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2023/24: It's the end of the world as we know it... ...and Toon Traveler doesn't feel fine

2023/24: It's the end of the world as we know it...

...and Toon Traveler doesn't feel fine

by Toon Traveller, Travel Correspondent
first published: December, 2023

approximate reading time: minutes

Change, if it comes at all, will be slow, an arduous crawl back to some semblance of a decent, hopeful society.

Suppose 2023 was a vintage year, but for whom? Elon Musk, perhaps, keeping his Twitter profile afloat, or Prince Harry, scoring a public relations victory against the press. Even the Labour Party might raise a glass, buoyed by high polls. Yet, for many, the reality bites like a winter frost.

The UK's slow, steady decline, both political and cultural, casts a long shadow. The national discourse is marred by vicious dog-whistle politics and blatant racism. Undercurrents of xenophobia, particularly towards black and brown communities, threaten to turn our "Anglo-Saxon" island into a cold, insular world.

Figures like Suella Braverman (yes, her registered birth name) have been at the forefront of this shift, and her legacy will linger long after 2024. More racist abuse, discrimination, and attacks are sure to follow. This is a setback for the nation's soul and its hopes for a brighter future.

Braverman and Sunak's campaigns and policies are merely the latest chapters in a long book of policies that have, and will continue to, make Britain a nastier, more depressing, and less liveable place for many. From welfare cuts and social service reductions to tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations, the gap between the haves and have-nots widens with each passing day.

This is a sad state of affairs, a rotten foundation upon which to build a happier, more content society. Looking beyond the UK, the rise of right-wing parties in Europe, from VOX in Spain to their counterparts in Germany, Hungary, and the Netherlands, in charge in Italy, it casts an ominous shadow. These forces are spreading their tentacles across the globe, reminiscent of the "darkening skies" of the late 1930s.

Internationally, the Ukrainian war drags on, with no end in sight. The West's commitment may wane, leaving the region in perpetual conflict. The Palestinian genocide may pause, but the bitter seeds remain sown. In South America, the right-wing takeover of Argentina promises nothing but tears, rage, and teargas. Meanwhile, the United States seems ever more divided, basic rights stripped away, and the spectre of violent polarisation looming on the horizon, fueled by racial, religious, and pseudo-moral divides.

UK politics in 2024 are likely to be a hollow affair, a national election reduced to an illusion. While the Labour Party may seem like the frontrunners, their promises ring hollow. "We're not going to do this..." they say, offering no concrete vision for a "repaired" Britain. Will hospital waiting lists shorten? Will there be more teachers and school resources? Decent housing? Fewer women and men forced to beg on the streets? Will the need for food banks and the ritual demonization of welfare claimants fade away?

No, not easily. Change, if it comes at all, will be slow, an arduous crawl back to some semblance of a decent, hopeful society. The seeds of resentment and division have been sown, and it will take years to uproot and incinerate them on the pyre of our dark and shameful memories.

Perhaps my expectations are unreasonable. We're constantly told to be more "reasonable", while doctors, nurses, train drivers, and the rest bear the brunt of austerity measures. Meanwhile, the bankers who crashed the economy in 2008 enjoy obscene bonuses, and those who ripped off the NHS with defective PPE during the pandemic land cushy jobs in the House of Lords. We, the ordinary people, are left to pick up the tab with healthcare cuts, welfare cuts, and the dismantling of our social fabric. Remember, the true financial legacy of that crisis is yet to unfold as loans come due.

2024 could see a repeat of 2008. The consequences of all that cheap borrowing during the pandemic, the various debt crises, will start to bite, impacting us all. This is further compounded by the UK's parlous position on the world stage, its rejected pleas for a US trade deal, and its self-destructive approach to international treaties. It's all part of the right-wing playbook: fear-mongering, identifying enemies within, and eroding our national identity.

For God's sake, our favourite food is Indian and Italian, our favourite drinks are Germanic, we welcome Polish builders into our homes, and Filipino nurses into our hospitals. This "Little Britain" (not the comedy series) drift, harking back to supposed glories and uniformities, is a disaster. Those days are gone, gone, gone. Yet, the legacy of empire and past glories continues to cast a long shadow, likely to dominate UK politics for the rest of the decade. It’s going to be more of the current culture, a failure to find a new place and role.

Sadly, there is a harbinger of the clearly visible decline of the UK; in 1910, the value of the Argentine Stock Exchange was greater than that of New York. Corruption and an increasingly divided society have left Argentinians where they are now, a failing nation. Does it feel to you as if we are following along on a similar path? What a prospect of 2024, it’s too depressing, just hunkering down, no positive change in our lives. It’s gonna be a long, lonely, individual struggle for many just to survive, in 2024, and years beyond.

Music then, is probably the least of our worries, my only prediction - Artificial Intelligence will produce indistinguishable music, most people don’t consider the amount of technology currently employed by studios to craft crap in consumer products. Real rebel music will be improvised, on the night. Jazz, and rap fans, our time has come. I know I am suggesting a bulwark against AI will be a return to the underground clubs by the Seine, Le Maquis on the left bank, improvising jazz on acoustic instruments. Rapped over by people who flow on the spot. Hope, maybe I’ve found some.

But for most everything else, I’m reminded of the old, old, old, joke.

“There’s two sorts of hope in the world, Bob Hope, and NO HOPE, and Bob Hope’s dead”

And that’s kinda how I see the prospects for 2024.

Toon Traveller
Travel Correspondent

Born - happy family, school great mates still see 7 / 8 in year, degreed, beer n fun, work was lazy but usually happy, retired. Learning from mum and dads travel exploits.
about Toon Traveller »»

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