When I co-wrote a profile of Alex Jones back in 2018, I thought it was somewhat noteworthy that for all his popularity, he had never published a book. My theory at the time was that because Jones is so dependent on his unique, shall we say, personal charisma for the effectiveness of his message, any attempt to spell out his theory in writing would expose how little sense his actual worldview makes.
I confess that I was a little surprised, then, to look at the Wall Street Journal’s list of Nonfiction Bestsellers this month and find on it a new book credited to one Mr. Alex Jones: The Great Reset: And The War For The World. It has not, as far as I can tell, been reviewed by any mainstream outlet, but if the Journal is accurate, it is selling briskly. It comes with blurbs from Joe Rogan, Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, and Steve Bannon, as well as from Dr. Mercola, “founder of Mercola.com, the most visited natural health site on the internet for the last twenty years.” (Mercola has repeatedly been in trouble with the FDA and FTC for making false claims about the products he sells, and the New York Times calls him the country’s leading purveyor of coronavirus misinformation.) Mercola says that Jones’ book does “an excellent job of bringing the globalists’ plans into the light.”
Indeed, The Great Reset finds Jones banging the same drum as usual: a conspiracy of “globalists” is attempting to seize control of the world and establish a repressive totalitarian state.1 The conspiratorially-minded often make strange choices in deciding who the world’s leading villains are (George Soros, for example), seemingly selecting some wealthy plutocrat at random to cast as the leading plotter. In The Great Reset, Jones’ nemesis is Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum that meets annually at Davos. Schwab has written some very boring books on global economic trends, and Jones spends many pages presenting extracts from them as if they are diabolical manifestos for creating the new world order.
The result is amusing. When the Financial Times reviewed Schwab’s book Shaping The Future of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in 2018, the reviewer found the book so dull and platitudinous that they wondered whether it could really have been written by a human being. It’s a TED Talk of a book about how “the world is at a crossroads,” making the point that new technologies seem like they might change society a lot. It’s full of sentences like “considering the economic pressures can also highlight where incentives problematise an entire class of technologies.”
For Jones, however, Schwab’s writings are a blueprint for a world takeover. Schwab writes that we are “witnessing profound shifts across all industries, marked by the emergence of new business models, the disruption of incumbents and the reshaping of production, consumption, transportation and delivery systems.” Jones comments that this is full of “subtle calls to increase control over your life.” When Schwab writes that “governments and institutions are being reshaped as are systems of education, healthcare, and transportation,” Jones says that when “translated,” the sentence means “they just want to control the schools, the medical system, and your freedom of movement.” Or consider this passage from Schwab:
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a new chapter in human development, driven by the increasing availability and interaction of a set of extraordinary technologies, building on three previous technological revolutions. This revolution is only in its early stages, which provides humankind with the opportunity and responsibility to shape not just the design of new technologies, but also more agile forms of governance and positive values that will fundamentally change how we live, work, and relate to each other.”
“What are these ‘more agile forms of governance’? A summary execution by firing squad without the benefit of a trial? Maybe the continued illegal detention of January 6, 2021, protestors, many of whom languish in jails more than a year after the event, who have been denied a speedy trial?”
Jones promises to go through “all parts of Schwab’s strategy to use the Great Reset to achieve an unprecedented amount of control over your daily life” and expose that we are in a “war to control the future of human development and capture control of the human species.”
That means page after page in which Jones will quote Klaus Schwab saying something banal about “empowering stakeholders,” and Jones will comment that “whenever you hear the word ‘stakeholder,’ you should think of it as a weapon Schwab and company will use to deprive a person of their rights.” (Jones takes meaningless corporate buzzwords more seriously than anyone else does.) Jones quotes Schwab saying:
“The pandemic struck at a time when many different issues, ranging from climate change activism and rising inequalities to gender diversity and #MeToo scandals, had already begun to raise awareness and heighten the criticality of stakeholder capitalism and ESG [environmental, social, and governance] considerations in today’s interdependent world. … [N]obody can deny that companies’ fundamental purpose can no longer be simply the unbridled pursuit of financial profit; it is now incumbent upon them to serve all their stakeholders, not only those who hold shares.”
Jones says this passage proves the globalists use climate change and inequality to scare people into letting the globalists take charge:
“Remember when I said that the globalists will use any issue to promote their plans? There’s COVID-19, climate change, inequality, gender diversity, and now the #MeToo movement, all part of the globalist plan to create maximum chaos and fear, the better to implement their authoritarian agenda. The issue really doesn’t matter because the answer is always the same: globalism.”
You can see that the evidence Jones uses to support the existence of the globalist conspiracy is, to put it mildly, thin. He presents empty platitudes as smoking gun evidence. I do think I was correct to believe that because Jones relies so heavily on the theory that if you just shout your opinion loud enough people won’t be able to respond, the attempt to lay out his ideas in writing was doomed to fail. You can see when you pick up The Great Reset that Jones’ belief in a globalist conspiracy depends on fanciful creative interpretations of banal texts.
And yet: it is also important to remember why Jones succeeds at drawing in large numbers of people. Frequently there is some kernel of truth in what Jones is saying. For instance, Jones portrays the wealthy and well-connected people who show up at the Davos conferences as a nefarious elite bent on world domination. They’re not that exactly, but they are interested in preserving the wealth and privileges of the global 1 percent. The “great reset” of Jones’ title is a real initiative put forth by the World Economic Forum, and when you look beneath the buzzwords, it’s indeed very fishy. Ivan Wecke of OpenDemocracy notes that while the WEF’s “stakeholder capitalism” plans might not have the “malicious intent” that people like Jones posit, they do foresee a world in which giant global mega-corporations have an outsized role in policy. Wecke notes that when people like Jones talk about the WEF’s “great reset” proposal, they characterize it as something like “the global elite’s plan to instate a communist world order by abolishing private property while using COVID-19 to solve overpopulation and enslaving what remains of humanity with vaccines.” (Indeed, Jones writes in The Great Reset that he believes the “most likely scenario” was that COVID-19 was “released on purpose by the globalists to terrify us into accepting their authoritarian rule, complete with dangerous vaccines that would kill or maim a large part of the population, requiring further government support.”) But Wecke shows that when the WEF talks of “multi-stakeholder inclusivity,” it appears to mean giving corporations a greater say on issues that are—and should be—decided by the UN and democratically-elected governments.
Time and time again, Jones hits on issues where he almost has a point but then definitely doesn’t. He sees the Trilateral Commission and the late Zbigniew Brzezinski as major villains in the plotting of a technocratic world government. Not exactly, but they certainly haven’t been reliable allies of authentic democracy. Jones says that the term “public-private partnership” can be understood to mean “fascism.” Not quite, but you should be suspicious of the term, because it can mean handing control of public assets to unaccountable corporations. Jones spends an entire chapter attacking Yuval Noah Harari as a promoter of the new world order, and while Hari might not quite be that, he is an overpraised thinker whose work does help to rationalize Silicon Valley’s worst and most anti-democratic ideas. Jones discusses the risks that artificial intelligence poses in enabling governments to track and oppress their citizens, asking us to “imagine a world where your every movement is tracked. Your opinions would be analyzed by artificial intelligence (AI), and you could be instantly penalized for wrong thinking.” He seems to be envisaging a world where people who question vaccines are “penalized,” but the more likely outcome (at least in the United States) is that police and prosecutors will be furnished with new tools that help maintain our brutal system of mass incarceration.
Jones raises concerns about central bank digital currencies, warning that they would give governments the ability to more easily impose financial penalties on dissidents. That’s not a totally unreasonable worry. But Jones, as usual, takes an issue where he might have a point into the loopiest territory imaginable. He sees a plan to integrate people’s bank accounts with systems that track their vaccination status and carbon footprint as part of the “world ID surveillance system.” He cites a Ukrainian government initiative to “put the state in a smartphone” that would have allowed people to more easily access government services and benefits online, and suggests that Putin invaded Ukraine to stop it from building its totalitarian app:
“You’re talking about a centralized system totally controlled by the government that not only tracks and knows everything about you, but can freeze your account as it sees fit! Not only that, but these Ukrainian Digital ID services will also feature vaccination, electronic passports, and Ukrainian Covid Certificates. Ukraine was pioneering a system that governments all around the world could use as a template to control their populations. If we look at the Russian invasion of Ukraine with that perspective, do Putin’s actions seem as difficult to understand?”
As I say, Jones can begin with an observation that might, if further developed by someone with greater regard for evidence, form the basis of a valuable point. Other times, however, he just comes up with weird nonsense, as with his idea that efforts to stop climate change by rolling back fossil fuel use are part of a plan to “destroy everything” and create “global corporate government”:
“The plan is simple: destroy the fossil fuel industry, send prices soaring, manufacture an energy crisis, blame fossil fuels, and shut down reliable global energy, without a viable immediate alternative. This is what the Great Reset is all about. If you want a global corporate government that rules over humanity, you have to destroy everything first.”
Yes, in the Jones conception of the world, corporations hate fossil fuels. Meanwhile, here in the real world, the battle to shut down fossil fuel use is a battle against the “corporate government.”
One would hope that at this point, not many people take Alex Jones seriously. The Sandy Hook cases have exposed that he is a serial liar who cruelly attacked traumatized parents and caused them to have to live in fear of his deranged followers. Sadly, the fact that his new book is a bestseller shows that there is at least some audience for his theories, and it’s alarming to look at, for example, the comments section on his Joe Rogan appearance and see how many people concluded that Jones made a fair amount of sense.
“I want you to see all of this as part of a plan.” — Alex Jones
The tragedy is that the people who listen to Jones sense there is something deeply wrong and unjust about the world, and they turn to him to explain to them what it is. And instead of telling them the banal truth about the way that people with status and wealth maintain that status and wealth, he weaves them a fantastical tale about Klaus Schwab giving them COVID in order to sow chaos. Jones terrifies them and leads them astray, correctly telling them that the Davos elite are up to no good, but then directing their ire against such targets as grieving Sandy Hook parents.
I actually think we should be careful before dismissing “conspiracy theories.” Some conspiracies are true, after all, and an explanation isn’t insane just because it posits that a small group of people did something without telling the public. But Jones’ book shows where paranoia can take you, and why skepticism and critical thinking are crucial if we are to maintain our ties with reality. You can end up seeing issues of major concern to the public such as fossil fuel use, vaccination, and overuse of technology as all being manipulated in part of some Big Plan. In fact, most of the issues we face are just different aspects of the same old unjust mess that no one person landed us in. Klaus Schwab seems like a neoliberal, but he is not a supervillain. The world doesn’t have supervillains, though it has a lot of greed and cruelty. The task of an intelligent person is to try to understand how it all works without drifting into madness. Want to understand corporate power? Look to Ralph Nader, or read Dollars and Sense magazine. Want to understand pharmaceutical greed and profiteering in healthcare? Read Empire of Pain, about the Sackler family, and follow the writings of Dr. Abdul El-Sayed. There are plenty of sources for dissenting views that are critical of elites but deeply concerned with factual accuracy.
The Great Reset is a useful cautionary tale, showing how far from reality it is possible to end up.
Note that one Amazon reviewer of the book loved it but was disappointed that Jones said “globalists” throughout instead of “Jews,” when the reviewer thought Jones must clearly really mean Jews. Indeed, much of Jones’ theorizing resembles anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and anti-Semites do use “globalists” to mean Jews, but while Jones has pushed anti-Semitic conspiracies before he does not do so explicitly in the book. ↩