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No one could predict what 2016 would surprise us with: The volcanic Island plays football homeland, England, out of the European Championships. US skeptical Swedish Academy gave the Nobel Prize to an American - but then to radical Bob Dylan over half a dozen of the world's foremost novelists among his countrymen.
And at this year approximately brightest day, midsummer, said the British agreed to withdraw from the EU. For the first time since the creation of the European Coal and Steel Community in 1951 shrinking European Union. Sunday, Italy's voters no to reforms of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who then resigned. The way is now open for withdrawal from the eurozone and increased power to populist Lega Nord.
If EU critic Marine Le Pen wins French presidential election in May, it will be the end of the EU as we know it. And even if she were to lose to the conservative main opponent François Fillon, who last Sunday was the Republican candidate , is still one obvious winner again: Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has financed the National Front and who are on good terms with Fillon. Either way, the end of an overall EU boycott of a Crimean occupying Russia is imminent.
The evidence that we have entered a new era came anyway with the US elections. On day 27 years after the Berlin wall fell, it was November 9th clear that Donald J. Trump is the new US president. The uneducated businessman proved more strategic than Democrats campaigning machinery, more relatable than the liberal media power and smarter than the world's top statisticians. Notably with crucial help from a pressed FBI chief, one locked-up Wikileaks leader in an Ecuadorian embassy and a systematic attack against Hillary Clinton by Russian hackers - in a drama unlikely to have been green-lit for a TV drama.
The consequence of Trump victory was best articulated by Le Pen's strategy director Florian Philippot. Minutes after the decision trumpeted his Twitter: "Their world collapses. Our is rising. "
The news here is the definition of "us" and "them". There are not Russians, Arabs or Chinese who see "their world" collapse. No, "they" are rather the West's so-called elites, the bureaucracy in Brussels, traditional media, bourgeois and social democratic parties. "We" are popular, national movement who rebel against the liberal and inclusive. "The people, that's me," as the Sun King would have said.
2016 highlighted the new, ideological civil war in the so-called West. Brexit leader Nigel Farage drifted active campaigning for Trump , who now makes reciprocate by pressing for Farage as Britain's new US ambassador. The new chief strategist in the White House and webmaster Breitbart, Stephen Bannon, will spread its Facebook customized "like and share" -journalism to Europe. Like Putin it seems Trump wishes that nationalistic forces like Le Pen prevail, which indirectly erodes the EU and NATO alliance further.
The perception of the epoch-making in the elections is also shared by "the others". A week after the US elections stated Sweden's former Prime Minister, Conservative Carl Bildt, the Trump victory is "end of the West as we know it." Economy editor of The Daily Telegraph declared a few hours after the election results that "the West is dead as meaningful concept" . Three days later Trump received Farage in the Trump Tower, as the first British politician. A new era is here.
For the first time since WWII end, 71 years ago, the US and northwestern Europe no longer political collected as liberal democracies against either Russia or the rest of the world. Everything from trade agreements to climate agreements and inclusive pacts have to be interpreted again. The magic of Barack Obama's eight years erased. It is "the strong man rule" that applies in the West Lighthouse, the statue of Liberty's torch faded.
Germany's Christian Democratic Chancellor Angela Merkel is now suddenly "the last free world leader" . At least she is the most powerful non-populist elected in the area formerly called the West. Merkel is the last anchor for Europe at a time when it blows up a storm. Parallels can be drawn to the period before World War II. When almost craved write cause and people in the colonial powers after a redemptive war. Europe may avoid more war than what's currently going on in Ukraine, but still the fascination for Brexit, Trump and Le Pen show that people tired of peace are seeking excitement: Let's "see what happens." While tension in 1914 was triggered on the battlefield, now it's released behind the polling station canopies.
It's not Trump that Americanized Europe. Trumps victory shows instead that Europe has Europified and Euro infected the US. In a decade, Viktor Orbán ruled Hungary with curtailment of press freedom incompatible with EU honorable values. In Catholic Poland new anti-abortion measures which in practice will push more women to bear children they do not really want. Both Bulgaria and Moldova chose Putin supportive presidents shortly after Trump's election victory. And Sunday did the candidate of the Freedom Party, a former Nazi minister who first leader, 47 percent in Austria's presidential election. Freedom Party leader now in the polls ahead of parliamentary elections in both Austria and the Netherlands, where firebrand Geert Wilders in March is likely to be the Netherlands next prime minister .
As in the United States and Russia votes a number of European countries voted elected "strong men" as well Philippines this year did with the unpolished Rodrigo Duterte. Prior was the Ottoman Empire called "sick man of Europe." Today we have a number of sick men in an economy abrasive Europe. "The end of history," wrote the American political scientist Francis Fukuyama in 1989. He predicted that communism's death would make liberal democracy to the only desirable form of government. He was wrong. 2016 showed that it is "the strong man" -populism which is pop, while liberal democracy are in intensive care.
15 years ago Osama bin Laden put the first wedge in the democratic and transatlantic alliance. In recent years, both Breivik-like terrorists and IS-sympathizers created new cracks in the unity. But the decisive battle comes from within - at the polls after election campaigns run on the Internet and social media.
2017 will complete the coloration of the new era world map.
Figured we should make a generic political thread of these changes, which is probably the biggest watershed moment in modern history since the fall of the Berlin wall.
Not that it's wise to give credit to the forces that so far have successfully hijacked this movement against the establishment, because I honestly believe it's like trying to cure a second degree burn with napalm. Still, there's no point in being quiet about it, as people have been so far, so this is a lose-lose situation either way you turn it.
Truth be told, I've no clue what people are expecting to get out of these characters. Primarily it seems to be immigration and bias aggravated by lack of left-wing social policies. The irony is that the same people who are against immigrants, are also against social welfare and socialist policies, because these systems are designed makers to be non-discriminating and therefore can be abused by the straw man immigrants they hate so much. So instead of voting for politicians who have answers to their problems of jobs outsourcing and wage stagnation, who are willing to take a stand against corporation and moneyed interests, they vote for right wing parties with simple emotional solutions to the wrong problems. Often sponsored by the same corporations and moneyed interests that they are rebelling against in their targeting of "politically correct" elites.
Not that there isn't things to criticize about how political parties in the West have been behaving the last twenty years. The "New Labour" phase of the UK labour party is hopefully on it's final breath with Jeremy Corbyn being, in my opinion, one of the few shining lights against this blind lash-out. I really hope that the rest of Europe sees that they need to come with drastic solutions to avoid complete collapse and reactionary policy changes that doesn't help anyone.