Individuals and groups promoting the Great Reset appear to be motivated by a genuine concern for the future of humanity and of the planet. In our experience, however, that simply adds to the seriousness of the problem. It shifts the basis of argument away from knowledge and reason based on the intellect, to opinion and faith based on the will.
Going by opinion and faith instead of knowledge and reason, it becomes relatively easy to discredit your opponent in an argument with ad hominem abusive or circumstantial logical fallacies — by arguing unfairly, i.e., by sneering. As G.K. Chesterton noted in his sketch of Saint Thomas Aquinas,
There is always time to argue unfairly, not least in a time like ours. . . . As a matter of fact, it is generally the man who is not ready to argue [fairly], who is ready to sneer. That is why, in recent literature, there has been so little argument and so much sneering.
We have noted that there are barely one or two occasions on which St. Thomas indulged in a denunciation. There is not a single occasion on which he indulged in a sneer. (G.K. Chesterton, Saint Thomas Aquinas: “The Dumb Ox”. New York: Image Books, 1956, 126.)
It is much more difficult in a situation such as today’s that is ruled by “enthusiasm” and swayed by emotion to present a logical case based on “the reasons and statements of the philosophers” (ibid., 94-96), per ipsorum philosophorum rationes et dicta (Aquinas, De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroistas, § 124), as Chesterton acknowledged by quoting Aquinas. People’s faith in their beliefs may be very strong, and they may be perfectly sincere in them, but that does not make them right.
|Heinrich A. Rommen|
We are not justified by faith (or sincerity) alone, but by faith and reason, as well as by our actions, our “works.” (James 2:14.) In Thomism, of course, the caveat is that all we do must be consistent with (or at least not contradict) the natural law based on God’s Nature self-realized in His Intellect. (Heinrich A. Rommen, The Natural Law: A Study in Legal and Social History and Philosophy. Indianapolis, Indiana: Liberty Fund, Inc., 1998, 39-51.)
Therefore we do not question the faith or motives of proponents of the Great Reset, but their logic and reason. Sincere or not, attempts to establish and maintain a perfect world necessarily subordinate the good of actual persons to an abstraction.
Concern for the human race as a whole is legitimate, laudable and certainly essential. Especially in a crisis situation, however, it is far too easy to overlook the demands of the dignity of actual children, women and men in preference to that of the abstraction “humanity” or “humankind.”
A temptation to sacrifice innocent people to obtain a temporary or even ephemeral advantage can become overwhelming. As the High Priest Caiaphas put it while arguing in favor of Jesus’s execution on trumped-up charges, “[I]t is expedient for you that one man should die for the people and that the whole nation perish not.” (John 11:50)
|St. Thomas Aquinas|
Nor is the vital need to care for the planet exempt from this mistake. The profound concept of stewardship has been transformed from taking reasonable care of one’s environment and using one’s possessions always with an eye to the common good. It has changed into the belief that human beings have no more right than anything else to inhabit the Earth or possess anything. In extreme cases, some even maintain that human beings have no right to exist or own anything at all; as a slogan of the Zero Population Growth movement has it, “People are pollution!”
These claims fall apart when examined logically, e.g., how can anything other than a human being have rights by nature? In Thomistic personalism, there are only persons and things. Only persons have rights. Everything else has no rights except by delegation from a person.
It therefore makes no logical sense to assert that things — and the Earth and all it contains, including the abstraction of society, and excepting only human beings, are things — have rights against human beings. Unfortunately, as Msgr. Knox noted, people in the modern age tend to go more by faith and emotion than by reason and logic.
In Thomistic personalism, of course, faith and reason go together. The “Double Mind of Man” noted by Chesterton, however, has virtually ensured that a choice is forced between faith or reason, not a resolution of faith and reason when a contradiction or paradox arises.
Thus the Great Reset, for all its vaunted innovative approach to solving the world’s problems, makes the same mistake as other “enthusiastic” or abstractionist systems. It suffers from a fatal failure to distinguish between what is actual and objectively true (knowledge), and what is abstract and subjectively true or false, or even nonsense (opinion). It compounds this error by subordinating that which is objectively true, to that which is subjective and thus may be true, false, or nonsensical.