ALL AH WE IS ONE: Uncertain 2017
IN COMPLETE VIOLATION of the principle of throwing out the old and heralding the new, I apologise to my readers for starting the year with a tired cliché: the year ahead of us, 2017, will be a year of uncertainty.
However, cliché notwithstanding, part of the reason why 2016 has been largely assessed as horrendous is because its events were not only earth-shattering, sharp divergences from past practice (certainly from the post-1945 world order) which have global implications, but most importantly, the issues of 2016 have merely opened up very, very large issues which are destined to be resolved in later years beginning with 2017.
For all these reasons, 2017 will be, without doubt, a year of uncertainty.
In 2016, the North Americans voted in a new, untried personality as their president, and he has promised to burn the user’s manual of the office, of America’s foreign relations and of the mode of personal behaviour of the president.
In 2016, the people of Britain opted out of their integration into the European Union, thus overturning the entire architecture of Britain’s post-war development trajectory without providing any clear guidelines on Britain’s future. The year has also seen Russia shaking off its post-communism hibernation, and reasserting itself as a world power, having closed off the year with a stunning victory in Syria.
Added to all of this is the continuing uncertainty of the global economy set in train since 2008, from which the countries in the Caribbean in particular have been making only the most sluggish recovery.
The crisis has exposed deep structural weaknesses which can only be resolved by untried approaches which, by necessity, should overturn traditional class and social relations which have remained unchanged since the 1937 labour upheavals.
Thus far, most of the responses tried in the region have aimed at preserving the status quo by reversing the gains made by the working class, and essentially have dissolved the social contract of the Independence era.
It is doubtful that the Caribbean states have any more elbow room to continue eroding the social framework which has cushioned the working class without unleashing negative social consequences on our societies and polities.
So far, only superficial, timid and “false” approaches have been tried. It is unlikely that our societies can avoid for much longer, the deep but necessary political social searching which the present moment demands.
It is not expected that any of the coming elections will address the issues as frontally as they require. Instead, another round of Machiavellian self-preservation and jostling for power as an end in itself is likely, causing the crisis to fester and deepen.
Thus, whilst quite justifiably, the popular reaction has been to wave an eager goodbye to 2016, the full impact of this anno horribilis will be felt in 2017 and beyond. Be strong! Brace yourselves!
•Tennyson Joseph is a political scientist at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, specialising in regional affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org