A general malaise

The US election result left a lot of people in shock. I will not attempt to comment on the subject, since I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough. After all, I have never lived in America, so what do I know?

Taking a step back, however, I can discern a depressing trend in what we consider as ‘the western world’. The Brexit affair; the whole Greek catastrophe; the information that today the French president, François Hollande, holds the unenviable record of the lowest approval rating ever (4%); the wish of both Scotland and Catalonia to secede from their countries… I’m sure there are many other examples. Also the fact that the polls are increasingly getting it wrong – their predictions are off. What does this tell us? That people are dissatisfied, resentful, uneasy. This makes them vote in unpredictable ways – against, rather than for, something. But why? The reasons I can perceive are the following:

  • Financial anxiety – the middle classes are seeing the steady erosion of the comforts they worked hard for, which they had started taking for granted, and which are now being taken away from them. The distribution of wealth is also becoming increasingly unfair.
  • The failure of globalisation and open border policies. This feeds into the fears mentioned above.
  • The disappointing performance of coalitions such as the EU, which failed spectacularly to address all the major issues facing it.
  • The role of the social media, which rewards extreme behaviors and disdains political correctness, or even good manners.
  • The failure of the ‘democratic’ political system. The inherent corruption, nepotism, lobbying etc, combined with the reluctance to expose oneself and one’s family to the viciousness and intrusion of the press and social media, is driving away a lot of capable, intelligent people who could make great leaders. I wonder how many amongst us would encourage their children to go into politics today?

People are angry – they feel the carpet is being pulled from under their feet, that the choice given them at voting time is untenable. The prevailing zeitgeist is one of depression and fear, and loss of optimism and hope for the future. So they vote for change, any change, even risky – and to express their desire to kick the established order in the butt.

And the worst of it is, there is no real reason for having arrived at this impasse. Humanity has never had it so good: health, life expectancy, infant mortality, accessibility of consumer goods and travel and education, leisure time – compared to previous generations, we are blessed.
So, did we get greedy? Complacent? Did we put our trust in people who were way below expectation? Did we allow people with the wrong ethics to manipulate the system and take over?

Whatever it is, it smells like the end of an era. Something new must be built, but I don’t see it happening under the present leadership in most western countries. Meanwhile, we are witnessing the rise of more extreme, fanatical groups.

So as not to finish on a depressing note, I will include a bit of British humor, by Matt, one of my favorite cartoonists (he does a daily cartoon for the Daily Telegraph.)

 

img_4120I can imagine the same little alien landing on America, and telling a bemused local: ‘Do NOT take me to your leader!’ (I’m quite pleased with this – perhaps I should contact Matt and suggest he draws it!)

 

 

 

47 thoughts on “A general malaise

  1. Whatever happened to ‘goodness’ as an admirable quality? We admire wealth, beauty, ambition, success, acquisitiveness, fame and effrontery, but peacefulness, kindness, tolerance, compassion, rationality, contentment, respect and frugality are less fashionable. I don’t see a happier world emerging till the tide of fashion turns, and it’s once again cool to be good. And certainly the President-Elect of the USA is not going to be conducive to that process.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Your thoughtful post has touched the heart of the problems facing society in the modern world. Greed, a lack of engagement, dependence on others not qualified to lead, and using a fear of the unknown and dislike of strangers to blame all the problems on.
    There is no answer to this. It is a period of transition, which we have no choice but to endure.
    (The cartoon was very good…)
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It all feels a bit like the end of an era, don’t you think? Change is never without risk, but I get the feeling our social and political models as a society need to change profoundly. Trump is the (admittedly, ugly) tip of the iceberg. The cartoon made me smile!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Reblogged this on saywhatumean2say and commented:
    Thank you for the humor and the opinion. You may know a lot more than you think.
    FROM: **a person who is going to have to live thru this**

    Whatever…any or all of this IS….it smells…but WE are to blame.

    My father a rather ineffectual but charming “politician” used to say “who’s the boss…who’s the boss? My mother a practical, beautiful and extremely drunk & crazy person would respond: “God and he helps those who help themselves”. Growing up in my family was a chore but never boring.

    ~~dru~~

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Love the cartoon, and your idea for another! You’ve expressed this so well. I, too, think that something new will have to be built but that means that what we have must fall and it feels like it is about to. I see disturbing parallels in history that do not bode well for where we are inexorably going. I am, however, encouraged by how many people are speaking up. There are more of us than I’d thought.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Marina, your assessment of the situation is thoughtful and accurate. It’s more than malaise for us Americans who thought Clinton was going to win and are sitting here worried about our children and grandchildren. They are the people who are most going to be affected by this huge change in US government. Changes in the Supreme Court will impact their adult lives directly and long term. Rolling back progress on the environment and trade deals will impact people all over the world – and not for good.

    Millions of people voted for change but chose to re-elect the very representatives who have obstructed progress for the last eight years. Millions of people put their trust in a man who has proven to be very untrustworthy and who is without the credentials or experience he should have to be president of the United States. They are fools, thinking any of them will deliver anything but chaos and misery.

    For the thousands of protesters who walked through streets last night all over America, they definitely got it right: He’s not my president. Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by 250,000 votes. It’s small but not insignificant. The outdated Electoral College handed Trump the title, the second time in recent history the voting citizens and the Democratic Party was denied its chosen winner. To ignore this most recent gift to the wrong man is to start the revolution. And it did. I hope for all the world that it’s one of education, action, and ideals but not of blood.

    Thanks for writing about our mess with a clear eye and compassion.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. We have been living in a similar, if not worse, mess in Greece for the last few years. It saddens me that as citizens we are always faced with the choice of voting for the lesser of two (or more) evils. I don’t think I have ever wholeheartedly cast my ballot, and the older I get, the more cynical I become.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Another sober and interesting article drawing parallels with the changing mood in the world. I think it is a revolt against globalisation, that people are genuinely concerned that their own long established cultures are being eroded by the idea that we are all citizens of the world. The flight to Nationalism is disturbing because how easily that can turn into Fascism if it is not kept in check. I think that President Trump will not be as bad as it sounds now. We should not read too much into his rhetoric he used during the campaign. The Republican party have control of the house and senate and even the Supreme Court. They will be able to keep the President elect in check.

    I like the joke. We must all continue to be able to laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

    Thanks again for your thoughts. Always considered and passionate. Please keep them coming.

    Remember what Socrates said:

    “An unexamined life is not worth living. True knowledge exists in knowing that you know nothing.
    To find yourself, think for yourself.”

    You are certainly doing that.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t know how to factor it into your thoughtful economic and social overview, but on a purely psychological level, I perceive a lot of male insecurity as opposed to women’s more can-do attitudes…

    Like

  9. I am surprised Greece did not leave the EU. It has been abysmally treated.
    Are people greedy? Yes.
    I have no flat screen TV, well, no TV at all, no fitted kitchen, blah blah. I am lying on a 50+ year old sofa.
    Life expectancy? Overall, sure it rises. My parents died younger than their mothers. As did my partner’s mother. Averages are what they are. Nothing more.

    Like

    1. I was talking generally. And that’s part the the problem, that the people who had difficulties for one reason or another were not helped more. We are also in a culture where people in public service (such as teaching, nursing, Firemen etc) are rewarded much less than those in ‘entertainment’ (to speak broadly). Greece stayed in the EU mostly for geopolitical reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s a great post, Marina, good to have the Trump victory put into the wider, global context, because it is part of the same phenomenon. We see it here in Australia, and in terms of voting it has meant that our Senate has many minor parties and individuals. People no longer had the trust in the two major parties. Unfortunately, Trump’s election gives heart to the Right and allows hate to come forth. We are in a period of transition, but we need to act to influence the way that our societies go.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We do, but it’s hard to know how. If you are a peaceful citizen who votes, pays his taxes and helps out in the community, what else is there? Take up arms, throw firebombs, go into politics yourself(shudder…) I spend many years in an unpaid position working for the state, and despite my knowledge, connections and hard work, was unable to save even this one small thing. We need better leadership, but how to get it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think your response here speaks most directly to what I’m feeling inside but haven’t been able to put into words. I try to live by the rules, ethically, do my part, etc. and then to have this man thrown in my face in such a position of authority and leadership?!! I’m appalled. I can only hope the good will rise up in defense of the vulnerable and triumph in the end. I just wish I knew how!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree Ann. I heard a journalist call it the ‘outrage industry’. Born of anger and fear then nurtured by unscrupulous megalomaniacs hell bent on power. The divisions are deep and will take a long time to heal.

      Like

  11. A thoughtful post Marina. I agree that we are in a period of global shift. But transitioning to what? Humanity never advances in a smooth trajectory. Old orders are disrupted by revolutions of varying extremes to then settle into new orders. The pendulum is swinging wildly. I have hope it will eventually return to some stability.

    Like

  12. In Special Education there is a rule – There is nothing so unfair as the treating of unequals equally.
    This plays out in greater society where systems fail to balance for segments of society. The rules are implemented with an assumption that it is an equal playing field, when it is not.

    In the United States, there was a struggling middle class made up of blue collar workers. Most of them are white. Changes in society, economics, technology and demographics impacted them and then neither of the two parties really addressed their needs. Trump became their last desperate attempt to get help. Sadly he and his “team” are incapable of doing so.

    In the E.U. one can see a similar situation. There are serious gaps between various regions. Some regions cover specific countries, while some countries have regional gaps. Trying to impose the same rules without taking into consideration the differences does not produce fairness.

    When groups/regions are left in such a situation they will often look for simple solutions, blame is put on perceived outsiders .

    Liked by 1 person

  13. You mentioned, “the role of the social media, which rewards extreme behaviors and disdains political correctness, or even good manners.” I was trying to form this thought earlier but this is a succinct version. Interesting commentary and much needed – a mature perspective.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s