"Movement of the Boomerang" - Looking Back, Was 2018 the Year of Payback For the West?
Jean-Paul Sartre used the term «moment of the boomerang» in one of his articles, meaning the inevitability of payback for any actions in the past. Any previous year could be called a boomerang year, but 2018 especially. The rewind would show the footage of news items, not news: Turkish tanks in Syria, Roman Filipov's shot-down Su-25, the Winter Olympics, WADA, doping, the neutral flag, the FIFA World Cup, the An-148 crash in the Moscow Oblast, the An-26 crash in Latakia, the Il-20 that was shot down during its landing approach, the American-Israeli missile attacks against Syria, the change of power in Armenia, the New Force party election to the parliament in Italy, the presidential elections in Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Mexico, Brazil, the defeat of the Brazilian leftists and the arrest of ex-president Luiz da Silva, Raul Castro's resignation, the election of Miguel Diaz-Canel, the cancellation of the restrictions on taking the highest post of General Secretary, the Skripals' case and the term Novichok, that must have an entry in almost every dictionary, the 2018 Kemerovo fire, the US embassy's move to Jerusalem, the clashes in the Gaza Strip, the opening of the Crimean Bridge, the first woman elected as Director of the CIA, the inter-Korean negotiations, the meeting of Trump and Kim Jong-un in Singapore, the bridge collapse in Genoa, the fires in California, the church dissent in Ukraine, the shelling and terrorist acts in Donbass, the murder of Alexander Zakharchenko, the unsuccessful breach by the Ukrainians to the Azov Sea in the Kerch Strait, the shooting in Kerch, the shooting in Florida, the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the world hunt after the sexual harassment, the big trade war between the USA and China, the USA's withdrawal from the NATO agreement, the UN Human Rights Council, the Iran nuclear deal, and the INF treaty, with scandals, trials, and resignations around Trump as the result, unpopular social reforms in many countries and the counterrunning waves of protests, the most noticeable of which was in France, which spilled to the streets with the «yellow vests».
So, the year could hardly be called calm. The sentiments, recorded by every sociological agency, despite their language and residence, are uncertainty and doubt. What will happen next and will it become calmer? According to the latest IMF statistics, the calm has nowhere to come from.
«The global economy entered 2018 with an optimistic attitude, on a wave of positive expectations resulting from industrial production and trade growth. As investors lost their confidence, so did the economy».
The graph shows that the volume of trade, industrial production, and the expectations of new orders are all falling. Among the reasons are the global trade war between Washington and Beijing that we mentioned before, the war that resulted, for example, in huge piles of unsold soybeans for North Dakota farmers; and the hike in interest rates that lead to the slump of several currencies and a sharp dollar price hike.
December will be remembered by the largest stock exchange slump since 1931. The Asian markets lost more than five trillion dollars alone. It became clear that the crisis of 2008, the victory over which has been celebrated many times, is still here.
Robert Reich, US Secretary of Labor 1993 to 1997: «We're moving towards the rocks again, 10 years since the start of the Great Recession. It's important to understand that the reason for the previous slumps wasn't just the banking crisis, but in the growing gap between consumer spending and the general production that, in turn, is caused by the people's low incomes and growing inequality».
In other words, they may produce a lot, but there's no one to buy and nothing to buy for because people, no matter if they're from Argentina, the USA, or Mongolia, just don't have the money. A classic crisis of capitalism, where capitalism seeks only one exit: through belt-tightening, cutting expenses on medicine, pensions, science, and education.
The continuing growth of inequality is another feature of the past year. Recently, in Paris, scientists from several countries have shown the WID: the World Inequality Database. The website allows you to study each country individually. For example, you can see perfectly well here how large the gap between the poor and the rich was in the USSR, and how large is it in modern Russia.
«The 2018 report shows that inequality varies greatly across the global regions. The lowest is in Europe — where the richest 10% receive almost 40% of the national outcome. The highest is in the Middle East. Inequality has been increasing rapidly in North America, China, Russia, and India».
Although the formula for the cure from inequality by the WID seems to be dreamlike: progressive taxation, financial transparency, eliminating offshores, free education and large state projects. It's obvious that the top few percents won't do this voluntarily. From this derives the main feature of 2018: protests and demonstrations have become the boomerang for the political and business elite in the boomerang year: from the teachers in Los-Angeles to the students in Tirana, from Brazil to Belgium, from Bosnia to Tunisia.
Abderrazak Zorgui, journalist (Tunisia): «I call for all the youth, hungry and jobless: when we protest, they accuse us of terrorism. We go into the streets to demand jobs, while they say „shut up and die“. Today, I'll begin my own revolution. If anyone gets a job after that, then my self-immolation won't be useless. We are tired and sick. They've been feeding us with false promises for eight years. I belong to no party. The authorities forgot about the poor and they only think about the rich».
This farewell video by the 32-year old journalist caused a wave of protests in Tunisia. The Arab Spring that started seven years ago with similar self-immolation ended in total devastation, poverty, wars. Though the disputes that caused all three haven't gone anywhere. They can't be held back with police cordons, water cannons, or a pacifying Christmas tale. So if anyone yet again finds a letter under the Christmas tree from bank collection agents, or bills for electricity that got more expensive, then next year Santa Claus will find it difficult to escape from those who would want to count the gifts in his sack.