This past year has been hard on me, in that both of my parents passed away -- my father on April 3, my mother, November 1. Also, my wife's former husband passed away in September, necessitating an unplanned, 3 month trip by her to Taiwan. Thus, this has been a year of passings, transitions and adjustments. Both of my parents were elderly -- my father, 85 and my mother, 84 -- but their declines and deaths were surprising, given their healthy status only a few years ago. The passing of my parents has served to strengthen my own sense of mortality as well.
There have also been good developments this year as my life has evolved. My brothers and I have grown closer (for the most part) as we deal with the death of my parents. In the public sphere, I have helped grow a progressive community online (mainly on Facebook), and made initial steps toward helping to build a movement to educate people and allow them to live more loving, progressive lives. I have grown even closer to my best friend Ria (who also lost her mother and several other important people in her life this year), and made several close new friends as well, including Eloise, Jules, Sean and others. Facebook recently began promoting Ria's and my bloggers group (The Thom Hartmann Bloggers Group), so group membership has recently soared. Personally, I have become even more emotional than before, in a positive way. I have grown to be even more loving, compassionate and empathetic than I was before, even as I have continued to expand my knowledge base.
When I think about the larger world stage, I cannot help but wonder if eocnomic and political system changes sneak up on us in a similar fashion. I have written previously about Strauss and Howe's "The Fourth Turning," and how we are in the midst of a period of approximately 20 years which they predict to be revolutionary in the end. This period, if the pattern holds, would last from approximately 2005 to 2025. While nothing particularly revolutionary has happened in the world community this past year, I think it is a common perception to sense growing dissatisfaction with the way society has been heading, despite our ever-increasing store of scientific knowledge and technological innovations. It looks as though the majority of the world's people will never enjoy such knowledge or innovation anyway, unless big changes are in store for us.
I see many signs that people, including supporters of capitalism, are sensing its decline and potential demise, or at least, incorporation into a larger system which is not so dependent upon capitalism. Dissatisfaction with politics among the public is growing, and with it, distrust of capitalism. It was not so long ago, that political conservatives made inroads by telling people to put their faith in the "free market" and capitalism instead of government. But now, capitalists have insinuated themselves into a position of essentially controlling government, and the more that people understand this, the more they distrust the capitalist system.
Moreover, the decline in popularity of political conservatism, in the U.S.at least, and its greatest political might, which is found in the Republican Party, is a further sign of capitalism's decline in the hearts and mnds of the public. The Occupy Movement has been the most visible sign perhaps, of rebellion against the capitalist economic system, but the spirit of OWS is transfusing into politics more directly, through voting patterns and public opinion. The changes we are seeing go beyond the economic, in fact. Perhaps the most historically significant foreign relations event of the year was the attack on Syria which never happened. Public pressure and calmer minds prevailed upon politicians and the Pentagon to find a more peaceful and successful strategy.
Perhaps the most telling signs of people feeling the mortality of capitalism, however, are the obstructionist and desperate actions of its strongest supporters among politicians. Conservatives tend to be more fear-motivated than liberals, anyway, but when they see the system they depend upon decaying, their defensiveness turns to desperation. Thus, Republicans have taken to attempts at blocking virtually everything that the Obama administration tries to do, ignoring and derogating science, and making incoherent arguments in favor of their world view. Such behavior is not altogether new, but it is intensifying as the situation worsens for those clinging to their ideology.
What do I expect in the coming year? I have no startling predictions to offer, but I do expect more of the same -- that is, a continuation of the processes we have been observing in the recent past. Sentiment against corporate interests is likely to continue rising, as well as sentiment against "politics as usual," and most of all, against political conservatives whether they be conventionally corporate types such as Boehner, Cantor and McConnell, or "Tea Party" types such as Marco Rubio, Paul Ryan and Michelle Bachman. I suppose it will be another warm and wild year, weather wise. But climate change deniers will continue to deny climate change -- until coastal communities find themselves underwater, most likely. I expect Democrats to gain some seats in the House of Representatives, but not necessarily regain the majority (tragically). I also expect more progressives, primarily Democrats since the 2 party system still has more or less a monopoly on politics in the U.S., to be elected, helping bring at least a little impetus for change.
Most of all, I expect more signs of insecurity, if not downright desperation, among conservative politicians and their corporate tycoon benefactors, as they "circle the wagons" and "prepare for the attack" by the "natives" (i.e., the public's 99%) on the system which brought them so much wealth and power.
Just as my experiences this year have driven my personal growth and set the stage to participate in greater social progress, I think that the coming year and years, will set the stage for greater progress around the world. Thus, I see much larger, positive changes in the coming years despite the turmoil we may experience. These revolutionary changes are likely to be unlike anything in previous history; they should be more global in nature and at the same time less violent than in the past (hopefully altogether nonviolent), and thus, have a much better outcome than previous revolutions. But first, we must believe in such a revolution in order to make it happen -- so come and join us trend-setting, normal revolutionaries in creating the better future which we know we can achieve and we know we deserve. More and more people are coming around to our way of thinking and joining our cause every day!