Perhaps we could be wrong, but it seems that we have witnessed very radical changes in the world, which impact is difficult to imagine. It is possible, of course, that we exaggerate the importance of Brexit, US elections, or events in the Middle East. But somehow it seems that a new world order is looming, which in some ways is scary.
The outgoing 2016 has shown that we observed some kind of a revolt of the masses. And this revolt takes place in large regions of the earth's territory. In some countries, for example, in the Middle East, it took the form of civil war with weapons in hands, while in other states elections are yet enough.
Alas, there is no solid boundary between calm and turbulent worlds. The evidence of this are large-scale terrorist attacks that hit many countries. And there is a real threat that more and more people will be involved into the most barbarous forms of violence and bloody conflicts.
Of course, the main question is who rebells against whom? Who resists whom? Who is with whom and for what is fighting?
For example, many write that Brexit and the American elections have shown that the less educated, not so young and not rich people opposed the younger, educated and wealthy persons. Purely demographic statistics confirmed such a view, but at the same time it simplifies the events, if the essence of the conflict comes down to something like envy, to something resembling the positivist Marxist discourse. In fact, if we listen to the rhetoric of the leaders, it can be assumed that the heart of the matter is not envy, it is fear. For instance, a significant part of the Western society looks to the future with fear, while the other part is building such a future most actively. It means that the essence of the conflict lies in the clash of the models of the future.
There is a feeling that the humanity is evolving at least in two different paths. According to one path, we have an 'Industrial Revolution 4.0 "and we are rapidly moving toward the world of new technologies: communications, biological and digital technologies, new medicine and so on. We would like to see cars without drivers, longevity up to 120 years, incredible wealth and so on. But according to the second path we seem to move to almost new Middle Ages. We see the desperate defense of very conservative values, the desire to preserve the "traditional" world (the question is whether it really existed?). When Donald Trump urges to make America great again, he paints a world where still exists a kind of "One-storey America", where everyone has his own house, works in a factory or has a small business, such as an automobile repair shop. Family, work, happy children on a small lawn near a small house.
But if the well-known technological changes happen, a way of life of hundreds of millions of people will permanently change. Robots will control the machines, machines will become precise robots, robots will repair robots, and factories will require only three persons of staff.
Small houses will remain, children can play on the lawn, but what to do with adults is a big question.
Moreover, the new technological progress is a result of the unprecedented, cross-border mobility of its organizers. They are, in general, citizens of the world, which in many cases do not care where to work. Singapore or Illinois, it does not matter, the working place should only be comfortable and profitable.
Ironically, in the same Middle East, albeit in a different form, there is a dispute between the various models of the future, above all, about the social aspects of this future. The broken traditional Islamic society gave rise to a huge number of people, especially young people, who are looking for a new justice and a new order. They think, for example, that the strict hierarchical model in countries like Saudi Arabia prevents the construction of a new order.
And in 2016 it became clear that the world elites split, they were unable to offer different strata of their societies the acceptable and not too frightening models of the future.
There are many reasons of elites’ weakness. Here we see loss of ideological guidelines, inability to live in the world of arriving new technologies, first of all, communications, and a general loss of the "horizon of the future." Actually the humanity is not aspiring - there is no serious alternative to capitalism, although this capitalism looks different in different countries. Nevertheless the fact remains the fact: elites are weakening, they lack the competence to regulate effectively the development of the world. Hereof we see some game for isolation, the myth of the recovery of the past, the attempt to rely on those who have difficulty to see themselves in a new shining world.
However, there are oppositional tendencies. In particular, few international institutions, primarily the UN, are clearly perceived by elites as a necessary platform at least to coordinate their interests. First of all, we are talking about the current conflicts, current processes, but the nature of discussions, for example, about climate allows us to hope that the desired future is still subject of consideration.
And how a compromise between the desire for development and the desire to maintain stability will look like, how to transmit the past into the future is the main challenge, formulated in 2016.This is not a trivial task. As we know, a change of lifestyle leads to serious shocks. The industrial progress of the 19th century destroyed a lot of empires; the medieval world collapsed under the pressure of the slow and inevitable progress; the printing press changed the structure of society as a whole. The current changes, again, seem to be very radical. The consequences will be relevant. The outgoing year brilliantly demonstrated that the changes which idle politicians discussed for a long time really have come.