The Great Reset Rubric: Making Sense of Our Present Dystopia

The Great Reset represents the best rubric we might find for grasping much of what’s going on in the world today: the prevalence of woke ideology and cancel culture; the draconian COVID responses; the seemingly endless Antifa/BLM riots; the supposed Biden presidential victory; Big Tech censorship; and the endless stream of propaganda, double think, and gaslighting propagated by mainstream and social media. Even if not by design, as I will show, all of these seemingly disparate elements interlock in a way that support Great Reset objectives, and the Great Re-setters favor all of these developments. Likewise, once we are able to grasp the contours of the Great Reset, we will be poised to understand the reason for the prevalence of these elements and how they all interconnect and function together to produce our present dystopia.

What is the Great Reset?

There are as many answers to this question as there are people willing and eager to answer it. But rather than yield to so-called “conspiracy theorists,” let’s take the language of Klaus Schwab and the World Economic Forum (WEF) at face value and begin from there. We shall see that our concern about the Great Reset is not, as the New York Times would have it, a baseless conspiracy theory. [1] Rather, it represents a reasonable inquiry into a conspiracy fact. For the Great Reset is nothing if not a conspiracy fact—that is, an open conspiracy being foisted on the world by a set of avowed co-conspirators.

The Great Reset is a phrase first used by Klaus Schwab and the WEF to describe a project that they have variously defined. Schwab has been promoting the Great Reset for decades, but only within the past year has the Great Reset conception gained a foothold in public consciousness and become an almost universally recognized agenda of the WEF, and, by extension, of corporations and world governments.

In their book, COVID-19: The Great Reset, WEF founder and executive chairman Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret write that the COVID-19 crisis should be regarded as an “opportunity [that can be] seized to make the kind of institutional changes and policy choices that will put economies on the path toward a fairer, greener future.” [2]

Thus, we see that the Great Reset aims to use COVID-19 as an “opportunity” to reset capitalism in order to address “climate change” and to bring about so-called economic “fairness.” We know what the COVID crisis is, although we may disagree on its dangers and our governments’ responses to it. And we know what climate change is reputed to be, although, again, disagreements about its dangers and causes also abound. But what is this “fairer” future, and how would the Great Reset bring it about?


The Stakeholder Economy

To usher in “fairness,” the Great Reset aims to reset the economy to “stakeholder capitalism,” a replacement for “shareholder” capitalism. Stakeholder capitalism involves the consideration of “customers, suppliers, employees, and local communities” in addition to shareholders in the business operations of the world’s major corporations and governments. [3] A stakeholder is anyone or any group that stands to benefit or lose from corporate behavior—other than competitors, we may suppose. Since the primary pretext for the Great Reset is global climate change, we may assume that anyone in the world can be considered a stakeholder in the corporate governance of most major corporations, especially in terms of their energy use. Stakeholder capitalism involves changes to the behavior of corporations with respect to carbon use but also in terms of the distribution of benefits and “externalities” or detriments that corporations produce.

Schwab and Malleret typically pit “stakeholder capitalism” against “neoliberalism.” [4] Neoliberalism is, according to Schwab and Malleret, “a corpus of ideas and policies that can loosely be defined as favouring competition over solidarity, creative destruction over government intervention and economic growth over social welfare.” [5] Although “neoliberalism” is a weasel word that changes meanings depending on the user, Schwab and Malleret deploy the term to refer to what is otherwise known as the free market. Stakeholder capitalism is thus opposed to the free enterprise system, to the competition of the free and open market. Stakeholder capitalism means economic planning so that production and consumption tend toward a greener, fairer economy. We may assume that the obverse of this is also true. That is, corporate-state endeavors that do not tend to benefit stakeholders, according to WEF principles that is, like the Keystone Pipeline project in the U.S. for example, must be abandoned.

We see that stakeholder capitalism means not only corporate cooperation but also "government intervention" in the economy in order to bring about this greener, fairer future. In fact, Schwab and Malleret promote “the return of ‘big’ government” in order to bring about the Great Reset. If “the past five centuries in Europe and America” have taught us anything, they assert, it is that “acute crises contribute to boosting the power of the state. It’s always been the case and there is no reason why it should be different with the COVID-19 pandemic.” [6]

Thus, the Great Reset means a much greater degree of statism—of state intervention into the economy. To what ends? Again, to produce a greener, fairer future.

Yet by fairness, the Great Reset means much more than the “equitable” distribution of goods and detriments in terms of “environmental justice.” According to the WEF, corporate responsibility must be redefined in terms of “social justice” as well. [7] Stakeholder capitalism includes not only the corporate-state response to ecological issues such as climate change, “but also rethinking their commitments to already-vulnerable communities within their ecosystems.” These include black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). BIPOC are special stakeholders in stakeholder capitalism. In addition to BIPOC, special stakeholders also include LGBTQ+ persons. [8] It is clear that the WEF means that the interests of BIPOC and LGBTQ persons must be interjected into corporate-state planning as part of the Great Reset.


Corporate Socialism

We can now divulge the full scope of the socio-economic system called stakeholder capitalism. “Fairness,” as it turns out, means an “equality” without property for the masses. “Welcome to my city - or should I say, ‘our city’,” writes a blogger for the WEF. [9] “I don't own anything. I don't own a car. I don't own a house. I don't own any appliances or any clothes.” This report from the future to the past, our present, is not “a utopia or dream of the future,” we are told. Yet the future just so happens to meet all the criteria of the Great Reset: low to no carbon emissions, nearly 100% recyclable products, “sustainability,” a happy, compliant population. Moreover, this propertyless future “makes perfect sense” to the city dweller of 2030, when property has become unnecessary due to the conversion of most goods into “services.”

But what of the corporate producers of goods and services? We must assume that their ownership will not be disrupted. After all, corporations still need to produce the services that the city dwellers “enjoy.” While the city-dwellers will own nothing, they will still need to pay for the services made available by what can only be a corporate oligarchy, which will hold a veritable monopoly over production. After all, where could competition come from when the majority owns nothing?

Yet, because the Great Reset vests power and control in major corporations and the state, it does not represent standard “socialism” or “communism” in the usual senses of those terms. It does, however, represent a kind of socialism. I have referred to this system variously as “neo-feudalism,” [10] “corporate socialism,” [11] and as “capitalism with Chinese characteristics.” [12] Each of these designations captures something about this system that the Great Reset envisions and aims to bring about. The WEF anticipates a neo-feudalist, corporate-state-run socialism that would resemble the Chinese communist system of state-run capitalism under Communist Party rule, only with corporate partners controlling much more decision-making than in China. It involves a decidedly two-tiered system, with corporate-state oligarchs on top, and “actually existing socialism” [13] for the vast majority—like state socialism, only with the role usually reserved for the state under standard socialism undertaken by corporate-state partners of the stakeholder economy—like feudalism, only with an enhanced, supposedly comfortable serfdom.


Wokeness and Cancel Culture

This brings us to the first element of our dystopia that we can explain in terms of the Great Reset: the prevalence of woke ideology, and its adjunct, cancel culture. Although socialist ideology supports the Great Reset, wokeness actually suits it better. As I write in Beyond Woke, “[a]ccording to the social justice creed, being ‘woke’ is the political awakening that stems from the emergence of consciousness and conscientiousness regarding social and political injustice. Wokeness is the indelible inscription of the awareness of social injustice on the conscious mind, eliciting the sting of conscience, which compels the newly woke to change their beliefs and behaviors.” [14] Wokeness is enhanced awareness of social and political injustice and the determination to eradicate it. But what could wokeness have to do with the Great Reset?

First of all, wokeness is not aimed at the sufferers whose complaints, or imagined complaints, it means to redress. Wokeness works on the majority, the supposed beneficiaries of injustice. It does so by making the majority understand that it has benefitted from “privilege” and preference—based on skin color (whiteness), gender (patriarchy), sexual proclivity (heteronormativity), birthplace (colonialism, imperialism, and first worldism), gender identity (cis gender privilege), and the domination of nature (speciesism)—to name some of the major culprits. The list could go on and is emended, seemingly by the day. This majority must be rehabilitated as it were. The masses must understand that they have gained whatever advantages they have hitherto enjoyed on the basis of the unfair treatment of others, either directly or indirectly, and this unfair treatment is predicated on the circumstances of birth. The “privilege” of the majority has come at the expense of those minorities designated as the beneficiaries of wokeness, and wokeness is the means for rectifying these many injustices.

And what are the effects of being repeatedly reprimanded as such, of being told that one has been the beneficiary of unmerited “privilege,” that one’s relative wealth and well-being have come at the expense of oppressed, marginalized, and misused Others? Shame, guilt, remorse, unworthiness. And what are the expected attitudinal and behavioral adjustments to be taken by the majority? They are to expect less. Under woke ideology, one will be expected and more likely to forfeit one’s property and rights, because even one’s property and rights, nay, especially one’s property and rights, have come at the expense of others.

Thus, wokeness works by habituating the majority to the reduced expectations of the Great Reset. It does so by instilling a belief in the unworthiness of the majority to thrive, prosper, and enjoy their lives. Wokeness indoctrinates the majority into the propertyless future (for them at least) of the Great Reset, while gratifying the left, its main ideological propagators, with a sense of moral superiority, even as they too are scheduled to become bereft of prospects.

Cancel culture is a tool of woke ideology, a weapon for debunking the “privileged,” a levelling perfectly aligned with resetting the economy. Cancel culture not only reduces the status of its victims but also it serves a premonitory role for others, the onlookers of cancellations. They learn that they counter woke ideology at their own peril. Cancel culture keeps the majority in line as wokeness erases their “privilege,” drawing down the majority into the propertyless future.

The Lockdowns and the Riots

The COVID-19 lockdowns, and to a lesser extent the leftist riots, have been moving us toward the corporate socialism of the Great Reset. The draconian lockdown measures employed by leaders of nation-states, regions, and cities, and the destruction perpetrated by the rioters, just so happen to be doing the work that corporate socialists like the WEF and their collaborators want done. In addition to destabilizing nation-states, these policies and politics are helping to destroy small businesses, thus eliminating competitors.

As the Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) points out, in the U.S., the lockdowns and riots have combined to level a one-two punch that is knocking out millions of small businesses - “the backbone of the American economy” - all across America. FEE reported that

As small businesses have been crushed by the combination of draconian lockdowns and riotous lunacy, corporate giants like Amazon have thrived like never before. As BBC News noted, at least three of the tech giants - Amazon, Apple, and Facebook - have appreciated massive gains during the lockdowns, [16] gains which were abetted, to a lesser extent, by riots that cost 1 to 2 billion in property damages. During the three months ending in June, Amazon’s “quarterly profit of $5.2bn (£4bn) was the biggest since the company's start in 1994 and came despite heavy spending on protective gear and other measures due to the virus.” Amazon’s sales rose by 40 percent in the three months ending in June.

Likewise, the lockdowns and riots have done much work toward resetting the economy in the direction of the Great Reset. They have eliminated competition for the corporate-state oligarchs and moved us in the direction of the two-tiered, neo-feudalistic, corporate socialist economy.

The Interjection of Joe Biden 

Donald Trump stood as an impediment to the Great Reset, whatever else he represented in the political sphere. His nationalist, nativist politics served, at the very least, as a rhetorical buffer against the levelling process required for the new global order and economy. Trump buttressed rather than working to eliminate the “privilege” of the majority of American citizens, struggling to oppose the levelling necessary for the Great Reset into corporate socialism. Whether a firewall against the Great Reset, or a mere speed bump slowing down its seemingly inexorable advance, Trump’s presidency was an obstacle that had to be removed, by hook or by crook.

In his first thirty days in office, Biden has signaled his total allegiance to the Great Reset objectives and his corporate socialist overlords. His many Executive Orders and unilateral actions, including the cancellation of the Keystone Pipeline, the rejoining of the Paris Accord, the promotion of trans and abortion rights, are perfectly aligned with Great Reset objectives of a “greener, fairer future.” His support of continued COVID lockdowns and school closures, and his deference to COVID experts who promote an extended a state of emergency in response to the SARS-2 virus, continue the destruction of small businesses and extend the erasure of individual rights and autonomy. His apparent intent to cancel student loan debt and thus disperse this indebtedness among the population tends toward the propertyless future that the Great Reset represents and would eventuate.

Biden’s “build back better” campaign slogan derived directly from the rhetoric of the WEF. Building back better means rebuilding the economy along the lines of the Great Reset. And this is precisely what the Biden administration is endeavoring to do.

Big Tech Censorship and Mass and Social Media Propaganda, Etc.

As would-be monopolists, Big Tech stands to gain directly from the Great Reset agenda. The Big Tech cartel’s attempt to eliminate competition and competing views is a piece with these monopolistic consolidation efforts.

Big Tech and mainstream media aid the Great Reset agenda through censorship, the dissemination of propaganda, and the propagation of official narratives. Big Tech and mainstream media censorship of news injurious to Joe Biden during the election season, their non-stop streaming of negative coverage regarding Trump, their financial donations for election equipment and process “improvements” in Democratic precincts for the 2020 election of Biden, their suppression of questions regarding the 2020 election results, their highlighting of Bill Gates’s views on COVID and vaccines despite his lack of medical credentials, their promotion of lockdowns and other COVID-based restrictions and closures—all these efforts have lent support to the Great Reset.

Big Tech and mainstream media silencing and deletion of oppositional views and users also accords well with Great Reset objectives. Their silencing of oppositional viewpoints regarding COVID and the COVID-related state responses, their support for and silencing of criticism of the Antifa/BLM riots while grossly overstating the danger posed by those who breached the Capitol on January 6th, their silencing and deletion of Trump and his supporters, their support for socialist and communist users despite their frequent calls for violence, and the differentially harsh treatment of conservatives and other posters including censorship and deletion of users and alternative social media sites—all these efforts combine to favor the Great Reset agenda.

Mainstream and social media censors all views that run contrary to the promoted, official narratives regarding climate change, COVID, the 2020 election, systemic racism, transgenderism, woke ideology, cancel culture, and all the other essential narrative elements for the Great Reset. And it openly gaslights those who seek and find evidence that runs contrary to these narratives.

In sum, Big Digital Tech represents the leading edge and the ideological communications apparatus of corporate socialism, and corporate socialism is the global economic system that the Great Reset aims to establish.


The WEF relies on the concerted efforts of numerous interested players to bring about its desired outcome, while the Great Reset agenda makes sense of the seemingly unrelated elements that make up our contemporary sociopolitical, economic, and psychological landscape. Armed with this understanding, we can oppose each of the elements of the Great Reset, as well as the Great Reset project as whole, with purpose and precision.

In my next installment on the Great Reset, I will treat the technological aspects, referred to by Schwab as the Fourth Industrial Revolution. [17] As we shall see, this additional component of the Great Reset makes opposition more difficult yet all the more necessary.


  1.  Smith, Mitch. “F.D.A. Authorizes the First At-Home Coronavirus Test.” The New York Times. The New York Times, December 23, 2020. 

  2. Schwab, Klaus, and Thierry Malleret. COVID-19: the Great Reset. Forum Publishing, 2020, p. 57.

  3. Kokemuller, Neil. “Does a Corporation Have Other Stakeholders Other Than Its Shareholders?” Small Business -, October 26, 2016.

  4. Rectenwald, Michael. “The Great Reset, Part IV: ‘Stakeholder Capitalism’ vs. ‘Neoliberalism.’” Mises Institute. Mises Institute, January 26, 2021. 

  5. Schwab and Malleret, COVID-19, p. 78.

  6. Schwab and Malleret, COVID-19, pp 88-89.

  7. Doumba, Mark. “The Great Reset Must Place Social Justice at Its Centre.” World Economic Forum. World Economic Forum. Accessed February 18, 2021.

  8. Miller, Jon. “Great Reset: Why LGBT+ Inclusion Is the Secret to Cities' Post-Pandemic Success.” World Economic Forum. World Economic Forum. Accessed February 18, 2021. 

  9. Auken, Ida. “Here's How Life Could Change in My City by the Year 2030.” World Economic Forum. World Economic Forum. Accessed February 18, 2021. 

  10. Rectenwald, Michael. “What Is the Great Reset? Part I: Reduced Expectations and Bio-Techno-Feudalism: Michael Rectenwald,” Mises Institute. Mises Institute, December 11, 2020.

  11. Rectenwald, Michael. “The Great Reset, Part II: Corporate Socialism: Michael Rectenwald.” Mises Institute. Mises Institute, December 22, 2020

  12. Rectenwald, Michael. “The Great Reset, Part III: Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics: Michael Rectenwald.” Mises Institute. Mises Institute, December 28, 2020.

  13. “Actually existing socialism” is a “[t]erm used in the former communist countries to describe them as they really were, rather than as the official theory required them to be. Its use was largely ironical, and more or less confined to the writings of dissidents.” Palgrave Macmillan Dictionary of Political Thought, by Roger Scruton, 3d ed. (New York: Macmillan Publishers, 2007), s.v. “Actually existing socialism.” Credo Reference.

  14. Rectenwald, Michael. Beyond Woke. Nashville, TN: New England Review Press, 2020, pp. 7-8.

  15. Jon Miltmore and Dan Sanchez, “America’s Small Business Owners Have Been Horribly Abused during These Riots and Lockdowns. That Will Have Consequences,” Foundation for Economic Education (FEE), June 5, 2020.

  16. Amazon, Facebook and Apple Thriving in Lockdown,” BBC, July 13, 202 2020.

  17. Schwab, Klaus. The Fourth Industrial Revolution. New York: Currency, 2017. 

Dr. Michael Rectenwald was a Professor of Liberal Studies and Global Liberal Studies at NYU from 2008 to 2019. He also taught at Duke University, North Carolina Central University, Carnegie Mellon University, and Case Western Reserve University. He holds a Ph.D. in Literary and Cultural Studies from Carnegie Mellon University, a Master's in English Literature from Case Western Reserve University, and a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh.

Professor Rectenwald is a pundit and champion of free speech and opposes all forms of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, including socialism-communism, “social justice,” fascism, and PC. The notorious @antipcnyuprof (now @TheAntiPCProf), he has appeared on numerous major network political talk shows (Tucker Carlson Tonight, Fox & Friends, Fox & Friends First, Varney & Company, The Glenn Beck Show), on syndicated radio shows (Coast to Coast AM, Glenn Beck and many others), on The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders, among numerous podcasts and online shows.

Check out our premium content.

Subscribe to Newsletter