The Great Panning, a review of Klaus Schwab’s COVID-19: The Great Reset

Eugyppius is a hero, he read the book and wrote a review so we would never have to think about it again.

Like many bad books, The Great Reset lapses into occasional inadvertent autobiography. In the final pages especially, where Klaus Schwab writes of his hopes for a “Personal Reset” through state repression, we catch a glimpse of the man during the first-wave lockdown at his house in Cologny. At first he enjoyed the break with routine and the opportunity to commune with nature, but before long he began to feel a nagging unease. He’d spent most of his years prior to 2020 flogging “stakeholder capitalism”, his umbrella term for various schemes to disarm criticism of the globalist corporate borg and co-opt leftist opposition. Schwab succeeded in parlaying his simplistic ideas into an international conference circuit, known today as the World Economic Forum, where he could hobnob with corporate and political celebrities and burnish his Bond-villain reputation among political dissidents. But the pandemic had thrown Schwab off balance. For once his reprocessed nostrums about environmental, social and corporate governance issues were no longer in demand; virologists and epidemiologists and exponential growth curves filled the news instead. His powerful celebrity clients were suddenly listening to other people. Obscurity loomed.

Thus Schwab enlisted his sidekick research-assistant Thierry Malleret, booted up his laptop, and spent a few months decanting the cloud of buzzwords, talking points and half-remembered powerpoint presentations plaguing his brain into a meandering and thoroughly pointless document. When he had finished, he sent the whole thing to Malleret’s wife for a proof-read, and then he ordered his own Forum Press to print off a few thousand copies. Thus did yet another lamentable exercise in self-publishing come to pass.

The Great Reset is not a book that begins with a fully-formed argument, which it seeks to articulate through successive proofs. Nor is it a book that finds its purpose along the way. It is of that still more miserable variety, that is always on the verge of discovering what it means to say, but can never quite get there. I have a vision of Schwab in his study, typing furiously with extended index fingers like a bicephalic chicken, marshalling all his meagre powers to reconstruct the very unexpected pandemic in which he found himself, such that it might better resemble the kind of global ESG stakeholder capitalism woo crisis that Schwab would really prefer to pronounce upon. “We must get back to my pet themes” is what Schwab is trying to tell us in The Great Reset. It is above all a childish book.

From this optimistic opening Eugypius goes on to detail the many deficiencies of Schwab’s ideas and his ability to express them, his faulty premises and false conclusions, which is worth the effort to read if for no other reason that it always satisfies the soul to see a pompous, high riding egoist brought to earth with a thud.  Here’s the conclusion:

The Davos crowd see themselves as post-ideological, technocratic problem-solvers, but it’s impossible to deny that some kind of abstruse, malformed ideological system pervades Schwab’s work. It might be too ungainly and broken to acknowledge or defend, and it’s remarkably hard to describe, but it’s there. Postwar optimism and the generations of uninterrupted technological progress that followed, encouraged some people to believe that we were on the verge of a new world, one where a utopian global order would supplant both nation states and corporations, ushering in a post-capitalist, post-nationalist era, where all our most pressing problems would be solved. Yet the nations states stayed around, for-profit businesses are still here, and technological progress has stalled. What remains is a lot of jargon and vacuity, signifying nothing.

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