Wild COVID conspiracy takes hold
Microchips in vaccines, sovereign citizens, a new world order under the cover of a crisis - the pandemic has been fertile ground for the nurturing and dissemination of conspiracy theories.
Talk of nefarious, underground plans by evil cabals of the elite have spread like, well, a virus.
And now a new theory is doing the rounds. A theory that, depending on what you read, posits that after the pandemic a "fascist" regime will take over that will "enslave" mankind - all with a healthy dose of communism to boot. Naturally, your guns - if you have them - will be taken away.
It's called "The Great Reset".
But there's a novel twist about this theory. Whereas many other conspiracies rely on adherents being persuaded terrible things are happening just out of sight; the Great Reset, by contrast, has its own official website and branding.
If it is a plot, it's the most in the open yet underground, secret plot yet.
Interest in the Great Reset conspiracy theory began to surge in recent weeks following a video featuring Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau giving an online speech to the United Nations where he mentions a "reset" of the economy.
The speech was actually in late September, but has been widely circulated in recent weeks.
"This pandemic has provided an opportunity for a reset," Mr Trudeau said.
"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."
Mr Trudeau also spoke of "building back better" by supporting the vulnerable in society and achieving sustainable development goals.
If that slogan seems familiar, it was used by the Biden-Harris presidential campaign with the website claiming it would give "America's working families the tools, choices, and freedoms that need to build back better."
In Britain, Mr Johnson has also been sliding in the "building back better" slogan here, there and everywhere. Just last week, Mr Johnson used the hashtag #buildbackbetter in a tweet.
Hi folks, I’ve been instructed by our NHS Test & Trace scheme to self-isolate for two weeks, after being in contact with someone with Covid-19.— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) November 16, 2020
I’m in good health and have no symptoms, and will continue to lead on our response to the virus & our plans to #BuildBackBetter pic.twitter.com/yNgIme8lOz
Coincidence? Probably not. It's become a buzz word.
But if you are adherents to the Great Reset conspiracy theory, it's proof that everyone is in on the clandestine plot.
That's despite the fact that the most obvious way to blow the cover about an evil, top secret plan is for some of the world's most well-known leaders to constantly talk about it in speeches, on websites and on social media.
THE 'GREAT RESET' IS REAL
There's no doubt the Great Reset, as a discussion point, does exist. It's just the organisation that dreamt it up didn't imagine it would be thought of as a suspicious plot.
In June, the World Economic Forum (WEF), a talking shop of political and corporate leaders that meets annually in the Swiss resort of Davos, launched the concept and uploaded a website all about the process.
Prince Charles was on-board to give the launch a bit of star power, which also included a book on the subject by WEF Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.
The Forum describes the Great Reset as an action plan for co-operation between nations to avoid a depression not seen since the 1930s due to the pandemic.
"The world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions.
"Every country must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a 'Great Reset' of capitalism," the organisation stated.
The pandemic could weaken resolve to tackle climate change, the WEF warned, while frustrations with rising inequality driven by "US billionaires" getting wealthier could be exacerbated.
The Forum said that "radical changes" to protect the vulnerable and support workers should be encouraged.
"The will to build a better society does exist. We must use it to secure the Great Reset that we so badly need. That will require stronger and more effective governments, though this does not imply an ideological push for bigger ones."
Governments should aim to "promote equitable outcomes," co-operate more on international initiatives, put sustainability at the top of the agenda and a "fourth industrial revolution" could harness the energy that led to vaccines being developed to try and cure other health and social ills.
It's all very impressive sounding but also very vague, leaving governments to interpret it whatever way they see fit.
This vagueness and the somewhat dramatic language employed by the Forum has allowed conspiracy theories to creep in.
At its extreme, some have said the Great Reset will see democracy bypassed and everyone will be slaves to global fascist elite.
CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUND
However, even the conspiracy theorists are somewhat vague on what the detail of the evil plan will be or how it will be enacted.
There has been talk of the Great Reset being about a "political globalism". However, nations have been working together for decades through global bodies like the UN and World Health Organisation.
Others have interpreted the phrase "stakeholder capitalism" which is used by the WEF and describes companies having motives other than just making a fat profit (such as looking after staff), as being essentially fascist. Which is quite the jump.
There is possibly some self interest here on the WEF's part. Promoting the idea of countries co-operating helps keep the Forum relevant and ensures leaders will still fly off for chinwags in nice resorts in Switzerland.
The theory that the Great Reset is far more than it seems is being spread online groups and by some TV pundits.
"What does the Great Reset look like? The people in charge doing whatever they want because they're in charge," said Fox News host Tucker Carlson who also claimed choirs would be banned as would live music and "Christmas".
'IT'S JUST MADE UP'
University of Toronto political scientist Steven Bernstein told new agency AFP that there was a lot of hyperbole in the chatter about the Great Reset.
"These theories use the language that someone is going to force them to do something or take away their property, and that is just nowhere in there. It's just completely made up."
Dr Mathew Marques, a lecturer in psychology at Latrobe University who has looked into conspiracy theories, said they often flared up when society was in flux.
"During times of crises and uncertainty, fringe conspiracy groups become more important to people," he told news.com.au in May.
"Delving deep into a subject - even it was way off the mark - can give a sense of certainty and increased knowledge."
It also helped people to feel they were in a safe and stable environment.
Online, some have pondered how exactly world leaders, who were inept enough to allow a virus to encircle the world, are apparently now smart enough to override the will of the people and put in place a global unelected government.
But if you're still wary about the Great Reset, you'll soon have chance to hear about it a lot more.
A WEF summit being held in January - in both Davos and online - will have the theme at its core.
Undoubtedly, the theories will flourish even more. And, note to global evildoers: maybe keep your evil global plans quieter next time.
Originally published as Wild COVID conspiracy takes hold