2011 was a transition year in many respects. In the wider world, it saw the further implementation of the empire's plans begun under Bush II that continued under Obama. This included the vilification of Russia and China as well as their encirclement with military bases and missles, the conquest of Libya, covert operations in Syria and Iran, and especially the propaganda onslaught on Iran to pave the way for the much-desired military onslaught. All of this supported, uncritically, by the mainstream media.
In the US, presidential campaigning took off in earnest with the fielding of a bevy of extreme-right Republicans debating how best to serve the 1%, while Obama continued to serve them in office.
Climate change continued with record droughts in some areas (including the American southwest) and record rainfalls in others (southeastern China and Australia). Glaciers melted at an alarming rate while methane escaped from melted permafrost, at levels astounding to scientists, and so added to the atmosphere's greenhouse effect. And the mainstream media ignored or trivialized it all while western capitalists blocked any effective efforts to control climate change in order to protect their profits from fossil fuel use.
But 2011 was also the year of rebellion. It began with the occupation of the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin. The occupiers were protesters decrying the introduction of a union-busting bill, pushed by the Governor, in the State Legislature. Many of the protesters were teachers, since their union was a main target of the bill, but in truth they were all teachers, showing the rest of us how to strike a nonviolent blow for what's right.
Perhaps some spark was ignited in Wisconsin because that action was followed by protests around the world advocating (real) democracy and the inclusion of the excluded. Among these were the"Arab Spring" protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya (though all were co-opted or suppressed to one degree or other, especially Libya). In Europe, the tatic of the occupation of public spaces was borrowed from the Arab protests and used to great effect in Spain, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, and Britain.
And then there was the Occupy movement in the United States. It began in September with the occupation of Zuccotti Park in New York, just blocks from the financial center on Wall Street. Dubbed, "Occupy Wall Street," it grew into a leaderless movement that protested the oppressive actions of the 1% owners of the nation's wealth against the 99% from whom that wealth was taken. Wall Street was the movement's representation of that oppression and of the resulting disparity in wealth distribution that left a tiny few to prosper and most to suffer.
These were the items that drew my attention during the year, even as I sought to further my own work. And I made some progress there.
I created this website with its literary-social theme to support the fiction I've published on Smashwords.com. It's my small contribution to the literary community of the 99% that I express as the Arbordin Literary Society. I wrote a young adult novel (A Single Step) that I published as an e-book on Smashwords (free to my newsletter subscribers). I revised my Christmas Fantasy novella, The Spark, and created a supporting newsletter for it that I sent to subscribers of the Arbordin Literary Society Newsletter (ALSN). I also created one for A Single Step.
I joined the GoodReads website as an author. I haven't done much with it yet, but it does have my books in its catalog (pulled from Barnes and Noble, I think) and is another place where readers can review and recommend my work.
All this represents a literary foundation (the beginnings of my "platform") that I hope to build upon in the coming year.
My Reads in 2011
I have been so busy with my website, writing, and the day-job, that I haven't been able to read as much as I wished this year. Still, I managed to read a few things:
Game of Thrones (George R Martin): I read this novel on my e-reader as I followed the series on HBO. It was a joy and only the lack of leisure time kept me from reading the other Song of Fire and Ice books. I can see why George Martin has been called "the American Tolkien." I think these books are The Lord of the Rings for our day.
The Windup Girl (Paolo Bacigalupi): I reviewed this book in my Dec 04, 2011 journal entry. It is a very good story, with its main strength being its depiction of the near future as it results from current trends, especially trends regarding the food supply. It is "realistic" in having few barely-sympathetic characters, which is thought-provoking if you can hang with it.
Dr. Faustus (Christopher Marlowe): This classic work, written by a Shakespeare contemporary, is the definitive (in my opinion) telling of the selling-your-soul-to-the-Devil folk legend. I read it this year for about the third time as research for the novelization of my short story, Madam President. The language is poetry, the themes classic, and the writing ranging from comic to profound to tragic, but always inspiring.
A Single Step (Ray Foy): This is my young adult novel that I've reviewed in its accompanying newsletter (for ALSN subscribers). I wrote it this year and include it in this list because I spent so much time on it. It's my statement of the clues that a young person should follow to find fulfillment in his or her life. It's on Smashwords for $5.99, but ALSN subscribers can get it for FREE.
All right. Let's talk about what's coming up in the new year. My guesses concerning the wider world are based on my readings in the alternative press (Common Dreams, Global Research, Truthout, etc; see links below) and gut feelings, while my guesses about local government and my own work are more experientially based.
So the following would be better called, "probabilities," based on my assessment of trends I perceive from my studies.
Protests begun in the "Arab Spring" of 2011 will continue, especially in Egypt, even as tactics to put them down become more brutal. Uprisings may occur in Saudi Arabia that are pro-democracy and Islamic in character. They will be more brutally suppressed than any to date.
Agreements will be made with the new government in Libya that will turn over the country's oil reserves to transnational corporations, and so drain off all its wealth to Western interests.
As the US military presence is reduced in (NOT removed from) Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be increased along all the borders of Iran. The US press will vilify Iran increasingly, using data that is obsolete, debunked elsewhere, or completely fabricated. The "evidence" to justify war will be accepted in the United States and rejected everywhere else. The pressure of this conflict will increase until some sort of "Gulf of Tonkin" incident happens that the Republican administration defines as another "Pearl Harbor" event and then attacks Iran.
This war with Iran is my most frightening prediction and I pray that I am wrong. There are forces in the US government that seem to be opposing this war, but I fear they will be overcome because the Power Elites (Bilderberger Group, et al) and the Military-Industrial Complex seem to want it.
If war is declared against Iran, vast crowds will join the Occupy groups in the streets around the world in protest. They will be brutally suppressed in some places, ignored in others. In any event, they will not stop the war.
The conflict with Iran, if it erupts into all out war, will lead to the closing of the Straights of Hormuz and the cost of a barrel of oil will double.
The European Union will collapse, or move significantly in that direction. European countries will default (Greece, Italy, Ireland, Iceland) and the Euro will be replaced with local currencies.
China and India will not be able to provide markets for the West's goods since their economies will be weakened by the oil shortage. This is especially true of Russia, which has apparently peaked in its oil and gas production.
Consequently, gasoline prices will rise by at 1/3, maybe 1/2 (and maybe more) in the US. There will be spot shortages of everything and power "brown-outs." Food prices will greatly increase as the droughts and floods of last year "reach the market" this spring. The shelves will be sparser at Wal-Mart.
Yes, I live in Mississippi so I have some insight here. A new governor, Phil Bryant, will take office in January. He is being hailed as the nation's first "Tea Party" governor. The charge appears to be true, judging from his cowboy boots and the local (non-mainstream) press reports of a major shift to the right in his rhetoric since his days as Lieutenant Governor for the outgoing Haley Barbour.
So, with a Republican governor and Republican majorities in the State House and Senate, the people of Mississippi will experience the full brunt of Neoliberal austerity beginning in 2012: privatization, outsourcing, public-job cutting, and reductions in social services. Most of this will be hailed as a welcome implementation of conservative values. Even the laid-off middle-class will blame their losses on "bad luck" or "too much government." The truth might creep upon them when they can't find a job that pays a living wage, and when there is no government help for them.
The next president will be a Republican, and probably a woman. Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry will self-destruct. Mitt Romney is probably electable, but I believe the Power Elites will want to recreate the illusion of change by having a woman elected president. The 2000 and 2004 elections prove they can rig a presidental election. Therefore, Madam President will be Michele Bachmann.
The Occupy movement will continue to evolve and confound the efforts of the 1% to contain it. There is so much "fed up with the status quo" energy behind it, that I don't see it going away. Indeed, I believe many more of the 99% will join the core groups in the streets as the affluence of the Middle Class deteriorates and their oppression by the 1% becomes more transparent.
I realize I've painted a pretty negative picture for the coming year, but it's hard not to do that. By any measure, 2012 will be a tough year, and I don't see how things can get any better without getting considerably worse. But while we are affected by events that transpire on a global scale, we live locally. So let me turn to a more personal forecast.
I will continue keeping up this website and make it a point of departure for those interested in my work. It will evolve for the better, the more successful I am with my writing projects.
I will produce a major novel called Madam President, based on the short story I currently have on Smashwords, which is based on the Faust legend. The novel will be a supernatural-political-thriller, and published as a Print-On-Demand (POD) and ebook. I will do everything I can to promote it and its success, or not, will pretty much tell the tale for me as a writer.
December 21, 2012 has become a symbol of apocalypse in the modern imagination. This is based on interpretations of the Mayan calendar that see it as stopping at that date, and associated prophecies of doom. Movies and books have exploited this popular concept.
The truth seems to be that the Mayan calendar was organized into cycles of very long duration, and the time of the 2012 winter solstice is the end of one of these (see the links section below). Astronomically speaking, there is some credence for this as the Great Dreams website points out:
On the winter solstice of 2012, the noonday Sun exactly conjuncts
the crossing point of the sun's ecliptic with the galactic plane,
while also closely conjuncting the exact the center of the galaxy.
Whether these conjunctions have any physical effect on the earth remains to be seen. My hunch is they won't, and that the only physical effects will be those resulting from climate change accelerated by global warming. But world events seem to be shaping in directions that may very well climax in 2012, for good and bad.
The Mayan calendar marks 2012 as the end of a great cycle, and so the beginning of the next. I think that's true enough, astronomically and pretty much however you want to measure things. Politically, spritually, emotionally, biologically, climatologically--we're moving into a future that will be fundamentally different from our past. That difference will entail much pain, but it could be the pain of birth into a simpler, more local existence.
And it could be better, or at least better for us, than what we have now.
Links for more information
The empire's plans: www.newamericancentury.org/RebuildingAmericasDefenses.pdf
The Iran war:
www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28369 and www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28412
Record methane release from melting permafrost: www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jan/14/arctic-permafrost-methane
Climate summit failure: socialistworker.org/2011/11/28/another-climate-summit-failure
The Occupy Wall Street People's Library: newsfeed.time.com/2011/10/25/from-chomsky-to-the-onion-whats-on-the-shelves-at-occupy-wall-streets-library/
My GoodReads.com author's page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/4465658.Ray_Foy
Info on 2012 and the Mayan calendar: www.greatdreams.com/2012.htm
A Single Step on Smashwords: www.smashwords.com/books/view/81356