Ghosts of the Year Past

I don’t want to be cynical about the new year, but there is too much from last year that 2011 needs to live down. Over the past week, when I was nursing a fever and recovering from year end events, I looked back at the news and realized that Globalistanis had little to cheer about in 2010.

The last year saw two rather ugly specters gaining ground in public life: xenophobia and protectionism. Browsing through year end lists, this became even more clear.

European governments banned the burqa and minarets, and public individuals speculated about the ‘intellect’ of the immigrants. ‘Tea Parties’ put people in Congress on the back of a xenophobic campaign. Asian powers stuck to antagonistic behaviour, willing to pull their new-found weight around.  Populist politics milked the fear of the foreigner. Worryingly, this seems to be becoming a staple of politics around the globe.

The upheaval and chaos that the world has been seeing since the beginning of the recession seem to reinforce this trend. Governments, already stressed by high unemployment rates, have shown protectionist impulses that would easily scupper away the hard won mutual gains of the past decade. China, the worlds largest, most important economy hinted that it might not care, devaluing its currency, triggering  further panic.

Both these specters are persistent and can easily take root in public life. They dramatically came fore in 2010, and stand out in contrast to relatively more optimistic developments in 2009. Put together they pose a serious challenge to globalization processes.

2010 was also the year when the realignment of global power became most evident. It becomes difficult to look at the two dominant political trends of last year as separate from this context.

Hence this blogger is a little unsure of 2011. The two dominant political trends of 2010 shall no doubt cast a shadow over this year. The question is if there is enough political will to push it back. In times of crisis and chaos, 2010 has demonstrated, we tend to retrench and reassert boundaries.

On that happy note, I bid you a happy new year. Perhaps my judgment of the last years dominant trends is clouded a little too much by sickness and inactivity, and perhaps you saw 2010 in a more positive light. If so do let me know if I am missing something, or am overly anxious. I have a healthy appetite for my words.

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