Monday, December 30, 2019


Year's end leads to the usual cortege of banalities and predictions.  2019 is already buried under the usual prayers and thoughts. Some risk a form of intellectual steeple chase about the deeper meaning of the past months. It would make more sense to recognize that a page was turned. 

Some are tempted to blame Trump for the bonfire which engulfs the world. This is giving to much credit to an individual who is the anti- intellectual per se. His impulses are not unique, they just receive more attention since what happens in America is magnified and ends up affecting the world at large. There is a new brand of leaders who share his approach but do not receive the "credit". This new Internationale shares the same diffuse paranoia of "one against the rest."  Modi's policies might look different but they obey to the same impulses of Trump's ghostwriters (the two Steves--Bannon and Miller). The same goes for Italy's Matteo Salvini. Boris Johnson is more ambiguous and actually more sophisticated than the sum of his histrionics.

Basically, we have entered the age of a-morality. There is no longer a pole star which presides, repairs, attracts or frightens. Nowadays anything goes as long as the stock market grows. It is becoming out of fashion to question the meaning of the ruling economical choice, wherein few benefit while the majority is stuck in stagnation. Everything now is based on "feeling good" on the back of reality. All is linked to a rush and a high with zero connection to measurable progress.

North Korea became a feel-good country, since it provided Trump with a "decor."  Merkel's Germany doesn't pass the feel-good test, since the Chancellor refuses to play the dupe. Macron tried at first to enter in the charade of Beauty and the Beast, but gave up when he smelled the coffee.

Next year will be the age of the rat.  How appropriate. This other new age ahead of us will be strife with petty but important battles between selfish interest rather than ideology. It is all about tariffs, Huawei's 5G offerings or Putin's charm offensives by way of oil. Nobody talks that much about human rights anymore. After all, Trump indulges in karaoke with the boss of Manila.

Europe's claim to moral leadership had better get ready for a hard-landing after Poland and Hungary reset the democratic clock into reverse. China is implementing its own version of the Monroe Doctrine in the South China Sea and is projecting more booby-trapped soft-power by the day. Mentioning the treatment of the Uighurs in Xinjiang is considered almost gauche when compared to the "benefits" of China's Belt Road initiative. The alternative to every fact wins. Kellyanne Conway is the ringleader of this fake spectacle.

The world has entered a new Ice Age wherein leaders take heart in each other's compliments. They feel good among look- alikes and act-alikes. This new era is "over-personalized." It might not outlive its leaders. They will fail because sooner or later they will be found out. The proof will be in the pudding they fabricate. The customer will be repelled both by this deception and inversion of expectations.  Even the confetti will feel like acid rain.  Bonne annee!

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