2014 was a good year for me personally, in terms of my family and work life, but not so good for the world. International affairs have become much more unstable, with the rise of the Islamic State, renewed American bombing in Syria, Putin's Russia invading the Ukraine, and now falling oil prices that could cause even more instability in countries that depend on oil exports (like Putin's Russia). There have been movements for change and justice, from the streets of Hong Kong to the streets of Ferguson, but they are now facing incredible levels of backlash. The Hong Kong protestors have been moved off by the authorities, and the NYPD is now refusing to do its job as retribution for mayor De Blasio's admitting the basic fact of racist policing. Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown are still dead, and I as impressive as the movements their deaths have inspired have been, I wonder, based on this nation's history of suppressing dissent from Haymarket Square to the assassination of Fred Hampton, whether change will come.
All of this is taking place under a backdrop of political stasis and malaise. The American government is facing even worse gridlock at the top, while right wing revolutionaries are aggressively using state and local institutions to advance their radical agenda. There is so much disgust and anger with the status quo, and those feelings are being answered by people who want to not only preserve it, but advance it even more. Politicians who want to continue the War on Drugs, who are being paid off by the prison industrial complex, and who refuse to admit that structural racism even exists are being faced by new social movements that want to bring major changes to the criminal justice system. At the same time, corporate earnings have never been higher, while the middle class is being squeezed out of existence and economic class warfare is being perpetuated on the working class. This is all happening in a political climate where even supposed liberals are too chickenshit to propose any changes aimed at improving economic equality. Something has to give. In 2015, something will give. Change will come, or the heavy boot of reaction will come down harder than we've seen since the days of J. Edgar Hoover and COINTELPRO.
I see much the same in international affairs. The EU's austerity policy has been discredited, but it doesn't seem to have any other answers. Oil-rich states that have managed to wave away social strife through petroldollars like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Brazil, and Russia are going to have to face the music. The people who took to the streets in Brazil during the World Cup to protest their government's completely messed up priorities are only a taste of things to come. It is obvious now that America is no longer a hyperpower, as it can only hold off ISIS at best, and has no real hope of destroying it. The faulty borders drawn in the Mideast by outside European powers looked doomed to fall now. And just as America is not to colossus it once was, China's economy is showing signs of weakness, and the peoples of its empire, from Hong Kong to Tibet, are increasingly restless. The center does not hold. Like 1914, I feel that 2014 was the herald of unrest and potentially world unmaking forces. The next year will be interesting, if anything else.