The year the good guys lost

From many perspectives, 2016 was a disturbing year, when many of the certainties of the post-WW2 consensus broke down. All over the world, forces seem determined to put the clock back – break down the EU, vote in authoritarian right wing governments, re-establish white supremacy in US, and US dominance over world, re-create the USSR, re-establish the caliphate, stop the establishment of democracy,  establish Chinese dominance in E Asia… The spectre of the uncertain 1930s hovers in the air.

It is easy to be discouraged. We just need to remember the truism that the day is always darkest just before the dawn. And the only thing we can influence directly is our own psyche and doings in the world. There is always room for hope, and being the best we can in the world, fulfilling our own true selves.

See the Dalai Lama’s quote in the featured image.

I was brought up watching Westerns on TV. Remember, the good guys always won, and sometimes villains were redeemed.

Quote and featured image from Brainyquotes

Hair of the Dog

Or should it be ‘Out of the Frying Pan…’.

Forty years of the great neoliberal globalisation project has taken its toll in terms of destroying jobs and communities across the West. Of course there have been winners and losers, and as ever the super winners are the rich and super rich.

As many commentators have observed, the resulting discontent has been a major cause of the phenomena of ‘Brexit’ in the UK and ‘Trump’ in the US.

Europe has been protected from some of the extremes of neoliberalism by its tradition of social democracy and looking after the people. The European Commission, for all its faults, has been a bulwark against some of the forces of free trade, not afraid to take on the biggest corporations.

What a paradox then, that Brexit appears to be leading the UK into the hands of a free market right wing. The UK parliament, lacking even any safeguarding constitution, will be the only defence against global forces driven by the rich and powerful. Trade will appear to be all that matters in the global race to the bottom – surely creating more of the problems that are so concerning to people who wish to rip up the European project.

More paradox in the US, where electors appear to have chosen a leader from that very super rich class that has caused the problems they are concerned about – moved jobs to China, kept their money out of the country rather than invest, fought against social and environmental changes, demanded tax reduction or simply avoided paying taxes… Of course, his chosen team is mostly also from that class.

Paradoxically, it is just possible that reality and the occasional influx of common sense will ensure that it turns out all right. Let’s hope so.

Featured image ‘Killer chihuahua’ by David Shankbone, via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Political crisis?

One of the frustrations that led me to start this blog was that there are problems quite apparent with current Western countries and the world ‘system’ that were essentially being ignored or sidelined by current generations of politicians – climate change, inequality, financial crash inadequately addressed, over-influence of corporations, uncontrolled movement of people, and so on…

Of course, these frustrations are shared by many, each with their own different emphasis. This is what has led to the rise of, to name a few: UKIP, Brexit, Corbyn, Saunders, Trump,…

It was refreshing to read Martin Jacques’ article in The Guardian, The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics, which succinctly identifies what is going on. We are actually seeing a crisis in the globalising neoliberal order that has dominated for 30-40 years, since ushered in by the rise of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. Every system/paradigm has built-in limitations and contradictions that eventually clarify the need for its own transformation, so it comes as no surprise.

A system founded on self interest and without fundamental moral foundations is not likely to last beyond a generation or so.

Martin Jacques is well known for his book and TED talk on China. It was in 1966 that Robert Kennedy popularised the supposed Chinese curse ‘May he live in interesting times’. Kennedy went on to say:

“They are times of danger and uncertainty; but they are also more open to the creative energy of men than any other time in history.”

Indeed.

Featured image of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan at Camp David 1984,
courtesy of White House Photographic Office, via Wikimedia Commons