The best chronicles are written at the end of a year, as everyone knows. The subject is already there – an evaluation of the past 12 months, and a few speculations about the new year to come, then, the article wraps up.
This happens when one is willing to remember a (few) good things that happened during the past year, but usually one finds oneself enumerating a number of catastrophes and mishaps that happened during the year, not counting various conflicts and small or medium-size wars, mass killings and deportations.
With the advent of the IT revolution, the world has really become much smaller and we are informed almost immediately about what is happening in any part of the world. Most of the time we can see relevant images because whoever has a smartphone can become a citizen journalist.
The proliferation of information did not help, however, to produce a solution. Obviously, international public opinion has some weight, but the number of catastrophes and conflicts is so high that average people are neutralized under an avalanche of information. Unless there is a very strong cultural or moral tie with the people suffering, public opinion does not really have the energy or motivation to react strongly.
This development creates general despair pertaining to world affairs and a general disbelief that existing national and international structures can solve anything. This continuous inflow of information creates collective uneasiness, as people cannot live with a continuous feeling of indignity and revolt. Thus, there are two tangible consequences. First, so long as good events do not make news, people tend to create good news in fiction. The proliferation of super heroes, once relegated to comic books for teenagers, are now becoming movies and television shows watched by everyone. This is a blatant sign of this need for fictitious vigilantes who fight villains.
A second very dangerous development of this despair is the rise of radical movements all over the world. Disbelief in a sustainable world order easily pushes parts of society in positions where they become receptive to totally jingoistic or xenophobic ideas. The rise of the extreme right always influences the policies of conservative forces, and normally such radicalization of public life only creates more tension, more room for other, different radicalizations.
Therefore, leaving the year 2017 for a new year is not a relief, so long as there is not much hope for the coming months. However, hope is always there to guide our steps to correct direction, and there must be strong reasons for hope, perhaps not in the immediate future, but at least in the long run.
In EU countries, democratic forces faithful to the EU's founding principles have contained the rise of the extreme right. There is total dismay regarding the performance of the extreme right public opinion sees them for what they really are, a bunch of more or less talented misfits glorifying vile sentiments of xenophobia and discrimination. Islamophobia is the most prized sentiment fueling the extreme-right discourse for fascist movements in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria. However, there is much more to come, as anti-Semitism holds a favored place as a scapegoat for all radical right movements.
Regarding the radicalization of two important member states in the EU, namely Poland and Hungary, the EU states is looking to take dire measures, starting with Poland. This is a very unfortunate situation, as everyone, especially from my generation, remembers the very brave uprising of the Polish people against the Soviet system in the 1980s. Poland has been a country that has suffered so much, that has been so often invaded, destroyed and occupied that it always has a special place in the minds and hearts of all Europeans. Almost at the same level, the Palestinians are dear to Muslim populations and societies. The EU taking a very firm stance against Poland would be a very important step to contain some transgressions of the basic democratic rules of the EU.
The biggest disappointment is definitely the U.S., which has saved the world twice by intervening in two world wars, and which now, unfortunately, has an administration nobody in or out of the U.S. deserves. The only hope would be to see such an administration out of office as soon as it is democratically possible.
This was not the easiest way to write a New Year chronicle, but let me conclude by wishing everyone more hope in the future and more confidence in the common sense of humanity, which, despite strong setbacks, ultimately prevails.
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