Conflict, refugee and migration crises, an extraordinary US election race - and result, and post-Brexit-vote tumult for the UK and the EU - 2016 has been a year of exceptional, world-changing events.
Join us at the RSA as our group of expert reviewers – historian and author of The Silk Roads Peter Frankopan; academic and cultural critic Sarah Churchwell and political scientist Matthew Goodwin - reflect on what has been a turbulent year in national and international political, social and cultural events.
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It is through trade that the world is ruled, and suddenly you wake up and realise that the land you live on is owned by someone else. Then one day there is just nowhere else to move to because it is all bought up, and you do not have the means to buy your own land anyway. So you have to follow the rules of the landowner, because they were the laws you initially implemented for your own community, and now they are being manipulated by others with cruel intentions to enslave you and make you work the land for their own benefit. So they put up the rates and force you to have to work day and night in order to keep a roof over your head, and anyway you are too tired to fight back or look for an alternative.
So you accept the status quo and go along for the rest of your life, enslaving your own children too, because they simply do not know any better. Perhaps you never had the time or inclination to inform them otherwise either, other than to moan every now and then. But freedom becomes a distant memory, and in the end you cannot see a way back at all, even if you briefly periodically feel the pangs. Your anger finds outlets in other ways in society, by complaining about petty details, your children's behaviour, or the conduct of someone else. It becomes an angry society. But really it is that everyone feels imprisoned, and they are, but they no longer remember why or what to do about it. Their way out is lost and how to reclaim it forgotten.
So the landlords can now crack down on the anger issues, telling the populace indirectly through school teachers, popular culture, books and magazines, social media and the mass media that they need to create a peaceful society, where everyone gets along peacefully and though social convention. There must be a crack-down on crime, drug-taking and drop-outs; those who oppose the status quo must be locked up or better still eliminated. And certainly in business, personal emotional expression cannot be tolerated, and too much creativity or self-expression avoided, because that might surely lead to accidental discoveries of real solutions to the realignment of power and fairer distribution of resources. Oh no, we cannot have that, because that would topple the whole system!
Instead, let's have some fun days, with lots of fireworks, excitement, colourful displays, drinking, singing and laughing, plenty of activity, face-painting and balloons, sugar-highs of candy, ice-cream and stimulating tastes, to keep people loaded up while they vent their steam on entertainment and games. Soon they'll be too fat or ill for much activity anyway, so we'll capture them passively, by allowing them to simply sit and watch others having fun, whilst stuffing their faces with more addictive additives, and pretending to have a good time. They have now simply lost the plot and think shopping, viewing the latest soap opera, drowning in the latest gadgets whilst wining and dining, is freedom. But they have been duped all along, and would need to go against the social grain in order to wake up. Who has the strength for that? Swimming against the tide takes energy and endurance - what's that but a distant memory?
So it is easier to merely float merrily along, with what everyone else is doing, continuing to blame political leaders and out-of-reach corporate controllers, but really what has been set in motion has taken on its own momentum, of consumerism and escape, and who can stand up to that? Who can pull themselves out of the tide, overcome the waves of fear and control, and become themselves again?
This is an essential choice for our time. Read about how other races in the Universe managed to free themselves, and how they are helping us to break free today: .
It is interesting that so many think Donald Trump is the 'wrong' politician; whereas he might just be the 'right' one to change the rules of the game, throw out old trade agreements and realign finances and deals. But who will encourage him and who will resist, or even see him as a threat to their own greed? And who might want him eliminated?
I think the moment Trump decided to run for President he knew he was giving up on some of his power and freedom. In my opinion it is not Trump one should be worried about, but those who may try to influence and corrupt him, or take him over completely. This will be the indication of his power and freedom, and at this time it may be a consequential last opportunity for all to get behind him and really push for something radical. This would be the meaning of unity and peace, for peace comes about through struggle. This is the real meaning of jihad - inner purification, rather than guns and violence. Sharing resources evenly across the world so no one goes hungry is the opposite to conquest and hoarding for ones own tribal interests. We must all come together to trade freely ethically, with safeguards against exploitation and selfish interests that benefit nobody in the long run; for we all suffer collectively as a result, particularly when other countries break down and the international community has to clean up at great cost.
(Just for the record, if I were voting in the US elections, I would likely have voted Jill Stein - you can probably tell that from the stance taken here.)
My prediction is that Trump (or whoever is president next) will spend much of his presidency on these clean-up operations, and tackling increasingly severe climatic catastrophes internally too (regardless of his 'beliefs') - these natural disasters will dominate his presidency, and much of the budget. He will have to focus on finding solutions rather than tackling the causes. As is said in Permaculture, 'The Problem is the Solution,' and if we are part of the problem then we can also find solutions. If not, then we can only adapt rather than mitigate, and that adaptation will need to be quite enormous, especially for those who dislike change. So it is in everyone's interest to find ways to mitigate and clean up our act, each take personal responsibility and encourage fair distribution of non-polluting energy sources (including food and H2O).
Agriculture and transport will need to be cleaned up to do this, meaning more local consumption, less travel, simpler lifestyles and decreasing drama. Everyone needs to downsize now, some more than others. Let's see how Trump gets on in the While House....I reckon he will spend a lot of time elsewhere. The paradox will be that if he still owned his own businesses then he would not have to pay to use them.
Meanwhile, ask yourselves, 'Who is really buying up all the land in the world?' The land we depend on for our food, water, medicines, minerals and vital natural resources? Where are the world's riches really going? And how will we provide for ourselves without them in future? Particularly in cities, flooded, over-crowded, stormy and polluted, how will supplies flow and where will they come from? Who will be able to afford them anyway?
It might take some sobering up to look at these issues, to break free of those addictions and start to face the stark reality. Then maybe you'll understand how you became addicted in the first place, and take those first steps to freedom.
The question is what can you do in your life today to begin to make a small but significant contribution? Are you part of the solution, or just blaming everybody else? What action can you take, personally? Do you have the strength, power or freedom to change your own habits and patterns?
You can be a way-shower for others, and maybe even be a positive influence on the President, who must remain sure in his character and clear-minded in his intentions in order to lead the way forward, without succumbing to the put-downs and ridicule. This is an example to us all. Who would want to be in his position nowadays? Not many. And so we must work individually to make it acceptable to be radically creative, think outside the box, go against the norms, speak up, share responsibility and distribute power more evenly across our nations - beginning with our own individual self-empowerment.
It is fine to sit in a lovely house with a big library and know all about the past, as long as that leads to the ability to take action on your part. Otherwise, what lessons are you learning from history? How could the Native Americans have retained ownership of their own lands? Of course the First Australians did not know to ask their visitors for visas, nor other indigenous peoples to ask their guests for passports and assurances that they had return tickets!
However, the colonisers were not originally seeking to colonise, but to settle and trade. Yet even they knew from the outset that in order to gain access to these valuable goods, they would need to take control of the trade. That control lead to colonisation, because the native peoples were naïve in allowing free movement within their territories.
In our times, securing boarders has become an international theme, yet globally we are wide open, broadcasting everything openly out into space, and leaving ourselves vulnerable to manipulation from covert outside sources, who secretly pillage and plunder. We must open our eyes before we are overtaken; we must learn from history.
Now is the time to take inventory of what we have, what is being destroyed and what are our realistic plans for the future. Realistically, we have the trends and dumbed-down forecasts, of rising sea-levels, decreasing food production, pandemics of illness and disease expected (particularly as resistance to antibiotics worsens), currencies collapse, fuel-cost increases and the depletion of the earth's natural resources. Really, what preparations are being made?
Where will everybody live, when cities are ravaged and displaced people are looking for clean water to drink? Of course the lost and impoverished are easy to conquer, because they have given up hope and are desperate. So unless we get our house in order, and function cooperatively instead of in-fighting, we will be leaving ourselves wide open to rule from without; external domination in inhumane, bland, uncomfortable and horrific ways. Therefore, equitable and transparent trade deals are essential now, without hidden clauses and opt-outs for the elite, and involving everyone in designing the future of a sovereign planet for the human family, and to preserve the natural environment. Without this I fear even many animal species will be slaughtered off and left to wither and die because everybody will be in such a panic.
Here is a carefully crafted document, which provides a useful starting point around which to focus, and find a united way forward: .