Life in the Post-Covid World Order
In Brave New World, author Aldous Huxley wrote that the slaves of the future are happy. Drugged and genetically modified, their personalities are blunted and their bodies and minds configured by a technocracy whose scientists design humans to maximise their outputs for the benefit of the ruling classes.
Outside the world of fiction, the World Economic Forum (WEF) is an umbrella of multibillion-dollar, mostly US-based corporations and billionaires; a think tank in which the rulers of the world meet to discuss and try to shape the general direction of the global order. With permanent strikers in the US, for instance, refusing to work in what the late anthropologist David Graeber eloquently called “bullshit jobs,” the WEF’s academics and researchers understand that they could lose their grip on power. Global financial inequalities are widening as anti-democratic sentiments grow within “democratic” societies, whose populations realise that they have no control over their lives.
Rather than risk revolutions in numerous countries from strikers – now called The Great Resignation – the WEF seeks to ideologically capture potential revolutionary leaders and re-programme them to favour the WEF system (e.g., Greta Thunberg’s platform at the annual conference). The businesses that fund and join WEF’s Davos meetings recognise that real estate remains the physical basis on which profitable assets are constructed. Under slogans like the Great Reset, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and Build Back Better, WEF elites want to cement their new world order.
But what will that new order look like for non-elites? Unlike the present global malaise, the “new normal” – or “next normal” as WEF elites are calling it – aims to use hi-technology and data collection to tailor environments to the needs and wishes of the public who will be expected to participate in “sustainable” infrastructure and be data points for constant public health monitoring.
Like the hapless victims of Huxley’s dystopia, tomorrow’s society will be happily enslaved, at least in the minds of WEF planners. Workspaces will blur the lines between personalisation and professionalism, feelings of being cheated by the system will be reconceived as consuming less to help the environment, and the pains of reality will be soothed with immersion into joyous, incessant virtual reality like Facebook’s new Meta concepts.
Build Back Better
Mega-wealth in the global economy is a house of cards: it consists of digits on bank account computer screens that increase when the rich buy and sell repackaged debts to each other. When the gravy train derails every decade or so, the public bails out the perpetrators. Yet, the three main bases on which the intangible economy is constructed are tangible: precious metals, hydrocarbons, and real estate.
The new rulers of the world are the asset managers who hold the stocks, shares, bonds, and portfolios of the banks, hedge funds, insurers, pension companies, and real estate holdings. They include BlackRock, State Street, UBS, and Vanguard. Their fake wealth would not exist without the physical ownership of land. Real estate is the skin of the balloon in which they blow the hot air of money markets.
The WEF corporations understand the importance of real estate in relation to wealth inequality and uber-profits. They also understand that the younger generations are getting more and more desperate. In terms of size, housing quality is leading to mental health issues as younger people live and work in increasingly crowded and expensive cities. Not only is property ownership a dream for the majority of young westerners, renting is becoming harder as owners are reluctant to let their property to people in the insecure work of the expanding gig economy.
WEF corporations fear a brain and labour drain from cities as work-from-home youngsters flee to the countryside where dwellings are bigger and cheaper. The WEF notes that cities generate 80 per cent of global GDP, yet their revenues (e.g., from local taxes and property sales) are expected to fall as fewer people use public transport and reduced council budgets lead to disinvestment from public services. Asset companies want to keep workers locked into cities and are looking to redesign urban hellholes to make them more appealing: eco-friendly, health conscious, and tailored to the psychology of the individual.1
WEF authors say that the new agenda will take place via “an increase in public-private cooperation,” meaning the taxpayer foots the bill, as usual. New urban slums will be greenwashed and prettied via the harnessing of personalised big tech data collection for “customisation.” While the rich continue to plunder, the working classes will have to get used to “adaptive reuse”; an eco-friendly normalisation of second-hand products; or “pre-loved” as they now call them. The WEF says that, “The private sector can also play an instrumental role in helping the public sector craft legislation that is viable for business.” What could possibly go wrong?
WEF emphasises that a whole tenth of global GDP is concentrated in a single sector: real estate. Commenting on the above, Christian Ulbrich, Global Chief Executive Officer and President of the real estate services company JLL, confirms: “The world will look different in the coming years; our cities and urban centres especially so.”2
On greenwashing in response to public pressure, Ahmed Galal Ismail, Chief Executive Officer of the holding company Majid Al Futtaim Properties, says “global investors, pension funds and financial institutions are demanding that their investee companies incorporate, track and report ESG [environmental, social and governance] performance into the risk-adjusted returns that they deliver.”3
As we shall examine in more detail, artificial intelligence and the instantaneous advertising and automated services markets are exploding. In so-called smart homes, the wishes and intentions of the occupant will be sales opportunities for programmed machines, from fridges to heating systems, as the very biology of the tenant is tracked and analysed under the PR-friendly cover of public health monitoring.
Under counter-Covid biosurveillance, prospective AI in smart homes might also be tailored to provide commercial services. AI could, for instance, offer to adjust the solar-controlled room temperature if in-home cameras sense that the occupant might be too hot or cold. “Autonomous buildings autotune, adapting to dynamic indoor and outdoor conditions, create optimal working conditions.” Through bastardised communitarianism designed by WEF to prevent the poor from ever attaining wealth under the slogan of “equity,” the buildings will be designed with “cost-sharing mechanisms.”
Existing examples, not yet fully authoritarian like the above, include the hub at Causeway, Boston, Massachusetts: a mixed-use revitalisation project that includes heat-regulating glass, airflow-supported balconies, and local food production. Another is Hong Kong’s Taikoo Place: an interconnected business hub. Citing patents per head of population, the WEF notes that increased population density – i.e., big cities – is linked to increased creativity and productivity. But the people who do the hard work don’t share in the patent wealth. Taxpayers, for instance, funded the vaccines that low-paid nurses administer, yet big pharma reaps the rewards.
In other words, they want people crammed into cities to boost innovation, but they also want to polish the turd of urbanisation by making dystopian dives look like efficient, modern pockets of eco-friendly mingling.
For instance, knowing that most people prefer the more relaxed atmosphere of villages to crowded and impersonal cities, the government of Victoria, Australia supports the 20 Minute City concept in which the village – grocer, butcher, baker, pharmacy, health clinic, bus stop – is integrated into the city.4
“Sustainable McDonald’s” is an oxymoron, yet Australia once again serves as a testbed for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) with “sustainable” fast-food outlets that allegedly cut CO2 emissions by a third. The solar-powered “smartly” ventilated takeaway/restaurant in Melton South is a prototype for other sites. Through Podium, Australia is also pioneering the end-to-end digitisation of real estate: from design, purchase, lease, and construction, to repurchase, letting, contract, and the new age of tailored living. This will create a new blockchain for real estate markets.
In this part of the new world order, constant labour is normalised. “From focus zones to work cafes, the space integrates ‘external’ elements such as coworking and the home office.” Happy slaves must also be healthy slaves. Design concepts include an “ergonomically supportive home office with limited distractions.” There will be a “blend of social spaces with productivity enablers,” such as colleagues who give unconscious prompts to others to work harder. This will be achieved through the design of the building itself. For instance, computers on which people work might be strategically placed near the coffee machine so that the idler sees their colleagues labouring and is prompted to return to work. Exercise machines might be placed near the snack bar so that workers tempted by candy are also guilted into doing a few minutes’ exercise before returning to their toil.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution
Covid has given WEF corporations the chance to integrate public health concepts via constant social biosurveillance in their existing 4IR agenda. Over the last few decades, the phrase “new normal” became normal as politicians, intellectuals, and the media sought to brainwash us into believing that terrorism would make total surveillance and travel restrictions a new normal, as would limitations on freedom and growth caused by anthropogenic climate change.
Since Covid, the WEF asks: “What will the ‘next normal’ look like?” (Emphasis added). WEF’s message is confused. On the one hand, its authors lessen mental health concerns by promoting community, but on the other, they note that the structure of the socioeconomic order will increase isolation. Facebook is notorious for keeping people isolated in echo chambers, but the new Meta rebranding, as we shall see, will blend isolation and community in augmented, virtual reality (VR) settings. The happy slave will be alone in their tiny, greenwashed hovel but feel emotionally connected with friends in a VR universe.
When it comes to online shopping, there will be less “face-to-face interaction.” The last-minute deliveries spurred by Covid “will persist beyond the pandemic”5 and be delivered by the kinds of people whom the WEF envisages occupying the above properties. Jab mandates for working people are part of the “next normal,” and patents on the vaccines are of primary interest to the mega-rich. But the WEF is less interested in ensuring the safety and efficacy of Covid vaccines and more concerned with bolstering “vaccine confidence.” Even though the jab appears to be effective only in reducing hospitalisations, the WEF was quick to ask how its thought leaders could work to promote “trust” in big pharma’s rushed products.6
It is important to distinguish between words and actions. Sometimes, WEF founder and chairman Klaus Schwab speaks truth and horrifies those familiar with his words. Examples include references to microchipping the population and replacing humans with robots.7 At other times, Schwab seems to say the opposite, acknowledging that what is erroneously called “capitalism” – which actually means state-backed monopoly corporatism – has damaged the younger generations, stagnated the middle classes, and fuelled the climate crisis. In order to look good and paint the global elite’s WEF as some kind of progressive or “woke” (as the right-wing say) face of “capitalism,” Schwab points out that which is wrong with the “capitalist” order.
The reality is that pretty words and agreement with those injured by profit-driven corporatism is a cover. It is as if an abuser consoles their victim while continuing to abuse them. In his introduction to the WEF’s report on youth, Schwab plays this game, writing things many of us would agree with: that long-term planning is better than short-term profit and that intergenerational parity is better than growing inequality.8
As part of its pyramid structure, the WEF claims that its global reach on this issue was over two million people, the vast majority of whom were journalists, intellectuals, businesspeople, and community leaders; in other words, rungs on the ladder of hierarchy, not ordinary people. These so-called cultural leaders will shape the doctrines for those below them through entertainment, education, media, and the workplace.
The report pays lip service to getting corporations to disinvest from fossil fuels and working with Generation Z’s thought leaders to create a new agenda for sustainability. In reality, it is the same old monopoly corporatism in which ordinary people are the flotsam and jetsam in the plans of those higher than them in the social order. For example, one Lab held in Luxembourg concluded that the WEF should decide what is or is not ethical consumption: “It would be unfair and naïve to put all the burden on consumers having to educate themselves in order to avoid greenwashing.”9
If, for instance, someone decides not to buy the latest Apple gadget because ‘child mining’ in Congo extracted the device’s coltan, ‘forced labour’ in China created the product, ‘air miles’ brought the item to the West, and ‘tax avoidance’ enables the company to be a monopoly, a WEF messaging campaign might greenwash and claim that the gadget’s production was ethical and its carbon footprint neutral.
Another event in Australia concluded that the WEF should harness the wisdom of indigenous people when promoting the new agenda so that people resonate with ancient ways of living whilst continuing to work for corporate overlords.
This is a form of mind control in which the labouring masses have internal freedom and believe they participate in a spiritual society, when in fact the limits of their reality are set by superiors who pretend to consult with and gain the approval of those they are controlling. The Davos Lab’s Millennium Manifesto is jam-packed with empty verbiage such as, “We will ask big questions to advance bold solutions.”10
The Great Reset
Another aspect of the WEF agenda is what Schwab calls the Great Reset: a professed plan to promote economic and social equity while cementing the structures that guarantee worsening inequality. In addition to trapping working people in properties designed to enhance their productivity and monetise their idiosyncrasies (like the AI temperature control example above), the revolutionary potential of the exploited classes as well as their dissatisfaction will, if the WEF planners get their way, be quelled by the promotion of transhumanism and virtual reality, in which humanity is “reset” to begin anew with biological and digital enhancements.
One of the methods of control is trapping people in social media bubbles. After US President Donald Trump came to power (2017–21) and threatened the neoliberal agenda, ideological managers such as mainstream media, think tanks, and political unions, took action against what they call “fake news.” Fact-check organisations have morphed into the guardians of neoliberal elites. Often “populists” like Trump and his supporters lie, misreport, and publish fake news. Fact-checkers expose those lies, but they have a deeper agenda.
In most cases, so-called fact-checkers simply argue over interpretations of truth, which the fact-checkers then use to delegitimise real populism. The ideological basis from which they operate promotes the agenda of the World Economic Forum and others. But who fact checks the fact-checkers? Researchers have uncovered their connections to the political, corporate, and media establishment. In this revolving door system, former mainstream corporate media editors and journalists take up new roles as self-professed fact-checkers whose targets are those opposed to the neoliberal order.
In addition, social media have, for years, been on a deplatforming crusade as part of “woke washing” (while keeping oppressive and prejudicial structures in place) and under the influence of the intelligence services. In their evidence to US Congress after the 6 January Capitol insurrection, both Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey confirmed that because of “security” concerns, domestic US intelligence agencies advised (i.e., leaned on) them to deplatform accounts, including the President’s.
All of the above serves to blandify social media content and constrain users to the boundaries of what is acceptable within neoliberal culture. Anything too progressive (e.g., the World Socialist Web Site) or regressive (e.g., Breitbart News) is censored, pushing the entire user base of hundreds of millions of people into a giant corporate-approved echo chamber (e.g., CNN, New York Times).
This process is called “digital literacy” by the WEF and others. Without “digital literacy,” people might fall for dangerous “fake news” (i.e., news not approved by WEF corporations). But people might also create and share real news and real information that does not fall within the bounds of accepted neoliberal ideology, such as questioning the efficacy of big pharma-produced vaccines or pointing out the serious problems with the corporate-political elite. In making the world “digitally literate,” the WEF employs doublethink: “Steps must be taken to prevent abuse and harm while maintaining the freedom to openly exchange ideas.”11
Slaving for the ultra-rich in personally-tailored smart cities, the younger generations censored into the neoliberal sheep pen by social media will, according to the WEF model, augment their capacities with technology. The transhumanist agenda is specifically harnessed for the older, infirm generations who have gone from being useless eaters – from the WEF perspective – to potential data points for augmentative technologies. As part of the WEF propaganda campaign, the organisation is preparing to “Articulate the potential benefits of artificial intelligence,” particularly for the older generations.12
For “older” people, which we assume means the over-60s, WEF suggests placing representatives in the design process, the reasoning being that over-60s tend to have different aesthetic tastes, practical preferences, and physical and cognitive requirements to young people. The young are born into the new technological changes, and those changes become part of their environment. In contrast, the over-60s must adapt. Pursuing profit, companies are using the WEF as a vehicle to help turn the over-60s into transhumanist augmentation technology consumers: home-help robots, implants for better eyesight, time-released painkillers, etc. The WEF does not seek solutions for ending the collection and selling of personal data but rather for more transparency. This way companies can cheat consumers whilst being honest that they are cheating them. The aim is to make consumers feel less angry because they appreciate the honesty.
WEF suggests that companies “Disclose the data being collected.” They hope that older people will thus be more willing to have their information sold. The WEF also wants to “Obtain meaningful consent.” The clue is in the word “meaningful,” suggesting that up until now, consent has not been meaningful. One of the more insidious agendas is to “Design for appropriate trust.” Just as they seek to make the younger generations “digitally literate,” i.e., keep them in a mental prison, WEF corporations aim to protect the elderly from “deception,”13 but not the deceptions on which their system is built.
The WEF is aware that the general public might, if left on their own, form groups, communities, parties, and movements that spread an anti-“capitalist” message and develop new social models. If such a long-term grassroots revolution succeeded, it would not only hurt the profits of the owner-classes but threaten the system they spent so long developing. Repackaging profit-driven agendas as some form of third position between capitalism and socialism is achieved, in part, by rhetorically emphasising “corporate responsibility.”14
The WEF also seeks to capture potential revolutionaries by appealing to “social justice.” The WEF intellectuals are aware that young people tend to be driven more than old people by outrage. The right-wing dismisses these young, conscious activists as “social justice warriors.” Instead of encouraging people to change the system in their own image, WEF intellectuals want to make people feel like they have – without actually having – input into their conditions. “[R]ecognising, co-designing, partnering and learning with impacted stakeholders… must be at the centre of any corporate action on equity and social justice in our unequal world.”15
Another factor profitable to the corporate class is social impact bonds. Historically, the underclasses – those below the working classes – were a financial negative. They claimed benefits, needed free healthcare, public housing, etc. The working classes laboured, the middle classes paid the most relative taxes, and the rich lived off the labour of the poor, profits generated by the consuming middle classes, and hording through tax avoidance.
But over the last decades, banks figured out ways of profiting from the underclasses: social impact bonds. Under such systems, government cuts back on social welfare and relies instead on charities to keep offenders out of prison and reach homelessness reduction targets, etc. The banks that fund the charities are then reimbursed by government, and the loans of the banks are serviced by taxpayers. This social impact bond system creates an incentive to have a permanent underclass and champion the alleged virtues of “charity” instead of systemic change that brings genuine inclusivity and democratic empowerment.16 Gerbrand Haverkamp, Executive Director of the World Benchmarking Alliance, is quoted as saying: “[W]e need businesses that can profitably solve societal problems, without profiting from societal harms.”17 This model incentivises the creation of a permanent underclass.
Engineered ‘Life’ In Fake Worlds
There is a sinister, occultic element to the WEF’s agenda. Certain members who currently practice what they believe to be online “meme magic(k)” are also involved in the development of Facebook’s VR world: the Metaverse.
A near-billionaire developer and Trump supporter, Palmer Luckey, used social media to boost Trump’s profile and deflate his rival Hillary Clinton in the run-up to the 2016 US presidential election. Luckey made his fortune selling the Oculus VR headset to Zuckerberg. Luckey’s benefactor, a lobby called Nimble America, believed that “meme magic is real.” The Millennial generation started to use images with text circulated online to boost their agendas and attack their enemies (memes). One famous meme was Pepe the Frog, an innocent cartoon hijacked by racists and right-wingers (usually both) to signal their political allegiances. The cultists behind the spread of such memes believed that they could invoke spiritual power (“meme magic(k)” to vanquish enemies. Pepe, to give one of many examples, is drawn with light reflecting in both eyes in the shape of a Freemasonic dot-triangle.
Regardless of his involvement or lack of involvement in such practices, the executive director of Oculus, Jason Rubin, sent his 50-page report on the Metaverse to Zuckerberg. Just as US military planners devised a “shock and awe” terror campaign to inflict on the Iraqi people in 2003, Rubin said that “shock and awe” tactics would condition the user to accept their new digital life in the Metaverse. CNBC has seen leaked policy documents: “It imagined users floating through a digital universe of virtual ads, filled with virtual goods that people buy.”18
Chillingly (no pun intended), FB Oculus’s Michael Abrash says: “It all started with Snow Crash,” the futuristic ‘90s novel written by Neal Stephenson. The Guardian, which picked up the Abrash quote, conveniently omits a crucial detail about the novel: that the fictional online world on which the new scheme is based contains a mind virus that can infect users as they merely look at the screen. Likening it to Snow Crash, though providing no evidence, certain individuals claim that the Pepe meme that evolved into something else has, for many years, contained a hidden mind virus.
Whether the mind virus is real or not is beside the point. Certain online occultists, including Luckey, are using the fear of mind control, coupled with what Rubin calls “shock and awe,” to get users to submit to the dialectic: a “progressive” Zuckerberg world order of Joe “Build Back Better” Biden in a virtual reality, or a more overtly fascistic world order of “meme magic(k)” and mind warfare using Trump as a frontman.
Part of the Trump meme war and the fake news hysteria surrounding the President had the effect of making ‘truth’ a vague and flexible concept. As the concept of truth becomes fuzzy, that which is real is set to become fuzzier. WEF says of Meta: “This could manifest itself in several ways, but many experts believe that ‘extended reality’ (XR) – the combination of augmented, virtual and mixed reality – will play an important role.”19 The WEF hopes that once we have been bombarded into the new system, we will all be Huxleyan happy slaves in their Brave New World, playing with intangible VR toys and mingling with avatars of our loved ones.