It’s not just because I have been reading the English translation of Michel Houellebecq’s Submission that I sense we are heading for some sort of apocalypse in 2016. The novel, ironically published in its original French the day of the Charlie Hebdo massacre (7 January 2015), all too realistically describes an election and near civil war in France in 2022, ending in a Muslim takeover of the state (through an alliance with the left). Not even a year after its publication, and the more recent events in Paris and San Bernardino, this riveting book seems, if anything, a bit tardy in its time frame.
As the famous supposedly-Chinese curse goes: “May you live in interesting times.” (Yes, I know the curse is apocryphal and about as Chinese as a fortune cookie, but it makes the point.)
In 2016, no matter what happens, it is my suspicion that we will all be cursed as never in our lifetimes — and I am not young. We will be yearning for a little boredom or, as the Chinese really do say, “Better to be a dog in a peaceful time, than to be a human in a chaotic (warring) period.”
Others have made specific predictions. That is not my purpose here. I’m not good at prognostications anyway. (We will be arguing between A and B and it will turn out to be C.) I only want to examine the zeitgeist going into 2016, why it will be, to adopt yet another cliché, a year of living dangerously.
The Obama years have been a slow-moving disaster for America and the world in practically every way. As they have moved on, things have gotten almost inexorably worse.
On the domestic front, race relations — initially pretty good, considering we’re talking about flawed human beings — have turned more sour than they’ve been in decades. A healthcare program was rammed down the country’s throat with multiple lies and now appears to be imploding on itself. The economy has stalled for years with the key labor participation rate near an all-time low. And our college campuses have turned into spawning grounds for over-privileged brats poised to imitate the excesses of the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
But those problems are almost nothing compared to the international situation. Sunni extremism, which looked to be somewhat contained, has exploded in barbarism not seen since the mass butcheries of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot with ISIS, Boko Haram and al Qaeda. Add to this the bizarre non-agreement made by our country and others with Iran, bankrolling the religious psychotic mullahs to the tune of $100 billion plus, and the only conclusion you can come to is our government has gone insane or willfully seeks the suicide of the West in the face of Islam. On top of all this, the West, including the USA, is being invaded by Muslim refugees, a vast majority of whom undoubtedly believe in Sharia.
So what do we have to look forward to in 2016?
Yes, it’s a presidential election year but it is far more than that. We are already living in the beginnings of World War III, although many of our fellow citizens are pretending that it has not happened. This is a very dangerous situation that vastly increases the potential of losing. Every great civilization of the past has died. Why not ours? Is the end nigh in 2016? Or just a few years off as in Houellebecq’s 2022? (Actually reading his novel I felt as if everything was happening yesterday.)
I know, I sound like some aged member of an apocalyptic cult, but I’m not a cultist and I’m not so aged that I can’t play a decent game of singles tennis. I’m not entirely pessimistic either. The rise of Donald Trump is a good thing, not because any one man can easily change the course of history, not because he’s necessarily the best candidate (although he could be), but because his rise indicates that a lot of people who often ignore things are waking up to this extreme situation.
And extreme situations almost always call for extreme responses, like it or not. Folks like Charles Krauthammer and George Will should try to remember that. They should also remember that if it is to be Trump, they may not like him, but one of his most important (and difficult) jobs will be to unite the country. He will need the help of the Krauthammers and Wills to do that. He will need all of us, actually.
But whatever the case, hold on for 2016 — it’s gonna be a helluva ride. My one prediction is that we’re going to be spit out the other end a whole lot better or a whole lot worse.