Speech to the September 2023 Meeting in Bodrum of the Property and Freedom Society
By Thorsten Polleit
In the next 30 minutes, I will attempt to unearth the political-economic fundamentals that characterise the “Great Reset.”
Based on these insights, I will set out to present an assessment of the economic consequences of the Great Reset if put into practise.
My conclusion will be that the Great Reset builds on ideological communist-socialist and fascist ideas, which, if implemented, would destroy the freedom and prosperity and presumably even the lives of the great majority of the people of the planet.
It may perhaps sound oversimplistic or exaggerated to you, but to me, the Great Reset seems to be a Neo-Marxist-Communist attempt to overthrow, a recipe to destroy, the existing free society of the Western world (or what little is left of it).
This conclusion basically rests on a rather simple insight: Namely that there are only two ways in which people interact with each other.
The first way is voluntary action. Example: I offer you an apple for 1 US$, and you accept my offer or not – just as you wish; or you invite me to dinner, and I voluntarily agree or refuse, whatever I think is best for me.
The second way is coercion and violence. I force you to do something you don’t want to do of your own accord, and if you disobey me, I punish you; or you threaten me with violence if I refuse to give you what you want from me.
Voluntary action or coercion and violence are the general principles of human interaction – there is no third option, no middle ground between the two. Tertium non datur.
Chapter 1: Voluntary cooperation
Liberalism and its logical and consistent form, libertarianism, stand for the path of voluntary cooperation.
Libertarianism is based on the principle of non-aggression. It forbids uninvited physical aggression (whether threatened or carried out) against people and their property.
The system of free markets, or capitalism, is the economic form compatible with libertarianism understood this way.
Capitalism is an economic system in which (1) the means of production are privately owned. Unconditional respect for property applies: everyone is the owner of his body (he has self-ownership) and of the goods he has acquired by non-aggressive means – i.e. by “homesteading” of goods not previously claimed by others, by production, and voluntary exchange (including gifts). (2) People use money for the purpose of economic accounting and trading, making possible an advanced degree of the division of labour, nationally and internationally. (3) Markets are free; everyone is free to offer his/her goods, and everyone is free to demand the goods he/she wishes to consume. (4) In “real” capitalism – which is compatible with the libertarian concept – there is no such thing as a state (as we know it today). All goods are offered in the free market. This also includes the “goods” law and security, roads, education, money, credit, etc.
Chapter 2: Coercion and violence
Now, to the other way of interpersonal relationships: coercion and violence. Coercion and violence have many forms and are the basic principles of many social theories. An example of this is Marxism.
Marxism is the political-economic theory founded by Karl Marx (1818-1883), used to allegedly justify a demand for social transformation. According to Marxism, social development is determined by the “material factors of production” (tools, factories, etc.). The progress of material production technology causes an increasing division of labour and creates material wealth.
Marx’s central criticism is that the workers create wealth, but it is concentrated in the hands of a few capitalists.
According to the Marxists, this basic contradiction – the working class produces wealth, and the capitalists appropriate it – can only be eliminated by a revolutionary uprising, that is, by coercion and violence in the truest sense of the words.
Marxism demands that the working class expropriate the owners of the means of production and convert the means of production into common property.
Communism is built on the doctrine of Marxism – and thus, its foundation is also coercion and violence. It strives for a classless society, a society without rulers. After the necessary collapse of capitalism (which Marxists reckon with) and the violent overthrow of the prevailing property structure – the phase of socialism follows.
Socialism refers to the economic and social order in which ownership of the means of production is nationalised – in other words, in which the owners have been expropriated by the use of coercion and force.
In socialism, a small group of people (or, in extreme cases, only one person, a dictator) determines how the means of production are to be used – i.e. what is to be produced when and in what quantity – and it is also determined centrally who receives what from the goods produced and when.
From the communists’ point of view, socialism is supposed to be only a transitional stage, at the end of which stands the classless, stateless communist society in which everything belongs to everyone.
As Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (1870 – 1924), better known as Lenin, put it in 1917: „(T)he working class must break up, smash the “ready-made state machinery,” and not confine itself merely to laying hold of it.”
In real life, however, socialists had never broken up the “ready-made state machinery”. The reason is obvious, as Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) noted: “The state is a machine in the hands of the ruling class for suppressing the resistance of its class enemies.”
Another, a more subtle strategy to get to socialism is democratic socialism. It, too, is built on coercion and violence.
Democratic socialism pretends to formally maintain ownership of the means of production. However, at the same time, it demands that the owners no longer have a 100 per cent claim on the profits they make from their property. Part of it must be paid to the state through taxes. Those who resist will be punished, thrown in jail, even be killed.
Through parliamentary majorities, democratic socialism ensures that the conditions that lead to socialism are gradually created (increasing taxes, laws restricting private property, spreading socialist doctrines, etc.). Democratic socialism differs only in degree, but not categorically, from Marxist socialism.
Democratic socialism typically makes use of interventionism. Interventionism represents the idea that there is a viable “middle ground” between capitalism and socialism: the good of both can be harnessed, and the bad of both can be eliminated. This idea calls for the state to intervene in the economy and society as deemed necessary to achieve politically desirable results. Interventionist measures include, for example, taxes, prohibitions, subsidies, trade restrictions, price controls (maximum or minimum prices), mandatory education, etc.
From an economic point of view, however, it can be said that interventionism is bound to fail. Ludwig von Mises made this unmistakably clear in his 1929 Critique of Interventionism, that interventionism doesn’t deliver on its promises, and that if interventionism is pursued further and further to its logical end, it will lead to socialism and even end in a totalitarian system.
One outcome of interventionism is fascism. Fascism can be described as a “mass movement with charismatic leaders,” and its modern form goes back to the Italian politician Benito A. A. Mussolini (1883-1945). It is characterised by putting the interests of the community before those of the individual (we can speak of “anti-individualism”) and giving the rulers the power to eliminate all competition.
Moreover, economic and social life is unconditionally aligned with the goals of fascism. It goes without saying that fascism, in whatever form, is also built on coercion and violence, not on voluntary action.
Another outcome of interventionism is Cultural Marxism. Cultural Marxism is a neologism (from the 1990s that first appeared in the US). It is basically a process of intellectual infiltration through which social and political revolution is brought about.
The origins of Cultural Marxism can be traced back to the Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci (1891-1937). He believed that Marxism could not be established in the West (unlike in the East) through violent revolution, as in Russia. He argued that a different approach was needed, namely overthrowing the bourgeois system of morals and values: Once marriage, family, property, law, borders, nation, and Christian faith were relativised and discredited, the ground was prepared for a Marxist revolution.
In recent decades, another concept, also based on coercion and violence, has emerged, usually referred to as “political globalism”.
Behind political globalism lies the view that the fate of humanity should not be left to free markets but should be shaped and controlled by an authority, a central political body. Whether economic and financial crises, climate, terrorism, or epidemics. According to the political globalists, the community of states, ideally a world government that wields all the power it desires, should fix things.
Chapter 3: Anatomy of the “Great Reset “
Political globalism brings us directly to the idea of the Great Reset.
The Great Reset is promoted in particular by the World Economic Forum (WEF). It is not a detailed and explicitly formulated theory or strategy. Rather, it is a conglomeration of thoroughly fascinating visions of the future, scary threat scenarios, and far-reaching economic and social transformation fantasies and phantasmas, the economic consequences of which generally remain obscure.
Let us take a closer look at the most important building blocks that make up the Great Reset.
#1: “Stakeholder capitalism”. This means that the owners of companies should no longer serve only their own interests but, above all, the interests of third parties.
#2: “Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance” (“ESG”): Capital investors are urged to invest in companies that bear the ESG label – and a good ESG label is awarded only to those companies that adhere to politically prescribed criteria.
#3: “Wokeism”: This is the psychological notion of creating conflicts between people, of destroying the peaceful cohesion of people, of instilling guilt and inferiority complexes in people; for example, that they are only doing well because others are doing badly in return; that it is good and right to desire less.
#4: “Climate catastrophism”: According to this theory, the earth and its inhabitants will die if capitalism is not abolished. States must be put in the driving seat – and restrain, rein in, and suspend the system of free markets, constrain, even end, individual freedom.
#5: “Transhumanism”: The idea of expanding the possibilities of human beings through modern technologies, more precisely: “hacking” what constitutes being human, computerising their spiritual being.
#6: “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (“4-IR”): The technologically driven and politically promoted upheaval of production and society through new technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Genetics), Machine-to-machine Communication, Smart Contracts, Internet of Things, Internet of Bodies, Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR), the Metaverse – and especially the introduction of “Digital Central Bank Currency” – I’ll get to that in a moment.
#7: Lockdowns: The shutdown of economic and social activity is also part of the Great Reseters’ toolbox to achieve their goals.
#8: Private-public-partnership: The state joins forces with (big) companies to achieve certain goals (as far as, say, climate, health, money and credit are concerned); or big companies (big business, big tech, big pharma, big banking) use the state for their purposes, state and big companies enter into a symbiosis.
Of central importance for spreading the idea of the Great Reset is that its representatives point out and dramatise problems – such as climate change, environmental pollution, epidemics, income inequality, etc. – and label them as existential threats to humanity. The possible solutions that the Great Reset representatives recommend to cope with the problems raised invariably recommend state interventionism.
Chapter 4: Theoretical Interpretation
How can the Great Reset, or rather its building blocks, be theoretically interpreted in terms of the history of ideas?
It is obvious that the idea that capitalism is evil is of Marxist provenance, that capitalism is the cause of the grievances that the Great Reset proponents abhor.
The posting of threatening scenarios also has clear reminiscences of Marxist impoverishment theory.
As a reminder, to encourage support for socialism-communism, people were instilled with fear that capitalism would impoverish large numbers of people, leave them to starve and that only very few would profit from it. Whoever did not want that would have to end capitalism and help socialism-communism to break through.
It doesn’t take much to realise that this is deeply anti-capitalist, hostile to capitalism; and state guidance and control is supposed to override what is left of the free market.
The Great Reset uses interventionism; it does not openly call for a communist revolution; it does not envisage nationalising private property in the course of a violent takeover. Nevertheless, implementing the Great Reset agenda will foreseeably lead to a de facto forced change in ownership structures, a de facto expropriation of many owners of private property.
Consider, for example, that moving away from fossil fuels will dramatically reduce the income and wealth of many people. Real incomes decline, and people become impoverished.
For example, many people can no longer afford property in the form of apartments and houses. They have to sell them. This allows large banks and investment firms (which have favourable refinancing costs) to buy up land, houses, and apartments and offer them for rent. Former apartment owners become “rental slaves”.
Or: Small and medium-sized enterprises run into problems when the purchasing power of their customers dwindles; they don’t have the financial strength to survive virus and climate lockdowns. They go under, or they get bought out by big companies.
Wokeism can be understood as directly aligning with Marxism or Cultural Marxism. It aims not only to destroy existing social relationships to bring about unrest and conflict but also to demoralise and discourage people – because, as we know, this weakens people’s resistance to developments that they would not tolerate without demoralisation and discouragement. This way, the state can relatively easily restrict and abrogate the freedoms of citizens and entrepreneurs.
Above all, wokeism also ensures that people inwardly say goodbye to the achievement principle, capitalism, and the pursuit of a better material life. The free market system, competition, and the striving to be better than others are discredited.
Wokeism even relies (usually not overtly) on the polylogism with which Marxists sought to invalidate, defame, and discredit their opponents. For example, the claim that there are more than two biological sexes, or that “logic” is an expression of “white supremacy,” that there is not just one logic.
The Great Reset not only has Marxist-socialist-communist but also unmistakably fascist elements. Quite obvious, for example, is the harnessing of corporations to achieve political goals (for example, the CO2 reduction or food conversion – away from meat consumption to artificial food, including insects).
Today’s much-vaunted “public-private partnership” is, at its core, an expression of the fascist concept: private companies become an extension of the state and its interests. This way, the state gains a huge expansion of its financial and personnel capacities; the corporate sector becomes a branch of the government – a regime of “governmentality” is established, that is the corporate sector as a semi-state functioning on behalf and as part of the state itself.
Seen in this light, the Great Reset fully caters to the idea of political globalism, according to which the people of this world should not shape their destinies in a system of free markets, but rather their way of life should henceforth be directed and controlled by a central world authority – a technocratic world elite, a “world council of the enlightened”.
Against this background, it is not difficult to see that the Great Reset contains elements that indirectly or directly promote or (can) evoke totalitarian structures.
Perhaps the most obvious technical tool for this is the issuance of central bank digital currency.
Chapter 5: Central bank digital currency
That central banks are working to issue central bank digital currency is not surprising in light of what has been said so far.
The Great Reseters predict and advocate that basically all transactions of daily life will be digitally mapped, all the way to the “Internet of Bodies,” to storing everyone’s brain activity on the Internet.
Having everything take place on the Internet also includes adapting money transactions to digital needs and possibilities. In particular, programmable money is of great interest to the Great Reset.
One could, of course, use conventional fiat money produced by commercial banks for this purpose and in tokenised form. However, central bank digital currenncy is being advocated because there are tremendous opportunities for control and power associated with the issuing central banks and the special interest groups that seek to harness them for their own purposes.
Here are just a few of the consequences of the central bank digital currency issue: (1) Digital central bank money displaces cash. Consumers and producers thus completely lose their financial privacy and become transparent.
(2) Once digital central bank money has become sufficiently widespread, the central bank can literally increase the money supply in the economy at the push of a button. The possibility of abuse with inflation, which is put into the hands of states and their central banks, is virtually maximised.
(3) The allocation of central bank digital currency is based on the principle of arbitrariness: The central bank decides who gets how much money and when – and who gets none. Some are favoured by the policy, others are disadvantaged. With digital central bank money, the overthrow of income and wealth relationships can be achieved more easily than ever using monetary means.
(4) Central bank digital currency can be combined with a social credit score, as in China. Behaviour that conforms to the system is favoured, while criticism of or even resistance to the system is punished. For example, payment options with CBDC are restricted if a politically prescribed maximum amount of meat is consumed, maximum travel distances are exceeded, or politically undesirable books are purchased.
It is not difficult to imagine what will happen if digital central bank money is even linked to a digital vaccination passport and a digital ID: It would be total control of a kind never before seen in history. The world would become a digital prison – or: digital gulag, as Michael Rectenwald put it – compared to which George Orwell’s 1984 would seem like a gentle spring breeze.
Chapter 6: Where the Great Reset leads us
An economic analysis reveals that the Great Reset cannot create a better, more just and prosperous world. It amounts to a state-directed command economy based on coercion and violence that will predictably produce scarcity, poverty, starvation, and even tyranny. Digital central bank currencies could create a world of total control.
Policymakers’ efforts to hide the costs of the transition to the Great Reset from the general population – such as output and employment losses – will foreseeably cause huge increases in credit-financed government spending.
Central banks will buy up the swelling tide of government bonds and put new money into circulation. The result will be ever-rising goods price inflation and the destruction of civil society – especially if and when digital central bank currencies become the dominant kind of money.
The fanatical effort to end fossil fuel use, accompanied by a restriction or politically deliberate increase in the price of food, will foreseeably not only pave the way to poverty for many people, it will also pose a serious threat to the survival of a large part of humanity.
Chapter 7: Stopping & reversing the Great Reset
Is it possible to stop the advance of the Great Reset, to reverse the “progress” already made?
Yes, that is quite possible. The destiny of mankind on this planet is not pre-determined, as the Marxists would have us believe. Rather, it is man’s action in the world that decisively determine his future.
And since human action is in the last consequence indisputably determined by ideas or theories, ideas and theories are, in the end, the battlefield on which the Great Reset must be resisted if one wants to stop and reverse it.
Ludwig von Mises formulated this impressively:
“Only ideas can overcome ideas and it is only the ideas of Capitalism and of Liberalism that can overcome Socialism. Only by a battle of ideas can a decision be reached. … “Human society is an issue of the mind. Social co-operation must first be conceived, then willed, then realized in action. lt is ideas that make history, not the ‘material productive forces, those nebulous and mystical schemata of the materialist conception of history.”
Presumably, however, it is not enough to teach people about sound economics to cut off the water from the Great Reset. Rather, a “new enlightenment” is also necessary. What do I mean by a new enlightenment?
It was the philosopher of the Enlightenment and Königsberg native Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) who gave people the ideal of reasonable autonomy.
By autonomy, Kant means the ability to lead one’s life in a self-determined manner, according to rules one sets for oneself; and, according to Kant, a reasonable person is one who sets the rules they follow for themselves, and does so only after giving himself an account of their general acceptability.
Kant’s ideal of enlightenment shows that everyone is called to think for themselves; and that everyone has to overcome their cowardice and take the courage to think for themselves; they are not obliged to follow “expert opinions,” authorities, and self-appointed priests of opinion. Rather, the rule is “Sapere aude!” Dare to use your own mind!
But unfortunately, man’s lack of courage and, not infrequently also, his laziness to think for himself cause him to remain in the stage of pre-Enlightenment – or even to fall back into it; the latest coronavirus crisis is certainly a point in case of anti-enlightenment.
Fortunately, one result of enlightened thinking can be understood quite easily: No one has the right to rule over others, can justify such a claim logically. And the human form of interaction associated with enlightenment is voluntary action, not coercion and violence.
However, the world of states as we know it today rests precisely on coercion and violence, not on voluntary action. There is no blessing in that, and accepting and tolerating the state (as we know it today) has bad, actually destructive, consequences.
The state as we know it today is becoming ever larger and more powerful, relentlessly expanding, destroying civil and entrepreneurial liberties. And even a minimal state will sooner or later become a maximal state, as Hans Hermann Hoppe (* 1949) pointedly puts it.
Seen in this light, the Great Reset is nothing more than a concrete manifestation of this (action-logical) insight: special interest groups harness the power of the state for their ideological purposes, and the state gains powerful supporters by granting privileges. It is the state that enables something like the Great Reset, which is anti-economics, anti-human, anti-moral, and anti-enlightenment.
But once it has been made clear that the state (as we know it today) is based on coercion and violence, and that the Great Reset is ultimately only a concrete manifestation of escalating state tyranny, no enlightened person can give their consent to this development; rather, they are urged to stop and reverse it – with the help of sound economics and, by no means less important, a new enlightenment.
Thank you very much for your attention!
 Lenin, V. I. (1917), State and Revolution, p. 28.
 Stalin, J. (1924), The Foundations of Leninism, p. 40.
 Historically, it should be said here, not all forms of fascism were equally inhumane and destructive. Thus, the “totalitarian perfection” of Italian fascism was less than that of German fascism under the National Socialists.
 Mises, L. v. (1932), Socialism, p. 494.
 Ibid, p. 509.
 See The Private Property Order: An Interview with Hans-Hermann Hoppe (https://mises.org/library/private-property-order-interview-hans-hermann-hoppe).