Every year around this time, the esteemed political journal ‘The Economist’ releases a speculative guide to the coming twelve months. A few days ago, as I waited in Euston station – along with seemingly half of England – for an overhead cable to be fixed, I had the chance to browse through this year’s edition.
In keeping with the magazine’s drab, over-cautious reputation, much of the content predicted an undramatic year, (the only exception being a proposed inflammation on the Korean Peninsula). Overall in fact, the tone was almost optimistic. Several of the dangers which seemed so imminent and dangerous in December 2012 are now, so the editors claim, much closer to resolution. The Euro currency saga – for example – is less turbulant than it was twelve months ago. Despite unemployment figures in Southern Europe remainig high, EU stock markets in general are recovering, and while the recession is still technically underway in some industries, economists on both sides of the political divide accept that things are starting to get better. In America and Japan too, the financial outlook is considerably rosier. More people are in work. Stock markets are rising. The tone of the press is noticeably less apocalytpic.
But politics, like life, is more than economics, and personally, I believe we’re in for a more tumultuous period than both the Economist and the economic situation would imply.
Here, without further ado, is the long-awaited, long sought-after, long-dreamed of DTMW guide to the flashpoints of 2014. I have selected three and they are presented in no particular order.
1. Romanians, Bulgarians, and the End of the EU.
On January the 1st, the citizenry of Romania and Bulgaria will wake up to a new liberty, namely, the freedom to live and work in any member-state of the European Union without restriction. Of this prospect, many frightened words have already been written. Only today, the Daily Mail speculated that
“After immigration controls are lifted, Britons could find their jobs are squeezed…. while community tensions could rise as the new wave of migrants fight for work with other Eastern Europeans who have been settled in Britain for a decade.”
The sentiment here is more than xenophobic hype. Freedom of movement from the East of Europe to the West has posed – and will continue to pose – a far greater threat to the European project than the chaotic abstractions of finance. As history well demonstrates, a population can peacefully tolerate being out of work for quite some time. It’s asking a lot more of people however to tolerate being replaced in the job market by foreigners. And this frankly is what has already happened in London, Berlin and Madrid with the influx of hard-working Poles and Ukranians.
Just in London, 3 out of every 4 non-professional jobs now go to Polish migrants. This fact, (alongside the social tensions created by Muslims), can explain the astonishing departure of White Londoners from East London to Essex and Kent, and with them, the extinction of London’s historic culture, dialect and way of life.
How will this already tense situation cope with a flood of even poorer migrants, prepared to work even harder, for even less? This, not the fluctuations of currency, is the real achilles heel of the EU project. If Romanians and Bulgarians (including Romani migrants) flood the West of Europe in sufficient numbers, 2014 may well be the final year of the European Union.
2. China vs Japan.
As part of my Politics degree, I was required to study the series of massacres collectively known as ‘The Rape of Nanking’. This gruesome episode, in which 250,000 Chinese were butchered in cold blood by rampaging Japanese soldiers, still exerts a ghostly influence over East-Asian politics. China will not forget the obscene cruelty and racism of the Japanese during World War II, any more than East-Europeans will forget the cruelty of Stalin. And this is why the recent visit of Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe to the Yasukuni shrine was rightly described as an escalation of what is fast-becoming a ‘Sino-Japanese cold war’.
How serious will it get? No-one knows. But the worst-case scenario involves a death-toll in the high-millions and an economic blowback stretching from Tokyo to Seattle.
3. The Collapse of the Anglo-American Right.
Following the dire Romney campaign of 2012 and its inevitable failure to dislodge the socialist incumbant of the White House, the Republican party (and the right in general) appears to have quickly spiralled into a civil war.
Glenn Beck has called for the defunding of the GOP. Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh are now devoting as much energy to berating the Republicans as the Democrats. Approval ratings for the Republicans among its grassroots supporters have never been so foreboding. Talk of constructing a third-party run along the lines of the Tea-Party faction are now being taken seriously by the press and party donors alike.
In Britain meanwhile, the mass defection of voters from David Cameron’s liberal-conservative regime to the solidly Eurosceptic UKIP is crippling the prospect of a cohesive resistance to Labour. In the 2014 European Parliamentary Elections, Tory HQ is bracing itself for a humiliation so severe that it may incapacitate the party for over a decade.
In both countries, the radical right and the mainstream right are pulling in opposite directions. The effect is to leave the entire tendency weakened and confused.
The Anglo-American Right is collapsing….
And as the right divides and turns against itself, the Anglo-American Left has never been so healthy. Despite Obama’s approval ratings, the Democrats have every reason to feel confident about achieving a third term of office in 2016. The British Labour Party meanwhile, despite a ruinous legacy and an unpopular leader, are cruising for an easy victory in 2015.
So there you have it. The end of the EU, an East-Asian Cold War, and the beginning of a transatlantic Leftist windfall.
But other than that, Happy New Year.