that they cannot accurately predict? From the perspective at the turn of 2023, many of Schwab and Malleret’s predictions of the world that COVID would bring into being have not come to pass, perhaps none more crucially than one on page 70: “At this current juncture [mid-2020], it is hard to imagine how inflation could pick up anytime soon.”

Schwab and Malleret’s sequel to COVID-19: The Great Reset, titled The Great Narrative, does little to diminish such suspicions. The “narrative” is essentially a repackaging of the same warmed-over environmentalist tropes all have heard before with little connection to the actual production of things, which makes sense given that the book is based on discussions with 50 global thinkfluencers or government officials, not with industrialists or even manufacturing-trades labor unionists. The result is a mix of technocratic gibberish and Greenpeace-in-a-suit environmentalism with the solutions for “a better future” having little to offer the Western middle and working classes beyond handwaving about a “just transition” and promises that weather-dependent energy technologies are much more stable and productive than traditional fuels. (Just ask Europeans trying to heat their homes amid an energy crisis how well that claim has aged.)

The authors’ barely veiled desire to exploit the COVID crisis to pursue left-wing ends has provoked alarm and responses, at least two of book length. ClimateDepot.com publisher and longtime critic of environmentalism Marc Marono released The Great Reset: Global Elites and the Permanent Lockdown while Michael Walsh released a compilation of essays tiled Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order. Both focus less on Schwab’s “reset” itself than the broader agenda of ski-chalet environmentalism and chardonnay socialism popular with the professional-managerial technocratic class that is overrepresented at World Economic Forum gatherings and among the speakers at TED Talks. The right-leaning opponents’ fears are summarized in a line from a pre-COVID-era WEF video on predictions for the world in 2030: “You’ll own nothing, and you’ll be happy.”

The WEF is adamant that it does not advocate this; the line is derived from an op-ed by a Danish Social Democratic politician published by the WEF that is headlined, “I Own Nothing, Have No Privacy And Life Has Never Been Better.” Many would still respectfully dissent from such a vision.

This article was published by Capital Research Center and is reproduced with permission.

World Economic Forum Pushes AI, Climate Activism, Metaverse

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

The World Economic Forum is an insidious organization, that openly avowed its plan for a world where you “own nothing, have no privacy” and enjoy it. WEF head Klaus Schwab also previously boasted that Russian President and former KGB thug Vladimir Putin was a WEF alumnus. Not to mention a WEF guru was caught saying he wants “less souls” on the planet.

Would you like to know what WEF considers its top priority areas right now? According to the WEF website, they are: Artificial Intelligence, Climate Change, Cybersecurity, Education, Skills and Learning, The Metaverse, and Workforce and Employment.

There are several categories here that are particularly concerning: The Metaverse, Artificial Intelligence, and Climate Change.

Why? Well, regarding the metaverse, WEF wants you to “own nothing, have no privacy” and enjoy it, as I said above. What better way to deprive you slowly of real belongings while giving you imaginary benefits than the metaverse? There are already plans for the metaverse tech to be used constantly in your life, not just for entertainment—shopping, traveling, everything on different “reality channels.”

As for artificial intelligence (AI), it has many concerning uses, including—in the present or the dystopian future—monitoring babies being grown in fake wombs in a lab, running the robots used to replace human workers (remember the WEF guru said he wanted “less souls” on the planet), and as basis for uploaded “digital identities” supposedly to allow people to live forever. As WEF itself described the future, “Ubiquitous, mobile supercomputing. Intelligent robots. Self-driving cars. Neuro-technological brain enhancements. Genetic editing.” WEF head Klaus Schwab imagined a merging of the biological and digital in humans, and AI is just part of that transhumanist process.

Then there’s climate change, which is used by both WEF and the United Nations as an excuse to achieve the world where you own nothing (see the UN 2030 Agenda). WEF once whined that the Russian invasion of Ukraine—which has left as many as 40,000 Ukrainian civilians dead or wounded—was distracting from climate change, though it also hoped the bloody conflict could spur climate action. But WEF elites will continue to fly their private jets around and live in their mansions regardless of supposed climate emergencies. “Climate change” is just an unscientific way of creating the dystopia for which WEF longs.

This article was published by Pro Deo et Libertate and is reproduced with permission.

The Great Food Reset

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

America’s food security is being threatened by the forces of the Great Reset led by the World Economic Forum in Davos and under the thumb of the United Nations “sustainable development” Agenda 2030. “Biden Says to Expect ‘Real’ Food Shortages Due to Ukraine War,” blared a headline from Bloomberg News in 2022. “It’s going to be real,” Biden asserted. The U.N. estimated that 2.3 billion people are severely or moderately hungry globally.

A food crisis is just the ticket for even more chaos that the WEF can exploit for their Reset agenda. “Over the last decade” China has been “snapping up farmland and purchasing major agribusinesses,” according to a 2021 report by Politico. “By the start of 2020, Chinese owners controlled about 192,000 agricultural acres in the U.S., worth $1.9 billion, including land used for farming, ranching, and forestry, according to the Agriculture Department.”

During a House Appropriations Committee hearing, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) noted that “the current trend in the U.S. is leading us toward the creation of a Chinese-owned agricultural land monopoly.”

But don’t worry, China has competition for gobbling up U.S. farmland. The quest for a Chinese land monopoly is being challenged by Bill Gates! Gates’s fake-meat agenda could transform American farming. “All rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef,” Gates has urged.

“Farmers [are being] turned into renters” as Gates becomes the “nation’s largest farmland owner” by using “a web of at least 22 limited liability shell companies,” reported NBC News in 2021. “Young farmers” are “going up against these billionaire investors…. Who can compete with the likes of Bill Gates, right? More and more we are seeing farmers turn into renters,” tech reporter April Glaser explained, noting that more farmland could be “gobbled up by an investor class.” “Bill Gates isn’t the one in overalls,” Glaser pointed out. “He is not the one on the tractor doing the farming. He is the landlord here.”

The question looms: China or Bill Gates, who is more of a threat to America?

The World Economic Forum is so eager to promote synthetic “meat” that they are touting numerous ways to print up to 6 kilograms of the fake meat an hour. As part of this new coerced Great Diet Reset, the WEF has been advocating eating bugs to save the planet. The Davos-based group has explained, “Why we might be eating insects soon.” World Economic Forum senior writer Sean Fleming explained, “The global market for edible insects could grow to $1.18 billion by 2023. That’s almost triple its current level.”

According to Fleming, “Per kilo of live weight, bugs emit less harmful gas than more mainstream farm animals. A cow, for example, produces 2.8 kg of greenhouse gas per kilo of live body weight. Insects, on the other hand, produce just 2 grams,” WEF claimed.

Our future is being planned by our overlords, load up on eating bugs to save the planet! It is a future that will happen, only if we allow it.

The New York Times is all on a Great Food Reset. The paper praised inflation as a way “to drive welcome change for the planet” by “adjust[ing] what we eat to save both our pocketbooks and our planet.” Culture & lifestyle journalist Annaliese Griffin writing in the New York Times on June 2, 2022, wrote: “Inflation has the potential to drive welcome change for the planet if Americans think differently about the way they eat.”

“Climate change has motivated some to eat less resource-intensive meat and more vegetables, grains and legumes, but this movement has not reached the scale necessary to bring needed change — yet,” Griffin wrote.

Griffin gushed: “Inflation resulting from the cost of fuel and feed, coupled with supply chain slowdowns, may make meat substitutes more affordable relative to traditional, factory-farmed meats.” She added, “Historically, cost has been a powerful force that has changed Americans’ diets.”

The New York Times seems bent on updating Gordon Gekko’s phrase from the 1987 film Wall Street: Chaos, for lack of a better word, is GOOD. Climate activists in academia, the Biden administration and the media seem to think the more humans suffer, the more the planet will benefit.

This is more evidence that economic calamity, debt, inflation, supply chain issues, and skyrocketing meat and energy costs are not the unintended consequences of the climate agenda, but the INTENDED consequences. Chaos conditions the public to accept more centralized control of their lives.

Vladimir Lenin reportedly once said, ‘worse is better’ or ‘the worse, the better’ to cheer on chaos and the destruction of the existing order to impose his ideology.

Actor and now anti-Great Reset activist Russell Brand eloquently denounced the forces trying to reset our lives and food by declaring they are trying to destroy ordinary people. “You have to recognize that organic farming is not the desired endpoint,” Brand explained. “The displacement of the people is the desired endpoint. The disempowerment of the farmers — the bankruptcy of the farmers, is the desired endpoint,” Brand added.

Make no mistake about it, what we are witnessing globally and in the U.S is a war against modern civilization. The World Economic Forum, the UN, and the World Health Organization seek nothing short of controlling humans.

Sri Lanka’s engaged in a disastrous organic farming experiment that left the nation in revolt and collapse. The farmer revolt in the Netherlands against climate-inspired shut down of family-owned generational farming is spreading globally, including in Canada.

The global institutions pushing this reset on the world believe that we, the unwashed masses, will create inequity, racism, environmental destruction, and a climate crisis — if we are left to our own devices. These global forces literally want to regulate not just our farming but every aspect of our lives.

You are the pollution they want to eliminate!

A 2022 study touted by Scientific American claimed “Eating Too Much Protein Makes (Human) Pee a Problem Pollutant in the U.S.” and thus “can contribute to warming.” Scientific American explained: “In the U.S., people eat more protein than they need to.” The “urea can break down to form gases of oxidized nitrogen. These gases reach the atmosphere, where nitrous oxide (N2O) can contribute to warming via the greenhouse effect and nitrogen oxides (NOx) can cause acid rain,” the magazine explained.

Human urine as the new environmental and climate boogyman is just the latest scare to get you to stop eating meat. Now when you pee, you are allegedly a human pollution machine that is heating up the planet. The voiding of your bladder must be curtailed for the sake of the planet! So says ‘The Science’!

The last several years have seen endless emergency declarations, wars, massive government spending, debt, runaway inflation, supply chain issues, increases in crime, food shortages, no privacy from Big Brother-style government and corporate snooping, skyrocketing energy prices that chip away at car and home ownership, threats of climate lockdowns, oppressive censorship, crushing of dissent, and limits on freedom of travel and physical autonomy.

All of this chaos is music to the ears of those who don’t like the messiness of human freedom. The WEF’s vision is to crowd us all into urban areas. They want us to own nothing.

Bedlam is a useful way to collapse the current system and install a Great Reset. It is all part of the plan: destroy the old order and make the population so desperate that you can impose policies that make them weaker and more dependent on the government.

As Bill Gates and BlackRock buy up farmland and single-family homes, driving up food prices and turning more and more citizens into renters, who will realize the root causes of the higher cost of living? Will the public just accept the goal of the Great Reset: “You will own nothing and you will be happy”?

It’s time for the Great Reject. Rise up and defy the Great Reset.


This article was published by CFACT, Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow and is reproduced with permission.

Socialism and the Great Reset

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

America must sink so the world may rise.

The following is an excerpt from Michael Walsh’s forthcoming book, Against the Great Reset: Eighteen Theses Contra the New World Order, which will be published by Bombardier Books and be available October 18, 2022. Walsh has gathered a series of essays from among eighteen of the most eminent thinkers, writers, and journalists—including the American Mind’s own James Poulos, as well as Claremont Senior Fellows Michael Anton and the late Angelo Codevilla—to provide the first major salvo in the intellectual resistance to the sweeping restructuring of the western world by globalist elites. See Michael Walsh’s original entry here.”  Editors at The American Mind.

It has become increasingly common to hear those on what we may call the conventional Right claim that the main threat facing the historic American nation and the American way of life is “socialism.” These warnings have grown with the rise of the so-called “Great Reset,” ostensibly a broad effort to reduce inequality, cool the planet (i.e., “address climate change”), and cure various social ills, all by decreasing alleged “overconsumption.” In other words, its mission is to persuade people, at least in the developed West, to accept lower standards of living in order to create a more just and “equitable” world. Since the conservative mind, not unreasonably, associates lower standards of living with “socialism,” many conservatives naturally intuit that the Great Reset must somehow be “socialist.”

I believe this fear is at least partly misplaced and that the warnings it gives rise to, however well-meaning, are counterproductive because they deflect attention from the truer, greater threat: specifically, the cabal of bankers, techies, corporate executives, politicians, senior bureaucrats, academics, and pundits who coalesce around the World Economic Forum and seek to change, reduce, restrict, and homogenize the Western way of life—but only for ordinary people. Their own way of life, along with the wealth and power that define it, they seek to entrench, augment, deepen, and extend.

This is why a strict or literal definition of “socialism”—public or government ownership and control of the means of production in order to equalize incomes and wealth across the population—is inapt of our situation. The Great Reset quietly but unmistakably redefines “socialism” to allow and even promote wealth and power concentration in certain hands. In the decisive sense, then, the West’s present economic system—really, its overarching regime—is the opposite of socialistic.

Yet there are ways in which this regime might still be tentatively described as “socialist,” at least as it operates for those not members in good standing of the Davoisie. If the Great Reset is allowed to proceed as planned, wealth for all but the global overclass will be equalized, or at least reduced for the middle and increased for the bottom. Many of the means used to accomplish this goal will be “socialistic,” broadly understood. But to understand both the similarities and the differences, we must go back to socialism’s source, which is the thought of Karl Marx and his colleague, financial backer, and junior partner, Friedrich Engels.

That thought is most accessible in Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, the jointly authored Manifesto of the Communist Party (1848), and Engels’s pamphlet “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” (1880). Marxism’s detailed account of economics is fully developed in the monumental Capital (Das Kapital), published in three volumes between 1867 and 1894. Marx and Engels do not claim to be innovators. They insist rather that they merely discovered and explicate the “scientific” theory of socialism, whose true roots are to be found in the unfolding development of “history.”


A word ought to be said about the difference between “communism” and “socialism.” The distinction is not always clear in Marx’s and Engels’s works. Often, they use both terms interchangeably. Engels, especially, seems to elide the two, particularly in “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific.” But we may perhaps take as authoritative the distinction made in the Manifesto. There, the two authors contrast true communism with various forms of socialism—feudal, petty-bourgeois, German, conservative, and critical-utopian—all of which they find wanting, at best milestones on the road to communism.

It is unnecessary for our purposes here to recount Marx’s and Engels’s distinctions between the various forms of socialism. Suffice it to say that, in their account, all of those varieties constitute cynical or at any rate inconsequential concessions to the lower classes, intended to stave off the emergence of full communism and to preserve ruling class status and privileges. The “socialism” with which we are most familiar today—high and progressive taxation, a generous welfare state, nationalization of key services such as health care, an expansive list of state-guaranteed “rights,” combined with the retention of private property and private ownership of most means of production—Marx and Engels deride as “bourgeois socialism,” i.e., not only not the real thing but fundamentally closer to bourgeois capitalism than to true socialism, much less communism.

Marxism and “History”

For Marx and Engels, the ground of both socialism and communism is “history,” understood not as an account of past events, conditions, structures, and trends but as an inexorable movement toward a final, fully rational state, with “state” understood as both “state of being” and the formal machinery of government. The discovery of this notion of “history” is implicit in Rousseau’s account of man’s transition from the state of nature—man’s original and natural, in the sense of “default,” condition—to civil society. For Rousseau, that transition was both a decline and one-way: there is no going back. This change in man’s situation, which putatively changes his nature, is the core of what would come to be called “historicism”: the idea that human nature is not constant but variable according to the historical situation. In this understanding, “history,” and not any purported but nonexistent permanent human nature as posited by all prior philosophy, both determines the organization of society and supplies the standard by which man should live.

For Rousseau, man’s transition from the state of nature to civil society is caused by the discovery or development of his rationality, a latent quality always present in humanity but not active in the state of nature, in which men live more or less as beasts. What distinguishes man from the beasts is his freedom, his awareness of and ability to act on that freedom, and the potential to develop his rationality. The “unlocking” of that rationality is perhaps inevitable but at the same
time accidental or inadvertent. Once unlocked, human rationality inevitably leads to the invention of private property, which is the basis of all politics. “The first person who, having fenced off ground, took it into his head to say this is mine and found people simple enough to believe him, was the true founder of civil society,” Rousseau writes in his Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality among Men.

Private property necessarily gives rise to institutions designed to protect and defend it, and these become not only the instruments of civil society but also sources of inequality and misery. Implicit in Rousseau’s thought is the unsettling notion that, once this historical process begins, it has no end or rational direction. History is driven by contradiction and conflict—though, he asserts, human beings can still live more or less happily if isolated from urban wealth and corruption. But such circumstances are rare and the products of chance. History in the main is the endless replacement of one set of standards and modes of life for new ones, one set of masters for another, ad infinitum.

Rousseau’s successors, principally Kant and Hegel, accept the notion that history is driven by conflict but posit that the process nonetheless has a rational direction. History’s inherent and inevitable conflicts point forward and upward toward a final state in which all of history’s contradictions are resolved. It is this alleged insight—popularized in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Francis Fukuyama—upon which Marx and Engels build their political and economic theory.

For Marxism, the fundamental fact of human life—what sets man apart from the other living beings—is conscious production and consumption. Marx partly follows Rousseau in believing that there was a period when man could, essentially, “live off the land,” on what he could find and gather. But whereas for Rousseau, man’s transition from the state of nature to civil society was an avoidable or at any rate accidental and unnecessary tragedy, for Marx it was inevitable and, eventually, will turn out all to the good.

Unlike producing animals (for instance, bees) man’s production is conscious. He knows what he does and why he does it. But this consciousness does not arise from any innate rationality but rather from necessity. Population increase forces man to produce—that is, to manipulate nature rather than simply living off its bounty—in order to survive. (The implication is that nature is barely bountiful enough to support a limited number of primitive men but must be “conquered” in order to support the inevitably larger numbers that will emerge absent some external force that consistently culls the population.) This turn to production represents a fundamental change in man’s being and is the first step in his historical development.

From this point forward, the character of man and of every society he inhabits is set by the mode(s) of production. Such modes not only determine but explain, literally, everything about human life: man’s past, present, and future; his theology, morality, and worldview; and the underlying metaphysics and ontology of reality. Thus can Marx claim that his theory is comprehensive…

 is a lecturer and research fellow at Hillsdale College and a senior fellow at the Claremont Institute.


This article was published by the American Mind and is reproduced with permission.

False Friends of Digital Privacy

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few really know what you are, and those few dare not oppose themselves to the opinion of the many.”

Nicolo Machiavelli, The Prince


The period following May 2013 witnessed a slew of disclosures about mass surveillance. There were jaw-dropping revelations about National Security Agency programssoftware, and spy gear. Someone leaked an entire catalog of malware developed by the Central Intelligence Agency. And let’s not forget all the juicy reports about companies secretly cooperating with the intelligence community to install backdoors, establish data-stream backchannels, and provide early access to information on vulnerabilities. Despite the bad publicity, it’s extremely unlikely that these covert programs and relationships abruptly ground to a halt. On the contrary, if the intelligence budget is any indication, the associated skullduggery has proliferated such that sophisticated cyberattacks are no longer the sole purview of three-letter agencies. This state of affairs has unsettling implications that Big Tech would prefer to sweep under the rug.

After being caught in bed with spies, the C-suites knew they would have to contrive ways to regain trust. To this end, they engaged in conspicuous displays of resistance, lauded strong encryption as a panacea, and shoveled cash to trade magazines. Opportunities for redemption conveniently appeared. For example, in early 2016, Apple was involved in a legal dispute with the Federal Bureau of Investigation over access to an iPhone 5C linked to the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. The device in question was finally unlocked by a mercenary firm whose engineers used a carefully crafted sequence of instructions (known in the business as an “exploit chain”) to gain access to the iPhone 5C by leveraging unpatched bugs.

The unlocking was mostly an afterthought, however. What really generated headlines was the fight between Apple and the United States government. Members of the press announced that Apple was working on a new unhackable iPhone while the company’s CEO was depicted as a defender of digital privacy. The result of this hyperbolic coverage was the impression that Apple was the vendor of choice for people who entrusted their lives with tech (e.g. journalists, political activists). Once the confetti settled from the media frenzy, developers at an Israeli outfit known as the NSO Group proved just how wrong this notion was. Team NSO built an enterprise-class product that could get into virtually any iPhone on demand, without any interaction by the targeted user—a devastating “zero-click” attack platform. Eat your heart out, Tim Cook.

Fast forward to July 2022 and the executives at Apple are once again eager to reassure users. There’s a shiny new feature called “Lockdown Mode.” Sounds impressive, right? That’s the idea. And once again, tech publications are drinking the Kool-Aid (e.g., it’s the “coolest security idea ever”), reinforcing the dubious presumption that, somehow, things will be different this time.

The media’s talking points are an indicator of sorts. Think about it: what better way to collect sensitive information than corralling users into the same parcel of digital real estate by convincing them to adopt a technology ostensibly designed to protect their privacy? The prospect of security attracts users in droves, though. At the same time, the resulting popularity of an allegedly secure venue attracts people who devote their lives to compromising said security. Just like watering holes bring together gazelles and lions, one side is drawn in by secrecy and the other by secrets.

The crime-phone vendor Anom accomplished this feat by hiring “influencers,” known figures in the underground who could wield their credibility by offering endorsements for Anom’s phones. It worked like a charm and Anom sold over 12,000 phones. What customers, as well as influencers, didn’t realize was that Anom was actually a massive honeypot in disguise being controlled behind the scenes by the feds. Suffice it to say that Operation Trojan Shield resulted in hundreds of arrests as authorities conducted a wave of raids.

So perhaps the constellation of celebrities orbiting around the encrypted messaging app called Signal is to be expected: everyone from former spies such as Ed Snowden (“I use it every day and I’m not dead”), to award-winning journalists such as Seymour Hersh (“You better get Signal”), to tech luminaries such as Bruce Schneier (“Use Signal whenever you can”), to billionaires such as Elon Musk (“Use Signal”). The big names are unanimously giving Signal two thumbs up.

These testimonies are likely of little comfort to Stewart Rhodes, the leader of the Oath Keepers, who was caught transmitting some pretty strong words via Signal, all of which are now trial evidence. It may not be surprising, then, that Proud Boys leader Henry “Enrique” Tarrio is in the same boat. His encrypted chats are likewise being used against him by prosecutors. Listen carefully and you can almost hear surveillance experts chuckling, reminding us that “current security efforts suffer from the flawed assumption that adequate security can be provided in applications with the existing security mechanisms of mainstream operating systems.” Once more, in rare fits of honesty spies will concede that iPhone users are zombies who pay for their own surveillance.

Can users be blamed for wanting to believe in silver bullets? Given the onslaught of data breaches and mass surveillance they have valid reasons to flock to something — anything — that might provide a semblance of relief.

Sadly, there won’t be any relief. As Morgan Freeman would quip, “John Doe has the upper hand.”

Offensive developments underscore that the privacy technology commonly promoted by very serious people is likely nothing more than a speed bump to the black hats. If intruders really want your secrets, they’ll get them. For instance, researchers have recently unearthed malware out in the wild that literally hides inside computer hardware. Staking out a foothold in chip firmware that’s invisible to the operating system while achieving unfettered access to data, the malware dubbed CosmicStrand has been lurking around the Internet largely unseen since 2016. In other words, none of the common prescriptions (e.g., USB-bootable operating systems, encrypted messaging apps, onion routing) fit the bill with regard to confidentiality.

If anything, tools like TAILS, Signal, and Tor create a false sense of security that loosens lips, which is what watchers are hoping for. This is similar to how British intelligence elicited secrets from captured German officers in World War II; they treated prisoners with dignity, placed them in comfortable surroundings, and made sure drinks were readily available. Then, when the German officers finally felt safe, they started to talk.

Proponents, in an effort to downplay this threat, will reflexively note that only an organization like the NSA could pull such a thing off. And they would be wrong. This isn’t the sort of technology that’s limited to apex intelligence collectors. Circa 2009, your author was present for a talk given by a trio of researchers from Poland who successfully implemented a firmware-level rootkit on a shoestring budget. Now imagine what an organized group with a couple million in funding can accomplish. And yes, there are plenty of commercial entities that fit that description. Your author has had some exposure to this scene and it’s pretty active. Please keep in mind that hardware subversion has had well over a decade to mature and advance. Firmware rootkits are now mainstream, available to anyone with a budget and a list of intelligence objectives.

Honestly, you’d think that people would muster a bit more skepticism. The public record is chock full of instances where high-end security tech failed spectacularly. Consider, for instance, the case of crime-phone vendor Encrochat, which supported a sprawling network of some 60,000 users worldwide, charging thousands of dollars per year for each subscriber line. In what became known as Operation Venetic, authorities in Europe found a way to hack the company’s phones, thereby sidestepping encryption safeguards; in the summer of 2020, police made close to 800 arrests across Britain alone. And which messaging protocol was deployed on Encrochat? The very same one is used by Signal.

In 1984, the creator of UNIX, Ken Thompson, presciently warned that “you can’t trust code that you did not totally create yourself.” Now, an entire industry exists that acquires access to data by manipulating bugs in sloppy code. Some of these bugs are accidents, and some of them aren’t. Spies claim to be amused by the fact that it’s hard to tell the difference. Faced with pervasive hacking and stealthy backdoors Silicon Valley has tendered its response: more. More technology, more connectivity, more bandwidth, more user data, more aggregation, more societal footprint, more money, and ultimately more power. It’s the pretty lie of Big Tech: “You can protect your privacy with this one neat app.” But anything that emits a signal can and will be tracked. The convenience of mobile devices has shown itself to be a lure and the belief that they’ll protect individual privacy is a tenuous leap of faith. If history shows anything, it’s that this faith is misplaced, particularly when it matters the most. The great reset is afoot, dear reader, and technology that was originally introduced as a means of liberation has proven itself to be far more effective as a means of indoctrination and social control. Does this leave a stark choice to anyone concerned about their civil liberties: freedom or the trendy widgets of Silicon Valley?


This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.


The Great Reset in Action: Ending Freedom of the Press, Speech, and Expression

Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Governments, corporations, and elites have always been fearful of the power of a free press, because it is capable of exposing their lies, destroying their carefully crafted images, and undermining their authority. In recent years, alternative journalism has been growing and more people are relying on social media platforms as sources of news and information. In response, the corporate state, digital conglomerates, and the mainstream media have been increasingly supportive of the silencing and censoring of alternative media outlets and voices that challenge the official narrative on most issues.

At the recent World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, “Australian eSafety commissioner” Julie Inman Grant stated that “freedom of speech is not the same thing as a free for all,” and that “we are going to need a recalibration of a whole range of human rights that are playing out online—from freedom of speech … to be free from online violence.” Meanwhile, the Canadian government is seeking to restrict independent media and the freedom of expression via the implementation of Bill C-11, which would allow it to regulate all online audiovisual platforms on the internet, including content on Spotify, Tik Tok, YouTube, and podcast clients.

Similarly, the UK is seeking to introduce an Online Safety Bill, the US “paused” the establishment of a Disinformation Governance Board following backlash, and the European Union approved its own Digital Services Act, all of which aim to limit the freedom of speech. Attempts by elites and politicians to silence dissenters and critical thinkers is not something new. In fact, history is full of examples of “the persecution of men of science, the burning of scientific books, and the systematic eradication of the intelligentsia of the subjected people.”

However, these current efforts to curtail freedom of speech and press by supposedly liberal governments are still somewhat ironic, given that even “the most intolerant of churches, the Roman Catholic Church, even at the canonization of a saint, admits, and listens patiently to, a ‘devil’s advocate.’ The holiest of men, it appears, cannot be admitted to posthumous honors, until all that the devil could say against him is known and weighed.”

The corporate state, digital conglomerates, and the mainstream media want to ensure that they have the exclusive authority to dictate people’s opinions, wants, and choices through their sophisticated propaganda techniques. To do so, they have even resorted to transforming falsehoods into truth. In fact, the word truth has already had its original meaning altered, as those who speak the truth on certain subjects are now regularly accused of spreading hate speech, misinformation, and disinformation.

Presently, truth is no “longer something to be found, with the individual conscience as the sole arbiter of whether in any particular instance the evidence (or the standing of those proclaiming it) warrants a belief; it becomes something to be laid down by authority, something which has to be believed in the interest of the unity of the organized effort, and which may have to be altered as the exigencies of this organized effort require it.”

However, modifying the definition of truth comes with the potential for great peril, as truth-seeking often contributes to human progress in that it leads to discoveries that ultimately benefit society at large. It should be noted that truth is by no means the only word whose meaning has been changed recently in order for it to serve as an instrument of propaganda; others include freedomjusticelawrightequalitydiversitywomanpandemicvaccine, etc. This is highly concerning, because such attempts at the “perversion of language, the change of meaning of the words by which the ideals” of the ruling class are expressed is a consistent feature of totalitarian regimes.

As a number of liberal-democratic governments increasingly move toward totalitarianism, they want people to forget that there is “the greatest difference between presuming an opinion to be true, because, with every opportunity for contesting it, it has not been refuted, and assuming its truth for the purpose of not permitting its refutation.” According to them, “public criticism or even expressions of doubt must be suppressed because they tend to weaken public support.”

In fact, they believe that all views and opinions that might cast doubt or create hesitation need to be restricted in all disciplines and on all platforms. This is because “the disinterested search for truth cannot be allowed” when “the vindication of the official views becomes the sole object” of the ruling class. In other words, the control of information is practiced and the uniformity of views is enforced in all fields under totalitarian rule.

The suppression of freedom of the press, speech, expression, and thought means that current and future generations will be “deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.” They are also at risk of becoming ignorant of the fact that the only way in which a person can know “the whole of a subject” is by “hearing what can be said about it by persons of every variety of opinion, and studying all modes in which it can be looked at by every character of mind.” That is to say, current and future generations will be unaware that “the steady habit of correcting and completing” one’s own “opinion by collating it with those of others, so far from causing doubt and hesitation in carrying it into practice, is the only stable foundation for a just reliance on it.”

At present, it is likely that the masses do not regard freedom of the press, speech, expression, and thought as being particularly important, because “the great majority are rarely capable of thinking independently, that on most questions they accept views which they find ready-made, and that they will be equally content if born or coaxed into one set of beliefs or another.” Nevertheless, no one should have the power and authority to “select those to whom” freedom of thought, enlightenment and expression is to be “reserved.”

In fact, John Stuart Mill went so far as to claim that “if all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” He further added that silencing the expression of an opinion is essentially an act of “robbing the human race,” which applies to both current and future generations. Even though the suppressors can deny the truth to people at a particular point in time, “history shows that every age having held many opinions which subsequent ages have deemed not only false but absurd; and it is as certain that many opinions, now general, will be rejected by future ages, as it is that many, once general, are rejected by the present.”

If current efforts to suppress freedom of the press, speech, expression, and thought to succeed, then the search for truth will eventually be abandoned and totalitarian authorities will decide what “doctrines ought to be taught and published.” There will be no limits to who can be silenced, as the control of opinions will be extended to all people in all fields. Accordingly, contemporary authoritarian policymakers need to be reminded about the crucial importance of freedom of speech, expression, and thought, which the US Supreme Court recognized in the 1957 case Sweezy v. New Hampshire when it ruled that

to impose any strait jacket upon the intellectual leaders in our colleges and universities would imperil the future of our Nation. No field of education is so thoroughly comprehended by man that new discoveries cannot yet be made…. Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise, our civilization will stagnate and die…. Our form of government is built on the premise that every citizen shall have the right to engage in political expression and association. This right was enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Exercise of these basic freedoms in America has traditionally been through the media of political associations…. History has amply proved the virtue of political activity by minority, dissident groups, who innumerable times have been in the vanguard of democratic thought and whose programs were ultimately accepted. Mere unorthodoxy or dissent from the prevailing mores is not to be condemned. The absence of such voices would be a symptom of grave illness in our society.


Birsen Filip holds a PhD in philosophy and master’s degrees in economics and philosophy. She has published numerous articles and chapters on a range of topics, including political philosophy, geo-politics, and the history of economic thought, with a focus on the Austrian School of Economics and the German Historical School of Economics. She is the author of the upcoming book The Early History of Economics in the United States: The Influence of the German Historical School of Economics on Teaching and Theory (Routledge, 2022). She is also the author of The Rise of Neo-liberalism and the Decline of Freedom (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020).


This article was published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute and is reproduced with permission. Please refer to linked article to access its extensively referenced sources.