Comment: The world in 2013


To state the obvious from the outset, 2013 could really go either way. Like how 2012 looked from 2011, it could be an explosive year (possibly literally) that does significant change to the political outlook as we know it, particularly across the water and in the Middle East (where else?), or it could be a year marked for anticipation of events that never came.

The-World-in-2013There is no US Presidential election this time round, sure, but a number of very demanding tests will occur which will put an immense amount of strain on the re-elected Barack Obama.

Whatever happens, this year will be a huge test for him and his authority, and it is my contention that he will have to reluctantly focus on domestic issues – even at the time of increased pressure in Iran and elections in Germany.

Before I outline my predictions, I should say a word about the previous attempt last year, on Left Foot Forward, to guess what the year will bring, written by one Luke Bozier – a person now probably quite familiar to a lot of people who trawl the blogopshere.

In the early stages of 2012, Bozier predicted Assad will fall in Syria; Romney will win the election; Russia will be home to game-changing protests; and the euro will be fixed.

It doesn’t take a genius to see how wrong he was (indeed not being able to see what will happen in the future probably came to Luke’s own detriment the most, arrested – to quote the Guardian – as he was on suspicion of viewing or possessing “indecent images of children”), but looking at the predictions, and knowing what his politics were, it reads more like a wish list rather than reflection on reality.

What follows by me is anything but.

I sincerely hope Assad falls, without his dignity; that the euro will temper (more for the people who will be affected by it rather than for the bureaucrats who rely on it to wield their power); that Iran refrains from snubbing a concerned global community with its ever-worrying nuclear capabilities; and that austerity stops being consensus among political leaders in Europe.

I just don’t think my wishes will materialise.

First up:

The British Right will make a breakthrough, born out of the euro crisis and divisions in the Conservative Party and beyond:

Nothing of too much excitement will happen in the UK over the next year.

Despite the coalition growing further apart politically, the Liberal Democrats have nothing to lose but to try their very hardest to restore dignity within government before they sink completely under (want my advice? Replace your leader with someone less, well, sophomoric), and the Conservatives would probably prefer to bully their junior partners rather than go it alone, governing as a minority party.

What I can foresee, however, is the growth of the Right inside the Conservative camp. In fairness it is anybody’s guess why they haven’t made too much headway already. Dismissive of the coalition’s lefty partners, ashamed of their more cosmopolitan leader, gay marriage, indecision over Europe – you’d think by now something would have burst.

Well, now with the rise and rise of the United Kingdom Independence Party and the prospect of a banking union in Europe, which no matter what the attitude of David Cameron, will be sure to rile up right-wing Eurosceptic Tory MPs something wicked, 2013 will be the last chance for the Right to make their voices heard and their anger listened to.

David Cameron won’t be going anywhere of course, but he will certainly shift his rhetoric to appease backbenchers and keep party unity before the time when he has to start campaigning for re-election himself.

European austerity hawks will almost certainly win the battle, while the war will affect us all:

In spite of what I hope, I think Angela Merkel will win the election in late 2013 with coalition partners the Social Democrats.

Even though there is some minor excitement around the left(ish) players ready for the fight before September, like the Pirate Party (possible left wing coalition partners, already having leadership problems), Merkel’s premiership, and tutelage over the eurozone, will not be put into jeopardy.

Furthermore, in next door France, despite his best efforts, President Hollande will experience trouble trying to reverse austerity measures (right wing critics are already smugly reminding him that the Peugeot Citroen factory closure will go ahead, showing that his best is sadly not enough) and will, at the same time, lose the confidence of the European left who were hoping he could inspire economic practices further afield than just France.

The euro left will find they need a new leader, and it will not come from Spain or Italy, but neither will it be from Germany or survive in France.

The US will reluctantly reflect more upon its growing domestic issues, and fear of losing its economic hegemony, which will also include being the main player in averting war in Iran:

Even though the US recession was stopped in mid-2009, what came afterwards can hardly be called a recovery – but the tough choice President Obama will have to make is whether he can juggle increased focus on domestic and foreign affairs, or let the world get on with it. In not trying to sway the way of the world Obama and the US have a lot to lose, however.

It will be in Obama’s interests to see stability in the euro since further collapse will inevitably damage the US economy – and weakness only strengthens emerging economies such as India and China.

Even more pressing is Iran. Contrary to the suspicions of many, the US will be the main player who actively avoids conflict with Iran. There is a Presidential election in June 2013 in Iran, which will almost certainly mean the perception of independence and courage against critics of its nuclear ambitions will be a necessary vote winner. Israel will want to play on this slight vulnerability and up its ante. What will follow is not all out war, but the risk will increase.

The US’s position will become far more diplomatic, even if it doesn’t curry favour at home, but simply because it cannot afford to take eyes off the economy.

China will flex its muscle and set sail to being bigger than America – Sinophobia awaits:

China, it has been noted by John Lanchester in the LRB recently, refers to the great recession as the ‘Western Financial Crisis’’.

It does this for one reason: things are on the up and up for China. 2013 is the Year of the Snake, linked to, among other things, material gain, and this is very telling. The uncovering of coal, silver and uranium in next door in Mongolia, will highlight two things: further prosperity for China and increasing dominance over economies, not just its own.

The wastelands of the Gobi Dessert, where this discovery was made, already relies on China for electricity, and they can now expect China to increase pressure into sharing some of its new wealth.

Mongolia will also have to rely hard on China’s market to export. Further still, Japan, despite going into an election expecting the outcome to favour a right wing, nationalistic bent, will realise it is time to patch up sore relations with China as it knows it will come off worse if friction continues.

Very briefly, China’s coming economic hegemony is bad news for many reasons. 2013 will be the year we realise China is set to dominate, and moreover that the democratisation of China will never come.

Slavoj Zizek said it better than I ever could, and I share his concern:

“What if ‘the vicious combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market’ (Trotsky’s characterisation of tsarist Russia) proves economically more efficient than liberal capitalism?

“What if it shows that democracy, as we understand it, is no longer the condition and engine of economic development, but its obstacle?”

Years ago the late Christopher Hitchens predicted himself that China will one day cease to be Communist even by name, and exist as a xenophobic and nationalist state. If this is the succeeding economic model (further proving Fukuyama wrong) then we are all in trouble.

Assad will go but not through overthrow:

Assad will eventually walk, of that I think we can all be sure. If the civil war efforts don’t die down out of exhaustion then he will promise more mythical reforms to buy off fence-sitters and exit with grace. This will be a crime and a tragedy (though don’t expect the left to speak up on calling him out for war crimes when he flees the land and people he destroyed).

In a similar vein, Algeria and Saudi Arabia will probably capitalise on rising oil prices and buy off dissent which, though obviously quite negative and contrary to my wishes, is to be expected.

Where there have been revolutions there is now a period of power struggling and steadiness maintenance. This is uninspiring and, unless something else happens that is as yet unforeseen, is unlikely to build up too much excitement.

What may be interesting, however, is seeing what happens to Jordan. King Abdullah II is, unlike other countries in the region, unlikely to be able to buy off dissent and promise reforms on a scale that a newly energised secular liberal, and Islamist, movement will want to see. This could be the next country to see change, and in such events I will seriously reconsider my above contention.

The predictions I have set are not all positive, I realise, but that’s what I think we have to look forward to. Though of course man makes history, not the other way around; so with any luck, I can be proved wrong.

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  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • LB

    Interesting to see what you don’t mention.

    Don’t mention the debts. If people knew that you have spent their pensions, and you can’t pay, you couldn’t carry on spending

    True debt, 7,000 bn.

  • Newsbot9

    The debt’s known, of course. Your refusal to pay is known, your refusal to admit how a country’s economy works…

  • LordBlagger

    Of course I know how it works. It’s a ponzi.

    How about you facing up to 130K for the state pension when a 26K a year worker would have a 560,000 pound fund if it hadn’t been looted by the welfare state.

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, you’re a Ponzi scammer, trying to prevent state pensions being being paid.

    And 560,000, inflation in your own mind now! Keep lying…you have to keep increasing that figure, ignoring your double-counting, the actual pension returns, etc.

  • LordBlagger

    Put the numbers up.

    We know that you’re in the BNP.

    Socialist who wants to kick foreigners out = BNP

  • LordBlagger

    Put the numbers up.

    We know that you’re in the BNP.

    Socialist who wants to kick foreigners out = BNP

  • LordBlagger

    Put the numbers up.

    We know that you’re in the BNP.

    Socialist who wants to kick foreigners out = BNP

  • Newsbot9

    Yes yes, I’m sure your multiple personalities think I’m in the BNP. And keep claiming the BNP are left wing, so you can justify your genocidal calls, BNPer.

    The numbers have been up, I’m not repeating them for you…you’re a over-entitled 1%er, and can do your own searches.

  • LordBlagger

    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvnR4AGFSHkocEh3N2FreUtzUnpJbkUtXzdNNDktRlE

    Here are the numbers.

    You can check them out.

    561,546 pounds ripped off a median wage earner.

    130,000 pounds of profit making pension offered back.

    Even that token payment is part of a 5,010 billion accounting fraud.

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_263808.pdf Page 4, at the bottom.

    Not on the books for a reason. That reason is that if its not a debt, they have an excuse not to pay it. That’s all of Westminster’s plan, not just the left.

  • Newsbot9

    No, simply because something is paid does not mean it’s “ripped off”. And you’re using an unrealistic amount of course, falsifying your entire construct – 100% of NI does not go to the state pension. It’s a known debt, on the books, it simply does not act the same as a household debt, you’re making excuses not to pay it, politician.

    You also keep ignoring actual pension returns, trying to use the FTSE100 as a proxy for them, which is complete nonsense. In terms of actual return, the state pension is fine…but you can’t admit that, or you’d have to admit that you’re a scammer of the lowest order.

    And yes, YOUR plan, not the left’s, is to refuse to pay pensions out of current revenue, because you want to kill the elderly. You’ve said this again and again and again, you murderous…

  • LordBlagger

    1. The state pension is not on the books.

    http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171766_263808.pdf

    Have a little read. It’s short and sweet.

    In summary, the estimates in the new supplementary table indicate a total Government pension

    obligation, at the end of December 2010, of £5.01 trillion, or 342 per cent of GDP, of which around

    £4.7 trillion relates to unfunded obligations

    Not on the books.

    t simply does not act the same as a household debt, you’re making excuses not to pay it, politician.

    It’s exactly the same as a mortgage. The difference is that in the case of the pensions, the people who’ve got your money can change the rules and deprive you in the process.

    Given the debt is so large it can’t be paid.

    For example, what’s a sensible multiple of earnings for someone to borrow for a property?

    What’s a sensible multiple of earnings for someone to borrow and spend? ie. Not purchase assets.

    I have no plan. All I’m doing is pointing out that the state won’t pay because it can’t.

    You’re defending the rip off.

    Why isn’t the FTSE a reasonable proxy for a long term investment?

    What’s so great about getting 20p back for every pounds worth you’v'e paid in?

  • Newsbot9

    Unfunded | Off the books. It is expected that the pensions will be paid from current revenue.

    It’s only the “same as a mortgage” when you’re looking to murder people. That’s right, you have no plan, you just want to murder until it’s okay again, BNPer. Moreover, of course, I’m no socialist and no collectivist, unlike you.

    The FTSE ignores actual pension returns, which are far lower (and it also ignores the fees…), and the need not to take risks when people are older. Moreover, not everything can be invested in the FTSE. And of course, not 100% of NI goes to pensions, your 20p is as usual an out and out lie, murderer.

    And yes, you have the money and are refusing to pay. You, personally, are morally responsible for your own choices.

  • LordBlagger

    It is expected that the pensions will be paid from current revenue

    ============

    However, that’s just hot air.

    The real question, can they pay the pensions from current revenue, and all the other things that you and I would like, such as schooling, the NHS.

    The answer is no.

    That’s the problem. People expect all these things in return for the money they have handed over. They aren’t going to get it because the state has spent the lot,and more.

    So come on, how are you going to allocate the cash?

    You’ve 550 bn to play with.

  • Newsbot9

    Ah yes, you think reality is hot air.
    The answer, of course, is yes.

    And stop claiming that you want to pay the,,, you’ve made it plain that you want to kill 75%+ of the UK population, trying to hide that now is pathetic.

    And no, I don’t PLAY with cash like you do. Peoples lives are not the toys you treat them as. Pay up!

  • Alexwilliamz

    Not factored into your calculations is the energy issue. This may be a game changer especially in the us.

  • LordBlagger

    I’m not killing anyone.

    Unlike the NHS.

    242 starved to death being the latest.

    Liverpool care path way, also killing people.

    Socialized medicine for you.

    What next? Ah, I can see it now.

    We’ve cut off child benefit, lets cut of the NHS from the unfavoured.

  • LordBlagger

    I didn’t run up the 5 billion.

    I didn’t take 430,000 pounds off a 26K a year worker.

    Not surprised you’re narked by it. You’ve been caught out.

    So who’s it next? You’ve already said foreigners out. Who are you going to target next.

    Does Labour allow BNP members to join?

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    No, you’ve run up far more, capitalists. And no, I’ve said YOU get out, your bugotry and hatered for foreigners is no party of what I believe. And unlilke you, I don’t target people for moral panics, your capitalism’s damage is very real.

    And no, you can’t join the Labour party.

  • Newsbot9

    That’s right, you hagve to lie about your murdering ways. Keep on defending your cuts to critical NHS services, leaving them shorthanded and causing issues.

    And how dare people not die in pain, running up huge bills!

    And of course you want to cut the NHS from the 99%. Thanks for admitting it.

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