The Coming Human Catastrophe

The Great Reset

Gautam Das & Sthabir Dasgupta

Critics of neoliberal economy have always been sceptical about its lasting revival from ever deepening crisis. Some pundits even predicted that it was heading to a dead end. But the question that remained unanswered was–would this predatory form of capitalism die a natural death even without the emergence of an antagonistic force? Or, would it metamorphose into a far more sinister form to wriggle out of the ongoing monstrous crisis? People were simply clueless until the author and ideologue of ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, Mr Klaus Schwab brought out the grand design of the leaders of the world capital with astonishing clarity, in his book, ‘COVID-19: The Great Reset’.

Invoking the ghost of Keynesian model of state intervention as the only conceivable panacea to the hegemony of global finance capital, one of celebrity Marxist economists commented in a prestigious socialist journal, “neoliberal capitalism cannot ward off the challenge it is facing for long. It has no vision for reinventing itself. …Today, neoliberal capitalism does not even have an idea of how it can recover and revitalise itself. ”Mr Klaus Schwab probably had good reasons to be amused at this comment and he mercilessly shattered this fairy tale teeming with Marxist jargons. He did it with vengeance and with a satanic grin he told the world a horror story of future, in his two books, namely the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ & ‘The Great Reset’.

“The possibilities for change and the resulting new order are now unlimited...societies could be poised to become more egalitarian or more authoritarian. ”Thus, he introduced his readers with the mystic new world order. The billionaire’s club called ‘World Economic Forum’ having complete sway over today’s world economy has not only envisioned this new order, they made it a real and palpable phenomenon in the wake of Covid-19. Far from being egalitarian, shape of the future that he outlined is ruthlessly unequal and mindlessly violent. It is evident from his candid admission that “inequality represents the greatest societal concern associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators, shareholders, and investors—which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labour.”

But where would this “A winner takes all” economy would lead the people to and to what extreme? He nonchalantly answered, “The Fourth Industrial Revolution, finally, will change not only what we do but also who we are. …In its most pessimistic, dehumanised form, the Fourth Industrial Revolution may indeed have the potential to “robotise” humanity and thus to deprive us of our heart and soul.”

Before going into the gory details of the new world order that Mr Klaus Schwab has painted with a desire to impress upon the fact that it is the inevitable historical outcome of inexorable technological advancement, the world needs to have a very basic understanding of how such a perilous turn of history was brewing up in the past one and half decade.

In the aftermath of Great Financial crisis of 2008, there was no need felt by the Moghuls of global capital to re-partition the already partitioned world, they took the path of reshaping not only the contours of world economy, but the way people live, people think of their existence, people exchange and interact and most importantly, the way people are governed. Unlike the slow economic recovery piggybacked on increased military spending of state following the Great Depression of 1930, the bottom 90% of the society did not witness any reprieve this time; on the contrary,they slipped into further worsening of the crisis. In 2012, their average income dwindled by 15.7%, in comparison to what they earned in 2009. On the other hand, the global financial corporations consolidated their sway even further. The obscenely rich 1% of the society grabbed 95% of the world’s economic growth following subprime crisis of 2008. In 2010 only 388 super rich people of the world owned as much wealth as the half of the humanity had. By 2017 the number of richest individuals became just 8 who controlled the wealth equivalent to that owned by 50% of humanity. Many new billionaires who were non-existent earlier emerged in the financial sectors.

In 2014, there were 437 large financial corporations whose total assets were five times larger than the aggregate assets of corporations of other sectors. The most obnoxious feature of this toxic corporations who mostly reaped benefits of free trade and financial deregulation that it does not believe in real production, real trade and real commerce. They thrive on speculation, predation and rent on endless number of patents. They outgrew the real economy by somewhere between 20 to 50 times and started demonising the real economy. One can remember that demonetisation of 2016 was perpetrated under the diktat of digital-financial complex with the ulterior motive of throttling and sucking out the life blood of real economy. Over last one and a half decade they have reached a stage of extreme concentration of wealth and power by mainly two ways. One is the merger of mega corporations of various sectors ranging from agriculture, biotechnology, digital trade, IT and IT enabled industry and big pharma under its absolute control. The other one is the convergence of all these sectors on digital economy by means of digital tools. But to facilitate the hassle-free implementation of this new order without any major resistance coming from so-called sovereign countries and to insulate their projects from public anger and allegations of lack of legitimacy, a new form of invasion of capital emerged.

Under the euphemism of philanthropy capitalism, it began to interfere in the political and democratic processes of elected governments. Cloaked under the name of charity foundations, for example, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Chan Zuckerberg Foundation, Google Foundation, apart from the old and seasoned players like Rothschild foundation, Welcome trust, they invested (they did not donate) in various projects. These are Bio-medical researches, Genome projects, newer drugs and vaccines, climate control innovations, high-tech surveillance, to name a few. They are thus claiming patents on those aspects of life which have never been considered earlier, to have commercial potential. These modern missionaries of global finance capital empowered by digital technology propped up advisory groups that pushed their agenda through the government machineries, managed public opinion and finally usurped the policy and decision-making power of democratically elected governments without needing any form of coup-d’état or violent political upheaval.

To understand the modus operandi of these shady foundations, the BMGF may be a case in point. Twenty years ago, the world’s wealthiest man and his wife with half of their fortune, formed the world’s largest private foundation. A few years later, another billionaire, Warren Buffet joined them by pledging half of his wealth. From 2010, they started calling upon other billionaires to join the bandwagon. BMGF trust makes tons of money out of money and pumps a part of it into BMGF charity which runs global policy and advocacy wing to manipulate government decision and public opinion to ensure greater return on their investment. In 2014, through BMGF trust, Bill Gates invested $11.8 billion in US conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway owned by Warren Buffett. To complete the vicious cycle of financial ecosystem, Mr Buffett, in turn, donated billions to BMGF. These unaccounted money was spent not only to influence and coerce the governments, the biggest institutions, research organisations and regulatory authorities of national and international importance were also bought and forced to fall in line with their agenda.

Thus US FDA, WHO, EMA and many others thrived on Gates money and became their enterprises leaving the gullible people all over the world in absolute dark. The players of global casino of finance capital thus cleared the way of achieving unimaginable control over seeds, GMOs, medicines, vaccines, digital tools, people’s savings, securities and surveillance technology. In 2015, in an annual letter, Bill Gates declared that next fifteen years will see major breakthroughs which will be driven by technological innovations in new vaccines, weather resilient crops, cheaper smartphones and tablets. The saga of technological innovations which is eulogized by Mr Klaus Schwab as transformational change leading to fourth industrial revolution is vitiated by these goals to be reached by 2030.

In his book, ‘Covid19: The Great Reset’ Mr Schwab, with the conviction of a scholar of history and economics wanted to make people believe that this pandemic would ruin the most of the businesses, inflict more damage to the already hard-hit labour force to the extent that it could be regarded as the mother of all financial crisis and at the same time it would accelerate the changes that had already been taking place in the direction of labour replacing technocratic control of economy. Indeed, the virus has been behaving so intelligently that it has been selectively wreaking havoc on the real or physical economy which is still beyond the ambit of digital control while the sectors under the tutelage of big finance corporations converging on digital trade has not only emerged unscathed, they enriched their coffer by around 33% during the lockdown, which is estimated to kill more people due to hunger than the virus did even at the peak of pandemic. In his book, Mr Schwab reiterated the goal and vision of Bill Gates. He said, “this (economic recovery) won’t happen before a vaccine or treatment is found.”.“ In all likelihood, the recession induced by pandemic will trigger a sharp increase in labour substitution, meaning that physical labour will be replaced by robots and intelligent machines, which will in turn lasting and structural changes in the labour market.”

This is the very essence of what they call fourth industrial revolution. The quintessential feature of it will be the substitution of human labour by extreme automation, the return on labour in the form of wages or salaries reaching historic low, the cost of trade and commerce almost dropping to zero and physical economy being wiped out to give way to digital economy.

It would be naiveté to believe that social distancing, a legacy of apartheid era, was forced upon the largest part of humanity just to tame the virus. It might have been based on unfounded scientific rationale but there is a clear suggestion in his book that it was guided by well thought of commercial plan. “In the pre-pandemic era, new A-I based technologies were being gradually introduced to automate some of the tasks performed by human employees. The Covid-19 crisis and its accompanying measures of social distancing, has suddenly accelerated this process of innovation and technological change”, argued Mr Schwab, quite candidly in his book.He went on painting a frightening future with incredible atrocity of a pathological mind, “these innovations provoked by necessity (sanitary measures) will soon result in hundreds and thousands, and potentially millions of job losses”... “the labour market will become increasingly polarised between highly paid work and lots of jobs disappeared or not well paid or not very interesting.”

For the youth pre-dominant demography, he called it a “nightmare” which will befall the unsuspecting people and force them to change the way they think about their life and necessities. “By 2030, you will not own anything but you will be happy.” The sermons like these which induce people to blissfully come under the spell of the monstrous global finance capital, abound in his book. “Happiness depends more on intangible factors such as accessible healthcare and a robust social fabric”. It is a common knowledge that in a nightmarish economy, the lollypops of healthcare like mandatory vaccines and lullabies of social fabric will be torn apart. So the paternalistic and authoritarian state would require people to reset their values and ideas on how to behave, or how much and what to eat and consume to meet their barest need for survival. It might sound macabre and vile; however, it is the future societal control that the apostle of fourth industrial revolution envisioned and wanted the world to accept it as the consequence of Covid-19. He said, “then values as different as the respect for the environment, responsible eating… come to characterise the new social norms.”

He also talked at length about the modern monetary theory which helps the titans of the global financial capital to spin money out of money. He emphasized that this theory needs the barrier between the fiscal authorities and monetary authorities to be dismantled and physical currency be replaced by digital currency. It means the entire economic control will be surreptitiously transferred from the elected government to the hands of few powerful financial corporations who will write new orders of “reset”.

The fourth industrial ‘revolution’ is characterised by momentous transformations in technological progress coupled with the most atrocious and regressive idea of human society, and it has no parallel in history in terms of its awe-inspiring speed and unprecedented scale. So does believe Mr Klaus Schwab, the founder and CEO of World Economic Forum who wrote the book, ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

It is true that there is no instance in human history where the most regressive ideas brought about the most revolutionary change. However, in technocratic vision of history, the very basic idea of social progress was turned on its head. It was equated with the exponential growth of wealth of the 1%, at the perils of the rest of humanity. In order to make sense about the “fourth”, he explained how it actually differed from its chronological predecessors, in the narrowest possible sense of history. “The First Industrial Revolution used water and steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution… characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Fire was the first revolutionary discovery of mankind. Later the discovery of fossil fuel and endless belligerence over the control of it determined the course of political and economic twists and turns in modern history. Technological advancement over last half a century has created a new tool called data which is the equivalent of oil in terms of its utility and universality of application. Most technocratic vision of future human society is that the economic, social and political predicament of us will be decided on who owns and controls this tool. In the name of insane digitisation and mindless automation coupled with artificial intelligence, all human interactions and activities are being transformed into bundle of infinite amount of data.

Empowered by the formidable technological advancement in production, storage, processing and dissemination of data and equipped with tools of transforming every aspect of human need and exchange into data and laws allowing to claim rents on those data by way of patenting, the honchos of global financial corporations have brought other sectors like big pharma, big tech, digital trade into its fold and focused “in the fields such as artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, autonomous vehicles, 3-D printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, materials science, energy storage, and quantum computing.” The other grey areas of their investment include synthetic biology, surveillance technology and climate manoeuvring technology. The Covid-19 vaccination using untested mRNA technology needs to be viewed in this context.

The convergence of all leading sectors into digital technology appears so good and ingenious for the 1% super rich whom Mr Klaus Schwab represents and at the same time it appears so bleak and destructive for the rest of humanity that he had to hide behind the logic of historical inevitability of the events by saying, “the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace. Moreover, it is disrupting almost every industry in every country.” He did not forget to mention, “revolution could yield greater inequality, particularly in its potential to disrupt labour markets. As automation substitutes for labour across the entire economy, the net displacement of workers by machines might exacerbate the gap between returns to capital and returns to labour.”

The way “technological innovations”, the main plank of Schwab’s “revolutionary” project will be disrupting the labour market in future is simply bone-chilling.

“In the future, technological innovation will also lead to a supply-side miracle, with long-term gains in efficiency and productivity. Transportation and communication costs will drop,logistics and global supply chains will become more effective, and the cost of trade will diminish”. So, what could be the fall out of such extreme squeeze on the contribution of labour in productivity? He clarified, “This will give rise to a job market increasingly segregated into “low-skill/low-pay” and “high-skill/high-pay” segments, which in turn will lead to an increase in social tensions.” But the questions are, who will be beneficiary of this grossly discriminatory labour market divided between highly paid skilled jobs and subsistence level menial jobs? What will be the fate of middle class that has been so enamoured of corporate world of growth? He did not sound very generous in his reply, “The largest beneficiaries of innovation tend to be the providers of intellectual and physical capital—the innovators, shareholders, and investors—which explains the rising gap in wealth between those dependent on capital versus labour.”

“The result is a job market with a strong demand at the high and low ends, but a hollowing out of the middle.”

Alongside the decimation of middle class, the next disruptive onslaught might be borne by the businesses which will dare to remain outside the purview of digital trade. It goes without saying that the small and middle businesses will be ruthlessly ousted from the future economy and condemned to be wiped out for ever. Mr Schwab has re-affirmed this bleak predicament of vast majority of people dependent on this non -digital and informal economy in his own style.

“On the supply side, many industries are seeing the introduction of new technologies that create entirely new ways of serving existing needs and significantly disrupt existing industry value chains.”....“A key trend is the development of technology-enabled platforms that combine both demand and supply to disrupt existing industry structures,” said Mr Schwab. Enabled by digital technology, the absolute control on every aspect of economy from demand to supply side will be so pervasive and inevitable that the real production, real trade and real services beyond the reach of big capital will cease to exist and the big finance will overrun their space with ease and formidable speed.

Even the governments and regulatory authorities will have their head spinning to catch up with the speed of ‘reset’. This is the reason why the ideologue of ‘reset’ conceived of a global governance, a snippet of which people have already witnessed in the months following the announcement of pandemic.

“Simultaneously, governments will gain new technological powers to increase their control over populations, based on pervasive surveillance systems and the ability to control digital infrastructure. On the whole, however, governments will increasingly face pressure to change their current approach to public engagement and policy making”, said Mr Schwab.

Though the horror story told in future tense is bound to create an explosive perspective and the author himself could not deny that the swaths of populations losing out or facing existential threat will be fighting back and the millennial generation will be leading from the front, he did not hide the fact that the future emperors of totalitarian digital regime will employ a slew of strategies which will be much more sophisticated, controlled and precise. His prophecies appear to be filled with cold horror, “The distinction between war and peace, combatant and non-combatant, and even violence and non-violence (think cyber warfare) is becoming uncomfortably blurry.”

“As this process takes place and new technologies such as autonomous or biological weapons become easier to use, individuals and small groups will increasingly join states in being capable of causing mass harm. This new vulnerability will lead to new fears. But at the same time, advances in technology will create the potential to reduce the scale or impact of violence, through the development of new modes of protection, for example, or greater precision in targeting.”

The liberals and self-styled Marxist thinkers may rubbish the grand design of reset and may wish to downplay it with the sole concern that it would fuel the litany of ‘conspiracy theories’ or encourage un-Marxian discourse on political economy. However, there can be no denying that people are passing through a churning moment of history and things are evolving at faster rate than one can conceive. From people in general to acclaimed pundits, everyone in real life, appears to be scaling the steep learning curve. At least, there should be no pretence about it.

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Vol. 54, No. 14-17, Oct 3 - 30, 2021