- Joe Blomefield
2017 in Review
The Sun rose on 2017 as one American man rose, and the Sun set as a Zimbabwean man fell. Whether you like it or not, Donald Trump is the President of the United States, acting more like a Celebrity-in-Crisis than a Commander-In-Chief. However, whilst Mr Trump uses his small hands to type small-minded tweets, the rest of the world was changing in ways that has left societies across the either incredibly scared or incredibly excited.
Whilst Trump's populist brand of Conservatism has risen from the ashes, the Conservative Party's own brand of frankly more conservative Conservatism is slowly withering away, with seemingly no one to save it. May's government, despite the recent reshuffle, looks about as weak and wobbly as the box office of a film produced by Harvey Weinstein and starring Kevin Spacey. The #metoo campaign marks a remarkable point in Western popular culture - something that Trump, unsurprisingly, hasn't tweeted about. Perhaps he didn't see the opportunity and "grab it by the"... I'll leave you to fill that in.
The demise of this brand of politics is creeping into mainland Europe, with the French presidential elections and the German federal elections showing the worrying rise of the far right. For the first time for decades, a far right party in Europe is in power, this time in Austria. Unlike the foolish pact the Conservatives have made with the DUP, 2018 must be the year that parties from both the left and right reject dangerous politics and attempt to recreate a civil European society, despite Britain soon exiting the EU.
Despite all their struggles, May's government stumbles on with the incredible task that is Brexit. Much like at the beginning of the year, nobody in the general public seems to have any idea what's going on. Talks are ongoing, but I'm assuming the Department for Panic and Grovel is being set up as we speak. At least Nigel Farage has piped down.
Much like in America and the UK, political leaders all over the world have been scrutinised in 2017 like never before, whether that's someone who had been admired for years like Aung San Suu Kyi or someone who has been vilified by the West for years like Robert Mugabe. Gone are the days when the former received the Nobel Peace Prize and the latter had an honorary knighthood. Aung San Suu Kyi shall be remembered as someone who to turned a blind eye to her own people being brutally murdered, and history will condemn her for it.
This scrutiny would not have been made possible without the ever-expanding power of social media. However, social media sites have quickly become a quagmire of politically inaccurate statements and blatant prejudice. Whilst this isn't an event in itself, it sets a dangerous precedent for not only future elections, but the way we interact with each other. The ability to have reasoned debates with a conservative such as Ben Shapiro, a liberal like Dave Rubin or someone on the political left such as Noam Chomsky is a vital and necessary tool in order to allow change to happen. I fear social media, despite its infinite promise in its exposition, is making the precedent to debate weaker and weaker at a time we need it more than ever.
In a nutshell, the word that aptly defines 2017 is "division". Whether it's the physical division of the Rohingya people from their homeland or the political division of Britain from Europe, societies of all shapes and sizes have been split in the past year. Let's hope for a more united 2018, where international society is more understanding and tolerant for people they may not agree with.