... to such an extent that when looking back on January 01st 1990 at the events of the previous year, it would be easy to have noted the passed events but hard to imagine how these would change our lives and lead to where we are at today.
The many happenings occurring in just these 365 days is a salient reminder to us – today – of just how embedded and established ‘systems’ can be turned on their head within the flow of only a few months.
For sure, we live in turbulent times and the writers of headlines are constantly reporting on all the various experts who note how the ‘teenage’ years of the 21st Century are ‘progressing’ and being marked by the advent of the ‘Millennials’ with their ‘new thinking’.
Indeed, it seems that every 30 years or so – the passage of three generations by some counting – ‘things’ are set to change as the memories of the young who were born during various events reach maturity and only have vague, childhood memories by which to be chained to the effects of past disasters, attitudes or trends.
… And whilst some systems – particularly political – might last longer, nevertheless, eventually these changes do occur as it is finally impossible to prevent the forwards march of human knowledge and its inter-sharing whose foundation predicates that we all have the right to certain freedom of choices and being.
As an example, the 100,000 mostly student protesters in Peking’s Tiananmen Square and the unforgettable images of the single ‘Tank Man’ resisting the advance of Government Army tanks with their loaded ammunition, symbolizes the power that not only a single person can weald on our perceptions but that when united, the groundswell of a desire to change forces it to happen.
There may have been a reputed 10,000 casualties to that event as the Square was eventually forcefully cleared under the tracks of the tanks, but the Rulers recognized that there needed to be change and out of the ashes conditions were established which allowed the Chinese economy to become what it is today – through a certain relaxation of controls and by allowing private enterprise to develop within a limited and strictly established framework: regardless of however much this might still be over-looked and controlled.
That had started on 20th May, 1989; by June 3rd it was all over – at least, visibly.
… And yet, these visually powerful events were to be the first sign that the social dynamics of a World dominated by three great powers was set to change: the ‘Chinese Spring’ had been crushed but the seeds sewn during its public expression and which would set the stage for a completely different, less individually-expressive form of ‘commercialised communism’ – whose nowadays existence has leveraged China into becoming the second economy of our time.
• The second great system changer in that year occurred in the Autumn as – for more than 40 years, the massive, pervasive and trans- Eastern-European shadow of the USSR had remained symbolised by the Berlin Wall which, since its erection in 1961, had physically divided the city and ideologically split that part of the World into two great blocks of influence – each armed with some 30,000 nuclear weapons, any one of which would have virtually wiped-out a city the size of Paris.
This wall – so substantial and visible in Berlin, though just as omnipresent in its iteration as it snaked across the German countryside in the form of barbed-wire, minefields, machinegun-nests and guard towers crowned by night-piercing search-lights – had not only physically divided the citizens of this country but had also kept the Eastern Germans within an ideological prison whose justification by the Central USSR leaders was that it supposedly kept the decadence of the West from polluting the purer, conceptual thinking of Marxist-Leninism by which their own society had been rigidly held in abeyance.
The first cracks in this ideological imprisonment first occurred in the Summer of that year when protest demanding independence from Soviet hegemony began to spread across Eastern Europe – finally concretised by the election in late August of a previously-banned Solidarity Movement leader – Lech Walesa – as Poland’s new Prime Minister.
Just to the South or so, at first, the East-German authorities doubled-down on their repressions and attempts to stop the citizens from leaving the country and then – to universal surprise – suddenly permitted free movement when on the 9th November, all the checkpoints marking passages across the Berlin Wall were removed and both East and West Germans freely crossed into each-other’s zones for the first time in four decades.
Well-documented images show how over the following weeks the wall was gradually destroyed – often by ordinary people with sledgehammers assisting the heavy machinery brought in by both sides to eliminate its overbearing presence.
Elsewhere in the former USSR dominions, other movements built on this groundswell of rejection and desire for a non-Soviet coloured autonomy by starting their own social movements, which, as in Czechoslovakia, quite rapidly saw the election of a non-Soviet government in late November at the culmination of their so-called ‘Velvet Revolution’.
The highlight of this rather more radical and subliminally violent changeover occurred on Christmas Day when Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were publically executed beneath the eye of the nation’s national TV channel broadcasting the event to national applause.
Africa – with its more-and-more wobbly and unsustainable Apartheid regime – also saw a change of direction: brought-on this time by the simple effects of its President, Pieter Botha having suffered a stroke in February and being forced to retire from his leadership as ruler of the National Party.
Shortly thereafter – mainly following a growing unrest amongst the black population that had been building over the last twenty years or so – a more liberally-minded Frederik de Klerk came into office and within six months had freed the Leader of the African National Council – Nelson Mandela – from his 26 years of isolated incarceration within the infamous Robben Island prison.
Four years later, national elections completely changed the political landscape of that country with the end of apartheid being brought-about by fully free elections that for the first time spread power more equally and, through the polled results, ended-up quite predictably and naturally favouring the more extant black community.
Just as in our present days, it seems that such analogous ‘events’ – of an at-the-time seemingly imperative importance – come to both mark and disturb the equanimity of our daily lives in a very regular succession
Just this year alone we have seen the supposed end of ISIS in Syria with the culmination of their ‘eradication’ – despite the subsequent bombing in Christchurch, NZ, and the even more murderous attacks in Sri Lanka claimed by its current, putative leader – the fat, middle-aged and bespectacled, self-aggrandising – but apparently still lethally murderous – Al Bagdhadi.
• Since the last two years, the innate truth and neutrality required of any journalist in the West has seen itself polluted by the creation of partisan and self-serving news streams favouring personalised agendas of preference – often financed by shadow players with their own political leanings who attempt, via the ownership of various media, to influence American society: an unfortunately ever more evident trend that is spreading everywhere else…
Russia, no-longer the USSR but feeling its isolation, is seeking to re-brand itself with a relative degree of success through a rather typical-to-the-genre style of ‘hegemonistic rebirthing’: sponsored mainly with the thanks and remarkable support given by the people to a patently corrupt President whose popularity seemingly is only on the up-and-up – and this, despite his over-bearing and Tsarist-like projections of power.
The country’s internationally-humbled populace supports this ex-KGB manipulator in a national attempt to regain its one-time pride through a renewed flexing of its muscles within different spheres of influence – such as the Crimea, Ukraine and the current Syrian ‘conflict’.
Despite financial embargoes on it placed by the rest of the International community and the halving in value of the Rouble, the people seem quite content to see their resources poured into the design and building of some quite sophisticated weaponry whose sale to other Third World countries burnishes the tarnished gild of their national escutcheon so that they again preceive themselves to be actually significant players on the World stage.
• 1989 was also filled with other momentous happenings that either changed the status quo or highlit our World’s environmental susceptibility – such as the death of the ‘living God Emperor Hirohito’ of Japan, and the 11 million gallons of crude oil spilled by the unconscionable captaincy and subsequent cracking–open of the Exxon Valdez within an area monumentally rich in wildlife: with predictable and catastrophic effects to both flora and fauna.
The downing of two of Ghaddafi’s jets off Libya by American fighter-planes was to presage the very planting of the seeds that caused the later first stirrings of what was to evolve throughout the African, Muslim-oriented countries into the “Arab Spring”.
In the meantime, the USSR itself marked the beginning of its own demise through the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan: the crumbling structure of its political, top-down, nepotistic and self-serving ruling class of the nomentaclura had simply not managed to steer its path through the devastation of ‘Reganomic’ policies and the fall-out suffered from its own ensuing, crippling debt.
The invasion of Panama and the removal of the recalcitrant, once USA-sponsored and approved, President Noriega marked another turning point in which it was seen that the Americans were simply not going to allow things that its leaders didn’t agree with to freely develop within their neighbouring countries – especially if immediately near to the USA’s own spheres of influence and interest.
In February of 1989, a 34-year old Computer Engineer from Great Britain called Tim Berners-Lee had published a blueprint for a way that an ‘electronic communicational network’ available to ‘everyone’ would make his concept unilaterally and universally ubiquitous in its usefulness.
Only barelyt creeping into the consciousness and in a form that had been perceived by many to be but a minor by-line within the ‘Greater Scheme of Things’ – seven months following the publication of this concept, a small American company offered the first dial-up connection for public use of something that had originally been an inter-university and research tool and which came to be called the ‘Internet’.
• Since the 7th November 2016 – when Donald Trump gained the Presidency of the United States by riding on the wave of a populace thoroughly disgusted and rejective of the ‘Old Political Aristocracy’ who absolutely believed in their right to continue milking the Washington ‘Swamp’ system that favoured deep-running corruption as a means of lining their own pockets – the face of ‘politics’ has certainly moved onto a new track.
The American Democrats – in complete disarray and stymied at every turn in their attempts to rid themselves of their loud-mouthed, ridiculously Tweeting – though highly effective – President-of-the People, have seen the rise of a Millennial-originated, hyper-leftist movement amongst its youngest Congressional members: who – one might thankfully opine – are still below the mandatory 36-year age barrier allowing for any of them to present themselves as a potential future President.
Epitomised by the aggressive, often naïve and inexperienced but highly vocal noise-making of three, ethnic-derived young ladies – two of whom are Muslim and one of whom has ideas that – whilst incontrovertibly ridiculous in terms of practicality with regard to Climate Management – nevertheless represent another movement amongst their voting age-peers who also want to see various real changes occur around them and in their day-to-day lives.
Driven by their God-felt expectation that on finishing their expensive, debt-laden education that they have an absolute ‘right’ to immediate, Managerial-level employment on stupendous salaries but yet unable to obtain such jobs – despite a booming hiring market with the lowest unemployment figures in decades – these vociferous, often highly-irreverent and sometimes eminently childish agitators, imagine themselves capable of toppling a system that has been extant since the first reading of the Constitution.
As often happens, in order to make their voices heard, the precepts that this crowd of youthful, ideological revolutionaries adopts is to espouse concepts that are absolutely antithetical to the existing reality and the currency of the established system of rule.
Despite multiple examples and evidence to the contrary – as in the USSR, China, Cuba, North Korea – that radically left-leaning and rabidly socialist concepts simply do not work, these people are pushing the envelope of patience and acceptance in the hope that at least some of their ideas will somehow be adopted and trickle down to their level.
The fundament expectation is that by doing so, even if they cannot gainfully accede to real jobs at realistically-remunerated market rates, at least ‘somehow’ the small percentage of the really ‘wealthy’ will by whatever means be taxed enough to finance their grandiose and impractical ideas so that they will themselves benefit personally: without effort and in the ‘social expectation’ that their ‘Government’ SHOULD support them from cradle–to–grave.
• Ironically, with 83 million or so new people being born every year into our World population and the two-and-half million whom the Western societies somehow manage to absorb within their countries at great cost to the social services, the rise of Third-World immigrants looking for a better life by migrating to the perceptibly ‘richer West’ has regenerated a number of nationalist feelings that in Europe is visibly swinging the politics back to a form of protective nationalism whose theme centres around the preservation of centuries-established cultures and their individual, historically-implemented traditions.
The issue has always been one of ‘integration’ and so it is not for nothing that from the 1920s through to the 1960s, the USA closed its borders to further immigration so as to allow the millions absorbed over the previous 60 years or so to be fully-integrated into the established society: in order to be fully moulded within a collective iteration of a recognisable ‘American Character’ with a specifically developed, popular ethos.
Whilst in 2019, the stream of Immigrants congregating from everywhere within sub-Saharan Africa – seeking to leave from Libya for a better life in Europe – has, to the greater extent been stemmed – with those having made the crossing already being either begrudgingly absorbed or otherwise held at EU tax-payer’s expense in camps both in Turkey, Greece and Western Ukraine – the influx embedded with difficulty over the last two years and instigated by Angela Merkels socialistic good-intentions, have not at all managed to integrate.
The issues are founded both in a lack of fundamental education, a vast difference in cultures, a huge, value-perception – and so mutual misunderstanding – between locals and immigrants, and – finally, perhaps most importantly – a monumental divide within an ideological framework.
This is primarily due to these immigrants, quite naturally, seeking solace – and so holding on-to – their religious beliefs as a means of finding a minimalist identity vis-a-vis others of their own faith and kind already embedded within the established, national communities.
As a result, ‘integration’ is an uphill battle – especially where the habits of fundamental human interactions towards society in general, and women in particular – are so at odds with the established traditions extant within the communities in which they have been invited.
Indeed, as an observable result, it would – for the most part – seem to appear that these newly welcomed immigrants have little – if any – intention of making any real effort to integrate…
They would seemingly prefer to bludge off the ‘system’: contributing little, taking as much as they can as their ‘due’ and in the meantime trying to change the culture and religion of their host countries by breeding themselves into a situation where in the not too distant future they will hold the political majority through the power of their own, tightly-homogenised, though separate communities...
Islam – at its inception – was theoretically imagined as a religion of Peace, Tolerance and Respect for others who were not themselves Muslim and – for the most part – this has proved to be true.
Nevertheless, as always – and as can be seen expressed in so many different ways though almost always as a result of ideological differences – there are those who are never happy with the status quo and who – as a means of self-aggrandisement or through the exercise of power politics – place themselves at the extremes by mis-interpreting original intents and ‘translating’ certain foundation-stones of their chosen ideology into ways by which they may ‘push their own boat’.
2019 is really – so far – just another stepping-stone in a long series of such stones that have been placed one-by-one in the ‘stream of our times’ and will continue to do so – with each year, no doubt, providing its own disasters, highlights and world-shattering news.
Because now – more than any other time in History – and thanks in large part to the ubiquity, facility and availability of global communications – all of our societies are pretty-much obliged to walk in step: or, as with Iran and North Korea – and to a lesser extent Russia and China – become marginalised by the global community until they fall into line – adopting those attitudes and principles which, one might hope, represent the finer levels of humanistic achievement acquired over our collective experience and years of social emancipation.
Whilst there have been no more ‘World Wars’, humanity nevertheless – both on an individual and nationalistic level – is both innately aggressive and territorial and so it will be noted that between the WWll general cessation of activities and the Millennial change-over, there had already been more than 55 ‘local’ conflicts involving either whole nations, ethnic groups within certain nations or ideological groups seeking to differentiate themselves from the surrounding regimes in which they found themselves.
How many such conflicts have there been since 2000..?
Its hard to say – though certainly elements of all three of these categories have provided ongoing conflict between members of the human race, various countries and different ideological groups.
Whether DAESH / ISIS and the Syrian disaster; Iraq, Libya and various other African nations; the imminent flexing of China’s Pacific Sea muscles; the overtaking of the Crimea; the continuous spat between India and Pakistan over Kashmir – or the ongoing festering sore that is a typically, politically-motivated and subversive action taking place in the Ukraine by one power seeking to undermine the legitimacy of another, nationally-elected Government – we are still a ‘world at war’ with itself.
What we can be grateful for is that despite the relatively low-level bubbling-away of such conflicts occurring in different parts of the world, so far we have at least avoided a full-out Nuclear Conflict – as those who possess such weapons are at the very minimum fully aware that their use would be catastrophic for every person on the planet.
Chernobyl and Fukushima proved quite convincingly that playing around with nuclear stuff is a dangerous game that affects everyone – regardless: and thankfully the people in charge of the Red Buttons seem to have appreciated this potential for human annihilation through the inception of a Nuclear Winter – even if the common man-in-the-street has not.
Finally, we CAN live in hope: because, whilst our economies are just SO interchanged nowadays to the extent that if one Bank goes belly-up somewhere the repercussions are felt internationally by everyone else, so too are all of our electronics both interlinked and mutually vulnerable.
Fifty or so years ago, It used to be said that were one to take away the electricity, water and food from people, the result would be that within three days society would start literally ‘eating itself’.
Nowadays, take away the personal mobile phones from 80% of the world who owns them and the resulting chaos would also most likely be enough to set us back 500 years…!
So we can, in the end, continue to believe that due to our inter-connectability – both financial and media-oriented – enough people know enough about what’s going on to apply the brakes when-and-if they are needed.
Cuba is a case example in point: for the last six years the government has begrudgingly welcomed tourists and the US$3.5 billion that they bring in – without which, the Government would simply not be able to function.
However, the corollary of this is that with the Tourists has also come both a World Knowledge reflected into the local society by their intercommunication – as well as a thirst for more knowledge expressed by the Cubans which has forced the Government to triple its Internet access capability.
Knowledge – as always – is a two-way sword: one that resides in Pandora’s Box and having opened it, there is no going back as Cuba will, with almost guaranteed certainty – (and as with North Korea) – eventually HAVE to bow to the will of its people to reclaim what is every human beings innate and nascent right.
Ideological and physical freedom.
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