Nearly two decades ago, good ol’ Lisbeth the 2nd famously declared the year closing an annus horibilis…
In fact, 1992 was no particularly bad year unless you were a male heir to the throne of Britain with marital problems or minor royalty with a taste for topless frolicking…
In 1992, the world at large was not doing much worse than usual. Western Europe was entering a decade of economic prosperity, things were starting to look up on the eastern side and the US was taking a breather in between two Bushes. Bloody coups, genocides and paramilitary dictatorship seemed to be ever so slowly becoming less of a common occurrence in South America and Asia, and while Africa was not doing so great, one could at least hope that, with old age, an entire generation of Western-backed dictators would eventually come to pass. Not such a bad era for music either: in 1992, Nirvana had just released Nevermind and Black Eyed Peas had not yet been spawned from the darkest recess of stale junk pop marketing.
It is nigh-impossible for one person to give an objective appraisal for such a scale as the entire world, particularly without the hindsight of a couple decades: the year Sally broke your heart or you lost your pinkie to a freak juice-blending accident will always overshadow that earthquake where 10,000 people died in some remote country you have never heard of.
Yet, I cannot help but feel rather depressed by what seems to be happening in the world these days. And I am not talking about broad general issues and the no-doubt very fucked-up things in store for the future, 40ºC English Winter days included. I am talking about today’s factual state of the world.
Let’s Have a Look, Shall We?
Even after filtering out the usual event-starved media angle, there is little to rejoice about in world news these days:
We are finally seeing the result of the past 10 years of aggressively stupid Western policies toward the Middle-East (following countless decades of thoughtless meddling) blooming into a thousand potential islamic revolutions in countries ravaged by war, endemic corruption and self-serving Western interventions. Quite a success, this “War on Terror” has been.
Iran, a country that was once helmed by a democratically elected reformist president when the US had theirs handed down to them by a Supreme Court, is now looking at a slow descent back into a military dictatorship. At its helm, a diminutive puppet of a fundamentalist leader who owes much of the relative success of his populist diatribes to the fertile ground left to him by a century of Western meddling (equally populist “axis of evil” rhetoric included).
Meanwhile, Middle-East’s one and only truly democratic state, Israel, decided to do away completely with the underdog image of a surviving nation amongst mortal ennemies, in favour of the much less appealing status of minority-oppressing bully. What should have been a parenthesis in conservative national politics is now extending to a quasi-perpetual state of belligerent populism, more concerned with pleasing a strident fundamentalist minority at home and focusing on their equally hateful counterparts on the other side, rather than really trying to solve things. As an aside, those people who drape themselves in the memory of the Holocaust and call “antisemitism” on any hint of distaste toward current Israeli politics deserve to be stoned: they are a shame to the memory of the millions actual victims of nazi barbary.
After twenty years of steadily building what could have been a pretty impressive form of federation, ensuring both cultural identity and socio-economical prosperity of its members, European nations are seizing the opportunity of the last few crises to retreat to their old isolationist, nationalistic ways (nothing to the point of the US yet, but slowly heading there). This rollback is in large part fuelled by a wave of political populism across the continent. France has got the ever-yapping Sarkozy, UK Labour is about to get a well-deserved kick out of power that will lead to yet another era of backward people-crushing Tory policies, Italy has long stopped trying and voted Berlusconi back in last year…
Eastern Europe is busy molding its new post-communist brand of putrid nationalism, with dashes of populism and healthy doses of religious zealotry thrown in for good measure, while preparing the next regional conflict and mandatory ensuing genocides through “ethnic cleansing”.
Quickly closing a tentative experiment in democracy, Russia is heading back toward its old totalitarian ways, with a twist: this time it’s military nationalism with ethnic undertones, soft totalitarism with ultra-liberal leanings and McDonald’s on every street corner to appease the masses. At this, they are in a close race with China for smallest compounded period of democratic history. Things haven’t changed much since the 60s, but who cares: now, they support free trade… In fact, they are more than happy to purchase all the censorship technologies and crowd-pacifying junk culture that the West will obligingly sell them. Sure, China is not as scary a country as it may have been in the past: lifetime imprisonment is often favoured over bullet in the back of the head as a way to deal with political dissent… But that regime is also much closer to becoming your new economic overlord as it ever was before.
Thanks to the threatening shadows of Soviets Russia and People’s China, the rest of Asia has always looked quaintly peaceful, with its bunch of quietly self-contained authoritarian and totalitarian regimes. Outside of nutty North Korea and its convenient straw man appeal to nationalists on both side of the Sino-Japanese sea riff, I bet your news outlets do not bother you too often with tales of uneventful sham elections routinely taking place and unsurprisingly backing up whatever local military junta or conservative elite has been in power so far…
I guess something could be said for South America enduring much less bloody civil wars and rightwing CIA-backed dictatorships than during the glorious Carter-Reagan years… hell there has even been a couple democratically-elected leaders with apparently genuine intent to help their people. Things could be worse. Let’s just not look too closely toward Honduras or Venezuela.
And as for the US of A? Well, it is probably not a good sign that the most (and possibly only) positive thing going for it nowadays is that it is no longer headed by a bunch of religious nutjobs and war criminals.
Feel Free To Go Hang Yourself Now…
Pessimistic and biased, you say? Most definitely. Also: I am no Nostradamus and world politics have a knack for going in erratic directions and suddenly picking up speed, so I lay no claims on what the current situation might lead to, as soon as next year. I just can’t help thinking that it is not a lot better than 10 or 20 years ago.
PS: and you know what the funny thing is? Despite this incredibly gloomy outlook on world events, my personal current mood is not particularly bad. In fact, I am pretty happy and content with where I am with my life at this moment.
Just imagine how upbeat I must be when I am truly depressed.