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Friday, 10 February 2017

Its A Scary World

The world has become a very scary and strange place of late.

This Sort of Scary Is Within Our Cultural Norms ....

For those of us lucky enough to be born into the Western world, most of the scariness in our lives comes from the external cultures being introduced into ours, often via immigration, or perhaps globalisation. And the strangeness's, well they can nearly always be explained within our own cultural contexts (even The 'Donald'). Mostly it comes from our Western freedom to do our own thing, as long as it harms no others, so eccentricities abound, and are largely tolerated.

But for the rest of the world, well the scariness is all around them in their own societies, from the fear of arbitrary arrest and imprisonment in virtually every culture, from Turkey, through Russia, to China. Or from increasingly random acts of mass violence, from the Eastern Ukraine, through to most of the Middle-East and the African continent. That's ignoring extreme the poverty, hunger, and unemployment, that afflicts great portions of the planet ..... the world is not a fair place, but often it can truly be said that most societies end up getting what they deserve in their governments.

We in the West are often just not fully aware of how lucky we are to be born in the small part of the globe, where we are still largely free from the daily concerns of vast numbers of our fellow human beings in other parts of the same planet.

There was a time, probably up to the early 1970's, when it looked as though western liberalism was going to triumph in most of the third world. The Muslim world, had few fundamentalists and in fact semi-secular governments of some sort or other were largely the normal order, from Pakistan through Afghanistan right across the Middle East and North Africa. Sub Saharan Africa was going through the 'winds of change' as colonial rule ended, and apartheid looked to be in its end game. Much of Asia was taking its first steps on the road to the 'economic miracles', from Singapore to South Korea.

Afghan Girl Guides Or Pioneers 1960's

With these movements, came a certain liberal mind-set, generally pointing towards a western style of government, in form if not in substance. Even the Soviet Union, despite its terrors for many citizens, had progressive forces working in the background, which later bubbled up in Poland and elsewhere.

Afghan 1960's Teen Girls Buying Records ...

But then, and I have to suggest that it was the recessions caused by the 1973 and 1979 oil crisis, there was a gradual reversal of these decades long post war trends. The problem was exacerbated by the fact, that the monetary gains of the oil producers were not distributed evenly across the globe, or even the Arab world. In fact rather the opposite. The Arab countries with the largest populations such as Egypt, Syria and Algeria, had little or no oil reserves, and suffered more than most in the recessions the oil price hikes caused. While the Arab countries with small populations often had the oil, and therefore could ignore the social consequences of their actions.

So while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya for example, could subsidise their populations, and carry on taking whatever social path they chose e.g. autocratic rule and fundamentalist Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia, or the Gaddafi dictatorship in Libya, the rest of the Arab world turned to repressive regimes with military presidents (dressed in monkey suits to pretend to be 'civilians'). This killed any chance of their countries becoming moderate social democracies, and the repressive nature of the regimes, set in motion the rise of Islamic fundamentalist movements that have flowered first in Iran, and then in the Arab world over the last couple of decades.

So the question arises as to how long this blissful state of affairs in the West can be maintained?

The fact is that most of the worlds populations are still growing (even if the growth rate might be slowing down), and even where it was static, this seems to be no longer the case. The Chinese for example have recently relaxed their one child rule, to allow for two children, because they faced a growing age imbalance in their population demographics as the population aged faster than it was replaced.

As an example of this uncontrolled population growth in many parts of the globe, the population of Egypt was 19 million in 1946. In 1996 it was 59 million, and by 2006 it was 72 million ...... its expected to be close to 100 million by 2016, and that by 2056 it will reach 160 million plus. Most will be poor, unemployed and possibly facing starvation, on a land that struggled to support 19 million in 1946.

This vast 60 year rise in world populations outside of the West, means that in most places, the population is predominantly under the age of 25 years, but with little chance of achieving the lifestyles enjoyed by their Western counterparts. In some places they have few job prospects, and in others work is there, but they are denied access to the public space by repressive one party rule. Globalisation simply rubs their noses in the fact of their lack, by showing them western lifestyles on TV being either aped by their own rich, or directly from imported TV shows.

Resentment at this state of affairs can take many forms. Some try to make it to the West via refugee claims. Others join movements whose aim is the attack the West, while the remainder may attack their own governments, with a view to replace them with a system of governance even less likely to deliver what the real people want. See Iran, See Muslim Brotherhood, See .... well almost all the failed Arab Spring experiments.

Flag Burning Mobs A Common Sight On Our TV's

But whatever the underlying causes, this resentment has risen to unprecedented levels world wide, and the West is under attack.

President Trump could even be described as the outcome of these attacks ..... he has voiced the fears that many white US residents have felt for some time. Their way of life and values being swamped and discarded, as the lifeboat is filled up with those who many of them perceive as only wanting to take a slice of the ever smaller pie, but without putting in the hard work that created it over the centuries.

Similar expressions of this fear are now being exhibited elsewhere, firstly in the Brexit vote, and now the rise of the political right in Holland, France, Germany and elsewhere. Mother Merkel not withstanding, Europe may soon close down it borders to outsiders as these fears manifest themselves in the popular vote.

Terror Attacks Across The Western World ....

The end game for all this is not easy to see. The US, has really only one border to close .... the Mexican Wall, may end up like Reagan's 'Star-Wars' defence system, as something of a white elephant, or it may be the Great Wall that saves the USA. Who can tell?

Europe however has the problem that the hungry masses are already on its southern and eastern borders and have to some extent already breached those borders. Would it be able to either resist or withstand a mass 'economic' stampede across those borders by millions of Arabs, and from Sub Saharan Africa?

Personally I doubt that it has the current political will to use offensive force to stop the crossings of its borders, and therefore its societies would either turn to those who said they could and would, or simply collapse into an anarchy of small civil wars (much like Bosnia and the Balkans in the 1990's), but with no one to police or fire fight them any more.

So as I said at the beginning, the worlds a scary place, and getting scarier .....

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