Falling apart?

Turning and turning in the widening gyre/ The falcon cannot hear the falconer.

To illustrate the famous poem I’ve selected a short list of stories in the news at the beginning of 2019. What are the links between the following happenings?

  • widespread “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests in France, where roundabouts are the new symbol of anger and inequalities;
  • mass internment and saturation surveillance of the Muslim minority in the western provinces of China;
  • a complete collapse of trust in British politicians resulting from a hopelessly badly managed process to agree the conditions for leaving the European Union (Brexit);
  • the introduction of slave labour legislation on pay and working hours in Hungary, contested in street protests;
  • the resignation of a supreme court judge in Nicaragua, accusing the government of ruling by terror as the prisons fill up with protesters;
  • new Brazilian environmental legislation aiming to increase deforestation in the Amazon (by allowing expanded crop cultivation), undermining the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • a shutdown of government services in the USA in a standoff over the President’s desire to use millions of dollars to build a Mexican border wall;
  • a state of emergency declared in the northern regions of Burkina Faso bordering Mali and Niger after massacres of farmers and herders;
  • the ups and downs of the Kurdish struggle for self-determination or independence in Iraq, Syria and Turkey;
  • a fragile budget compromise between the five star and northern league populists governing Italy and the European Commission.

The answer of course is Bad Governance! The bottom line is the increasing “disconnect” between the aspirations of “the people” and the abilities of the ruling classes to deliver better lives. In some cases the rulers (politicians) don’t appear give a toss about the rights of the people concerned, in others the discontented and angry are flexing their muscles. Identity politics appears to have demolished other all causes, with a constant quest to define us as opposed to them. The outcomes of most of these struggles hang in the balance…

I’ll round off with few more lines from ”The Second Coming”, written by W.B. Yeats one hundred years ago (1919):

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; /Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world /The blood dimmed tide is loosed; and everywhere /The ceremony of innocence is drowned…

 

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