The Trouble with Resets



It seems Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is working on a plan to “reset” the world. 

We learned about it recently after a video emerged in which we see the prime minister declare, “This pandemic (COVID)has provided an opportunity for a reset.  This is our chance to accelerate our pre-pandemic efforts to reimagine economic systems that actually address global challenges like extreme poverty, inequality and climate change.” 
So even as I write this, Trudeau is likely hard at work in his office, straining his brain cells to imagine all sorts of new economic systems, ones which will cure poverty, make everyone equal and stop global warming in its tracks. 

Sounds great doesn’t it?  Almost utopian, in fact. 

But before anyone gets too excited about this upcoming Golden Age that Trudeau’s planning for us, let me say, I’m a little skeptical. 

In fact, I’m not even sure Trudeau’s capable of resetting his computer password, let alone the world. 

Mind you, even if he was some sort of genius, I don’t think Trudeau would succeed in resetting our society. 

And yes, I know the CBC and the Toronto Star view questioning Trudeau’s leadership skills as close to heresy, but I also know that modern history has seen many leaders use a crisis as an opportunity to reshape or reset the world into some sort of paradise and they all failed miserably. 

Want some examples? 

Well, for starters, in 1789 the storming of the Bastille and the eventual overthrow of French King Louis XVI, was a crisis the Jacobins used to justify resetting France into a land of “Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité”. 

However, it didn’t take long before their rule turned France into a land of “Terror, Repression, Guillotines”. 

Or consider the case of Soviet Russia. 

This time the catalyst for a reset was World War I, which toppled the Russian Tsar, an event which gave the Bolsheviks a chance to establish a Marxist wonderland, where everyone would be equal, happy and fulfilled. 

Alas, it didn’t work out. 

As matter of fact, under communism, Russia turned into a horror show. 

Led by totalitarian dictators like Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin, the country’s great “reset” (which, by the way, was celebrated by progressive intellectuals), resulted in the deaths of millions. 

Nor did communism fare much better in China, which in the wake of the Japanese invasion of the 1930s, went through its own Marxist reset. 

Actually, China went through a couple of them. 

The first reset was Mao Tse-Tung’s ambitious scheme to communize China’s agricultural system while industrializing cities, known as the “Great Leap Forward.” 

It sounded good on paper I suppose, but in actuality it ended up producing a famine that killed at least 30 million people. 

Yet, undeterred by this failure, Mao (who, by the way, was celebrated by progressive intellectuals) used the famine as an excuse to launch another “reset”, one which would finally rid China of any capitalistic or traditional remnants so that communist perfection could be achieved; it was called, the Cultural Revolution.

It ended up killing an estimated 20 million people. 

Plus, here’s a few more examples of failed resets: North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela and CHAZ.  (Again, all endorsed by progressive intellectuals.) 

And lest anyone think I’m just picking on the left, let me also suggest that after 9/11, U.S. President George W. Bush also tried to reset the world by using the military to export American-style democracy to places like Iraq. 

That didn’t turn out so well either. 

Now don’t get me wrong here; I’m not citing these various examples of failed resets to even remotely suggest in any way that Trudeau’s ambitious reset plans will result in famines or gulags or genocide. 

Trudeau is much too adorably cute to do anything mean. 

My only point is that leaders who succeed in reimagining economic systems never seem to end up creating utopias. 

Mainly this is because people will never agree as to what constitutes a perfect society; we’ll always be divided by different ideologies, by different cultural outlooks, by different individual needs, and by diverging economic interests. 

This is precisely why Jacobins and communists resorted to terror and repression – they tried to force people to accept their versions of heaven, even if that meant turning their societies into versions of hell. 

What’s more, modern economies are so complex and based on so many different and diverse working parts, that it’s basically impossible for any leader or central planning committee to come up with an economic system that will perform as planned.  

As famed economist Friedrich Hayek once put it, “The curious task of economics is to demonstrate to men how little they really know about what they imagine they can design.” 

So for all these reasons, I don’t think Trudeau will fare much better with his reset, especially since, unlike so many utopians of the past, he seems to lack any sort of coherent guiding ideology or vision. 

Mind you, whatever plan he comes up with, to build upon the ashes of COVID, I’m sure intellectual progressives will fawn all over it; they’re suckers for utopian resets.

Photo Credit: CBC News

More from Gerry Nicholls.     @GerryNic

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.

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