“The non–West ‘stands up.’”
We witness history.
2 JANUARY—“It’s hard to imagine a whole lot of people saying, ‘Remember all the great times we had in 2021.’” So saith Gail Collins from her perch on the New York Times opinion page as she looked back just before Christmas on the year now gone.
The Queen of Vapidity never lets me down. ’Tis precisely so if… If you spend your time waiting for the low, dishonest people who sit atop our republic to do anything constructive, not to say humane, for Americans or anyone else. If your perspective on the world is thoroughly Western-centric, in Ms. Collins’ case American-centric—indeed, if yours is the narrow perspective of liberal Americans who prefer not to talk about empire and all the suffering it causes but love all the material benefits accruing from this suffering. No, not a good year.
Let us leave Gail Collins and her whole lot of people to their failed imaginations. It was a damn good year if we open our eyes to the events that mattered in the course of it.
It was difficult, 2021, no matter where you stood and put your head down at night. To one or another extent, the Covid–19 pandemic now starts to look like some kind of managed narrative with aspects of a social-control experiment. It nonetheless took a debilitating toll more or less everywhere, whether we measure this in terms of human health, psychological and emotional burdens, economic deprivation, or the further concentration of power in small elites, political and corporate.
There were the continuing wars, the ones we were told would end: Is there a war anywhere at this point for which the U.S. does not bear responsibility? And the subversion ops—these in Cuba, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Syria (of course), and elsewhere. Much suffering, deprivation, and insecurity arises from these, let us not forget. And then there were the purposefully cultivated tensions with Russia and China. And the declaration of Cold War II.
What do we see when we look beyond these circumstances? This is our question. What happened during 2021 in the line of the longue durée the Annales historians named, those currents of advance or regression that are destined to endure, to lead humanity in a new direction—to make history, in short?
To see in this way, even to look, requires a fundamental change in our thinking, our consciousness of ourselves and the world we live in. And if we are able to accomplish this change, we can look back on the year just past and see that we have been witnesses to an historic turn whose importance it would be very hard to overstate.
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