This year seems to have been a rotten year for Western democracies. Populists and demagogues have made strides forward in Britain, America, France, Italy and elsewhere.
Citizens are losing faith in the liberal order which has underpinned the world since World War II. People are questioning the necessity and desirability of democracy, looking favourably towards autocrats like Vladimir Putin, decrying free trade and lashing back against the globalising forces which have predominated over recent decades.
Centrists and moderates mustn’t lose hope, though. Not only do our democracies continue to have great strengths, but there are real solutions to this apparent crisis. The level of political discourse often appears to have sunk to new depths recently. The Brexit debate, for instance, was an orgy of untruths, and never has a presidential candidate lied so systematically or with such electoral impunity as Donald Trump. We mustn’t forget that this, as much as anything, is a sign of the vibrancy of our politics. In comparison to the creeping and regressive authoritarianism worsening in countries such as Russia, Turkey, and China, political debate in Britain is as open and diverse as it has been for a long while.
At the same time, politicians and campaigners have to start to do more to confront lies. In democracy it is hard to have an undisputed arbiter of truthfulness, but its practitioners should stop pandering to falsehoods. For far too long, casual dishonesty about immigration and free trade has gone unquestioned. These two trends have made our country richer, economically and culturally.
Establishment politicians must also show contrition and accept that they have got things wrong, and that the net benefits of globalisation have left some people behind. Communities disproportionately harmed by recent trends do deserve particular attention. The worst outcome, however, would be for moderate politicians to adopt the anti-globalism, authoritarian and protectionist instincts of the populists who rail so hard against them.
Hope drives what I believe in. But 2016 has been a tough year, the most shambolic, chaotic since 1940.
Brexit, Trump and the coup against Corbyn were awful. The deaths of beloved celebrities and the downsizing of toblerone simply added to the atmosphere of loss. But the night is darkest just before the dawn. Hope is all around us, in the good people who don’t take these things lying down. They are brave, strong and resolute. Where xenophobes and nationalists seek to pull up the drawbridge and cut us off from the world, we fight for the true Britain, with open minds, open hearts, tolerant and welcoming. Where racists scapegoat migrants, we stand up for them. Where misogynists degrade a woman’s right to choose, we defend that right. Where Islamophobes and anti-Semites seek to divide us on religious lines, we shout loud and proud that we have more in common than what divides us. But more than resisting right wing change, we must regain the initiative. Brexit will dominate 2017, and though it pains me to leave the EU which I campaigned so hard to Remain a part of, we need to face the new reality. Instead of whinging, I am inspired to resist a hard Brexit and fight for a deal which benefits working class people, in Britain and in Europe. Most of all, I take hope from the situation I see in parliament. The Conservatives are divided, tired and bereft of ideas. They are there for the taking. They could easily be beaten at the next election. There is an opposition bursting with ideas and talent, the biggest membership in Europe, and a leader of integrity, who has provided hope to many already. If the opposition can unite and exploit the government’s divisions, which I believe can happen, then there is so much hope to be had. Already, Brexiteer Zach Goldsmith lost his seat in Parliament when the Greens and Liberals worked together. If they and Labour can learn to work together in a progressive alliance, then we can win the next general election and have Jeremy Corbyn as our prime minister. I am very hopeful for the future.
What an absolute nightmare this year has been. If it wasn’t bad enough that Brexit happened, much to my dismay, then a man who cannot even position his hair in the right place is set to become President of the most powerful country in the world, bearing in mind that he has no political experience.
The past year has seen the political world deteriorate rapidly alongside my faith in humanity, but other news occurred which made 2016 a bleak year to reflect upon. For example, the musician David Bowie passed away, as did the actor Alan Rickman – both of whom were extremely talented.
I wonder what 2017 will bring. Can it be a more positive year for humanity or will things look even bleaker? Is this the rain before the rainbow? Or will things become worse than they already are?If you ask me, I think that the worst is behind us. A part of me believes that 2017 will be much better than the previous. I might be wearing my rose tinted spectacles but I sincerely hope for everyone’s sake that Donald Trump will turn out not to be as villainous as we imagine that he will be. I also cling on to the hope that Brexit might not affect us as much as we have in mind.
As each year passes by, there continues to be improvements made to technology as it becomes more and more innovative. With a bit of luck we might be able to make even greater scientific discoveries. It is important to maintain a positive attitude, despite what knock backs and curve balls may be thrown in our way.
This year has been an awful. We lost some of the greatest figures in modern western culture: Alan Rickman, David Bowie, George Martin, and Leonard Cohen to name a few.
And, politically we faced some of the greatest shocks to the political order since 1991 with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The election of Donald Trump, Brexit, and the rise of the populist European right fiercely challenges the idea of the ‘end of history’, where historian Francis Fukuyama argued that the spread of liberal democracy would put an end to the kinds of conflicts which ravaged the twentieth century through constantly expanding markets and democratisation.
The military build-up in the South China Sea has been given little media attention in the UK, and especially not as seriously as it should be. What is happening is that China is building artificial islands in the South China Sea against the chain of heavily fortified United States military bases that surrounds China and as both sides begin to build uo arms, even minor instances could turn into lighting an already handsomely stocked tinder box. Regardless of which ideological side you are on you cannot deny the seriousness of the issue and the precarity which the election of Donald Trump adds to the situation.
Anyone looking towards 2017 cannot fail to look at this without taking it seriously. The response which comes from the presidency of the United States is key. Nations from all over Asia depend on the United States for protection, as recently as 2013 Japan depended on the United States. Any kind of serious miscalculation from the president could create a desperate international situation. Let’s just hope this is just a blip in Francis Fukuyama’s theory.
Looking back on this year, I cannot stop thinking it has been one heck of a ride for the world. With so many changes on the political scene one has to wonder what is next for us?
Since the beginning of time, there has been war and conflict between and among the most powerful countries and nations in the world. This year brought a conflict and huge separation within every nation itself. The most powerful countries in the world had the change of power and shift of their political ideas, which led to separation of opinions in their own nation. It feels like this year has consisted of quick, drastic and not so thought-through decisions in political terms.
A lot of countries are becoming very powerful, especially on the military basis. Are we actually heading towards a bigger conflict and even a possible war?
I do not think so. The world saw the damage WWI and WWII caused to all the people and nations, and with rapid technology development, the consequences of having WWIII would be unthinkable. I believe no nation in this world would be brave enough to put their people and the rest of the world in the position to start something so dangerous and unstoppable. I do believe that the countries are heading towards the destructions due to their own drastic and revolutionary decisions. People keep making quick decisions without thinking about the consequences and most importantly, not getting enough information to make an education decision in the first place. So what we should fear more is self-destruction and self-sabotage, rather than the danger from other countries and even possible war.
Instead of being worried if someone else can harm us, let’s consider if we are the ones who are harming ourselves in a first place.
Whatever your opinion of major events in 2016, there’s one thing we can all agree on: it’s been a rollercoaster of a year. From dozens of high profile celebrity deaths to unexpected political earthquakes, we haven’t been short of things to talk or panic about.
Of course, the two elephants in the room are Brexit and Trump. No matter which way you voted in the EU referendum, or which candidate you supported from the wrong side of the pond in the US presidential election, I’m quite confident to say that both were a shock to the vast majority of us. Farage capitulated before his side won, and numerous Trump supporters claimed that the election might even be rigged in Clinton’s favour.
In a strange, almost sadistic way, I’m looking forward to the carpet being pulled out from under the Establishment’s feet. I’m far from supportive of the direction things have taken this year in the political landscape, yet the promise of upheaval somewhat excites me. Austria just elected a new president after a re-run of its summer election which was annulled. The Green party candidate won against the far-right FPÖ, but only by a slim majority. While I’m glad of this result, when seeing the spread of the seismic wave throughout Europe, I can’t help but feel intrigued as to what’s going to happen next, especially as 2017 brings presidential and federal elections to France and Germany.
But never fear – despite the hysteria being thrown at us by the media, and the politicians panicking and resigning left, right and centre, I believe we should take a step back and think for a moment. Is this really going to affect our day-to-day life and our plans for the future? Even if it does, we’ll find a way around it. We’ll find our way through. After all, this might only be a blip in history.
Last modified: 23rd March 2017