New Year (and Decade) Musings
by Daniel A. Kaufman
(1) The devastating defeat of Labour by the Tories in the recent British election, when added to Trump’s victory over the Democrats in 2016, indicates that the current liberal/Left-wing coalitions one finds in the US/Britain are no longer viable when it comes to nationwide political contests.
(2) If the Democrats lose to Trump again — and I think they will — the party will not survive. Even if they beat him in 2020, the contradictory interests of the various constituencies within the party will pull it apart.
(3) The Republican party will not survive the Trump presidency. Too many have been complicit in too much. The party has disgraced itself by its association with him, beyond the point of any possible atonement.
(4) The combined effects of globalization and automation will soon leave so many people un- or under-employed that it will engender forms of populist reaction that will make our current populisms seem tame by comparison.
(5) It is quite clear that we are in the midst of a substantial political realignment in the developed world that is rendering the prior, Cold-War inspired Left/Right divide no longer apt. The new parties that emerge will be centered around geography — rural, suburban, and formerly industrialized areas on one side, major metro-areas on the other side — and attitudes towards globalization and neoliberal economics.
(6) The extent to which so many people seem willing to pursue malicious personal vendettas against others, solely on the basis of political disagreement, should be disturbing to all of us.
(7) The ease and vigor with which people embrace apocalyptic predictions and catastrophic characterizations suggest that large sectors of our society suffer a perpetual hypervigilance typical of those with clinical psychiatric disorders. It is odd that this should be the case at a time of unprecedented freedom, prosperity, and long life in the developed world.
(8) The Greta Thunberg phenomenon reveals the utter abdication of responsibility on the part of our political leadership and adults more generally, regardless of one’s views on the climate-change issue.
(9) We are in the process of raising a second generation of young people who will be unsuited to adult life. The behavior and ethos of the first (the Millennials) is already transforming our institutions significantly for the worse.
(10) Sympathy for trans-activism will rapidly decline, spurred on by (a) continued dominance of trans athletes across women’s sports; (b) large numbers of young people de-transitioning and thereby revealing the lack of diligence and care with which the medical and psychiatric institutions treated them; (c) overreach in demanding access to women’s intimate spaces.
(11) I find myself managing the second hospitalization of my father this year and am beginning to realize the extent to which making it through life is more a matter of one’s capacity to endure than it is of intelligence, wealth, or any other quality or asset.
(12) It is a tremendous challenge to sort out one’s feelings, when confronted with a person who causes you and others you care about great harm, without any malicious intent. It is even more difficult, when the relationship is unquestionably a loving one.
(13) One of the biggest mistakes I’ve made is having too well-conceived of a story arc regarding my life and the lives of my loved ones and investing too much emotionally in its fruition.
(14) More and more, in every sector of my life, I find myself forced to do things I don’t want to do: To narc on my students; to counsel students suffering serious mental illnesses (despite being completely unqualified); to participate in the death of my department by a thousand cuts; to make life/death decisions for my father; to manage relationships and referee conflicts among people I love. More than anything, I’d like to just disappear, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I did.
(15) As a child and adolescent, I had a view of the future informed by science fiction’s Golden Age. Two decades into the 21st Century, I fear that Messrs. Clarke, Asimov, Heinlein, and Rodenberry thought far too highly of us. Two years ago, I said that driving down an average street in 2018 isn’t much different than it was in 1980, and I suspect the same will be true in 2030.
(16) Who could have thought that rather than pursue the heroic, ennobling, and unifying course set by Mercury Atlas 6 and Apollo 11, we would instead devote our scientific and technical genius and RND to feeding our narcissism and social degeneracy by way of smart phones, social media, and other such fare? I become less impressed with us as each year passes.
(17) More than anything, in the coming decade, I am looking forward to what my lovely, darling daughter will become, as she embarks upon her adult life.