The election of Donald Trump, Brexit and the issues that tell us all one thing…things are changing.
The year 2016 is well established in the foggy backyards of our minds as one the worst years in living memory. The innumerable deaths as a result of multiple conflicts, the most notable being Syria. The continued downswing in emerging market economies that has caused a halt in the march of progress heralded in the previous decade. Brexit. Trump!
Overall the year of 2016 signified an end to a global status-quo that seemed unbreakable in the early 2000’s. The year 2016 alone questioned the unity of the European Union, the state of American democracy and its place in global politics, the strength of Chinese economic growth and its assumed promise to other emerging markets, the unmoving African dictator in the liking of Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, and the moral responsibility beholden to all of us to care for the most vulnerable as highlighted by the refugee crises.
Never did anyone suspect such remarkable movements in the working of things to follow-up each other so closely in a single year. And only the truly blind do not see it as a winding of the clock for human development. From here on in, we tread on new ground.
What Scares Us Most In 2017?
The year 2017, and its subsequent followers, will see much of the worlds greatest challenges bear fruit. The chaos that unfolded in global markets following the 2008 crisis can be seen as the initial flashpoint from which the global fire was started.
What has followed has been a flurry of radical political change. The Arab spring, the assembly of the BRICS nations, the annexing of Crimea by Russia, growing tensions in the South-China sea and Brexit are just a few examples of how much the table has shifted in global politics.
But all of this seems to have come to a head with the election of real estate mogul and former reality tv star Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States of America.
The idea of a Donald Trump presidency isn’t so scary in the fact that it immediately harbored in an era of suffering and conflict (although that is yet to be seen). Rather “The Donald” symbolizes to his opponents an end to social progress that America specifically, and the world generally, has made up until this point.
Donald Trump in all his bravado reassures no one in the global community that despite growing disdain for the status quo, that there can be practical reform made to turn the current system into one that benefits more.
Rather the president has made it clear that it is his intention is to usher in a new era of global selfishness. An era that identifies every counterpart as an adversary in competition rather than an ally in a shared pursuit.
What Trump truly symbolises is the affirmation of the trajectory of global politics. The controversial far-right politics of “the-patriot-and-his-enemies” could quickly become the nature of global diplomacy if the “leader of the free world” deems it so.
And this is very much the state of political debate in the world as it stands. With the rising complexity of the trade and economics that link various nations the argument over capitalism and communism has taken a back seat to a huddled wrestle over the state of global power and where it should lie.
Organisations such as the WTO, IMF, UN and World Bank, which were birthed out of American ambition, are now pariahs of American discourse, seen as shadowy vessels for a secret elite to rule the world from. The EU in all its professed strength is now a shell of the organisation that was once heralded for its unbridled unity. This has been the slowly gathered feeling in the West, as the effects of destabilizing economies takes its toll on the various nations.
And this feeling has echoed around the world, and in some cases, preceded the Western development. This is the feeling of having lost out in the race forward for progress because of a system that seems built to ensure suffering. A global conspiracy against the people. A cabal of foreign powers working against the interests of the local people. What should scare you the most in 2017? The popularity of directionless rage.
Angry Angry Voices
There is a big problem in the global community and that is the fact that it no longer seeks to be the community it aspired to in the last century. Globalisation in all its promise, seems to have fallen short on providing what most wanted out of a connected world.
This is mostly due to the fact that globalisation has not seen the widespread success that some often discuss. Yes, there is the undoubtable improvement in human life. In fact, recently deceased statistician Hans Rosling dedicated his life to making that very clear to many of us.
But despite the millions who have escaped poverty through the brute force of free trade and the advancement of technology, there has been the abuse of this system to the detriment of millions more. The rise of multinational firms with uncheckable powers over global politics is just a sign of the distancing of global decision platforms from the realities of individual states.
These are just a sample of the failures of globalisation, its successes have also warranted caution over the haste towards progress. The city, irrespective of region or nation, is now home to more humans than in any time in human history precisely because of globalisation. Now it can be disputed on a case-by-case basis whether this urbanisation creates any benefit, but it has highlighted issues around the centralisation of economic opportunity, and the sustainability of current economic models.
This deluge of negativity is fertile ground for an angry populace, and it is no surprise that in recent years protests against what some deem a globalist conspiracy have become more common. But what is troubling in this revolt against globalisation is the political perspective that is leading the march. Farrage, Le Pen, Trump, and their ilk have become voices for a radical realignment towards nationalism and isolationism , and indicate to all keen observers that the west is no international standard for stability.
It cannot be understated how potentially catastrophic this may be for the state of things. A substantially noticeable trait in all these leaders is their aggression towards what they deem as invading foreign forces, which has gone on to include all forms of immigration. This hostility towards the outside is a recipe for disaster, given that at any point in history the choice to blame those beyond your borders usually ends with a great deal of deaths on both sides.
The debate over globalisaton will become the critical crash that defines this generation of humanity. Our technology, politics, climate, and understanding of our own humanity will become the markers for human engagement that determine the basis for how we treat those traditionally considered “outsiders.
We have already seen the fierce defense of globalisation values in the topsy-turvy predicament that has found China, and resultantly the Chinese Communist Party, chief defenders of free trade at the World Economic Forum. And it is from these global platforms that the globalists have started to defend their ideology.
Founder and Executive Chairman of Chinese firm Alibaba, Jack Ma is just one of the prominent world leaders that have come forward with a vigorous critique of the scapegoat tactics he claims American politicians such as Trump have made use of to equate the rise of inequality in the US with the rise of economies such as China’s.
So this is the state of politics we currently inhabit. A state in which we are able to inspect the business of our fellow humans around the world, with no determinable understanding of how that evolves into action. At least one thing remains constant in all this uncertainty:
The World is a different place and there’s no going back
It would be great that if by some form of wizardry we were able to say with assurance that there will never be a year as uncertain as 2016. But that would be a lie so deep in its distance from reality that I’m not even sure the magic of denial could conjure it into existence.
Humanity stands at a great divide in its path, and there are more than two choices. Climate change, mass-immigration, and the various conflicts that remain raging are problems that will come to affect us all, and not only those within immediate proximity.The millions fleeing conflict, oppression, and destitution are not going to despite into the air when met with closed borders. Neither will those who seek to us harm be pacified by our attempts to bring peace.
Our world is a labyrinth of growing complexity, and the more we feel as though we have found our political center as a species, the more a wall extends to show that our path towards justice, peace and freedom flows further than we expected. Let’s just agree to let better men than “The Donald” lead the way.